Fat Loss Truths for 2015

Fat Loss Truths for 2015 from YellowTurtleFitness.com

 

A few months back, I was out around town, and met up with someone who knew me(and what I do for a living) from some of the local commerce websites.

She took the opportunity to ask a question that I hear all the time:

“Which exercises can I do so that I can eat whatever I want, but still lose weight?”

I responded with my usual – along the lines of, “You can’t out-exercise a bad diet”.
She seemed taken aback by this, and exclaimed, “I thought you were supposed to be encouraging!”. I then went on to explain that I’m all for encouragement and motivation, but will never lie, or make false promises, to someone who asks my advice.
We laughed about it, but this conversation really stuck with me since.

At the start of every new year, everyone is on their best behaviour… only to quickly be discouraged when they don’t get the results they think they will receive.

It’s not difficult to see why they would be so crestfallen; we are inundated daily with false promises, quick gimmicks, and headlines about weight loss miracles. It’s in our Facebook feeds, on the covers of magazines, in articles or telecasts written by supposedly legitimate news organizations, and on TV – often touted by celebrity doctors who are supposed to have our best interests at heart.

Many times, these falsehoods are even proclaimed by those in the fitness and nutrition industry, either out of a lack of legitimate education, poor research methods, or greed for your money.

Here, I want to simplify things for you – to lay out some facts to keep in mind as you navigate 2015 in pursuit of a healthier lifestyle, or the body of your dreams.

“I want to lose weight”

This is the most common reason that someone comes to me for help. Many of those whom I connect with are very overweight, to the point where it affects their health. I also have worked with those who only want to lose a little weight(usually post-baby), or to become metabolically healthier.

There are many different factors that can affect weight loss, and results can be highly individual(a good reason to consult with a doctor, professional trainer, and/or nutrition coach), but these basic guidelines can be key to your success.

Your strategy:

Build lean muscle with resistance exercise, add moderate amounts of cardiovascular exercise, and most importantly, watch what you eat.

The less you weigh, the more your food intake will make a difference in weight loss.
You don’t want to eat too little(which may permanently alter your metabolism for the worse), but eating too much will drastically slow or stop progress. A certified Nutritionist or Dietitian can help you figure out what, and how much, you should be eating to attain your goals.

Quality of calories does matter – and no, it is not as simple as the number of calories in v/s out.
When trying to reduce fat, aim for 90%(or better) of healthy, whole foods that are low in added sodium or added sugars.

That last sentence can help many people with that “last 10 lbs”. The average person tends to carry around 5-7 lbs of water bloat due to the quality of the food they’re eating.
This is why so many tend to be duped into thinking that detox diets and juice detoxes are causing them to lose fat quickly. It’s not fat they’re losing, and they could easily lose those same pounds by eating healthier on the whole.

This is why weight loss tends to slow down drastically after that first 5-7 lbs is gone.

It is also not unusual for someone who is severely obese to carry 15-20 lbs of that same water weight. If you’ve ever seen the first few episodes of any season of The Biggest Loser, you’ve seen that water weight loss in action. Ever seen someone on a low-carb diet get really excited on their first two weeks? It’s because they had a rush of water weight loss, due to eating fewer carbs(which hold on to some water). However, most of what they lost was probably not fat.
Water weight loss is nice, but it’s also the type of weight that will come right back, the second you eat a normal meal. If you want to lose fat, you need to eat balanced long-term.

If you are maintaining a loss, or are okay with fat loss being slower, aiming for healthy/whole foods 80% of the time is perfectly acceptable. You’ll lose weight, but it will be slow going. If you add in the aforementioned exercise, it will go faster.

“If Nutrition is most important, why should I bother exercising?”

There are many reasons I could give here, but this is paramount:
Exercising will make you healthier, no matter your size.

A morbidly obese person who exercises will be healthier than a morbidly obese person who never exercises. Ever hear of “skinny fat”? This is the term often used when someone is technically not overweight, but is still flabby, and/or metabolically unhealthy due to lack of exercise.
That resistance exercise I mentioned? You need it because body composition matters. There is a myriad of benefits to adding extra muscle, most notably that it helps you burn extra calories, makes your body look more toned when you DO lose weight, provides stability in old age, and goes a long way towards making you metabolically healthier. You don’t have to be Ahh-nold to get those benefits. Every bit of muscle that you add counts towards a healthier you.

(I have mentioned many of these things before, most notably here and here.)

Even if you don’t need to lose weight, exercise should be part of your life. You don’t need to be over the top – you can start with something as simple as the act of walking your dog daily, and build from there. When you’re ready for the next step, consult with a professional trainer.

Make 2015 the year that you take control of your health using facts – not lies, half-truths, gimmicks, and pseudoscience. Things really are a lot simpler when you keep in mind these basic tenets.

I wish you all a wonderful Holiday Season, and the best of luck in the coming year.

 

 

Oven Roasted Balsamic Herbes de Provence Brussels Sprouts & Carrots

Roasted Balsamic and Herbes de Provence Brussels Sprouts & Carrots

If you pay any attention to my In Season Produce charts, you probably know that December’s chart has Brussels Sprouts listed.

I had been holding on to this post for a while, so I thought December would be the perfect time to post it.

I know the title of this is looooooooong, and probably sounds overly complicated. Not so!
If you’ve been reading my website for a while, you’ve probably realised that I do not do complicated.

This fancy sounding healthy side dish is simple to make, and doesn’t take very long to compile. Let’s get to it!

INGREDIENTS:

herbs

  • 1 lb fresh Brussels Sprouts, halve the small ones, quarter the large ones
  • 1-2 lbs of cut baby organic carrots (you can use carrots you cut yourself, but this is much faster/easier)
  • 2 to 3 tbsp Olive Oil
  • 1 to 2 tbsp Herbes de Provence(available in most grocery store spice aisles)
  • Balsamic Reduction for drizzling over the vegetables
  • Sea Salt, to taste

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Preheat oven to 450F
  2. Place all ingredients except balsamic into large baking or roasting pan
  3. Mix everything together until vegetables are nicely coated, then drizzle balsamic reduction generously on top. It should look something like this:
    beforecooking
  4. Roast for 35-40 minutes, stirring every 15 minutes, until vegetables are nicely crusted, and browned to the degree you prefer. Serve warm.

Recipe: Roasted Balsamic and Herbes de Provence Brussels Sprouts & Carrots

 

Quick & Easy Recipe: Homemade Hummus

Quick and Easy Creamy Homemade Hummus Recipe from www.YellowTurtleFitness.com I have very specific preferences when it comes to Hummus, and often times, the store-bought stuff just doesn’t cut it. I like my Hummus to be mild, creamy, with lots of garlic, plenty of tahini, and a generous touch of cumin, paprika, and parsley. I also like it to be light and fluffy, as opposed to the pasty, glue-y stuff you find in stores.

Lucky for me, not only is it easy to make Hummus at home, but it’s also cheaper and (usually) healthier.
I like to make a batch whenever my tahini canisters(which I go through fairly quickly) get down to about 1/3 of a cup left. Then, I can refill the can with the Hummus I just made.

You can see exactly what’s going in there, and spice it exactly the way you enjoy it. If you prefer spicy hummus, just add the spices you like. Don’t like Cumin? Don’t use it. Want a black bean hummus? Switch them out with the chickpeas.
Want it to look extra fancy for a party? Throw some extra olive oil drizzle, a dash of paprika, and some extra sesame seeds on top when serving.

Serve it alongside fresh cut vegetables, cut pita bread pieces, etc – One of the easiest party appetizers ever.

Best of all, you can make a big batch of Hummus in less than 10 minutes. What are you waiting for?

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 – 15 oz can of chickpeas, drained
  • 1 and 1/2 tbsp minced garlic
  • 1/4 to 1/3 cup tahini (doesn’t have to be exact – eyeball it)
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • 2 tbsp good quality extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp cumin
  • 1/2 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1 tsp parsley
  • 2 tbsp water (approx)
  • sea salt (to taste)
  • OPTIONAL: extra sesame seeds for garnish/crunch, other spices, hot sauce, black pepper, etc

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Put all ingredients into a food processor or blender.
  2. Pulse until creamy, fluffy, and the texture you prefer. Add more water to thin it, use less water for a thicker hummus.
  3. Transfer to an airtight container if not using right away. Will keep approximately 2 weeks in the refrigerator.

 

 

Healthier Comfort Food: Chicken & Dumplings

Healthy Comfort Food Recipe: Chicken and Dumplings from www.YellowTurtleFitness.com

Healthy Comfort Food Recipe: Chicken and Dumplings from http://www.YellowTurtleFitness.com

Chicken and Dumplings is one of my family’s favourite comfort foods when the months start turning colder. Many traditional recipes utilize butter, shortening, cream, dark meat, and/or high sodium ingredients like “cream of…” condensed soups.

It’s really not very difficult to make over this recipe to be a much healthier option.

Experiment with the basic recipe by switching out similar ingredients. For example, if you’re a vegetarian, you can alter the recipe by switching vegetable broth for the chicken broth, and by switching the chicken breast for “Chicken” meat substitutes.

You can make the dumplings yourself, or save time by using pre-made frozen dumplings(check the nutrition labels, and choose the cleanest, lowest sodium brand you can find) or a healthier brand of canned biscuits(like Immaculate Baking Co) and tearing the biscuits into small chunks. It’s quick, easy, and usually just as good(however, this will likely add more sodium and sugar to the recipe. Your call).

Serve your healthier chicken and dumplings for dinner on those upcoming chilly evenings.

INGREDIENTS

For the Dumplings:

  • 2 cups whole wheat flour
  • 1 tbsp baking soda
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 cup skim milk

For the Soup:

  • 4-5 skinless, boneless chicken breasts, cut into pieces
  • 4-5 cups chicken broth
  • 1 and 1/2 cups chopped carrots
  • 1 cup chopped celery
  • 1 cup thawed frozen, or fresh, green peas
  • 1 cup chopped yellow onion
  • 1 tbsp minced garlic
  • 1 tbsp dried sage
  • 1/2 tbsp parsley
  • 1/4 tbsp thyme
  • 1 tbsp olive oil, for cooking
  • sea salt and pepper, to taste

DIRECTIONS:

  1. In a large soup pot, pour the tbsp of olive oil, and bring to medium heat(#5 and 1/2 on numerically labeled stovetops).
  2. Throw in chicken, onion, and garlic. Saute while stirring, until onions are just turning translucent/just beginning to brown, then add carrots and celery. Allow to saute while stirring for 1-2 minutes more. Chicken does not need to be fully cooked to continue.
  3. Add in broth, peas, sage, and thyme. Bring to boil, then place lid on pot, and lower temperature to medium-low(#3 to 4 on numerical stovetops).
  4. Allow to simmer in 15 minute increments. At each 15 minute mark, stir soup thoroughly, then replace lid quickly. You will probably need to do this 2-3 times, until chicken is fully cooked and flavours have melded well.
  5. Meanwhile, prepare your dumpling batter by putting all dumpling ingredients into a bowl, and stirring until combined. Set aside.
  6. When soup is about 10-15 minutes away from being served, put remaining parsley into soup, stir, then slowly drop in large spoonfuls of dumpling batter, stirring between every few spoonfuls. If you choose to use pre-made dumplings or canned biscuit dough, make sure dumplings are thawed first, or biscuit dough is torn into pieces. Drop them in the same way, and cook the same length of time.
  7. Replace lid, and allow to cook another 10-15 minutes before ladling into soup bowls. You may choose to garnish with a liberal sprinkling of parsley and black pepper. Makes 4-5 servings. Enjoy!

Coming Soon! Individualized Online Training

onlineplansRecently, I’ve had to put some people on a waiting list, due to my schedule being maxed out, and have even had to turn a few down for being too far away for me to travel.

Therefore, I have decided to start providing 1 month workout plans online via Paypal.

Sometime within the next few weeks, I will post more details.

I’m very excited to offer this new option, and hope it enables me to help many more people. Have a great week, everyone!

Recipe: Honeycrisp Cinnamon Oats

Honeycrisp Apple & Cinnamon Oats from www.YellowTurtleFitness.comLate Summer and early Autumn is my favourite time of year for produce. Most of my favourites are abundant – figs, black grapes, concord grapes, pears, and… Honeycrisp Apples.
Yes, I know they can be expensive, but nothing beats the light, crisp, super-sweet bite of a Honeycrisp. My children’s inheritance may be smaller, but it’s totally worth it, right?

This simple recipe is perfect for chilly Autumn(or Winter) mornings. You can even prepare a large batch ahead of time, and warm it up as needed.
FYI: It’s also good cold. Similar to a rice pudding.
Of course, you can substitute any type of apple in this recipe, but I highly recommend Honeycrisp, for the superb flavour.
In the same vein, any type of oatmeal can be used, but the cooking directions are specific to Steel Cut(and recommended for their outstanding satiety and fiber content).

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 extra large Honeycrisp Apple, diced (do not remove peel!) 
  • 4 cups Water
  • 1 cup uncooked Steel Cut Oats
  • 4 tsp Maple Sugar (if desired, you may substitute Sucanat or Coconut Sugar)
  • 1 and 1/2 tsp ground Cinnamon
  • 1/8 tsp sea salt

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Bring water and salt to boil in a large saucepan.
  2. Add apples and oats to boiling water, stirring frequently for about 5 minutes, or until oats begin to thicken.
  3. Reduce heat to simmer; and add maple sugar and cinnamon. Continue to stir for a minute or two.
  4. Allow mixture to simmer for approximately 25 minutes, stirring frequently, until mixture is thick, and oats/apples are soft.
  5. Remove from heat, and serve. Makes 4 servings.

 

RECIPES: Baked Falafel & Baba Ghanoush on Pita

Recipe: Baked Falafel and Baba Ghanoush on Pita

Recipe: Baked Falafel and Baba Ghanoush on Pita

It has only now, upon typing this, occurred to me that a large number of my favourite things to make and eat are Mediterranean style. Probably at least half of my posted recipes are along those lines. So I hope you guys like them, too. haha!

This recipe can be made a few different ways. I have provided recipes for both the falafel and baba ghanoush, but you could easily use a pre-made version of either.
Just be sure to choose a brand that uses high quality, natural ingredients, and be mindful of the sodium and other additives they may have used.

You also want to make sure the falafel is baked, not fried.

It’s always best to make it yourself – you can see exactly what’s going in the dish – but I can understand being pressed for time. I did use pita bread from a bakery, rather than making it from scratch. So…do what you need to do. Just do it wisely.

If you do choose to make everything yourself, according to my recipes, I can guarantee a healthy, colourful, and delicious lunch or dinner.

First, I have included instructions for how to put it all together.
Then, I have listed below it separate recipes for the Baba Ghanoush (Eggplant Spread) and Baked Falafel. 

Putting the Pita Together, as pictured:

INGREDIENTS:

- Good quality, soft pita bread (optional: warmed)
– 2 tbsp Baba Ghanoush (recipe below)
– 2-3 Baked Falafel Patties (recipe below)
– Sliced Tri-colour Bell Peppers (about a handful or two per pita)
– Sliced Cherry Tomatoes, Yellow Pear Tomatoes, and/or Grape Tomatoes (about a handful per pita)
– 1/4 cup Fage Plain 2% Greek Yogurt (to dip your veggies)
– 1 tbsp Sliced Kalamata Olives
– 1 large sprig of Dill, for garnish(you may also mix some of the dill in the Fage, for extra flavour)

DIRECTIONS:

1. Spread Baba Ghanoush on split and warmed pita bread
2. Place Falafel Patties, some of the sliced peppers, olives, and tomatoes in pita.
3. Serve alongside Fage and extra veggies. Garnish with Dill and olives.

BAKED FALAFEL INGREDIENTS:

- 15 oz can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
– 3-4 tbsp flour of your choice (I use whole wheat all purpose)
– 1 tbsp chopped garlic
– 1/4 cup chopped onion (I prefer yellow, but white or red onions are great to use, too)
– 1 tbsp tahini (optional. I like a little tahini in mine)
– 1 and 1/2 tbsp lemon juice
– 1/4 tsp ground cumin
– 1/2 tbsp parsley
– 1 tsp coriander
– 1 tsp smoked paprika
– 1/2 tsp salt
– a few grinds of cracked pepper
– olive oil, for greasing the muffin tin

BAKED FALAFEL DIRECTIONS:

1. Preheat oven to 400F, and lightly mist a muffin tin with olive oil
2. Place all ingredients, except oil, in a food processor, and pulse until thick, and well combined. Mixture should NOT be smooth or super-pasty. Add small amounts of extra flour if necessary, until at desired consistency.
3. Roll mixture into equally sized balls, and place in each tin of the muffin pan. There should be just enough to fill an entire 12 count muffin tin.
4. Lightly mist the tops of the falafel balls with more olive oil.
5. Bake in oven for 20-25 minutes. Tops should be crispy, and lightly browned when ready.

BABA GHANOUSH (EGGPLANT SPREAD) INGREDIENTS:

- 1 medium eggplant, washed and dried
– 1/4 cup lemon juice
– 2 tbsp tahini(sesame paste)
– 1/2 tbsp minced garlic
– 1/2 tbsp parsley
– 1/4 tsp ground cumin
– 1/2 tsp sea salt
– tbsp olive oil, plus extra to coat eggplant

BABA GHANOUSH DIRECTIONS:

1. Preheat oven to 425F.
2. Poke holes in eggplant, rub or mist eggplant with olive oil. Then, place on cooking sheet in oven for 25-30 minutes, until soft and well roasted.
3. Cool, peel, and mash eggplant.
4. Place eggplant mash in a food processor with all other ingredients. Blend until smooth.
5. Should keep well in a sealed container in refrigerator for about a week. Use as a spread or dip. Best when served cold.