Casting my Net....Back to School style

If your children are on their way back to school soon, or if they've already started, change is in the air. There is probably a mixture of relief, anxiety and uncertainty in jumping back into a busy routine, for children and parents alike.

P90X - Program Review

A few months ago I wrote a short review on an exercise/workout DVD I'd been following. You can read about it here if you want to read it, but my purpose is not to compare so for this post I'm only going to talk about the DVD set I've been working to lately - P90X. This is one of the better known workout, (I hate that word) routines sold for home use and as such, many of you have probably tried it. It is one of the more expensive sets although deals can be had if you shop around. It's also not a routine for beginners; you do need a good base level of fitness to get the most from it. Feel free to comment and/or disagree; this is purely my opinion.

Most sessions are around the one hour mark so if you just want a quick fix this may not be for you and if you aren't familiar with some of the exercises you may need to press pause while you catch up. But this to me is one of its better strengths; you know you're in for a long session so you prepare accordingly and give yourself plenty of time - a time to let your mind relax and just follow instructions. The instructor also makes a very good point about the pause button; he encourages you to use it, take time out, grab a drink and "we'll still be here when you get back." You are also encouraged to take body measurements and 'before' photos to be able to determine genuine improvements. There is quite a slow pace feeling to the 'workouts', (where did that word come from?) and I like the amount of time given to each exercise as it gives you time to rest briefly and carry on - particularly valuable for 'maximum rep' exercises such as push-ups and pull-ups. I often find myself 'done' and yet while waiting for the program to move on, I manage to find the strength to do a few more - no chance of this if you're rushing to keep up!

The routine is broken up into strength training days and cardio days with some martial arts and yoga thrown in for balance, flexibility and variety - don't be fooled, the 90 minute yoga is tough! Personally, my favourites are the strength days; each time I finish a session I really do feel finished! There is a lot of emphasis put on writing everything down, from reps to weight etc but it really does help - if you haven't done a certain routine for a while it's nice to be reminded of what/how you did last time. It also encourages you to keep improving which after all, is the whole point, right...

On the ever so slightly downside, and this might be just me, I do find the martial art based routine and even the cardio to a point rely on some semblance of co-ordination. Not my strong point here at all so I often find that I don't get the cardio workout I need, being too busy trying to figure out what I'm supposed to be doing with this leg and that arm. (Damn autocorrect - I'm sure I didn't write 'workout'!)

It's a 90 day program which is great if you manage to follow it everyday, but I find that once real life sets in, and the fact that I like to run, mountain bike or do nothing some days instead, it can take a whole lot longer to work through it. This however takes away nothing from the benefits unless you have this strict goal to achieve a certain fitness level in a set time. Me, I'm on a constant 'upward and onward' of all aspects of my health, not just the hard core fitness. I've never seen my dog lift weights or do pull-ups but she always manages to run me ragged in the hills - never seen her complain or get angry either so there's a lot to learn there...  

There are a few props you need to appreciate this course fully; a choice of dumbbells are to be expected but not everyone has a pull-up bar or push-up bars. I'm a great believer in using push-up bars as I have wrist issues and I would strongly recommend a pull-up bar even if you currently struggle with that particular exercise - if you do struggle, I would also recommend a stability ball to help you 'cheat' the exercise. And by 'cheat' I mean it as an assistance method - there is no shame in not being able to perform pull-ups, but they are an awesome exercise to master!

Each routine is started with an easy going and light-hearted warm up where we get introduced to the team, (of very real people, not super models or professional athletes which is good to see!) and everything is explained very well, including the 'tip of the day'. The instructor Tony, is very good at making people feel OK with wherever they are and has a very motivating technique based on our individuality.

So would I recommend P90X to my clients? Absolutely; as long as you are relatively fit to start with and you at least try to follow the routine regularly, you WILL see a measured improvement...

'Healthy Weekend' Veggie Breakfast Omelette

I like to call this my Green Onion, Mushroom and Spinach 'Half a G-BOMBS' omelette!  G-BOMBS is an acronym for 'Greens, Berries, Onions, Mushrooms, Beans & Seeds' which you can use to remember the most nutrient-dense, health-promoting foods on the planet. These are the foods you should eat every day, and they should make up a significant proportion of your diet – these foods are extremely effective at preventing chronic disease and promoting health and longevity.

However this is an omelette so I'm sticking to the more 'conventional' ingredients and save the berries beans and seeds for another meal (just my preference of course! - which is the best thing about omelettes, you can add what you like!)

I've got 3 of the 6 G-BOMBS ingredients here, hence 'Half a G-BOMBS Omelette! So here are the all-important ingredients to explode into your weekend;

Spinach (the 'Greens' bit!) has so many health benefits that my lap top didn't come with enough hard drive space to be able to list them all here. Needless to say, it's one of the most nutrient dense foods in the world and I personally can't get enough of it - just make sure it's organic as if not, it gets treated with more pesticides than almost all other food.

Green onions have a mild flavour so won't over-power any dish making them a perfect addition! And along with their anti-inflammatory properties and the high levels of antioxidants one green onion contains 3 calories and no fat. It contains 10% of the recommended daily value of vitamin A, 9% of vitamin C and 1% of calcium and iron.

Mushrooms - just pick your mushroom of choice but remember, All mushrooms have high fiber, protein, and are rich in B vitamins. More and more the research is showing that both mushrooms and onions can reduce many cancer risks like breast and prostate. Find out more on the anti-cancer benefits of mushrooms and onions from Kris Carr

And to top the flavour off, try a good dose of turmeric; The medicinal properties of this spice have been slowly revealing themselves over the centuries. Long know for it's anti-inflammatory properties, recent research has revealed that turmeric is a natural wonder, proving beneficial in the treatment of many different health conditions from cancer to Alzheimer's disease. Here are 20 health benefits of this awesomely awesome spice!

And finally, since it's pretty hard to make an omelette without Eggs... if you can buy local from a farm where you can see how the chickens live, then please do. I'm sure you don't need the ethics lectures from me but battery chickens get the worst hand dealt of all factory farmed animals. Eggs have long invited controversial opinions as to their health benefits; cholesterol, fat, protein, nutrients etc so all I will say is do your own research and make your own mind up. Personally, I believe the benefits of eating eggs in moderation far outweigh any possible concerns to an otherwise healthy person. 

As for the recipe itself; pretty straight forward really. I use 2 - 3 eggs per person but the quantities for the rest of it is purely down to personal preference. lightly fry the onions and mushrooms in a tsp of coconut oil, mix up the eggs as vigorously as you can, (makes it lighter see!) and pour onto the veggies. I also like to add fresh chopped chilli at this point but I like it hot. Stir for a minute or until the omelette starts to form and thicken. once it is firm and can be shaken loose from the pan, add in the chopped spinach and cheese if required - use a decent cheese, none of that processed crap! The slide the pan under a hot grill/broiler until the omelette is fully dry and the cheese has melted. Fold in half, cut it if you must share it and plonk onto a plate next to a sliced tomato from the garden...and enjoy:-)

NB I am neither a doctor nor a nutritionist so if you have any concerns about any of these ingredients, please take expert advice that pertains to you as an individual!

Watermelon Healthy Recipes Round-up Blog Carnival!

If there is a better more versatile fruit for this time of year, I've yet to discover it for myself! Whether it’s a sweet desert to cleanse the palate, or added to crushed ice for a perfect refreshing drink on a hot day, watermelon really does have it all. Here are some of the benefits of this heavy in weight, light in taste summer sensation;

Watermelons are an excellent source of several vitamins: vitamin A, which helps maintain eye health and is an antioxidant; vitamin C, which helps strengthen immunity, heal wounds, prevent cell damage, promote healthy teeth and gums; (just one cup provides 20% of our RDA) and vitamin B6, which helps brain function and helps convert protein to energy.

Many of us know that tomatoes have been highly touted as a great source for lycopene, a powerful antioxidant that helps fight heart disease and several types of cancer — prostate cancer in particular.  Watermelon, however, has the highest concentrations of lycopene of any fresh fruit or vegetable.

It is a great source of potassium, which helps muscle and nerve function, helps maintain the body’s proper electrolyte and acid-base balance, and helps lower the risk of high blood pressure.

Watermelon also contains the amino acids citrulline and arginine, which can help maintain arteries, blood flow and overall cardiovascular function.

And here's the best bit; 12 delicious ways to enjoy this fruit!
Watermelon Rinds Kootu by Divya from You Too Can Cook
Chili Lime Watermelon Popsicles by Kimberley from Etsy
Watermelon & Raspberry Frozen Yogurt by Ashley from {never} homemaker
Watermelon Curry by Usha from Veg Inspirations

Strawberry, Watermelon & Feta Salad by Heidi from FoodieCrush
Greek Yogurt & Watermelon Popsicles by Marie from Citron Limette
Watermelon Snow Cones (Granita) by Melissa from Satisfying Eats
Zesty Watermelon Salsa by Nancy from NancyCreative

Creamy Watermleon Salad by Karen from Wholeful Life
Honey Glazed Grilled Watermelon by Katy from Sugarlaws
Watermelon Gazpacho by David from Spiced!

This is part of my monthly 'Healthy Recipes Blog Carnival' feature. On the third Monday of every month I will have a featured ingredient. I'll give you the 'low-down' on that ingredient - it's nutritional benefits and a round-up of my favourite recipes featuring that ingredient!

If you have a recipe that you'd like me to include in a future blog carnival then please get in touch via email, facebook or twitter and I'll be sure to include your recipe in my round-up!

The featured ingredient for the September Blog Carnival is APPLES!! and I'll be publishing my recipe round-up on Monday 16th September. See you then!

Are you Living Well?

I had the busiest but most amazing day last Sunday at the inaugural LiveWell Health & Wellness Event. It was an idea that started in a coffee shop, (don't they all...) followed by a lot of hard work and culminated in a team of four of us presenting a mini health fair here in the Lake Country Okanagan Centre community Hall. Myself as a health & nutrition coach, Jenn as a massage therapist, Shelly, a physiotherapist and yoga teacher and my amazingly organised wife Helen put together an afternoon of Yoga, healthy locally sourced snacks, food demos and lunch, and a bunch of talks ranging from 'what is health and how to create it for ourselves', 'sugar, the poison everywhere' and the theory of APE, (attitude, perspective and effort) to talks on superfoods, supplements, ageing healthfully, and other topics.

Local farm shops, stores and other growers had sponsored us with an abundance of freshly picked cherries, peaches, nectarines, free range eggs, gluten free cookies and snacks - even a couple of peach pies! Manitoba Harvest sent us a huge amount of hemp heart samples for the goody bags, to that we added pedometers, free physio sessions, yoga practices, massages and a 'fall detox' programme.

Shelly gave a yoga class out in the shade on the lawn overlooking the lake which gave a blissfully tranquil break in the breezy warmth.

Lunch consisted of a Gazpacho, a choice of five different salads; quinoa, chickpea and pear, grilled peach and arugula, kale salad, summer berry and spinach, classic potato and egg salad, with a parfait bar to finish. Helen demo'd a fresh fruit 'power' green smoothie and a cacao, banana and avocado desert so to say there was enough to eat may just be a slight understatement...

In the end we ran over time and still didn't manage to get in all we'd planned to; I hope because people were enjoying themselves. We certainly had an interactive bunch of attendees and so far all the feedback has been super positive - this may have been our first event together but needless to say it won't be our last!

(And if you'd like to keep in touch with news of our future events be sure to sign up for my blog updates via email here, or follow me on Facebook or Twitter!)

Kona Kase product review

My wife signed us up for a Kona Kase subscription a few months back and we've just received our third box. This is $15 a month I don't mind spending. Happy Mail makes her happy (and thus makes me happy!) and I must admit I kind of look forward to seeing what treats we have in store when we open the box!

Kona Kase is a subscription service geared towards athletes delivering premium endurance nutrition samples right to your doorstep. Each month, this little red box arrives filled with nutritional products, inspirational quotes, training tips and stories behind the brands. You don't know ahead of time exactly what you're gonna get - but isn't that half the fun?!

There's always been some sort of athlete/sport specific products like energy Gu's and gels or sports chews, but there's a good mix of 'healthy treats' and snacks too. We normally end up with a impromptu treat session whenever the box lands in our mailbox! and I've found a good way to figure out what the best contents are are those that disappear the fastest!!

This month the Caveman Cookies may not even have hit the counter-top as they were promptly devoured! I mean, really, delicious little mouth sized soft chewy cookies make from gluten free natural ingredients....luckily there were 2 of them! The Health Warrior Chia bars were next to go (and there may not have been much of a time lapse between these 2 incidences I might add!). These sweet chewy fruit bars reminded me a little of fruit leather but way more nutritious with lots of delicious antioxidant and protein packed chia seeds. We took a breather after this treat-fest, but also in the box this month were some Turkey Perky Jerky, Garuka Bars, Granola, Enjoy Life seed & fruit mix and then the athlete stuff; pro bar chews and Body Glove Surge Gel.

I think the box is great value at $15 a month and it's free shipping in the US (additional charge for Canada). Though it's aiming at athletes I think there's something for everyone in there and it's been fun trying out new products and brands, many of which I've never heard of before, and many that I'll be looking out for now since trying them for the first time in Kona Kase.

If you'd like to try Kona Kase click here and enter the code ReferKona095 to receive $5 off your first box!

LiveWell Health & Wellness event

If you're anywhere near Lake Country, BC, Canada come and check out the LiveWell event I'm co-hosting on 11th August!


Together with Shelly from Prosko Pyysio Therapy and Jenn from Winfield Massage Therapy Clinic we'll be talking about a wide variety of health and wellness topics - from nutrition, to relaxation to self-care. Throughout the afternoon we'll be taking a 1 hour yoga practice, listening to a variety of talks, workshops and 'Hot Topics' and sampling some quick, easy and nutritious snacks that we'll be demo-ing. Plus we'll be serving a delicious lunch sourced largely from the local area growers and farmers.

For all the details, the full schedule for the afternoon and to purchase tickets check out the LiveWell event website.
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