Saturday, June 7, 2008

New Beginnings

As a result of some person issues I've been unable to write for a while. I've also put on some weight and lost muscle. Not working out, and eating quick meals will do that to you ;-)
I've been really dreading starting to work out again. It's been on mind for days, yet I just couldn't seem to find the motivation to start.

This afternoon I figured, I'll just start small. I went for a 30 min walk, then started riding the exercise bike for 10 minutes. The 10 minutes soon turned to 20, I was feeling really good. In the end I managed to do a short weight routine, and a bit of work on the fit ball.

I feel more energized than I have for months, it's awesome. I love how working out can make you feel so alive, even though your tired and sore. I'm so glad that I've started again, I'm not going to rush things though, the last thing I want is to hurt myself and have to stop again. I just want to feel fit and healthy once more.

The hardest thing is finding the motivation to start. This is the same for most things in life, just finding the strength in yourself to start, no matter what it is you want to do. Once you start it's easy, once you start it's hard to stop.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Protein and You

When I first started lifting weights, my fiancé and I talked about taking protein supplements, and we decided to try it out for a while. Although I'd never had the need to try supplements before my partner had and he had noticed a benefit. So after a bit of research, and experimentation we found a supplement that suited our needs.

We tried it out for a few months, it was very expensive and although I noticed results at first, things dramatically changed when our diet did. At first I noticed that my muscles weren't as achy after a workout and I felt much more energised and active.

Over these few months our diet dramatically changed, we added many more protein rich foods, and cut out a lot of carbohydrates, and fats. All of a sudden the energised feeling I was getting from the protein developed into a more tired, bloated feeling.

Once we stopped the supplements and concentrated on getting enough protein from out diet this feeling subsided. Not only do I feel better now, but my fiancé and I have noticed a dramatic difference in fat loss and muscle gain. I'm sure that now that we are getting the needed protein from our diet we are much better off.

I've just finished reading an excellent article called: Do You Need To Take Protein Supplements? This article explains the importance of protein and when you need to consume supplements. This is a wonderful read if your interested in getting the most out of your diet and therefore your body.

Sunday, December 9, 2007

Growing Sprouts In 6 Easy Steps

A high source of protein and energy, beans are an important part of a healthy diet, especially if you're trying to loose weight. I like to grow sprouts from my beans, they are easy to grow, and make a healthy addition to any salad.

You can sprout many beans including; alfalfa, barley, broccoli, buckwheat, cabbage, fenugreek, garbanzo, green peas, lentils, mung beans, radishes, red clover, wheat, soy beans, sunflowers and more. Make sure that you always purchase beans, which have been packaged for sprouting, no other type will do.

Growing sprouts in a jar
The easiest method is to grow sprouts in a glass jar, any size will do. To provide plenty of fresh air, cover the top of the jar with muslin, cheese cloth or nylon mesh screen and secure with a rubber band. You can also buy specially sprouting lids designed for this purpose.

Step One: Soaking
In a litre jar, put 1 ½ to 2 tablespoons of small seeds, and up to 1 cup of larger seeds, like green peas or garbanzor. Cover top of jar with cloth or sprouting lid and rinse the seeds in warm (not hot) water. Drain and refill so that water is about an inch above the seeds. Let the seeds soak 8-12 hours (overnight). Protect from light by covering with a dish towel or placing in a cupboard.

Step Two: Rinsing
Rinse 2 to 3 times per day for 3 to 4 days (depending on the temperature). After thoroughly draining the rinse water, lay the jar on its side to spread out the seeds. Do not expose to light. After 3 to 4 days the sprouts should be filling up the jar. Sometimes I keep doing this for 5 days, it depends on how you like your sprouts, experiment and see what you like.

Step Three: Removing Hulls
After 3 to 4 days the sprouts will have thrown off their hulls. To remove the hulls, place the sprouts in a bowl and run cool water over them. Most of the hulls will either float to the top or sink to the bottom making them easy to remove. (Note: not all seeds have hulls.)

Step Four: Harvesting
Rinse sprouts in cool water and remove any remaining hulls. Drain in a colander, but do not allow the sprouts to dry out. Place in an air-tight bag leaving room for air circulation.

If your sprouts need to develop chlorophyll or carotene there is one final step. (The seed package directions should tell you whether greening is necessary.)

Step Five: Greening
Once the hulls are removed, place the sprouts back into the sprouting jar or into a clear plastic airtight bag. Put the sprouts in indirect sunlight. It takes about a day for the chlorophyll and carotenes to develop. Once the sprouts are ready rinse, drain, and eat, or refrigerate.

Sprouts will keep for about a week in the refrigerator if you rinse them once every day or two. Be sure to keep the sprouts from freezing as they are frost sensitive.

6 Sprouting Tips:
If you stick to these tips you'll never go wrong:

  • Rinse often (2-3 times/day).
  • Keep them moist, not wet.
  • Keep them at room temperature.
  • Give them air to breathe.
  • Don’t grow too many in one container.
  • Keep them in a dark place.
Happy Sprouting :-)

Friday, December 7, 2007

Cleaner Than Ever

I just got a new vacuum cleaner and washing machine, and I can't get over how much difference it has made. My vacuum cleaner died a while ago, and there was no saving it, so I've been making do. However the new vacuum was worth the wait, it is so awesome, it's 2450 Watts so it's pretty powerful, yet it's really tiny and light. It's no effort to use at all, and it's called a Purple Heart, so it suits me to a tea. :-)

The washing machine is amazing, the old one was still working but it had a number of problems. I didn't realise that having a better washing machine would actually clean the cloths better. This is the first nearly new machine I've ever had, so I had no idea. The washing is cleaner, fluffier, and softer than ever, I'm stunned.

I'm so much happier when I'm cleaning now, I feel like I can do the job properly, Woohoo...

Friday, November 30, 2007

Are You An Aspiring Artist?

If you've ever wanted to expand your artistic skills and develop your ideas in an helpful and learning environment perhaps you should cheek out
ConceptArt, are a web based community of artists, whom have created an arena to showcase there work, learn, and meet other artists.

What amazed me was the atmosphere, I felt welcome, and like I could really learn from these people. There are all sorts of artists there, from 15-16 year olds trying to learn there craft to seasoned artists showing there work and helping others.

I like the way they have utilised the forum system in this community, most of the user input is in through the forums. There are different threads for different types of work, e.g. there are Artwork threads like; It's finally Finished, Sketchbooks, Critique Corner, Sketches and works in progress. Then there are activities like, the Challenge Arena, the DSG (Daily Sketch Group), and heaps of education and learning threads. As well as a lounge and information for artists in many different areas, including job listings.

It is amazing to look through the sketchbooks, and witness the progression of learning in some of the work. There are some truly talented people in this world.

If you are interested take your time to look around the site as there is a lot to take in. This is certainly a wonderful place to get some feedback, and learn more about your artistic side. Have fun ;-)

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Flowering Fly Traps

Earlier this month I got a surprise when three green bulbs started growing from stems on my Venus Flytrap. I had no idea what these bony hand like shoots were.
I had no idea that Flytraps flowered, yet as the days went on the bony fingers began to open, and I could see the beginnings of delicate white flowers.

I just skimmed through the wikipedia article:, and it turns out that healthy Flytraps flower in spring. It seems that many Flytrap growers trim the flower stems early as flowering takes a lot of energy from the plant. However if flowering occurs, successful pollination will produce dozens of small, shiny black seeds.

Flowering has certainly taken a lot out of my little trappy. The flower steams are around three times as tall as the plant. Each one is thick and fleshy, and dominate the entire plant.
In order to flower, my trappy has gone through about 3 times his normal amount of water, and nearly all of his traps have died off. However the flowers look stunning, and the plant in general looks strong and healthy.

I have really enjoyed watching as my Flytrap has produced these stunning delicate flowers. I'm amazed by the results, and hope he can produce more next year. I can't wait to see the seeds appear, I'm wondering if I plant them would they grow?
I guess there is only one way to find out ;-)

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Happy Unbirthday

I've decided once and for all that Unbirthdays are way better than birthdays. It was my birthday yesterday, and it wasn't fun, at all! So I'm all for unbirthdays :-)
At least on unbirthdays I get to celebrate with heaps of other people, rather than alone.
So to everyone who's birthday isn't the 28th November:
A Very Merry Unbirthday to You :-)

Alice in Wonderland (Disney) - Unbirthday Party.

Friday, November 16, 2007

9 Nuts For Your Health

While in the vegetable shop this morning, I brought some roasted nuts. All the way home, I wondered if there were any health benefits to all the nuts and seeds we eat. So I've done a little bit of research and I thought I would share my results with you.

Firstly a nut is a dried fruit with one (sometimes two) seeds, and there are many different types. Nuts can be high in calories and fat, yet they have many health benefits. Eating nuts is believed to reduce your risk of heart disease, lower serum LDL cholesterol concentrations, plus nuts generally have a very low glycemic index (GI), therefore are helpful for patients with insulin resistance problems such as diabetes mellitus type 2.

I wanted to look at the Health benefits of 9 most common Nuts/Seeds, we have here at home:

1. Almonds:

  • Are believed to induce high intellectual level and longevity.
  • Are high in omega-9 monounsaturated fatty acids.
  • Are believed to have anti-inflammatory, immunity boosting, and anti-hepatotoxicity effects.
  • Contain the amino acid arginine, which inhibits tumour growth and boosts immunity.
  • Elevate the blood levels of high density lipoproteins and of lowering the levels of low density lipoproteins.
  • Lower your risk of heart attack and improve your bone strength.
  • Per ounce (28.41g) provides: 7.5 milligrams (mg) vitamin E, 75 mg calcium, 81 mg magnesium, 211 mg potassium.
2. Peanuts:
  • Are also one of the few foods naturally containing Coenzyme Q10, which is present in all human cells and responsible for the production of the body’s own energy.
  • Are also one of the highest sources of vitamin B3, also called niacin and thus contributes to brain health, brain circulation and blood flow.
  • Are a rich source of protein: roughly 30 grams per cup after roasting.
  • Are a significant source of resveratrol, a chemical studied for potential anti-aging effects and also associated with reduced cardiovascular disease and reduced cancer risk.
  • Are high in antioxidants.
  • Are high in omega-9 monounsaturated fatty acids.
3. Pecans:
  • Are a good low fat source of vitamin E and also have anti-cancer effects.
  • Are a good source of protein and unsaturated fats.
  • Are high in omega-9 monounsaturated fatty acids.
  • Can lower the risk of gallstones in women.
  • Contain plant sterols, which are known for their cholesterol-lowering ability.
4. Pine Nuts:
  • Are a good source of dietary fibre.
  • Contain (depending on species) between 10–34% of protein, with Stone Pine having the highest content.
  • Pine nuts can be pressed to extract pine nut oil
    Pine Nut Oil:
  • Boosts appetite suppressors up to 60% for four hours, as well as acting as an appetite suppressant itself.
  • Can reduce LDLs, yielding further health benefits.
  • Contains a high concentration of free radical scavengers, which help reduce oxidative damage that can lead to peptic ulcers or gastritis.
5. Walnuts:
  • Are high in antioxidants and ALA, a plant-based omega-3 fatty acid.
  • Are high in omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids.
  • Can reduce the damaging effects of unhealthy fats on blood vessels.
  • Contain ellagic acid: the cancer-fighting polyphenol antioxidant
  • Help the arteries maintain their elasticity and flexibility
  • May reduce the risk or delay the onset of Alzheimer's disease by maintaining amyloid beta protein in the soluble form.
6. Flax or Linseed Seeds:
  • Are high in omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids.
  • Contain high levels of lignans, which may benefit the heart, possess anti-cancer properties and reduced growth in specific types of tumours.
  • May benefit individuals with certain types of breast cancer.
  • May lessen the severity of diabetes by stabilizing blood-sugar levels.
7. Pumpkin Seeds or Pepitas:
  • Are a good source of iron, zinc, essential fatty acids, potassium, and magnesium.
  • Are a good source of magnesium, manganese, phosphorous, iron, copper, protein, and zinc.
  • Are high in omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids.
  • Contain high levels of phytosterols, which are believed to reduce blood levels of cholesterol, enhance the immune response and decrease risk of certain cancers.
  • One gram of pumpkin seed protein contains as much tryptophan as a full glass of milk.
  • Promote prostate health, as components in pumpkin seed oil interrupt the triggering of prostate cell multiplication by testosterone and DHT.
8. Sesame seeds:
  • Are high in omega-9 monounsaturated fatty acids.
  • Are rich in manganese, copper, and calcium, and contain Vitamin B1 (thiamine) and Vitamin E (tocopherol).
  • Contain phytosterols, which block cholesterol production.
  • Contain powerful antioxidants called lignans, which are also anti-carcinogenic.
  • Contain two unique substances: sesamin and sesamolin, which are lignans.
  • Have been found to protect the liver from oxidative damage.
  • Nutrients are better absorbed if they are ground or pulverised before consumption.
9. Sunflower Seeds:
  • Additionally, they are rich in cholesterol-lowering phytosterols.
  • Are also an excellent source of dietary fiber, protein, Vitamin E, B Vitamins, and minerals such as magnesium, iron, phosphorus, selenium and zinc.
  • Has a Calming affect on your nerves, muscles and blood vessels from the Magnesium.
  • Has Anti-Inflammatory and Cardiovascular Benefits from Vitamin E.
  • Selenium helps improved detoxification and cancer prevention.
Remember to eat all foods in moderation, items like nuts are no exception. I find having a mix of different nuts and seeds are handy, they're certainly better than a packet of chips, or a biscuit. There are some health concerns when eating nuts, if you would like to know more about these please see: Health Benefits and Concerns for Nuts and Seeds.

Serving Suggestions:
You can add your nuts to many dishes, here are a few serving suggestions for you:
  • Add chopped nuts and seeds to your favourite hot or cold cereal.
  • Add nuts and seeds to your favourite tuna, chicken or turkey salad recipe.
  • Add your nuts and seeds to healthy sautéed vegetables.
  • Add your nuts and seeds to your oatmeal raisin cookie, bread or granola recipe.
  • Grind your nuts and seeds with fresh garlic, parsley and cilantro leaves. Mix with olive oil and lemon juice for a tasty salad dressing.
  • Next time you make burgers, whether it be from vegetables, turkey or beef, add some ground nuts and seeds.
  • Sprinkle your nuts and seeds on top of mixed green salads.
Have Fun, Stay Healthy :-)

Thursday, November 15, 2007

It's Important to Stretch

I talked last night about the importance of warming up and cooling down when working out, strength training.

Stretching is not the only type of warm up, cool down activity that you can do. You can ride a bike, walk, jog, or jump rope. Personally I like to jump rope, and use a fitness ball.
However it is important that you stretch as well as one or more of these other exercises. Stretching can help prevent an injury, and post-exercise muscle soreness, as well as improve your range of motion (ROM).

I do the same stretching set before and after a work out. I like to do the set backwards in cool down, to keep me concentrating, and I prefer to go from Lying to Standing before then, Standing to Lying afterwards. Each stretch I do is held for a count of 30, and it's really important to focus on the area your stretching while your stretching it. This seems to intensify the stretch.

My stretching routing looks like this: (If your unsure of any of the stretches follow the links)

Lying Down Groin Stretch

Lying Tuck
Sitting Groin Stretch

Ham String Stretch

Iliotibial Band Stretch

Golfers Elbow Stretch Level 1

Golfers Elbow Stretch Level 2

Tennis Elbow Stretch Level 1

Tennis Elbow Stretch level 2
Keeling Chest Stretch

Lat Stretch

Cat Stretch
Standing Calf Stretch

Soleus Stretch

Groin Stretch

Ham String Stretch

Quadriceps Stretch
Then the same but backwards for after my weight lifting routine.

If your would like to know more about stretching this is a nice document: Stretching and Flexibility - How to Stretch.
I love how fit, and healthy I'm feeling now. I have so much more energy and I feel great. Good luck, have fun, and stay healthy :-)

6 Week Workout Routine

I started a new workout routine yesterday. It's a nice little routine, working all of the major muscle areas. I'm going to use this workout for 6 weeks then I'm going to up the sets to three instead of two.
My new routine is split over two days, Day 1: Upper Body, Day 2: Lower Body, and Day 3: Off. Always remember how important it is to have a day off, this is when your muscles grow.

This is my new routine for anyone interested.

Day 1

Muscle Group Exercise Sets Reps
Chest Bench Press 2 12-15

Incline Press 2 12-15
Upper Back Lat Pull Down 2 12-15

One-arm Dumbbell Row 2 12-15

Heavy Shrugs2
Shoulders Dumbbell Shoulder Press 2 12-15

Upright Row 2 12-15

Dumbbell Lying Raise 2 12-15
Biceps Barbell Curl 2 12-15
Triceps Tricep Extension 2 12-15
Abdominals Crunch 2 12-15

Oblique Crunch 2 12-15
Day 2

Legs/Glutes Squat 2 12-15
Quadriceps/Glutes Front Lunge 2 12-15
Quadriceps Leg Extension 2 12-15
Ham Strings Lying Leg Curl 2 12-15
Lower Back Back Extension 2 12-15
Calves Calf Raise 2 12-15
Abdominals Crunch 2 12-15

Oblique Crunch 2 12-15
If you would like more information on strength training, or these exercises these sites have some awesome information:
Exercise Instruction & Kinesiology
Muscle Exercise Encyclopedia Instructions
Have fun and stay safe when exercising, and always warm-up and cool down before and after lifting weights ;-)