Energy Booster – frozen strawberry and mango smoothie

Healthy energy booster smoothie with strawberry, mango and goji berry
Boost your energy with strawberry, mango and goji berry smoothie

The summer has finally arrived with all the goodies, fresh fruits and vegetables ready to pick. Couple of weeks ago I went to collect fresh strawberries from the field, I came home with few kilos. The ones I could not eat at once (believe me I tried my best), I put into the freezer. The strawberry season is slowly coming to the end but how great it is to have your supply ready waiting for you to make delicious and healthy smoothies at home.

One of my favourite energy booster recipe is the frozen strawberry, mango and goji berry smoothie.

Frozen strawberry smoothie ingredientsIngredients for 2:

  • 1 ripe mango
  • 2 cups frozen strawberries
  • 1 chili (if you like it spicy)
  • 1/4 cup goji berries
  • mint leaves
  • ice cubes

Cut the mango and put all the ingredients into a blender, and here you go, your smoothie is ready to drink! Enjoy!

Frozen strawberry and mango smoothie

How to start healthy habits which you can stick to

Habit change process which works

If you ask yourself the question why is it so hard for you to stick to the healthy habits, believe me you are not alone. Most of us human beings are just not consequent enough to stick to habits which are not convenient, pleasant, comfortable or give some kind of pleasure. So how can you train your mind to change your habits to achieve a healthier and balanced lifestyle?

As simple as it is, just follow the cycle of habit creation:

  1. Reminder
  2. Routine
  3. Reward

Let’s go through the below illustration what it really means for every day practice:

Train yourself to stick to the healthy habits for long term

All the activities you do during the day is the collection of habits or so called routines which you developed over the years.

Starting with the a very simple example, as soon as the sun goes up (reminder) you get out of bed (routine) and you get a cup of coffee (reward) to start your day. You never have to think about it, you just do it as this is part of your lifestyle.

Now, let’s try to turn this into a tool which helps you to overcome your inner weaker self and actually get yourself moving or eating healthier.

You need a good and simple REMINDER, an activity which you do every day not failing a single time or an event which is happening no matter what…like brushing teeth in the morning. Now you have to connect this activity with your ROUTINE, let’s say every morning after I brush my teeth I will do 10 burpees (which is by the way one of the best way to boost your endurance and make your entire body stronger). If you want to be sure that you get the habit just leave a post-it on your bathroom mirror so you can’t miss it. The next step is the best of the whole cycle, you have to REWARD yourself so you have a positive experience which makes you want to repeat. In this example I will reward myself with a tasty and healthy breakfast.

I have created two more examples which I would like to share with you for inspiration:

  • I would like to get a habit to walk more during the day to compensate for sitting a lot in the office, therefore I decided to walk couple of tram stops when I take the tram to work or go for lunch.  The reminder would be the tram stop where I would like to get off, the routine is the walking and the reward is some window shopping which I really like to do.
  • The last example is one of my biggest achievement over the last year. As soon as I reach home after work, I check the mail (reminder) and go straight to run (routine) before I would do anything else at home. My reward is of course a healthy bowl of soup or seasonal salad which is very easy to do after I return from my workout. You can find my healthy recipes on Instagram.

You got inspired? Try it out, start with small changes, one at the time and do not let yourself discouraged!

5 simple tips to stay fit during holidays

5 simple ways to stay fit during holidays
If you want to stay fit during your holiday follow these 5 easy steps

You have done so well lately and now the holiday season is right around the corner. What I find personally difficult is to go and enjoy the well deserved holiday without jeopardising all the hard work I put in to get fit. Usually end of the holiday I go home with couple of extra kilograms not even fitting into my nice holiday pants. Do not understand me wrong holidays are there to enjoy, let out the steam, relax and not to worry about diet. However with a small effort the after holiday frustration can be avoided.

I put together this bucket list which I take with me for my next holiday just to remind myself that small things can lead to a big change to make sure you stay fit:

  1. Keep hydrated but avoid any sweetened drinks: so much better option to tap into the great variety of fruits which is available for a quick shake. You need only crashed ice, fresh fruits and a blender. In case you do not trust the ice (in some holiday destinations could be a problem) you can do wonder with simply putting some lime and mint leaves into ice cold water. Do not forget, many times you are really just thirsty and not hungry, so before you reach for food DRINK.
  2. Do not completely give up your exercise plans: exercises can be easily added into your holiday plans, you just have to WANT it. Be creative even if you do not have a gym, you can do so much with your own body weight. It also prevents you from eating too much. What works really good for me is an early morning run before the sun comes up and gets really humid and hot. It does not have to be very long, just add some lunges and sprint at the end and you are fully refreshed and ready for the day. I also noticed that I’m much better avoiding temptation at the breakfast buffet after the exercise, I do not crave for food that much.
  3. Try out new activities for an active holiday: the best thing to avoid unnecessary eating and drinking is to keep yourself busy with fun and interesting activities. Holidays are good opportunities to try out new things. If you spend your holidays close to the water, do not be shy to go for some water activities. Stand-up paddling, kayaking, surfing or diving are really fun and great work-out options.
  4. Watch the portion: what I keep telling myself is just because I’m in holidays I do not need to eat double the portion than at home. I’m surviving pretty well at home without breakfast buffet or three course menu for each dinner. So why I’m doing it during the holidays? The variety of choices, this must be it. Why do you need to try everything in the breakfast buffet, you will have the same choices tomorrow. Rule of the thumb, starter must go. The main course is perfectly fine to satisfy your appetite, starters just added calorie. You can also go wrong with healthy choices like salad if you take it with a dressing which is a calorie bomb. The simplest to ask your waiter for olive oil and vinegar. Deserts, either share it or skip it. No compromise.
  5. Get the right combination: you love steak, no problem go for it but drop those potatoes. You have a great grilled fish do not spoil your appetite with fries, reach for the fresh salad. Finish up with a good glass of vine, sugary cocktails just add to much calories.
Do these workouts during your holiday to stay fit
Easy no gym exercises using your own body weight or be creative and find a substitute… like a coconut. Morning jogging at the beach is unbeatable.

I would be very interested to hear whether you find the list useful. Share with us what is your trick to keep fit during holidays!

Most importantly, enjoy your holiday! You deserve it!

 

How to get yourself motivated to stick to your exercise routine and have fun

How to motivated yourself to do more sport and have fun

The dilemma many of us facing is how to embed regular exercising routine into our lifestyle. We have way too many things going on during the day at work, family matters or just catching up with old friends we have not seen for a while. And when the weekend comes we can’t wait to finally relax, go for a short weekend trip or just do absolutely nothing (shocking right?).These are all very good reasons to skip your exercise routine and choose rather your duty or leisure.

I would be lying if I would not face this dilemma over and over again, which motivates me even more to find a way out which works for me and hopefully could work for you as well. As many things it all comes down getting to know yourself, setting clear priorities (yes, this is a time when you grab your pencil and a piece of paper) and go through what is really important for your happiness and how it comes together with you feeling fit, healthy and balanced.

Here is my story

Problem realisation: it happened just a few years back when I spent a wonderful weekend at the beach in Slovenia with my family. Everything was all good but I could not truly enjoying myself, which was very unlike me. I was wondering what was wrong, I love travelling, I love going for weekend trips with friends and family, I love the sun and the water, I love late nights out with wine and good food. Well, back then I was working late hours, eating on the go and skipping sports which led to increased weight and even more frustration. I did not truly realised the seriousness of the case and the impact on me until the point the bikinis were out of my suitcase. I was wondering how can I keep my self-confident if I’m simply not happy in my body. On the other hand I did not want to give up completely my lifestyle, I needed to find a solution where I can still enjoy the things I love but I do not have to jeopardise my body and gain back my self-confidence.

Finding solutions: I was not a big runner before, yes I went for jogging time to time but I would not have called it regular. However I realised that running is a sport which is giving me a lot of freedom. I can do whenever and wherever I want, I’m not dependent on anybody. I can even do it when I’m on a weekend trip in the mountains, traveling for business or enjoying my city break abroad. Adding running into my current lifestyle just seemed like a good match.

Putting into action: the next step was to create a clear plan of what do I want to reach within a certain timeframe, how often I have to go running per week to reach my goal and which time of the day would work for me the best. As a motivating factor I signed up for my very first half marathon abroad. Why abroad? Well, this is what I love to do, travelling is my true passion and nothing makes me run more than the thought that in a few months I will be racing down the streets of my favourite city or a place I always wanted to go. Combining my hobby and life passion with healthy lifestyle was a way for me to find the missing motivation and turn exercise into my every day activity. And the best part of it, as soon as you are open for this lifestyle change, you will find people who are as passionate about it as you. So why not organising a family, friends or team event? You get a healthy amount of competition which keeps you on your toes and a possibility to share these moments with people who care about you.

To Sum it up: independently which exercise you choose the best way is to fit it into your lifestyle, combine it with your life passion and find people in your environment you can share with. Find a positive spin and go with it. It is really rewarding when it all comes together…

 

Learn how to control your food portion to achieve your weight goals

Portion control for weigh loss

In the Oh mighty food – eating good is half the job blog post I have written about the 7 simple food rules to keep your weight under control on a sustainable basis. One of these food rules which is in my view the most important and might be the hardest to get it right is the portion control.

Why is it so hard to know what is the right portion to reach your weight loss goals without measuring every single calorie you put on your plate? You see, everybody understands something else under small and big portions, dependent on the habits we learned from our parents, our genetics or even the country we are living in. We do not always carry around a scale or a calculator to know exactly the calorie intake and to be fair this would be a pretty exhausting activity (and in my view totally contra-productive being obsessed with calorie counting).

I’m not a nutrition consultant and do not have scientifically proven methods but I did spend a lot of time observing my own body how it changes when I took control over the portions. And this is a pretty powerful tool, if you master it you can be sure that weight will not be your problem. This being said, you have to realise that this is a try and error process, not everything works for everybody the same way. You have to start observing your own body along the way…

Before we start I want you to think first about the most common pitfalls which prevents you today to stick to the healthy portion your body needs. At the first glance it might sounds trivial but these pitfalls rooted deep inside us without us being conscious about them.

Pitfall 1:

Your eyes are always bigger than your hunger.

We do eat and take portions based on our routine we learned throughout our childhood and younger years. I’m coming from a culture where food is playing an important role in the social interaction. For every family celebration we had just way too much food on the table. I really loved it when I was a child and could not really control myself when it was about sweets. I was lucky enough that I did not have a weight problem and it only caught up with me in my adult years. I was just simply not used to think twice if I can take another portion. We were all told to finish our plates and take more. It is now coded inside us and our eyes just got customised to it.

Pitfall 2:

Your plate size also matters.

I read about a very interesting experiment they made with two different groups of students. The students were invited to a lecture and during the break they were served food. They were not aware of the purpose of the experiment and therefore behaved in a natural manner. The food was served in buffet style (the real fat maker), the only difference between the two groups was the plate size. It does not come as a surprise that the group with the smaller plate size generally ate less then the group with bigger plates. So why is that, they could have taken equally the same. It is somehow coded into our brain that it is ok to fill our plate once max twice but our brain does not say anything about the size of the plate. If you are living in a country where the serving sizes are bigger you will eat more automatically.

Pitfall 3:

The rest is also food / be aware of the package size.

The next pitfall I observed on myself is my shopping and cooking habits. Somehow I was hardwired to buy enough food at once, so I do not have to go shopping again or just to make sure we do not run out of ingredients. I mean who buys two pieces of tomato at once? We are encouraged to get bigger and more “economical” package sizes. However if you are not cooking for an army or having a really big family you do not really need that. Think about it this way, it always creates rest which we do not want to throw away (who throws away food?) so you just eat it even though you would not need to.

To sum it up, these pitfalls create eating habits which we do not realise, do not question and therefore do not control. It is much harder to stop munching on your favorite food and leave the half plate aside than just get the right portion and be happily satisfied with it.

Let’s establish the ground rules:

Rule 1: 

Stick to your receipt book.

Nowadays there are so many sources of healthy receipts available which also indicate calories and serving sizes. You do not need to think about it just follow the instructions. But most importantly you have to stick to the quantities the receipt advises. Do not get tempted to cook for 1 person the portion which meant for 2. Also, do not feel ridiculous in the shop to buy two pieces of tomato if the receipt requires only that much, even though you could get a best bargain package. Think about it this way, food is much better fresh and at the end of the day you will spend even less if you follow this strategy.

Rule 2:

Keep the cups or use your palm.

Healthy_portion_fruits_vegetablesWhen I eat fruits and vegetables (which is forming a big part of my food intake) I have adopted two really simple rules. A hand full of fruits after each meal which translates into approximately half a cup. When it comes to vegetables I take 1 cup or 2 hand full of my favourite veggies as a side dish besides protein and carbs.  I apply exactly these measures in the morning when I prepare my favorite muesli with blueberries or in the evening when I have my mango chicken with green beans. I find 1 apple a day rule also brilliant, I normally eat it in the afternoon when I start getting a small hunger.

Rule 3:

Get the right quantity of  the clean carbohydrates.

Carb_healthy_serving_sizeThere is a whole paranoia about eating carbs. Carbs are known as real fat maker and I still recommend them to eat? Yes, if you stick to the clean carbs which do not spike up your insulin but convert them to glucose over a longer period of time (e.g. brown rice, quinoa, bulgur, sweet potatoes, whole grain oatmeal). Low carbs diets just do not work long term, you might lose weight at the first instance, however when you want to live a healthy and fit lifestyle (which I assume if you are reading this post) you need to fuel your sport activity. If you stop eating them your body will use protein to keep going and you would eventually lose your muscle mass which you definitely do not want. Instead you should take the right portion of the clean carbs. As a rule of the thumb I take 1/3 cup from quinoa, bulgur or brown rice for lunch as a side dish beside protein and vegetables. For breakfast I usually take 1/4 cup or 2 tbsp of whole grain oatmeal besides fruits and yoghurt.

Rule 4:

Take your lean proteins to build muscle.

Proteins are extremely important especially when you are living an active life and do regular sports as they are the main building blocks of your muscles. What is also important that you go for the lean proteins to keep your fat intake under control (e.g. eggs, chicken, fish, seafood, lean beef, greek yoghurt). Try to eat for each meal a portion of  lean protein but like with everything keep a healthy balance. As a general rule I normally take from fish and chicken 110-120 gram for one meal.  This is also how I shop, I go for the small package or ask for the exact size at the counter. 3 big tbsp (70 gram) from cottage cheese or greek yoghurt is perfect to start my day. I generally eat eggs on the weekends after my long run but no more than two. I keep cheese consumption rather low, taking mainly feta or halloumi cheese to my salad but keep it max 4 slices (approx. 40gram) for 1 serving.

The next is your turn…

Enjoy