Getting Creative With Tofu

If you’re a vegetarian or you just like it, tofu is a big part of the diet. Usually, we just cube it and put it into the dish with whatever else we are making. But recently, a friend (from Bali) shared a new way of doing tofu. Well, the cooking method is typical for some, but the flavoring is different. Using nutritional yeastNow, I had no idea what this was before the couple brought the dish over to us. And it is delicious. It literally had me thinking I was eating fried chicken, that’s what it tastes like. So, I was in heaven. And then, I realized I needed to know how to make this for myself. Luckily, our friend left us a little tub of this magic nutritional yeast, so I was good to go. I will be showing you how to make this tofu dish, but also sharing what we had with it (though you can have it alone too).

Ingredients

  • 1 box tofu
  • knife
  • nutritional yeast flakes
  • oil
  • peppers [optional]
  • udon [optional]
  • teriyaki [optional]

Directions

  • Drain the tofu juice out of the box and place the tofu on cutting board. Cut long-ways first, into thin 1/2 inch pieces
  • Cut short-ways, making little squares
  • Have a pan hot with a very light amount of olive oil and carefully place tofu on the pan, letting each have enough room to cook. I put the temperature on a little less than high (medium-high)
  • Takes about 5-10 minutes to cook, I use a fork to turn them over. Keep an eye on them so they don’t burn on the outside, but get cooked on the inside. Turn them over one by one when the first side is done.
  • After both sides are ready, pop them onto a plate. Sprinkle the nutritional yeast flakes on top of each piece
Tastes like fried chicken!

Tastes like fried chicken!

  • And if you want to continue with our dish…slice up your peppers (or whatever vegetable) into thin long slices.
  • Put some more olive oil in the pan and this time garlic too
  • Throw the peppers in there
  • After the peppers have been in there for a few minutes, throw in your udon to heat up. At the time you put the udon in, put a good amount of teriyaki in as well, flavoring the udon and peppers, as well as giving some moisture to it all.
Yum...

Yum…

  • Once the udon noodles are heated and have absorbed the teriyaki and the peppers have cooked enough, plate them atop the already-cooked tofu!
Finished product

Finished product

And voila! There you have it–an easy, nutritious, delicious meal full of protein and fiber. Feel free to add or subtract any vegetable or addition to the stir fry, but seriously go for this tofu. It is absolutely delicious.

Cheers! And as always…stay hungry and fit!

Nymeria is 98% back to normal!!

Nymeria is 98% back to normal!!

BONUS KITTY PIC

Listen to Your Body

Listen to your body. It is a simple rule that many many many of us tend to forget, including myself. Well, perhaps forget is a rather passive word, but instead ignore. And what do we do? Keep pushing our bodies even though it’s saying, “Um, hi! I’m done now, please stop!” Many of us will call this “wimping out” or just a complaint that can be pushed through. But that is where you need to acquire a skill.

This skill is understanding and knowing your own body. Picking up on the language that your body uses to communicate with your mind. Often, beginners to fitness are a little out of tune with this language. It’s taken one of my clients several months to come to the point where he can really tune into his body and understand when it is telling him to stop or push just that one rep farther.

Working it right

Working it right

Take the time in your next workout to feel out what’s going on with your body. Try to learn the difference between muscle pain (good) and joint or tendon pain (bad). If your muscles are filling with lactic acid, you can feel that pressure, that burning pain, but you know you can just do one more rep to push your body to the proper place. And if you feel your elbow joint or rotator cuff hurting with a sharp pain as you continue to bench press or curl, you know to stop before pushing yourself to injury. You have to walk that tight rope of pain. You have to know which is which.

If you’re unsure, ask a trainer. Point out what’s bothering you and they can tell you if that’s A-OK (ripping muscle fibers to make them stronger!) or a big NO-NO (overly-stressing a joint or ligament). If they’re a good, quality trainer, they will want to help you. Don’t be afraid of asking. It could save you an injury or make a workout that much better.

Chris taking a rest day with the kittens

Chris taking a rest day with the kittens

Don’t be (too) stubborn. Now here, I really need to take my own advice. Tonight we did a chest and triceps workout (here’s a sample). My (we think) rotator cuff has been a bit strained and stressed lately and can get pretty painful with certain exercises like push-ups, chest press, shoulder exercises, and other triceps exercises on the bench. I endured it pretty well tonight, but it kept me from completing as full sets as I would like. However, even though I wanted to push myself harder, I knew that it was worn out after a good number of supersets. I wanted to do another superset or so, but I held back. I didn’t want to seriously injure anything. Often, I can be way too stubborn for my own good, but here is a prime example of listening to your body.

Working myself to a good place where my skin needs to get tougher!

Working myself to a good place where my skin needs to get tougher!

So next time you’re in the weight room or out on a run, keep a finely-tuned “ear” to your body and listen to it!

Cheers! And let us know if you have any questions!

What We Thought of the Oscars

Bollocks. Well–mostly. It was a tough year, tough competition, for a lot of movies and actors that deserved awards. This will be just a quick review of our night and what we thought of the beloved Academy Awards. And let me insert that I didn’t quite pay attention to all of it. However, I enjoy everyone getting together to celebrate actors and movies.


Well, our night was filled with cuteness from baby kittens to a baby human. Regardless of who won, it was going to be a good night for us–pizza, bread and brie, salad, homemade banana bread, girl scout cookies, family, and more. We came over hungry and ate a lot, watching the Awards as the night went on. We didn’t watch the pre-show where everyone shows off what they’re wearing because we don’t particularly care for it. We tuned in at 6:15 MT, right before Seth McFarlane went into his introduction. 

So, McFarlane pretty much lived up to his reputation, being funny sometimes, trashy many of the times, and awkward most of the time. He was also laughing at himself a lot, which I found amusing. I didn’t hate him as a host, but would rather have Ellen DeGeneres instead (good God, she was hilarious). Now I will just highlight some of the parts we either loved or hated (maybe we are extreme-type of people).

Anne Hathaway winning Best Supporting Actress. Yay! We were happy about this and think she deserved it. Though Chris didn’t like the new Les Mis that much (because he had seen better productions of it, I thoroughly enjoyed it however), we both agreed that Hathaway threw herself into that performance and really gave it her all. That’s when I think people deserve awards, when they act through passion and really transform into the role. Cheers to you, Hathaway.

Daniel Day Lewis winning Best Actor. Okay, so yes it’s Daniel Day Lewis. And yes, he’s an incredible actor. He completely transforms himself into whatever character he’s playing. We Saw Lincoln and it was creepy how much he looked and acted like him, as if we were seeing the real Lincoln before us. He did deserve it, of course he did, it’s Daniel Day Lewis. However, Chris and I both really wanted Hugh Jackman to win it for Les Mis. He completely carried that movie, he was incredible in it. We knew Daniel Day Lewis would win, but wish somehow there could be a tie for Jackman.

Les Miserables Cast Singing. We loved when seemingly the entire cast of Les Mis came out to sing their Oscar-nominated song (I now have Les Mis Pandora station on, I’m doomed to have it in my head forever again). It was a powerful performance and great to see everyone singing. True talent there.

The Hobbit Not Winning Anything. Now, we know The Hobbit was not nearly as good as the LOTR Trilogy, but it deserved something. Make-up (how did it NOT win that), costumes, visual design–come on, something! That was something that definitely ticked us off.

Jiro Dreams of Sushi Not Being Nominated. This was Chris’ favorite movie of 2012. It was a brilliant documentary of a brilliant Sushi chef and his sons. It deserved great credit, and should’ve at least been nominated for Best Documentary. Very, very disappointing. If you haven’t seen it yet, do so. It’s on Netflix Instant.

Beasts of the Southern Wild Being Nominated for Best Picture. We obviously don’t do our research, so we were very delightfully surprised that it got a nomination for Best Picture–good for them! It was one of our favorites for the year, extremely real and honest. Chris found it the most emotionally-provoking out of all the films we saw in 2012, even more than Les Mis. There was just something about it, hard to describe. Can’t wait to get it on DVD. That little girl was amazing. 

Quvenzhané Wallis being nominated for Best Actress. WOW. Speaking of “that little girl,” we had no clue she had been nominated. This was definitely a high point of the night. She was absolutely incredible. We loved her spirit, her voice, her view of the world–the acting was just flawless in our opinion. So happy to see her get recognition she deserved. She was truly amazing, she made the movie.

Life of Pi winning so many awards. We were shocked to see that Life of Pi got so many awards including Best Director! We are happy though, because we feel it deserved it, though it didn’t get as much attention in the Box Office as we thought it should have. It was great to see such a wonderful adventure and story get great recognition. And who doesn’t love Ang Lee!

Brave Beating Wreck-It Ralph in Best Animated Film. What! I know it’s Pixar, and it’s about a kick-butt little girl, but this Pixar movie didn’t live up to its other excellent movies. And Wreck-It Ralph–what a movie! It was so well done, with a star-studded cast, great humor, and awesome throw-backs for us nerds. Maybe that’s why it didn’t win, because it definitely spoke to nerds. Well whatever with awards, Wreck-It Ralph left us smiling the whole time.

I’m sure I’m forgetting something, but that is a quick run-down of our highs and lows for the night. Tell us what you thought, too!

Cheers!

Cats Really Do Have Nine Lives

It was a nightmare of a day. I’ll tell it to you from my (Alana’s) perspective. It’s Monday. I just finished with my last client and had a few hours to get some paperwork done at work. I come back from a great session and look at my phone. I find a string of horrific text messages. Most of them didn’t make sense due to the combination of rushing and the iPhone’s autocorrect. From “Nymeria is dead” to “at petsmart” to “they think there’s something wrong with her abdomen, going to another hospital.” 

First moment back from the hospital

First moment back from the hospital

My hands start shaking, I’m not really sure what’s going on. But from the succession of texts, I know she’s alive. Go ahead and click the link on Nymeria’s name to learn a little more about her. At the humane society, she jumped on my lap at 2 months old and basically adopted me. She’s my baby. Back to the story. So I know she’s alive, but I have no clue what’s going on. My co-worker is very worried, she’s standing next to me (she was with me when I found out Misty died), making sure I’m okay. I don’t get service where I work (call-wise) so I use the work phone to call Chris but he doesn’t pick up.

Her sleepy on my tummy

Her sleepy on my tummy

I rush and collect myself, lucking out with no more clients in the day, grab my stuff and get out. I’m extremely worried, confused, and completely terrified. I can’t lose another kitten. I text him saying I’m coming home. He texts me back the address of the hospital that they’re at. At least she’s alive, I keep reminding myself. That’s all that matters right now. Once I get in a better service zone, I get two voicemails. Both from Chris. The first one, like the texts, was horrific. It was when he thought Nymeria was dead. I don’t think I’ll listen to that one again. The second one was him carrying her to the hospital on foot.

I finally get there and find him in a waiting room. We’re both very shaken and upset. He has pee all over his shirt and blood on his arm. I finally get the story of what happened. Nymeria ran into the bedroom to pee on the cat bed (naughty girl), so Chris grabbed her and put her in the litter box. He’s in rush because he’s behind schedule, and as he’s running (top speed for in the house) out of the bedroom, Nymeria is running her fastest into the bedroom. Bam. They collide. Her head and his foot. It would’ve knocked out a human.

Her arm was shaved for the IV

Her arm was shaved for the IV

She slumped over and stopped breathing. He immediately started performing CPR. All the urine and feces came out of her and she began to get stiff. He called me, but I didn’t pick up since I was with a client. He then went back to it, chest compressions and mouth to mouth. After 10 minutes of resuscitation, she woke up and coughed up blood. She was alive. He saved her. Quickly, he put her in his shirt (I have the car at this point) and goes as quickly as he can to a pet hospital. The first one he finds does an X-ray and is worried about her abdomen and sends him to another hospital.

He gets to Alpenglow Emergency Center and they take her in. I’m with him by the time a doctor comes to talk to us. From the collision, Nymeria suffered head trauma (with swelling in the head) and pulmonary contusions (bruised lungs). Her pupils were different sizes and she was having trouble breathing, but she was doing okay. They had an estimate for costs and all they were going to do for her. It could be up to 48 hours of intensive care. I was still in shock of all this happening. But the doctor explained everything very well and the nurses made sure we were comfortable.

photo (87)

Nymeria would be put in a oxygenated little room (like a cage, but comfortable with bedding and warmth), given medicine to make the swelling go down and get her pupils back to normal size. She was also put on an IV to stay healthy and hydrated. We were there for two hours. We got to see her before she left. She was pretty out of it and tired, and couldn’t see us properly. The staff there was wonderful and let us know we could call whenever we wanted, no matter what time of day or night. I felt very thankful for that.

I called every few hours, and the updates kept getting better. She soon started eating “like a champ,” being rambunctious, and her pupils returned to normal size. The next day she was walking around without swaying or falling. They said that she would be ready to pick up at 4 that afternoon, because she was off oxygen and doing well.

photo (88)

I got there at four to pick my girl up and talked with a nurse who had kept good care of her. She said she was probably tired because she didn’t get that much rest because all the staff in the hospital, fell in love with her because they never get babies and, well, Nymeria has that effect. She was well taken care of with lots of TLC. The whole thing actually cost less than their initial low-ball estimate. And I was sent home with lots of information and the assurance that I should call if I have any questions. The staff there really made me feel that they cared and they were there for me and Nymeria.

photo (89)

Nymeria was pretty exhausted that night, I stayed home with her and just held her while she slept peacefully like she did when she was a baby baby. She’s still a little slow reaction-wise, weak, and quiet, but she’s doing alright. She still gets excited about food and today she even jumped up to lay on the window sill. She will probably be out of it for a few days and probably has a massive head ache. I just feel so enormously lucky to have her here. She is 8 months old now.

Found them today (the second day Nymeria has been out) when I got home

Found them today (the second day Nymeria has been out) when I got home

True to her name,  Nymeria is a fighter. And I hope she will continue to be with us for many years to come. Never take anything for granted and feel grateful for what you have, every moment you have it. We are so so happy to have her with us. It has also made me think about stepping into the animal health career. They are amazing people.

New Rule in the House: No Running

Starting a Balance Program: It’s Never Too Early!

Working at a YMCA, I work with an older population a lot of the time. This means lots of balance work. Using different exercises, different times, tempos, and so forth in order to prevent adaptation or plateauing. But the thing is, they seek me out because at their age, they have awful balance. However, if you start balance training earlier than later, you will be a happy camper. Proper balance training prevents falls and increases muscles endurance and strength in hips, buttocks, core, and small muscles of the feet. It’s time you started a balance routine today.

It doesn’t have to be a huge long thing. It could even be one balance exercise before your workout to start out. However, if you have the time, I would suggest doing a 20-minute balance routine 2-3x a week. At least!

Benefits of doing a Balance Training Program:

  • Better strength in smaller muscles
  • Stronger core
  • Reduced chance of falling and injury
  • Helps improve the connection between brain and muscles
  • Burns calories as your body struggles to stabilize

Yes, even my younger clients have complained of tiny muscles in the feet, or their hamstrings, or their hips being sore the next day due to efficient balance training. So now it’s time to start your own. Like I said earlier, at least do one balance exercise before your workouts, better to do more, if possible. Here is a list of great balance exercises to add to your routine:

  • Single-Leg Balance. This one is simple. Stand on one foot, posture straight, shoulders back. If you have poor balance or feel unsteady, have a wall nearby to hold onto when needed. 30 seconds each leg.
  • Single-Leg Balance, Eyes Closed. Same as above, but with the eyes closed. Closing the eyes throws the body off, makes it unsure of where it is. Thus, you get more wobbly. Working on this will improve your proprioception (aka, your body’s awareness of where you are even with eyes closed). 30 seconds each leg.
  • Airplane. Stand on one leg and lean your body forward, spreading your arms like wings of a plane. The goal is to get your body (torso) completely parallel to the ground, including the leg that is off the ground. This one is a killer for the glutes and hamstrings. 30 seconds each leg.

  • Heel to Toe [Drunk Walk]. Yes, it’s what you think it is. Imagine you get pulled over and a cop makes you walk in a straight line. I want your heel to touch your toe every time. Back and forth twice.

  • Windmill. Similar to the single-leg balance, but instead of keeping your arms still you are going to cycle them like a windmill. 30 seconds each leg.

  • Supine Leg Raise. For this one you need a foam roller. Place it along your spine, and far up enough that you can rest your head on it. You can touch your hands on the ground, but the goal is to do it with no hands. Slowly raise a leg up and lower it. Then alternate. 12 reps on either leg.

  • Single-Leg Rotation. Stand on one leg, raise the other so that your thigh is parallel to the ground. You can hold your arms out or put them on your hips. For me, it helps to hold them out. Now, slowly turn either to your left or right (depending what foot you’re on). Then come back. This is all on one leg. And you need to do it slowly. Control the muscles. 12 reps on both legs. 

  • Single-Leg Lift & Chop. Same position as the previous one. But this time I want you to lift your arms up and chop across the body, far down. Look at the picture, but without the medicine ball. It is important to not use your momentum. Use your muscles. Control. 12 reps on both legs. 

  • Seated to Standing. This one is simple. Without pushing your hands on your knees to get up, stand from a seated position. 12 reps. 

  • Stability Ball Leg Raise. Most gyms should have them. If you don’t have one, and don’t go to a gym, get one–it’s worth it. There are lots of exercises you can do with it. For this one, preferably with your hands up (you can hold your hips if you need extra stability), slowly raise your leg to full extension. Then slowly lower. Alternate. 12 reps on either side. 

  • Bosu Ball Stand. This one is simple, but there are many variations. Simply find a bosu ball, and stand upright. You may feel wobbly but attempt to stabilize yourself. If this is too easy, close your eyes. If this is still too easy, march your feet. 30 seconds. 

Remember, folks, you don’t have to do all of these. I’m giving you a big list so you can pick and choose, try new ones different days. And if you have poor balance or need more stability, do these with a wall, a rail, or a chair to hold on to. Safety first. Always. You are never to old to start balance training. There are so many benefits. It’s not a waste of time and it will save you big time in the future. Try it out.

Cheers!

Motivation Monday: What Will Happen if You Keep Going?

You’ll get stronger. Sometimes it’s tough to keep going, day after day, with workouts, with progress, with fighting towards your goal. We know. Many times we’ve gotten knocked down, but we push ourselves back up. We understand how tough it is to keep all that fight going, but let me tell you, it is worth it. Don’t give up.

One of my inspirations

A question I would always ask isWhat’s going to happen if I keep going?” It is a question I would often ask during workouts with friends I would lead. A way to keep them (and I) going. When our lungs are burning, our legs are aching, and our muscles are screaming at us to stop. But what if we keep going? We get stronger. Hard work, persistence, willpower always pays off.

Chris' inspiration for a body goal from when he was little--good old Conan

Chris’ inspiration for a body goal from when he was little–good old Conan

So when you’re on the last leg of your run, when you’re on the second to last rep of that squat press, or just have one more lap of swimming to complete–think of this question:

What will happen if you keep going? You will get stronger.

Cheers! And as always, stay hungry and fit! 

Decadent Chocolate Peanut Clusters

If you’re not an idiot like me, this recipe is so easy. Just wait and watch. The taste to ease ratio is OUT OF THIS WORLD! I originally saw the recipe on the delicious Hip Foodie Mom blogand she got it from another blog, hereAs always, I didn’t follow exactly to the recipe, and it turned out beautifully. This is such an easy recipe, great way to impress/feed the loved ones at home, work, and elsewhere. Listen up!

Ingredients

  • a bunch of chocolate [I used about 12 oz], the better quality chocolate, the better quality finished product (I used two different kinds of Ghirardelli Chocolate, milk and truffle)

Nom

  • peanuts
  • microwave/hot water
It started snowing pretty heavily as I was making these

It started snowing pretty heavily as I was making these

Directions

1. Depends on the chocolate, but unwrap them and put them in a medium sized bowl.

2. Put in microwave and take out every 30 seconds to stir. Depends on your microwave and chocolate for the length of time that it takes to actually melt down. Mine took six times, so 3 minutes total. Try not to eat too much of it at this point (whoops)

photo (77)

3. Now this is where you don’t want to be an idiot like me. I actually DE-SHELLED about fifty peanuts, making this process take twenty minutes longer. Do the right thing and just get a bag of already de-shelled peanuts. Slowly stir them in, make sure they’re really mixed!

photo (79)

photo (80)

4. Get a baking sheet with wax paper across, and drop spoonfuls a few inches from each other.

5. Put in fridge for at least 1 hour. I left mine in all day and they turned out beautifully.

Our fridge!

Our fridge!

6. Take out and serve! When I put them away, I put them back in the fridge so they wouldn’t melt.

photo (82)Now you see how easy this recipe truly is, as long as you don’t personally de-shell all the peanuts . Let us know if you have any comments or questions. As always, stay hungry and fit. Cheers!

SLEEPY KITTENS

SLEEPY KITTENS

BONUS KITTY PIC 

Love Yourself: 30-Minute Total Body Blast [NO EQUIPMENT NECESSARY]

Hey, lovers and self-lovers out there! Today may be a day to splurge on chocolate, pastas, and fine wines (we are personally ordering pizza and kicking back since I work late), but it is also a day to show your body some love! You can’t be unfair and only treat your taste buds, treat your body too. Find 30 minutes out of your busy day to kick your own butt! In a kind and loving happy way. This is a home workout, you don’t need any weights–just keep moving! So no excuses! Keep a water bottle nearby.

30-Minute Circuit Total Body Blast

We are going to be doing a circuit of 10 stations for 1 minute each. Think you’re ready? Let’s do it!

1. Jump rope. Whether you have an actual jump rope or not, do this at a fast pace.

English: into the groove double dutch jump rope

English: into the groove double dutch jump rope (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

2. Plie squatsMore information on these if you click the link, these should be done slowly.

Here's me with weights, but they are unnecessary for all

Here’s me with weights, but they are unnecessary for all

3. Push-upsMore information at the link, you can do them regular or knee-style, whatever your strength level is at.

Push-ups

4. Mountain climbers. These are quick. The faster you go, the more you burn!

5. PlankClick the link for more information. Make sure you’re doing this right or I’ll sit on you.

6. Supermans. For these, you are on your belly and you lift your arms and your legs, with your torso still on the ground. You go up for about a second and then down, and then up and down, etc.

7. High knees. Hold your hands/arms parallel to the floor at a high level and kick your knees up to try to get them to your hands. These are FAST.

8. Lunges. Hands on the hips in starting position, lunge out forward with one leg, then back, lunge out with the other leg and back. Make sure that back leg is getting low to the ground.

9. Dips. Using a bench, a chair, a couch, anything really, hold onto the object, facing away from it and dip down, using your triceps.

10. Russian twists. Sit up with your legs off the ground and twist your shoulders back and forth (your whole torso), hitting either side with your hands. Make sure you are doing a full twist.

X3. To do this full workout, you must do this circuit three times. And 1 minute at each station (use an iPhone, a timer, stopwatch, something to keep track of time). You may need rest in between, but get a sip of water and try to keep going. Keep that heart rate up and the sweat flowing. And if you only have 20 minutes, then you can just make it two circuits instead of one. I know you have 20 minutes to spare today before you spend it with your love or your friends or your pets. If you’d rather have a shorter, more repetitive 15-min workout, click here. And click here for more circuit training ideas.

Let us know if you have any questions, and as always, stay hungry and fit! Cheers!

4 Ways to Breathe Properly and Reap the Benefits

Breathe in. And out. Breathing, oxygen is the foundation of our entire existence as air-breathing animals. Yet, we rarely pay attention to it throughout the day. I’m here to bring the importance of breathing back into your life! Breathing properly has an incredible amount of benefits, including:

  • A larger lung capacity
  • Lower blood pressure 
  • The ability to relax emotions and stress
  • The ability to relax muscle tension, cramps, and pain
  • The ability to push your exercise and strength farther 
  • Improves posture
  • Elevates mood and keeps you calm and refreshed
  • Fights off fatigue
Breathe

Breathe (Photo credit: PhotoLab XL)

Now those are just some benefits of breathing deeply and properly, the list goes on and on. Breathing is also a large part of meditation, where you can learn more about here. Okay, Alana, these are great benefits!

So, how do we breathe properly?

There are several different techniques for different situations, but in most circumstances, it is important to breathe deeply. Breathe deep in through the nose and out through the mouth. Depending on the situation, it is good to have your exhale be audible (such as when you are meditating or working out).

1. Breathing 101. Like I said, in through the nose, out through the mouth. When you inhale, make sure that your belly expands. Once your belly expands, fill your chest. It is good to inhale and hold at the top for as long as you comfortably can, then exhale through the mouth. This is the proper technique of breathing to get those benefits we talked about above. It helps to massage those inner muscles as well.

English: Animation of a diaphragm exhaling and...

English: Animation of a diaphragm exhaling and inhaling (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

2. Breathing for meditation. Again, if you want a more in-depth introduction or guide to meditation, go here. Otherwise, let’s go through a short version. We are going to do the same breathing (in through nose, out through mouth), but this time we are going to count. This helps focus the mind and concentrate only on breathing, which is a great practice for meditation. So, inhale for 4 counts, hold the breath at the top for 4 counts, and exhale for 4 counts. Do this for a few minutes. After a few minutes and you’ve gotten into a rhythm, expand your breath farther by using the count of 5. 

La méditation (Danse Odissi, musée Guimet)

La méditation (Danse Odissi, musée Guimet) (Photo credit: dalbera)

3. Breathing for working out. Believe it or not, breathing for exercise purposes is similar to the above techniques. But with working out, we want to exhale more forcefully. Often, when we exercise, we tend to gulp up short little breaths, and even hold our breath during a tough exercise. These are NO-NOs! If you want to get stronger, faster, and more capable, here’s how to do it: breathe in when you’re in the less stressful part of the exercise, and then exhale forcefully (so that others can hear it) out. This dramatic exhale focuses you and pushes you to complete the exercise. Make sure your inhales are deep–your muscles need oxygen, and if you deprive them of it, they will not work properly or as effectively!

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Chris breathing through leg press

4. Breathing for stress relief. I know we allll need this one, so pay attention. We are going to do the same breathing techniques as above, but slightly changed to fit our needs. Let’s practice this breathing technique three times: inhale very deeply, fill up that chest and expand the tummy. Hold it…now exhale out forcefully making an “ahhh” sound. As you exhale out loudly, I want you to slump your shoulders with the force of it. So you’re bringing your inhale up, your posture nice and straight, then letting it all loose with a loud, stress-releasing exhale.

[Exhalation] Tomoe Shinohara as Sayuri

[Exhalation] Tomoe Shinohara as Sayuri (Photo credit: edmundyeo)

 

Keep in mind all the benefits this deep breathing can give you, and try to practice proper breathing at least ten minutes a day. If you are strength training, definitely put this to use if you want a better workout! If you keep practicing, you will notice your posture will become more upright, you will feel more relaxed, and in charge of your life!

Feel free to comment with any questions you might have. Cheers!

9 Great Sources of Protein for Vegetarians

So you’re a vegetarian. So am I (kinda)! Which means you don’t eat meat (where are you going with this, Alana…). Which means you are missing out on a major source of protein. Protein is an extremely important part of the diet, healing and building muscles and keeping us nutrient-full. The more protein in the diet, the more full you remain. Here are some great ways for vegetarians to get protein:

1. Beans. Beans, beans, the more you eat them, the more you…gain a great source of protein and fiber! That’s how the song goes, right? My personal favorite is black beans. There are many types available: black, refried, kidney, white, chick peas, red, pinto, and many many more! Always get the beans with no salt added for a lesser sodium intake and a healthier meal over all. Soy beans (edamame) and white beans have the highest protein content, but all are still good choices. Great meal options with beans are: rice and beans, bean, cheese, and cheese burrito, bean soup, and bean salad. There are so many ways to put this into your diet, so do it today!

2. Soy. Soy is an excellent source of protein for the vegetarian (or for anyone). It is indeed a bean (or legume), but it has its separate category because it has such a big part in the vegetarian diets. You can find this in all kinds of forms now: Morningstar products, protein bar products, protein shake powder, and more! It is easy to find in such products, just search it up. Morningstar products are just as good as meat products, most taste absolutely delicious!

3. Tofu. Tofu is made from soy, called ‘bean curd’ because it is used from soybean juices and curded. Tofu is huge in the Asian cultures. There are soft and firm types of tofu, depending on how you want to cook or eat it. You can eat it raw, of course, too. But it’s great to either bake or lightly stir fry with some seasoning such as soy sauce, yeast, or garlic. And easy way to get a great source of protein.

4. Mushrooms. Mushrooms, in the plant world, are a live source of protein. So instead of dead proteins that you would find from soy or other processed protein sources, mushrooms are live fungi from the ground. This source of protein is very healthy and nutritious for you, having a high protein count, depending on which type of mushroom you get. Some variations are oyster mushrooms, portabella mushrooms, shiitake mushrooms, white mushrooms, and many more. I used to hate mushrooms until I became a vegetarian. I then started eating them more and now I love them. Get them a part of your diet!

5. Eggs. Eggs are definitely a great source of protein (if you’re not a vegan). You can hard boil them, scramble them, omelette them, fry them–the list is endless. There are so many great ways of adding this into your diet for breakfast, lunch, or dinner. One egg can range from 6-9 grams of protein.

6. Nuts. Another great, natural source of protein. It is also a place to get your good, natural healthy fats as well (that you NEED). Nuts come in all forms and sizes from peanuts to cashews to almonds to pistachios, if you want good protein, you better get nuts about nuts. They are an excellent snack, but can also be used in main dishes such as in your greek yogurt for breakfast, salad for lunch, and stir fry for dinner. Almonds rule the nut world for healthiest and most protein.

7. Greek Yogurt. Now, I’m not talking about the sugar-filled Yoplait yogurts that you’ll find for a good price. I’m talking Chobani, Fayeh, and Oikos. Preferably, get plain. The best of the best have a high protein count of 22 grams, the lowest you can find at around 7 grams. Greek yogurt may take some getting used to, but you can sweeten it with fruit or honey, or add granola to it as well. You can also add it to cooking dishes, such as curries and sauces. Make sure you get greek yogurt in for one meal of the day! Delicious.

8. Protein powder. Now these are made up (usually) of whey, soy protein isolate, and other milk products to create a densely packed protein addition to your diet. Goes very well after a workout too (when you need the most protein to start repairing those muscles). See this post for more information of what protein powder we like the most. You can make shakes, milkshakes, smoothies, and even your own protein bars! Great snack or meal replacement, and usually low in calories.

9. Cheese and other dairy products. Dairy is, of course, a good source of protein as it comes from an animal. You just need to be wary of how much you are consuming due to fats and calories (if you’re counting them). Cheese is delicious and comes in many forms from different animals (cheddar cheese and goat cheese are my personal favorites). Milk is good too, as is cottage cheese.

So there you have it, vegetarians, nine sources of protein ranging from fungi in the earth to processed curd. Now you have no excuses of not getting you daily protein intake–look how many options you have! Never skimp out on the protein, always get to your limit, it will keep you full longer, and keep your muscles happy.

Cheers!