No Squat No Lunge Leg Workout

No Squat No Lunge Leg Workout

This week’s workout is the perfect workout to do if you have knees that just don’t want to squat or lunge because of an injury, arthritis, or if they are just plain ol’ tired.

My No Squat No Lunge Leg Workout will target all the muscles of the lower body, in particular the hips, hamstrings and glutes. Three important muscle groups to get (and keep) strong for healthy knees.

Today’s workout you will need:

  • A pair of heavy dumbbells (ie. 10lb, 12 or 15lb)
  • A stability ball
  • A mat

No Squat No Lunge Leg Workout

No No Lunges Leg Workout - Fitness with PJ blog full workout

 

 

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How To be 99.9% Vegan

How To be 99.9% Vegan

A Trainer’s Menu – Week 9

 I am in the last week of my two-week vegan diet (I’m experimenting to see if my skin and energy levels improve, read more here), and guess what? I cheated.

 To be completely honest with you I barely lasted 48 hours as a vegan. Cream in my coffee broke me, or more precisely not using cream in my coffee did me in.

 But, I do not feel guilty. Not in the least bit. Life is way too short for crappy coffee, and trust me when I tell you that almond milk in coffee equals a crappy cup of coffee.

 So, aside from that I have been 99.9% vegan for the last week and I have kept it to 99.9% vegan so that I can still enjoy my cup of coffee in the morning, while loving husband gets to enjoy a happy PJ.

 So everyone wins in this scenario (expect maybe the cow. Sorry Mr. Cow.).

 Catch Up On Previous Week’s Menus

 

 Notes about last week’s meals

 

  • Pretty much every single recipe I tried last week ROCKED! But, if I had to choose my two favourites it would have to be the Kale Salad with Tahini Dressing and the Spicy Lentil Tomato & Kale Soup. You must try them!
  • Wait, the Cauliflower Crust Pizza was pretty damn good too. I added fresh roma tomatoes and basil on top, as well got to try a couple of firsts. My first “first” was using what vegans call a chia seed egg. This is where you let chia seed and water sit for a bit and then add it to a recipe that asks for egg. Worked pretty good. The second “first” was trying Daiya cheese – a non-dairy cheese. Don’t ask me how they make it, the ingredient list is a little long, however I do recognize all of the ingredients and that is the first test as to whether or not I purchase a product. I didn’t use a whole lot of it, in case it royally tasted bad. And surprisingly it was pretty good. The pizza itself would have been 100% better too if I did not burn it. Oops. But, I still gobbled it down. I was starving, and cauliflower crust pizza takes FORVER to make so there was NO WAY I was throwing it away. Lucky for me only the edges of the crust were charcoaled and I would totally make this recipe again (sans blackened).
  • But…. the recipes from the 22 Day Revolution book are super good too (even though he doesn’t write how many servings are in his recipes. Super annoying.), as was the Cinnamon Quinoa Cereal.
  • Make sure you check out last week’s blog, some great recipes are there as well as why I am trying a plant-based lifestyle for 14 days and whether or not it may help you.
  • What did picky loving husband think of the week’s worth of vegan dishes? Well, he thought it was SNOW DAY all week cause I never bothered making him eat any of the food I made. Instead he ate his peanut butter and jelly sandwiches (he loves bread), Campbell’s tomatoe soup, and for his greens, Caesar salad. He was in heaven. It was his version of a snow day – all week long. This coming week will be a lot different for him. Sorry babe.

 

KITCHEN TIP: if you only have time to prep a few things for the week ahead start with your breakfasts, your lunches and one salad dressing. Dressings are super-easy to make, but when in a pinch a lot of times we just don’t make them. So, have a healthy homemade salad dressing ready for your salads and ahead of time.

 Vegan Recipes

 MONDAY

 Pre-Breakfast: 1 cup hot water, 1tbsp apple cider vinegar (from the mother), a big sprinkle of cinnamon & a tsp of raw honey (Yes, I know. I should not be doing honey while trying to be vegan, but I tried this with organic maple syrup and didn’t like it, so I added raw honey on my safe list along with my cream for my coffee. I am a rule-breaker. What can I say?). Sip and enjoy before food.

  • Breakfast: Vegan Overnight Oats, but without the banana. Instead I am going to add a half of scoop of either chocolate or vanilla protein powder (Vega brand) to up the protein content and I will eat this for the whole week, with every evening prepping each individual breakfast for the next day. I will add different toppings each morning to keep it interesting, such as berries, pineapple and coconut flakes, carob chips and peanut butter and mandarin orange segments with some fresh ginger. Oh God, I’m hungry for this already.
  • Snack: Super Seed Chocolate Protein Bars – prepped on Sunday.
  • Lunch: Mexican Spiced Tofu Scramble and cut veggies and hummus. I will prep all of these on Sunday and while the recipe does not state how many servings the tofu scramble makes (why do recipe developers do this??!!) I am guessing it will last me 3-4 days.
  • Snack: apple and mixed nuts (this will be my snack all week and it is a regular snack for me too, whether or not I am eating only plant-based. I love this combo because it fills me up and energizes me for the rest of the afternoon.)
  • Dinner: Spicy Potato and Black Bean Burritos – and picky loving husband has to eat this too. I will also prep this on Sunday, since I won’t get home from work until 7:30pm.

Vegan Overnight Oats - Fitness with PJ blog

Vegan Overnight Oats – Oh She Glows

TUESDAY

 

  • Pre-Breakfast: 1 cup hot water, 1tbsp apple cider vinegar (from the mother), a big sprinkle of cinnamon & a tsp of raw honey. Sip and enjoy before food.
  • Breakfast: Vegan Overnight Oats
  • Snack: Super Seed Chocolate Protein Bars
  • Lunch: Mexican Spiced Tofu Scramble and cut veggies and hummus.
  • Snack: apple and mixed nuts
  • Dinner: Vegan Thai Basil Fried Rice – and I making loving husband eat this too.

 

TRAINER TIP: short on time? Try my new 24-Minute Ab HIIT workout! It’s short, sweet and sweaty. You’ll love it.

Super Seed Chocolate Protein Bars - Fitness with PJ blog

Super Seed Chocolate Protein Bars – Vegaricha

WEDNESDAY

 

  • Pre-Breakfast: 1 cup hot water, 1tbsp apple cider vinegar (from the mother), a big sprinkle of cinnamon & a tsp of raw honey. Sip and enjoy before food.
  • Breakfast: Vegan Overnight Oats
  • Snack: Super Seed Chocolate Protein Bars
  • Lunch: Mexican Spiced Tofu Scramble and cut veggies and hummus.
  • Snack: apple and mixed nuts
  • Dinner: on own

 

NUTRITION TIP: if you like protein shakes make sure you buy a high quality powder. Check out my blog on protein and protein powders for more info.

 

THURSDAY

 Pre-Breakfast: 1 cup hot water, 1tbsp apple cider vinegar (from the mother), a big sprinkle of cinnamon & a tsp of raw honey. Sip and enjoy before food.

  • Breakfast: Vegan Overnight Oats
  • Snack: Super Seed Chocolate Protein Bars
  • Lunch: out with a friend – so not too sure what I will be eating. This town is not known for it’s culinary delights, let alone vegan ones.
  • Snack: apple and mixed nuts
  • Dinner: Easy Sweet Potatoe Veggie Burgers, picky loving husband will have a turkey burger (even though if you the read the posts under this recipe everyone raves about them and how their non-vegan husband’s loved the burger too. Mine will not rave about them. I know.). As a side dish I will have roasted veggies – picky loving husband will most likely have potato chips.

 

sweet-potato-bean-burger-fitness with PJ - blog

Easy Sweet Potato Veggie Burger – Healthy happy Life

FRIDAY

 

  • Pre-Breakfast: 1 cup hot water, 1tbsp apple cider vinegar (from the mother), a big sprinkle of cinnamon & a tsp of raw honey. Sip and enjoy before food.
  • Breakfast: Vegan Overnight Oats
  • Snack: Super Seed Chocolate Protein Bars
  • Lunch: Wasa crisp bread (4) with almond butter and strawberry jam, and a chocolate protein shake mixed with almond milk (Vega brand)
  • Snack: apple and mixed nuts
  • Dinner: Loving husband is out tonight (He is DJ-ing a Christmas party. Yes, he is man of many talents. However, eating vegetables is not one.) so I am not sure what I will do for dinner. Bella and I will probably have a low-key dinner and curl up on the couch and binge watch “Flesh & Bone”, my newest Super Channel addiction (it is an amazing drama about a New York ballet company – I love it!)

 

 WORKOUT TIP: you are only as strong as your weakest link and if you weak link is flexibility then you need this workout.

 SATURDAY

 Pre-Breakfast: 1 cup hot water, 1tbsp apple cider vinegar (from the mother), a big sprinkle of cinnamon & a tsp of raw honey. Sip and enjoy before food.

  • Breakfast: Vegan Overnight Oats or whole grain toast with avocado
  • Snack: Protein shake blended with almond milk, ice and a 1tbsp of peanut butter
  • Lunch: Out with loving husband
  • Snack: Vega Snack Bar – chocolate peanut butter
  • Dinner: Vegetable sushi cause loving husband is out this evening (again!), and I can eat whatever I want (again!)

 

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Insomnia – 3 Unconventional Tips to Sleep Better

Insomnia – 3 Unconventional Tips to Sleep Better

When I was a teenager my father nicknamed me  “mattress back”. It was his subtle way of letting me know that I slept too much.

Being a teenager I didn’t bat an eye at his sarcasm (sarcasm kinda runs in the family), and nor did I fully appreciate my ability to fall asleep and STAY asleep.

Flash forward 30+ years later and oh how I crave to have a bit more of that mattress back teen in me again.

The Science of Sleep & Insomnia

Sleep provides amazing benefits to the body.

It lowers stress and improves mood. It helps maintain and promote a healthy body weight, it improves our athletic performance and coordination, and it increases our ability to pay attention and remember new information (1).

In 2011 researchers from the Université Laval (2) released their data that revealed that 40% of Canadians suffer from a sleep disorder.

Our brothers and sisters south of us aren’t doing any better either. The National Sleep Foundation (along with two government agencies) estimated in 2012 that 40 billion Americans suffer from a chronic sleep disorder (3).

That’s a lot of sleepy, cranky people gripping their Grande cups fairly tightly.

All the beans in Columbia won't make me a morning person. - Bella - Fitness-with-PJ-blog

 

3 Tips to Sleep Better


1/ Get out of bed. 
A couple of years ago I went to the UBC Sleep Disorder Clinic because my sleep is so bad. It was both educational and entertaining.

Educational, because I learned some techniques that have helped me, and entertaining because loving husband fell asleep while in the waiting room when I was getting my assessment done.

He, apparently, has no problems with sleep.

After a 90-minute examination and assessment my doctor (who looked liked he was suffering from his own specialty himself) diagnosed me with insomnia.

To this I thought “no shit”.

He then further identified that I had “poor sleep hygiene”. Right away I got defensive because I thought he was telling me that I wasn’t bathing properly.

But, apparently sleep hygiene is “all the behavioural and environmental factors that precede sleep and may interfere with sleep” (thank-you Wikipedia), and well, my hygiene sucked.

My first sleep hygiene sin was that I lie in bed until I eventually fell asleep (this sometimes taking up to 2-3 hours), and then when I woke up in the middle of the night I lie there again and wait for sleep to take me.

It’s not like I was mulling on my problems while lying there though. I thought I was doing the right thing by practicing deep breathing and meditation.

I wasn’t. Experts do not recommend this.

Instead, they recommend if we can’t fall asleep after 15-20 minutes to get out of bed and go read or watch television, and stay out of bed until we are sleepy again.

The same goes if we wake up in the middle of the night. Get out of bed, do something that is not mentally stimulating and when you are tired go back to bed.

Lying there and trying to fall sleep (willing yourself to fall asleep), is counterproductive and the harder you try the more elusive sleep will become (4).

 

2/ Decrease your sleep window. Another technique the UBC Sleep Clinic taught me is to decrease my sleep window, or how long I am in bed.

I was of the opinion that if I went to bed early I would get a good night’s sleep. My sleep journal suggested otherwise.

Going to bed when we’re not sleepy sends the wrong signal to our brain. It messes with our circadian rhythm (our internal timer that let’s us know when we should be awake and asleep), and this in turn makes it harder for us to fall asleep.

While I thought I was sleepy what I really was was fatigued, tired and exhausted.  Not sleepy though.

So, my thinking of going to bed early was actually diminishing my ability to fall asleep.

Being awake longer will actually lead to a quicker, deeper and more solid sleep. Don’t worry, though. What you aren’t doing is decreasing your time actually sleeping. Instead, you are decreasing the amount of time awake in bed.

Of all the tricks I learned from UBC and other sleep experts that I have interviewed through the years this has by far helped me the most.

 

3/ Go to bed and get up, same time, everyday. No matter what day it is keep your same sleep cycle. I now go to bed between 11-11:30pm every night and wake up around 6:30am every morning.

When I don’t follow this regime I suffer sleeplessness in the evening. You need to keep your biological clock set and maintain that time – even on the weekends and when on holidays.

In addition you cannot store sleep up. Example, sleep longer on the weekend to make up for missed shut-eye during the week. Experts all say that this horse-shit (well, they don’t actually say that word, but I know they are thinking that).

And, finally, contrary to popular belief you don’t need 8 hours of sleep. It differs for everyone. Some need more, some need less. Only a sleep diary will shed the light on how much you need.

Find out how your sleep pattern is with a sleep diary. The Sleep Foundation has this 7-day Sleep Diary PDF online. Click here to access it and try it – it might offer some valuable information to you.

 

References:

(1)    http://sleepfoundation.org/how-sleep-works/how-much-sleep-do-we-really-need

(2)    http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/09/110908104005.htm

(3)    http://www.statisticbrain.com/sleeping-disorder-statistics/

(4)    http://www.webmd.com/sleep-disorders/features/cant-sleep-when-to-get-out-of-bed

(5)   Behavioural treatment for insomnia, Rocky Garrison, PhD, CBSM

 

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24-Minute Ab HIIT Workout

24-Minute Ab HIIT Workout

This is the perfect workout to do if you want a quick, effective, core-concentrated workout. It is also the perfect workout to do if you find you suffer from EADD (exercise attention deficit disorder), in other words you get bored easily and have a hard time focussing on workouts that last too long, or have too many sets.

And, it is the perfect to do to help ramp up your metabolism and get your body revved up. Push play below and join me!

24-Minute Ab HIIT Workout

24-Min Ab HIIT Workout - Fitness with PJ full workout description

 

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A Trainer’s Weekly Menu – Week 8

A Trainer’s Weekly Menu – Week 8

Well, it has arrived. The start of my two-week vegan food diet. I am starting a vegan food diet today to see if my skin and energy levels improve.

Loving husband has called today ARMAGEDDON, and he personally asked me to bold the word and capitalize it (he will not be participating).

This Is Not a Cleanse or a Detox

My two-week vegan food diet is not a cleanse or a detox. I do not believe in cleanses. I feel (and so does science, read the research here, here and here) that the body is designed to filter out toxins efficiently enough.

There is no build-up of toxins that we need to get rid of.

Instead those cleanses you see in the health food stores, or on the internet, are pseudoscience and hype to grab your attention and your money.

However, if changing your diet temporarily is done because you are noticing:

  • Your energy levels are low (one BIG reason I am doing this 2-week change to my diet)
  • You don’t feel like yourself
  • You feel bloated and “heavy”
  • Your skin is acting up (second reason I am doing this)
  • Your body aches
  • You are experiencing brain fog

Or, if you need to:

  • Reset yourself back to a healthier eating pattern
  • See if you have allergies by eliminating food groups and then slowly adding one in at a time

Then you are doing it for the right reasons.

Why Am I Doing This

While I eat fairly healthy (however I will be the first to admit that I love spiced rum & Coke Zero, pizza and cookies), I am just not feeling myself lately and want to reset my eating patterns.

For one, I have been enjoying myself far TOO much on the weekends, and two I want to see if the meat and/or eggs, and the small amount of dairy that I consume in a week could be at fault for my lagging energy levels and dull looking skin.

I also know hormones are at play too, thank you Menopause fairy, and the weather (I think I suffer from mild seasonal affective disorder).

But, I have never been one to just stand still and accept the status quo.

Perhaps with a few more tweaks I can get rid of my symptoms completely? Or, perhaps not. But at least I tried.

Symptoms and Tweaks for Menopausal Blues

Because of what I eat, and how much I exercise, I have been fortunate to keep most of my peri-menopausal symptoms at bay. If you suffer from menopausal symptoms I recommend the following:

  • Take a long hard look at your diet (and at the very least eliminate sugar)
  • Walk everyday
  • Stretch everyday
  • Weight train three times a week
  • Meditate, or take just a few moments each and every day to just be still and breathe
  • Laugh more, frown less

All of these will help lower your cortisol levels, perhaps decrease (or eliminate) your hot flashes, stop the weight gain that happens with most women when going through menopause and assist in keeping you sane while your hormones are trying to get you to be otherwise.

 

Why a Vegan Diet

While I initially was planing to do a two-week raw food diet, after some research I decided against it. There are a lot of professionals, holistic nutritionists and Chinese Medicine doctors that warn people against a raw food diet.

You see we need to lightly cook, or steam, a lot of our vegetables in order to properly digest them. As well, a raw food diet is a HUGE commitment. I am talking about making every single meal, for every single day.

It just seemed completely unrealistic for my busy lifestyle.

Whereas a plant-based lifestyle is far easier for me to wrap my head around and it works well for people looking to have more energy (hello!), as well anyone interested in adding more nutrition to their diet.

And there’s the other two obvious pluses to a plant-based life – it’s better for the planet and kinder to the animals.

All around everyone wins… except loving husband.

Catch Up On Previous Week’s Menus

Notes about last week’s meals

  • Last week I implemented the apple cider vinegar hot drink every morning and within a couple of days I felt a positive difference, so I am going to keep on going with it.
  • The Blueberry Chia Pudding is awesome, I highly recommend it!
  • I am also a HUGE fan of the Loaded Sweet Potatoe (and you have to make the yogurt dressing too).
  • What I will probably not make again? The Tilapia Tostadas. Sorry Whole Foods, but they were kinda bland and boring. It was like a Saturday night without a drink.

Blueberry-Almond-Chia-Seed-Pudding-Fitness wth PJ blog Blueberry Chia Seed Pudding

MONDAY

  • Pre-Breakfast: 1 cup hot water, 1tbsp apple cider vinegar (from the mother), a sprinkle of cinnamon & a tsp of organic maple syrup (can’t do honey while on a vegan diet). Sip and enjoy before food.
  • Breakfast: Cinnamon Quinoa Breakfast Bowl with shredded apple, coconut, almonds and I will also add nutmeg (prep Sunday, make a double batch for 4 servings)
  • Snack: apple dipped in almond butter
  • Lunch: Spiced Lentil & Tomato Kale Soup with veggies and hummus as a side and a Mandarin orange for dessert.
  • Snack: Protein shake blended with almond milk, ice and a 1tbsp of peanut butter. I fear that I will not be getting enough protein on this diet so this mid-afternoon shake will help cover me. The powder I will be using is Vega Sport Protein Powder, in chocolate of course.
  • Dinner: Artichoke and Tomato Salad (from The 22 Day Revolution book)

red-lentil-tomato-soup-Fitness-with-Pj-blog

Spiced Lentil Tomato & Kale Soup – Oh She Glows

 TUESDAY

  • Pre-Breakfast: 1 cup hot water, 1tbsp apple cider vinegar (from the mother), a sprinkle of cinnamon & a tsp of organic maple syrup. Sip and enjoy before food.
  • Breakfast: Cinnamon Quinoa Breakfast Bowl
  • Snack: apple dipped in almond butter, or an apple with some mixed nuts
  • Lunch: Lentil soup with veggies and hummus and my trusty orange for dessert
  • Snack: Protein shake blended with almond milk, ice and a 1tbsp of peanut butter
  • Dinner: Raw Walnut Tacos and cut veggies with hummus (from The 22 Day Revolution book  – and this recipe alone is worth the price of the book. I have made this before and I love, love, love it!)

WalnutTacos-Fitness with PJ blog Raw Walnut Tacos

 WEDNESDAY

  • Pre-Breakfast: 1 cup hot water, 1tbsp apple cider vinegar (from the mother), a sprinkle of cinnamon & a tsp of organic maple syrup. Sip and enjoy before food.
  • Breakfast: Cinnamon Quinoa Breakfast Bowl
  • Snack: apple dipped in almond butter, or an apple with some mixed nuts
  • Lunch: Lentil Soup with cut veggies and hummus
  • Snack: Protein shake blended with almond milk, ice and a 1tbsp of peanut butter
  • Dinner: DIY Burrito Bowls (prep in the morning for easy assembly when I get home from work + make a double batch to have for lunch tomorrow). I do not eat white rice, so I will use quinoa and loving husband can have the rice.

Vegan Burrito Bowl – Oh She Glows

 THURSDAY

  • Pre-Breakfast: 1 cup hot water, 1tbsp apple cider vinegar (from the mother), a sprinkle of cinnamon & a tsp of organic maple syrup. Sip and enjoy before food.
  • Breakfast: Cinnamon Quinoa Breakfast Bowl
  • Snack: apple dipped in almond butter, or an apple with mixed nuts (are you sensing a pattern with my snacks?)
  • Lunch: Vegan Burrito Bowl leftover from last night’s dinner
  • Snack: Protein shake blended with almond milk, ice and a 1tbsp of peanut butter
  • Dinner: Kale Salad with Tahini Dressing (make double batch so that I have lunch tomorrow), add more white beans and loving husband will have salmon on top of his.

Kale-salad-vrgan-tahini-dressiing-fitness-with-PJ-blog

Kale Salad with Tahini Dressing – Love and Lemons

FRIDAY

  • Pre-Breakfast: 1 cup hot water, 1tbsp apple cider vinegar (from the mother), a sprinkle of cinnamon & a tsp of organic maple syrup. Sip and enjoy before food.
  • Breakfast: Blueberry Chia Pudding
  • Snack: apple dipped in almond butter, or an apple with mixed nuts
  • Lunch: Kale salad left-over from last night’s dinner
  • Snack: Pumpkin Pie Protein Shake. I also have some vegan vanilla protein powder so I am going to blend it up with 1/4c pureed pumpkin, 1tsp pumpkin pie spice, 1.5 cups of unsweetened almond milk and some ice. If it’s any good I will add this to my afternoon snack list for the future.
  • Dinner: Cauliflower Crust Pizza, loving husband: medium double pepperoni from Panago

[cauliflower-crust-pizza-Fitness-with-PJ-blog

Cauliflower Crust Pizza – Detoxinista

 SATURDAY

 Pre-Breakfast: 1 cup hot water, 1tbsp apple cider vinegar (from the mother), a sprinkle of cinnamon & a tsp of organic maple syrup. Sip and enjoy before food.

Zucchini-Noodles-Fitness-With-PJ-Blog

Zucchini Noodles with Marinara Sauce – The Iron You

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