Monday, February 23, 2009

Tony Horton is a (Fitness) God

Since giving birth to an infant, I've really found myself without too much time to do anything, including exercise. One late night before Christmas I succumbed to the siren's call of an info-mercial for the 10 Minute Trainer. It promised to send me a series of DVDs to help get me in shape for only 10 minutes per day. It promised to be easy, effective and fun. And it's all true. In fact, it's better than I could have imagined.

I believe that what you put into your body is critically important to your health. Exercise is also very important for improving health. When most people these days are so busy, it can be very difficult to fit exercise into their schedules. I think that Tony Horton's exercise programs offer busy people fun, safe, and effective ways to exercise at home and get in great shape.

I've seen many exercise-at-home programs before and it's very hard for trainers to demonstrate complicated exercises to people who are new to physical activity. Many trainers do not show modifications for people of differing ability or their explanations leave out key safety tips. But these videos manage to do all this and also get viewers moving and working out multiple parts of their bodies at the same time. I'm a very happy customer!

The website Horton uses to promote his many exercise videos such as Hip Hop Abs, P90 and P90X also offer a nutrition section that features recipes, tips, and demos ensuring that folks don't rely only on physical exercise to lose weight and become healthier. It's a well-thought-out program, compelling and easy-to-follow. I highly recommend it to anyone looking to start exercising safely and effectively from home. Now if I could just find those ten minutes for exercising every day...

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Healthy Lunch To Go

I've made the jump back into the "real world" and I've been test-driving my new bento boxes, with moderate success. It does require extra effort to pack and carry your lunch from home, but it's manageable. Since my going to work means that the Bug has to go to daycare, I'm already required to pack her lunch, so it's only a tiny bit more work to make a larger version for myself.

I've been keeping the bentos on the counter and ready to fill while I make dinner. As each dinner dish becomes ready I take a small portion and place it in Bug's or my bento. Of course, some dinner dishes aren't easily ported to lunch the next day, such as tonight's Japanese noodle soup. But I have enough scraps around the house to piece together a lunch menu for the two of us. I'll be giving us bread and cheese, whole wheat crackers, some Barbara's Blueberry Fig Newton's, leftover broccoli, avocado, grapes, oranges, tofu, and a tin of fish spread just for me.

My biggest challenge has been remembering to buy enough food for 6 meals, instead of the regular 4 (for me, husband, Bug and her sister). Although I'm sure each week will take an extra shot of effort in planning my menus, grocery shopping strategically and cooking and storing, it's become easier with the help of this lovely blogger, Biggie and her Lunch in a Box website. I suspect she's one of those women with time management skills coming out the ying-yang, but I must politely envy her cook's skills.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Not All Vegetables Are Created Equal(ly)

Ah 'tis sad but true, just like not all men are created equally. Some of you may be interested to know which vegetables pack the most bang for your buck. Thankfully the intrepid folks at the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) have published an article in this month's Nutrition Action Newsletter where they rank veggies by how much they offer in the way of nutrients, fibre and a few other targets. Read the whole article: Rating Rutabagas.

The top winners are, not surprisingly, leafy greens, squashes and root vegetables with skin on. Here are the Top Ten:
1. Kale
2. Cooked Spinach
3. Collard greens
4. Turnip greens
5. Swiss chard
6. Raw Spinach
7. Canned Pumpkin
8. Mustard greens
9. Sweet potato (with skin)
10. Raw Radicchio
11. Raw Broccoli (almost a 10!)

If you're wondering why cooked vegetables are higher on the list than raw, it's because cooking (as well as other methods of preparation such as fermentation) eliminates or kills off some of the enzymes that inhibit your body's ability to digest the vegetable's nutrients. That's always been the argument for me against going raw more than 30% of the time, apologies to the Raw Foodies out there. My poor digestive tract can't handle a lot of raw foods, and I know I'm not alone.

Now there are Raw chefs out there like the wonderfully talented Aaron Ash at Gorilla Foods who can take a humble kale leaf and turn it into a tantalising dish, and I try to get down to this restaurant as often as I can. But, I can also make do with a more ordinary way to pack my diet full of nutrients. Just cook me some leafy greens with a bit of butter and mmm-mmm, yum, I'm happy inside and out.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Blissful Bento Box Beneficiary

Today a dear friend who knows I'm returning to work soon gifted me with the cutest, sweetest, little bento box, above. Apparently, there is a growing movement of folks who are taking homemade lunches to work in these tidy containers, thereby ensuring they have a healthy lunch to eat each day.

Being a Japanese phenomenon originally, the contents are supposed to be aesthetically-pleasing and small, and I'm not sure I'll be able to equal some folks out there. However, the concept of last night's healthy dinner repackaged in a cute and cheerful lunchbox sounds like a great way to get inspired about eating leftovers. There's not much inspiration in sitting down to a scratchy old Tupperware container that holds day-old sloppy pasta.

Many folks find that taking a "bagged" lunch to work is a cheaper way to get through the week, but it can also be a way to ensure you're eating the type of food you'd prefer to ingest each day. My workplace has a cafeteria which while subsidised, tends to offer food that's mostly processed, frozen, breaded, or fried. If only I could eat at Electronic Arts' lovely EA Cafe where my husband gets to eat healthy, delicious food each day. Yep, I'm soooo happy for him.

So this cute little bento is going to be an attractive and very practical kitchen accessory. I want to thank my dear friend for this wonderful and encouraging gift, and I pledge to fill my pretty bento with an array of delicious and nutritious goodies in the weeks to come. I'll keep you updated on the results, especially if it might help others spice up their own workday lunches.