Let’s Talk About Hemp, Baby.

Boy was I disappointed to learn that there is no THC in hemp seeds, but I was thrilled to learn that they contain all 9 essential fatty acids. High in easily digestible protein (11 g in 1 oz of seeds), omega 6 and omega 3 fatty acids,gluten-free, and low-carb, hemp seeds are a very near perfectly balanced food.

The light flavour of hemp seeds is conducive to mixing it into a shake, oatmeal, yogurt, or sprinkling it into a stir-fry or salad. 

Sure, it’s a cousin of the same plant-family that pot comes from, which is why the US banned hemp crops in 1970, but don’t let that fool you into smoking that hemp bracelet you bought from that hippie commune. You don’t want none of that, Dewey Cox. Seriously, it’s a waste of a bracelet.

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Rise and Shine

I am not really a morning person, but I got out of bed at 6:45 this morning and I feel pretty smug about it. 

I did a conditioning circuit today, each of the following exercises for 2 minutes, with 30 seconds of rest between each exercise, 3 times around:

10 minute warm-up on arc trainer, 15 incline, 20 resistance

1. Body weight squats (feet shoulder-width apart)
2. Resistance band biceps curls (basically to failure in that 2 minute period)
3. Walking lunges with twist (medicine ball, 10lbs)
4. Back extensions
5. Decline sit ups
6. Deadlifts (straight leg, 45lb plate)
7. Push ups

Today’s Special (er…Workout and Food Journal)

Sorry, if you were expecting Jeff the Mannequin or Muffy the Mouse, you’ll be very disappointed by this post.

THE WORKOUT

A1 Sprints (4 sets x 3 minutes x 30 seconds of rest)
A2 Barbell Squats (4 sets x 10 – 12 reps x 30 seconds of rest, 80lbs)
A3 Seated Rows (4 sets x 6 reps x 6 reps x 6 reps x 30 seconds of rest, 115lbs/105lbs/95lbs)
A4 Plank (4 sets x 1 minute x 30 seconds of rest)

B1 Straight Arm Chin Up (2 sets x 12 – 15 reps x 30 seconds of rest)
B2 Leg lifts (2 sets x 12 – 15 reps x 30 seconds of rest)

THE FOOD

Meal 1: Omelette (1 egg, 1/2 cup of egg whites, 1 oz cheese, 2 slices bacon)
Meal 2: Protein shake and a wheatgrass shot (from Booster Juice, I was on-the-go)
Meal 3: 10 almonds and 1/2 grapfruit
Meal 4: 1 serving 1% mf cottage cheese
Meal 5: 3 oz boneless, skinless chicken breast with garden salad ( 2 cups Iceberg lettuce, 1 oz diced tomatoes, 3 slices cucumber), 1 tbsp light Italian dressing

THE DRINKS
3 litres of water
1 cup coffee, 2 tbsp heavy cream

Deadlifts: Do Them.

Strongmen event: the Deadlift (phase 2).

Strongmen event: the Deadlift (phase 2). (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

My favourite exercise is the deadlift. This post is about why you should make this one of your favourite exercises, too.

The deadlift, for all intents and purposes, is a simple exercise: standing with your feet about shoulder width apart, with flat feet, under the barbell, bend your knees and bend at the waist with a straight back; hold the barbel with hands at shoulder-width, mixed or overhand grip; hang onto the barbell as you return to a straight-leg, standing position. Repeat this motion by keeping your knees straight and bending at the hips, lowering the barbel toward the tops of your feet (which always stay about shoulder-width apart and flat on the floor, pushing through the heels).Lift the bar by extending your waist and hip until you are in an upright position, keeping shoulders slightly back (as opposed to rounded forward).

To ensure proper form, keep the bar close to your legs for the entire lift. I don’t worry about lowering the weight all the way to the ground, I ensure I’m pushing through my heels, my shoulders are back, my chest is proud, and I lower until I feel a good stretch in my hamstrings, then I return to standing. Always begin with a warm-up set and adjust your weights accordingly.

The force that this exercise uses is a pull (for those of you that may design your programs based on pushing/pulling motions). The primary muscle groups used to execute a deadlift are the hamstrings; the synergists of this motion are the erector spinae, gluteus maximus, and the adductor magnus; the stabilizing muscle groups include the trapezius (middle), rhomboids, latissimus dorsi, and trapezius (upper), levator scapulae, and the trapezius (lower). Basically, the deadlift hits your posterior chain in a major way, giving you a lifted, round booty, a strong back, and lean upper legs.

There are other types of deadlift, but the straight (or stiff-legged) deadlift is the focus today. I’ve included some links throughout this post that go into greater detail and provide demonstrations.

Thursday Inspiration: Ashley Horner

Yes, originally I was biased toward posting about Ashley Horner because obviously her name is awesome (my last name is Horner, I haven’t met very many Horners), but she does the name proud! She is amazingly fit, inspirational, and a totally dedicated hardbody. I follow her Instagram feed, but you can check out her website here.

Not only does Ashley contribute to MMA Uncaged and Fit & FIrm, but she is busy building a brand that is as stellar as her body; she has training programs, nutrition programs, life coaching services, and cookbooks. What is even more impressive is that Ashley is a single mother of two boys. 

Every moment has a purpose. We are given 1,440 minutes in a day, these minutes can not be put in a savings account and they don’t roll over to the next day, once that moment has passed we cant take it back.

                           –Ashley Horner

Image

I found this image online doing a Google search, it’s not mine, I didn’t take it and I will gladly give credit to the person who took it. I have not altered it in any way–she just looks that good! 🙂

Cortisol Levels Rising

Cortisol is naturally released in the body in response to stress. There isn’t a specific kind of stress that cortisol is related to, it can be anything from a traumatic accident to walking up a flight of stairs. High levels of Cortisol make it easy for the body to store fats, retain water, and lower immunity–you know that spare tire around your mid-section [I will begrudgingly call it the “pooch” as so many other do, but for whatever reason I HATE that word]? That could be because of high levels of Cortisol.

Some signs that you might have high Cortisol levels: w

  • eight gain, moodiness, muscular or skeletal weakness, high blood pressure, blood-sugar issues, and problems sleeping. 

    I’m being extra careful to combat my stress right now. My partner and his ex are going through a custody dispute (no end in sight) and tensions are running high. This could explain why I’ve had a sinus infection for the past two weeks, just after recovering from a nasty bout of cold/flu, and why I’ve needed some help sleeping in the past month.

 

Prevention.com has a good article on cutting your Cortisol levels, you can read it here.

I have some of my own ways to deal with stress and the accompanying overdose of Cortisol:

1. Workout: I feel better when I workout, it’s a great way to get my mind off whatever it is that is bothering me.

2. Yoga: A different kind of strenuous from lifting and sprinting, Yoga has the ability to make me feel relaxed and refreshed. I love Yin Yoga for this reason and I find the temperature in a Hot Yoga studio to be very therapeutic.

3. Watch a “Safety” Show. Okay, so this isn’t the best solution, but I find that it does help me shake a mood. I define a safety show as a non-controversial show where the characters nearly always come out on top and the plot is mostly predictable. They do not challenge your views of the world in any way. Examples of good safety shows are: Gilmore Girls, Friends, Golden Girls, Alf, Saved by the Bell, Will & Grace, Full House, I Love Lucy, Leave It to Beaver, The Waltons, Little House on the Prairie, Drop Dead Diva. 

4. Go For a Tan. Okay, I know, you’re thinking it’s not the best choice to purposefully expose yourself to UV rays. I’m not telling you to turn yourself into a jerky; I’m suggesting going outside into the sun and lying out in the grass or on some sand, with no plans beyond doing just that. 

5. Magnesium. I have an extra dose of magnesium with my supplement mix, it is supposed to help the body combat high Cortisol levels.

6. Fish Oils. I take liquid fish oils in the middle of the day (yes, they are extremely yucky), they too are supposed to help with symptoms of stress.

7. Boss naps. The Prevention.com article did mention sleep and napping as an effective way of lowering Cortisol, but I’ll reiterate. There is nothing like having a little cat nap in the middle of your day to make you feel refreshed. I’m not talking about a 3-hour tour kind of nap, just a 45 minute eyelid rest. Thomas Edison had a cot in his laboratory for these kind of occasions, maybe you should, too.

 

Start Your Day With [Fasted] Cardio

My trainer recommended I do 30 – 45 minutes of fasted cardio every morning to help burn fat. The idea behind doing a moderate cardio exercise before you’ve eaten anything is that you won’t be using the new food energy you’ve consumed, you will be using stored energy (i.e., fat). I’m going to give it a whirl–I did a 35 minute walk downtown; the sun is shining and I was up early anyhow. I really wish I was someone who could spring out of bed at 5:30 am, but for me 7:30 was early enough.

The Problem With Training Together

I really like going to the gym with my partner. It motivates me to have him with me; I like being able to make faces at him in the mirrors or have him give my bum a pinch when he walks by. I also like that if I forget a water bottle, I can use his, or if I’m feeling ready to leave and he’s not, I have to stay…

But there’s the problem. At the moment, I feel like that isn’t reciprocated. If he’s ready to leave and I’m not, I tend to give up my last set or last few reps to cater to his needs. This isn’t his fault, it’s mine for not being firm and using it as an excuse to get out of the hardest part of the workout.

I can and do workout alone, perhaps I need to make a point of it during contest prep, so I don’t feel any outside pressures that may diminish my workouts. 

Does anyone else out there have any strategies for working out as a twosome? Or maybe you’ve put the kibosh on bringing that special someone along to the gym?