I must apologize (yet again) for the lapse in blog posts, life just gets too crazy sometimes. I wanted to share with you part of an email I have sent out to all of my lovely nutrition and personal training clients today, on the subject of warding off holiday inactivity and weight-loss, and then followed with one of my all time favorite holiday recipes! More articles to come soon (I promise) but for now consider the following! The holidays are upon us...
I think the most common concerns for most of us around the holidays (aside from the platters of sugary treats tempting us around the office each day) is a simple matter of finding the time to keep up with our exercise routines. While it is of the utmost importance to give our bodies a break every now and then from weight training, we also don't want to find come January that all of our hard work over the last months has been undone. One way to ward off inactivity (and holiday pounds) is SPRINTS!!! Many of you know that I'm a big fan of sprints, and include them in our workouts together. For the holiday/vacation time, they are a great way to get in a quick and beneficial workout, call it a day, and get back to the festivities (or football watching, whatever the case may be). Keep in mind, sprints are different for each of us depending on our fitness level. While sprinting full force up a hill might be one person's version, walking up that same hill is another's. Lets take a look at why this type of exercise is beneficial...
This could be (and is, in fact) an entire book, but I will just quickly mention that long duration cardio training (and over-training with weights) at higher-intensity heart rates can have a catabolic (breaking down) effect on our muscles and organs. I like to call this type of exercise "chronic cardio," or as Nora Gedgaudas in her book Primal Body Primal Mind states, "chronic strenuous cardio." Boring and ineffective. She goes on to explain why working out "harder and smarter for less time" is effective:
"...limit intense exercise to no more than about 20 minutes in duration and focus on brief bouts of significant anaerobic exertion, interspersed with brief periods of recovery at a slower pace that is sufficient for a return to the resting heart rate. This can be done via sprinting, cycling, rowing, elliptical, and many other methods...weights..strength and resistance training reverses the reduction in muscle fiber size that accompanies aging and inactivity and has been shown conclusively to increase insulin sensitivity" (160).
It is always a good idea to keep our body guessing and not do the same thing all the time. Sprinting (again, at the appropriate level for YOU, think of on a 1-10 scale of exertion, 10 being maximum effort, striving to be around a 8-9 eventually, around a 7 to start) is a great way to get in a workout when in a time crunch, and can be done anywhere. Think: 10 rounds of high knees (1 min on, 1 min off). Begin slowly!! Start with walking briskly up a flight of stairs, rest for as long as you need to recover fully, and then do it again. Maybe you just start with 2 or 3 times, thats great!!
Enough about sprints, I want to include one of my all time favorite holiday recipes, a coconut sweet potato (or yam) mash with macadamia nuts. Its delicious and chalked full of nutrients and good fats.
Coconut Macadamia Nut Sweet Potato Mash
Source: Heidi Swanson (6 servings)
2 ½ lbs. orange-fleshed sweet potatoes
⅓ cup coconut milk
1 tablespoon fresh ginger, grated
1 tablespoon maple syrup
½ teaspoon fine-grain sea salt
⅓ cup raw, unsweetened grated coconut
2 tablespoons melted butter or coconut oil
⅓ cup toasted macadamia nuts, chopped
Preheat your oven to 350F degrees, a rack in the upper third. Butter or oil 6 ramekins or a single medium-sized casserole dish.
Wrap each sweet potato in foil, pierce numerous times with the tines of a fork and place in the oven for somewhere between an hour and an hour and a half, until each is baked through. Times vary greatly depending on the size of your sweet potatoes - in the end you should be able to cut through the center flesh as if it were soft butter.
Remove the potatoes from the oven, let them cool for a few minutes, and cut each sweet potato in half. Scrape the flesh into a medium mixing bowl. You should have about three cups of sweet potatoes.
In a large bowl mash the sweet potatoes with the coconut milk. If my sweet potatoes are on the fibrous side, l take a hand blender to them for a minute or so (alternately you could use a food processor). Stir in the ginger, maple syrup and salt. Let it sit for a few minutes, stir again and taste - adjust the seasoning if you need to - this is your chance to get the right amount of salt and ginger in the sweet potatoes before they go in the oven.
Spoon the sweet potato mixture into individual baking dishes (or single larger baking dish), sprinkle with coconut, drizzle with olive oil and bake uncovered until warm and the coconut golden roughly 30 - 40 minutes.
Remove and sprinkle with the toasted macadamia nuts