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Scarlett Johansson Trains Hardcore For Her Superhero Body

Scarlett Johansson AvengersNatasha Romanov is a superhero in a skintight slinky black catsuit, and Scarlett has to be in tip top shape to play her.

Scarlett trains “like a guy”, her words! Yep, you read that right.  Scarlett does chin ups, push ups, explosive movements and lots of circuit training to get into Hollywood superhero shape. Her trainer, Bobby Strom, gets her started a few months before filming. She eats lots of lean proteins, vegetables, oatmeal and drinks lots of water and trains with weights. Here is what he told Self Magazine about her workout:

“I was having her do a lot of balance, coordination, and core work, but what she really loved was the strength training – things like pullups and kettlebells – and the idea of feeling and looking strong.”

Scarlett Johansson, on her diet and the “secret” to getting in shape:

Salad and chicken and, you know, nothing else, pretty much,” she said, laughing. “It’s that old tried and true ‘work out like a dude and eat like a rabbit’ [plan].”

Scarlett stays in shape year round, eats well, and kicks it up a notch with her diet and training right before a big movie. So this isn’t how she eats and trains year round, its a high intensity plan for being in her best shape for a targeted period of time. The rest of the year, she still works out and keeps in good shape, but she’s a little more moderate, which is an important take home point as well.

Scarlett Johansson Avengers Body Workout

In general, this is how Scarlett trains:

– she uses “big bang” movements that use lots of muscles and burn lots of calories, i.e: squats, lunges, push ups, and even olympic lifts.

– she uses high intensity circuits, no more than 90 minute sessions per day.

– she uses a variety of tools like dumb bells, barbells, kettlebells, TRX and bodyweight movements

– she trains like a dude and is not afraid of some hard work for big results!!!

Scarlett Johansson for Dolce & Gabanna, 2012.

Scarlett Johansson for Dolce & Gabanna, 2012.

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The 7 Habits of People Who Achieve Their Fitness Goals

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1. Set Goals, Make Them Achievable.
Rule number one of achieving your goals is actually sitting down to think about them and setting them! Fit people don’t work out – they train with a purpose. That purpose may be getting into a pair of jeans in a smaller size, it might be improving their deadlift, achieving a faster 5k time, or a goal physique. It can be any goal that gives their physical training structure and purpose.

They don’t just go through the motions or just do “whatever”. The other important part of this is that the goals they set are achievable and they give themselves a realistic timeframe to get there. They are consistent and patient!

You might even consider hiring a trainer or a coach to help you set your goals, workout what you should be doing to get there and how long it should take you. Most goals take at least 3 months of consistency to see major changes, often it takes longer. Also, making this a lifestyle and real excellence in any physical endeavour is something you never stop working on. Set goals, work hard, be patient!

2. Fit People Keep Going.
Everyone falls of the wagon at one time or another, either with their diet or with training. The big difference between fit people and people who just want to be fit is that the fit ones get back on plan and keep going.

Remind yourself that this is a marathon, not a sprint. To be really fit, you have to make it a lifestyle. It’s not a short term program you stick to for a month or two and rebound back to your old ways (and old body) when you’re “done”. You’re never “done”! 🙂

Fit people are also consistent, but realise there is no such thing as perfection. Forget eating perfectly all the time, eat well 90% of the time and you will look and feel great. There is no magic workout, no exercise that changes everything in a week. There is only consistent diet and exercise. Slip ups happen. They aren’t the end of your fitness journey, unless you let them be.

Sorry if that doesn’t sound sexy or not what you want to hear, but that is the truth. The sooner you embrace a long term approach, the sooner you will see your best and fittest self emerge.

3. Do Something Active Every Day
Fit people do something almost every day. They follow their program. They walk a lot. They ride bikes. They try different classes. They hit the gym. They get in there and do what they have to do each day to achieve the goals they set. It’s one day at a time. All the little things you do each and every day add up to a big cumulative result in the long term. Your body craves movement, move it!

4. Work Harder on Your Weak Links, Make Them Your Strengths
Lacking upper body strength? Pull, press and push until your upper body becomes your strength. Are you inflexible and unable to do certain movements effectively (or at all!) because of it? Stretch every day. Schedule a regular yoga class. Limber up, baby! You will improve. You will be better. And stick to improving things you’re bad at tenaciously enough? They inevitably become your strengths. I’ve seen it time and time again in both myself and in my clients. The human body is an incredible organism that will adapt to the stresses you impose upon it, and the results can be downright astounding.

5. Trust The Process, Commit, Don’t Program Hop.
One of the biggest mistakes and inhibitors of progress is self-doubt, not trusting the process and “program hopping”. A program hopper is someone who cannot or will not stick to something long enough to see any significant result. They typically stick to a diet regimen or workout program for 4 weeks or even less and that just isn’t long enough to see a big result. Most people need to be consistent for at least 3 months before real changes and improvements take place.

6. Make All Main Meals Protein Based, Fill Up On Veges.
Active people have higher protein requirements because their bodies need protein to build and repair, especially if you lift weights. Your body craves exercise and movement, but a rigorous training program also puts a lot of wear and tear on your joints, muscles and tendons. If you aren’t eating whole, unprocessed foods and protein based meals to help your body recover, replenish and rejuvenate itself, you’ll end up worn out and eventually injured. Make sure you’re fuelling your workouts well and fuelling for sufficient recovery.

It’s also been shown that for longevity and disease prevention, one of the key components (in addition to regular exercise and solid sleep) is eating at least 2 cups of vegetables per day. Another benefit of vegetables is the fact that no one in he history of human existence has ever gotten fat from eating too much broccoli, so if you’re having trouble feeling full enough, just fill up on fibrous vegetables like broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, spinach and zucchini. You can use garlic, onion and herbs to give them flavour. just don’t douse them in ranch dressing, mayo, butter or oil, that’ll definitely screw up your diet! Steam your veges and flavour them in ways that add no (or negligible) calories.

7. Measure Your Progress
Fit people measure their progress in useful ways. If they have a physique goal, they take progress pictures. If they want to run faster, they time their runs and push for improvements. If they want to get stronger, they keep a log of their lifts. You get the idea. It’s a very important part of making sure you’re on the right track towards achieving your fitness goals.

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Gym adventures in Split: the prequel!

I’m sitting in a really hot common room in a hostel in Split writing this!

I’m about to embark on my mission to find a gym and get some lifting in. I think it’ll make me feel good. I had a great nights sleep and I’m ready to go!

I just spent a week in Paris which was amazing! I walked for hours and hours and hours every single day. My diet strategy has just been to eat when I’m hungry and have whatever I like in a reasonable portion. Walking for so many hours each day burns an extraordinary amount of calories so it almost doesn’t matter what I eat as long as I don’t get too crazy with it!

So I had tarts and macarons and terrines and croissants and crepes… just not big portions and I probably only averaged 2 meals a day. We also had a steady supply of boiled eggs we carried around with us and those are really filling! I ate bananas, but not much other fruit because it was so outrageously expensive! Peaches and nectarines averaged about 5 – 7 euros a kilo, and I was just going to flip out if I spent that much on a bunch of tasteless nectarines, so I didn’t risk it.

As an example, I bought 3 peaches here in Croatia when I arrived yesterday and paid about 1 euro and they were absolutely spectacular and sweet!

It was also smart to deload while in Paris because I walked all over that city and I didn’t even see a HINT of a gym anywhere! However, Parisians seem very active. They all walk everywhere and ride bicycles, so they are hardly sloppy and sedentary.

Here are my tips for eating while on holiday:

1. Eat whatever you like, however have only ONE reasonable portion (i.e: not large and out-of-control portions).

2. If it isn’t an active holiday, meaning you aren’t walking for hours, swimming or hiking, and it’s longer than 5 days, then you definitely need to make time to work out and move your body. There is always something you can do. Almost all hotels and resorts have gyms, and you can use dumb bells to get a really solid freeweight workout in. You can go for a walk or a jog. You can do bodyweight exercises. Move your body. Your body loves to move! Being on holiday isn’t an excuse to neglect yourself.

3. Items like nuts and boiled eggs and fresh fruit can offer you tasty, filling and healthy snacks.

4. Of course you have to live life and have fun, but part of maintaining a balanced approach is also maintaining the healthy part of that balance. It doesn’t all just go out the window because you’re on holiday. So if you’ve been drinking and eating crap for the last 2 days, for the next day or two you should be ordering salads and lean protein and veges and drinking a much water as possible.

I’ll definitely be back to let you know how my gym adventures in Split went! I plan to lift today and then in about 2 days time. I left on my holiday with a 105kg deadlift and a 95kg squat, so as long as I can maintain within 90% of that, I’ll be happy (I return to Australia in mid September).

ETA: I guess lifting in Split is just not going to happen. Bummer.

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Asian-Style Omelette With Salmon

Asian-Style-Salmon-Omelette

I spied an “Asian Fritatta” recipe in this month’s Delicious Magazine and I didn’t have the required Mirin on hand, but I decided to make some substitutions and additions and I absolutely LOVED this meal! It was really exceptionally yummy, and very, very protein dense. This is a totally low-carb and gluten-free recipe. I hope you like it as much as I did – it’s definitely being added as one of my go-to staple healthy meals.

Strong Bodies Asian Style Omelette
1 organic whole eggs
1/2 cup of egg whites
1.5 tbspns sushi vinegar
1/2 tbspn low sodium soy sauce
1 small onion, finely chopped (mine was the size of a golf ball)
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
1 tbspn sesame oil
cracked black pepper to taste
2 stalks green onions
small handful of fresh coriander (that’s Cilantro fo the North Americans reading, hehe)
75g smoked salmon or trout

1. Use a large, non-stick pan and put it on a medium to high heat with the sesame oil in it. Let it get hot, put some black pepper into the oil, then the garlic and onion. Turn the heat down and let it fry off til its just translucent, but not browned.

2. In the meantime, place the eggs, egg whites, sushi vinegar, soy sauce and another dash of black pepper into a bowl and beat it til its nice and frothy. Pour the mixture into the pan and turn the heat all the way up for a minute or two. Put the lid on the pan.

3. While the omelettes cooking, slice the green onions long ways and cut them into approximately 1 inch stalks. Roughly chop the coriander. Check the omelette now. It’s probably nicely browned on the bottom and 70% cooked through. Turn the heat down, but let it keep cooking with the lid on. You might want to lift the edges a little and let the uncooked egg mixture seep down into the pan, but try not to break it up too much when you do that. It’s not the end of the world, but it just won’t be an omelette anymore if it gets too messy, it’ll be scrambled eggs, hehe.

4. You should have everything mostly chopped and ready to go. If you have some cucumbers, that might be a nice side dish, maybe some baby spinach leaves too? I didn’t do any of that, but it might be nice! Unpack your salmon, measure out your serving size – I had 75g of  salmon in the picture since that was what was left in an open packet I had in the fridge, no other reason. If you’re dieting strictly, you’ll want to measure so you can hit your target calories and macros. Now, with a spatula, gently lift one side of your omelette and fold it over. I like doing that so you can see the nicely browned bottom. Slide it onto your plate. Pile the salmon on top with the finely sliced stalks of green onions and roughly chopped coriander, and voila! A really yummy Asian inspired omelette. Buon appetito!

Servings: 1
Approximate Calories: 455
Protein: 41g
Carbs: 10g
Fat: 25g
Fiber: 1g

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The Skinny on Dietary Fat

I love Peanut Butter!

On a hot summers day in New York City, I opened my cupboard and reached for the peanut butter jar and my roommate exclaimed in exasperation, “I have never seen anyone eat so much peanut butter and lose so much weight! What the hell?! I don’t get it!”…

I chuckled to myself, because whilst summer is definitely the season to be watching your figure and dieting strictly:

1) fat does not make you fat.

2) peanut butter (the other love of my life, after the barbell, haha), with its high fat content, fiber and protein is very satiating and in actuality A GREAT DIET FOOD in moderation. I won’t be hungry after a tablespoon of peanut butter, or one of its cousins I am very fond of, like almond or cashew butter.

3) Making sure you still eat the things you love, within a calorie deficit, is the key to adherence to your diet. Have I mentioned how much I love peanut butter? I love it. I really, really do love it! Ha!

4) The primary factor in any weight loss or fat loss program is ADHERENCE TO YOUR DIET and remaining in a calorie deficit.

Of course, I’m not suggesting you shovel soup spoons full of peanut butter into your mouth  at every meal in order to lose weight. Nope.

What I am suggesting is that you make it a priority to include healthy fats in your diet – fats that come from whole foods and natural sources like nuts and nut butters, avocados, olive oil, wild caught salmon and other wild caught and sustainable fish, flaxseeds, eggs, grass-fed beef, coconuts, etc.

Avocados - Super Food

Fats help slow digestion, enabling slower release of sugars into the blood as well as aiding in nutrient absorption; and help with satiety (i.e: helping you feel full). In addition to this, fats are fundamental to the functioning of your body on the cellular level as every cell membrane in your body is made of fat. Healthy fats from natural sources, especially Omega-3s, help keep this membrane soft and malleable – necessary for cell division and regeneration.

Fats are also crucial to joint health and function, help in avoiding joint pain, fundamental to hormone production, as well as brain and heart function. They also keep your eyes, skin and hair moist, supple and healthy. Women often find that when they attempt to eliminate fat from their diet, their hair is limp and breaks easily and their skin loses its pallor and they are often subject to breakouts.

Salmon for  Strong Bodies

Here are a few more sources and reading materials that may help you understand that importance of dietary fat and how you can healthfully incorporate them into your daily nutrition plan:

* The Harvard School of Public Health – Fats & Cholesterol.

*The Harvard school of Public Health – Healthy Fat Q  & A with the Experts.

* Web MD – Good Fats, Bad Fats – The Truth About Omega-3.

* ABC News – Managing Arthritis With Diet & Exercise.

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Shrimp & Egg White Shirataki Noodles

Shirataki Noodles are a dieter’s dream! Most brands contain about 40 calories per packet, and most of those calories come from fiber. Our bodies don’t use fibre for energy, instead fibre helps regulate our digestive tract, among many other benefits. I really love making shirataki noodle stir fries as described below. The recipe below comes out to about 535 calories, 58g protein, 21g carbs (6 fibre) and 23g fat. I usually eat it in 2 serves. Feel free to experiment!

IMG_20130320_113558

Ingredients:
1 packet Shirataki Noodles
1 tbspn of sesame or coconut oil
2 tbspns fish sauce
1 tbspn low sodium soy sauce
1 knob of fresh ginger, finely chopped (about an inch long)
2 cloves of garlic crushed or diced
Birds eye chilli’s to taste (optional, I put in 2 or 3 diced because I like everything SPICY AS F*CK)
A handful of fresh Coriander (cilantro en America!)
1 egg or ¼ cup of egg whites (you can adjust the eggs or egg whites as you see fit – if you want the noodles to be more protein dense, use more egg whites)
200g shrimp (you can also sub in any other seafood or meat if you like)
½ a red capsicum and ½ a green capsicum (capsicum = bell pepper. You can use whatever vegetables you like, this is just what I happened to have in my fridge last night)
½ a medium – large sized onion sliced (whole onion if it’s a small one).
Pinch of cracked black pepper.
½ a lime.

  1. I have a tea kettle, so I like to boil some water and pour it over some drained and rinsed shirataki noodles and put a lid on the plate and leave them for a few minutes. An alternative is to rinse them, put them in a plate covered in water and microwave them for a minute or two. Shirataki noodles come packed in water and honestly, the water smells. It’s kind of gross. So you have to rinse them and then precook them a bit depending on your preference. I don’t like to overcook them because I don’t like soggy noodles that break apart easily.
  2. Use a large fry pan or wok and put it the oil in it on the highest heat. Put the black pepper in. Once the pan is really hot, put in the onion, ginger and capsicums and turn the heat all the way down and put the lid on. Let it simmer for a few minutes. Then put in the fish oil and soy sauce. Let it simmer together for at least a minute on that low heat.
  3. Put the shrimp in the pan, turn the heat up to medium – high. Crush the two cloves of garlic into the pan now. If you aren’t a huge garlic fan like me, you can use one clove or you can just dice the garlic instead of crushing it, which will make it more subtle and less pungent. I like pungent garlicky things. So I crush mine. Anyway, you want to cook the shrimp so that they just barely turn orange, but are still slightly translucent. Then we’re going to take them out and set them aside til the end so they don’t get overcooked and gross. Follow the same protocol if you’re using other seafood. If you’re using meat, you can put the meat in now and just leave it in.
  4. Now put in the noodles you’ve prepared from Step 1. They should be drained. Make sure they’re covered by all the sauce in the pan and let them simmer for about a minute before you put your eggs and/or egg whites in. Right before you put your eggs/egg whites in, turn the heat all the way up. Put the eggs/egg whites in and don’t mix for about 20 – 30 seconds. Then start slowly mixing it into the noodles. It has a much better consistency this way, you’ll have chunks of egg in your noodles. If you mix too much and too soon, it amalgamates with the sauces and you get no chunks! Which you may prefer, but I like my chunks! Hehe.
  5. Put the shrimp back in. Cook it just enough so that the shrimp are less translucent orange and more solid orange and white, but not too much. You shouldn’t need more than 2 – 3 minutes, tops. Add the chopped coriander. Add the chillis if you’re using those. squeeze in the fresh lime juice. Mix. Voila! Enjoy!!!
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So You Wanna Start Eating Right & Being Healthy… Now What?

Congratulations! The first step to eating right and being healthier is deciding to do so, and you’ve done that. Now you’re reading my blog because you’re wondering where to start.

Start with getting rid of all the junk and processed foods in your house. Grab a garbage bag and be ruthless. THROW IT ALL AWAY.

If it isn’t there, you can’t be tempted by it. It’s that simple.

The next step is going shopping for good, wholesome, nutritious foods. Things I would suggest you put on your shopping list are: fresh fruit and vegetables of all kinds, eggs, meat and poultry, fish, cheese, greek yoghurt, microwavable packets of brown rice, whole grains, oatmeal, nuts and legumes, nut butters (i.e: peanut butter, almond butter, cashew butter… yummy), extra virgin olive oil (other good fats to use in your cooking are coconut oil, peanut oil, sesame oil… amongst others, but that should be enough to get you started).

I am not an advocate of a strict “paleo” regime, but for many years I have basically advised my clients that if it didn’t grow on a tree, come from the ground or directly from an animal, it’s not a good idea to eat it! If a cave man didn’t have access to it, you should probably eschew it. That means don’t eat it!

Allow yourself one or two indulgences per week. Don’t go crazy with it. For example, have a bowl of ice cream, don’t eat the whole tub. Have a bowl of pasta, not three.

This should be enough to get you going!

Take it day by day, if you have a set back by losing motivation or eating wrong thing, just reset, think about why you want to be healthier, fitter and better and start again. No beating yourself up or dwelling indulgently on “mistakes” made.  No one is perfect! You can always start where you are with what you have. Do it!!!

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4 Simple Rules For Uncomplicated Dieting

Quite often, all of us make eating healthily and dieting far more complicated than it needs to be!

There are a million different diets out there and styles and formats to follow – low carb, keto, paleo, South Beach, dairy-free, gluten-free, grain-free and on and on… Its all so fussy and needlessly complicated! How is anyone supposed to know what the “right” way to eat is?

Well, my first bit of advice is to eschew anything extreme. Even if it produces short term results, if it isn’t something you can follow for the rest of your life, it’s a waste of time. Because guess what happens when you stop doing that extreme regimen and inevitably return to your normal way of eating? The weight comes back, and almost always with a vengeance.

Under “extreme” I would file any super low calorie diet, all diets that eliminate entire food groups and macronutrients (like zero carb diets, dairy-free diets if you aren’t lactose intolerant, fruit-free diets, fat-free diets). Any extreme exercise program that is paired with an unnecessarily low-calorie diet is a recipe for disaster. You are going to hit a wall.

Everyone is going crazy these days eliminating vast swathes of food groups. We’re all going gluten-free, lactose-free, grain-free… While the reasons for doing this can certainly be valid (hi, I’m gluten-free), I’d urge you to do your research, and don’t just cut out certain foods because everyone else is doing it or you read that your favourite celebrity doesn’t eat dairy or gluten or some such nonsense. Figure out if it’s the right thing for you. Unnecessary eliminations make eating complicated. The more complicated your mealtimes are, the less likely you are to stick to your plan and revert to the poor eating habits that got you into bad shape in the first place.

Any exercise or nutritional program you undertake needs to pass the “smell test”, and my smell test is this – is it a balanced approach and is it sustainable long-term? If the answer is no to either, then it’s not a good program.

Here are four simple principles that you can adopt into your diet to start getting results and lasting changes quickly:

1. Don’t Drink Your Calories
Alcohol and soft drinks are the biggest culprits and full of sugar. The next one is fruit juice – full of sugar.

Sugar = carbs. Unused carbs = unsightly fat on your body! Choose water as often as possible instead.

2. Have lots of vegetables at lunch and dinner.
I pile at least half my plate full of vegetables and have giant salads on a regular basis. What do I consider “lots”? Well, if you bunch your hand into a fist, a good serving of veges is about 2 -3 times that amount. Why so many vegetables? They’re full of fibre, antioxidants and micronutrients and they help you feel full. There are also dozens of studies that show a high vegetable intake can dramatically reduce your risk of cancer. Just make sure they aren’t fried or covered in a calorie dense sauce or dressing – steamed is always best. Freshly squeezed lemon and fresh herbs work well to enhance flavour too.

3. Only have carbohydrates during the daytime.
That eating carbs at night or eating anything at night is going to make you fat is a myth. It’s your overall calorie intake vs expenditure that will determine whether you get fatter or leaner. That said, you do want to regulate (not eliminate) your carbohydrate intake if you would like to get leaner. A simple rule like not having carbs at dinner or after 3pm can help you facilitate that.

4. Base each meal around a Protein portion.
This ones a bit of a “duh”, but it always bears repeating. Protein is not only for bodybuilders. A high protein diet is indispensible when shedding kilos because it will help dramatically with satiety (i.e: feeling full) and as you lose weight, it will help you retain your lean body mass. You know how everyone and their mother lists “being toned” as one of their overriding fitness goals? Well guess what? MUSCLE helps keep you looking “toned” and a high protein diet will help you not only maintain that, but feel less hungry while doing it.

Remember, there is no such thing as a “quick fix”. What builds the best looking, healthiest, most amazing bodies is a commitment to eating a balanced healthy diet and regular exercise. If you really want to change your lifestyle and your body, you have to think long term and expect to get some results in the first 1 – 3 months, with the real rewards for your efforts coming 3 – 6 months and beyond. Maybe more, depending on your starting point.

How many people do you know that adopted an extreme crazy diet, starved off the fat and exercised til they dropped and in a month or two got an incredible body that they maintain to this day?

*crickets*… my point exactly.