Exercise on holiday – Bulgarian split squat

Summer is the holiday season and when travelling, not always do we get a chance to do a full workout, apart of swimming in the sea or in the pool, of course. Some hotels do have fitness centres and gym, but who would even want to spend time indoor when the weather is so lovely outside? My husband is an exception 😀

So, I am bringing you a series of few exercises that you can do literally anytime and anywhere. And the first exercise is a Bulgarian Split Squat.

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While doing a regular split squat while both feet are on the floor, we rest the back foot on a bench, or anything elevated, during the Bulgarian split squat. You can use just your body weight, or you can add extra weight with dumbbells or bottles of water.

Directions:

  1. Start off by standing in front of a flat bench, or any other elevated thing like a piece of a wall that allows you to rest your foot on, with both feet together.
  2. Place one foot back on the bench in a staggered stance with your toes pointing down and the top of your foot pressing flat against the bench.
  3. Keep your chest up, core tight, back straight, and begin slowly lowering yourself under control by flexing the knee and the hip of your front leg.
  4. Once you reach the bottom position, push yourself back up and stopping just short of locking our your knee.

 

Things to remember:

  • make sure the front knee does not go over your toes while lowering your body
  • keep your back straight and your chest up
  • use your arms to help you to balance
  • breath in while coming down and breath out while coming up
  • go as low as it is comfortable for you

Benefits of Bulgarian Split Squat:

  • improves balance
  • works your lover body muscles, especially hamstrings and quads
  • workout for your core

 

Raw Jam

Are you having too much fruits at home not knowing what to do with it? Or simply looking for a healthier option?

I get plenty of fruits from my family as in Czech it’s very common for people to grow fruits and vegetables at their cabins or garden plots.

I have plenty of plums and peaches in my fridge and there is only that much I can eat. My hubby is not a big fruits fan, unless it’s served on top of his pancakes.

I was considering making the cooked version of the refined sugar free jam, but I couldn’t be bothered to put on the stove in this heat so I decided to go for the raw version.

Here is the recipe:

Ingredients:

  • 8 medium size peaches
  • 3 tsp date syrup
  • 4 tsp chia seeds

Directions:

  1. Pit the peaches
  2. Blend the peaches with the date syrup
  3. Stir in the chia seeds
  4. Put it in a container in the fridge, ideally overnight

Note: If it stays too thin, add extra tea spoon of chia seeds

4 months sugar-free

The first time I went sugar free was early in 2016 when I bought a lovely wedding dress that I could barely sit in, let alone dance in or eat in. That was in April 2016 and the wedding date was 17th July 2016. I knew I had to take some serious measures. So for 2,5 months I was totally sugar free, and I mean really sugar free. My grocery shopping use to take double the time as I was checking every single food label. And those days I was not even having shakes yet, so every day choices of food were a bit of struggle, but I made it. I went through 3 weeks of sugar withdrawal symptoms which showed me how addicted I was to sugar. But at the end I lost a dress size, my wedding dress fitted perfectly and I felt great. But life happened and I slowly went back to eating sugar on regular basis.

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Over the past two years I tried to do “sugar free” again simple before I knew I felt good doing it and I knew the health benefits. Check my previous blog post called “It’s all about the sugar” to learn more about sugar and sweeteners.

On 3rd April this year I went for it. This time I did not go as OTT (over the top) as the previous time, I was still eating out, so occasional sugar intake was still happening in a form of sauces when eating out (Chinese, Italian etc). Why did I decide to go sugar free this time? In January this year we moved from the UK to Prague. As great as it has been it was also stressful and it took a bit of time settling down again in Czech after 3 years in the UK. And the last few months in the UK were not as joyful as we wished. Therefore the sugar intake at the end of 2017 and the beginning of 2018 was quite high –  emotional binge eating.

Starting sugar free this time was much easier as my body and mind already knew what to expect. What made it easier this time was the food choices you get in Prague – so many healthy places to eat that offer even sugar free cakes. My favorite restaurant is now VegGo that offers variety of vegan food as well as variety of sugar-free cakes – my favorite is a raspberry cheesecake.

From 3rd April till 25th July I had no cakes with refined sugar, no ice cream, no cookies etc, I did not use sugar in the household either. As I said the only occasion I might have had some sugar “unknowingly” was when we were eating out. Because sometimes when you make certain sauces, such as when you cook with tomatoes, you might need to use a bit of sugar to balance out the flavors, so I guess those were few occasions I could have consumed sugar. Actually, there was one more case that I am aware of –  pastry. Czech pastry is so good, so I was still eating pastry such as bread ans baguettes. And pastry does contain a bit of sugar as sugar is needed for the yeast to work in the dough to make it rise.

Almost 4 months sugar free and I felt great. I must say I was as consistent in the gym as I wish I were over those four months, but it did not matter because the effect of sugar free was great. My skin became so smooth, especially on my bum, my bum cellulite reduced big time. My muscle definition got more visible even with reduced amount of exercise.

Sugar free was definitely a great detox for me. I only stopped on 25th July as we went on All inclusive holiday. Do not get me wrong, I am not the kind of person who goes on holiday to over eat, but I simple wanted to try some local sweets etc.

The first two days of holiday I tried some cakes, especially the chocolate ones, but to be honest they were not quite worth it. My favorite “sweet” stuff were their pancakes which became my breakfast choice together with some cinnamon and melon, and occasional evening desert choice with some coffee. As much as I do not usually drink sodas, I had few glasses of lemonade and I enjoyed it. But despite, or perhaps in-spite of all that I always made sure I was drinking plenty of water. We even carried one of our gym bottles with us and constantly kept filling it during the day.

Despite change of diet and increased sugar intake I actually did not put on any weight on holiday, I did not notice any changes in my body. And the secret being that as I detoxed my body before the holiday, my body was able to work with the acidity, also thanks to high water intake.

Having come back from holiday where was no ice cream I actually craved ice cream, so I had ice cream yesterday and I truly enjoyed it.

I definitely see benefit of being totally sugar and sweeteners free all the time – your body functions better, your skin improves, you lose weight etc. However, I think there is no reason to beat yourself up about your food choices. Remember “Eat according to your goals and be ready to deal with the consequences”.

Should you wish to go on “sugar free” journey yourself and get some tips, get in touch!

It’s all about the sugar

Some of you that know my story remember that just before our wedding I went completely added sugar free and sweeteners free for almost two and half months. It was an amazing experience and it was definitely worth it as I lost one size to fit my wedding dress. It was also a huge eye-opener to what sugar does to us and how addicted I actually was.

You see, people talk about all sorts of addictions – drugs, alcohol etc, but sugar addiction is not something that is spoken about that much. Why? Because companies make money, a lot of money from sugar. And just when we started being a bit cautious about „added sugar“, they came up with „no added sugar“ labels which trick a lot of people.

Have you ever wondered how come you buy a product labeled „no added sugar“ yet it is still sweet? Were you hoping there is „naturally occuring sugar“ from one of the ingredients? Well, think about it – most of the „no added sugar“ labels are on sweet drinks where no natural sugar occures. So, what is the trick? They pump us with sweeteners instead, such as sucralose, aspartam, just to mention a couple. So, what is worse – added sugar or sweetener? Sweetener! Effects of added sugar are visible in short term – you put on weight, your body retains more water etc. So, why do I say sweeteners are worse? Sweeteners are chemicals and chemicals make our body acidic, meaning they are slowly poisoning our body – no short term effect, but it long term they essentially make us sick, which is worse than fat in my opinion. Did you know that common sweetener aspartame has been link to cancer in several studies?

So, if you asked me to choose between a product with added sugar and one with sweeter, which one would I choose? I would choose added sugar over sweetener as I can at least help my body to deal with the added sugar by drinking plenty of warm water to flush it out and doing some exercise.

If you gave me a choice between added sugar and naturally occurring sugar, e.g. a raw cake sweetened by dates, I would 100% always go for the naturally occurring sugar. Why? Because i tis NATURAL. Can you „overdose“ on naturally occurring sugar? Yes, you can, but it would take some amount of dates for that to happen.

Is there any risk that naturally occurring sugar, such as in fruits, bring? I probably should not call it a risk, but yes, there is let’s say a side effect. If you eat too much fruits your blood sugar level can spike, such as when you have purely fruit fresh juice, and once they spike they eventually have to fall down too. Which can lead to fast sugar cravings which might get your brain to crave fast sugars, such as added sugar – perhaps in a form of chocolate or a cake.

Just a little advice – if you want to do juicing cleanse, use more veg than fruits. Fruit juices are good right after a workout as during a workout your blood sugar levels drop, that’s why a lot of people crave simple carbs after a workout, so a fruit fresh juice will level the sugar levels for you. Just think about this – when you make a glass of a fresh fruit juice you will probably use a couple of arranges and a couple of apples. Would you use the same amount in one go if you were to eat it in a form of a fruit? No. Which means you are giving your body much more fruits than you normally would.

This was meant to be a blog post about my 4 months added sugar free / sweets free time. And the paragraphs above were to be an intro. I think almost 700 words are a good blog post on its own. So, watch out for the next blog post about my recent 4 months sugar free.

Prague Health & Fitness Meetup

Having moved to Prague a month ago I miss my personal training clients and my health community that I created back in the UK.

Meetup app worked for me in the past and therefore I have decided to set up Prague Health & Fitness Meetup.

So, if you are based in Prague and you are looking to meet new people, make like-minded friends and have fun, join me!

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Banana Chocolate Brownie

This is the kind of recipe you want to remember when you end up with several overly-ripe bananas. It is so simple, yet really yummy! And it is sugar free and dairy free!

 

Ingredients:

  • 3 ripe bananas
  • 2 medium eggs
  • 1 scoop of shake / oat apple fiber / beta heart powder
  • 2 tbsp cocoa powder
  • 2 tbsp coconut flower

 

 

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 180°C.
  2. Mash bananas in a bowl.
  3. Add a school of shake / oat apple fiber / beta heart powder.
  4. Add 2 eggs and mix everything together.
  5. Add cocoa powder and coconut flower and mix well.
  6. Put a baking paper in a baking tray and spread the mixture evenly.
  7. Bake at 180°C for 30mins.

Enjoy!

Running in Prague 6

On Sunday I was brave enough to get dressed in this breezy weather and go for a late morning run with my husband. It was my first run this year and the first run in few months. And I survived!

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We live in Prague 6 close to Šárecké údolí which is a lovely nature reserve where we often go for a walk with our dog. This time we decided to go for a run around Džbán lake. I wanted to show my husband the track that I walked with the dog a week ago.

You can access it from many places – walking from Červený vrch, by bus (Divoká Šárka), by tram (Džbán / Divoká Šárka) or even walking distance from metro Nádraží Veleslavín.

This track offers you a nice run on a side walk all the way, so it is a perfect place in autumn and winter where you would get muddy if you were to run off the main roads. There is a bit of down-hill and up hill-runs and beautiful views all around.

It is a favourite spots for locals all year around, pretty much no matter the weather, so it can get a bit busy, however the path is wide enough for you to find our way through. However, I would say the most busy times there are Saturdays and Sundays after lunch when families go for a stroll after a heavy meal.

We ran from our house through residential area before connecting to the main route, so in total it was 7km, I would say without the bit from and back to our house it is about 5km.

I usually do not like to run more than 5km, but it is a really nice route and I am sure I will run it more often.

Do you have any tips for running routes in Prague? Leave a comment below!

When it gets busy

We all know that sometimes it is simply not that easy to stick to our healthy lifestyle, simply life gets in the way – we are busy, we are stressed so we comfort eat etc. That can happen to anyone and there is no need to beat yourself about it.

Past two months have been really hectic, and also a bit stressful for me. You might have noticed I have been a bit quite. Well, the reason being we decided to move out of the UK and move to the Czech Republic where I originally come from. Therefore in December while I was still training my clients I was also organizing the movie, packing etc. To be honest in December I probably exercised only on a couple of occasions with my clients. I am always so grateful for having my dog because she gets me out and about, but because she got spayed in December she was not allowed to do any long walks, especially off lead walks, which meant less walking for me. Let’s face it, December was a very lazy month with way too much cakes and ice cream for me. However, I enjoyed myself.

Early January I moved to Prague and January was completely manic, especially because my husband still had some work engagements back in the UK, so I spent probably 6 days in total with my husband in January.

We moved from a house to a flat which seemed a bit challenging at first as we have an 8 months old staffy girl. In the house, we would just let her in the garden when she needs a wee, in a flat it means for me to get dressed anytime she wants to do her business, and boy she drinks and wees a lot.

Our dog is very energetic and I wanted to make the change from a house to a flat as pleasant as possible for her. Therefore I decided to do long walks with her. And those walks really helped me as well. It is not just about strict diet, actually nutrition should be fun, not strict, and about going to the gym, it is mainly about natural movement.

I get to walk several kilometers a day, even on days when I am at work. On days off I always choose a new park in Prague I take my dog to, so we spend probably up to 3 hours outside. I am also lucky I have a Nature Reserve right behind my house, so even short walks can be fun – we walk up and down the hills in a forest. And on work days when my husband is away I actually take my dog with me to the office. Which means I get up around 6 to give her 20 – 30 mins walk. Then we go to work and we usually get off the tram 2 – 3 stops early so she gets another 30 mins walk before we get to the office. During the day I take her out several times, and sometimes we go home on foot, which is about 1 hour. And I do not even count in all the steps I make in the office as I do not carry my phone with me all the time, perhaps I should get a fit bit.

All I’m trying to say it is mainly about the small things that we can do on daily basis – when you go to work get off the bus or the tram two stops early. When you are in the office, take 10 mins to go out and walk. During the weekends take your family for a walk to a park.

2 Simple Desserts to Warm You Up

It’s getting more and more chilly, and in this kind of weather it is good to have some simple recipes to satisfy your craving. These two recipes are suitable as breakfast, snack or dessert.

Both recipes are refined sugar free and lactose free, however they contain eggs.

 

Mug cake

Ingredients:

  • 1 egg
  • 2 tbsp sunflower oil
  • 1 tbsp coconut flower
  • 1 tbsp ground almonds
  • 1 tbsp cocoa powder
  • pinch of baking powder
  • Optional: maple / carob/ date syrup if you got a sweet tooth

Directions:

  1. Crack an egg into a mug and whisk it with a fork.
  2. Add sunflower oil and mix together.
  3. Add coconut flower, ground almonds, cocoa powder and baking powder in the mug and mix everything together to get a doughy texture.
  4. Put in a microwave on HIGH for 2mins.
  5. Once done you can add some fruits on top. Enjoy!

 

Scrambled egg white with banana

This recipe was inspired by one of my FAB in 8 weeks clients. 

Ingredients:

  • 1 ripe banana
  • Egg white from 1 egg
  • 1tsp coconut oil
  • Pinch of cinnamon
  • Optional: nuts, fruits etc.

Directions:

  1. Heat a pan with coconut oil.
  2. Cut the banana into pieces and add to the pan.
  3. Add a bit of cinnamon. Optionally add chopped nuts.
  4. Once banana is nice and soft add the egg white and mix till you have mushy texture.
  5. Serve on its own or with some nuts / fruits. Enjoy!

 

 

Time to Embrace Your Body

Have you realised that #summerbodyready season has just finished and you already have to get #thelittleblackdressbodyready? Have you had a moment when you looked in a mirror and you thought your body was simply not ready for anything?

I think we all had that moment at least once in our life, some of us have it several times a week, and some even every day. Did you know that 91% of women and about 40% of men are not satisfied with their bodies?

The pressure of society and media is so big that it makes us believe that our bodies are never perfect. I must admit I get those moments when I feel like this and that could and should look better. However, it is important to be able to snap ourselves out of it for several reasons.

  • We pretty much got our body to look the way it is right now.
  • If you do not love your body now you cannot change it and trust me, losing weight will not help you to love yourself more.
  • There is always someone listening. If you do negative self-talk your children will pick up on it.
  • Skinny does not mean healthy. Health is not determined by a clothes size or by a number on your scale.

I am 100% for being healthy and physically active, but that does not equal having peachy but and being size 6. It is time to embrace your body, be grateful for your able body and if you want to change anything, do it for the right reason. Embrace your body and take care of your body, it is the only place you have to live in. Do not abuse your body just for the sake of being able to post a before and after weight loss photo.

We should think positively about our bodies. Body Positive Movement is a movement that encourages people to adopt more forgiving and affirming attitudes towards their bodies, with the goal of improving overall health and well-being. And that is something we have to remember – our goal should be improvement of our overall health and well-being.

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