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nutrition

Hibiscus Tea - An All-Natural Agua de Jamaica Recipe

Hibiscus Tea - An All-Natural Agua de Jamaica Recipe

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Summer is almost coming to an end. The only possible way to cope is with a super refreshing drink: all-natural Agua de Jamaica! If you love lemonade, this tart— yet sweet—drink is just as thirst-quenching! It's also known as hibiscus tea. Hibiscus is a flower that is celebrated and widely-known in South America and some regions of Asia for its refreshing properties. There are wide variety of benefits that come with drinking a cup of earthy hibiscus tea:

Lower blood pressure

The Hibiscus flower has “anti-hypertensive properties” which helps lower blood pressure levels. Some studies found that drinking 2-3 cups of hibiscus tea can mitigate the effects of high blood pressure.

Antioxidants

Like berries and some leafy greens, this tea has tons and tons of antioxidants that protect us from chronic diseases like heart problems and cancer.

This drink doesn’t have to be made straight from dried flowers. Though the flavor won’t be the same, chilled hibiscus tea can also be made with 5 hibiscus tea bags and 10 cups of water. For this recipe, feel free to use the sweenter of your choice, such as stevia or agave nectar.

Agua de Jamaica

Chilled agua de jamaica - Hibiscus tea recipe // The PumpUp Blog

Makes 5-6 cups

Ingredients

  • 10 cups of water
  • 1 cup dried hibiscus flowers
  • ¼ cup of brown sugar
  • Juice of a lime.
  • 1 cup of ice

Directions

  1. In a large bowl, boil all 10 cups of water
  2. Next, mix in the cup of hibiscus and let it bloom for 20 minutes (or steep for 20 minutes if you're using tea bags)
  3. After the set time has passed, strain the flower and let your tea cool for about 20 mins.
  4. When the tea is at room temperature, add the lime juice, sugar (or sweetener) and ice.
  5. Serve with some lime wedges and ice

Macros (per 1 cup)

  • Protein: 0g
  • Fat: 0g
  • Carbohydrates: 7 g
    • Fiber: 0g

About the author.

Valentina Selviz is a food and fitness blogger getting her degree in Nutrition, and a certification in Personal Training. Check her out on her social media accounts and her blog for macro friendly recipes and fitspo!

Instagram/ Pump Up: @valselviz

Blog: valselvizblog.com

Pre and Post Workout Nutrition | What to eat and what to avoid

Pre and Post Workout Nutrition | What to eat and what to avoid

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Contrary to common belief, breaking out a sweat on a daily basis might not be the most crucial component of a healthy lifestyle. It's even more important to pay attention to what we put into our bodies. Eating wholesome sources of macronutrients and micronutrients will affect us more than exercising will in the long run. Bearing this in mind, what we eat around our workout can either supplement, or negate all of our hard work. Here's some information to help you get a grasp of what to eat and what to avoid for pre and post workout nutrition.

Pre workout nutrition

What should we eat before working out? The answer to this is protein and carbohydrates. An article by Bodybuilding.com explains that two to three hours prior to training, protein sources that are high in tyrosine can make you feel more alert and energized. In the same way, slow-digesting carbohydrates that are low in fiber but high in a sugar called amylose can help you maintain a steady blood sugar level. This will keep you feeling satiated throughout your workout. The article also uses a formula to calculate, a range how much protein and carbohydrates you should be eating according to you weight.

Protein sources that are high in tyrosine include egg whites, cottage cheese, seaweed, spirulina, red meat, and white meat. High-amylose carbohydrates include potatoes (red/white/sweet), yams, oats, whole wheat pasta, and different types of rice.

Post workout nutrition

Immediately after your workout, you should try to drink a glass (500ml) of fat-free milk. Several studies concluded that when you drink fat free milk after your workout, you can increase lean body mass, improve your strength, and reduce your body fat. This stands in contrast to soy milk and other caloric-dense beverages that were tested for the same purpose. Likewise, if you’re able to get your hands on20-25g of whey protein right after a workout, it can have the same effect. There's a bonus: your body will absorb whey protein a lot faster. When it’s time to eat a solid meal, aim for one of the protein sources listed above, along with the vegetables of choice and fast digesting carbohydrates like white potatoes. This will help you to replenish your glycogen levels!

Also, try to avoid eating fats right after working out, as they have the tendency to slow down food digestion, making it slower for your muscles to absorb any protein. Nuts, avocados and other sources of fat are great in between meals, or before bed.

Let's not forget how crucial water intake is before and after our workout and throughout the day. Prior to your workout and with a large meal, drink about 12-16oz of water (about 1 cup and a half to 2 cups). Neglecting water intake can affect your kidneys in the long run!

Something that I’ve learned is that we are all unique: be it through our genes, our metabolism, everything! A pre and post workout nutrition regimen that may work for others may not work for me, and vice versa. Give these tips a try and see how they work for you!

About the author.

Valentina Selviz is a food and fitness blogger getting her degree in Nutrition, and a certification in Personal Training. Check her out on her social media accounts and her blog for macro friendly recipes and fitspo!

Instagram/ Pump Up: @valselviz

Blog: valselvizblog.com

Image via Pinterest,

So, what are whole grains anyway?

So, what are whole grains anyway?

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You walk into a grocery store and see a whole lot of wholes. Not to be mistaken for deep circular pits of doom that break apart long stretches of highway, 'whole grain' and 'whole wheat' products are food items labelled with numerous health claims and caveats. What should you buy? What are whole grains anyway? Are whole grain products even good for you? Let's take a step back and get a closer look.

Whole Grains vs. Refined Grains

Grains can either be whole or refined. Whole grain food essentially contains the entire seed of certain plants. To be classified as such, whole grain products need to contain all three parts of an individual grain kernel: the bran, endosperm, and the germ. These contain valuable nutrients and they're a major source of insoluble fibre, which can keep you fuller for longer and reduce cravings associated with having high blood sugar (no more midnight snacking)!  Refined grains don't have the germ or bran— think white Wonderbread and white sushi rice.  This means that refined products lack some of the nutrients that whole grain products have. What's more, refined grains are generally simple carbohydrates: they make your blood sugar go up and down faster than the tide at Huntington Beach. This induces cravings and it can even make you feel sluggish afterwards. Simple carbs are great if you need a quick burst of energy before a race, but they require minimal work for your body to digest.

 

Whole Grains vs. Everything Else

In some places, the distinction between whole grain and whole wheat becomes a bit tricky. Take Canada, for example. According to the Whole Grains Council, Canadians face a problem resulting from regulatory naming conventions: whole wheat flour can leave out as much as 5% of the original grain seed. What's more, multigrain and organic products might actually contain minimal to zero whole grains.  Whole grain products must contain 100% of the original grain seed.

Don't eat things you can't pronounce except quinoa (you should eat quinoa) // What are whole grains anyway? - The PumpUp Blog

How to make sure you get whole grains

Almost always sold as whole grains: Amaranth, buckwheat, bulgur, quinoa, millet, sorghum, teff.

What to look out for:

To be extra sure that you're eating whole grains, a general rule of thumb is to check if the word 'whole' prefaces the actual grain (ex: whole barley).

  • Barley should be hulled or whole barley, rather than pearl barley
  • Corn should not be 'degerminated'  if it is to be classified as a whole grain.
  • Farro should not be 'pearled'
  • Oats should be 'whole oats' or 'old fashioned oats'; instant or quick oats do have the same nutritional value, but they have a slightly higher glycemic load
  • Rice is generally considered a whole grain when sold as colored rice, such brown rice, wild rice, and black rice. White rice is a refined grain.
  • Rye should be listed as whole rye or rye berries. Rye bread may not necessarily be a whole grain product.
  • Spelt can be sold refined, so it make sure it appears on the ingredient list as whole spelt.
  • Wheat, when listed by itself, can refer to refined wheat. Look for whole wheat or (if you're in Canada), whole grain whole wheat.

So what are whole grains? We hope this helped clarify a few things! Let us know what your favorite whole grains are in the comments below! What is your favorite way to prepare whole grains?  Cover image via PumpUp member vegan_federica. Quinoa photo via Flickr.

#AliveJuly - 4 weeks of nutrition challenges

#AliveJuly - 4 weeks of nutrition challenges

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Make nutrition your primary focus for the month of July. Live life in the present, live life in the fullest, and challenge yourself in new and exciting ways with #AliveJuly. To get you in the right mindset, we put together 4 complete weeks full of miniature nutrition challenges. Each day of the week has a different theme. You'll be challenging yourself creatively and you'll become more in tune with how your eating habits impact your overall wellbeing. Feel alive and well. Take the #AliveJuly challenge. Smoothie Sunday: New and exciting ways to spruce up your morning smoothies

Meal Prep Monday: Tips to make healthy meal preparation much easier for the rest of the week

Tasty Tuesday: Show off your culinary skills. Try your best to make healthy cooking a part of your lifestyle.

Willpower Wednesday: Give yourself permission to say 'no' to anything that doesn't serve you. Learn to eliminate or minimize your intake of salt, preservatives, and added sugar.

Try It Thursday: Try something new. Whether it's a new ingredient or a new way to eat, you'll push your boundaries.

Food Fact Friday: Learn more about yourself. Become more aware of your own eating habits and patterns. Identify what you're already doing well, and what you can improve upon.

Superfood Saturday: Some ingredients are nutrient-dense powerhouses. See if you can incorporate these superfoods into your diet at least once.

If you're participating in these nutrition challenges in July 2015, your starting date will be Sunday, July 5.

#AliveJuly 2015 4-week nutrition challenge and calendar by the PumpUp Blog

Check back on this page for more details about the nutrition challenges each week. We'll include weekly checklists, useful links, and more.  Use the #AliveJuly hashtag so that we can help you with the challenges! Link back to this page very easily by bookmarking bit.ly/alivejuly

Sign up for weekly email reminders about the challenge

We'll send you checklists for every week of our #AliveJuly nutrition challenges, helpful resources, and a care-package of motivation straight to your inbox! Subscribe here.

AliveJuly - four weeks of nutrition challenges (week one) // The PumpUp Blog

Week 1

Smoothie Sunday: Prepare and freeze smoothie ingredients into small containers or freezer-safe Ziploc bags! You'll never have an excuse not to drink a smoothie ever again. Bananas, kiwi, pitted fruits, and berries tend to be your best. Here are some great smoothie recipes to get you started! Check out our guide to DIY smoothie packs here.

Meal Prep Monday: What's in your grocery cart? Healthy choices start with your groceries. Try to stay away from pre-packaged food and ingredients as much as possible in order to reduce your sodium intake! Here are some great tips for healthy grocery shopping.

Tasty Tuesday: Cook with whole grains (not to be mistaken for whole wheat). Incorporate whole grains into your any of your dishes today to complete the challenge. Here's our useful guide to whole grains.

Willpower Wednesday: Say 'no' to added sugar! You might feel a difference in your energy levels afterward. Opt for fruit when sugar cravings hit you, or make healthy Homemade desserts like these vegan coconut energy bliss balls: 400g pitted dates, 5 tbsp cold coffee, 5 tbsp water, 5 tbsp melted coconut oil, 125g almond flour, 53g shredded coconut, 7 tbsp cacao powder, splash of vanilla extract. Blend dates with liquid ingredients, add in rest of ingredients, roll into balls and roll them around in the coconut.

Try It Thursday: A few extra veggies won't hurt! Add an extra veggie to your plate and share about how you felt on PumpUp. Here are some awesome vegan recipes that you can use for your inspiration.

Food Fact Friday: Become aware of when you eat. It might help you to identify times of the day when mindless snacking gets the best of you. Write it all down and share about it on PumpUp to keep yourself accountable. Are your eating patterns consistent? Irregular?

Superfood Saturday: Oh, quinoa. Everybody talks about it. Tons of people cook with it. Eat some quinoa today to complete the Superfood Saturday challenge. Name one fun fact that you learned about quinoa on PumpUp!

AliveJuly - four weeks of nutrition challenges (week one) // The PumpUp Blog

Week 2

Smoothie Sunday: A little greens ain't never hurt nobody! Add leafy greens to your morning smoothie in order to complete the #AliveJuly challenge of the day. If you're impartial to the taste of kale, try a more neutral vegetable like spinach.

Meal Prep Monday - An organized fridge will make it much easier for you to whip up healthy meals together in an instant. Cleaning out your fridge will also help you to identify which items of food you don't need. This is your opportunity to get rid of pesky guilty pleasures.

Tasty Tuesday: Go lean or go home. Opt for white fish or lean meat. If you're a vegetarian, eat tons of beans, nuts, and seeds. Protein will keep you much fuller for longer!

Willpower Wednesday: Put the chips down: excess salt consumption can lead to hypertension and bloating. You may not realize it, but several common grocery items (like cereal) contain tons of sodium. Dance it out, shake your body like a salt shaker, but go easy on consuming the actual mineral itself.

Try It Thursday: Try a new ingredient in your repertoire of meals! Explore the abundance that the Earth has to offer. Whether it's a fruit that you've never tasted or a spice that you haven't cooked with, be adventurous with your culinary skills today.

Food Fact Friday: Track your fiber intake. Lots of insoluble fiber can lower your cholesterol and combat cardiovascular disease! Oats and whole grains are a great way to up your fiber intake.

Superfood Saturday: Packed with tons of cancer-combating antioxidants, blueberries make the perfect on-the-go snack. Keep a few blueberries handy in a container for your snack, or garnish one of your meals with a generous handful of them.

Week 3

Smoothie Sunday: Give your smoothie a boost! Today, we're using hemp hearts. All you'll need are 5-7 strawberries, 2 frozen bananas, 1 cup of frozen mixed berries, 1 tbsp hemp seeds, and 1 cup of water. Find more recipes and a video of this recipe here.

Meal Prep Monday: Never tried meal prepping before? Start today! Make tomorrow's breakfast. You won't have any excuse not to start your morning the right way. Overnight oats are always a great idea for this.

Tasty Tuesday: Do you have a secret healthy ingredient that makes all of your dishes extra special? Whether you sneak zucchini into your brownies or flax seed into your smoothies, share about an ingredient that you love to add to your meals!

Willpower Wednesday: Minimize your processed food intake today and see how it impacts your energy levels. Highly processed food tends to contain a lot of salt, sugar, trans fat, and extra preservatives to increase their shelf life. Just say no. If you're craving french fries, make your own sweet potato fries instead!

Try It Thursday: Try a new recipe and broaden your horizons in the realm of food preparation! There are tons of healthy recipes waiting to be discovered from other PumpUp members, including smoothies, healthy summer snacks, and even a healthy summer potluck recipe guide.

Food Fact Friday: How many servings of fruits and veggies do you eat in a day? Are you eating enough? Too little? Be conscious of this and share about it on PumpUp!

Superfood Saturday: Get creative with chia! No, you won't need to grow a furry little chia pet. But you will need to incorporate the protein-packed and fibre-filled superfood into your diet. Chia pudding is a great way to start.

Week 4

Smoothie Sunday- Make a smoothie bowl and tag your recipes with #TeamPumpUp. You'll consume your smoothies more slowly and have more time to savour it. Check out these awesome smoothie bowl recipes

Meal Prep Monday- Now that you have a pretty decent grasp around how meal prep works, try to prepare all of your meals for tomorrow ahead of time! You won't have an excuse to not eat healthy if your meals are already laid out for you.

Tasty Tuesday- Post a photo of your favourite healthy meal. Are you great at making a particular recipe? Share it on PumpUp! Is there a healthy meal you love to eat at your favourite restaurant? Share that too! Check out these awesome ideas:

Willpower Wednesday- Late night snacking can get the best of us. Close the kitchen after dinner and see how you feel the next day! Your metabolism is much more active at the beginning of the day, rather than late at night when you're more sedentary.

Try It Thursday - Fill 1/2 your plate with greens and eat more veggies today! These edamame recipes will certainly help you to get your green on.

#AliveJuly 2015 4-week nutrition challenge and calendar by the PumpUp Blog

Share about these nutrition challenges on Instagram and PumpUp with this square version of the calendar.

#ChallengeMe: PumpUp's June Fitness Challenges

#ChallengeMe: PumpUp's June Fitness Challenges

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This is your summer. Own it, don't settle for less, just start. PumpUp and Coach Melissa Lepage (@coachmelissa) put together a series of daily mini fitness challenges for the entire month of June to help you focus on your health goals with laser-like precision. These challenges focus on different aspects of your wellbeing: from nutrition, to exercise, to sleep, to hydration. Every time you complete a challenge, you'll earn points that might earn you some PumpUp swag. Take the June 1 challenge for example: every time you finish 50 squats that day, you'll earn 50 points. Tally up your points each Saturday in June and share about them on PumpUp to be considered for some swag!

You in? Sign up for the #ChallengeMe email newsletter for daily reminders and tips!

What's more: participating in the challenge will get you $10 off of all items over $20 at RoniTaylorFit. Use the code: Pumpup10

#ChallengeMe Calendar PumpUp Blog

*Revised version of the original #ChallengeMe calendar

#ChallengeMe Week 1

Monday June 1 - 50 squats

Let's get down to business to defeat the buns...with squats. For every set of 50 bodyweight squats on June 1st, earn 50 points towards #ChallengeMe. Experiment with different types of squats if you can. Here are some awesome bodyweight squats that you can try for the challenge.

Tuesday June 2Healthy snack

Never let the munchies get the best of you. Snack smart by planning ahead! Do away with packaged snacks and instead opt for fruits, veggies, and nuts as your go-to ingredients to tide you over before the next meal. For every healthy snack idea that you share on June 2, earn 20 points. Here are some great ideas for healthy snacks.

Wednesday June 3 - Try your hand at pilates

If your workout was easy, it probably wasn't pilates. It's a system of strengthening and stretching exercises that engages your core, mobilizes your spine, and builds strength and flexibility. If you're already following a Blogilates challenge this June, you're off to a good start. You'll earn 25 points for every 15 minutes of pilates that you do on June 3. Here's a great resource that lists the best Blogilates videos for abs (20 minutes or less).

Thursday June 4Share your water intake of the day

It should be a natural instinct to drink enough water on a daily basis, but that isn't necessarily the case. Whether you guzzle water by the gallon or sip it slowly and surely, be aware of your water intake on June 4 and post about it on PumpUp to earn a total of 25 points for the day. Here are 5 great reasons to drink water.

Friday June 5 - Lunges

Lunge now, lunch later. Start off your day with a set (or two, or three) of lunges! Perform them with weights for an extra challenge. Bring the weights overhead to give a bonus burn to your core, shoulders, and traps. For every set of 12 lunges per leg, you'll earn 30 pts. Bored of basic lunges? Here are some creative lunge variations that you can try!

Saturday June 6 - Sweaty Selfie

Work hard and share a Sweaty Selfie on PumpUp after you finish doing an activity that you love. It should also be something that gets you real sweaty, real quick. You'll get 40 points for each sweaty selfie that you post on June 6 (from separate workouts), plus 20 points if you tally up the total number of points that you accumulated over the course of the first week.

#ChallengeMe Week 2

Sunday June 7 Plank Challenge

This time, you won't be walking the plank. Your body will serve as a plank to earn you points. For every 1 min of plank that you perform on June 7, you'll earn 45 pts towards #ChallengeMe. Be sure to post your plank time on PumpUp to be considered. Creative plank variations are all welcome!

Monday June 8- Abs

Get abs-olutely incredible abs today! It'll be the main focus of today's #ChallengeMe workout. For every 15 minutes of abs that you do today, you'll earn 50 points towards #ChallengeMe. Here are some Blogilates videos for abs to get you started, as well as an intense standing ab workout to help you take it to the next level.

Tuesday June 9Healthy Breakfast

Start your day the right way. Breakfast is a pretty egg-cellent idea. Share the recipe and photo of a healthy, non-packaged breakfast on June 9 to earn 20 points. Short on ideas? Try this Apple Chai Quinoa Porridge. Short on time? Try this 10 minute Tofu Scramble! If you feel like slurping a portion of your healthy breakfast instead, check out our smoothie library (you might be surprised with what you find!).

Wednesday June 10HIIT

HIIT us with your best shot and give your workout your all. For every 15 minutes of HIIT that you do on June 10, you'll earn 25 #ChallengeMe points. Get started with this 20 minute full-body HIIT workout or try your hand at these 7 fat-burning HIIT moves.

Thursday June 11 - Green Tea - Spend some quali-tea time with yourself and sip on a cup of green tea today to earn 25 #ChallengeMe points, because you're tea-riffic. Green tea may selectively increase fat burning and apparently helps regulate glucose levels, slowing the rise of blood sugar after eating. Here's a #tbt to some migh-tea matcha green tea recipes.

Friday June 12Crunches and V-Sits. You only need a few body weight moves to strengthen your core. Earn 30 #ChallengeMe points for every set of 25 crunches and 1 minute of V-sits.

Saturday June 13 - Best Advice. What's your best advice for living a healthy lifestyle? You are only confined by the walls you make for yourself. Challenge yourself daily and find joy in being healthy. Here are some of the best pieces of advice from other PumpUp members. You'll earn 45 points for sharing a PumpUp post with words of encouragement, and you'll earn 20 points after you share your total #ChallengeMe score for the week!

Sunday June 14 - Weights. What's your best advice for living a healthy lifestyle? You are only confined by the walls you make for yourself. Challenge yourself daily and find joy in being healthy. Here are some of the best pieces of advice from other PumpUp members. You'll earn 45 points for sharing a PumpUp post with words of encouragement, and you'll earn 20 points after you share your total #ChallengeMe score for the week!

#ChallengeMe Week 3

Monday, June 15 - Upper body. Remove "can't" from your vocabulary. Improve your posture and grow stronger every day. For every 15 mins of upper body exercises that you do today, you'll earn 50 #ChallengeMe points. Here's a great upper body workout that you can do with a partner!

Tuesday, June 16Healthy Lunch- You're probably eating your lunch on the go. Plan ahead and you'll make a plan to succeed. Pack a healthy lunch today to earn 20 #ChallengeMe points. What are your best tips for packing and planning out healthy meals? If you need some ideas, here are some light and lovely lunch ideas to help you through the week. Make this un-'beat'able beet salad if you're in a rush, or try these edamame recipes if you're looking to try something new!

Wednesday, June 17Cardio - Yes, we're putting you down for cardio. Do just 15 minutes to get your heart pumping! Simple body weight exercises can do the trick if you don't have a gym or if running and swimming isn't your thing.

Thursday, June 18Lemon Water- When life gives you lemons, drink lemon water. It can improve your digestive health and jump start your metabolism! Each glass can earn you 25 #ChallengeMe points today. Learn how lemon water can benefit you, and find our best lemon water recipe here.

Friday, June 19Jumping rope- We're jumpin' jumpin'. Grab a jumping rope and skip intensely for at least 5 minutes to earn 30 #ChallengeMe points. Whether you treat it as a mild warmup or a workout in itself, jump rope will help you burn tons of calories, fast. If you don't have a jumping rope, just mimic the same skipping motion with your arms and legs.

Saturday, June 20-Show lots of love to your #PumpUpFam. After you're done tallying the points you earned this week, share who your @PumpUp inspiration is in your caption. Each post that you dedicate to another PumpUp member will earn you 40 #ChallengeMe points

Sunday, June 21Biceps and triceps: Wanna show off on #FlexFriday in a major way? Do so by working on your biceps and triceps today. Every 15 minutes of bicep/tricep exercises will earn you 45 #ChallengeMe points!

#ChallengeMe Week 4

Monday, June 22Lower bodyThere's a reason why so many songs are being sung about our lower bodies. It's where most of our strength comes from.  Lower body exercises will enhance your performance in sports and various other compound movements. What's more, you'll improve your balance, stamina, and risk of injury. Squats are just the starting point. Here's a simple lower body workout that you need to do today.  Every 15 minutes of lower body exercise will earn you 50 points towards #ChallengeMe.

Tuesday, June 23Healthy Dinner: End your day the right way and make smart choices for dinner (after all, you won't be eating for another 8 hours...or more). An important part of having a healthy dinner comes with balancing out your day with a healthy breakfast and lunch.  Timing is key: don't eat too late, or you might overeat at night. Chew slowly and avoid fatty foods, as they're harder to digest and might disrupt your sleeping patterns. You'll earn 20 #ChallengeMe points for sharing a photo about your healthy dinner!  These almond recipes might spark some inspiration.

Wednesday, June 24Outdoor Workout: The sun is shining, the birds are chirping, and the great outdoors are calling your name. Start walking (or running) on sunshine: you might have a more effective workout when you're outside. Your body will work harder to adapt to changes in terrain, and you'll enhance your mood and self esteem. For every 15 minutes that you spend exercising outdoors, you'll earn 25 #ChallengeMe points.

Thursday, June 25Smoothies- If you've been on PumpUp for awhile, you'll probably notice one thing. Above all else, smoothies are our favorite things ever. There is an untapped of wealth of smoothie recipes waiting to be discovered on PumpUp. Share a great and creative smoothie recipes to earn 25 #ChallengeMe points. Here are just a few ideas.

Friday, June 26- Push-ups: Drop down and give us 20 (no, really). Try to do 20 push-ups today to earn 20 #ChallengeMe points. Don't worry if you can't do 20 all in one go: spread it out throughout the day, and get better. Get stronger. The push-up is a classic no-equipment exercise that works most major muscle groups. Here are a few push-up variations that you can definitely look forward to trying.

Saturday, June 27Workout Outfit: Funnily enough, we attach symbolic meaning to our athletic clothing. When we feel confident in our workout clothes, we may become more motivated (and even excited) to exercise. You're allowed to feel good in your workout gear at any shape or size. Flaunt it today: share a picture of your favorite workout clothes to earn 45 #ChallengeMe points. Remember to share how many points you accumulated this week in order to be considered for some PumpUp Swag!

#ChallengeMe Week 5

Sunday, June 28- Try a new yoga pose: Often, the most difficult thing about  yoga is beginning it. It's a practice. Begin and get stronger. Try a new yoga pose today, share a photo about it on PumpUp, and earn 45 #ChallengeMe points for every yoga post that you make!

Monday, June 29- 50 jumping sumo squats: Work your legs with some wide legged squats! Do a small jump as you ascend from each squat. For every set of 50 jumping sumo squats that you do, you'll earn 50 points towards #ChallengeMe. Experiment with different types of squats if you can. Find some other awesome bodyweight squats that you can try for the challenge.

Tuesday, June 30Cheat Smart. It's the last day of our June Challenge! You deserve a treat for all of your hard work. Share your favorite healthy treat on PumpUp! You might be able to find some inspiration from our ultimate BBQ recipe guide and from these other posts. Why should you treat yo' self? It might lead to better results.

Have any questions or feedback? Let us know in the comments below! 

Cover photo courtesy of PumpUp member @randy_dizon

You're reading food labels wrong! Start looking for these 4 things

You're reading food labels wrong! Start looking for these 4 things

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A huge component of fitness comes down to developing healthy eating habits. Exercise will only take you so far – Fuelling your body with the right food is crucial. However, finding healthy foods can be more difficult than it might seem. Just take a peek at any food label and you can see why it’s so easy to become overwhelmed. There is a lot of information packed into the tiny space – What’s really important? What makes a food healthy? What should you be looking for?

More than 1 in 3 people report that they do look at food labels, but 90% admit that they don’t really know what they are looking for!

It’s not surprising that obesity has become such an epidemic – Most people are actually reading food labels wrong.

The CSSI Method: How To Make Food Labels Simple

There is a lot of redundant information on your food labels, so we can simplify the process by focusing on what matters most. A 4-step process known as the “CSSI Method” will get the job done.

Instead of counting carbs, adding up fat calories, or analyzing vitamin dosages, the CSSI Method sticks to the crucial aspects of establishing a healthy diet.

It allows you to quickly answer the question, “Is this food a great one for me to eat?”

For example, the second “S” in CSSI stands for sugar. But, instead of counting sugar calories each day, the goal is to build up your familiarity with foods that are high in sugar. Then you won’t unknowingly consume much more than you might think.

Take a look at the infographic below to check out the CSSI Method. Then try it next time you start reading food labels at the grocery store – Do your food choices pass the test?

food labels cssi method infographic

Infographic by makeyourbodywork.com

Author Bio:

Dave Smith is a professional fitness and weight loss coach who was chosen as “Canada’s Top Fitness Professional” by CanFitPro in 2013. You can learn more about Dave and his services at makeyourbodywork.com.

12 mind-blowing almond recipes for your inspiration

12 mind-blowing almond recipes for your inspiration

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Though almonds are a perfectly palatable fuss-free snack, there are several paths to be charted in the realm of almond preparation. If you're looking to incorporate more almonds into your diet, we've compiled a round-up of some of the most innovate almond recipes for your inspiration. Almond Recipe Round-Up : 12 almond recipes for your inspiration, compiled by the PumpUp Blog

Paleo Almond Bread

Recipe round-up: 12 mind-blowing ways to use almonds in recipes | Paleo almond bread from Fat Girl Trapped in a Skinny Body

Photo and recipe via Fat Girl Trapped In a Skinny Body

'Low-carb' and 'bread' are two terms that don't sound like they should be paired together in the same sentence. But, as Whitney Houston once wisely crooned, there can be miracles if you believe.  By using bananas and almond meal as the foundation for this bread recipe, this unlikely partnership comes to fruition. It's a dense bread that feels sweet, but it doesn't make you feel lethargic after you eat it.

Almond Burgers

Recipe Round-Up : 12 amazing ways to use almonds in recipes | Crispy quinoa almond tomato burgers from Cooking on the Weekends

Recipe and photo courtesy of Cooking On The Weekends

The idea of a 'burger' may or may not irk you if you're on a plant-based diet. If gluten makes your tummy rumble (in a bad way), and meat isn't your thing, and soy certainly isn't your thing, consider making these crispy quinoa almond tomato burgers for a change. You'll be able to munch on a patty that is delicious, nutritious, and free of whatever doesn't serve you. The perfect patties for summer patios.

Caramelized Cinnamon Almonds (No Refined Sugar)

 

Recipe Round-up: 12 mind-blowing almond recipes | Caramelized cinnamon almonds

Recipe and photo courtesy of Happiness is Homemade

As devilishly delicious as M&Ms may be, they aren't the healthiest treats for you. Munch on caramelized cinnamon almonds for your next movie marathon. With just 4 ingredients and 10 minutes of preparation time, these almonds become coated in a candy-like cinnamon glaze.  Simmered in coconut sugar, water and cinnamon, these almonds are the best blockbuster snack.

Some of our other favourite roasted almond recipes: 

Homemade Almond Butter

Recipe Roundup: 12 mind-blowing ways to incorporate almonds in your recipes  | Homemade Almond Butter

Recipe and photo courtesy of Allsortsofpretty

Let's face it: nut butter is expensive. The kind of expensive that will make you and your wallet sob rather violently upon purchasing a small mason jar full of the stuff. Why not just opt for the cheap hydrogenated peanut butter in the next aisle? (Hint: it's not that good for you). The solution is simple: make almond butter instead. All you need is an awesome food processor, almonds, and a spatula. Spread it on ALL the things, or incorporate it in a smoothie (no, we're not crazy).

Fig and almond butter smoothie

Recipe Round-up: 12 mind-blowing ways to incorporate almonds in recipes | Fig and almond butter smoothie

Recipe and photo courtesy of Kitchenconfidante

Told you, we're not crazy. Use some of that homemade almond butter and churn it into an amazingly creamy smoothie. With figs, almond milk, almond butter, and a ripe banana, you really can't go wrong with this sweet and velvety post-workout treat.

Apple almond energy bites

Recipe Round-Up : 12 mind-blowing ways to incorporate almonds in recipes | Apple Almond Energy Bites

Recipe and photo courtesy of My Whole Food Life

Another excuse to put that homemade almond butter to use! These energy bites taste just like apple crumble, without the extra fluff. Adjust the sweetness to your liking, pulse all ingredients in a food processor, and you have a deal.

Other amazing almond recipes (energy bites):

Almond Coconut Cocoa Overnight Steel Cut Oats

 Recipe Round Up: 12 mind-blowing ways to incorporate almonds in recipes | Almond coconut cocoa overnight steel cut oats

Recipe and photo courtesy of Pineapple and Coconut

When your mornings get rough, rely on overnight oats to save the day. This breakfast is portable and filling. It'll cheer you up on your worst of days and it'll make the best of days even better. A trifecta of slivered almonds, almond butter, and coconut milk (can easily replace with almond milk) makes these overnight oats worth repeating.

Almond Pistachio Frozen Yogurt (No Ice Cream Machine Necessary)

Recipe and photo courtesy of Nutritionist in the Kitch

Many dessert enthusiasts have dreamed the dream of making their own ice cream at home, only to have their hopes shattered because they didn't own an ice cream maker. Fret no more. Here's one pistachio almond frozen yogurt recipe that requires no ice cream maker. No regrets, just fro-yo.

Almond flax pizza crust

Recipe Roundup : 12 mind-blowing ways to prepare almonds | Almond flax pizza crust

Recipe and photo courtesy of Addicted To Veggies

In pizza, we crust (literally). This crust comes together with just 5 ingredients: almond meal, flaxseed meal, nutritional yeast, salt, and pepper.  You'll have a pizza base that is easy to make and easy on the stomach.

Almond Cheese

Recipe Round-Up: 12 mind-blowing ways to incorporate almonds in recipes | Almond Cheese

Recipe and photo courtesy of lands and flavours. 

Wait, what? Almond cheese. Vegans will delight in this creamy and crumbly cheese made with almond meal. Make it as fancy as fancy can be: the recipe urges you to adorn this mozzarella-like marvel with minced herbs or chopped nuts. Do it, and even top your almond flax pizza crust with it.

Almond crusted salmon sticks

Recipe Round-up : 12 mind-blowing ways to incorporate almonds in recipes | Almond-crusted salmon sticks

Recipe and photo courtesy of Wishful Chef

Remember fish sticks? Remember the fond childhood memories that fish sticks evoke? Do without the bread crumbs and start crusting omega-3 rich salmon with almond crumbs! It's dairy-free, gluten-free, and ready in 20 minutes.

Date-sweetened horchata

Recipe Round-Up: 12 mind-blowing almond recipes for your inspiration | Date-sweetened horchata

Recipe and photo courtesy of the Minimalist Baker

Most horchata recipes call for almond milk, rice milk, water, vanilla, cinnamon, and simple syrup. Make it a notch healthier by sweetening your horchata with dates instead!  It's a better way to make a saccharine horchata, without the guilt.

Why almonds, anyway?

Why almonds- Nutrition facts infographic

  • Almonds are nutrient-dense: Just one serving of almonds is filled with calcium, protein, iron, vitamin E, and fibre
  • Almonds help with weight control: High in monounsaturated fats and protein, almonds have proven to mitigate the risk of weight gain in adults.
  • Almonds help control blood sugar: Pairing almonds with your meals can regulate spikes in blood sugar, according to a 2007 study published in the journal Metabolism.

Find more information about almonds here and share your favourite almond recipes with the PumpUp community!

I don't fit into an 'eating clique', and I'm okay with that

I don't fit into an 'eating clique', and I'm okay with that

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I don’t know anyone who likes labels. Except maybe 50% off labels? That’s about it. What’s worse than labels? I’d have to say cliques. I have recently noticed a huge trend of people labelling and judging different eating cliques.

eating cliques mean girls

You’ve got your macro-counters, calorie-counters, clean eaters, vegans, gluten-free peeps, paleo dieters and so on.

My friend Tianna recently asked me what I do. What style am I? It took me a minute to even realize what she was asking. And it took me even longer to give her an answer.

I don’t fit into any of these categories. Sometimes I go without meat for a day or two because I want to but I’m no vegetarian. I look at the nutrition information on everything I eat but I don’t count calories or macros. Sometimes my food is gluten free, but I’m not anti-gluten!

I like to eat according to my body’s current state in combination with my current goals. Most recently I have been trying to add more greens into my nutrition. This means trying new green juices and the random vegetables the cafeteria puts out. I have also been trying to consume more protein to increase my muscle mass. I eat a ton of eggs, protein shakes, chicken, turkey and beans.

So I don’t fit into any of the categories above, but I do feel comfortable and confident with my current eating regimen.

I am so happy that people feel comfortable enough to say, “Hey, I’m going to become a vegetarian!” or “I think that gluten upsets my body, I should look into going gluten free.”

All that I am advocating for is that everyone do their own thing! Just because someone isn’t doing what you are doing that doesn’t mean either of you are “wrong” in some way. Food is good, nutrition is important and we are all working toward the goal of living a healthier happier lifestyle.

This is a post by PumpUp member Emily DiNuzzo. Follow her on PumpUp @emilyrosedinuzzo. Check out her content portfolio and blog for more of her musings!

4 ways to have a healthy relationship with food

What crosses your mind when you hear the word diet? When I think of diets, I think of restriction followed by hunger and excessive exercise. For the most part, when people hear the word diet they get a little intimidated and far from excited.

Most of the diets advocated for in today’s society are usually focused on fear in one way or another – fear of fat, fear of calories, fear of carbs, etc. *Avoid high GI foods, sugar, anything processed, wrong macro ratios, no carbs after 7*…the list goes on and on! Does any of this sound familiar to you?

To add to the craziness of the diet world, exercise is added to the mix. You are either training, lifting, running, or doing too much or too little of what is recommended for the “perfect” solution to your dream body. So if the exercise isn’t working, you have to revert back to your diet and restrict that even more? No! I know that’s what you may think now, but I am here to tell you differently. Living in this world and abiding by its insane diet and exercise rules will leave you feeling more tired and unmotivated than ever because of malnourishment and extreme fitness recommendations.

I know everyone begins a new diet or fitness regimen with the best of intentions. Even if you are starting off with a well balanced approach of eating and exercising, people often begin to restrict in hopes of faster results which leads to trouble and disappointment in the long run.

Okay, now… let us take a step back and consider everything we’ve just discussed. Let’s ditch the diet fads, lose the fear of every food out there, and establish some healthy ways to nourish our bodies and achieve our fitness aspirations.

To start off, you have to accept that losing 10 pounds of fat or gaining 10 pounds of muscle should not happen in one week. Embrace the idea that you are about to begin a lifelong journey of optimal health for your mind and your body.

Next, find what works for you. Create personal guidelines, not rules that seem reasonable for yourself and your lifestyle. Establish a basic idea of what food and what exercise will make you feel and look your best most of the time, instead of beating yourself up for “cheating” on a strict, unrealistic diet.

Guideline #1: Eat a wide variety of natural and unprocessed foods as often as you can. It is the simplest way to ensure that you are getting lots of vital nutrients into your system. If it grew on a tree or in the ground, chances are high that it’s great for you! If it’s organic and non GMO, even better! It’s okay if you can’t find that or if it’s simply too expensive, remember—these areguidelines, not rules.

#2: Eat according to your energy expenditure and your body! One size does not fit all regarding food and exercise. You have to figure out what works for your body along the way with tweaking and experimenting to find the perfect balance.

#3: Really listen to what your body is telling you, not just what you want to hear! I promise all of your cravings have an underlying meaning. For example, one of the most common cravings people think they are having is for chocolate— this is your body telling you that you are deficient in magnesium. Magnesium can be found in fresh fruits, veggies, nuts and seeds and these health foods will absolutely satisfy those cravings! Check out more about cravings in this article.

#4: For the majority of the time, you should eat to nourish your body and to fuel your athletic performance. I understand that cutting out all processed and cooked foods is not for everyone, and that’s okay! You can eat for pleasure every now and then! :)

We are all individuals and our bodies are different— for most of us, these four guidelines will not only bring you closer to the body and performance you want, but they will also leave you with a much healthier and happier relationship with food!! Happy eating!

Learn how Bill transformed his body AND aced his past semester with a 4.0 - PumpUp Spotlight Series

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Bill (@bsiddiq) has the brains of a scientist and the body of a superhero. He joined PumpUp in June 2014 and confessed that he immediately fell in love with the app’s positivity and fitness community. He’s an extremely encouraging and informative member and he looks forward to lending his insights both as a PumpUp spotlight member and as a regular blog contributor. 

Around this time last year, Bill set his mind to look like his fitness idol Hugh Jackman, an actor most famous for his onscreen body as Wolverine in the X-Men Movies. “[Jackman] had the type of look I wanted for my body, and I became obsessed with it. I was ripping off pages from TRAIN magazine’s issue of “The Wolverine” and posting them to my walls. I even set various pictures as my iPhone background.”

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Bill was systematic with his approach to achieve his goals. His mentality echoes that of Arnold Schwarzenegger: Visualize and see exactly what you wish to become. "It became my motivation and mission in life, sitting next to my dream of becoming an orthopedic surgeon," said Bill. He purchased a foodscale and began to weigh all of his portions to precise amounts of grams and ounces. Next, Bill reviewed scientific studies on Baylor University’s research database, as well as Bodybuilding.com articles that contained adequate citations for the best approaches to food intake, supplementation, rep ranges, and exercises. "That, coupled with my motivation from PumpUp and visualizing what my final body would look like set me on a “by any means” mentality," he professed. 

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Bill has coined the phrase “BrainsANDGains” on Instagram and PumpUp, as he highly believes that those looking to lead a healthier lifestyle should focus on all, rather than one, aspect of their lives. He admits that balancing his studies with his workout regimen is still not easy, but it is do-able.“At first, it was so difficult to adjust, but now it is a lifestyle. I live and breathe it,” elaborated Bill. He stresses the importance of his ‘BrainsANDGains philosophy by urging, “Do not get stuck just worrying about your body because life is more than just looking good. Make sure you are trying to do your absolute best in every aspect of your life. Whether that means in the classroom or in the office, be the best Renaissance man and or woman you can be!”

Bill’s fitness journey is a 24/7 grind. Despite his busy schedule, he works out at the gym for 2 hours at a time, 5 days a week. However, nutrition made the biggest difference for Bill throughout his transformation over the past year. “I firmly believe that nutrition is what builds the body of a champion,” he emphasized. "Through experiences, research, personal trials and the power of science I can safely say that nutrition is 75% of “fitness” in general.”  

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More about Bill

His “body of work” has recently been published on Bodybuilding.com, and his lifestyle involving his studies in sports medicine at Baylor University and staying in optimal shape are his main focus. He works as a certified personal trainer and aerobics class instructor at the student life center at the University. Bill’s article on bodybuilding.com goes into deep detail about his personal fitness transformation, nutrition, and workout regimen but he does highlight the main aspect of his body’s amazing transformation was in visualizing how he wanted his body to look.

Bill’s future plans are to continue his studies and push his body to new heights and exposure. He will now be writing frequently for PumpUp as one of its permanent blog members, bringing his expertise in the science behind fitness and nutrition to the topic/theme of the month. 

“I want everyone to know that if you have ANY questions, you can direct them to my KiK: BaylorFitness and I will try my best to respond within the next couple of days (since my article debut on bodybuilding.com my inbox/text messages/ KiK has been full with inquiries, but I do not let this deter me from helping others as it is why I do what I do that being to inspire, help, and motivate. I look forward to blogging for the PumpUp community in the next upcoming months!”

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Be sure to keep up with his journey through both his PumpUp: @bsiddiq and his Instagram: @bsiddiq .You can read more in depth about Bill’s personal fitness journey, personal workout regimen, and diet through his bodybuilding.com feature.

Nutrition isn't simple (you probably won't like me after this post)

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Guest blog by Carrie McMahon, Personal Trainer

I’m going to be real here, you probably won’t like me after you read this post.

Why?

Because I’m about to tell you that what you have been doing for many years is pointless.

And sure, maybe you won’t believe me, but I wish someone had told me this when I was doing exactly what you are doing now.

Here’s the scoop:

Eating/nutrition is not simple. You look in the latest magazines for healthy eating tips, you mark ‘health’ as a topic of interest on stumbleupon to get the latest flat belly tricks, you follow fitness pages for a ’2 week detox diet to lose 10 pounds’… you get what I mean here.

While there are many videos, blogs, articles, tips and tricks online these days, they are forgetting to tell you just one thing: “Nutrition isn’t as simple as I am making it seem in this (video, tip, trick)”

It’s not as simple as switching from regular soda to diet soda.

It’s not as simple as using fat free milk in your coffee over 2%.

It’s not as simple as drinking fruit smoothies for 5 days straight.

It’s not as simple as not eating carbs past 6pm.

In fact, these little tips and tricks (which in fact are usually full of crap and backed by no/little science) are making nutrition much more complicated.

So, let me try and make it a little easier for you to understand…

3 Nutrition Facts that Actually Matter

1. Everybody requires different energy needs (calorie needs)

This can be based on age, height, expenditure amounts, efficiency of metabolism, weight, lifestyle etc…

2. Food is comprised of fat, carbohydrates and proteins. Fruit has sugar, cocoa puffs have sugar, at the end of the day, sugar is still sugar and the body will metabolize it as such.

3. You need a certain amount of protein, carbohydrates and fat per day (determined by the above factors)

That’s it. You need to just eat food. By eating food, you will get your daily protein, carbs and fat. Track these to fit your daily amounts and you are golden.

Sounds simple, right?

Well, it is, but the practice takes time. It takes trial, it takes error… it takes patience and persistence… and that is not so simple.

So, as easy as it is to fall for these simple tricks you read about, you actually make the situation so much more complicated by combining all these crap tips and tricks and hoping for a quick outcome. I’m sorry, but it just doesn’t work like that.

Nutrition isn’t just about some fad diet, or some quick fix. Long term health and results comes from guidance, patience and work. Stop making it seem so simple and get to work!

About Carrie

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Hi! I’m Carrie. I’m a student, online trainer and personal trainer, but enough of the boring stuff. I have an absolute passion for fitness, but it hasn’t always been that way. I struggled with body image and tried my fair share of fad diets and short term fitness trends. The fitness world is confusing, overwhelming and down right silly at times. I am here to help girls focus on the important stuff and learn how to get a lean and toned body without endless hours of cardio and low calorie diets. Don’t be shy and say “hi!” to me! I’m usually sweet, unless you steal a scoop of my protein powder ;)

Follow Carrie at http://thisfitchick.net and on Instagram @thisfitchick