Monday, 24 September 2012

Runner's nutrition basics

Out of all seasons I think I like early fall the most. Mild sunshine and crisp air is perfect for lacing up those sneakers and heading out for a jog/run. And of course it is important to “fuel” yourself for this activity. Even after reading numerous articles on runner’s nutrition I am still puzzled and confused about what to eat before and after in order to have a productive workout and a proper recovery.  What really are those snacks that contain the right ratio of carbs/protein/fat? I decided to compile a list of foods that are recommended for runners by dietitians, sports nutritionists and athletes themselves.

  • A snack that’s high in complex carbohydrates like bread, rice, pasta, quinoa, beans, peas or potatoes. Those are complex carbs and are better before a run because they break down more slowly and provide a more constant source of energy.
  • Another good pick is a trail mix that includes omega-3 rich walnuts, thiamin rich sunflower seeds, iron rich raisins and almonds.
  • Energy bar is a decent choice if nothing else is at hand. Just read the label and make sure there are no processed ingredients and artificial sweeteners. There are plenty of choices on the market! You can even make you own bars using good quality nuts and seeds.
  •  My personal favorite is banana+peanut butter combo. Bananas are high in fiber (keeps you full) and potassium (may prevent muscle cramps and aid digestive system). Keep peanut butter portion fairly small though (1-2 tablespoons) since it is high in calories.

Post workout:

A snack should contain more protein than carbohydrates.
  • Greek Yogurt +berries (can be blended in a smoothie or eaten as a yummy desert). Greek yogurt with its rich consistency beats regular low fat yogurts any time of the day! Greek yogurt can also be substituted by cottage cheese. 
  • Surprisingly decadent pick- Chocolate milk! It has the optimal carb-to-protein ratio and some nutritionists say it’s a better way to replenish energy than sports drinks.
  • As a savory snack try Hummus+Vegetables (celery, cucumber, carrots, red peppers). Hummus comes in variety of flavors and has high protein content and veggies make a perfect “dipping sticks” and pack lots of fiber.
  •   Apple slices+almond butter make a sweet-savoury crunchy snack. Richness of nut butter is offset by crispy and light fruit.

Well, we got the nutrition part down, now it's time to clock in those km's!:)
Barefoot running on Bondi Beach in Sydney.


Sunday, 9 September 2012

How I did it: Down Under (Australia) edition.

Going to Australia for a working holiday was by far the best thing I have ever done in my life. It was also the hardest decision to make. Leaving a cushiony job, a comfort of family home and just going somewhere so far seemed a bit crazy at a time.  I will be honest I had my doubts before committing to the trip. My problem is I like to sit in a comfort zone. I am one of those people who don’t mind some mild changes but prefer to have a stable, predictable lifestyle. It’s neither good nor bad but it gets boring. So I decided to act- do something drastic. I quit my banking job, announced my decision to my very surprised parents and started packing bags (lots of them!).   Time flew by and before I knew it we were a few days away from saying good-bye’s to our families and friends for at least 6 months. Quite naturally my internal worries peaked at that exact moment.  Yes, I was 26 and yes I was going with my boyfriend of 2 years, there would not be much of a culture shock and I have purchased a return ticket, yet “Did I make the right decision?” question was loudly buzzing in my head…..

Fast forward almost a year and I look back with a smile. I am in Canada and miss Sydney immensely (who wouldn’t?  the beach, the ocean, fit people, yummy food, great weather… the list goes on but it will be a separate blog entry!)Only now I am starting to realize that at the time I fiercely  grabbed  an opportunity by the tail and didn’t let my hesitancy  to stop me from doing something I would regret not doing for the rest of my life.  It was a wonderful journey of self-discovery. I learned how to grocery shop on a budget, cook, live in a tiny room, make sophisticated coffee beverages (while working at the coffee shop) but most importantly I learned that it doesn’t matter where you are: it is who you are with what matters.  And I got lucky.  I couldn’t have wished for a better “partner in crime”, a person to share my new experiences, sadness and happiness with. I actually believe that long distance travel is a great “bootcamp” for partners (before marriage)- learning how  to survive in new surroundings and make things work together is not an easy task to accomplish( especially if you never lived together before) but doable if both are willing to compromise, listen and adapt.

The moral of my story is simple and is well summed up in this good quote I like: “Life begins at the end of your comfort zone”.  We shall take chances more often and say “Yes!” to things that might seem unrealistic and wrong- it will all be good and worthwhile at the end! 
Sydney, Australia

Monday, 3 September 2012

The importance of a.m routine or how to optimize your time in the morning

Mornings can be as blissful or stressful as we make them. I have personally tested the theory/quote 'Rise and shine. The early bird gets the worm'. Well, perhaps not all of us are fans of rolling out of bed with the sunrise ( especially in the winter!) but properly organizing your time upon waking up can have a positive impact on the whole day ahead. If you, like myself, have a luxury of having "me" time ( read: no babies, young kids) in the morning try following these simple steps and hopefully the notion of "bad morning" will be a thing of the past:)

-Upon waking up smile and tell yourself something positive: "it's a beautiful, sunny day out" or "i am going to rock this day/presentation/interview..", " i am so lucky and grateful for having a person who loves me beside me in bed"... Don't underestimate a power of self-talk!It does work:)

-Do yourself a favor and put aside that laptop/ipad/remote control and read a book instead! Yes, a good old paper book. On a topic that is related to your career. You will actually get some knowledge since most of the time we are bombarded with useless and unrelated to our lives "information". Allocate a certain time slot of uninterrupted reading and stick to it. Self-education is a choice of a few but I think it is well worth it.

-Now, that you have nourished your brain it's time to get physical! Choose whatever you prefer: strike a few yoga poses, go for a swim or power walk/jog- any activity that will start you blood flowing! Trust me if you have time to work out in the morning- do it! Quite often you will come up with tons of excuses not to do so later on in a day! 

-Time for a GOOD brekky! Personally, breakfast is my favorite meal of the day and for a good reason: it is in the morning when our bodies need the most food. So go ahead and have a big bowl of oatmeal sprinkled with cinnamon and crumbled walnuts, egg frittata with vegetables of choice or peanut butter toast with a banana! Try to avoid items high in sugar/saturated fat ( make those yummy croissants or danishes an occasional indulgence rather than a norm). I am hooked on Earl Grey tea in the morning but it can be green tea, freshly squeezed juice or a glass of milk. 

-Last but not least....Before you leave for work/school don't forget to give a big hug to your loved ones and tell them a few nice words! Who doesn't like affection?;)

Happy Morning!!

A short intro...

I am thrilled to "dip my toes" in the world of blogging! The main purpose of my new blog is to spread my knowledge and share ideas on topics I am passionate about such as travelling, fitness, food and design. All articles and sketches reflect my personal opinion unless otherwise stated.

Travelling. I have recently caught a "travel bug" and even though I can't quite call myself a Globetrotter yet, I visited a few nice countries and will post photos and suggestions of my favorite spots. My quest for new discoveries is never ending hence you will also see my dream destination and travel plans!

Fitness. Now, I am not a professional fitness trainer... But I have been working out for over 10 years now and know a fair bit about exercising, nutrition and motivation. I am also an avid runner so stay tuned for fitness-related articles!

Food. I love food. My attempts to "diet" fell through profoundly so instead I eat what I want in moderation. I also like experimenting with different recipes and new ingredients. Eating out is also a part of my life but I try to keep it for special occasions- that way it feels more special and is easier on the wallet!;)

Design. Ever since I was a little girl I was into arts&crafts. I made my own doll house with furniture and sew clothes for my Barbies. As the time went by I started taking interest in interior design/product design and decorating which is probably why I hold Bachelor Degree in Industrial Design. Expect to see some articles about innovation in design and architecture around the world and more.

Career. Since I am in transition of changing careers ( from ID to Ergonomics) I am becoming more and more involved into human factors topics. In hopes of making my readers aware of many facets of ergonomics I will publish informative articles and pictures.