Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Healthy on-the-go.

I promised you a recap of my adventures and here they are...but in TFG style!

I got the chance to go to Washington DC for several days last week. I hit up the main attractions of course but I was mostly interested in getting some good food, obviously. 

Unfortunately, it is difficult to travel with so many food restrictions, but fortunately, it forces me to get creative!

Exhibit A: my life saver for the long days I spent in training when I needed a quick and satisfying snack.

I love my nut butters in pretty much any form... So I ate them straight from the packet of course.

I also kept a box of nut thins and a few Lara bars in my purse at all times. Have I mentioned my appetite is a little out of control?

Luckily, salads are available in pretty much any restaurant so I was always able to get in my daily serving of vegetables! And sometimes the salads were even exciting:

This was a random assortment of already prepared veggies (including fried eggplant and pickled cauliflower!). The restaurant was similar to a Mediterranean-style Chipotle, so I made myself a delicious veggie bowl.

The star of the weekend was this beauty:

A gluten-free waffle sandwich!!! With mozzarella, tomato, and arugula. I can't even describe how happy I was to eat this.

Apart from the eating and training and sight-seeing I was also able to squeeze in a couple of quick workouts, including a hotel room HIIT. It took some extra motivation for me to workout while traveling but it was definitely worth it afterwards, plus I felt more like myself! 

What are your healthy on-the-go tips? I would love to hear them for the next time I travel!

Wednesday, May 6, 2015



I haven't abandoned you again, don't worry! I've been having lots of adventures lately (including the one I am on now, which is why I am posting this from my phone - apologies for the formatting! But that adventure will be a story for the next post). Let's do a recap of the food-related ones, shall we?

Fried tofu and some kind of delicious sauce (peanut maybe?) at a Malaysian restaurant.

REAL coconut water at the same Malaysian restaurant. So refreshing.

A pretty decent gluten-free and dairy-free frozen pizza found at a regular grocery store! 

Not the best picture, but a flourless chocolate cake for one that I spontaneously created! Ingredients included egg, cocoa powder, baking powder, brown sugar, almond flour, almond butter, and chocolate chips, topped with some coconut butter.

And of course we cannot forget the massive amounts of cheese consumed yesterday since it was Cinco de Mayo and all. But really, who needs an excuse to eat cheese in the form of queso?!

Let's segue to last week's workouts. Last week was nuts, as you will see below, as I taught much more than usual. But it makes life interesting!

Sunday - Teach Cycle
Monday - One hour stretch/yoga plus teach kickboxing
Tuesday - Total body barbell workout 
Wednesday - 21-minute HIIT! with the following exercises:
Tuck jumps
Plank jacks
Side to side hops
Squat jumps with floor touch
Mountain climbers
High knees
Thursday - Teach Zumba
Friday - rest day!
Saturday - Teach Zumba

Whew! So much cardio in so little time. What was your favorite workout this week? While I do love my Zumba, Monday's kickboxing class was such a blast!!

Monday, April 20, 2015

Veg Out!

Happy Monday!

This weekend was super packed with fun activities and I feel like I am not yet ready to tackle this week after all the excitement!

One such fun activity was something called Veggie Riot. It was right up my alley – a cooking competition featuring chefs from top restaurants in the area. The chefs were competing for the people’s choice award, which meant lots of delicious food samples. The best part was that the theme of the competition was veggies, and each chef was to showcase one particular vegetable in the dish. Seven out of eight of the dishes were vegetarian and gluten-free – it was amazing! There were also veggie-themed games, free samples of kombucha, and all-natural popsicles. Perfect for a humid day. 

To continue with the veggie theme, I prepared a gigantic quinoa salad for lunches this week. And when I say gigantic, I mean really gigantic.

It took 20 minutes, max. It contained the following: chopped cucumbers, tomatoes, and spinach, cooked quinoa, sliced olives, feta cheese, and banana peppers. I squeezed juice from half a lemon and sprinkled some salt and pepper for the dressing. Super easy, super healthy, and the best part is that it also tastes super delicious!

And the moment you’ve all been waiting for: last week’s workout schedule. Last week was absolutely insane, even by my standards. By Wednesday, my body was yelling at me to just calm down. Seriously.

Sunday - Teach Cycle 

Monday - Strength training for chest, back, and shoulders (12-15 reps for 6-7 sets per muscle group); teach Cycle

Tuesday - Strength training for biceps and triceps (12-15 reps for 5-6 sets per muscle group) plus an abs circuit; attend kickboxing class

Wednesday - Warm up: walk/run/walk for 10 minutes, followed by a 20 minute HIIT (45 seconds ON/15 seconds REST) with exercises such as wide squat jumps, lunge + one-legged hop, burpees, high knees, and mountain climbers. 

Thursday - Teach Zumba

Friday - Strength training day for legs (squats, plié squats, dead lifts), back, and shoulders

Saturday - REST!

A coworker asked me why I exercise. I only do workouts that I enjoy, and as a result, it is actually just fun for me. I was definitely not trying to torture myself with double workouts...but this week will definitely be a different story!

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Breakfast for dinner!

I totally wrote this post yesterday and had it all centered around gloomy Mondays. But now I’m posting it on Tuesday and the Monday humor would not make any sense. Hence! Time to write something new.

But really, it has actually been quite a gloomy Tuesday, too. Rain, rain, please go away? Luckily, this week, I have packed my schedule full of evening workouts (spoiler alert: cycle overload!) so the rain shall not bring me down. 

My favorite part about evening workouts is my post-workout dinner. Actually, who am I kidding? This is my dinner of choice for any evening, really. Breakfast for dinner!

Usually it involves some form of potato or sweet potato along with a one or two egg omelette with a sprinkling of cheese and something green (spinach, green onion, etc). Although the one pictured above was just good.

Since this was originally supposed to be posted on Monday, here is last week’s workout schedule. Can you tell I kind of love The Fitnessista’s workouts? 

Sunday – Teach cycle

Monday – Low-ish impact body weight workout:

Warm up: Brisk 0.5 mile treadmill walk.

1 minute of each of the following exercises:
  • Push-ups
  • Plank
  • Squats
  • Jumping Jacks
  • Leg raises (Left leg only)
  • Bicycle crunches
  • Leg raises (Right leg only)
  • Bridge (Static hold for 30 seconds, Pulse for 30 seconds)
  • Jumping Jacks
  • Pulse Lunges (Right side for 30 seconds, Left side for 30 seconds)
  • Wall sit
  • Mountain climbers
  • Jumping Jacks
  • Inchworm to plank, hop in and out, inchworm back to standing
  • Warrior 3 tap and lift (single leg balance, one leg comes all the way back, tap floor with same arm and come back up; 30 seconds for each side)

Cool down/stretch

Tuesday – This Tabata workout, which I did twice for some extra sweaty workout action!

Wednesday – A mish mash of cardio/strength:

Warm up: Walk 0.25 miles

Cardio: Run 1 mile

Strength: Repeated the following sequence twice.
  • 12 reps of one back exercise of choice
  • 12 reps of one shoulder exercise of choice
  • The below beastly leg circuit from The Fitnessista 
Cool down/stretch 

Thursday – Teach Zumba

Friday – Much needed rest day!

Saturday - This upper body strength video followed by a 20 minute HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) of 45 sec ON/15 sec rest with a random combination of the following exercises:
  • Squat jumps
  • Jumping jacks
  • High knees
  • Burpees
  • Plank jacks
  • Jumping lunges
  • Side lunges with hop

I like workouts that are short, yet pack a big punch… except when I teach Zumba and the 55 minute class somehow extends to 1 hour and 10 minutes. Time flies when you’re having fun?! 

To conclude, I wanted to share with you this interesting article I stumbled across. I would love to hear your thoughts! 

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Tales of a fitness instructor.

When it rains, it pours…I did warn you I had lots to say lately!

But first, can I please inform you of my new favorite weekend breakfast? Pancakes. Not only are they gluten-free, they are also grain-free with only TWO ingredients! Well, unless you want to get fancy…which I always do. 

All you need is one banana and two eggs.  I like to add cinnamon and ground flax seeds to the batter for fun.  To make the batter, mash the banana, beat in the two eggs, pour into a coconut oiled skillet, and cook them just like normal pancakes. They are obviously flatter than your typical flour pancakes; they remind me more of crepes, but regardless, they are PANCAKES! And the topping possibilities are endless! My favorite topping combination was the one shown above: almond butter, a drizzle of coconut butter, and “strawberry sauce” (frozen strawberries that I warmed up in the microwave. Fancy). 

So, I have been teaching fitness classes for many years now, and one of the best parts about it is that one class is never the same as the next. It seems like I always have some entertaining stories (if I say so myself) about various occurrences during my classes. My Zumba class last week, though, was unlike any other that I have ever had. 

I decided to switch up the usual pace of the class and allow some of the participants to help me lead different songs. I warned them before class started that I would pick on them randomly if I had no volunteers. I saw some mixed emotions on their faces when I announced this, but decided to proceed anyway. Luckily, I had volunteers for the first few songs. After that, I had no other volunteers and when I picked on others, they politely declined.

Post-Zumba selfie...very necessary

The ridiculously extroverted aerobics instructor in me did not understand this. If I were participating in a class like this, I would have run up to the front immediately. But afterwards, I realized that it takes a lot of courage for most people to even attend a class, let alone stand way up front next to the instructor for an entire song. There have been numerous occasions during which people have told me they are interested in attending a class but are too nervous or scared of others staring at them or judging them. But what I can tell you very confidently (because I always glance at where other people are looking when I’m teaching), is that the new people are looking at the instructor and the experienced people are looking at themselves. And this is also true at the gym outside of the group fitness classes!

So if you’ve been eying a new class or a new machine at the gym that you are too nervous to try, just do it! It makes me so excited when I get brand new attendees in my classes, and I try to make them feel as warm and welcome as possible, until my crazy instructor persona comes out in the middle of class (just kidding).

Have you ever experienced this? Are you too nervous to step outside the gym box? 

Monday, April 6, 2015

What motivates you?

Hi TFG friends!!

I know it has been quite some time since you last heard from me (I know, my past 100 updates say the same thing). But strangely enough, I’ve had more requests for a new post in the past few weeks than I have had in the past few months! So I thought it was finally time to oblige. And coincidentally, I actually have lots to discuss, which means that I’m obviously going to spread it over multiple posts! Hooray for more updates.

(Vegetable crudités from True Food Kitchen - pretty and delicious!).

Just a heads up: my next few posts are going to focus less on recipes and more on fitness. But of course, there will be some delicious food pictures sandwiched in between! The reason for this is because I have shifted my focus away the crazy recipe development I used to do. As I had mentioned in a previous postdue to some digestive issues, my diet had to change quite a bit. I still experience these and it is a tricky job trying to figure out my complicated GI system! As a result, I repeat a lot of meals, so the blog will show less of my same old meals, but will instead show some more random snacks and food finds, and will definitely show more fitness related topics.

Speaking of random food finds…one of my favorite desserts at the moment is a large spoonful of almond butter sprinkled with chocolate chips. And then I found THIS!

So much excitement. Although it’s more chocolatey and less almond buttery but I really have no problem with more chocolate.

I get asked a lot of workout related questions, one of which is how I motivate myself to do so. I think embedding it into the day’s schedule makes it a bit easier, rather than trying to fit it in on the fly. That way, it becomes a routine. And if you have a workout plan, that makes it even better! The plan could be attending a fitness class, or planning on following a workout video online, or just running outside when the sun is still out.

I’m going to start again with something that I used to do – post my workouts from the past week. I plan to do this every Monday. I tend to switch up my workouts every single day (except for teaching days), so hopefully this will give you some motivation, or maybe some new ideas in case you are in a fitness rut!

Sunday – Teach Cycle class
Monday – This HIIT workout (I modified it to 45 sec ON/15 sec OFF and did the whole workout twice).
Tuesday – A spontaneous cardio and strength circuit:

5 minute warm-up
Cardio: Run 0.5 miles
Strength: 3 sets of 12-15 reps of the following:
  • Dumbbell rows
  • Biceps curls
  • Alternating lateral and front shoulder raises
  • Tricep extensions
Repeat cardio/strength portion
Cool down.

Wednesday – At-home barre workout, with these three KILLER videos focusing on just legs. Thigh quiver for days (but seriously, for an hour or so afterwards, legs were still shaking!).
Thursday – Teach Zumba (My favorite workout of the week!)
Friday – Upper body barbell strength training (chest, back, triceps, biceps, shoulders)
Saturday – Yoga class

(My nice friend took pictures during our yoga class and I was too focused to even notice).

It was a pretty tough week of workouts! But fun nonetheless. It’s nice to look forward to something different every day.

So talk to me! What are your current favorite workouts? Any new ideas to share? What motivates you to get your workout in each day?

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Thoughts of a fitness instructor.

Hello! I've been gathering some thoughts that I wanted to share with you. But first, let's check out the outcome of my latest Trader Joes adventure:

Notable items include: rice pudding, frozen tamales, spinach and kale Greek yogurt dip, and coconut body butter. Also, if you can't tell, I really like melons.

I also got some gluten-free granola which is a winner because it reminds me more of cereal than actual granola. I like to use it as a topping for things like chia seed pudding in fancy glasses:

This particular chia seed pudding included chia seeds, plain full-fat yogurt, and vanilla coconut milk, all mixed together and left in the fridge to set overnight. If you're wondering, yes, that is sunflower seed butter drizzled atop it all. 

I'm trying to be more cognizant of chemicals and such in my everyday items, which is why I am a fan of the coconut body butter. I also picked up some natural shampoo and conditioner at TJs (I have yet to try it but I will keep you posted on that!). One other item I'm a huge fan is this natural deodorant which I got at Whole Foods:

It is made of mineral salt and it works well - even for sweaty workouts!

So, I wanted to discuss some observations I have had the past several weeks in some of my fitness classes. I was used to teaching only aerobic-style classes until recently when cycle became one of my weekly classes. And I quickly realized that cycle is a whole different culture of group fitness! 

I've found that people feel more comfortable in a cycle class versus an aerobics class, because there is no pressure to do everything exactly right. However, I've noticed that some people come into the cycle class, only to not actually participate in the class (listen to their own music/do their own routine). And they might even use a bike in the front row. It is definitely a bit odd to me to see this, especially because this is something that typically doesn't happen in aerobics classes, since most of the class is too focused on just doing the movements properly.

The other thing I have noticed is chatting in the middle of class. This is something I've observed in any fitness class, and this basically means one thing to me: the people in class are not getting a hard enough workout! In cycle class, this is an indication to me that the resistance is too low. In aerobics, it is an indicator to me that maybe the movements are too fast or confusing. Either way, while you should be able to still talk (maybe just a little) while you're working out, but not so much that it comes in the way of the workout. 

What do you think? Have you experienced any of these, even if just participating in a fitness class?