If You Don’t Change Direction, You’ll End Up Where You are Heading

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When someone goes to the Doctor for test results and is told that they have heart disease, they will usually ask “How did I GET heart disease?”.

Well…. you don’t “get” heart disease.  It’s not like getting a cold virus from having someone sneeze the virus onto you.  You create the environment and then nurture it over time.  For some it happens a lot sooner than others.  For a minority, it never happens.  In this regard, we’re all different.

But, for most people, if you are sedentary, you smoke, you stress about everything, you eat processed, refined foods and you don’t sleep enough… you will “get” heart disease… or diabetes… or hypertension… or gout… or SOMETHING.

Understand that you might be blessed, or cursed, with a strong constitution and/ or metabolism, YOU are the one who sets the course from there.  YOU are the creator after the fact.  You’ve got what you’ve got.

The same thing holds true for healthy, fit people that do habitual things that might harm them over time.  Too much heavy lifting over too long a period of time will usually result in arthritis, joint injury or back pain.  Again… you set the course.

Take a look at the direction that you are heading in (remember you aren’t there yet, you are just heading there).

Continuum

-Will it lead you to dis-ease or injury?

-Are your daily actions supporting a healthy body, sound mind and a strong spirit?

You alone can decide to stay the course, or change directions.

 

Either way, you’ll end up exactly where you’re heading.

The Death of the Twinkie

A few random thoughts on the latest Fitness news stories….

The Death of the Twinkie

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Massive and scandalous to some…. and a non- story to others.  My first thought was, “Do people REALLY still eat Twinkies?”.  Apparently they do.  Lots of them.

In the end, I don’t think that the Death of the Twinkie will have much of an impact on anything.  While it sure isn’t a healthy food choice (It’s really nothing more than processed flours, sugars, fats and chemicals), in moderation it probably won’t harm you if you eat one every now and then.

Twinkies won’t help you to get into great shape, but, they’re also not the reason that there is an obesity epidemic in many societies today.  It’s not that simple.

I tried one (for science you see) and …BLECH!   I’m all for a good “fat food” splurge as a treat …but it’s got to be worth it.  It should at least taste good!

Give me some homemade cake, some real whipped cream, maybe a  few berries.  That would be worth it.

A golden blob of who knows what filled with a greasy “cream filling”?  Not so much.

Exercise May Ward off Anxiety

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First of all…. I can’t believe that we STILL have to study this stuff!  I think we have enough anectodal evidence to conclude that….. YES…. exercise makes you feel better.  I can honestly say that after 50 000 workouts in my life time, I have never (as in ever) had someone say that they felt worse after exercising than they did before.

So… a recent University of Maryland study showed that people who rested for 30 minutes per day over two days didn’t fare as well in dealing with stress as those that cycled for 30 minutes per day over two days.

Participants were shown a series of images that were violent or disturbing along with neutral or pleasant images shortly after either resting or exercising.  While both groups fared well in the measurement of anxiety levels, the exercise group maintained the decreased levels of anxiety for longer.  The resting group had levels that rose back to their pre-test levels quickly.

“We found that exercise helps to buffer the effects of emotional
exposure. If  you exercise, you’ll not only reduce your anxiety, but
you’ll be better able to  maintain that reduced anxiety when confronted with emotional events,” study researcher J. Carson Smith said.

10 Minute Workouts

A recent news story addressed the efficiency of short, 10 minute workouts and whether they can actually help someone maintain, or improve, their health and fitness.

According to the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM), multiple short burst workouts CAN improve endurance, strength and even metabolism in people who are just too busy to commit to longer sessions.  They even have a term for it.  Exercise Snacking.  I love that!

Trainers have know for years that the intensity of a workout session will be the deciding factor in how effective it is in bringing about change.  A 90 minute session of doing a few sets between chatting, drinking water and watching TV will hardly improve your body like a focused 10 minute blast of intensity.

I once challenged a client that told me that they had NO time to workout.  Eventually, they conceded that yes, they could sneak in 10 minutes during the day.  They wanted to know if they should go for a 10 minute walk.  This was a fairly fit individual to begin with, so I suggested skipping the walk (save that for errands that occur during the day) and trying this little circuit that I designed for them.

Pushups for 60 seconds (As many as possible!)

Crunches for 60 seconds

Squat jumps for 60 seconds

Cross Body Punches (like shadow boxing) for 60 seconds

Alternate Rear Lunges for 60 seconds

…..repeat for 5 more minutes!

Now… the above little “snack” is an absolute KILLER.  Very difficult.  …but it was designed to make a point.  The DURATION isn’t as important as the INTENSITY.

Do you think that if you could complete this circuit for 10 minutes everyday, it would get you fitter than going for a 10 minute walk?

You better believe it!  …and if you have TWENTY minutes, go for a 10 minute walk after round 2!

The 80/20 Rule for Lifelong Nutrition

Recently, at All Canadian Fitness we hosted Andrea Thatcher who is a Registered Holistic Nutritionist and Certified Personal Trainer.  Andrea is also the author of “In One End and Out the Other”, an intensive guide to everyday nutrition.  It was a really great evening of learning and discussion with some of our personal trainers.

Andrea is a passionate speaker and a strong advocate for natural nutrition.  She refers frequently to the genius of Mother Nature.  The more “natural” a food is, the better.  One of the things that I really liked about her message was that she told us right at the beginning that there will probably be times when she is speaking that we’ll probably be thinking that she’s full of ……!

Andrea has strong opinions and she likes to rattle cages.

As we spoke about designing healthy eating plans, the importance of “Certified” organic foods, stabilizing blood sugar and a whole bunch of other things, there was one bit of wisdom that really resonated with us.

Andrea’s most important tool to help anyone succeed at eating healthy for life is what she calls the 80/20 Rule.  80% of the time make your food choices from Certified Organic sources for meat, fish, vegetables, fruit and grains (specifically quinoa, oats or brown rice).  Avoid packaged, processed foods with preservatives, nitrates, colours etc…  The other 20% of the time, eat for pleasure, for social reasons, for convenience or to feed your “soul”.

How refreshing is that?  No hard and fast “all or nothing” rules.  Just do the absolute best you can “most” of the time and then enjoy yourself “some” of the time.  You can’t fail because perfection shouldn’t be the goal in the first place.

The really incredible part of the rule is that if you follow the 80/20 rule, it means that 73 days out of the year are part of your 20%!  5 out of 28 meals per week or 1 complete pleasure day per week.  It hardly seems restrictive when you think of it in those terms.  You can also think of the 80/20 rule as a way of looking at your plate.  80% of your plate should be made up of the “good stuff” and 20% of the “fun stuff”.

The key is to do this guilt free!  Feeling guilty after eating brings about a whole other set of issues that aren’t good for your body, your mind or your spirit.

“There is absolutely room in a healthy diet for convenience, boredom, habit or comfort.  Simply be aware of what you are eating, and strive to make healthy choices 80% of the time.”

….thank you Andrea!

 

 

Eat (or drink) Your Veggies

We all know that we need to get more vegetables in our diets.  It’s something we’ve been told since we were little kids.  Whether the advice is coming from national nutrition organizations or from your mom, the advice is sound.

Vegetables are packed with vitamins and minerals, they are high in fibre and (unlike fruits), they are low in sugar.  It’s a no brainer.  You should be eating lots of veggies.  I even know a prominent nutritionist who teaches people that eating healthy can be as simple as following his “5 words formula” ie:  Eat Some Food, Mostly Vegetables.  If, every time you eat, you eat “mostly vegetables”, you’ll be well on your way to the ideal diet.

Having said all of the above, I am constantly shocked and amazed when I check client’s food journals and they’ve consumed ONE SINGLE serving of vegetables over two entire days!  An eating style like that will surely lead to problems over time (And may be the reason that they came to me in the first place!).

We’re busy, we don’t like cooking, we don’t want to think… blah, blah, blah.  EAT YOUR VEGGIES!!!  The more colour the better.  Iceberg lettuce and cucumbers are neutral at best.  They aren’t bad for you, but, they really don’t contribute much to your overall healthy eating plan.  Red peppers, yellow beans, green broccoli, DARK leafy spinach.  The more colour that a vegetable has (excepting cauliflower and cabbage), the more nutrients that veggie has.

Here are 5 ways that you can, painlessly and easily, get more vegetables in your diet.

1-  Add washed baby spinach to your sandwiches.  Put them in a wrap with your favourite meat and add a handful of leaves to your regular mixed salad.

2-  Blend kale or spinach into a protein smoothie along with some fruit.  The sugar and taste of the fruit make the spinach or kale virtually tasteless.  Try almond milk, frozen strawberries, a handful of kale and vanilla whey protein powder (Isagenix “Isalean Pro” is my favourite).

3-  Add frozen mixed vegetables into soups that you make or even healthy canned soups that you buy.  Same goes for stew.  Kick up the nutrient content while adding zero work.

4-  Sautee mushrooms, peppers and onions before adding scrambled eggs to your frying pan to make a really “fancy” omelette worthy of Sunday brunch.

5-  If you are a “pepperoni pizza” person, experiment with at least one vegetable topping each time you order. Pizza can be complete junk food (pepperoni only on white flour crust) or can actually be very healthy (all vegetable toppings on thin whole wheat or muti-grain crust).  You don’t have to go all the way at once, just start moving in the direction of “better”.

The Day After Halloween

It’s the day after Halloween!  Did you eat too many “mini” chocolate bars?  Are you bloated from all of the salt in the chips that you ate?  If you are, you’re not alone.  Lots of people give in (and that’s okay).  The right thing, NOW,  is not too panic.  Don’t feel like you have to purge or cleanse or start a crazy fad diet.
Just get back to doing the right things.
Eat in a way that supports metabolism and stable blood sugar.  Drink water, eat your vegetables and make sure that you’re eating enough protein.
Here’s an example of a day of eating for me.  You’ll, obviously, adjust based on your activity, body weight and preferences.  Essentially, I try to eat every 3 to 3 1/2 hours and consume protein with vegetables or fruit every time that I eat.  Starches sort of take care of themselves without much thought.  See if you can come up with a similar outline for yourself as a “perfect day” template!
4:35am-  Oatmeal with maple syrup, spoonful of peanut butter.  Coffee.  1 scoop of Ionix (from Isagenix) Multi vitamin/ anti-oxidant powder with water.
 
7:30am-  Isagenix- Isalean Chocolate Shake with 1 banana.
 
10:30am-  Salmon sandwich with green pepper strips on whole wheat.  Yogourt.  Green apple.  Coffee.
 
1:30pm-  Vegetable soup.  Homemade protein bar from Goodness Me!
 
5pm-  Roast chicken from the grocery store.  Whole wheat baguette with real butter.  Mixed salad with homemade olive oil dressing.  Sliced peaches.
 
8:30pm-  Kashi Go Lean high protein cereal with 1% milk.

What’s So Great About TRX Training?

If you go to the gym or read fitness magazines, you’ve probably seen or heard about TRX training.  It is a super-hot form of exercise right now that is hogging the headlines in the fitness world.  Mixed martial artists, physiotherapists and everyday exercisers can’t seem to get enough of working with the TRX system.

When you consider the thousands of dollars that most pieces of equipment at the gym cost, it is remarkable that something that costs less than $200 could be making such an impact.  So…. what’s so great about TRX training?

To begin, it’s helpful to understand what TRX actually means.  Total body, Resistance, eXercise.  As opposed to traditional bodybuilding exercises (or machines), which isolate one muscle at a time, working your biceps with the TRX can only work if you are ALSO flexing your core, stabilizing with your lower back, your glutes, your hips, upper back, shoulders etc…  It is incredibly effective at working LOTS of muscles all at the same.  In other words, you get more work done in less time.  This is precisely why physiotherapists and rehab specialists like it so much.  Like Pilates, it helps people to become stronger in the abdominals and core without having to do “core or ab only” workouts.

The style of training that TRX (which is a brand name for the product) uses is referred to as “suspension training”.  Simply put, the exerciser is suspended from a high point, gripping the handles of the TRX system to perform a series of pushing, pulling, rotating and stabilizing moves.  ALL of them can only work if you contract your core while performing them.  In essence, the exerciser focuses on “movements” as opposed to “muscles”.

Developed by a former Navy Seal using parachute straps in the 1990’s, the piece of equipment known as TRX started to be marketed around 2005.  An impressive climb in a short period of time.  There are many other “suspension training” devices, but, like Kleenex is to tissue, TRX rules the landscape.

The limitation with suspension training is that if someone wanted to build significant amounts of muscle bulk, it is difficult to overload the muscles (and also to isolate the muscles) to the point of early muscle failure within the 8- 12 repetition range.  That is where traditional bodybuilding would come in.  There is a time and a place for everything!

For the average exerciser, however, the TRX suspension training system is an incredible tool that is inexpensive, effective and even portable that will bring fantastic results when it is added to a fitness program.  Either on it’s own, or, as a cross training tool for a change of pace.

Stupid Things that Smart, Healthy People Do

You’re not a stupid person.  And you’re not lazy either.

Then why does it feel like you are stuck in a rut or at a plateau with your health and fitness?  Everyone gets there from time to time.  You put in the effort, do the things that you know are right.  And sometimes it feels like you’re just spinning your wheels, or worse yet that you are backsliding.

I’d be willing to bet that there are at least a couple unhealthy habits in your life when you’re stuck, and that you’re not even aware of them.

The things on this short list of 4 Stupid Things that smart people do will hold you back every time.  Fix them, and get SMART, and you’ll find it much easier to get where you want to go.

1-  You eat out too often.

The Drive Thru is part of our culture now that it’s hard to avoid it.  And just about every fast food restaurant or coffee shop has what they consider “healthy options” that make us feel less guilty when we buy from them instead of brown bagging our lunch.

Remember, restaurant food (even “healthy” options) are designed to taste good first and foremost.  They are loaded with excess salt, sugar and calories.  A fast food salad can have more calories and fat than one of the burgers sold there.  The “healthy” chicken breast sandwiches are loaded with obscene amounts of sodium.

Cook real food and then pack leftovers.  You’ll save time and money.  And you’ll be leaner, fitter and healthier.

2-  You sleep too little. 

This is another negative in the age of technology that we live in.  Everything is 24 hours a day.  We work more than ever and now take our work home to fret over right up until bed time (after we’ve pushed our bed time later than in the past).

If you are getting less than 7 hours of sleep per night, you are probably sleep deprived and your body will be producing excessive amounts of the stress hormone cortisol.

When your body produces too much cortisol lean muscle tissue is broken down.

Less muscle = less metabolism.  Less metabolism = more fat storage.

Sleeping a bit more can actually make you leaner.

3-  You stress too much over the little things. 

Life today is more hectic than ever.  In a generation or two we’ve become a society that is ON all the time.  We actually carry devices with us that allow anybody to reach us… at any time… for anything!  How did that seem like a good idea?

We’ve also become overburdend with endless tasks from work and home.  Parenting has changed.  Today’s mothers and fathers seem to feel the need to oversee every activity that their children do and to attend every single function from practices to meetings to games etc…  All in all, it means that we’re all a bit more stressed than our parents were.

When you allow stress to take over your life, your body reacts much like when you sleep too little and you produce the hormone cortisol.  In this case, it is used for a “fight or flight response” to ready you to survive some type of crisis.  Answering 200 emails a day isn’t exactly what the hormome is released for, but, it’s released nonetheless.  And it starts to break down muscle tissue… and turns you into a fat storage machine.

Take a few minutes each night to write a list of TEN things (no more) that you really, really have to accomplish the next day.  You’ll be surprised how hard it is to come up with ten really important things.  And the simple act of writing them down, makes them somehow feel less urgent, and less stressful.

…then consider taking a tech free break several times per week.  Go about your life without a cel phone or mobile device.  Just like in the old days.  Life will go on and you’ll feel less stress.

4-  You exercise regularly… but you’re on autopilot.

One thing about the human body is that it is amazing at adapting to whatever we ask of it.  Once the adaptation is made, however, the body will stay the same, because it doesn’t NEED to change.

When you begin a new exercise program, you probably feel some soreness afterwards.  This might last for a week or two, but, you adapt pretty quickly and soon don’t feel much of anything when you repeat the same workout.  This is a sign that you’re body has “adapted”.  It’s built some new muscle, increased it’s cardiovascular capacity and maybe even burned some body fat.

The way that you change your body is that you give it a stimulus that it isn’t used to.  Once it gets used to the stimulus, you need to change it to get the same adaptation process again.

Give yourself 2- 4 weeks (maximum) with any training program before you tweak it in some way.  You can, literally, train forever without ever reaching that stuck plateau.  You’ll continue to make changes and continue to improve your fitness levels.

Pay attention to the little things.  Examine whether you have fallen victim to one, or more of the 4 “stupid” things that can bring your fitness results to a screeching halt.  Focus on the solution and you’ll be amazed at how the results just start happening again.

Ernie Schramayr-  All Canadian Fitness

My Favourite Fitness Apps

I can hardly believe that I’m writing this blog… let alone that I have favourite “apps”!

I am one of those people that always snickered when people texted, hated carrying a cel phone with me and relied on a pad and pen to keep notes.  I had a cel phone that I rarely carried with me with which I had never sent a text message.  It was the old style flip phone that, basically, made calls and received calls.  Well, that all changed this past Christmas when my wife decided it was time for me to upgrade and she gave me a Samsung Galaxy 2S phone with “Android” techonology.  Wow!

Was I impressed?  Actually no, I was annoyed.  And stressed!  The thought of learning how to use it and having to read this big manual was really freaking me out.  And what if I turned into one of “those” people, constantly looking into my hands tweeting about life instead of actually enjoying it?  After much eye-rolling, my 11 year old daughter walked me through it and several months later, I’m like a pro using this incredibly powerful tool for all kinds of things.

Besides making calls, texting, receiving emails, reading the daily news and playing games, I’ve really, really enjoyed finding and using a variey of fitness applications offered for free by the Android system.

My 3 favourites are;

1-  RunKeeper

I use Run Keeper for my weekly mountain bike rides.  It measures your distance, your pace, your calories burned and your time.  You can set it to announce out loud where you are (I keep it in the pocket of my Camel Back water pack and look forward to updates every so often).  Run Keeper also maps out your ride (or run) using a GPS system and will provide a synopsis for you to archive if you’d like.  There are multiple settings for things like running, cycling, hiking, skiing etc…  Super easy to use.

Here is a screen shot of a Run Keeper activity log;

2-  Tabata Timer

When I’m short on time, or I just want to push the intensity higher in my cardio training, without increasing duration, I love doing Tabata drills.

Choose an endurance exercise like squat jumps, jumping jacks, burpees or even high knee running on the spot.  Perform the exercise for 20 hard seconds of effort, followed by 10 seconds of recovery.  Repeat 8 times for a 4 minute “Tabata”.

The Tabata Timer APP times out the work and the rest and signals the start/ finish with either a whistle or a horn  as it counts them down for you.  You just set it up to count as many repeats as you like…. and then you get to it.  Simple.

3-  Workout Trainer by Skimble

I have to create workout plans for clients every single day, so when I do my own workouts, it’s sometimes fun to let someone else (like this app) do it for me.

Workout Trainer by Skimble offers a selection of workouts for different bodyparts or for strength, endurance or core training.  The total time for the workout is given as well as the intensity level.  You can preview exercises and then choose to “Do Workout” if you’re ready to go.  I found it great for times when I train at home with no equipment.

As I get to know my phone better and appreciate all of it’s features, I’m sure that I’ll find more “favourite” fitness apps.  When I do, I’ll share them with you!

Ernie Schramayr-  All Canadian Fitness

Avoid the Back to School Fitness Slump

The old saying “if you fail to plan, you plan to fail” holds especially true in the fall and winter when the urge to hibernate becomes powerful.

While it is relatively easy to stay active during the summer, it becomes challenging later in the year when the temperature drops and the days become shorter.

Add your children’s busy activity schedules, the new TV season and social reasons to overindulge (Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas) and it’s easy to see why many simply throw up their hands and choose to wait for New Year’s Eve to make a resolution.

The good news is that it doesn’t have to be hopeless. With a bit of planning, you can stay in control of your body, your energy and the way that you feel.

The most important meeting a trainer can ever have with a client is the initial consultation when the plan is hatched. It should include specific goals or targets to help you avoid plateaus or slumps.

Rather than “just getting going,” it should identify certain things that you would like to “peak” for. Things like looking great at the holidays, running a race, fitting into your old jeans or starting hockey season. The idea is to have something that you are actually accountable for and working toward. Just “working out” becomes boring and, chances are, it will fall by the wayside when life gets hectic or it gets cold and dark outside.

Take a simple calendar and spend about 10 minutes creating your training year. Write in things like birthdays, weddings, sporting events, holidays. etc. Give some meaning to your movement. If you create and stick to a plan, you will never be off-track and never have to make another New Year’s resolution.

Once your plan is in place, consider exercising somewhere that is well lit, energetic and where there is music or “noise.” The idea is to extend the amount of time you spend in the light each day, even if it is artificial light.

As soon as it gets dark and you start hitting the couch with your blanket and your book or Dancing With The Stars, there’s less chance of you getting up again.

If your schedule allows you to exercise in the early evening, that would be even better. An added bonus is that you will be less likely to mindlessly munch the night away.

In the dark, cold days of autumn, it seems that we are constantly seeking comfort in terms of shelter and food. This may, in fact, be a reaction to erratic blood sugar levels and diminished light levels. Comfort foods tend to be high in simple carbohydrates that elevate mood, along with blood sugar, and lead to enhanced fat storage.

An effective way to combat this is to make sure that you are getting enough protein in your diet. Eat something that includes lean protein (low-fat cottage cheese, turkey breast, almonds, whey protein or tuna, for instance) every three to three and a half hours — and your blood sugar and metabolism will be stable, helping to offset cravings for less- supportive foods.

Finally, even the best plans can go off the rails so it is critical that you have a Plan A, a Plan B and even a Plan C when it comes to your exercise. You know that your life will be interrupted, so you need at least one backup plan in place for the times where you can’t get to your regular workout and have only 10 to 15 minutes to get your body in gear.

Here is a great Plan C workout that can be completed in 10 to 15 minutes and requires absolutely no equipment. Perform this routine as a circuit, according to your fitness level and experience. Beginners (challenging) can perform each movement for 30 seconds and rest for 30 seconds. Intermediate (hard) can perform each movement for 45 seconds and rest for 20 seconds. Advanced (killer) can perform each movement for 60 seconds and rest for 15 seconds.

Jumping Jacks or Rope Skipping… complete 100 repetitions

Pushups

Bodyweight Squats

Abdominal Crunches

Modified Abdominal Plank–  Lower your forearms to the floor and balance on your toes and arms. Beginners start with the knees on the ground.

rabbit 2

“Chase the Rabbit”…  (from the pushup position pictured above, run in place by alternating bringing your feet forward and back)

Before you begin, DECIDE, how long you will work for and get to it.

My Favourite 10 Superfoods

If you are trying to stay fit and truly love food, there will come a time when you need to consider the convenience of what you’re eating.  As a personal trainer, I’ve spent years eating on the fly, trying to get healthy, supportive meals and snacks on the go that don’t take much prep, that don’t cost a fortune and that are high in nutrients, but low in saturated fats, sodium, sugar and additives.

With this in mind, I took a look at my pantry and fridge at home to come up with a list of my top 10 favourite “superfoods”.  In no particular order, here they are.

1-  Greek Yogourt

Talk about an easy way to get a daily protein boost!  Greek yogourt has about 4 times the amount of protein vs. regular yogourt.  Mix it with berries and whole grain cereal and you’ve got a super healthy, delicious parfait.  Read the label to make sure that you get a lower fat version.  Also, check for the sugar content in the fruit flavoured versions.  It’s not just for breakfast anymore.

2-  Frozen Broccoli

An amazing low fat source of vitamins, minerals and fibre.  Fresh is great, but, frozen is so convenient.  It’s always ready when you are and can be added to pasta dishes, soups, stews or eaten as a side dish without any salt or fat added.

3-  Spicy Thai Tuna

I love this product because of the taste, the nutrition… and again the convenience.  Single serve cans of protein make for a great snack with some raw veggies or rolled into a wrap with salad veggies.  Keep a few in your pantry.

4-  IsaLean Pro- Meal Replacement Shakes from Isagenix

The New Zealand Dairy Industry is perhaps the most advanced dairy producer in the world, and this is reflected in their very high standards for product safety, environmental sustainability, and humane treatment of livestock.  Dairy cattle are grass fed (as opposed to grain fed) and raised without growth inducing hormones or antibiotics.  The whey derived from their milk is the highest (and purest) source in the world.  Isagenix uses only NZ Whey in their products and IsaLean Pro comes in super- convenient individual serving pouches.  When you can’t get to a meal, mix some IsaLean with water, ice and fruit. 

5-  Organic Quinoa

Quinoa is a whole grain that is extremely high in protein.  It takes the place of couscous or rice (or pasta) as a side, or main, dish.  Somewhat exotic to North Americans, quinoa can be made savoury or sweet and eaten hot or cold.  A favourite is cold quinoa with banana and peanut butter for breakfast.

6-  Presidents Choice Whole Grain Flax Tortillas

I love these wraps for using up leftover meat, fish, chicken and veggies to make a great, easy lunch.  Roll up some cold meat from the dinner the night before along with some salad veggies and drizzle with honey mustard or balsamic vinegar.  Really great stuff.

7-  Canned Salmon

Salmon is an amazing source of protein and Omega 3 Essential Fatty Acids.  Pop a can and mix with some chopped celery, onion and a bit of salad dressing and you’ve got the basis for a great high protein meal.  Most of us should be eating more fish and this is an easy way to get it.

8-  Hummus

A delicious dip from the Middle East, hummus is made from chickpeas, tahini and lemon juice.  Great with whole wheat pita and raw veggies, hummus can provide you with a good, vegetarian source of protein when you want something a little lighter.

9-  Mangoes

 

Delicious and exotic enough to feel “special” every time you eat one.  Probably the best dessert fruit which needs nothing else to make it taste indulgent.  They are high in Vitamins A and C as well as in Potassium.  Mangoes are also high in fibre.

10-  Pre Washed Baby Spinach

We all need to eat more dark green, leafy vegetables.  Especially spinach.  Buy a bag of pre- washed baby spinach and then toss it into your next salad, add it to your next wrapped sandwich, scramble some in your next omelette or add a few leaves to soup.  It is rich in several vitamins and especially high in iron.

Stock your kitchen with the above and then come up with YOUR top 10 and it will be a snap to feed yourself the kind of stuff that builds muscle, burns fat and moves you in the direction of great fitness.

 

Ernie Schramayr-  All Canadian Fitness