Creamy Dreamy Detox Chia Oatmeal

I posted a picture of this recipe on my instagram (@jaxolivia) and I had a ton of people asking for it.

What I love about this recipe is that it has gluten free rolled oats (but you can also use steel cut), chia seeds, pure organic maple syrup, and homemade almond milk. All things that are extremely good for you and extremely detoxifying. This recipe is especially great after a heavy weekend out on the town. The omegas from the chia seeds detoxes your liver, you get an added burst of protein from the almond milk, oats, and chia seeds, it contains valuable fibre, and good sugars, which don’t spike your blood sugar level, but give you some energy for the day ahead. These oats are so creamy, too. It is like eating pudding! I made this batch and had extra, which I stored in the fridge overnight and it was even good cold in the morning. This is definitely a breakfast you can make ahead so that you aren’t scrambling in the mornings to get in something healthy.  If you want to make this for kids and make it fun, you can also add in a cup and a half of fresh blueberries, which will give it a purple colour and add a ton of antioxidants!

Creamy Dreamy Detox Chia Oatmeal

yeild: 2 generous servings
cook time: 10 minutes

Ingredients

1 cup gluten free rolled oats (not the quick cooking kind)
1 1/2 cups water (make sure this is cold water NOT hot)
1 cup homemade almond milk or milk substitute (whatever you prefer)
2 tablespoons chia seeds
2 tablespoons organic pure maple syrup
optional: 1 cup plus 1/4 cup fresh blueberries
Pinch salt
2 teaspoons organic pure vanilla extract or 1 vanilla bean scrape
More optional toppings: additional maple syrup, almonds, walnuts, pepitas, banana slices, 1 cup whey protein

Directions

1. Add oats, water, milk, chia seeds, maple syrup, and 1 cup of blueberries to a medium sauce pan or mini pot over medium heat. DO NOT wait for the water to boil before adding oats. For creamiest oats and no overcooking or undercooking, use cold water and cook everything together.
2. Stir to combine.
3. Cook and keep stirring occasionally until the mixture comes to a boil, about 5 minutes. Reduce heat and simmer until the oats have thickened and most of the berries have burst, turning the oatmeal purple, about 5 more minutes.
4. Remove from heat and stir in the vanilla extract (also optional)
5. Scoop in to bowls and add any additional toppings, including protein. Drizzle with more milk if desired and serve!

Meditation and Weightloss

When people think about losing weight, a diet of counting calories, no booze, sweating through biggest loser type workouts, or pounding it out on the treadmill usually come to mind. However, Forbes magazine as well as author and holistic health practitioner Deepak Chopra suggests that meditation can help with weight loss. Now that seems easy, eh?

Chopra described in a Huffington Post article how meditation can cause enough positive change in your brain in just eight weeks to rewire the body’s circuitry, helping you modify your eating habits and other behaviors. Chopra suggests tossing out the old idea that biology is destiny in favor of consciousness as destiny.

Forbes did a study suggesting that meditation can help people control their eating habits and lose weight. Forbes reported on a small-scale study out of UC San Francisco in which researches took a group of 47 overweight women and divided them into two groups. One of these groups received training in “mindful eating” and had 30-minute meditation sessions daily. In the mindful eating sessions women were ‘trained to experience the moment-by-moment sensory experience of eating.’  I don’t know if I could sit through that but the results were positive;  the meditation worked. Women in the meditation group ‘showed significant reductions in their cortisol levels’ (high cortisol levels are a side effect of stress).  And women in the study who experienced the greatest reduction in stress tended to have the most loss of visceral fat (deep belly fat surrounding organs, also a huge cause of cardiovascular issues and high mortality rates).

Dr. Catherine Kerr, a meditation researcher at Brown University, was happy and hopeful about the study’s results. She said, “These findings are consistent with numerous brain studies showing that this practice of attending mindfully to present moment experience brings about changes in brain areas responsible for body sensations, especially body sensations related to hunger and craving (in the brain area called the ‘insula’), the idea here being that daily practice actually trains your brain to help you tune in to your body in a more healthy way.”

There are caveats to this study – it’s only preliminary, and it had a small test group. Also, the difference in the weight changes reported above only applied to the women in the study who were classified as ‘obese’ by their BMI. Overall, there wasn’t a statistically significant difference between the control group and experimental group when it came to weight.  The biggest difference in the groups were the stress levels. But given this study’s consistency with other findings, I think that a bigger scale study would show that the combination of stress reduction via meditation and craving control via mindful eating should work to maintain weight if practiced consistently.

Despite being a Yoga instructor, I personally struggle with meditation. Most types of meditation involve sitting for prolonged periods and calming your mind. This task is next to impossible for me as I am probably at about an 11 on the anxious scale. I find this same problem with most of my clients as well as most people who live and work in a fast paced city. Toronto was recently rated the best place in the world to live, however that doesn’t mean it’s not tough to live here. We work a lot and the restaurants are amazing and fast food is too easy. So, back to what Chopra said, that mindfulness meditation can help for weight loss and is something that can be practiced while sitting as well as while doing your daily activities. The key to mindfulness meditation is to pay attention. That means no multitasking. For example, to practice mindfulness meditation while eating, pay attention to your food rather than reading, talking or watching TV during a meal. Chopra’s method encourages you to taste and enjoy food but to closely watch how much you’re eating and why. Keep your awareness in your body rather than zoning out and then noticing you’re stuffed, again.

Again, I find this problematic. First of all, its not realistic. Most of the time people eat socially, they eat to wind down in front of a tv, relax with their partner, etc. On top of this, most over eaters suffer because they binge due to external factors, which affect them internally.

So, what is the fix? Well, I think that there are two ways to start, lets call this Jac meditation.

  1. Food Diary meditation

Write down every single thing you eat and contemplate (or meditate on) why you are eating it. I have my clients make me food diarys, which include time they ate and why they ate. When you get to the source, you can find out a lot about the motivation. I’ve seen a lot of “I was bored” over the years or “I knew it was there and I had to have it” This point leads me to the next step, why did you have to have it?

  1. External factors, which effect you internally
    Emotional eating is real. When I am on the outs with the love of my life you can bet I will not touch a single bit of food. I am so physically ill from emotion it is overwhelming. The same can be said for stress. If I am stressed about something else in my life, lets say, bills, then all I want is 67 ferrero rocher’s and a huge bowl of buttery popcorn and maybe a trip to the local pub for three orders of fish tacos. Seriously. Who else is with me on this? Back to the point, let’s figure out what’s going on inside that is preventing you from achieving your goals. Stress, anxiety, mental health, eating disorders, body image problems, over eating, they are all real problems. I think the best way to deal with this is not to meditate on it but probably to talk about it with a counsellor, a medical professional who has experience with these sorts of things, or a therapist. You can’t always hash it out with your friends, sometimes you need real help

 

So, the bottomline – Does meditation help? Maybe. Is it achievable? Also, maybe. But most importantly, I think you really need to dig deep and get down to the issues. Maybe try meditation for the real things going on in your life before you think about food.  Really examine yourself and your surroundings and those who surround you and then let’s talk about your diet. Mental health should always come first. Until then, use common sense and try not to eat until the last blueberry (Monty Python enthusiasts will agree).

Pilates and Fat Loss

Why do you workout? That’s the first thing you should ask yourself before starting up any routine, signing a membership at any gym, Crossfit studio, Lagree, Barre, etc. What do you want to achieve?

So many times clients come to me after joining all these places, which I think is great, but they usually end up injured and frustrated because they are in pain. The first thing I ask them is, well, why did you sign up? Why do you workout? What is your goal? I ask this because for the most part the answer is the same, “I want to feel better,” or “I want to lose weight” or “I want to get in to crazy shape.” That’s all great, but, you have to do it properly.

The number one thing most people overlook when starting a program is safety, adequate progression, exercise modification, and the ability to teach yourself how to adapt to correct movement patterns in order to do all these new trendy programs. Enter: Pilates.

Now look, I am not a preacher and I don’t only ever do Pilates. Sticking to one modality is never a good thing when it comes to fitness, you have to train your body in a number of ways.

Pilates is important to train and maintain your core and pelvic control muscles in order to do high intensity HIIT training without injury to your back and knees. Pilates is all about spine sparing techniques, to get the highest muscular activation with the least strain to the joints, ligaments, and bones of the back. Your core is the anterior (front), lateral (side), and posterior (back) muscle groups around your lumbar spine (lower spine). Ladies, this also includes your glutes. Big time.

Your pelvic control muscles are all the muscles involved in producing and maintaining pelvic tilts for spine sparing powerful movement. So, you have to learn to work these muscles in order to maintain spine health while doing power workouts like plyo (I never recommend plyos but I know everyone is pounding out box jumps and burpees for trend sake lately), and joint impact work like HIIT, Crossfit, and websites like Bodyrock, etc. You have to learn to move well, before you move fast and powerfully. Adequate balance between anterior, lateral, and posterior core is your main goal.

Does this mean Pilates has to be a bunch of boring physio-like, rehab, work that sucks? No. Contemporary Pilates is damn hard and not boring. We don’t just do side leg series anymore. Mix Pilates in to your regular workouts and not only are you doing your joints and body a favor, you are also sweating a up a storm. So, when you ask me, can I lose fat with Pilates? Yes. Pilates mat work is hard! The Reformer is even more difficult and the reason why Victoria Secret models and athletes use it to supplement their fitness regime. Have you ever seen Iza Goulart’s Instagram vids? She is working!

The moral of the story? You don’t need to do 50 burpees and kill your knees and back to burn fat. Try doing a high plank on a stability ball with a leg abduction. Now, your really working. Don’t know what that is? Find out today and try some Pilates.

 

No Excuses Workout

Sometimes when its -18 outside you can’t get to the gym. Hey, I’m not here to judge, I am here to help you get off the couch even if it means still not leaving your house.

So, instead of flipping through all the Netflix movies you have already seen for the next 20 minutes, do this!! It’s a quick, low impact, glute heavy and will give your metobolism a kick after the holiday season.

Work Rest 30:10 ration (30 seconds work to 10 seconds rest)

Get to it!

Squats
Left leg Static lunge
Squats
Right leg Static lunge
Squats
Plank hold
Squats
Plank hold with a leg lift
Squats
Side plank dip
Reverse lunges
Plank hold

STRETCH!

Raw Healthy Valentines Treats

Guess what? We are a whole week in to January! Wow! You know what that means right? That means we are one week closer to Valentines day! Men, get those flowers, oysters, and champagne ready and women…lets get sweaty! And by sweaty I mean lets get down and dirty in the kitchen and make these heathy Valentines treats for the person who loves you most in this world! They are also completely raw, refined sugar free, dairy free, gluten free, AND chalk full of Superfoods…cherries, raw almonds, coconut, chia seeds, sea salt, the list goes on! You can’t go wrong..they are also SO delicious that I make them year round. Here it is… and I can tell you from experience, they work 

RAW ALMOND LINZER COOKIES WITH CHERRY FILLING

Filling
2 cups frozen cherries, thawed
1/2 tsp lemon juice
2-4 medjool dates, soaked 30 minutes
4 tsp chia seeds

Dough
1 1/2 cups raw almonds
1/2 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
Small pinch of fine sea salt
8 medjool dates
2-3 tbsp raw almond milk

Sprinkles
1/4 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
1 tbsp cherry juice

Prepare the filling by separating the thawed cherries from the cherry juice; reserve juice in a small bowl. Add the cherries to the container of a high speed blender (such as a Vitamix), along with 2 tablespoons of the reserved cherry juice, lemon juice, and the dates (the more dates you add, the sweeter it will be). Blend on high speed for 30-40 seconds, or until semi-smooth. Transfer to a bowl and stir in the chia seeds, then cover and chill in the refrigerator for at least two hours.

In a food processor fitted with the S blade, blend the almonds, coconut, and salt into a fine meal. Add the dates and process until combined. Add the milk and blend for 30 seconds, just until the dough is smooth. Pat dough into a disc and wrap with plastic. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.

When both the dough and filling are ready, line a large cookie sheet with parchment paper; set aside. Line a flat surface with parchment paper and sprinkle with raw nut meal. Roll out the dough until it’s about 1/4″ thick. Using a round 2″ cookie cutter, cut out as many cookies as you can and carefully transfer them to the lined baking sheet. Repeat process with remaining dough scraps. When you’ve finished cutting the dough, use a small heart cutter to cut the centers out of half of the cookies (don’t remove the centers just yet) and freeze for 20 minutes. Once the cookies have frozen, remove the heart centers and spread the uncut cookie halves with about 1 heaping teaspoon of cherry filling and sandwich with the cutout tops. Freeze on cookie sheet for an hour, then transfer to an air tight container. Cookies will keep in the refrigerator for up to five days, or in the freezer for up to six weeks. If freezing, allow cookies to thaw for 15 minutes before serving.

Just before serving, stir together the coconut and cherry juice and sprinkle over the exposed jam centers.

Yield: 18 linzer cookies

November Fire It Up Workout!

Keeping with tradition and considering how cold it is outside I decided to put together a quick workout that can be completed fairly easily in any space (even small ones!). If you don’t have a stability ball you can use a bench or chair, you just won’t get the benefit of extra proprioception work.

This is a Pilates/Yoga based workout that will get your glutes firing and amp up your anterior core! It should also help with the recent sub 0 temperatures and snow we had on Halloween! Yikes! Time to get in to fighting shape for the holidays…or at least for the holiday cookies.

Get at it!

Warm up:

10 cat/camel
10 sun salutations (vinyasas)
10 glute bridges

Workout
Perform this 2-3x

Healthy Halloween Rice Krispy Treats

Eating healthy on Halloween can be tough. It’s hard not to buy those big bags of candy bars at the store filled with Caramilk, Twix, Kit Kat, all the good ones! One of my favorite treats on Halloween are rice krispy squares. They are so moist and crunchy at the same time! But, marshmallows and a ton of sugar don’t help your waistline at all.

So, instead of loading up on tons of sugar and calories, I’ve got a great recipe for you. It’ll satisfy your sweet tooth, it combines chocolate and peanut butter (you can’t beat that) and you won’t feel like you are denying yourself any treats on the most treat-filled day of the year! Everyone loves rice krispies, they are easy to make, and these ones can be homemade with healthy, organic ingredients and NO marshmallows! What! How does that happen? Oh it does, and its still incredibly satisfying and delicious. So, without further adieu here is my Healthy Chocolate Peanut Butter Rice Krispy Treats!

HEALTHIER CHOCOLATE & PEANUT BUTTER RICE KRISPIES TREATS
PREP TIME
COOK TIME
TOTAL TIME
A healthier version of chocolate-topped peanut butter Rice Krispies treats made without any marshmallows at all.
Recipe type: Dessert
Serves: 16
INGREDIENTS
  • 3 cups puffed rice cereal
  • ½ cup natural peanut butter
  • Pinch salt
  • ½ cup rice malt syrup (honey or agave will also work, but will lend a different flavor)
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 250g milk, semisweet or dark chocolate (your choice, or a mix!), chopped
  • 1 tablespoon natural peanut butter
INSTRUCTIONS
  1. Grease and line an 8×8-inch baking tin.
  2. Place cereal in a large bowl and set aside. In a small saucepan, combine peanut butter, salt, rice malt syrup and vanilla. Heat gently and stir until thoroughly combined and melted.
  3. Pour the peanut butter mixture over the cereal and stir until all the cereal is coated.
  4. Transfer the peanut butter cereal to the prepared tin and spread out evenly. Place a piece of parchment paper on top of the cereal and use another pan, or your hands, to flatten the top.
  5. Place the tin in the refrigerator to set for around 30 minutes.
  6. Near the end of the 30 minutes, place the chopped chocolate and 1tbsp peanut butter in a heatproof bowl set over a pan of gently simmering water (water should be about 1-inch high and the bowl should not touch the water), ensuring no water comes in contact with the chocolate mixture. Stir occasionally until melted and smooth.
  7. Take the peanut butter cereal from the refrigerator, pour the melted chocolate on top and smooth the surface. Return to the refrigerator for another 30 minutes or until chocolate is set.
  8. Cut into squares with a sharp knife, cleaning the knife after each cut.
  9. Store in an air-tight container in the refrigerator; let them warm up to room temperature to soften up the chocolate before serving, if desired.

Thanksgiving Quickie Fat Blast Holiday Workout

There is always a thin line during the holidays of maintaining your healthy lifestyle, including your diet and workout plan, but still being able to enjoy yourself and spend time with the people you love.  I know that for a lot of my clients its really tough to still eat well and have a large spread in front of them, candied yams calling your name! I also can attest to the fact that I have had many an anxious phone call from clients, mostly along the lines of “I won’t have time to do my workout all weekend!” First and foremost, relax. You won’t gain 20 lbs in one weekend or lose your nicely toned 6 pack in one weekend, save for maybe a little water weight, which can come off easily in the days following the feasting. In addition, there is no possible way that I would ever tell someone to forego spending time with your family so that they can pound it out on the treadmill or get to the gym. During the holidays, please remember, we are North Americans after all, and for the most part, we work, A LOT. I personally know that means that we don’t spend as much time with the people we love as we can and its these moments that you are going to remember, and not want to regret, because you were at the gym.

So, whats the fix? Well, HIIT is probably your best bet. A quick, at-home, fat blast workout that will help you sweat it out so you don’t feel guilty, but also you don’t have to spend 30 minutes getting ready to go to the gym, getting there, doing your workout, coming home, etc. forget it! If you are like me, and cooking a turkey dinner, then you also don’t have time for this. So, here it is! A Thanksgiving workout, be thankful and grateful and most importantly, have a wonderful time with your loved ones this weekend.

Thanksgiving Fat Blast Workout

Warm up
25 body weight squat
20 hip thrust on bench or chair
20 reverse lunges
15 track start toe taps each leg
10 jump squats / modification: plié squats
5 burpees/ modification: walk out up/downs
4 T stand push-ups
20 hip thrusts on bench or chair
3 plank jacks / modification: 6 plank hold leg lift
2 burpees
1 30 seconds plank hold
Main Set
10 body weight squat lunge squat
10 walking push-ups
30 seconds plank hold
10 static lunge each leg
10 tricep dips (on bench or chair)
30 seconds plank hold
10 reverse lunge karate kick
10 push up with leg lift bum squeeze each leg
30 seconds plank hold
20 bum up leg lift each side
10 one arm tricep push-ups each side
20 side plank dips each side
10 single leg bridge each side
10 plank jack/modification: plank hold and reach forward
30 seconds each side plank hold
20 fire hydrants each side
10 frog legs
25 dead bugs
25 V sits
25 starfish
25 straight leg pulse
10 plank hold reach forward

STRETCH!

Pumpkin Spice Latte Pilates and Yoga

Occasionally, when I am meeting a client for the first time they will be slightly skeptical about how possible it is to get a great kickass workout purely from Yoga and Pilates moves. By the end of the first session, they quickly change their tune. On top of the physical benefit, they also feel better. Because in one hour they raise their heart rate, work on their mobility, challenge their stability, and increase their flexibility, with no pain. Yoga and Pilates also works to detox the body and increase your metabolism by wringing out the organs and increasing blood flow and lubrication to the joints. On top of all of this, you activate your glutes and your core, which helps spine health and works to give you a killer 6 pack and bubble butt without killing your knees your or low back in the gym. Still skeptical? Here’s a Jax approved workout that incorporates simple moves you can do at home. Try it this this weekend and burn off some pumpkin spice lattes while also increasing mobility, stability, and flexibility.

Warm up

20 hip thrusts (no weight! do these on a bench or chair with proper positioning and then you can add some light weight)

20 down dog to plank

10 each side downdog to plank with leg lift (same as above but lift one leg up while you are in downdog as if going in to pidgeon pose and then pull your knee in to your chest as you slide in to plank and then drive back again in to downdog)

10 sun salutations with chair pose progressions (Move from sun salutation standing directly in to chair pose and then again into Standing Forward Fold (Uttanasana) and then back in to the sun salutation sequence)

30 seconds plank hold

10 of each side donkey kicks (maintain neutral spine and keep hips stabilized (parallel to the floor throughout the exercise, including the lift…this should be quite challenging!)

10 T stand push ups

10 floor angels  (keep low back flat and make sure you maintain abdominal brace throughout)

10 bird dog each side (you can choose to hold a pilates ball or put on ankle weights to make this weighted)

30 seconds side plank hold each side

10 each side fire hydrant

10 dead bug to reverse crunch

20 hip thrusts

20 downdog to plank flow

10 downdog to plank with leg lift

Pilates side leg series (hip stability here is the most important)

10 plank hold leg lift bum squeeze

10 sun salutations

STRETCH!

There you have it. You can repeat this a couple of times if you like or not. This is just an example of a quickie Yoga/Pilates workout that would be a typical session. It’s really important that when you are trying out these moves for the first time you do them properly and establish the correct patterns in your movement so that as you progress, you are progressing properly. You should feel a lot of this stuff but you should feel it in the right places, not the wrong ones. Hip stability and core and glute activation is the goal! I love this workout because you can do it in your living room on a random afternoon or evening. It’s so great for rehab as well as for overall conditioning. So, go grab a pumpkin spice latte, your yoga mat, and get to it!

 

Glow From the Inside Out

Lifestyle is extremely important when it comes to healthy skin. Your skin’s ability to react to outside stress, sun damage, and your environment (city vs country life) relies a lot more on your daily choices than your daily sunscreen or skin creams.

Everyone spends crazy amounts of money, or at least some, on the latest anti-aging cream or gel, botox, cosmetic surgery, the works! This is how the medical and pharmaceutical world not only makes its money but also see’s the general population; eager for the next easy fix. However, its not so easy. Your face isn’t just your face. It is your liver, kidneys, heart, blood cells, blood vessels; everything is interconnected and that is not something you can change (there are no loop holes!). That being said, glowing skin and your skin health are related to the same things that will help your heart, control your weight, control your hormones, lower your risk of obesity, heart disease, cancer, and lung disease among other things. You need to exercise, get enough sleep, ditch the junk food, and cut back on the booze. If any aspect of your health is suffering, it means your body as a whole is suffering, including your skin! So, how do we help? Well, as one famous philosopher once said, “let food be thy medicine.” Here are some of my favorite skin improving, glow inducing, beauty foods.

1. Chia Seeds – super rich in omega 3 acids, which help production of collagen and elasticity of your cells. Omega 3′s help with wrinkles and keep you well hydrated!

2. Coconut Oil – great for both internal and external organs (yes, your skin is an organ!). Coconut oil is anti-bacterial, anti-fungal, a natural spf, and a great natural moisturizer.

3. Carrots – A huge source of vitamin A from carotenoids. This helps the over production of cells, which can lead to clogged pores and wrinkles. Carrots also have a tendency to give you a semi-orange glow if you eat enough! The real natural fake tan!

 
4. Olive Oil – Omega 6 fatty acids, which keeps the skin moist and supple. Do not use in cooking though! Olive oil has a low smoke point and should not be heated.

5. Almonds – Natures Vitamin E. This anti-oxidant protects against sun damage. Almonds also help maintain a healthy weight, they are filled with good fats and boost metabolism! Have only one handful a day.

6. Blueberries – Filled with flavanoids, which prevent ageing by protecting the body from free radical harm. Also delicious frozen.

7. Grapefruit – Any citrus is great as its a wonderful source of vitamin C, which prevents cancer, as well as acne, and oily skin. Grapefruit is also cellulite busting! However, please be careful and talk to your doctor before consuming grapefruits as they could interact with a number of medications.