The Myth Behind Lifting Weights: Why Strength Training Actually Makes You Leaner


Many women stay far away from weights and only focus on cardio. We call those ladies the Cardio Queens! They fear that if they lift weights or do strength training they will get too bulky, and instead spend all of their time doing cardio. Cardio is great to strengthen your cardiovascular system and burn extra calories, but when it comes to building a lean, toned physique one must turn to weight bearing exercises. So for all of you Cardio Queens out there, we are here to tell you that you do not need to fear the weights, and that the ideology that lifting weights will make women bulky is simply a myth. In fact, it is very difficult for females to build muscle mass. An average adult male produces around 10 times more testosterone than the average female. For this reason men can lift heavy weights and develop a large muscular physique. In fact ladies, weights can do wonders for us; they will help us stay in shape, increase strength and youthfulness. They will also sculpt our bodies to keep us looking fit even as we age!

I get it – you may still be apprehensive, after all you want to keep your feminine shape and petite frame. In reality though training at the gym is the only way to defy the laws of gravity to give you a firm butt and perky boobs. So forget about tucks and implants – hit the gym.


Myth #1 – getting bulky

As mentioned earlier it is neither easy nor natural for a woman to become huge and bulky. Please bear in mind that the massive female bodybuilders that you may be thinking of use drugs and vast amounts of supplements to achieve their look. Moderate or even intense weight training will give you a nice muscle tone and shape.

Myth #2 – getting bigger or slower

Weight training speeds up your metabolism and turns you into a fat burning machine in two ways. Firstly – as you increase your lean muscle mass, your body will burn more calories even when you rest (base metabolic rate)! Yes, you heard that right! Secondly, anaerobic exercise – bursts of high intensity activity such as sets of lifting heavier weights – burns fat many hours after you are done with your workout as opposed to regular cardiovascular exercise.

Myth #3 – looking or feeling manly

Nothing more wrong than assuming that lifting will turn you into Arnold or the Hulk! You want to look like a fitness model? Re-think your fitness routine- instead of hours upon hours on the treadmill, adhere to a reasonable weight training routine and enjoy a firm butt, lifted breasts and a toned tummy.

To conclude, forget about myths and stereotypes. Try and see for yourself that weights can tone, shape and empower you!

When the Sweet Tooth Kicks In: 5 Simple Healthy Recipes!

For most of us sticking to a healthy balanced diet consisting of meats, fish, healthy carbs and vegetables may not be half as challenging as kicking the sugar habit. Particularly, many people struggle to refrain from having desserts or sweet snacks. But does being fit and healthy mean never eating sweet treats and sacrificing dessert forever? I mean, who can actually do that!!? We’ve found, and even tried, a few recipes that will satisfy your sweet tooth and provide you with valuable nutrients without putting you into a sugar coma. In essence if you strive to make a healthy treat, avoid sugar and white flour and use whole organic ingredients such as brown flour or oats, quinoa, chia seeds and organic honey or other natural sweeteners.

1. Chocolate coconut milk ice cream


This simple treat will provide an abundance of fibre, vitamins C, E, B1, B3, B5 and B6 and minerals including iron, selenium, sodium, calcium, magnesium and phosphorous. Coconut milk is lactose free so can be used as a milk substitute by those with lactose intolerance and by vegans. Coconuts contain significant amounts of lauric acid converted in our bodies into disease fighting substances.


1cup light coconut milk

Organic cocoa powder or chocolate flavor protein powder (to taste)

Sweetener (stevia or honey)

Dark chocolate chips

Mix or blend all the ingredients up and freeze for about 2 hours (stir from time to time)

2. Quinoa dessert


This healthy quinoa pudding is yummy and provides multiple nutrients such as protein, calcium, magnesium and manganese. It also possesses good levels of several B vitamins, vitamin E and dietary fibre.


1 cup quinoa

4 cups unsweetened coconut milk (for a lighter version choose a coconut drink made from milk and water – less fat)

1/3 cup maple syrup (to be super good try the sugar free version)

1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

1 teaspoon cinnamon

¼ teaspoon salt

Rinse quinoa thoroughly with cold water to remove any bitter tasting residue. In a pot mix quinoa, coconut milk, maple syrup, vanilla, cinnamon, and salt. Bring to a boil over medium heat. Reduce the heat and let it simmer under cover for around 20 minutes, stir every few minutes. Remove the lid and simmer until thickened. Pour into bowls and allow to cool before serving.

3. Frozen yogurt with fruit


You can use and greek yoghurt and any kind of fruit mashed up or blended. You can mix in some honey or sweetener too. It really is yummy and refreshing and provides tons of protein, calcium and gut friendly bacteria.

4. Chia seed pudding


Chia seeds contain more calcium than milk, more antioxidants than blueberries and more Omega-3 than Salmon. They are quite magical and make a nice pudding.


2 cups coconut milk (homemade or natural)

½  cup Chia Seeds

½ teaspoon vanilla extract

¼ cup (or less) maple syrup (or sub any sweetener)

Optional: ¼ teaspoon cinnamon

Blend all the ingredients together for a smooth texture or add the seeds whole for a crunchier feel.

5. Simple oatmeal cookies


Only three healthy ingredients full of vitamins and minerals as well as healthy fats – so easy and so good!


2 ripe bananas

150g oats

2 handfuls of dried fruit or nuts

Mash the bananas and add oats (ground or whole) and fruit/nuts. Form cookies and bake for 15-20 min at 180 degrees.

The Power of Walking – Why We Should Walk More


In recent years more and more studies are being conducted on the effects of sedentary lifestyle on our health. Unfortunately, evidence is mounting that sitting is slowly but surely killing us. Ultimately our bodies are built to move and be active. When we sit, especially for prolonged periods of time, we slouch putting strain on the back and spinal cord and preventing our chest from expanding fully. This means we get less oxygen, and combined with slower circulation due to lack of motion, this is harmful to our bodies and health.

Additionally, the risk of some cancers, heart disease and dementia are reduced by almost half in active people compared to those with a sedentary lifestyle. Physical activity also reduces the risk of type 2 diabetes significantly.

So what can you do if you have a sedentary job? Walking is the ideal exercise that can easily be incorporated into your daily routine. It strengthens your heart and helps you stay lean and fit. It tones your legs and butt and lifts your mood (by means of endorphins). There is evidence that older people who walk more than 6 miles per week are more likely to avoid brain shrinkage and preserve memory as years go by.  What’s even more astonishing is that walking doesn’t only prevent heart disease but it can actually cure or improve it. Research conducted on 8,946 patients showed that moderate exercise such as walking regularly produced a 26% reduction in the risk of death from heart disease and a 20% reduction in the overall death rate.

But you may be skeptical due to lack of time or bad weather. There are many smart ways to incorporate walking into your daily routine even if you do have a busy schedule.

  • Ditch the elevator in favor of stairs – in the office or on the way home to your apartment take the stairs. It may not seem like much but done daily it will provide some valuable extra exercise.
  • Hop off the bus a stop early or walk wherever you can. If you aren’t going far swap driving or public transport for walking. If it’s far, simply get off the bus early and walk the last part of the route.
  • Instead of watching tv – go for a walk in your spare time. Find a nice park or forest and enjoy the nature around you. It is guaranteed to relax you better than tv.

These are only some examples of how small changes may make a huge difference for your mind and body and improve your health.

5 Best Breakfasts to Kick Start Your Metabolism and Leave You Full Longer

Most doctors and fitness experts agree that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. The old saying goes: ‘Breakfast like a King, Lunch like a Prince and Dine like a Pauper’. As cliché as it may seem, it actually is correct. Due to the lack of time many people skip breakfast while others choose quick and convenient options such as sugar loaded cereals that spike your blood sugar and shortly after you experience a sugar crash and feel hungry and tired. But how can avoiding these mistakes really help you improve your health and wellbeing?

Think about it this way – as the name itself indicates, upon waking up you have been fasting for hours since  your ate dinner. Your body had the chance to dig into its reserves of nutrients and if you fasted for more than 12 hours, your body even had the chance to potentially dig into the fat stores and generate some extra HGH (human growth hormone) which is greatly beneficial to your body’s reparative processes. So now, it is time for a nutritious breakfast. You don’t want your body to start eating into muscle tissue or get to the point in the day when you are so hungry you reach for high sugar foods and caffeine loaded drinks. It is actually proven that people who tend to skip breakfast are more likely to overeat at lunch or dinner and they go for less healthy options that can provide instant energy (i.e.: sugary soda, energy drinks and sugary foods).

Instead of skipping breakfast, consider loading your body with nutrients with these 5 healthy options.

1.Wholegrain toast with organic peanut or almond butter


If you can make your own peanut butter – great! If not, try to choose organic ones without additives such as sugar or salt. The wholegrain bread will provide you with fiber and slow releasing energy, and peanut butter is full of healthy fat and minerals as well as protein.

2. Oatmeal with fruit and nuts

Winter Fruit Oats close

Oatmeal is a super healthy option. It promotes colon health due to its high fiber content which also curbs hunger and cravings. It is high in carbs and protein. Add some fresh fruit for extra vitamins and flavor and opt for low fat milk or water.

3.Greek yoghurt with nuts and honey


Greek yoghurt provides great protein including slow digesting casein which improves muscle recovery, as well as gut friendly bacteria. While nuts will boost your system with healthy fats.

4. Superfood smoothies


Get that blender on since smoothies are all the rage right now, and rightly so. They provide a quick and yummy energy boost and the possibilities are endless! Try pineapple, orange juice and fresh parsley for a mineral-rich treat or raw cocoa with coconut milk, honey and chia seeds for a chocolaty flavor.

5. Poached egg on brown bagel


Eggs are a great source of protein and healthy fats and they taste great on wholegrain toasted bagel which will give you plenty of energy to start the day.

Meditation: Why taking time every day for your mental health is important.


You may be a little bit skeptical when it comes to exercising your mind as much as you exercise your body, but don’t underestimate the power of meditation. Meditating is simply switching off your mind from everyday worries and shifting your focus to the here and now by paying attention to simple things such as your breathing. It lets you not only achieve a state of relaxation but it has potential to combat serious diseases – emotional, mental and even physical!

The saying ‘mind over matter’ has now been advocated by many doctors in scientists who claim that meditation can accelerate bone healing and improve the immune system. It has been discovered, thanks to modern imaging technology such as MRI, that meditation is not just sorcery, but can be used as legitimate medical aid. Many patients experienced their bones to heal twice as fast as without meditation! Scans show that meditating decreases brain activity such as worrying, lowers stress hormone levels and enables better focus. Without meditation the part of our brain that processes information relating to ourselves and our experiences is strongly connected to pain and fear centers, creating associations. When you experience a scary or upsetting sensation, it triggers a strong reaction in your brain, making you feel scared and stressed.

When we meditate, we weaken these associations. This means that we don’t react as strongly to sensations that might have once been associated with fear or pain. As we weaken this connection, we strengthen the connection between the part of our brains known for reasoning and our bodily sensation and fear centers. So when we experience scary or upsetting sensations, we can more easily look at them rationally. It is truly incredible how meditating can help you control your thoughts!

If you love fitness, you look after your diet and want to live a wholesome, healthy life then you have to take care of yourself with a holistic approach. Get into a habit of meditating and dedicate a few minutes every day to soothe and heal your body and mind. Don’t stress, you don’t have to do the full lotus right away but find a comfortable time and place. Even as you stand in the shower, close your eyes, focus on the sounds and sensation of water, control your breath. At first your mind may drift but be patient. Learning to control and feel your body will be a fantastic addition to your fitness regime and will make you a happier healthier person.

Best New Workout Wear Designers

Even though what you wear to work out may not be the most important thing… wait, who are we kidding, of course it’s important! Whether you’re a fashionista or just need a cool outfit to make you look good and feel super confident, these suggestions may just hit the spot. Here are some new hip sports brands for every style and budget.

1. Vimmia


Their motto, “Engage Your Life Force”, this brand offers amazingly funky, sexy and glamorous clothes with a sporty feel. Their Vimmia X fabric is more than just a cool fashion statement. The fitness benefits are endless: promotes better skin thermoregulation by keeping you cooler in warmer temperature and warmer in cooler temperatures while helping you maintain a constant core temperature, “Squeezing” blood vessels via compression fabrics causes those vessels to open forcefully, which allows more blood and oxygen into the compressed muscle and helps shunt waste, and the cosmetic benefits of reducing the appearance of cellulite.

2. Splits59


This Los Angeles based activewear designer offers pieces inspired by the beauty of sport and the power of intelligent design.  Splits59 is the next step in the evolution of activewear for women. Their innovative garments meld the latest in technically advanced fabrics with sleek silhouettes and a directional attitude.



ULTRACOR, a performance driven fashion line created from the finest technical fabrics, utilizing patented engineering to provide fit like never before.

4. Onzie


Created by a 20 year Bikram Yogi, Onzie blends the best of traditional yoga wear with modern innovation and a touch of whimsy.  They provide active apparel that is functional, flexible and flattering. Their philosophy is “keep your practice challenging, and your wardrobe simple!”

4. H&M


H&M offers fun, young and versatile fashion at very affordable prices. The sports collections for both men and women are fun and pieces come as cheap at $12.99 for a shirt. Unpretentious, simple and comfortable.

5. Teeki


All of Teeki products are made from sustainable or recycled goods. They strive to keep plastic out of land fills. It takes over 400 years for plastic bottles to fully biodegrade, so by recycling bottles into clothes they are offsetting the need to produce new raw materials. Every pound of Teeki conserves an equivalent of half a gallon of gasoline!

5 Easy Workouts For The Traveler:

Imagine you’re going on holiday or you’re traveling for work. Most people in this situation forsake their workouts and even tend to cheat on their diet. Of course, this is perfectly normal as a one-off occurrence, but if you travel fairly often and ditching your workout becomes a habit then your fitness and health may suffer. Sometimes it may be fairly easy to find a gym nearby or in your hotel but what if you are unable to go to the gym? Should you just forget about it and carry on with your holiday or work trip? Well the answer is, you shouldn’t have to! Let me introduce to you a few simple yet effective exercises that can be performed almost everywhere that will keep you in shape throughout your trip.

Bodyweight exercises are actually a great way to build strength, endurance and lean muscle tissue. They are the perfect workout for beginners as well as those who are advanced. The obvious advantage is that they require no equipment and can be performed anywhere. Here are a few examples.

1. Push Ups/Chest


A simple but timeless classic. Push ups are essential for building a big chest, delts and triceps. You can do a variety of push-ups. Keep your arms tucked in close to your body for triceps or wider our for chest. Also try to hold yourself for 30 seconds in half push-up (not all the way to the ground and not all the way to the straight arms) to take your muscles to exhaustion and work on your endurance.

2. Triceps

Businessman in hotel room

Businessman in hotel room

An incredibly effective workout for triceps is to do tricep dips. You can do these of the edge of a bed or a desk or really anywhere that has a stable platform. Try to do 3 sets of 30 seconds and then hold in a half tricep dip for 30 seconds to really burn them out.

3. The Plank


It builds shoulder stability and endurance of the abs, lower back, shoulders, neck, and legs. Simply lay on your stomach, lift your body up so that it’s resting on your forearms, which are flat on the floor, elbow directly under shoulders and your tiptoes. Remember your body should form a straight line – hips in line with straight back and head in line with the body. Stay in this position for as long as you can. The recommended amount of time is between 30 and 90 seconds. Repeat at least three times.

4. Glute Bridge


This exercise works your glutes for a firmer more shapely bottom. Lie on your back with your knees bent and feet resting on the floor. Lift your bottom off the ground so that your body from your knees to your chest forms a straight line. Hold as long as you can, return to starting position and repeat at least 20 times.

5. Squats/Lunges


There are many different squats that you can do to target different areas of your glute and legs. We recommend that you do a mix of different squats to hit all areas. Start with regular squats with your legs shoulder distance apart, then move into sumo squats with your legs in a wide stance, next move into squat jumps to burn them out and add in cardio. A squat jump is when you sit back into a squat and then with a quick energy burst jump as high as you can and then you absorb the jump back into a squat. We suggest that you do 20 of each type of squat. Then finish it up with a good old fashioned lunge to seal the deal.

These are just a few out of hundreds of body weight exercises that can be performed anywhere even when you’re traveling, so try them out and stay fit at all times!

Why Cardio Alone Is Not Enough!


Many people, even regular gym-goers, avoid strength training because they fear that it will make them too bulky. Some chose to only do cardio, sometimes for hours on end hoping it’s the best way to lose weight and fat as well as stay healthy. But is cardio really effective in achieving these goals?

In one word – NO. The key to losing body fat and keeping it off is strength training because your metabolism is driven by lean muscle tissue. The ultimate goal here is to burn calories not only during your workout but rather 24/7. Too good to be true? Actually strength training will provide these results. But some may worry it will turn them into the Hulk. For the women that are afraid to get “too bulky” from strength training that is simply a myth. If it was so easy to be huge and muscly, everyone could be a bodybuilder and steroids would not be so popular. So don’t worry about getting bulky. Lifting weights will tone you, improve your posture and physique and make your cardio and every day activity more efficient at burning calories.

When you lift weights you tear muscle fibers which causes your body to use more energy (calories) to repair them. One expert even says that weight training can turn your body into a fat burning machine. Moreover lifting has additional health benefits such as preventing osteoporosis. Your bones as well as your muscles adapt to the stress of weightlifting by becoming bigger and stronger. Muscles surrounding and supporting your spine also become stronger and relieve back ache caused by sedentary lifestyle.

Too much cardio on the other hand can spike your hormones especially cortisol. This stress hormone is ok in small doses, but when you have too much, it can be very detrimental to your health.

When you do too much cardio, your body produces high levels of cortisol which instructs your brain to store fat (especially around your abdomen) and inhibits your body’s ability to process sugar. If sugar isn’t processed properly, you gain weight. Of course moderate amounts of cardio and interval training are healthy and recommended but more does not mean better.

Try out the best combination – weight training combined with cardio a few times a week. It doesn’t mean you have to lift heavy weights – try bodyweight exercises such as pushups, planks etc. This will strengthen your body and focus as well as improve your looks.

Muscles Need Protein!


When you get into a regular fitness routine it’s very important that you also think about a nutritional approach that will support your training goals! Have you ever heard the saying, “Abs are made in the kitchen”? Well this is partly true and partly false; but the truth of it is that nutrition and fitness go hand in hand. Many people mistakenly assume that it’s best not to eat after a workout in order to maximize fat burning.  Of course this is not the case and can cause more damage than good. So what do you need to consider when planning your meals?

Protein Intake

All macronutrients are equally important and you should strive to balance them for the most optimal results. Let’s focus on protein for a minute. While a physically inactive individual may consume as little as 0.8 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight, an active adult engaging in sports will need up to 2 grams per kilogram of body mass. In addition to total protein intake, however, the timing of your protein consumption in relation to your workout can influence the effectiveness of your fitness routine.

Protein Timing

During exercise muscle protein breaks down and undergoes repair during post-workout recovery. In addition, synthesizing new muscle fibers occurs between workout sessions. During a hard workout your muscle fibers are ‘ripped’ and after workout they ‘heal’ – grow. Timing your protein consumption to meet your body’s needs for amino acids, the building blocks of protein, allows you to optimize both muscle building and repair. Straight after an intense workout your muscles go into repair mode and that’s when they need protein most. To conclude, in addition to your daily protein intake, add a moderate amount of protein (around 30g) pre- and post workout.

Types of Protein

High-quality protein provides all the essential amino acids your body is unable to synthesize. Milk products can be a good choice for post-workout nutrition because they contain a large proportion of branched-chain amino acids. These amino acids are particularly effective at stimulating new muscle synthesis and can help reduce fatigue and speed up muscle recovery. Even though natural food sources are always preferable to supplements, there are some good products out there such as whey protein or branched-chain amino acids (BCAA) that are beneficial to take and quite affordable. Don’t invest in fancy products. Less is more and simple is key.

Due to the fitness industry focusing so much on emphasizing the role of protein, some people forget about how important other macronutrients are for training. Carbs, for example are responsible for fueling your muscle tissue during exercise, and you can therefore benefit from including carbs along with protein in your pre-workout meal. During intense workouts, you deplete glycogen from your muscle tissue, and including plenty of carbohydrates in the food you eat just after working out helps replenish this storage. Around your workout is the only time when providing simple high GI (Glycemic Index) carbs is good for you, as there can be easily absorbed for energy. Try fruit with whey protein, for example.

While it’s important to make sure you consume adequate protein directly after exercise, especially strength training, don’t forget all macros are important and make sure you have a balanced diet.

At Home Abdominal Workout

Did you accidentally sleep in an miss your morning workout? Did you not get the opportunity to sneak away on your lunch hour to get in your Reformer Express Class? Or did the work day drain you and the thought of hitting up the gym just sounds too exhausting? Just because the day through you for a loop doesn’t mean you have to get off track with your daily exercise routine. It is possible to get in a workout in the comfort of your own home! You would be surprised how many exercises you can perform at home. This abdominal workout is simple and can be done from your bedroom! It is very important to make sure you work out your abs and core as these muscles support your spine and support good posture. So dress comfortably, put some music on and get those abs to work!

1. Plank


Get into the beloved Plank position and challenge yourself to hold 3-5 sets of 60 second planks. Vary the style of plank. Start in a traditional plank and move on to side planks. If you are advanced try one-legged planks, of try lifting one leg and lifting the opposite arm at the same time. These advance moves really challenge your stability and force your core to work extra hard.

2. Feet To Heaven/Leg Raises


In this exercise you raise your legs to the sky and then lift your bottom up towards the ceiling by using your lower abs. Try not to jerk up, but rather use the control and strength of your lower abs to raise you up and lower you down. After doing three 30 second sets of Feet To Heaven move on to leg raises. Simple lift and lower your legs a few inches from the ground. It is very important that you contract your abs and ground your lower back in the ground. If you are having a hard time with this then simply do not lower your legs lower than where your back can comfortably stay grounded.

3. Teasers


In this exercise you will begin by lying flat and you will use your abdominals to contract you up into a V position. The goal of this exercise is to have your lower body and upper body meet in a V position at the same time. If this is too advanced for you then you can modify by having your fight leg V up to meet your left arm and visa versa.



The regular crunch is a good exercise, spice it up by adding resistance. Hold a bottle of water or dumbbell behind your head or on your chest. Keep your neck straight, don’t bring your chin to your chest to avoid injury. Focus your eyes on the ceiling and raise your head towards it when you crunch. Perform 20 slow crunches, then 20 pulses in the air. Repeat this set 4 times.

These basic exercises will not only tighten your core but also support your spine and posture. Make sure you perform them in a controlled way and keep your form in check. Otherwise you may injure your neck or lower back. Perform these exercises correctly twice to three times a week and you will feel and see tighter abs after as little as a few weeks. Have fun and don’t forget to stretch afterwards!