Friday, 17 February 2012

Last word from Igor

I have reached the conclusion of my pre-Siberia Trip workouts with Fitness Solutions Plus.  I have really enjoyed working out and having my trainer no more than an email or phone call away if I had any concerns or questions. I am stronger, fitter and "giggle" less after 7 weeks and I am confident that I am ready for whatever lies ahead in Siberia. I leave today.

We had our last weigh and measure session on Wednesday and here is the verdict, straight from Igor himself:

Week 7 Progress Report.
By Igor Klibanov.

Wednesday was Melony's last training day, so we took her final set of measurements before she's off to Siberia.

Surprisingly, despite the hard work, the majority of her measurements actually got slightly worse. But this was expected. Although her nutrition was as close to perfect as you could hope for, the training started taking its toll.

When a person is starting to become over-trained, fat mass increases, and muscle mass decreases. This seemed to be what is happening with Mel right now. But there are stages to over-training, and the first stage is over-reaching. Overreaching is when there are just the small symptoms of over training, like not being able to recover workout to workout, and an increase in fat mass, combined with a decrease in muscle mass.

However, if overreaching is used strategically, like before a long break from training, it can actually work to the person's favour. So even though Melony will be exercising less in Siberia, and probably not eating as clean since she doesn't have full control over what she will be given to eat, she will come back leaner.

Overall, you couldn't ask for better compliance. And the Afrikaans that I learned will come in handy. So Melony, buy a donkey (okay, I know it's spelled "baie danke", which means thank you very much, but I like my way better) for teaching me Afrikaans.

Until I return, stay healthy!  Thank you to those who have supported and encouraged me all the way. You know who you are!

Signing off for a while,

Melony Teague.

Thursday, 16 February 2012

No more gym sessions for a while...

It is with a little bit of sadness that I attended my last workout with Igor of Fitness Solutions Plus.  Tomorrow I get into a plane and leave for Siberia, the reason for my training.
I can't tell you how much I have enjoyed the last 7 weeks of training. Yes the workouts were tough, I did have to watch what I ate and there were muscles that were sore, ones I never knew I had, but it was all worth it to know I am as prepared as I can be for my trip.

We will publish the final results of the 7 week weigh and measure soon.

First I have to pack my suitcase!
I leave home tomorrow at noon!

Thanks to Igor for all his hard work and training, I had a blast...
okay let me rephrase that...
Thanks to Igor for all MY hard work in watching me train! One of his favourite phrases when he tells me what the next exercise is is: " Let's do it; it's going to be fun, ...for one of us!" His guidance and encouragement have been amazing!

I will say more in the next post!
Igor Klibanov and Mel Teague in the gym.

Monday, 13 February 2012

How to survive Valentine's day when on a nutritional plan....

First of all, let me just say that in no way have I been deprived of chocolate on my nutritional plan. I am allowed unsweetened cocoa and unsweetened, dairy free chocolate. Yes it is bitter, but eat it with a hand full of nuts and it tastes just fine!

Will I miss the other kind of chocolate on Valentine's day? No. Why?

First of all, sometimes chocolate, particularly heart shaped chocolate really does not taste as good as it looks. Often the foil wrapped, shaped chocolates you find all over on valentines day are made out of poor quality chocolate, so I remind myself: It probably will not taste as good as it looks.

Second, I am going out for breakfast instead of husband and I will be celebrating Valentines day over breakfast which minimises the need for those decadent desserts the restaurants like to push on Valentines.

If you want to feel spoiled, you don't need chocolate to make you feel special, flowers will do the trick and they are calorie free. (Unless you eat them, which I do not advise.)

Have some sparkling water with your meal instead of that glass of still feels special and bubbly.

If you really do want a special treat, how about some Quinoa Cocoa waffles?

Topped with blackberries, blueberries and plain goats yoghurt, they were delicious, I drizzled a little almond butter over the waffles before putting on the toppings.

The waffle mixture was made out of Quinoa flour, Protien Isolate Sugar free powder (Whey ), unsweetened organic Cocoa Powder, ground flax seed, ground cinnamon and a small amount of Stevia. This batter requires 3 eggs and some butter and I used almond milk, but all in all a delicious and nutritious combination.

How about a special Roast beef Spinach salad with strawberries and pine nuts for lunch?

Making your salad colourful and introducing texture will keep salads interesting.
Vary your salad dressing. Mine are sugar free.

Tomorrow starts week 8 of training.

I look forward to weigh and measure on Wednesday and I hope that the photos will do justice to how much better I feel since I started working out in the gym and changing my nutritional habits. Okay, so don't expect me to look like a supermodel...but I feel like one!

Happy Valentines Day!

Friday, 10 February 2012

What? I did not see that, I promise!

I was so proud of myself. I had found a delicious Quinoa cereal that was keeping me from eating that toast and peanut butter I have been dreaming about.
So, of course wanting the approval of my dear trainer, Igor, I emailed him a picture of the box and the ingredient list. I thought that not only would he be so proud of me, but he could share it with others to help them stay away from the lure of hot and crunchy toast in the mornings...Or so I thought.

This was Igor's very polite response (via email) 

"I hate to tell you this, but reading the ingredients, I don't think it's the best thing for you right now."


It turns out there was an ingredient in there that I did not see when I checked the ingredients: Can you guess what it is?

 (Left) Cocoa Quinoa Cereal ingredient list.

I saw the "Organic" part and honestly did not see the RICE. OOPS!

Note to self:
DO NOT eat half the box before asking your trainer if it is an approved nutritional choice.

Let me also clarify that this cereal is very low in sugar, only 1g per serving. So, I thought it would be ok...I did not see the "rice" part.

At least it was ORGANIC!

Although Igor has been training me really hard in the gym, the biggest challenge I face is staying positive and motivated when I am not in the gym. When I am at the gym I know that if a thought like "I can't lift this weight," or "I can't do another repetition," comes into my mind then I have to immediately laugh it off and ignore it. It is not the truth, I usually prove myself wrong, time and time again. I ignore that voice and go ahead and do that one more rep or lift that inconceivable weight. I know that if I entertain that negative thought for even a moment it drains my strength. I am not talking about the body's natural signals which prevent injury, I am talking about motivation and trust in what your body can do.

In the gym environment it is easy for me to know what is expected and to deliver.
What is not so easy, for instance, is when the family is having bagels or toast...well I have to have something else. The challenge is when you go to the grocery store and try to find a nice snack and you look at the labels, and there is sugar and starch of some form in everything! It takes thought to prepare meals, you can't just grab a slice of pizza. If you do not have a good reason as to why you are making healthier choices then you will give up. You have to have that reason before you and constantly remind yourself of your goals until good habits become second nature and there is no longer a struggle. Bear in mind everyone's nutritional plan is different, so if your trainer says you can have carbohydrates, then go ahead, enjoy your toast!

Today my workout was awesome. Last time we did this particular set of exercises, on Monday, I struggled through the exercises and they were hard, today we did more reps and I could not believe the strength my core and abs had gained.

Valentines day is coming up and I have a date with my husband. It feels good to know I am healthy and in shape, and I am not thinking, "Urgh! What am I going to wear? Nothing fits!" Instead I am looking forward to getting dressed up because I have worked hard, eaten right (okay except the cereal...) and I can tell that my body has responded to these 7 weeks of training.

Wednesday, 8 February 2012

Adapting to changing circumstances

My son asked if we could have burgers for dinner. He has been asking for a while and so today I finally picked some up at the grocery store. I had the second workout of week 7's program and so a burger patty would make a great post workout snack. What do you have when the rest of your family are eating burgers with a big, fat bun and you are not eating bread?

This is what you do, you make some mayonnaise from scratch. (recipe here, but I omitted the sugar and used olive oil and grapeseed oil)
The burger Patty was comfortably nestled between two slices of pan fried Eggplant, topped with sautee'd onions and home made mayonnaise.  (right)

In the gym the exercises we are doing are designed to speed up my metabolism. AND to make me really sore it seems. Today my quads were stiff and sore! To be fair Igor did warn me and gave me some advice on how to deal with the soreness. Vitamin C after the workout for one. 

Another meal idea is a stuffed portabello mushroom with sautee'd veg on the side. (below)

The vegetables were parsnips, carrots, peppers and asparagus with baby tomatoes. I stuffed the mushroom with goats cheese and antipasto eggplant strips with a large drizzle of balsamic vinegar.. 

When we were in the gym and Igor introduced a new exercise called the "reverse lunge" and let me just say that the thing that stood out to me the most was that last week's torturous walking lunges paid off, I was able to do the reverse lunges without keeling over, only because of the strength I had built up.

How am I adapting to this week's changing workout? First of all, just the fact that the exercises are different and are executed in a different tempo keeps your routine fresh and interesting. Thankfully there is no HIT training this week, and so far, no "Prowler"...I dislike that thing intensely. I have been reintroduced to the good old Russian twists and today learned that I can do bent over rows with 25 pound dumbbells! On Tuesday I was experiencing lower back pain and so we adapted my workout, we omitted the deadlifts to allow for recovery.

I am slowly gathering equipment and supplied to take with to Russia, and we were asked to take Marshmallows, Apparently you can't get them in Moscow! My husband bought me a down filled sleeveless jacket to put under my parka to keep me warm. He also got me some waterproof mittens which will come in handy. A friend that I work with gave me some packages of glove and boot warmers which I will use when I photograph the Ice Marathon on Lake Baikal.

I suppose soon I will count down the days till I leave, but right now I am counting down the number of workouts left...Igor has given me some Isometric exercises to do while I am away.  

Tomorrow I will start packing my suitcase. Just how many bags of marshmallows do you think I can squeeze between my shoes?

Here is some more information on my trip as featured in the Richmond Hill Liberal.

Sunday, 5 February 2012

The prowler that nearly wiped me out!

I have come to the end of week 6 and man I am wiped! When Igor said we would be introducing something "different" this week what he meant was that we would be adding 26- 29 minutes of High intensity Interval training AFTER every weight lifting workout. Let me just say, it fatigued my muscles so much that the same weight felt like a ton the next day.

After the first workout I did the horrible elliptical, I feel so weird on that thing. The routine was 3 minutes moderate exercise, then one minute high intensity and resistance  exercise, repeated 6 times! 

After the second workout I did the same routine on the treadmill...never again will I say I am not a to the elliptical, the treadmill is wonderful.

After the third workout I did this thing where you hold two very long and heavy ropes and  you have to pretend they are as light as ribbons and cause them to make pretty little waves in the one minute high intensity phase. waves were not so pretty. Thankfully Igor was not watching! 

Please note this was after doing deadlifts with ninety pounds of weight in total. (90lbs)

Then came the dreaded "Prowler", if you have ever seen football guys train you will know what it is. It is like a sled with weights on it that you push along the carpeted floor. With it being my pre super-bowl workout for a fleeting moment I knew something of what it was like to be a football player. And I did not love it! My legs burned so badly that it was torture indeed.  For more information on the Prowler and what it looks like, click here.

This is how Igor explained the necessity for the torture, I mean High Intensity Interval training he so graciously added to this week's routine:

Fat burning is actually a 3-step process.
By Igor Klibanov

Step 1: mobilisation. This is the process of getting the fat out of the fat cell.

Step 2: transport. This is the process of moving the fat from the blood into tissues that can burn it (like muscles, liver and the heart).

Step 3: oxidation. This is the actual burning of the fat.

For people with different body fat levels, different steps are limiting further fat loss.

In the obese, the oxidation phase is problematic. They have plenty of fat floating around in their blood, but the cells have become damaged, so they can't oxidize fat very efficiently.

At the other end, for lean individuals, mobilisation is a problem. It is difficult to get fat out of the fat cell.

In the middle, there really are no problems.

I asked Igor where I fit into the equation and this was his answer: "Lucky you. You're right in the in-between category, that has no problems with either one."

My meals have continued to be on track and we have started discussing how to handle my nutrition on my upcoming trip to Siberia. Igor is giving me helpful hints and stratergies to help me cope in Siberia.

When everyone else was having pizza at home this week, I made a "pizza" of my own. I used Filafel chips (Chic pea chips) as my base, on top I added some sockeye salmon (from a can) and then some slices of ripe, but firm tomatoes, and topped it off with some goats milk Mozzarella. Broiled it in the oven and it was delicious. It satisfied that Pizza craving without cheating.  The next time I made it, I used skinless cooked chicken breast along with the other toppings. I found it to be a very satisfying snack. Not only was it healthy, but full of fibre, protein and it is low in sodium and very tasty.

For dinner one night during the week I made stuffed chicken breasts with sautee'd vegetables. The Chicken breasts were skinless and stuffed with asparagus, herb soft goats cheese and rosemary. I baked them in the oven while preparing the vegetables in a frying pan using grapeseed oil. The vegetables were julienne zucchini, parsnips and carrots. The vegetables look like fries but they are not.
I also made some red lentil, ginger and carrot and tomato soup which the family loved. I served it on pasta for the children as a sauce and my son who hates vegetables loved it and declared" I like this sauce mom, and it does not even have vegetables in it." Only after he cleaned his plate did I let him in on my little secret!

Igor Approved of it too, he said it was "excellent!"

I think my husband is enjoying the fact that I am taking more time to prepare meals instead of just grabbing a chocolate bar or something quick and UN-healthy.

Next week we start a new exercise plan, but first I get to rest tomorrow. I need it.

Thursday, 2 February 2012

Before and after shots ( warning: may cause drooling)

Week 6 Phase 3: BEFORE and AFTER PHOTOS.
(Be warned: May cause drooling!)

Phase three of my nutritional plan means that I have not had a piece of toast in 5 weeks, no coffee and no bread. When you have been having your quinoa porriage for breakfast, the occasional boiled egg and broccolli and you are just plain want some toast and jam or peanut butter, all of which are all not allowed in this phase of the program. So, what do you do? Not wanting to "cheat" or sabotage your efforts you have to just get creative.

If anyone wonders about the power of suggestion and is doubtful that it works, let me just say this: Yesterday Ottawa Life Magazine posted gluten free scones on facebook and I reposted it. A friends commented on it. The problem for me is that not all gluten free recipes have ingredients in them that I can have. I can't eat rice in any shape or form as yet. Nor can I eat sugar, yet. It is no wonder that I woke up this morning wanting scones for breakfast.

So I went online to look for a recipe, but none of them had the ingredients that I could have. I went into the kitchen, got out my food scale, my mixing bowl, turned on my convection oven and went to work.

There were two things in my mind when I came up with this recipe. First of all it had to fit in with the ingredients in my nutritional program and it had to be nutritious. No point in having empty calories full of empty carbs and sugars. What good does that do your body? None except for a sugar rush, if you are into that sort of thing. I wanted to make a scone that was not only delicious, but nutritious. Often times in making things low carb and sugar free, the end product is also taste free and therefore unsatisfying. So with this in mind I reached for my these ingredients: Ground flaxseed, carob powder (Carob is a legume), almond meal (ground almonds)and quinoa flour. I used a half teaspoon of bicarbonate of soda (baking soda) was my only raising agent.

I added 4g of Stevia and about an eighth of a cup unsweetened shredded coconut for sweetness. Instead of buttermilk I used goat's milk with a splash of lemon juice to "sour" it. I have some sugar free chocolate chips that I added sparingly.  Cinnamon, one of the oldest spices, was added. Cinnamon has many surprising qualities that we often overlook.( Click here is you want to know more about the health benefits of Cinnamon)

I used butter to make my scones, (yes, Igor approves) and considering I ate mostly vegetarian yesterday, I can have some butter today. I added half a punnet of fresh blueberries right at the end.  I turned the " soft dough" out onto a chopping board, patted it down to form a nice round shape, cut it into 8 triangles and baked it in the oven.

Unfortunately I do not have the exact quantities of ingredients because I tend to just throw it all together. Had I known just how delicious they were going to be, I would have measured! I baked then in the oven for 25 minutes at 400F and they were delicious. We enjoyed then hot, cut in half and spread some in light margarine on them. They got my husband's approval for sure. They were enjoyed with thinly sliced strawberries as a filling. The essential cup of tea accompanied this treat and I only ate two. I had to stop myself there.

Now for those much anticipated "before" and "after" pictures.