SUPERPOWER SMOOTHIE

Power Smoothie Recipe

This January, I think most of us are happy to leave behind the excesses of Christmas, and are returning to some better, more balanced habits. For me – I’m back to doing my annual metabolic reset. It’s a short sharp shock to my metabolism that involves cutting out wheat, sugar, coffee, dairy and booze. There’s no limit to how much food you can eat, so it’s not a diet. It’s also not low-carb, there are plenty of healthy slow release carbs on my plate, so it’s not as hard as you might think. I’m also a big fan of Nutritics software, which helps analyse menus. They are also actively helping food businesses prepare for Natasha’s Law, which will kick in in 2021 in the UK.

I did this last year and felt a million dollars afterwards, so I’m doing it again! Right now I’m halfway through. Every morning I have this one particular smoothie – it seems to tick all the boxes for me, and I’ll explain why:

Ingredients

Raw spinach

Cucumber

Half a green apple

Lime juice

Fresh pineapple

Coconut milk 4fl oz

Coconut water 4 fl oz

2 tsps Mrs Superlife powder

Fresh ginger

Cinnamon powder

Here’s why this particular set of ingredients works for me.

Spinach and cucumber should make up at least 50% of the solids in your smoothie. Fruit smoothies may taste nice, but you’re just loading up on fruit sugars. These are the least offensive veggies you can add to a smoothie, and they have plenty of benefits.

Fresh pineapple is really good for you, it’s crammed with potassium, copper, manganese, calcium, magnesium, beta carotene,thiamin, B6, and folate, as well as soluble and insoluble fiber. It’s supposed to be good for bruising and it’s also full of vitamin C! I like to buy a whole pineapple, then trim it and chop it into chunks for the freezer. Tinned pineapple is usually preserved in syrup, and really this fruit is already very sweet!

Full fat coconut milk: Everyone’s heard of the benefits of coconut water, and it’s readily available in every Spar and Supervalu, but I also add Coconut milk to my smoothies. The tinned stuff you throw into a curry that can be about 1000 calories a tin. You probably think I’m bonkers adding what is pretty much liquid fat to my smoothie. However, fat intake in the morning has been proven to help with weight loss, especially around your middle. There have been some interesting studies that show the type of calories we eat contribute to weight gain in different parts of our bodies. Sugar in particular can contribute to visceral fat gain (fat around the organs that leads to a thickening waist) So, healthy fat in the morning, along with protein and fibre can help you feel full and provide you with plenty of good calories for the day ahead!

Fresh Ginger: I add a good inch of fresh peeled ginger root, which is really warming and has a whole heap of proven medicinal benefits. A close relative of turmeric, ginger is great for the digestion. Ginger is also of great for DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness). In this 2013 study from the American Pain Society, they report finding evidence for the “hypoalgesic effects of ginger in osteoarthritis patients and further demonstrates ginger’s effectiveness as a pain reliever” https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20418184

Cinnamon is another ingredient you mightn’t expect, but apart from tasting like Christmas, the interesting componant is Cinnamaldehyde. Cinnamon, even in doses as small as 120 milligrams per day, has properties that are anti-microbial and anti-inflammatory. In tests, cinnamon has had a positive impact on good cholesterol and blood pressure. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24019277 Cinnamon can also help with insulin resistance, a major factor in blood sugar levels.  https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2901047/

So now, I put cinnamon in everything, the kids pancakes, smoothies and granola, even on ice cream!

I’ve also become quite fond of organic SuperLife Powder. You can get this in certain healthfood stores, and I’ve seen it in Centra, as well as online here. It contains  hemp, cacao, maca, kelp, spirulina, chlorella, barleygrass and lucuma. All of which are reported to be good for hormonal balance, reduction of sugar cravings and boosting the immune system. Now, this powder is why you might like to up the amount of lime juice. It’s not the tastiest in the world, but the lime juice will just about hide it. I generally add a teaspoon of this dark green powder to my smoothie (though the bag says to use a tablespoon!) I figure the rest of the ingredients are already doing a lot of good.

The trick to making your smoothie a habit that sticks, is to always have the ingredients in the house (cucumber is the one I seem to run out of the most often, the rest, including spinach can be frozen easily). My habits tend to slip when I’m super busy or on the road, so I’m looking forward to trying the ‘Good Green Stuff’ sachets. They have 77 different ingredients, and are in handy portion sachets, so a few of these in my handbag will certainly help. Aisling in the Green Health Store in Galway sent some of these sachets into PBM HQ to get our opinion and I can confirm they taste a LOT nicer than the Superlife mix, and are very handy for travel. Check them out here.

Over and out

xxx

Bitchmittens Emily

Couples Therapy

Our VERY FIRST Guest blog post for the BitchMittens Ballroom is from Jason Kenny, Men’s Physique & Fitness Model Competitor, personal trainer and Coast Guard. Whatever you think of this type of competition, no one can argue that it requires an insane amount of commitment and dedication, and Jason has won world titles left, right and centre, “Mr Physique”, “Mr Athletic”, “Mr Beach Body” just recently at the National Champs.

Jason’s wife Audrey took the plunge this year and with his help, trained for and WON a few titles of her own. Here he talks about what it means to train with your partner, and how they make it work. Audrey is also an amazing Coast Guard member, and mum of three.

All we can say here at BitchMittens HQ, is… HOLYSHITBALLS, Jason and Audrey two look like superheroes. Let’s take a peek at the crazy world of competitive fitness models! 

Couples who Train Together

By Jason Kenny

We all have busy lives, and in a modern household, some couples just end up passing each other by, like ships in the night. Trying to do anything that may bring you together is a huge bonus and one that will strengthen any relationship. That is exactly what we chose to do. We decided to hit the gym and start working out as a couple. We would plan our days and work around our jobs, any appointments that we had coming up or needed to be at. We would head off and get our sessions in. As we started to develop our routine we would go for a coffee and sit down discussing everything from kids to the next workout. At times, we would simply just enjoy the quiet moment together watching the world RUSH by. As I was already competing in Mr Physique Shows and having won the WBFMA Worlds in November 2016, we decided that this time we would enter the Irish Nationals as a couple and prepare together.

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Having your partner go through what you go through preparing for one of these has its advantages in that they experience all the highs and lows that you would have gone through in the past. The disadvantage is now two people are experiencing them together and that in itself can present a problem if you aren’t aware of what you are going through. It teaches you discipline, it teaches you to be there for each other, recognise stressors and motivate each other. 

dsc_0001This of course is the extreme of any sport taking it to a level of competition, where you put your body on the line, pushing it to its limits. But there are values in working together. The whole household changed. Attitudes towards foods, and making healthier choices together is really rewarding. It’s not about diet really but more about a lifestyle change for everyone and taking responsibility for your choices.

 

 

20161213_075414We would cook and bake special treats, like sweet potato brownies and avocado bread and the kids would get involved asking about training and wanting to learn how to cook meals. The health of the house rose up and the level of excitement and buzz in the air was electric.

We continue to train together and are preparing to do another show in 11 weeks time. It is quite awhile away but it is another milestone and challenge.

The secret to success

20161211_233013It is not rocket science, nor is it really any major secret to how anyone can achieve their ideal weight and boost their immune system. First of all, it is down to knowing your required calorie intake and working out your expenditure based on that. If you are taking in 1800kcal and only expending 1000kcal then you are going to end up with an excess of calories that your body will store.

Moreoften than not it is about food timing and placement. Doing what we do is about eating every 2.5hrs-3hrs, and reducing the heavier meals in the evening.

But here is the real key to success…..PREPARE, PREPARE, PREPARE. Do this and you will never get caught out. Everyone needs a minimum of 6 meals a day, Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner and 3 Snacks.

Also it is important at this time to expel the myth of not eating after a certain time, is complete crap. You can eat up to 1.5-2hrs before bed time of course as long as it is not loaded with sugar and caffeine.

dsc_0001If you don’t like certain foods such as eggs, it is probably down to how you are cooking them. Eggs are pretty much in everything we eat from buns to quiche. Add flavours, herbs, spices. Look up alternative cultural recipes and how other nationalities cook their foods. Experiment and you’d be amazed with simply cooking it differently or adding something small, can alter the whole meal. As an example, I had a client who wouldn’t eat asparagus, so instead of boiling it of steaming it I got him to oven bake it and leave it on for that extra little bit with a sprinkle of Garlic so that it was crispier. So, essentially you had roasted Garlic Asparagus and he loved them.

Also prepare your food in bulk, cook off for example a load of chicken and break it down and freeze what you are not using. Put on your favourite TV program and put them all in the pot/steamer or oven and let them cook away.

How can you stick to it without breaking out?

20161213_075414The Idea of a cheat meal is to help reward your efforts and something to look forward to. Now, that’s a CHEAT MEAL, not a CHEAT DAY. But aside from the psychology there is a science to it too. Ghrelin, a peptide hormone mainly produced by the stomach, is an appetite stimulant that signals the release of growth hormone. Low-calorie diets and chronic exercise have been shown to result in increased ghrelin concentrations, which may lead to increasing food intake and body weight. Caloric deficit diets also cause the body to attempt to conserve energy by decreasing levels of the thyroid hormones T3 and T4, which help regulate and maintain metabolism. Therefore, weekly cheat meals that are higher in calories and carbs can help raise leptin levels while lowering ghrelin levels. This helps to return your hormone levels to normal and can reverse or prevent any slowing down of your metabolism. This in return improves your thyroid function, thus further boosting your metabolismSo THAT is the science. In a nutshell get those extra calories into and enjoy a guilt free meal. BOOM and back on to your healthy living!

 

All the best to everyone!

Jason

 

Notes from the Ed

Extreme weight loss coupled with intense physical training can seriously harm your body. You can mess up your metabolism, as well as your hormones and so we really don’t want you to try this at home. Jason has spent a lot of time learning about the nutrition needed for this level of physical competition, so we’re quite happy to look at pictures of his hard… ahem ‘work’.  His website is  www.m4unutrition.com

Sweating for the Wedding!

I’m getting married! In like 135 days (but who’s counting!) I have dreamt about this day since I knew it was getting pretty darn serious with himself! And I want to look good. Not just for him or my adoring family but for me. I want to look back when I’m seventy odd and go damn! Damn, damn, DAMMMMN! I want to radiate, I want to dazzle, I want shine! It’s the most important day of our lives so far and I want to wow! With that, I thought I’d share my thoughts and some tips about how I’m making the best me for the big day!

 

1. Don’t change if you don’t want to.

This is probably the most important tip, which is why it’s coming first. I’m all for being healthy and fit but sometimes self love is more important. You are beautiful and your significant other obviously thinks you’re pretty amazing so if you are happy with how you look and how you feel then keep on trucking the way you have been. Nothing makes a woman more beautiful than confidence! Wedding magazines, blogs and frankly yourself can make feel pressured into “shaping up for the wedding.” If you don’t want to then please don’t. It is important to be happy and comfortable about your wedding. It’s your day and you’re gawjus!

 

2. If you’re gonna do it, do it for the long haul.

If you are going to get fitter and healthier for your wedding then you might as well not stop there. Fitness is a way of life and should go hand in hand with your daily life. If this is something that you haven’t been doing and decided to partake due to impending nuptials then why stop at the wedding. No point sweating and dieting and crying over that slice of double chocolate wonder fudge cake to fit in that Vera Wang/Claire Pettibone/Vivienne Westwood if you are going to fall back into an old lifestyle after you say I do. Use the wedding as a benchmark and then break through it and continue this awesome, healthy life you’ve created for yourself.

 

3. Find an exercise/sport that works for you and then mix it up.

Honestly, exercise doesn’t have to been that sweating, lumbering ball and chain strapped to you. If running is hard on your knees then try swimming. If you’ve always fancied yourself as the next Serena Williams (man she is kick ass!) then join the local tennis club or just hit it up against a wall in your back garden. There are so many ways to get active and stay fit, you just got to find something that works for you. Something that tires you out, gets you’re heart rate up but doesn’t make you hate yourself, or life… And don’t just find one, find two or three and keep things mixed up during the week. It’s been proven that keeping the body guessing is a good way to increase fitness, weight-loss and help prevent burnouts.

 

4. A little bit of toning goes a long way.

Now, no one’s asking you to go out and deadlift 80 kilos (if you want to give that a shot, please do!) but toning and small weights work wonders and they don’t have to take that long. Firstly, understand that muscle uses up more energy that fat, even when it’s not being used, so it burns more calories. More muscle, more fat loss. Secondly, doing weights twice a week helps the brain and keeps you mentally young (so that’s a bonus). What I’ve been doing is getting up first thing every morning and spending 5-10 minutes busting out some squats, sit ups, tricep dips etc. I found exercises that would help tone up the areas I want to improve (Pinterest a beautiful thing) and I’ve just been gunning through them, knowing that will not only improve how I look but also how I feel and how I perform in rowing.

 

5. Don’t eat less, eat better.

There are intense/complicated ways to lose weight through food and if that’s what you are going for then all power to you, I just don’t really get macros! But I think it’s important to note that food is not only depicting your waistline but many other things as well. Your hair, skin, nails, eyes are all affected by what you eat. So don’t just think about how little can I eat, also consider what way can I eat better. As a fellow rower once said, your dinner should be a rainbow. Fill yourself with nutrient rich veggies and fruit, to shine your hair, sparkle your eyes and brighten your skin. There’s a lot of reading behind this so do a bit of research, talk to a specialist and find what foods work for you. It’s not all about eating less. And it’s not about avoiding the double chocolate wonder fudge cake either!

 

So that’s all I’ve learned from sweating for the wedding. I am working my way to the big day, trying to be beautiful, healthy and confident on the inside so that I look my best on the outside. So that I feel like the best version of me. And so when I walk up the aisle my Aunt Bernie whispers “dammmmmmmmmn!” to my Uncle Noel.

 

 

The Number Detox

So after my very long rant about hating being a prisoner to my weight I decided to put a ban on myself. No counting calories, no weighing myself, no measuring my body, for 21 days. 21 DAYS?!?!? Seemed like a good number, don’t all detoxes take 21 days? 3 weeks, how bad… Honestly, at first this sounded great! Like a holiday! But when you control what you eat so much (as I was beginning to) it is insanely daunting. How do I know if I’m over eating? Or under eating? Getting enough of the good stuff? Will I balloon up, will I shrink down? There was too much freedom. One half of me was thrilled, the other half was very very scared.

 

Week 1:

So, the first few days were really hard in terms of not counting calories (but fine with not weighing myself). I literally had to delete my ‘MyFitnessPal’ app from my phone because I was subconsciously opening it up to check on meals, to calculate what I could have as a snack etc. I’d open the app, go ‘shit no!’ and close it back down. The app had to go, out of sight out of mind. Not so easy, since I had lost my app I was starting to just calculate it in my head, again I would cry ‘no!’ and eat a piece of cheese for good measure. Thankfully, after the first week it settled down. My diet hadn’t actually changed so I convinced myself that I was still eating the same amount (whether I was or I wasn’t) and I also tried to convince myself that it didn’t matter. Because it doesn’t matter.

 

Week 2:

The second week went by more smoothly. I had gotten into the swing of judging my food without looking for it’s calorific value, for it’s protein content, sugar content. Food was fun again. My portions were decent, I was never hungry. Every so often I would get a little niggle in my stomach, in my head. A worry that I was indulging a little too much. But then I kept reminding myself that counting calories is not normal and, to a certain extent, not healthy. At least not for me. And that I was eating good, hearty, healthy food. By the end of the week I was flying it! I even started to look at my body in positive light. When I had no numbers to go by I had to judge myself on what I saw and boy did I like what I saw! I suddenly saw this strong, curvy woman, with tiny ankles, serious hips and beautiful shoulders. I was becoming very confident, feeling very comfortable. I was happy in myself!

 

Week 3: 

The third week rolled in and suddenly I was anxious to weight myself. It was coming up to when I could step on the scales. At the beginning I didn’t mind not knowing but now I was getting curious. I wanted to see if my ban had a physical effect on me. If I had lost weight or worse gained weight. My biggest fear. That I would have to return to the cold cells of calorie counting because I could not stay the same weight without it. It was just after Easter and I had covered myself in chocolate so the dread started to kick in. But I restrained myself from checking what I was eating and what I weighed until the final day. VERDICT: I WEIGHED THE EXACT FUCKING SAME! I mean the exact same! I could’t believe it, I was convinced I must have put some weight on because I had given up control. Just goes to show that I must be doing something right! But this isn’t over…

 

Final Thoughts:

This trial was both burdening and liberating. Not being in full control of what I ate was scary for me. I’ve being losing weight for a long time now and to just give in and eat when and how I wanted felt too free. I also had a constant fear that I could slip, slip back into old habits that lead me down the path that made me 3 stone heavier in the first place. That fear, that my old, unreliable self would prevail and the new healthy, active me was only a phase! And with my wedding looming I do feel an added pressure to be “the best version of me” that I can be. To fit into these numbers that I, myself, decided were perfect. On the hand the freedom felt good, it allowed me to appreciate my body more and felt positive about the food I was eating. When I wasn’t counting I felt no guilt, when I had nothing but my appearance to judge I realised how beautiful I was (and boy am I hot!)

I’m still struggling. There are days where I count and weigh and there are days when I don’t. I’d like to get to a point where I don’t feel I need to measure everything I eat to stay healthy. It will come in time and I won’t beat myself up about it. Now that my body is healthy I need to get my mind in check too. And that can be hard.

 

No Holding Back

No Holding Back…

This is a topic that repeatedly comes up in conversation between friends and so I thought I’d try and get it down on paper.
I am originally from Kildare and went to school in Dublin. I played plenty of sports: hockey, tennis, swimming, horse riding. Admittedly I was below average at all of them and I’m not being modest or humble here, I actually was!

On being self-conscious

I was always quite self conscious and the first time this self-consciousness held me back was when I was 11 and was asked to trial for the local swimming club. All I had to do was turn up on the day and swim a length of the pool in each stroke. However, I wouldn’t go  – and all because my butterfly stroke wasn’t great. I remember my mum begging me to try, but I wasn’t going to budge. I have always regretted this  – not because I was ever going to end up in the Olympics but because I realise now the importance of just trying and of doing your very best. I am also aware now of how amazing it is to simply be part of a club no matter what level and to be surrounded by people who are so passionate, dedicated and motivated by what they do truthfully it is infectious.

Finding a Sport That Works

Seven years ago i moved “Whest”and made friends really quickly from all walks of life. One crazy night out led to me joining a boxing club in Limerick and that is where I really became addicted to pushing myself and my limits. I loved the intense training and discipline and when the opportunity to sign up for a charity boxing event came around I was there.
Twelve weeks of intense training, nerves, sparring, nutrition changes, adrenaline, and the biggest test having to jump into the ring and fight one of my best friends. I took part in a second charity fight eight months after I had my little girl, which was just as fun and a great way to help loose the baby weight.
Rowing is my current tonic.  When I think about rowing, the words exhaustion, pain, nerves, butterflies and peacefulness all spring to mind. No matter what is going through your head, being out on the water and not being allowed to talk in the boat is so calming, I would go as far as to say, a form of meditation. You use so much concentration and every muscle in your body is working. An added bonus is that my whole body shape has changed and I have never felt stronger.

Making Better Food Choices – Naturally

You also have to really look at how you nourish your body through training so I find the nutrition side very interesting. It forces you to be aware of what your body is telling you and gradually, subconsciously, you begin to make better food choices naturally. Still to this day one of the best training sessions was last May (in the thick of training for the champs) our coach pulled us aside to tell us we were getting too skinny and we had to eat more…. Put it this way he didn’t have to tell us twice!
My 3.5 year old proudly says “my Mummy is going to do exercise!”
I am also quite proud of the influence my training has had on my 3.5 year old, it is so normal to her that Mummy is going rowing or “going to do exercise” as she says. She knows the names of all the other ladies in my boat and the coaches. She came to her first regatta on Saturday and loved hanging out with everyone and the buzz.
For me personally being part of a team and club is key. There is always someone to train with and buddying up helps with the long, boring sessions.
One thing I have noticed both through boxing and rowing is that it doesn’t matter if you are not naturally gifted, if you give 110% your coaches will give the same and they have a knack of knowing just how far you can be pushed to achieve your best. And then like me you might even surprise yourself.

Don’t let anything, or anyone hold you back – especially if that someone is yourself.

Here are my top tips for making it work:

  1. Sharing babysitters with other people on your team to reduce costs.
  2. Find reputable clubs with qualified coaches, go to open days to get a feel of what is required and see if you can make it work for you and your commitments.
  3. To relieve boredom try circuit classes every once in a while and to keep your body guessing.
  4. Keep your fridge and freezer well stocked with healthy prepped snacks and meals.
  5. On days i cant get away from the house i set up little circuit courses in our sitting room and myself and my little one do reps like jumping jacks, the plank, mountain climbers and running on the spot.. She loves this.

Notes from the Ed

Helen is a busy mum, baker and blogger. You can follow her foodie posts over on http://hungrybabaworkingmama.blogspot.ie/ or drool over her fab foodie pics on @keoghhelen!

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