Friday, March 11, 2011

On The Couch: What To Watch This Weekend...

If you're in the mood for something light... Going The Distance. 

It's a rom-com, yes – but it's not too girlie, Drew Barrymore and Justin Long are very cool, and it's actually quite a funny flick. You could even watch it with your man... providing there's no football on.

If you want to feel chills... Paranormal Activity 2.

It's not gruesome scary so if you want blood and guts Saw-style, move right along. But if you just want to feel really creeped out before you hit the sack, well, that's weird, but this should do the trick.

If your other half refused to let you hire Going The Distance... The Town.

Ben Affleck has had some shockers in his time (remember Gigli with Jenny From The Block?) but thankfully this isn't one of them. It's got a bit of crime, a bit of a love story and you get to see Gossip Girl's Blake Lively play a drug-addled stripper. Pretty much an all-round crowd pleaser, really.

Another Fantastic App.

Oh Jamie, it's not too late for us...

I am loving Jamie Oliver's 20 Minute Meals app right now. It's got heaps of easy recipes with clear shopping lists, fully-illustrated steps (that even include cues that tell you when to set the table) and even videos for the cookingly challenged – like me. And when Jamie says you can cook it in twenty, he means it. Like, by 19:59 you will be shovelling food in your trap.

My favourite recipe from the bunch is the rigatoni arrabiatta (a delicious concoction of tomato, capsicum, basil, fetta and oregano) – great if you're having vegetarian friends around, too. It'll cost you a few dimes but it's invaluable having all the recipes on and when you're browsing the aisles at Coles.

When Big Bags Bite Back.

Rachel Bilson

You've heard it all before: heavy handbags are bad for your body. What with your wallet, phone, Kindle, planner, water bottle and umbrella, the average woman's bag weighs a whopping 3kg. So what about your gym bag? I don't know about you, but when it comes to my gym haul, you can add training shoes, clothes, a make-up bag, a hair straightener, deodorant and a towel to the load. Honestly, it's a workout just lugging it to the health club.

I used to carry all that weight on one shoulder. Until sharp pains started shooting down my neck and shoulder. The culprit? My bag. But it turns out that's not the only area that feels the strain of a heavy satchel...

Neck: When you carry a bag, your neck naturally leans away from the load to help carry and balance the weight. This causes tension on the carrying side of the neck and compression on the opposite side.
Shoulders and back: The shoulder bearing the load is rotated backwards and raised all the time... This affects the muscles running down the upper back, the shoulder blades and those supporting the spine — they tire and spasm.
Arms: The arm carrying the bag remains very static while walking to keep the load still and balanced... "This is quite different to the natural swinging movement we make when walking," says [physiotherapist Russell Stocker]. "Without the normal arm swing used as a balance mechanism, this can make you slightly unsteady and actually mean you need greater effort to move forwards."
 Hips and legs: The greater the load of the bag, the more pressure on the leg joints. Over a long period, force on the knees can cause wear and tear and joint problems.

So if you're toting your gym gear around every day, maybe try a backpack. They might not be the epitome of style but I saw an article in a recent issue of Shop Til You Drop that said backpacks are making a comeback. It's true, I promise. I admit, I'm not sure they were talking about my free Fitness First backpack, but hey, if they're back on the runway, I say embrace it.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

If It's Good For You, I'll Take Two.

Maybe just one... more.
Whoa! Steady on. Just because chocolate, nuts, wine and caffeine have some health benefits doesn't mean you should be going hell for leather, having chocolate-coated nuts with a glass of pinot for every meal. 

Don't scoff. It's easy to go overboard when you take the "healthy" option. Ever eaten a whole bag of Pretzels because they were baked? Or had eight handfuls of nuts because they're full of omega-3? Who hasn't. 
It's easy to do, but you kind of lose the whole "health benefits" thing when you're licking the salt off the Pretzel bag.

So remember, folks: Moderation is where it's at. Eat what you want. But a little bit. Just a little bit.

Words To Sweat By.

Words To Sweat By

I stumbled across these super-cute gym towels yesterday. And I just had to share. Sure beats the tattered rag I take to treadmill.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

It's A Stretch.

Tee, $69, and Tights, $89, both Abi and Joseph.

In my dream life I do yoga three times a week. I do headstands and back bends and people tell me I have a body like Christy Turlington.

Of course, in my real life I struggle finding the time to get to yoga even once a month. And I can barely touch my toes.

But sometimes it's nice to dream. And in my dream life I like to imagine I'm wearing this when I head to the yoga studio. Simple. Chic. Very zen.

On The Couch: Pretty Little Liars

Pretty Little Liars

I am completely obsessed with this show right now (well, that and Private Practice – seriously, that show is getting really good). If you like other crappy-but-oddly-addictive TV – like, say, Hellcats or Vampire Diaries – you'll love this. If you're not already familiar with it, the plot's probably going to sound a little crazy, but basically it's about four girls who used to be best friends before their queen bee Alison was murdered. And now, a year later, they're all getting messages from one mysterious "A" who is threatening to expose all their secrets. Juicy, right?

Okay, so it's not like smart television, but once you watch a few episodes, you'll be hooked. It's become crazy popular in the States and already been comissioned for a second season. So if you don't want to be the last one catching on (that's never fun) or you've just got nothing better to do with your Tuesday nights (shame on you), check it out tonight on GO! at 8:30pm... And it doesn't even fight in the same time slot as The Biggest Loser so you can watch both. Um, awesome.

The Book Everyone's Talking About Right Now.

$29.95 from Dymocks.

When I read this, I had no real intention of cutting sugar out of my diet. The truth is, I'd just read a lot of hype about this book and I hate feeling like I'm being left behind. So I read it.

David's basic idea is that it's the sugar in the food we eat that's making us fat. Not the actual fat. The badie in this story is fructose. It's something we're eating more of now than ever before and it's not something our bodies really know what to do with. They can recognise fat, turn it into energy and tell us when we've had enough. But fructose? It bypasses the controls. Our bodies don't recognise it coming in and it's turned straight into fatty acid without us even registering that we're full. So naturally, we eat more. It's a vicious cycle.

David lost 40kg by giving up sugar entirely, and he encourages others to do the same. Go cold turkey. Sure, there'll be side affects – there are with any addiction – but in the long run, he reckons you won't miss it.

I'm not sure I'm ready to give up everything sweet – I'm not sure I'm sold on the idea that you have to. (I've always been more of an everything-in-moderation kind of girl.) But David's book has encouraged me to look at just how much sugar is in some of the "healthy" things I eat. And it's shocking. Can you believe there is the same amount of sugar in one of those small packets of sultanas that is in a kilo of grapes? And over seven teaspoons of sugar in a glass of freshly squeezed apple juice? Me neither.

If you are keen to find out more, check out David's website or Sarah Wilson did a good interview with the man himself, where he gives a lot of really practical tips about how you can say au revoir to sugar.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Ever Had Dinner With Someone On A Diet?

Come dine with me Nigella!

It's not fun. I recently stumbled across this quote from dietician Trudy Williams on one of my favourite blogs:
"Fanatically healthy eating habits are also incompatible with a healthy social life. You’ve got to weigh that up, not just the nutritional impact."
Well said, Trudy. Because nothing (and I really do mean nothing) ruins a delicious bowl of spaghetti carbonara quite like the judgmental eyes of someone on a health kick. I can hear it now, all innocent and unassuming, "Oh, I wish I could eat a huge serve of carbs like that, but I just could never stomach all that creamy sauce..." And just like that, it's over. Ruined.

I reckon Tiffiny from The Biggest Loser would a bit like that. Sure she might have abs of steel, but if you couldn't take her to the pub and eat a chicken parmigana in front of her... well, where's the fun in that?

Time For Some New Treads.

Lace 'em up!
Running shoes don't come with a clear expiry date on the box. And depending on how much (or how little) you use them, it can be hard to know just when you're due for a new pair. But according to this article... 
"As a general rule, the life of a running shoe is 300 to 500 miles, [podiatrist Paul Langer] said, though it varies with your body weight, gait and surface on which you run. Following that rule, someone who runs six kilometers, four times a week should consider replacing shoes after about six months, while a more casual athlete could wait a year. 
One way to check if running shoes need to be replaced is to look at the midsole, which is the foam part of the shoe between the outer sole (the bottom of the shoe, where the treads are) and the upper (the top of the shoe, where the laces are). When it starts to wrinkle deeply, the shoe is losing its cushioning and getting worn out. The  midsole warps with heat, sun exposure and moisture, so if you run somewhere damp, it breaks down faster."
As for me, I'm definitely itching for an upgrade. So, who's giving me a ride to Athlete's Foot?

Monday, March 7, 2011

Fancy a little GTL?


There's much to admire about the boys from Jersey Shore... Their fine fist-pumping skills, their ability to diffuse a grenade, and have you seen what Pauly D can do with eight bottles of hair gel? Wow.

And you've gotta give MVP credit for their commitment to the gym – it's something we can all take a cue from. But after you've pumped some iron and paid the dry cleaners a visit, please skip the solarium.

Bust A New Move.

Body & Soul

It could be my mild case of OCD, but I love routine. To the point where I eat the same thing for morning tea at the exact same time every day. (What, like other people don't do that too?) But the problem with routine in the gym is that it's easy to get in a rut and that's where I've found myself lately. Every day I run, lift weights, stretch and get ready for work. I think it's safe to say that when I wake up at 5:20am, there are no real surprises in store for my body. It's very familiar with the drill.

But anyone will tell you, it's good to mix up. Work different muscles. Push yourself. So that's what I'm trying to do. I'm shaking up my training – running outside, doing sprint intervals on the treadmill, mixing it up with yoga and pilates and adding some new moves to my weight training.

This week, I tried these nifty back exercises I found in Body & Soul. My favourite? The core climbers. Simply assume a push-up position with your hands on a bench, feet shoulder-width apart, chest over your hands and gaze in front of your hands. Brace your abs, raise one foot and bring the knee in towards your chest without moving your hips and torso. Move it back without touching your foot down. Do all reps on one leg before switching.

Oh, and prepare to hurt like hell the next day.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Gwyneth: Love Her On Glee. Love Her In The Kitchen.

I got a sneaky peek at Gwyneth Paltrow's new cookbook this week and it looks delightful. I've always been suspicious of Gwyneth as a foodie – remember that whole macrobiotic diet thing? – but her recipes on Goop are actually quite good (even if you do have to google some of the ingredients like "arugula" to find out the less schmancy term is "rocket"). So I thought I'd share one of my favourites here...

Chicken Salad
"I like this a lot better than the standard deli chicken salad (which does have an appeal of its own). I added peppery arugula, apple and walnuts to the chicken-mayo-celery combo and finished it off with a squeeze of lime for some zing. I love this as an open-faced sandwich on grilled sourdough."
  • 2 1/2 cups shredded cooked chicken (poached or roasted is good, incidentally this is great recipe for leftovers)
  • 1 large stalk celery, cut into 1/4” dice
  • 1/2 green apple, peeled and cut into 1/4” dice
  • 1/3 cup toasted walnuts, roughly chopped
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
  • 2 scallions, thinly sliced
  • 2 handfuls arugula, roughly chopped
  • 1/2 cup Veganaise, or your favorite mayonnaise
  • 2 teaspoons fresh lime juice
  • coarse salt to taste (about 1/2 teaspoon)
  • freshly ground black pepper to taste (about 1/2 teaspoon)
Stir everything together.

I'm not sure if this recipe will be in the book when it comes out on April 13, but I can't wait to find out...