Friday, 26 September 2014

The 5 Best Ab Exercises and The Ones That Waste Your Time

A flatter stomach is one of the most common fitness goals, so it’s no surprise that there are more abdominal exercises and contraptions for achieving a tighter stomach than there are excuses to skip your workout. But not all ab exercises are created equal. In fact, many are simply a waste of workout time. A study conducted at the San Diego State University Biomechanics Lab examined the electromyography (EMG) activity results garnered by popular core exercises. Here’s how they stacked up:
Don’t waste your time with:
1. The basic crunch
Why: The basic crunch is just that – basic. Don’t waste countless hours on a less-than-stellar exercise that does little to fully engage your abdominal muscles and core.
2. The ab rocker
Why: The ab rocker was proven to be no more effective than the traditional crunch. Actually, it was shown to be up to 80 percent less effective! Yes, it’s super easy to do, and that’s why it doesn’t work. By supporting your head, this tool actually deactivates the muscles in the neck that would normally support it. This can lead to neck pain as your supporting muscles weaken. There’s a reason these machines are collecting dust in the corner of your gym.
3. The straight-leg sit-up
Why: This old-school exercise is responsible for many back issues. It puts a huge strain on the lower back by provoking you to hurl your upper body forward in an attempt to touch your toes. No thanks.
4. The standing dumbbell side bend
Why: Isolating the obliques in this way is not natural and can add unnecessary strain to your back. (How often do you bend straight to the side to pick something up?) Also, many people use the momentum that the dumbbells create and rock side-to-side instead of properly engaging their muscles. Avoid these unless you want to look you’re rocking to the oldies.
5. The seated twist
Why: Seated twisting machines are a waste of money and space in fitness facilities. They don’t train your muscles in a functional way and the path of motion is fixed and unnatural. They can also lead to injury if you don’t know what weight to use and how to control the movement. I’ve seen many people snap from right to left with some wicked momentum – ouch!
Opt for these five exercises to maximize your workout time instead:
1. The plank
Why: It stimulates more abdominal activity than a regular crunch and works the muscles in your back as well.
How: Supporting yourself on your forearms and the balls of your feet, bridge up and position your body in one straight line. Pull your abs in tight and hold for 30-60 seconds.
Kick it up a notch: From the plank position, reach forward with your right hand, hold for a count and slowly return to the starting position. Do the same with your left hand and repeat.
2. The bicycle crunch
Why: In the San Diego study, this exercise was the second highest in terms of EMG activity in participants. It also stimulates more abdominal activity than the traditional crunch including your lower stomach and obliques.
How: Lying on your back, bring your knees up to form a 90 degree angle and keep your hands by your temples. Crunch up and twist across the body while simultaneously performing a bicycle motion with your legs. For example, if you crunch up and to the right you should draw your right knee in and vice versa. Repeat for 20-30 reps total.
3. Side plank
Why: Side planks not only torch your obliques, they also stimulate and tone your glutes, quads, hamstrings, inner/outer thighs and your upper body.
How: Lie on your side with your forearm perpendicular to your body and one foot stacked over the other. Bridge your hip up and hold for 30-60 seconds while maintaining a straight line with your body.
Kick it up a notch: Raise your top leg so that it’s parallel to the ground (this full version of this is called Vasisthasana in yoga).
4. Vertical chair knee raise
Why: It stimulated 210 percent more abdominal activity in the study’s participants than the traditional crunch.
How: Use your upper body to hold yourself up tall while drawing your knees up and past your waist. Squeeze at the top and slowly lower your legs back down. Repeat for a total of 12-15 reps.
Kick it up a notch: Do a straight-leg raise.
5. Reverse crunch
Why: Engage your lower abdomen and obliques with this move.
How: Lie on your back with your hands tucked under your bum and your knees bent. Bring your legs up until they form a 90 degree angle from your torso. Do a pelvic tilt and pull your knees in towards your chest, squeeze and slowly lower to starting position. Aim for 15-20 reps.
Kick it up a notch: Hold a weight over your head.
Ripped abs plan:One of the best ways to work the abs is to perform a series of core moves in one continuous circuit. Circuits are efficient and effective, allowing you to get the most out of your efforts. For optimum results, perform this core circuit at the end of your intense training sessions. You want your core strong and ready to back you up when you’re in the thick of a tough workout.
Plank tri-set (regular and sides): 30-60 seconds
Reverse crunch: 15-20 reps
Bicycle crunch: 10-15 reps per side
Vertical chair knee raise: 12-15 reps
Notes: Perform 2-4 total sets or circuits with now rest between exercises and a 1 minute rest between circuits.

4 Exercises That Build Strength Not Bulk

Sunday, 5 January 2014

Tuscan White Bean and Vegetable Soup

This recipe from the Kraft Canada website is vegetarian and diabetic friendly.

What you need

  • Tuscan White Bean & Vegetable Soup

Make It

  • Heat oven to 350ºF.

  • Spread bread onto rimmed baking sheet. Bake 15 min. or until toasted, stirring after 8 min.

  • Meanwhile, heat dressing in large saucepan on medium-high heat. Add celery, carrots and onions; cook 5 min. or until crisp-tender, stirring frequently.

  • Reserve 1/2 can beans. Add remaining beans to pan with cabbage, tomatoes, water and broth; stir. Bring to boil; simmer on medium-low heat 15 min. or until vegetables are tender and soup is slightly thickened, stirring occasionally.

  • Stir remaining beans and rosemary into soup; simmer 10 min. or until heated through, stirring occasionally. Serve topped with bread and cheese.



    Similar to a Tuscan ribolita, this delicious soup is a great way to use leftover vegetables and bread. If you have day-old bread, you can skip the oven toasting step - just cut or tear the dried-out bread into bite-size pieces and use as directed.

Detox Smoothies

 I found these recipes on the girl get strong page. Nothing like a good detox after the holidays or after anytime we have abused our bodies with a lot of junky food. These sound yummy and I can't wait to try them this week!

Smoothies are a great way to boost your fruits and veggies daily intake. It makes a delicious quick breakfast, a nice refreshing snack, a wonderful healthy dessert or a super post-training drink. Not only the flavor combinations are infinite, you can prepare different recipes to benefit from specific health components from its ingredients. One other great thing about smoothies is that to the opposite of simple juices, it keeps all the natural fiber, which help cleansing the digestive tract. The powerful detox foods that go into it help your liver to detox naturally, and they can help you stay healthy and look great.

Flat Tummy

Rich in digestion supporting ingredients, this smoothie will help prevent bloating and digestive stress that can sabotage your tummy flattening efforts.
  • 3/4 c. papaya
  • 3/4c. sliced peaches
  • 1/2 pear, sliced
  • 1 tsp fresh ginger
  • 2 mint leaves
  • Water to thin

Skin Saver

Antioxidants in berries are known to help to fight wrinkles and other skin ageing signs. Berries are also a great way to control blood sugar that can sabotage your complexion. This smoothie also contains Omega 3, to fight inflammation, as well as vitamins E and C, both renown to help the skin.
  • 3/4 c blueberries
  • 3/4 c pitted cherries
  • 5 strawberries
  • 1/4 avocado, peeled and pitted
  • 2 tsp wheat germ (optional)
  • 2 tsp ground flaxseed
  • Water, to thin

Peanut Butter Energy Booster

This protein-rich and minerals-filled smoothie will give you long-lasting energy. Cinnamon will help to control your blood sugar so your energy level won’t crash too quickly.
  • 1 big banana
  • 1 scoop of natural hemp protein powder
  • 2 tsp of natural peanut butter
  • 1 handful of fresh baby spinach
  • 1/2 tsp of cinnamon
  • Water, to thin

Bone Lover

This vitamin-rich green smoothie contains calcium, magnesium and other bone building minerals to keep your bone strong and healthy.
  • 2 bananas
  • 1 handful of Swiss chard leaves, stems removed
  • 1 handful of kale leaves
  • 1 tsp of green Matcha powder
  • 1/2 cup of homemade almond milk

Immune System Booster

Rich in vitamin A, C and zinc, this smoothie can increase the production of white blood cells and antibodies to get your body ready to resist this season’s infections.
  • 1/2 c. mango cubes
  • 1/2 c. cantaloupe cubes
  • 1/2 c. fresh pineapple cubes
  • 1/4 c. chopped pumpkin seeds
  • Water, to thin

Natural Skin Tanner

Studies have proven that a beta-carotene rich diet can make your complexion glow, and that particular skin tone is usually considered healthier than a regular skin tan. This smoothie can help you get that healthy glow without risking your skin lying under the sun.
  • 1/2 cup of cantaloupe cubes
  • 1/2 cup of papaya
  • Juice of 1 orange
  • 1/2 cup of carrot juice (or water)
  • 1 small knob of fresh ginger

Antioxidant Power

Feel the power of this detox foods-rich smoothie. Very rich in antioxidants, this smoothie will help to support your liver to detox naturally and help your body stay healthy and young longer.
  • 1/3 cup of blueberries
  • 1/3 cup of raspberries
  • 1/3 cup of pomegranate kernels
  • 1/4 cup of beet juice (optional)
  • 1 banana
  • Water to thin

Detox Juicing recipes

These are 5 Juicing recipes from all about juice recipes website that are  to help detox your body. I sometimes like to add a couple ice cubes when blending my smoothie to make it icy cold and slushy-like.

Healthy Heart Choco Raspberry Smoothie

  • 1 cup of fresh organic raspberries
  • 1/4 organic, fair-trade dark chocolate chips or chunks
  • 1/2 cup almond milk
  1. Mix all ingredients in a blender and process until smooth.

Healthy dessert in a glass

  • 1 small banana
  • 1/2 cup of almond milk
  • 1 tsp of organic, fair -trade cocoa powder
  • 2 tbsp of natural hazelnut butter
  • 1 tbsp of maple syrup

Mix all ingredients in a blender and process until smooth.

detox juicing recipes 4 5 Fantastic Detox Juicing Recipes
This detox juicing recipe is especially for mango lovers

Silky Mango

  • 1/2 cup of orange juice
  • 1/4 cup avocado
  • 1/4 cup mango cubes
  • 1 tbsp freshly squeezed lime juice

Mix all ingredients in a blender (juice extractor is better) and process until smooth.

If you have grandma or grandpa, you must suggest them to try this detox recipe:

 Strong bones green almonds smoothie

  • 2 tbsp natural almond butter
  • 1/2 cup almond milk
  • 1 small handful of kale leaves
  • 1 small banana

Mix all ingredients in a blender and process until smooth.

Detox juicing recipe for children:

 Brain health blueberry dream

  • 1 small banana
  • 1 cup of unsweetened frozen blueberries, thawed
  • 1 tbsp of cold-pressed flax seed oil

Mix all ingredients in a blender and process until smooth.

Lasagna in a Skillet, the healthier way

A quick, healthy, and delicious skillet lasagna! Found this beauty on the Apple of my eye site.You can cut even more calories and fat by using extra lean ground beef and 0% cottage cheese, add fibre by using whole wheat lasagna noodles. Reduce salt intake by using salt reduced can of diced tomatoes.

Serves: 6

  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, diced
  • salt and pepper
  • 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 1lb lean ground beef (93% lean)
  • 8 lasagna noodles, broken
  • 1 8oz can tomato sauce
  • 1 28 oz can diced tomatoes
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 6 oz part skim mozzarella cheese
  • 1 cup 1% cottage cheese
  • optional: parmesan cheese

  1. Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add in the chopped onion and cook until translucent (4-5 minutes). Stir in the garlic and 1/2 tsp salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes.
  2. Add in the ground beef, breaking the meat into pieces and cooking until no longer pink.
  3. Layer the lasagna noodles over the meat and pour the tomato sauces and water over the pasta. Cover and bring the dish to a simmer, then lower the heat to medium and cook, stirring occasionally, for about 20 minutes or until the pasta is done. Season the lasagna well with more salt and pepper to taste.
  4. Take the lasagna off the heat and roughly stir in the cottage cheese. Top with big chunks of mozzarella and let sit covered for 5 minutes or until cheese it melted.
  5. If desired (I recommend it!), top with parmesan and basil.

Nutrition Information
Serving size: 1/6th recipe Calories: 385 Fat: 12.6g Saturated fat: 5.4g Carbohydrates: 33g Sugar: 4.1g Fiber: 3g Protein: 32.5g Cholesterol: 61mg