Avoiding Muscle Cramps & My Potassium Packed Green Smoothie

Muscle Cramps: for the most part we know how to prevent them, but we don’t always make the time to take preventative action.  After multiple clients stopped to hold their cramping legs, feet and toes during our workouts in the past week, I figured this topic deserved a blog post.  I in particular get them in my toes while I am stretching after a hard workout or in the middle of the night, but this week I had clients cramping mid circuit.  So here we go:

  1. Are you hydrated? If you are not drinking enough water for you weight and activity level this could be your problem.  So start logging your water.  Try the app waterlogged to train yourself to make water consumption a priority.  Plus, being hydrated will make you feel better, look better and help curb hunger between meals.
  2. Are you stretching adequately?  If you are partaking in any distance running, HIIT Training, or cycling you need to stretch a lot! For example: the repetitive nature of running tightens up your hamstrings, hips and calves when you are logging miles.  So stretch after you run and invest in a foam roller.  Happy hamstrings make a happy athlete.  If you cramp up while you are sleeping, stretch before bed.
  3. Are you getting enough potassium? People always think bananas when they are reaching for potassium, but potassium can be found in so many everyday foods.  Try a baked potato (sweet if you are watching your sugar), avocado, raw kale, brussel sprouts, mushrooms, white beans, salmon, yogurt, the list goes on.  Click here to see the Top 10 Foods Highest in Potassium.
  4. Are your sodium levels depleted? If you are an endurance athlete or a heavy/salty sweater, you may be deficient in the electrolyte sodium.  This can easily be balanced by consuming sports drinks when you are working out for more than an hour or during extra sweaty sessions.  (I am one of those salty sweaters.  I always have a white film on my face and body after an endurance run, it’s a good look)
  5. Are you getting enough carbohydrates? You have to replenish your glycogen stores when you are working out for over an hour.  You also need to have adequate glycogen stores before you begin exercise.  If your muscles do not have fuel, they cannot perform optimally and you will cramp.  You can replenish with sports products like GU or sports drinks but for the most part, a small snack an hour before your session will do.  See my post on Pre Workout Snacks! Remember, fat burns in a carbohydrate flame.

Potassium

I was feeling inspired by the muscle cramp topic and decided to make a potassium packed smoothie after my Saturday workouts. Here is what it consisted of:

  • 1/2 frozen banana
  • 1/2 avocado
  • 1 cup of kale
  • 1 cup of pineapple
  • 3-4 stalks of celery
  • 1 tbsp of chia seeds
  • splash of vanilla unsweetened almond milk (or coconut milk)

The majority of the potassium in this recipe comes from the first three ingredients (Banana, Avocado & Kale).  In addition, chia seeds are great for ridding your body of toxins.  The gelatinous nature of the seeds help pick up unwanted toxins that are often stuck in the small intestine and reabsorbed into the blood stream.  The key with chia seeds is to let them soak.  A great way to accomplish this is by allowing them to soak them in the almond milk (or coconut milk) you use for your recipes.   Fill a ball jar with almond milk and a 1/2 cup of chia so you have them handy in your refrigerator.  If you need to fill up and feel good, I recommend making this after a hard workout or a weekend of too much drinking and eating out (sodium detox).

 

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Video Review: Sweat Unlimited with Sara Haley

Yesterday I received 11 videos from 411 Video Information   to complete and review.  I pretty much ran to my leasing office after work so I could pick up the package and get started.  I was predictable and started with the video that looked the most difficult, SWEAT UNLIMITED with Sara Haley.  The DVD contained 5 different workouts:

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  1. Sweat Extreme 5: This was a 5 minute video containing Sara Haley’s “Favorite Moves”.  In my opinion, 5 minutes is too short to have separate from the longer routines.  I would have preferred this tacked onto Sweat Strength 15.  There was a fantastic “Surfer Burpee” exercise in this segment that I will definitely revisit in designing my own workouts!
  2. Sweat Strength 15: This was a sculpting segment.  I would describe it’s intensity level to be low for someone with an intermediate-advanced fitness level.  However, for most women, I think it has some great sculpting moves.
  3. Sweat Cardio 30:  This cardio workout is actually 35 minutes long and consist of dance inspired exercise moves.  I would describe it as a fusion of dance and traditional sculpting exercises.  She uses lunges, squats, and some kickboxing to up the intensity.  Again, this video was not high intensity for my fitness level, so I modified the workout by adding on jump squats, burpees, and other plyometric movements.  I was definitely squirting sweat by the time I finished.  For women with a more general fitness level, I think this video would bring the heart rate up and keep it there to provide a good cardiovascular challenge.
  4. Sweat Box 45:  Tabata inspired kickboxing, now this was fun! I love kickboxing and I love tabata, so Sara won me over with this one.  Her tabata consisted of four rounds of two exercises with 20 seconds on and 10 seconds rest.  She included a good amount of core work on top of the kickboxing and I feel it in my upper abdominals today.  I personally would have preferred to have the tabatas be at least 30 seconds long and ideally closer to 40-45 seconds. I was naughty and I worked through the rest interval.  I don’t recommend skipping the rest unless you 1) regularly partake in intermediate-advanced  HIIT or Tabata workouts or 2) are doing the modified movements.
  5. Sweat Stretch 5: Five minutes of stretching after the dynamic workout you just completed is not enough! I would have liked to see a yoga style stretch or something with more emphasis on the legs.

I did the Sweat Box 45 last night after I got off work then completed the Cardio 30, Strength 15, Extreme 5 and Stretch 5 before heading to work this morning.  My workout this morning came to exactly one hour which worked out perfectly.  I am happy to report that my back is sore from all the jabs, uppercuts and hooks from last night.

This DVD is dynamic, it has a little bit of everything which is great for anyone with a short attention span or those who get bored easily.  Sara has some creative exercise moves, especially in the Sweat Cardio 30 and Sweat Box 45 workouts.  While the DVD advertises that there are a total of five workouts, three of the segments are under 16 minutes and two of them last only five minutes, one being a stretch.  I think you could easily create two complete workouts with this DVD, but I don’t think it would be overkill to knock out the whole series in one day.

I am not usually into dancing or dance workouts.  Anyone who knows me, is aware that I am a terrible terrible dancer.  My coordination is fine as long as I have a dumbbell, jump rope or kettlebell in my hand. As soon as there is some hip swaying involved I look like a fool. I lack finesse for sure, but I am trying to go outside of my fitness bubble to test workouts that could benefit my clients.  I will be recommending SWEAT UNLIMITED to clients who enjoy dancing, zumba or kickboxing.  Another great thing about this DVD is that it is equipment free, making it a great travel companion!

Another bonus that came from this experience was finding Sara Haley’s Blog!   I love finding reputable fitness industry professionals to follow via social media.  Go ahead and like her Facebook page too for recipes and fitness tips.

 

 

Max Strom Empowerment Workshop

Happy Hump Day! I have been neglecting my blog for the past week but I am really excited to share my yoga workshop experience with you all.  This past Sunday I attended a workshop put on by Ananda Shala in Frederick, Maryland.  The 2.5 hour workshop featured Max Strom and was hosted in the top floor of a historical building in downtown Frederick. The room was full of character with floor to ceiling windows and a sky mural painted above us, it was the perfect place to practice yoga.

Now for all you yogis out there, I am sure you know of his teachings on breath.  His book A Life Worth Breathing is published in six different languages and he has released a second book There is No App for Happiness.  I posted a snippet of a TED Talk he did on his second book if you are interested:

I learned about Max Strom after I signed up for the workshop.  I knew the class would have a strong focus on the breath after proper Google-ing and talking to my mom who has attended his workshops before. Max teaches a deep breathing technique that many of us know, Ujjayi breathing.  He calls it ocean breathing, which I think is much less intimidating to newbies.  Now I did not think my Ujjayi needed much work, but the workshop proved me wrong.  While I know how to correctly breath, I don’t always do it, especially in some of the long holds when I need to be breathing the most.  The class helped me change my focus from accomplishing more high level poses, to accomplishing deep and conscious breath throughout my entire practice.

Max shared with us insight into the importance of breath.  Did you know that deep breathing calms the nervous system and reduces anxiety? So did I, but that does not mean I stop and “breath” every time I am feeling flustered.  He had opinions on the overuse of anti depressants and anti anxiety medications by women, which I found particularly interesting.  He shared statistics (which I cannot remember) proving that deep breathing techniques lower blood pressure and regulate physical pain as well.

A great thing about his class was his approach to teaching an all level class.  He gave a variation for a level I, II & III student.  His approach was very friendly to yoga new comers.  We have all been or will be new to practicing yoga at some point and a class full of yoga enthusiasts can be harrowing to a beginner.  He was humble and even cracked jokes through some of the longer pose holds.  It was a very relaxing and carefree workshop.  I left feeling very relaxed and enlightened.  My major takeaway from the workshop is to not only practice more consistent Ujjayi in hatha, but also in daily life.  So next time someone cuts you off while your driving or rams their shopping cart into yours, just take a few deep ocean breaths and smile.  Namaste.

Cauliflower Crust Pizza

After drooling over pictures of pizza in Martha Stewart Living, we finally set aside a night dedicated to shopping, prepping, cooking and noshing.  The other half of “we” is Amanda Bacon my partner in food, wine, and workouts.   We used Paula Deen’s Cauliflower Crust Pizza recipe which I found on Fit Sugar.  This recipe is so simple and even without a food processor the work was minimal.  It also tastes better when there is less guilt in indulging, but that’s just me.

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Paula’s recipe calls for minimal toppings, but I can’t go without a veggie overload (even if the crust is a veggie).  We put so many toppings on our pizza that we had to eat it with a fork, but it tasted amazing.  We added the following to the recipe:

  • 3/4 of a diced onion
  • A bunch of mushrooms
  • 1/2 a yellow bell pepper
  • 1 sliced roma tomato
  • 8 slices of mozzarella cheese (season and marinated from Trader Joe’s)
  • Oregano and basil flakes

Since we added slices of mozzarella we went light on the shredded cheese.  We also did not add any Parmesan.  As a way of cutting corners, I like to try and use what I have before buying more food that will just sit in my refrigerator and mold.   This was so good that we want to do it again soon but try some new toppings!

Pre Cheese Melt Tips:

  • If you are adding toppings other than tomatoes and cheese don’t let it get too golden before you put the toppings on because you want to make sure all the vegetables are roasty and toasty
  • Chop your tomatoes nice and thin so they don’t get too juicy
  • Don’t overheat your cauliflower in the microwave, ours only needed about six minutes to moisten
  • Time saver: To quickly cool the cauliflower, transfer it to a new bowl and stick it in the freezer for a couple of minutes
  • Have a bottle of red wine ready to go! Trader Joe’s Green Fin Red Table Wine is perfection with this pizza 🙂

If you have made one of these bad boys before let me know how yours came out and what toppings you went with!

Gluten Free “3 Ingredient Pancakes”-My Version

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Good Morning! It’s dumping snow here in Virginia and the road conditions have given me the opportunity to make a breakfast that takes more than 3 minutes to prep.  I have been dying to try these “3 Ingredient Pancakes” that have been all over the web lately.  The majority of recipes call for about 1 banana, 1 egg and a tiny pinch of baking powder.  I dressed the recipe up a bit.  Here is what you will need for my version:

  • 1 ripe banana (mine was freckled with brown spots)
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tiny pinch of baking powder (about 1/8 tsp)
  • 1 tablespoon of almond butter (I used Trader Joe’s Raw Unsalted Crunchy)
  • 3 dashes of cinnamon

1) Put all the ingredients in a bowl and mix

2) Heat your pan, grease it up and spoon about 2 tablespoons of the batter into the pan.  I used Trader Joe’s Coconut Oil Cooking Spray.  Coconut oil is great to use on pancakes because you get a subtle hint of the flavor.

3)Cook, Flip and then onto the next cake!  I made a total of 5 cakes, one of which was ugly and defective so I ate it before I took my final picture.

Tip: Keep the pancakes small, it will prevent them from breaking as you flip.

How does it taste?

  • Natural: It does not taste like an IHOP pancake.  However, I did like it more than my almond flour pancakes I have made in the past.
  • The banana makes it sweet, I did not need syrup.  If you prefer syrup, go with organic maple syrup and make it worth the calories.
  • It’s much more dense, not light and fluffy like your traditional pancake.
  • Overall I really enjoyed these cakes!

Tips:

  • I tried adding raisins to one cake and it just fell apart.  So keep these simple and just add toppings after you cook!.
  • Flip it really fast, the density of the cakes make them prone to breaking.
  • Play around with ingredients! If you don’t have almond butter try all natural peanut butter or any nut butter you may have at home.  I wonder how coco powder would work in these? Yummm