CHECK THIS OUT: The Wholesome Table Raises the Bar for #CleanEats

Saturday mornings have become a favorite ever since I got my girls to practice yoga with me at the Beyond High Street Studio. The early Saturday hang has replaced our nights out and has given us so much more time to bond and well…eat.

Conveniently, The Wholesome Table has opened its doors to the public. It’s a very short walk from the studio and offers healthy, organic dishes, perfect for post-yoga/workout meals. We headed straight for the place right after my morning class without having to think about it.

I loved the quaint and homey interior, the huge windows bursting with natural light and every little detail that made the place very cozy.

Their menu offers a variety of meat and seafood dishes and options for those who are on plant-based diets (vegetarians and vegans) and those with diet restrictions (nut-free, gluten-free, etc.). The great thing about this is that everything is organic. Even their sauces are made from scratch. No shortcuts, just clean food. Unfortunately, all tofu dishes (which was in most veg options) were not available that morning so I ended up ordering a Buddha Bowl. I also shared a delicious Margherita pizza with the girls. Their lemongrass iced tea also tasted great.

Pressed juices and superfood smoothies were also offered. If I’m not mistaken, The Healthy Grocery provides them with superfood to add into the blended beverages.

Check out the photos from my recent trip.

This pizza was gone in minutes. ‘Nuf said.
With the girls and Nic after our regular Saturday morning yoga class at Beyond.

The Wholesome Table is located at the Upper Ground Level of Bonifacio High Street Central, 30th St Corner 7th Avenue, Taguig. Learn more about them through their Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/thewholesometable

Why I Broke Up with my Bathroom Scale

So last Saturday, Nic (my life partner and number 1 supporter) and I headed to Move after teaching my morning Yoga class. We have been planning to get a body composition analysis for quite some time now but never had the chance. This time, we promised ourselves we would do it.

I haven’t really been monitoring my weight through a scale for the past 4-5 years. It used to make me feel bad about myself ALL THE TIME. As a teen, I would step on the scale each morning to see whether I lost or gained any weight. Whenever I gained a pound or two, I would go on a frenzy of fad diets and exercise. But then it occurred to me that what I have been doing was just a vicious cycle and it was no longer making any sense. It was affecting me negatively and it had to stop.

I’m not sure why I never realized that the word weight when used in the context of the human body is still defined the same way my Physics teacher defined it. The number on the weighing scale is literally just the amount of matter in your body relative to gravity.That amount of matter could be anything, water, fat, muscle. That number ALONE won’t tell you anything relevant to your health goals. Then I learned about body composition analyses. This gives you a better view of what’s going on in your body and provides you with something you can actually work with. Each person’s analysis is based on your age, height and gender.

Here are some of the details from my latest analysis:

The actual printout of results from my latest analysis (July 19. 2014) The rep from Move told me their machine was about to run out of ink. :(
The actual printout of results from my latest analysis (July 19. 2014) The rep from Move told me their machine was about to run out of ink. 🙁

In general, my body composition is Muscular which means I have moderate to abundant amount of muscle with little to moderate amount of fat. There are four types according to Simple Science Fitness and it helps to determine your body composition in order for you to set your health goals.

There are A LOT of details included when you get yourself assessed. But we’ll just take a look at a few things that, I personally think, need to be clearly understood.

  1. Weight- Your weight is the total amount of mass in your body. Not just fat. This number comes from the amount of water in your body, your muscles, your bones, your organs, etc. The normal range will depend on your age and height. Mine is between 97-131.2 Lbs. I fall somewhere in the middle at 115.7 Lbs.
  2. Muscle Mass- Muscle Mass is the amount of muscle you have in your body. Your skeletal muscles are responsible for movements such as pulling and pushing. Since these babies do all the work for you, they are the ones that are fueled by the food you take in. They burn calories to keep the body going. This is why ladies shouldn’t be afraid of building muscle. Not only do they make you stronger, but they also keep the pounds off even when you’re at rest. The normal range for my body is between 42-52.7 Lbs based on the results.
  3. Body Fat Mass- This one shows the amount of body fat you have in your body. Gone are the days when fitness goals are ultimately just weight loss. Bringing this number down and increasing the amount of muscle you have is clearly the way to go. Naturally, women have more body fat than men. Now, before you go “boohoo” and cry “that’s unfair”, take a look at your body and that of your hubby, boyfriend, brother or whoever. The fat makes up the cushion that gives you those curves, girl!  So don’t obsess over losing all of it. 😉
  4. Body Mass Index- Your BMI is used to determine whether or not you are in an ideal weight for your height based on a scale. This is still very commonly used but there are ongoing debates about the usage of this system. As I mentioned, the number on the weighing scale doesn’t tell you how much of your weight is fat, muscle, or lean body mass. There may be a chance that most of your weight comes from muscle (especially in men) and not fat. When you calculate your BMI, the result may fall past the normal range and say you are obese. Pretty inaccurate if you ask me. Coach Chappy Callanta of 360 Fitness wrote about this on his blog. Go ahead and learn more here.
  5. Percent Body Fat- This tells you how much of your body is composed of fat. The ideal body fat depends on your gender and age. I saved the body fat chart from Coach Chappy’s blog below and use it as a reference. The normal range for my age is between 18-28. Just a couple of months ago, before I started a regular strength and weight training regimen, I was at 22.7. Today I’m at 19.7! Yay! Now, my next goal is to lower my body fat percentage further to 18.9.
Use this body fat chart to determine whether your Body Fat Percentage is appropriate for your gender and age.

You see, this is why I think “weight loss” alone as a fitness goal is too short term. Weight can easily be lost through water and muscle, not fat. So if you’re looking at sustaining a better lifestyle and getting a better, stronger, fitter body, go for the numbers that actually count.

Lastly, if looking at that scale makes you feel bad more often than it does you good, why keep looking at it? Pay more attention to how you are fitting into your clothes, how your body performs at the gym, studio or outdoors, or better yet, just sit quietly with yourself for a few minutes each morning and notice how you feel about yourself overall. These are things no scale can ever tell you. <3

Global Mala Project Manila 2014

On September 13, Manila will once again come together for the 7th Global Mala Project. This event will run for an entire day and will offer what you can probably consider “a buffet of yoga”. Practice with some of the best teachers, try out different styles of yoga, dance, flow arts and attend workshops that will complement not only your mat practice, but also that healthy lifestyle.

Check out the video from last year’s event:

The Global Mala Project, founded by Shiva Rea, now runs in 50 countries with over 800 events all over the world. The Manila chapter, organized by Teresa Herrera, is a non-profit event that ties up with different charities each year. This year, all proceeds will be for the benefit of two foundations: Mano Amiga and the Coalition Against Trafficking in Women– Asia Pacific.

Mano Amiga is a non-profit school that helps provide high quality education to underprivileged families. The Coalition Against Trafficking in Women is an international movement against, as its name suggests, human trafficking in women.

Global Mala Project 2014 Poster

My second home, Beyond Yoga, takes part in this project each year. Join us as we take our practice both on and off the mat.

Beyond Teachers Rianna, Nikki and Rox together with the rest of this year's team at the Global Mala Project 2014 Kick-off Meeting.
Beyond Teachers Rianna, Nikki and Rox together with other amazing teachers and the rest of this year’s team at the kick-off meeting.

Find out more about The Global Mala Project through their website and Facebook page.

So, who’s up for an awesome day of yoga? 🙂

Images from onesport.ph and the Global Mala Project Facebook Page

Warm and Comforting Kitchari for Detoxification

This is a dish I shared on Facebook and Instagram a couple of months ago. And today, because of the cold weather brought about by the typhoon (and because many have been asking), I ‘m finally sharing this easy Kitchari recipe.

For those of you who are wondering, Kitchari is a soupy porridge known in Ayurveda for its cleansing benefits. This warming dish improves digestion and rids the body of toxins. Most of us may be unfamiliar with the practice of consuming grains during detoxification, but in India, Kitchari is eaten during periods of fasting. Too good to be true, if you ask me. This dish is crazy tasty, and really does the body good. The combination of rice and mung beans provides the body with amino acids. The spices stoke the digestive fire, allowing your stomach to easily process the food you take in and absorb nutrients better. Turmeric boosts the body’s self-healing abilities too.

Now, there are many ways to prepare Kitchari. Each version has its own list of ingredients. The one I have here is the easiest I’ve tried with ingredients that are accessible and easy to find.

BASIC KITCHARI RECIPE

Ingredients:

1 cup Basmati rice (Replace with brown rice if you want to add fiber to your meal)

1/2 cup split green or yellow mung beans

1/2 tsp ground turmeric

1 tsp cumin seeds (ground)

1/2 tsp ground coriander

1 tsp grated ginger

1/2 tsp hing (Okay if you can’t find this, it’s only available in Indian grocery stores)

1/2 tsp sea salt

1 tsp ground pepper

1 tsp ghee/clarified butter (vegans may skip this)

Cilantro (up to you to decide how much)

Lime (optional)

Chopped veggies (optional)

Directions:

1. Soak mung beans in water for 3 hrs or overnight

2. Wash rice and beans twice

2. Bring 4-6 cups of water to a boil

3. Add in rice and mung beans.

4. Add the sea salt, spices and vegetables that take longer to cook such as potatoes, carrots, yams.

5. If you’re adding leafy greens, throw them in around 3-5 mins before taking the dish out of the fire.

6. Top with cilantro and serve with a slice of lime

If you’re looking at going on a short detox, you may double or triple the recipe and store in the fridge. Reheat (preferrably on the stove) before consumption. You may eat Kitchari any time you feel hungry during this period. The detox may last for two-three days. I’m personally not a fan of fasting for more than two days but if you do decide to do it, please listen closely to your body and stay well-hydrated.

FEATURE: Battle Brew Puts Plain ‘Ol Coffee to Shame

Before the Zumba Party at Beyond Greenhills the other night, I walked with co-teachers to the newest coffee joint across the Beyond Studio at Metropointe Center, San Juan. Backyard Coffee serves good coffee (they have a strong brew which I love), offers a handful of meal choices and has a good atmosphere. Ever since it opened, I would hang out and order a cup of Americano before teaching my class at the studio.

So last Friday, I went up to the bar to order a cup. I sat next to a co-teacher and found her talking to a guy at the bar. His name was Mark Dee. Mark offered a free cup of what seemed to be a special brew. If I were to accept any drink from a stranger, it would probably be a cup of coffee. At a bar. In a cafe.

Mark brought out a couple of bottles. One was labeled Clarified Grass-Fed Butter (Ghee), and the other, MCT Oil (Medium Chain Triglycerides). The barista poured about a spoonful of oil from each of the two bottles into freshly brewed coffee and began to blend them all together. A bit of Xylitol was added into the mixture as a sugar replacement. The result was a creamy beverage that looked and tasted almost like a latte. Before I knew it, I was halfway through my cup. Now, I know things happened way too fast. The preparation took only a few minutes and I was just as quick . As I was drinking the other half of my Battle Brew, I made sure Mark told me more about it.

Battle Brew Kits retail at Php2000 each and would last for about a month
Battle Brew Kits retail at Php2000 each and would last for about a month

Battle Brew is a mixture of brewed coffee and healthy oils (MCT and Clarified Butter or Ghee from Grass-fed cows). This power combo fuels up the body, boosts metabolism, increases the brain’s ability to focus and optimizes the body’s overall performances. At about 300+ calories a cup, Battle Brew provides you with (good) fat, moderate protein and a good amount of carbohydrates, enough to replace your usual breakfast. It can also sustain you through physical activity making it a good pre-workout drink. According to Mark, this is great for Crossfitters, athletes, the regular gym-goers and even yogis. 😉

A tablespoon each of MCT Oil and Grass-fed Clarified Butter goes into freshly brewed coffee and are blended together to until frothy
A tablespoon each of MCT Oil and Grass-fed Clarified Butter goes into freshly brewed coffee and are blended together until frothy.

Four things go into the brew:

1. Brewed Coffee- Any regular brewed coffee will do. But they’ve partnered with Backyard Coffee and now the cafe serves Battle Brew for only Php150 per cup.

2. MCT Oil (Medium Triglyceride Oil)- Think of it as coconut oil concentrate. The saturated fat boosts metabolism, increases the brain’s capacity to focus and even cures several health problems. Now, don’t get turned off by the words “oil” and “saturated fat”. The thing is Saturated Fat from Coconut Oil is very healthy and beneficial for the body. The body actually needs good fat (like the ones you get from eating avocados) in order to feel fuller, longer. MCTs are easily digested and metabolized by the body, unlike other forms of fat. The awesome thing about it is that this  actually helps you burn body fat. Perfect for weight loss.Learn more about MCTs here.

3. Clarified Grass-Fed Butter (Ghee)- Clarified butter is fat rendered from the butter that we all know and use. The milk solids are separated and skimmed off to leave a clear yellowish residue. Ghee is known to lower the risk of heart problems and decrease body fat in overweight individuals. Battle Brew prides itself in using only clarified butter from grass-fed cows to maximize its nutritional value.

4. Xylitol- You got it. Apart from the wonders it does to your teeth, Xylitol acts as a sweetener that doesn’t cause the same spike in insulin as regular sugar. However if you like your coffee black, feel free to skip this one.

As for Battle Brew’s effect on me that night, let’s just say I survived leading a 90-minute, high intensity Zumba Party without having to eat anything prior to the event. I drank one cup at around 6:30, partied like crazy at 7:30 and had dinner at 11PM. And I wasn’t really starving then. My energy didn’t really shoot up but it certainly didn’t crash either.

Only downside to it is that the complete Battle Brew is not suitable for vegans. Apart from that, not everyone is comfortable with using Xylitol as a sweetener. Luckily, Battle Brew allows you to purchase these items separately. You may opt to just grab yourself a bottle of MCT oil which, on its own, already has a ton of health benefits IMO. If you’re interested to learn more about Battle Brew, check out their website here or follow them on Instagram @battlebrew.

New to the idea of Battle Brew? Let me know what you think in the comments section below.

STRETCH LAB: Chest and Shoulders

Melting Heart

Alright, you guys! It’s Sunday and it’s time to take it a little easy. I’m starting this new section called Stretch Lab to show you stretching poses that would complement your fitness routines and help keep those muscles supple and working optimally.

Many of us take stretching for granted because of the subtle effects it has on the body. If you’re not into activities that require much flexibility, chances are you either don’t take stretching seriously or may even skip this part sometimes. I’ll talk about the benefits of stretching in a separate entry but for now, check out this chest and shoulder opener known as “Melting Heart” in Yin Yoga.

Remember to hold the pose for at least 2 minutes to maximize the benefits. Work your way up to five as you increase flexibility in the target areas. Note that there will be a slight compression in the back so come into a neutral position for the spine by lying flat on your back or belly immediately after the stretch. Lastly, there’s no need to muscle your way into any stretching pose so make an effort to RELAX and let go of any tension especially on the front side of your torso.

5 Reasons Why Drinking Water is a Chore

1.  It doesn’t look appealing enough to drink

A series of experiments done at the University of Illinois showed that image or presentation is linked to the amount of food or beverage a person consumes. The more attractive or enticing it looks, the easier it is to consume more of it.

Find a container you like to drink from and keep it with you at all times. It could be a glass, bottle, a mason jar, or a tumbler. I personally like to purchase and collect hydration bottles. I like the ones that pop out with color but are very handy. I make it a point to switch them up every now and then just to keep things interesting. Nothing like using a “new” bottle all the time, right?

2. You think straight water is the only way to go

If you think plain water is boring, you’re not alone. Straight water being plain and well…tasteless is one of the main reasons why we often choose another beverage over it. There are tons of healthy ways to make your water much less boring. Try adding some of these things:

  • Lemon or lime slices
  • Cucumber
  • Mint leaves
  • A sprig of Tarragon
  • Fresh, whole strawberries

Okay, who am I kidding? The possibilities here are endless. Fresh fruit (Just don’t squeeze the juice out) and herbs are guaranteed to keep you drinking. Apart from the numerous health benefits, this still guarantees maximum hydration.

3. You wait ‘til you’re thirsty

Chances are, your body is already moderately dehydrated when it starts sending thirst signals. At this point, it’s more difficult to replenish whatever has been lost to the point of hydration. We constantly lose water—and I’m not just talking about sweat, or urine but what’s called the insensible losses through our skin, feces and even through our breath. So, if the body constantly loses water, it only makes sense to constantly rehydrate it.

Thirst (as in the desire to gulp a big-ass glass of cold beverage) doesn’t have to be the signal you wait for before taking at least a sip. Go for more subtle ones such as slight dryness on the lips and in the mouth.  I find this the best indicator because the lips dry out the fastest and easily show signs of dehydration.

4. You chug it down all at once

This one’s closely linked to #3. Remember that there’s no need to down a full glass right away. I mentioned that the body loses water all the time. If it’s through so much sweat after a physical activity, then a larger intake is needed. Although it’s always best to drink 1-2 cups of fluid prior to excessive sweating to avoid dehydration.  Otherwise, just take small  but frequent sips of water.

According to Ayurveda, the traditional system of Hindu medicine, there is a proper way of drinking water: take a small sip, swallow, breathe and repeat. This allows the body to fully absorb the fluid rather than just let it pass through the body, which happens when we down everything right away. The good thing about this is that it doesn’t fill the stomach with so much water, allowing you to take another sip sooner than you would if you had taken in more. When you take smaller sips, you’re actually able to drink more in the long run.

5. It’s too cold

Growing up in a tropical country has got me thinking there’s no point in drinking water if it isn’t cold or iced. I probably am not the only one used to drinking cold water to cool the body most especially in the hottest weather. What most of us don’t know is that cold water brings no benefit to the body. In fact, according to Ayurveda, it literally douses the digestive fire. This means it sets your digestion off and out of whack.

Warm or room temperature water is enough to bring the body back to its normal temperature. Cold fluids (not just water), on the other hand, only cause distress to the body. While it may feel refreshing as you drink, you might notice that your body will only allow you to drink or take in so much. Apart from that, you get this false feeling of satiety after you’ve practically soaked your warm organs in an iced beverage. When this used to happen to me, I felt like my thirst was satisfied longer. But now as I look back at it, I think the reason why it took me awhile to rehydrate after a cold drink is because my body needs more time to recover from the temperature I put it in that it doesn’t want to take any beverage until it’s gone back to normal.

There is honestly, no single way to properly drink water because every body is different. But one thing is for sure: we all need to constantly make up for the water we lose every second, with every breath.  So do it. You owe it to yourself.

Source Articles:

http://www.psychologytoday.com/articles/200410/brain-playing-your-food

http://www.health.arizona.edu/health_topics/nutrition/general/waterhydration.htm

http://www.peacewardyoga.com/the-art-of-drinking-water

http://dominicanewsonline.com/news/homepage/columns/narural-healing-the-dangers-of-drinking-cold-water/

Apple Chia Pudding

Two superfoods packed in one filling meal!

Ingredients:

2 tbsp Chia Seeds (I get mine from www.thesuperfoodgrocer.com)

Half an apple 1 tsp Raw Cacao Nibs (also available at www.thesuperfoodgrocer.com)

1/4 cup Almond nut milk (optional)

Preparation:

1. Soak Chia seeds and allow them to bloom. I add half a cup of water to one tbsp of chia.

2. Once the seeds have formed a pudding, add the almond nut milk and stir.

3. Add apple slices or any other fruit.

4. Sprinkle Cacao Nibs.

The combination of soluble and insoluble fiber in Chia works as an amazing energy supply for the body. No crashes. Just look at it this way, I teach 2 Zumba classes, 1 Yoga class, do weight and resistance training and practice gentle yoga afterwards all in a day. And when I get home, I still have enough energy to spend with my loved ones (especially my crazy dogs). 💪

Lifestyle | Wellness | Nutrition