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Motivation – how to keep up

17 Oct

A quick post here about what keeps me motivated, and how do I keep up with exercising

1. Make exercise a priority, not an option. I have my week planner open and plan gym 2 weeks ahead, making it 3 and sometimes 4 times a week. If I see that some week I will make it there only twice, then the week before or following week I have to go 4 times. I try as much as possible to plan my work around the exercise routine. Office people will ask me – well, you are a freelancer, easy for you! And here is what I will say – when I used to work at the office, I went to the gym during the lunch time. When I went to university full time (9-5pm every day, including some Saturdays), I went to classes after – at 7 pm. Or how about exercising at home with DVD? It never worked for me, but I know some people who are mentally strong enough doing it at home. Kids? I have one too. On weekends we go to the gym together, and if I did exercising at home, she would totally do it with me

2. I look at motivational photos all the time. I follow about 7 fitness groups with mostly visuals, but they have good technique and nutrition topics there as well. Also, I follow couple of famous fitness people and read their tips; understanding that they are the same people as we are, helps. Looking at something every day sooner or later can help you to get there

3. Food log – every day, for a year and a half now. Every single thing I eat, I log in. It keeps me on track with proteins/carbs that I’m watching now, plus calories intake. This way I’ve lost all the weight I wanted, and keeping it there without going up or down much

Hope it helps someone!


Fitness gets complicated, where are my abs?

25 Jul

I started this at my FB but don’t want to overwhelm people who really not in the topic. It starts like this

The more I read/learn about fitness and exercising, the more frustrating it gets. Clearly just exercising is not enough if you eat too much; dieting itself is not enough because you lose muscle with fat and become “skinny fat”. Only weights, only cardio, low carbs/no carbs/high protein/low protein – it’s all so complicated. Can we add some vegan lifestyle+nut allergies+no gluten challenge here? I guess to be able to get to the point where I want to be I need to become pro nutritionist and get a degree in something. Why it is so hard? Or the satisfaction is in the process of getting somewhere, no matter what is the destination point?

So I’ve lost the weight that I wanted, a year ago, now what? Reading about the rules and what needs to be done makes me feel like my body is a science project. No carbs after certain time. Fruits are carbs too, and I love fruits! You are telling me now I cannot have my fruits at night, while some other people are eating candies and cakes. Not saying they are right at what they do, but the fact…

Eating more to grow muscle. Now I want to grow muscle at certain parts, do I eat more those days? What exactly I should eat if I’m used to certain amount of food a day already? I read those protein shakes don’t really help, and carbs are the key…now what do I eat if I try to eliminate gluten? Do I stay on lentil soup and quinoa till the rest of my life?

Adding more greens is great, in a form of smoothies. But they are low in calories (I don’t add much fruit) – it lowers my calorie intake a day, and I’m already not eating much, mostly under eating.

Everywhere you go, you will read that abs exercising won’t do much and you need to lower your body fat to see the muscle. Now, why there are so many abs exercises then, in all magazines? I’ve never seen so much of a variety of squats, or upper body advertising. No one cares about those body parts anymore? I lowered my weight and body fat, now where are my abs? Why every time I eat, my stomach feels (and looks) like a balloon and every time I’m afraid to be called pregnant again? Is it a separate problem I need to address to the doctor? Or should I do more of those exercises that everyone says don’t work? Or is it because I didn’t exercise while being pregnant and my muscle tone is lost there forever? Last time I had stomach flu, my stomach looked great after. But I didn’t eat for a week, that’s not the way clearly

Just today I read about some squats and looks like I’m doing half of them wrong. How great is that. Do I need to work out with the trainer now? I don’t like to talk when I’m at the gym and I need some music, hate the thought of someone standing next to me telling me what to do.

Those are just a few concerns I have…

Gluten, egg, dairy free almost vegan muffins

26 Jun

I’ve been trying the whole gluten free thing, not sure if it’s working for me…

It’s called “almost vegan” because it has honey. I don’t know what to call myself, probably vegan that eats seafood and honey, allergic to nuts, temporarily gluten-free. It’s complicated, I know

Meanwhile, finding recipes is a struggle. Here is one of the good ones, with modifications. Found on Kitchen Stewardship blog, the photo is from there too. This recipe is a bit different from the original on the blog, still tastes great, if you ask me.

  • 2/3 c. brown rice flour
  • 1/2 c.  buckwheat flour
  • 1/2 c. corn starch
  • ½ tsp. cinnamon
  • ¼ tsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • ¾ tsp. salt
  • 1/2 c. raisins
  • 3/4 c. honey
  •  2 Tbs. freshly ground flax + 6 Tbs. hot water
  • ½ c.  coconut oil
  • 1/4 c. cold water
  • 1 1/4 c. apple sauce – regular or with cinnamon


Mix all dry ingredients, then add liquid, mix all together. Add flax seed egg replacement in the end, when it becomes gooey. Preheat the oven to 350, bake it in muffin pan for 15-20 min

My personal tip – if you use measuring cups for oil and honey – pour oil first, then use the same cup for honey. This way the honey will not stick to the sides.

Good luck, my gluten-free friends!


Juicing is great – but what to do with leftovers?

6 Mar

So you are juicing every day (or every other day? Once a week?) like me and don’t know what to do with pulp or leftovers?

Here are my few solutions.

If you use carrots – juice them first, take this pulp away and use it for

-baking cookies (use apple pulp as well);

-veggie burgers;

-thick soups (never tried, but I’d add it to lentil soup)

Lately I’m juicing fennel bulb, and all the fennel that is left simply is not possible to use fresh. So I collected the fennel from 2 bulbs, dehydrated it (temperature under 40 C to make sure it’s “live”) – for about 8 hrs. Then I milled it in a coffee grinder, collected in a jar, stored in the refrigerator for better times. It is a very fine powder, I think I’ll use just a bit for anything I will be cooking.

Hope this works for you too!

photo 1 (2) photo 2 (2) photo 3 (2)

Green smoothie sucess

4 Jan

Lately I’ve been skipping on my greens so I make sure I drink green smoothies. I remind myself about it every evening, but soon it will become a habit. I consider it as a snack


It is very easy to make one.

You need:

-any greens (kale, collard greens, butternut squash, romaine lettuce etc) – try to use only organic;

-any soft fruit (banana, mango, melon);

-any berries or one more fruit (strawberries, raspberries, blueberries etc);


It may look weird or “too healthy” but believe me you will like it after you try.

For the beginners – use more fruit. When you get used to it, try 2/3 of greens, 1/3 of a fruit. Blend water with fruit and berries first, then add greens. No need for fancy blender – mine was about $40 3 years ago and still going strong.

Good luck!

Recycling beer bottles into pretty vases

4 Sep

bottles_2Here is the project anyone can do! I’m sure you have some beer drinking action going on from time to time, so why not to get creative with bottles? I used

  • Silver paint – by Martha Stewart from Home Depot (Metallic paint, about $6);
  • Michaels – pink paint – acrylic, $1; flowers – $1.19 for 3; brushes – $4.99 for set
  • empty bottles
  • basket from TJ Maxx for $4.50

I had two layers of paint on each bottle. These are from Corona and they have dark colored writing. I think if I used the primer, it would be covered better. Pink color needs 3 layers, let it dry in between each layer completely. For silver paint 2 layers are enough.

On the photo below you see the silver box – it’s a plastic box from some toy painted with the same silver paint, one layer only for now

Have fun!

paint_brushes bottles_1



What’s growing on our balcony garden

22 Aug

basilI’ve never been excited to work in the garden because I spent a lot of my childhood days at the summer house (“dacha”) working on a field. Summer house in Ukraine and Russia is not your American summer house. It means you go there to work in the garden picking up weeds and collecting apples, berries, cucumbers etc. Usually toilet is outside, no shower etc. I’m sure new houses have all these goods built in, but it was not the case in our case…Next step down the civilization is a village. Village has bigger fields, and our grandparents have 2.5 acres of fields. I am very thankful we don’t have any animals there (my grandparent live there from Spring till Fall, not the full year).

My cousins always seemed to enjoy digging in the grounds and telling me that I should help my grandma better with this. But I just hated it. Especially the outfits you put on when you go to the field – someone’s old clothes and shoes, yuk.

So it is very funny how I like growing herbs now. Last year I started doing this, this year I got better, next year I’ll be the pro

The easiest thing that grows is basil. It grows no matter what like nobody’s business. If I don’t water it for 2-3 days, it doesn’t mind. You add some water – it’s alive again next day. It is really nice to have fresh basil anytime I need it. I use it for hummus mostly.

Then I have arugula. Next year I’ll have more of it, and will plant it properly, so it’s not overcrowded. I use just a couple of leaves at a time. If I needed a bunch, my balcony garden wouldn’t be able to provide that space.

Rosemary. I’ve got it for one recipe, and planted it, but really it has no use in my cooking. My daughter likes to eat it tho. Maybe I’ll skip it next year.

Mint. The best herb ever. It grows no matter what! You should plant it separately from everything. I love how fast it grows leafs back. I use it for vitamin water, and for other cooking. The more leafs you pick, the faster new ones will grow.

Cilantro and Parsley. This year I planted just one of each, but next year these plants will get more attention. Usually you need a lot of them, so when you harvest them, you need to wait 2 weeks for them to grow back. Next year I’ll plant 3-4 bushes of each.