two of the best | week of health & fitness

For my final post of A Week of Health & Fitness I’m going to share with you two of my favourite healthy meals.

WINTER FARE

Pea & Ham Soup

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I have to admit to you that before I made this soup a couple of weeks ago, I had never eaten Pea & Ham soup! The idea of copious amounts of peas disturbs me; I’m not a fan of peas. But after my friend Mands bought in a delightful smelling pea & ham soup for lunch at work one day, I went searching for a recipe and found the most delicious, gourmet looking soup (above) from Gourmet Traveller. It makes 6 serves which freeze really well.

Ingredients

  • 40 gm butter, coarsely chopped
  • 2 onions, finely chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 2 ham hocks (about 800gm each)
  • 750 gm dried green split peas
  • 360 gm (3 cups) frozen baby green peas, defrosted
  • 60 ml (¼ cup) extra-virgin olive oil

Optional

  • 1 baguette, halved lengthways and cut into 5cm pieces
  • Herb butter
  • 60 gm softened butter
  • ¼ cup finely chopped flat-leaf parsley
  • 1 tbsp thyme
  • ½ garlic clove, finely chopped

METHOD

  1. Heat butter in a large saucepan over low-medium heat, add onion and garlic and sauté until tender (10-12 minutes). Add ham hocks, cover with cold water (about 4 litres), bring to the simmer, reduce heat to low and cook until ham is falling from the bone (1-1½ hours). Remove hocks from saucepan, set aside to cool and, when cool enough to handle, remove skin and bone (discard), coarsely shred meat and set aside.
  2. Meanwhile, add split green peas to stock and simmer until very tender (45 minutes-1 hour). Add baby peas (reserve some for garnish if desired) and simmer until bright green (1-2 minutes). Purée in batches in a blender until smooth, add shredded ham to soup (reserve a little for garnish if desired), season to taste and keep warm.

Optional

  1. Meanwhile, for herb butter, combine ingredients in a small bowl, season to taste and set aside.
  2. Preheat a grill to high. Place baguette cut-side up on a baking tray and grill until golden (1-2 minutes each side), then spread with herb butter. Serve with hot soup topped with reserved baby peas (steamed until bright green) and shredded ham.

SUMMER FARE

Roast Trout with Fennel & Orange

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Apologies for the lousy photo quality. This was from my Instagram feed a few months ago. I can’t even remember how I came up with this salad. It doesn’t really matter how, it just matters that it’s damn tasty!

INGREDIENTS

I generally just adapt the quantity of the ingredients by how many people I’m feeding. You’ll get the hang of it!

  • Roast trout (I buy it from the store already roasted and cold in a whole fillet side); flaked
  • orange; segmented
  • radishes, sliced finely (I use a mandolin)
  • fennel; sliced finely (I use a mandolin)
  • coriander
  • mint

Dressing:

  • 1/4 cup EVOO
  • 1/4 cup orange juice
  • tsp honey
  • salt & pepper to taste

METHOD

  1. To make the dressing mix all ingredients well and set aside
  2. Assemble all salad ingredients by layering; fennel, radish, trout, orange, mint & coriander
  3. Pour over dressing & serve immediately

ready to run | week of health & fitness

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For today’s post I thought I’d borrow something from Australian Women’s Health magazine Running Guide from their July 2013 issue.

Before I started 12WBT I couldn’t run 500m let alone 5kms. Although I now scale back and forth with the length and frequency of my runs, for some people running is an exercise that comes naturally and for others it can be really daunting. My friend and work colleague Phil is an insanely good runner. He naturally balances his eating with his exercise and has a runners body to prove it. This is a man who regularly knocks out 10kms in his lunch break in 50 minutes! My ultimate goal is to go running with him one day!

*********all text below from WFH mag*********

Haven’t run since high-school athletics? No sweat. (OK, well a little.) This workout plan designed by coach Jenny Hadfield, co-author of Running for Mortals, will help you build from a walk to a run. By the end, you’ll be able to run 30 minutes without stopping – and you’ll be showing off a rock-hard body under your shorts. Whether your goal is to run 5km or 10km, or drop some extra kilos, in one month you’ll be well on your way.

Your Plan: Run 30 minutes in 4 weeks

For all weeks:

  • Warm Up: 3 minutes. Start easy, progress to a power walk
  • Cool Down: 3 minutes. Gradually dial your pace down to an easy walk.
  • Frequency: Perform running workouts 3-4 times a week, every other day.
  • Cross Training: Add a total-body strength-training workout, and either yoga or pilates on 2 of your days off.

Week 1 – Get Outfitted

The two most important items of gear a runner needs are a supportive, high-impact sports bra and running shoes. Both can be found at your local running specialty store. Make sure they fit well: a poorly fitted bra can reduce breathing capacity and make your run feel more difficult. The wrong shoes can give you shin splints, knee pain and a host of other issues. Get fitted by the experts for these items.

Week 1 Runs

  • Warm-up
  • Run 2 minutes, walk 2 minutes
  • Repeat 7 times (28 minutes in total)
  • Cool down

Finish with Flexibility

Just 5 minutes of stretching and muscle-release exercises after your run is enough to maintain a healthy range of motion in your joints – and prevent tight muscles, which can lead to inefficient form and injuries. Use a foam roller to loosen up your shoulders, hamstrings, quads, calves and iliotibial bands (outer thigh). Also take a minute to stretch your chest and your hip flexors.

Week 2 – Monitor Your Breathing

Your running pace or speed ca vary every day because it’s based on a lot of variables: how you slept, food intake, stress, your (female) menstrual cycle, whether you went out last night…you get the idea. The easiest way to run at the perfect pace every day is to run by the sound of your breath. Take the talk test: if you can’t say the words to Happy Birthday out loud 4 times without gasping for air, slow it down. You should be able to hold a conversation while you run. Being out of breath and not being able to talk means that your running pace is too fast.

Week 2 Runs

  • Warm-up
  • Run 3 minutes, walk 1 minute
  • Repeat 7 times (28 minutes total)
  • Cool down

Think About Your Form

It’s normal to feel awkward during the first few weeks of running, even if you’ve run in the past and are starting up again. Begin every running segment on the right foot by thinking about good running form:

  • Head is balanced over your shoulders and focused forward, not down towards the pavement.
  • Shoulders are relaxed to allow your lungs to expand.
  • Arms are bent at the elbow about 90 degrees and swinging like a pendulum from your shoulders (elbows close to your body).
  • Hands are relaxed and not crossing over your belly button as your arms swing.
  • Hips are under your shoulders and stabilising your legs as they move under your body.
  • Feet are landing with short, light, quick strides under your hips.

Week 3 – Find The Fun

The best way to guarantee running success is to finish with a high-five moment. When you finish your workout feeling as if you can go just a little further, you feel a sense of pride, happiness and success – all of which lead to wanting to do it again and again. Running habits are created as a result of happy running moments, so try to keep it fun, rather than pushing yourself to the point of exhaustion.

Week 3 Runs

  • Warm-up
  • Run 4 minutes, walk 1 minute
  • Repeat 6 times (30 minutes total)
  • Cool down

Work On Your Stride

A common mistake that many runners make is covering too much ground with every step. That’s a bit like climbing stairs two or three at a time – it takes a lot more energy and the impact on your body is much greater. Aim for short, quick strides and a turnover rate (the number of steps you take in  1 minute) of 180. To figure out your turnover, count the number of times your left food hits the ground in 1 minute and multiply by 2. To increase your turnover, match your stride to music that’s about 180 beats per minute.  You can download mixes at this speed, and others, at rockmyrun.com.

Week 4 – Learn To Listen To Your Body

If you start to feel aches and pains that don’t go away after a few days, it’s time for active recover with lower-impact activities like cycling, swimming and the cross trainer. In most cases, minor aches will heal with a few days of TLC. Aches may also be a sign you’re pushing too hard. Ease up a bit, and you’ll continue to improve without injury.

Week 4 Runs

  • Warm-up
  • Run 5 minutes, walk 30 seconds
  • Repeat 6 times (33 minutes in total)
  • Cool down

Ebb And Flow

Running is like life: there will be rockin’ fun workouts and also runs that humble you. You’ll make the most gains when you run based on how you feel on any given day. On days when you feel great, take advantage of the opportunity to push a little harder or run a little longer. That way, when rough days come along you can ease back on the throttle and still make progress.

Week 5 And Beyond

Building your running regimen by adding 3-5 minutes to your workout time and decreasing your walking time every 1-2 weeks until you reach your goal.

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glowing green | week of health & fitness

The saying goes that 80% of abs are made in the kitchen. This means that after all the hard workouts if your diet isn’t clean the majority of the time you ain’t gonna see no results! (preach)

In a world of supplements and quick fix powders & shakes, what we really should be packing our body with is superfoods; foods that are nature’s dynamite and pack a large variety of nutrients into a small natural product. E.G. kale.

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I love to start my day off with a green smoothie.

I remember the very first one Jay made for me apon getting our Vitamix. The taste was very green. Like eating grass! And a little thick which made swallowing that more difficult but after a few more tries & tweaks it became addictive. You feel healthy drinking it.

So I wanted to share a few of my Instagram photos of my green smoothies and give you some guidance and ideas for making your own.

Note that you don’t have to have a Vitamix to create gorgeous green but you will need to blend the hell out of it to get a good smooth consistency.

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People at work do look at me funny when I’m carrying around my ‘to go’ bottle of the green stuff!

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My go-to ingredients are:
– coconut water
– kale
– cucumber
– celery
– apple or pear
– flaxseed or chia seed
– water to get consistency as required

But here are some other ideas I found via Pinterest (aaaah Pinterest!).

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Popeye would be proud!

♥♥♥

why you should drink more H2O | week of health & fitness

Can you remember the lines (aka nagging) your Mum constantly repeated when you were growing up?
Anytime my brother & I opened the fridge, like some kind of fridge-sensor, my Mum would yell from somewhere in the house “Have a glass of water”!

The average adult human body is 50-65% water,
so it only makes sense that we drink up!

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glowing skin¹

Water facilitates filtration in our system. It assists the kidneys to do what they do best and transport all the toxins out of our body. Top up your hydration with at least 1.5 litres of water a day (that’s 50 oz) and you’ll see the improvements in your biggest organ; your skin!

faster weightloss²

Weight-loss studies the world over agree that people who drink more water lose weight faster. This is probably because you’re filling that ‘hunger’ gap with zero-calorie fluid and not peanut butter cookies! Try drinking two (500ml or 16 ounces) glasses of water before breakfast, lunch, and dinner and you may get away with eating 75 to 90 fewer calories during each meal. Win!

it regulates body temperature³

After chasing birds & playing fetch for hours, Harley will find a nice puddle of mud or body of water to sink himself into to cool down. Pigs also wallow in mud to regulate their temperature. Much like our beloved pets and tasty animals (!) everyone knows that if you’re overheated, it’s important to drink water “but did you know that it’s even more important to drink it when your body is freezing? The risk of dehydration is actually higher in cold weather because your body is working harder to stay warm. Water regulates your body temperature while hydrating it.

say buh-bye to headaches

If I haven’t drank enough water throughout the day, by mid-afternoon I get a cranking headache and start to feel tired and crabby. Avoiding that feeling (and me if I was you!) is reason enough to hydrate! If you find yourself getting a lot of headaches, dehydration may be to blame. People who don’t consume enough water are more likely to suffer from cramps and other aches as well.

dotox your body

I’ve tried juice cleanses and the Lemon Detox Diet and not only do they make you ravenously hungry, they also mess up your digestive system while making you feel like shit. There really isn’t a need to take such extreme gimmicky measures if you’re eating cleanly (small portions, no refined sugar or starch and heaps of green leafy veggies) and drinking heaps of water. Can’t deal with litre upon litre of H20? Then add fresh lemon or green tea to your water. Help your liver flush out those toxins!

get things running smoothly

It’s not a topic most people like talking about, but I’m fine with discussing bowel movements! Lack of hydration leads to constipation which can lead to a whole host of uncomfortable situations (piles anyone?!). Consume enough water to keep things flowing smoothly.

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So how much water do you really need?

As a guide I think 1.5 –  2.5 litres (<0.7 gallon) is enough unless you’re exercising heavily or live in a really hot, humid climate. My brother who lives in Perth (where it’s on average it’s 32°C in summer) works outdoors and he drinks 6+ litres a day! But if you want something more scientific, here is a little calculator

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tasty & detoxifying
tasty & detoxifying

¹[while there are no published scientific studies backing up these claims, there are ‘before-after’ studies to support this]
²[here]
³[here]

bootylicious | week of health & fitness

I am loving this set of exercises aimed to tone the butt and core. Performed barefoot with 10 slow reps of each exercise; 3-4 times per week. Perfect to do in your house before anyone gets home (looks a little weird)!!!

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Wall Bridge

Lie on your back with your butt against the wall and arms at your sides. Bend your knees and plant your feet 3 to 4 feet up the wall. Raise your lower and middle back off floor, keeping your shoulder blades on the ground. Hold for a deep inhale, then exhale and slowly return to the starting position.

MAKE IT HARDER


Cross your right ankle over your left knee so that only your left foot is on wall.

MAKE IT EASIER


Don’t use the wall. Keep your feet flat on floor as you lift into a bridge.


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Windshield Wipers

Lie faceup on the floor with your legs against a wall, the bottoms of your feet facing the ceiling. Slowly lower your left leg down the wall like a clock arm toward 9 o’clock, then return to the starting position. Repeat with right leg, sweeping toward 3 o’clock. Continue to alternate legs until you’ve completed all of the reps.

MAKE IT HARDER


Wrap an elastic exercise band around your left foot. Hold both ends at your right hip for added resistance as you sweep your left foot down the wall. Do all reps, then switch legs and repeat.

MAKE IT EASIER

Move your butt 3 to 6 inches away from the wall while performing the move.


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Toe Reaches

Lie on the floor with your heels pressed against the wall, your legs straight. Reach your right hand toward your left foot, allowing your right shoulder to raise off the floor. Return to the starting position. Repeat with your left hand and right foot. Continue to alternate until you’ve completed all reps.

MAKE IT HARDER


Perform the exercise with your feet stacked toe to heel.

MAKE IT EASIER


Reach toward your knees.


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Wall Scissor

Begin with your butt close to the wall, knees bent, and your feet planted on the wall. Raise your hips up, and place your elbows on the floor and your hands on your hips to support your lower body. Walk your feet up the wall so that your legs are straight. This is your starting position.

From here, lower your left leg toward your head, keeping both legs straight. Return to the starting position and repeat with your right leg. Continue to alternate until you’ve completed all reps.

MAKE IT HARDER


As you lower your leg, pause and pulse 2 or 3 times, moving it up and down an inch or two, before returning it back to the wall.

MAKE IT EASIER

Start with your hips 3 to 6 inches away from the wall.

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Knee Press

Lie on your back with your butt against the wall, knees bent, and feet planted 3 to 4 feet up the wall. Raise your butt and back off the floor and cross your right ankle over your left knee. Without moving the rest of your body, pulse your knee toward the wall 20 times. Lower your body, and repeat on your left side.

MAKE IT HARDER


As you press your knee, lift and lower your hips a couple of inches with each rep.

MAKE IT EASIER


Do the move with your butt on the floor.


Pictures & Content from Prevention

gotta get up | week of health & fitness

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What gets you up and out the door in the morning for your early workout?

I know not everyone does their exercise in the morning, but for me if I don’t get it done before I go to work, chances are pretty slim that I’ll get it done later in the day. Exercise guru Michelle Bridges always says that it doesn’t really matter when you workout, as long as you do it, but it’s better to do it first thing in the morning before “life” gets in the way. I agree!

I get up in the morning for 2 reasons;

  1. because my love of food means I have to workout.
  2. because I have a little dog named Harley who needs to go for a run before we leave him for the day, otherwise we’d come home to a house destroyed!

I’m lucky that I live in a beautiful suburb where my morning jog is along the gorgeous Sydney harbour. I don’t take my iPod because I love the early morning quiet. It’s just a time to detox from the busy city life.

Here are my top tips to make getting up at the crack of dawn just a little bit easier:

  • go to bed early. It’s almost impossible to get up at 5.30am if you’ve only had 6 hours sleep. I make sure I’m tucked away in bed by 10.30pm. That means that the TV is off by 9.30pm!
  • layout your workout gear before going to bed. It’s way easier to fumble around in the dark (and the cold in winter) when your stuff is on the floor next to your bed.
  • prep your breakfast and lunch the night before. That way your when your workout is over, you’ve had a shower and gotten ready for work, your breakfast is easily prepared and you can grab your lunch and head out the door. On schedule!
  • have a backup plan so if it’s raining you can still workout; at the gym, with a workout DVD in your lounge room or like me, out the door in a raincoat!

Hope this helps you on your workout tomorrow!!! And I’ll leave you with a few photos of the views I enjoy on my early morning workout adventures… 

chasing pavements
chasing pavements

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nothing but fog....winter settles in around the harbour
nothing but fog….winter settles in around the harbour
before sunrise; a view of the city
before sunrise; a view of the city
after sunrise; a view of the city
after sunrise; a view of the city
welcome sailors! a cruise liner on it's way into port
welcome sailors! a cruise liner on it’s way into port

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view from Barrangaroo
view from Barrangaroo
my little workout buddy; Harley
my little workout buddy; Harley & his stick

Happy Monday!