Why you should give Pilates a try

Still a lot of people give me a confused look when I say I’m a Pilates teacher – because, “Pilates is like some sort of yoga, right?” Yes, Pilates brings the mind and body together, but I think the difference is best described as follows: ‘Yoga is a practice, Pilates is a workout.’ I’m gonna tell you why you should give Pilates a try!

Pilates is a workout method designed 100 years ago by Joseph Hubertus Pilates during WOI to help rehabilitate soldiers. The method focuses on the center of the body; the core muscles, or also known as your powerhouse. Pilates has 6 basic principles; centering (the powerhouse), concentration (focus), control (of every movement), precision (quality over quantity), breath (blood circulation) and flow (elegant and natural movements). Classical or traditional Pilates consists of 34 mat exercises which are performed in traditional order. Some classical Pilates studios also use equipment, such as the Reformer or smaller equipment pieces like resistance bands. I teach modern Pilates, which is influenced by other methods and exercises; I like to shake things up a bit to keep myself and my students motivated!

So, why should you give Pilates a try?

–       You will develop a super strong core (= rock hard abs!)

–       It gives you defined muscles

–       Your muscles will become lean and strong

–       You will become more flexible

–       Because it brings together the muscles in the entire body and makes them stronger, you reduce the chance of getting injuries

–       Helps you to rehabilitate from injuries

–       Will make back pains disappear

–       Gives you better posture

–       You will become more aware of your body and what it can do

–       It’s a lot of fun!

I really notice a difference when I have skipped a week of teaching – my muscles become stiff and every move becomes harder to perform. I work out quite a lot (I also teach Les Mills BodyCombat and I love to lift weights), which I can do thanks to Pilates; my body is strong, my muscles are flexible and I rarely have injuries. Pilates also gave me the focus which I need during my other work outs.

Give Pilates a try and discover how amazing it is for your entire body!

Healthy Salty Snacks

Choosing to eat healthier seems really hard sometimes. We shouldn’t have too much salt, sugar, or fat, no artificials, simple carbs or alcohol… Sounds like no fun at all! Luckily for us, there are more and more recipes available that try to imitate our favourite guilty pleasures into a more healthy version than ever. Not that we always have to eat healthy, but hey, why not choose a healthy option when you can. At #Fitgirlcode we are already a big fan of sweet recipes like banana ice cream and homemade brownies, and figured it was time for some…

Healthy salty snacks!

Here are my favourites:

Roasted Chickpeas: Preheat your oven at 220 C/ 425 F. Rinse and dry one can/400grams/2 cups of chickpeas. Mix the chickpeas with with 2 tbsps of olive oil, 1/4 tspn of cayenne pepper, 1/4 tspn of garlic powder, 2 tspns sumac  (love sumac!!) and a bit of salt. Place them on a baking sheet and bake for 30-40 minutes.


Homemade trail mix: 
this one is super easy. Throw together pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, (salted) almonds and some raisins, or any other nut + dried fruit combination that you can think of, and there you have a nutritious and delicious snack.


Roasted cauliflower: 
this is my favourite! Preheat your oven to 220C/425F. Drizzle 1 tbsp of olive oil over 1/2 head of cauliflower florets, and add a bit of salt and chili flakes. Place the cauliflower florets on a baking sheet and roast them for about 20 minutes. So yummy!


Sweet potato crisps: 
perfect for if you are craving crisps! Preheat your oven to 190C/375F. Slice one sweet potato into very thin rounds. Place the slices next to each other on a baking sheet and sprinkle them with paprika powder, garlic powder and some salt. Then place the slices in the oven for about 15 minutes until they turn slightly brown. Let them cool for a bit while they get crispy and enjoy.


Healthy snack platter: 
Olives, crudités, and flax crackers with hummus or guacemole, so good!

 

Happy Snacking!

My transformation: Healthy inside & out

Progress pictures, weight loss numbers.. it’s all very impressive. But we also shouldn’t forget the improvement we make on the inside. This is my journey, not as imposing on the outside but a huge transformation on the inside.

My transformation: Healthy inside & out

My whole life I have been a petite girl. I’m 1.60m short and have size xs/34, a normal size for my length (or lack of it). I have never really had a thing with food. From being a picky eater when I was young to completely skipping meals when I was busy or stressed. For some reason my brain doesn’t get the signal when I am hungry, it just goes into an energy saving state where I feel like a wet paper towel. In my years as a student I would not eat in the morning, then when I got super dizzy I would eat anything with sugar preferably chocolate. Next to dizziness I would have tummy aches and had the worst case of PMS (Pre Menstrual Syndrome). When you would look at my diet and how I physically looked, It didn’t add up, I was still petite and had the smallest jeans size compared to all my girlfriends. And I always told them: There is an obese woman inside of me just waiting to get out. And I was probably right.

BFFF
In 2010 I moved in with my best friend Christel (yes the one with the abs of steel). After college, we started working out together whenever we could. I was working fulltime at an international fashion company, travelling the world and always on the road. There was not a lot of time between traveling and working, but we managed to keep each other motivated. Although we thought we were being very healthy, our food choices were very questionable. We would go on a salad-and-crackers diet, but fill up with alcohol in the weekend.

The turning point
When Chris and I started working out at a new gym in Rotterdam called Elevator Sports, we ran into so many people who were taking much better care of their bodies. Because we went from a 90 cardio/ 10 weight to a 70 weight/30 cardio routine, we needed to fuel our bodies differently to keep up with the insane circuit training routines. The funny thing is, that my turning point wasn’t a specific day or thing I did. For the first time I listened to my body, I actually got hungry due to the muscles I built and those muscle were now asking for food. I drank more water because I was sweat like a pig during the workout. We shared tips, tricks and recipes. We posted every workout on Instagram and this is how #FITGIRLCODE was born. It was a way to bundle everything we had learned and the things we are still learning. And not just from us, from people all over the world, that’s the great thing about the internet!

Now that I am eating a lot healthier, I can see some difference physically. But the real transformation is the one from within.

  • No more sugar cravings
  • Less PMS symptoms
  • More energized
  • Better digestive system less bloated
  • No more dizziness
  • Less headaches

Working out together and paying attention to all the crap (excuse my French) we were putting into our bodies, was my turning point. But it did not happen overnight. It happened because I listened to my own body for a change. When I was tired, I would chill. When I had too much energy, I would run. And when I was hungry I would eat food that fuelled my body. Listen to your body it will be your number one fitness and health guide you will ever have. And if yoll u’ve us, we would love to take second place.

 

Fit girl Chris’ exercise and food log

Fitgirlcode was started by bfff’s (best fit friends forever) Aranka and Chris. When we started Fitgirlcode we wanted to inspire ourselves to get healthy and fit, and what happened in this process is that we inspired a lot more people to do the same. In the process, Chris lost some weight and gained loads of energy, killer abs, better skin and hair and an allover happier life. Last month we both created an exercise and food log for you guys. And last week Chris made a new one, just to show you that no week is the same!

Balancing food and exercise is very important. Just like Chris wrote in this blog, your body needs fuel to run (literally) and food=fuel! For us, and probably for many of you, no week is the same. So you can’t eat the same foods and workout on the same days. Also its would get very boring. Chris makes sure she eats before she gets hungry, which is better for her mood and also for her eating habits. When she knows she has a very busy day, she makes sure that her meals have enough energy to get through it.

Fit Girl Chris’ Exercise and Food log: Schermafbeelding 2014-05-12 om 17.55.40

Explanation: Elevator sports is the name of a gym we work out. It is a total body workout for 1,5 hours and burns 1000 calories. We lift weights; do HIIT (High-intensity interval training), cardio, and squats. Everything is at your own pace and level.

Staying fit while pregnant

Every now and then we get questions from the Fitgirlcode community and we love that!  This time we received a question by a pregnant fit girl who asked us the following: “I just found out I’m pregnant, and I don’t want to gain the weight I just lost, but when I work out I get dizzy really fast. What can I do about this? Can I work out and what do you guys recommend?”

Staying fit while pregnant

First things first. We really want to make clear that these tips are not rules to follow, but tips to motivate and inspire you. None of us have babies (YET) so we sat down and asked all our momma friends and pregnant friends what their take on this subject is.  So here it goes!

Listen to your body
This is so important! Your body is an awesome tool that is capable of doing marvelous things, and sometimes we can get a bit carried away. So always listen to what your body is telling you. Your body is signaling that it’s had enough if you feel:

  • fatigue
  • dizziness
  • heart palpitations (your heart pounding in your chest)
  • shortness of breath
  • pain in your back or pelvis

And if you can’t talk while you’re exercising, you’re doing it too strenuously. Relax and take it back a notch or two 🙂

Don’t eat for two
Well… you can, as long as it’s healthy, like fruit and lots of vegetables. One of our friends that just had a baby, had this to say: “It’s easy to say to eat for two, when you’re not the one that has to train the gained weight off. Don’t use your pregnancy to start eating a whole lot more”. If you have sweet cravings, there a lot of healthy sweet snacks you can make, like these blueberry muffins or brownies. On our recipe page you find a lot of clean eating recipes that are really healthy and delicious!

Keep walking
Some women keep running during their pregnancy, others just go for a walk. It’s important to chose what fits you. If you get dizzy when running, try walking first. From there you try working it up a little bit. And if you still get dizzy, just keep walking. You can grab some light weights on your walk and try walking a little bit faster than normal. Here are some tips to improve your posture

1. Walk tall, look forward, gazing about 20 feet ahead. Keep your chin up.
2. Keep your chest raised, and shoulders down, back and relaxed
3. Bend your arms in slightly less than a 90 degree angle. Swing arms front to back (not side to side – arms should not cross your body.) Do not swing elbows higher than your sternum (breast bone). Swing your arms faster and your feet will follow.
4. Tighten your abs and butt. Flatten your back and tilt your pelvis slightly forward
5. Pretend you are walking along a straight line. To go faster — take smaller, faster steps.
6. Push off with your toes. Concentrate on landing on your heel, rolling through the step and pushing off with your toes.
7. Breathe naturally. As you walk, take deep, rhythmic breaths, to get the maximum amount of oxygen through your system. Walk fast enough that your breathing is increased yet you are not out of breath.

Yoga
Yoga is always awesome, whether you’re pregnant or not. It harmonizes your body and mind and that’s always good!. We heard a lot of our friends say they prefer yoga to any other work out, because it helps them to relax. Do you really want to try pregnancy yoga, but don’t have a yoga school around? All you need is a mat. We found a nice instruction video that helps you do yoga in the comfort of your own house. Want more? Here you can find the other five parts. Have fun!

Like a fish in water
Swimming is one of the safest forms of exercise, it improves circulation, increases muscle tone and strength, and builds endurance. Swimming helps counteract the increased back strain from your expanding belly. Pregnancy forces the spine and shoulders to round forward and the pelvis to tilt out of alignment, but swimming gently strengthens the muscles and offsets this tendency. Being in the water also protects you from overheating and supports your joints and ligaments as you exercise, preventing injury.

Pilates
Pilates trains your body to be strong, flexible and balanced. Through the movements and positions you improve your coordination and strength. Relaxation and deep breathing are important in controlling how you do the exercises. And the great thing is, it strengthens your tummy, back and pelvic floor muscles without straining other joints, so it’s a great exercise to do when you’re pregnant.

 

And last but not least
Choose a work out you like doing, this will help you to keep it up and ALWAYS drink a lot of water. With that said we hope to have given the soon to be mommas enough inspiration and motivation to stay fit during their pregnancies. And let us know when the babies are born! We’d love to see those fit babies 😉

Do you have any questions or matters you need our help with? Please let us know below in the comments or use #fitgirlquestion on Instagram and Twitter or post your questions on our Facebook wall. 

 

(Source: www.thewalkingsite.com + www.babycenter.com)

The Truth about Sugar

Has anyone else noticed how there is more and more criticism on sugar lately? No health magazine goes without an article about how sugar affects health and sugar-free recipes are booming. Some experts state we should not consume any sugar, others say that it all depends on the amount and type of sugar you consume. How bad is sugar really?

The truth about sugar

First of all, doing research about the influence of sugar on health I found so many articles promoting different messages – a lot of them without any type of scientific resource. This is quite characteristic for this point in time where one diet hype follows the other and it is easy to get confused by all the different information available. Instead of choosing to stick to one expert’s opinion, I’ve tried to find the bullet points that most of them share.

Bottom line:

Too much of one thing is never good for your health. This goes for sugar, as well as for fat, protein, vitamins, and minerals, everything really. To the question ‘What is too much?’ is impossible to give one correct generalizing answer;

– The amount of sugar one person needs, is not the same as another person needs. This depends on your own body and lifestyle. There is one important remark to sugars that holds for everybody;

– Naturally occurring sugar in fruits en vegetables are different from artificial sugar that is often added to cookies, bread, sauces, and even chicken;

Fruits and veggies contain relatively small amounts of natural occurring sugar. Plus, it delivers important vitamins and minerals, along with water and fibre that slow the release of sugars into the bloodstream and prevent insulin spikes, which is often claimed to cause diabetes. On average, most experts are aiming at 2 to 3 portions of fruit a day (not taking certain types of popular diets into account but based on opinions of a variety of nutritionists);

Artificial simple sugars are lacking nutritional value, fibres and water, and have a different effect on your body than naturally occurring sugars. Experts recommend eliminating this type of sugar completely. If you feel this is not the best thing for your mental health, you might need to take that into account;). To find out which products all contain these simple sugars, you should read labels;

– Anything that ends with ‘ose’ is a form of sugar. This includes maltose, lactose, dextrose and fructose. For this too it holds that not all sugars are equally bad for you. Another common hidden sugar is syrup, often found in cereal bars.

– Be aware that artificial sugar replacements are not always as great as they seem. In general: if a product has ingredients that you cannot pronounce, it is probably not very healthy for you. Common sense and moderation is key;

Don’t get frightened by all the different opinions and information on health issues that is out there. Do your own research and most of all, listen to your own body.

 

Transformation to the new you

I think I’ve finally seen the light! It really feels like I am at a turning point in the process of maintaining a healthy and fit lifestyle. A few weeks ago I told you guys that drinking alcohol during the weekend really is my guilty pleasure. At that stage I didn’t feel strong enough yet to quit drinking for a while, so I could boost my weight loss. But I am proud to say that I survived my first weekend without a single drop of alcohol. I have to admit, it was pretty hard though.

Friday I went out for dinner with my boyfriend and I am so used to order a nice glass of red wine. Instead I asked for a  bottle of sparkling water! Ordering it was the hardest part, but once it was on the table I surrendered to the situation. Saturday I was surrounded by friends drinking, while I was sipping my green tea. This also felt really unnatural at first, but I got used to it. The best part of the story is that I felt like a newborn the next day. I woke up at 8 am, killed my workout like a mad woman and felt fresh and energized the rest of the day. So I am going to keep this up until Kingsday (Koningsdag). Perfect timing, right? 😉

Another great thing happened: my trainers at Sixforty offered me 12 free personal training sessions! They told me that they really wanted to help me achieve my goal before summer. They believe in me and see how motivated I am, and this way they want to contribute to overcome my challenge. I was over the moon! It really feels like my hard work finally is paying off. It’s a once in a lifetime opportunity and the last push in the right direction.

I’m damn sure that I am going to nail this thing, once and for all!

Developing the new you might be difficult, but once your transformation continues it gets easier.  And down the road you’ll experience some sort of rush. A feeling that changes thoughts like  “I hope I will succeed this time” into “I am sure I going to nail this thing, once and for all!” So keep up the good work, and surround yourself with people that motivate you! Get yourself a Best Fit Friend Forever and support each other during highs and lows. And most importantly: celebrate your achieved goals! Because if you work hard, you can play hard!

Borrowing happiness from tomorrow

Clean eating is working really well for me. I have been doing it non-stop for 4 weeks now and am starting to notice some changes: no more sugar cravings after dinner, I dropped 3 kilos and I feel way more energized (I wake up before my alarm goes off). I start to enjoy looking at myself in the mirror and I love every small change I see. I realize that the features I don’t  like are currently under construction.

However, on the weekend I keep fighting alcohol. This remains my biggest temptation. It’s not like I drink throughout the whole week, but for me Friday night equals drinking with my friends. Last year, immediately after New Year’s eve, I abstained myself from drinking for three whole weeks. I know, what a cliché! Anyway, those were the three longest weeks in my life. I did not like it a single bit. It felt like someone or something deliberately tried to ruin my weekend. Everyone could go out except for me. Yeah, of course I could go with my friends, but I tried that once and I was bored out of my mind and annoyed. The only thing I did like about this period was that I didn`t feel hungover the next morning. When I wake up, I never think: I wish that I’d had gone out last night. So when I start my next attempt I need to focus more on that feeling.

So until I really make up my mind to quit drinking for a while, I have some ground rules to limit the damage.

  • Replace white wine with sparkling water & vodka with a slice of lemon, strawberry, raspberry or whatever you like. One glass of white wine is 155 kcal and vodka with sparkling water is only 85.  That’s a whole lot of difference right? Just add a few pieces of fruit, because fruit contains sugar as well.
  • No more eating after supper. So no nuts, cheeses or whatever when drinking with my friends. Needless to say, that includes no midnight snack when I get home.
  • Whenever you feel hungover, your body automatically craves for more (fat) food than usual. But I promised myself that I can’t have both: drink alcohol and eat shitty the next day. So I won’t give in to my hangover cravings and I will think wisely about alternatives. Falafel with hummus in a whole-wheat tortilla, or a cauliflower pizza works really well with a hangover. 
  • Drink loads of water and green tea to cleanse your body from all the bad things that alcohol contains.
  • If you don’t feel too bad, try working out. Sweating also helps to cleanse your body. But don’t overdo it en listen to your body. Enough is enough.

Somewhere deep down inside, I know that drinking alcohol is borrowing happiness from tomorrow. So when the time is right and I challenge myself again, I will let you guys know how I am doing.

Fighting to be zen

As a Taekwondo practitioner, I can tell you from personal experience that it is great for both your body and mind. Especially when I was younger, I felt my self-confidence grow a little bit after every training. I can’t really explain why, it’s not as if you feel better because you can strategically place your foot in someone’s face, but more that you feel your strength grow and your skill improve. And that makes you feel really f-ing good.

The way of the hand and foot

Taekwondo literally means ‘the way of the hand and foot’ in Korean and is categorized as a Korean martial art. It teaches you techniques of self-defence and combat, but also discipline, self-control and courtesy. Not only does it strengthen your body, but it strengthens your mind as well. The emphasis is on perserverance and self-control. A typical training consists of getting your body fit, practicing your kicking techniques, getting skilled in defence techniques and combining all of the above in a free fight with a partner. This partner is not your personal punchbag, but allows you to practice everything you have learned in a controlled and courteous way.

About every year you have to pass an exam in order to get a higher belt. I recently passed my exam for the black belt, and you can’t imagine what a kick that gives you! I still get it everytime I put it on for training. It is amazing for your body as it is an intense sport and will keep you in good shape, but besides that, it helps me to clear my mind as well. When I’m feeling stressed out, an hour of Taekwondo can clear my mind and muscles from all the tension I felt before. Who would have thought you can be in a zen-state of mind while kicking and punching?

Full body workout

Taekwondo trains almost every muscle in your body by providing a varying workout. You work on your abs, back muscles, biceps, shoulders, thighs, butt, and so on – basically everything. That’s because it trains you to get fitter, stronger and faster so you can become better at the techniques. So you train your body ánd learn how to use this newfound strength for a useful purpose. I’d say you should really try it if you’re looking for something fun and new to do and don’t be scared of the idea you might have of it!