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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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Go Hard or Go Home! Kettlebell Workout.

I love doing “met cons” for fat loss. In conjunction with a solid diet, doing rounds of relatively light, fast and sometimes ballistic resistance and bodyweight movements really gets the ball rolling in the right direction.

“Met Con” is just short for Metabolic Conditioning.

Metabolic conditioning can truthfully be almost anything, however it does take a bit of knowledge and know-how to design an effective one. You can use dumb bells, barbells, kettle bells, medicine balls, your trx, you can use bodyweight only, you can do sprints or other traditional cardio in between. Rests are other variables you can also play with.

Most people are talking about high intensity, interval, anaerobic work when they talk about doing “met cons”, but technically speaking, metabolic conditioning work is really about optimising performance within specific energy pathways. So while most people talk about doing  some type of a “metcon”, a “metabolic finisher” or just plain old HIIT with weights, they’re talking about doing a form of HIIT and they’ll tell you that DUH?!! I’m doing it for fat loss, dummy… why else? Another reason you may be doing some type of metabolic conditioning is to improve performance in a particular energy pathway of the body, whether its your short bursts of all out effort (the phosphagen pathway), intermediate (the glycolyctic pathway) or aerobic/oxidative pathways.

Metabolic conditioning work has a wide scope and versatility depending on how smart your program design is based on your objectives 🙂

Me? I do them primarily for fat loss and because sometimes they make me feel bad ass, haha. (In my opinion, if your workout doesn’t make you feel like you are awesome and can leap tall buildings in a single bound, then it’s no fun and probably not worth doing. This is why you’ll never catch me doing zumba, lol.) This type of training gives you a lot of bang for your buck, you’re finished in under 30 minutes and you get results fast. Adding metcons and HIIT to your program will get the fat off FAST AND GOOD… provided you are eating for fat loss. Remember, there is no fat loss workout without a fat loss DIET. You cannot outtrain a bad diet, EVER! Even with metcons. Metcons are not magic.

I try to program mine so I’m not doing any movements that interfere with my big lifts on subsequent days. So, for example, if the day after my metcon day I’m going to be doing deadlifts, then I’m not going to do glute-ham raises or heavy kettlebell swings the day before. I’ll keep everything a bit lighter and faster. It also may be prudent when writing a metcon circuit to alternate body parts, so if you’ve just done some lower body work, the next exercise you might want to choose would be for the upperbody, like push ups, for example.

Here is a kettlebell workout of mine from last week. I used a 16kg kettlebell and it kicked my butt. I did 3 rounds. This week, I did 4 rounds and also 5 cleans instead of 3 and 12 swings instead of 10.

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You always have to do just a little bit more so you can say that you are better than you were before. Always. That’s one of the workout rules I live by, whether I’m doing traditional lifting, metcons or going for a run outside. Be fundamentally, inarguably better than you were last week. And if I can’t manage even 1 more rep, then I’ll rest… and do a whole extra set.

I hope you try out my kettlebell workout, let me know how you go in the comments!

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How To Look Hot In Your Halloween Costume (on short notice!)

Halloween is upon us and believe it or not, you still have time to trim down a little to look your best in your costume. You could absolutely lose a few pounds (or kilos) in the next 3 weeks and look that little bit better – in let’s be honest – what is usually a skimpy costume for us women!

Whether you eat and exercise meticulously, or if you’ve been slacking on your diet and nutrition, the solution to looking better is both simple and similar.

1. Add in a small amount of cardio.
This is the perfect time to add in some steady state cardio if you haven’t been doing any. Steady state cardio just means cardio that is done at the same pace or tempo for the entire duration. Your body tends to adapt to this quickly and you have to do more and more to see the same result, but our goal date to look hot is about 3 weeks away, so add 15 – 20 minutes of cardio to whatever you’re already doing. You don’t have time to adapt to this adjustment.

2. Adjust your diet.
Maybe you eat a “perfect” diet day in day out. Maybe you have been more relaxed as of late. But making a small adjustment over the next 20 days will give your results a major boost.

If your carbs are already quite low, then you may want to just lower your calories by 200 per day.

Conversely, if your carb intake is over about 175g per day, then lowering them by 50g in the lead up to Halloween will make a big difference.


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Sticking to this regimen strictly with only one off-plan (i.e: cheat) meal through the week is important. These adjustments only create small deficits which are very easily blown to smithereens by mindless snacking. On the other hand, because they are such minor adjustments, you’re much more likely to stick to them because they aren’t such a huge sacrifice from however you’re accustomed to eating.

3. Drink lots of water!
3 – 4 litres per day is ideal. Water helps flush out toxins and also helps our bodies release their water reserves AND makes our skin look fabulous. Win + win all round.

I have gone as a horror nurse to a recent hospital themed party (pictured at left… I ended up wearing a longer red dress underneath that because I decided it was way too short to leave the house in, the back view was practically naked *blush*) and a belly dancer in years passed. Do you have a costume picked out for this years Halloween already?

Mine is a skeleton costume pictured in the banner below, it’s en route as we speak! Short again, what was I thinking?!! I will probably wear black leggings or at least completely opaque stockings, doh! It’s actually quite challenging to find anything really spunky and fun that isn’t super short. Thems the breaks!

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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!

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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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There’s Nothing To It But To Do It!

I haven’t been great at keeping this updated, have I?

i know it’s because I am overthinking this blog. I want every piece written to be perfectly polished, professional and absolutely amazing that I am hamstringing and completely stalling my efforts here, and then I feel bad that i haven’t updated, that my article isn’t that original or that great or that I don’t have professional pictures to add, or video. Or whatever.

I have to get over myself and realise that I am not re-inventing the wheel here! 🙂

But it’s a good lesson, because we can often get ourselves “hamstrung” and stalled in fitness and in other areas of life. We overthink our diets. We overthink our training protocols. we think we need specialized equipment, trainers, expertise…. We don’t! We just gotta DO IT. 

There’s nothing to it but to DO IT. 

For example, I have had the best experience dieting and training when I took a fairly relaxed approach and decided i would just make every meal reasonably low-carb, protein based and healthy. I wasn’t going to stick to strict calories and macros, because for me that always leads to anxiety, pressure and then a binge cycle. This approach enabled me to be very consistent, but it was OK not to be perfect. I had great results and I found it very easy to stick to my non-plan plan!

ImageDuring my very consistent, but not “perfect” phase… (fyi, there is no such thing as perfect!)

So this is what I intend to do with this blog. I’m not going to have perfectly thought out, polished posts all the time, but I am going to update consistently and just be a little more conversational, less uptight about the whole thing and hopefully in the process, create both the outlet and the resource for others that I was hoping for all a long.

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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.

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New Years Resolutions Part II, Staying Motivated!

Yesterday, we talked about how important it is to “pick up the ball and keep playing”, even after we lose focus and get sidetracked in some way from our primary goals. Then I gave you guys a few simple strategies to remind yourself of what you really want and who you really want to be.

If you’re reading my blog, you probably want to be “fitter” – this usually means being physically capable, faster, stronger, more endurance, better general health and whether you want to admit it or not, you probably want to look better naked!

So let’s focus on that.

You have to adopt the mindset of a physically fit person.

The strategies out lined in my previous post all serve to help you develop that – visual and verbal cues that keep the person you want to become fresh in your mind.

The mind is your most powerful muscle.

What usually happens when we set out on a diet or fitness regime is that we are all fired up and motivated for the first week or two and then we fizzle out and revert back to our old, self-defeating habits.

It’s beyond the scope of this post to go into “why” in great detail, but very basically, you’re going to default back very quickly to whatever it is that you believe and think about yourself.

Please re-read that paragraph. Let it sink in.

So what we’re doing with our visual and verbal cues, our affirmations and vision boards is changing what you think about yourself.

It isn’t new age, airy fairy fluff – it is science. It is how our minds work.

I am a very positive and happy person, but sometimes I still struggle with being kind to myself and believing nice things about myself; it’s a work in progress for all of us. But it truly is the first step you can take to changing your mindset and changing your behaviour and it’s as crucial to your success as getting in your training and eating correctly.

To help you get started, here are a few gems I have used in the past to set my goals for the day and keep me focused on eating right, training hard and staying positive:

I am fit, healthy, happy and strong.

Each day, I eat the correct foods to fuel my body, I drink all my water and I train hard to build my best body ever!

I love eating healthy food. Eating good food makes me feel great.

You have to start thinking like a fit and healthy person. Fake it til you make it! Act as if! When you think like a fit and healthy person, you will start acting like a fit and healthy person… and it will be your default response. Meaning, you aren’t going to have to consciously think and force yourself to make the right choices at lunch… and then pat yourself on the back for being good on your diet. That’s what an unhealthy person who is on a temprorary diet does. A truly fit and healthy person chooses the right foods to eat because that is just how they eat, and furthermore, they enjoy it.

It’s a process and a huge part of that process is changing your thinking and changing what you believe about yourself. One supports the other. You make a small effort, work on changing your thoughts, your mindset shifts into more positive territory, another small effort re-inforces all the positive changes you are making, you think happy thoughts, more mindset shift… The sum total is a new you.