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Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Glutamine- The "Non-Essential, But Necessary" Amino-Acid- Q&A

By: Alex Liska
What is Glutamine?
Glutamine is one of the 11 non-essential amino acids. Non-essential means that the body can produce it on its own (unlike "essential" amino acids). Under normal conditions (meaning we are eating a substantial, nutritious diet consisting of enough proteins, veggies and healthy fats) our bodies should be able to produce MORE THAN ENOUGH glutamine for muscle tissue repair/post-workout recovery.
Approximately 60% of our glutamine is found in skeletal muscle tissue and the rest is found in the liver, lungs, stomach tissues and brain.

What is the role that Glutamine plays in the body?
Glutamine is responsible for repair of muscle tissues as well as increasing the hydration state of muscle cells. Once muscle cells become dehydrated they enter a catabolic (breakdown) state. This is also why it is important to ALWAYS STAY HYDRATED; but on the topic of glutamine, this is why it's important to be eating a sound nutritious diet that encourages the body to produce enough of this amino-acid to help with the hydration of muscle cells.
Glutamine is also a nitrogen donor, meaning that it moves nitrogen around to the areas of the body where it is most needed. Positive Nitrogen Balance is necessary in order to gain muscle mass.

What causes Glutamine Depletion?
During times of stress, glutamine stores are depleted and must be replenished through proper nutrition and in some cases supplementation is said to come in handy.
Stress is a major cause of glutamine depletion. The common cold can certainly cause enough stress that your body's glutamine reserves may start to run low!!!
Strenuous exercise is another factor that will disrupt your immune function to a point where glutamine may begin to run low in your body. All it takes is five minutes of exercise for catabolic hormones (muscle breakdown hormones) to be released and glutamine levels will rise to keep up with this process. By the end of a hard workout it is quite common for your body's glutamine levels to be completely depleted and in need of repair. Therefore the harder you train, the higher the rates of depletion.

Should I consider Glutamine Supplementation or is My Diet Enough?
This has got to be the most frequently asked question when it comes to Glutamine!!! I have been asked this question by numerous people, time and time again.
There are two answers to this question, there is MY PERSONAL OPINION and there is WHAT SUITS YOU BEST.
Simply put, the typical North American Diet provides anywhere from 3.5- 7grams of Glutamine daily, which can be found in animal and plant proteins.
Ask yourself this "Am I eating adequate amounts of animal or plant-based proteins (one or the other, or both)?"
If you answered NO, then you might as well start eating more protein if you would like to help your body produce more glutamine!! Have you ever heard the saying "Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day; Teach a man to fish and you feed him for Life" ??? I firmly believe that the same concept applies when you give your body supplements instead of feeding it the right nutrition so that it can manufacture its own non-essential amino-acids! After all NON-ESSENTIAL does not mean that they are not necessary, it simply means that if we are eating right OUR BODY CAN PRODUCE THESE AMINO ACIDS ON ITS OWN!
I have heard from people in the Fitness Industry who have taken Glutamine (and also people who are sponsored by companies that make glutamine) that it is a GREAT supplement and "IT WORKS" ... If that is the case, if you have taken Glutamine and "it worked" for you then continue taking it!
I have taken Glutamine in the past (I used the whole container, serving by serving, day by day as recommended on the instructions, and I also cross-referenced different forums, asked fellow personal trainers/fitness experts about how to take it properly) and it did ABSOLUTELY NOTHING for me!!!!
Again, this is just my personal opinion, I would not spend my money on it again, but if it is something that you think is useful and you feel it helps you recover better/faster after a workout, then continue to invest in it.
I like to rely on adequate amounts of sleep (6-8hours a night and if that is not possilbe, I will take power-naps during the day),  adequate amounts of protein from lean meats, eggs, fish, egg-whites, plain 0% yogurt, cheeses (fat-free or reduced fat) and skim milk. I rest 2 days out of the week and train the other 5 days. On my rest days I eat clean (I eat clean 85-90% of the time regardless) and I will eat more green veggies to keep my metabolism up!

My Own Personal Experience With Glutamine (A Short Story)...
A few years back when I used to work 9-5 Monday-Friday, I followed a diet that was low in fat, high in complex carbohydrates and consisted of 5-6 servings of 20-30grams of extra-lean protein a day. This diet was also low in sodium. It was the most commonly recommended diet by "fitness experts" for getting lean so I trusted that with this diet, a well-known Glutamine supplement, enough water, and rest I would get ripped in 10-12 weeks and would have enough energy for my workouts! I was doing cardio in the morning and weights in the afternoon. I would take one day off each week, usually a week-end day. I was afraid to cheat on my diet because I very badly wanted to get lean and ripped! This was back in 2008. I followed the diet, ate my 5-6 meals each day, TRIED to rest at night (this was hard because work was stressful and I was always in a hurry, I lived on my own and had tons of bills to pay, my diet/supplements just added to my list of expenses). I religiously took my Glutamine supplement post-workouts and before bed and sometimes even in the morning. I was only taking it twice a day but after 3 weeks of not seeing any results and feeling completely drained and lacking energy I upped my serving of glutamine to 3-4 times a day!!! LOL... 
Anyhow I finished off the container and at this point I was not noticing ANY IMPROVEMENTS in my recovery post-workouts, NO INCREASE in energy and NO RESULTS from my training and dieting.
I continued to diet and train hard but stopped spending any extra money on Glutamine. 
Well....................that was back in 2008.... I have since then written a new diet for myself. Yes, this time I did my own diet, because I figured I know my body better than anyone else does. I have CUT OUT ALL CARBS except for unsweetened cocoa powder (which has NO sugar, just 2 grams of fiber per serving), the occasional 1/2-3/4cup of berries (on the weekend and i won't have any more than 1/2-3/4Cup as a serving size), plain 0% yogurt and green veggies. SOMETIMES I will have a few (5-6) baby carrots in my stir-fry but that is it! I eat moderate amounts of lean proteins and dietary fats! Moderation is key when it comes to fat, I won't eat too much of it but if I do, I will focus on essential fats/dietary fats and STAY AWAY from trans-fats/unhealthy man-made fats!!!
Instead of training 2 times a day 6 days a week, I would rather focus on a strict but easy-to-stick-to diet and train once a day 5 days a week! The extra rest day MAKES A HUGE DIFFERENCE!!!!! More than Glutamine supplementation could EVER do for me... I drink PLENTY of water before, during and after my workouts and I focus on keeping my stress levels LOW... taking a few deep breaths and zoning out for a minute or so helps me regain focus throughout the day and not being under pressure to train twice a day helps me focus better on my workout! I am more energized and I enjoy it WAY more...
I like the quote "Educate! Don't Medicate" when it comes to supplements. I have learned that balance (nutrition, training, rest) is the key, not taking extra supplements to make up for poor nutrition, over-training and lack of sleep/rest!
I hope this article helps!!! I have checked the poll on here (on the left hand panel) and I noticed that "Financial" stress is the main source of stress!!! Well, supplements can be VERY COSTLY so focus on a sound nutritious diet: No-Name Tuna, Low-fat Mayo, Plain 0% yogurt, Unsweetened Cocoa Powder, Canned Chicken-Breast, Frozen Fish, Canned Salmon, Frozen Spinach, Olive Oil, Organ Meats, Onions, Garlic....ETC... CAN ALL BE FOUND FOR CHEAP OR ON SALE AT MAJOR GROCERY STORES ACROSS NORTH AMERICA!!! The Key here is to shop for bargains, buy NO-NAME vs. BRAND-NAME products and make a list of what you need so that you can briefly consult grocery store flyers to see where everything is on sale before you head out for your grocery shopping trip!
Not spending money on un-necessary supplements can help give your pocket/wallets a break!!! After all we could all use a little financial break every now and then! ;)

Have a Great Week!










-Alex L. :)

Friday, March 26, 2010

Lower Abs on Lat Pulldown/Stability Ball - Abs/Core Exercise of the Week

Here is this Friday's Abs/Core Exercise of the week. I started off with leg raises on the stability ball, holding onto the Lat-pull-down machine's pads; I then got rid of the stability ball and finished off with some hip thrusts on the Lat-pull-down machine! This exercise REALLY focuses on core stability and also isolates the lower abs:

I have been posting mostly workouts for the lower abs and for the core as these are the main areas that people struggle with. I will be posting some upper-ab exercises soon! Also, don't forget to browse my "PREVIOUS ARTICLES" archives for more ab/core workouts and check the VIDEOS page for more at-home total-body workout clips!!!

Don't Forget to try my new Recipe:
Spicy Bok-Choy & Shrimp With Mixed Veggies Stir-Fry (Lean, Low-Fat, Low-Carb Dinner Choice)

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Spicy Bok-Choy & Shrimp with Mixed Veggies Stir-Fry (Lean, Low-Fat, Low-Carb Dinner Choice)

By: Alex Liska


Ingredients:
-1.5-2 Cups Bok-Choy (rinsed and cut/sliced)
-1/2 Medium Onion (diced)
-3 Garlic Cloves (chopped/crushed/very thinly sliced)
-1/2 tsp Fresh Ginger (peeled and crushed)
-1 Green Pepper (sliced or chopped)
-1 Large Celery Stalk (sliced into smaller pieces)
--1.5 cups Mixed Frozen or Fresh Veggies (Broccoli, Cauliflower, Brussel Sprouts(if you like these) & a Few Carrots)
-You may also add in 3/4 cup of Babycorn & Water Chestnuts (this will however higher the carb content/sugar content of this dish)
-1/4 tsp Chili Powder
-1/4 tsp Cayenne Pepper
-1/2 tsp Black Peper
-1/2 tsp Paprika
-1/4 tsp Garlic Powder
-Crushed Red Pepper Flakes (anywhere from 1/8tsp- more depending on how spicy you like it!!!!)
-1 envelope Stevia (I use PureVia because it doesn't leave a bitter aftertaste or change flavors/texture when heated!!!) 
**Combine all of the spices listed above in a small cup and mix them together!**
-3-4 tbsp Soya Sauce
-1 tbsp Black-Bean Sauce
-1 tbsp Oyster Sauce
-16 Large Frozen or Fresh Shrimps
-1 tbsp fresh Lemon Juice
-6-10 drops Toasted or Regular Sesame Oil


Directions: Heat up a large frying pan and add the grape-seed or olive oil. Saute the Onions, Bok-Choy, Garlic, Ginger, Green Pepper and Celery. The stove setting should be medium-high heat (i used medium when making this). Add the Mixed Frozen or Fresh Veggies and sprinkle 1/2 the spice mix over top. If you are using Babycorns & Water-chestnuts, mix them in now. Add the Shrimps, Soya Sauce, Black-Bean Sauce, Oyster Sauce and combine everything together. Sprinkle the rest of the spice mix to the stir-fry. Saute for about 1-2 minutes or until the shrimps are properly cooked (don't cook for too long or the shrimps will become tough). Sprinkle 6-10 drops of Sesame Oil over top and lightly mix. Cover for about 1 minute with a frying pan cover or a plate so that the flavors all get absorbed. Add the tbsp. of fresh lemon juice to the whole stir-fry and give it a slight mix.


Enjoy!!!!!!! :)
This dish is Low in Carbs, Low in Fat, High in Protein, Fiber, Antioxidants, Flavonoids, Vitamins
 and Minerals. Yields 2 Servings. This can be used as a Lunch or Dinner Choice for those trying to maintain a healthy weight or aiming to lose stored body-fat!!!



Find out where to get PureVia--- http://www.PureVia.com  ---Stevia Herbal Sweetener !!!

Sunday, March 21, 2010

SUBMIT YOUR BEFORE AND AFTER PICS FOR MY NEW TESTIMONIAL PAGE

I HAVE BEEN GETTING SOME AMAZING FEEDBACK ON THE AB WORKOUT I POSTED LAST MONTH:
IT SEEMS THAT ALL THOSE WHO HAVE BEEN DOING THIS WORKOUT AND FOLLOWING THE NUTRITION TIPS ON MY SITE HAVE BEEN SEEING RESULTS!!!!
I AM SO THRILLED TO HEAR THIS, THE FEEDBACK VIA E-MAIL, FACEBOOK, MYSPACE, GOOGLE, TWITTER & YOUTUBE JUST TO NAME A FEW HAS REALLY INSPIRED ME TO POST MORE WORKOUT VIDEO-CLIPS AND TRAINING ARTICLES!!!

I AM ANNOUNCING A NEW SPRING/SUMMER MOTIVATION CHALLENGE:
I AM CURRENTLY ACCEPTING SUBMISSIONS VIA E-MAIL OF BEFORE PICS OF ALL OF THOSE THAT ARE FOLLOWING THE FITNESS TIPS/WORKOUTS ON MY SITE, I WILL BE FEATURING THEM IN MY NEW "TESTIMONIALS" PAGE WHERE A FEW PEOPLE EACH MONTH WILL BE FEATURED. THIS IS A GREAT CHANCE TO SHARE YOUR TRANSFORMATION STORY, TIPS AND MOTIVATE OTHERS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! WE ARE ALL IN THIS TOGETHER GUYS, LET'S ALL WORK TOGETHER TO GET FIT FOR SUMMER!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! :)
Before: 162 lbs  & After: 135 lbs.
ABOVE IS ONE OF MY OWN BEFORE & AFTER PICTURE COLLAGES. I HAVE MANY MORE TO COME....

Have a GREAT week!!!!!!
-ALEX L. :)

Friday, March 19, 2010

Leg Raises and Crunch Combo On Stability Ball (Core-Lower & Upper Abs) -Abs/Core Exercise of the Week

As promised last week, here is my Friday weekly Core workout! I chose to demonstrate a combo of leg raises on the stability ball, superset with crunches! This exercise requires stabilization of the core/midsection and is great for trimming the lower abs as well as bringing out the upper abs!



Make sure to inhale as you lower your legs and exhale while squeezing your abs very tight as you bring your legs up. Keep your shoulders relaxed and you should hold on to a bench or anything that is stable behind you so that you don't fall off the stability ball. I suggest doing 2-3 sets of this and atleast 12-15 reps.

Have a Great Weekend!!! :-)

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Healthy Egg, Ham & Cheese Salad Recipe (Low Carb/Low Fat)

Ingredients:
-125ml Egg-Whites (approx. 4 Egg-Whites)
-1 Egg
-2 tsp. Olive Oil
-20grams Skim Mozzarella & 1 slice Fat-Free Cheddar-Cheese Slice (Kraft/Black Diamond/No Name)
-1/2 can Fat-Reduced Cubed Ham (drained) or 1/4 Cup Sliced Lean Ham Slices (lunch meat works fine)
-Seasonings (1/4 tsp. of Each: Mrs.Dash Chicken Seasonings, Paprika, Black Pepper and Salt)
-3 Large Washed Leaves of Romaine Lettuce (Shredded)
-1/8 cup Finely Chopped Onion
-2 tsp. Low-Fat Mayonnaise

Directions:
In a medium sized bowl, mix the egg and egg-whites, ham and seasonings together very well. Heat up a med. sized frying pan and add the olive oil. Scramble the egg/egg-white/ham mixture until cooked well, add in the Mozzarella cheese until it has melted. Place the scrambled egg/ham/cheese mixture back in the medium sized bowl, place the Fat-Free Kraft Cheese slice on top, cover the bowl so that it melts; allow for the scrambled eggs to cool.
In another bowl mix the shredded lettuce, onions and mayonnaise well to create a salad base. Add in the cooled scrambled egg/ham/cheese and mix together your salad. Sprinkle some black pepper and salt if needed. 
Enjoy!!!

This yields one serving, it is HIGH in lean protein, low in fat and carbs, a great alternative to 'Egg Salad Sandwiches' and is great as a lunch or breakfast choice; helps with healthy weight maintenance and weight loss goals!!!
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Friday, March 12, 2010

Hanging Knee Raises (Lower Abs) - Abs/Core Exercise of the Week

Here is a Video Clip of me doing Hanging Knee Raises off the chinup bar at the gym earlier. I really like this exercise because it helps bring out my lower abs like no other workout at this time... I will be posting an ABS/CORE EXERCISE OF THE WEEK workout clip every Friday, so stay tuned for lots more!!!


When doing this exercise, make sure you are really contracting your abdominal muscles, pull in your belly button towards your spine, inhale when lowering your knees/legs and exhale as you bring your knees up towards your chest in a controlled manner. Form is VERY important when performing any exercise and so is your breathing technique!!!

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Psychological Effects of Over-Training

By: Alex Liska

Although it is great to workout and eat healthy, there is a fine line between going to the gym religiously; everyday and sometimes twice a day, to over-exerting yourself and over-training. Sometimes when you are starting to see very promising results, you're training for an event or you're a serious athlete you tend to think "mind over matter" and sometimes you might end up ignoring your body or some of the early warning signs of having over-done it at the gym.
Exhaustion and Fatigue can often be the results of unusual stress, emotional upset or even boredom. Since the cause is usually psychological, it can often go away with REST and CHANGE OF MOOD. It's CRUCIAL to get enough rest post-workout and feed your muscles the right kind of vitamins, nutrients and stay hydrated. Sometimes we may not realize it but if we are under stress due to work-related issues, family problems, financial dilemmas and many other lifestyle factors, our bodies and minds may be working over-time and not allowing us enough recovery time. If you have a lot on your plate it can be hard to remember to eat the right foods or eat 5-6 times a day. Maybe you can't sleep at night because of a huge project/deadline that you're thinking about at your job, or there may be a line of credit/unpaid bill that is just there pending and waiting to be looked after.
With all the pressure in different aspects of life it is important to understand early warning signs that you need to take a break.

Here are some of the mental and physical symptoms of over-training:
-Tired, Lack of Energy, Drained
-Exhausted
-Constant, almost compulsive NEED to train/exercise (psychological)
-Insomnia, Trouble Sleeping
-Muscle and Joint aches, pains
-Headaches
-Irritability, Frustration
-Decreased appetite
-Moodiness
-Depression (can range from mild to more severe)
-Lack of Enthusiasm in the Activity (Cardio/Weights/Sports)
-Inability to stay Focused


If you think you are over-training or experience any or more of the above symptoms it would be a good idea to take some time off from the gym. Continue eating clean/healthy but give your body some time to rest and recuperate. Try getting involved in different activities, such as reading, writing, drawing, walking (more for relaxation than anything), spending time with family/friends, baking/cooking (healthy of course unless you are baking/cooking for others...LOL), going out for coffee, lunch or dinner with a friend... Think of what you would do that is relaxing and convenient at the same time. Take this time to rest your body and eat healthy, stay hydrated, STRETCH! That is a very important part of recovery/training and can be performed to relax post-workout. Engage in light stretching activities, this will help relieve tension in your muscles and make it easier for you to relax. The most important part of over-coming psychological effects of over-training would be to take a mental-vacation! Allow yourself to think of things OTHER than your physique and training. As long as you are eating properly (proteins, veggies, healthy fats, fiber, staying hydrated) you will not lose any of your hard-earned work and your body will definitely THANK YOU for the much-needed rest!
Another important tip is to keep a training log to keep track of your workouts, how intense you have been training, how much cardio/weight-training you are doing. This is a great way to figure out by consulting your log/workout tracker if you are over-doing it at the gym! You can also tell whether it is time to change your program and perhaps try something new; new exercises, more/less cardio, more stretching etc... A training log is also a great reference for you of what works and what doesn't work. You can always look back on it and figure out which program(s) worked best for you.

I hope this helps some of you; I have definitely been a victim of over-training and I've even experienced mild injuries from it in the past, so now i know to
SLOW DOWN and take my time...my family members/friends also like when I take some rest because that way I can actually get the chance to pick up the phone and give them a call! :)

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Simple Steps to Reduce and Prevent Low-Back Pain

By: Alex Liska
Low back pain is ranked second most frequent cause of missed work following the common cold.
There are a few tricks/tips to managing lower back pain. Considering that we spend 24hours a day with our back, we should be taking better care of it and low-back pain should not be as common as it is. When followed regularly, these simple steps can really reduce the severity of symptoms caused by low back pain and help alleviate the problem:



-START EACH DAY WITH A LIGHT BACK STRETCH:
Lay on your back and gently pull one knee toward your chest, while relaxing your back muscles as you pull. Hold 3-5 seconds, and then pull the other knee toward the chest, and hold for 3-5 seconds. Place your hands at the top of your shins and gently pull your knees toward your chest. Again, hold for 3-5 seconds. Relax, and repeat this stretch 4-8 times before you get up for breakfast each morning. This helps improve the alignment of your back and increase mobility.


-LAY DOWN FOR 2-3 MINUTES A FEW TIMES EACH DAY:
Especially at night time. If you have been sitting all day, then running around doing groceries, running errands, cooking, surfing the net on your laptop in an uncomfortable position; take a break! Lay down with your arms legs extended and take a few deep breaths! Relax as you allow your back to decompress. This is very simple and it helps!

-REDUCE INFLAMMATION:
When nerves, joints, tissues of the back become irritated and swollen, inflammation occurs and causes a fiery/burning pain in your low back. Try placing crushed ice in a zip-lock bag, making sure the ice is finely mashed so that you don't feel like you're lying on rocks! Apply the ice-pack to your lower lumbar (low back) for 15-20 minutes and do not cover the ice-pack with a towel because it will not penetrate enough to alleviate pain. You can now try to do the "knee-to-chest" stretches lightly to help increase blood flow and mobility.


-FOCUS ON INCREASING HAMSTRING FLEXIBILITY:
It is very important to stretch the lower back as well as hamstring muscles first thing in the morning! You can do so by doing a few knee-to-chest stretches while laying down and standing and reaching forward to touch your toes (don't lock your knees). If your hamstrings are tight this will affect your low back by inhibiting your ability to bend forward or flex and placing an increased load on your lower back. So make sure you work on stretching those hams!

-PERFORM A FEW LIGHT STRETCHING SESSIONS SEVERAL TIMES A DAY:
Instead of doing one 15 minute stretching session once every day, start your day with a few light back stretches and follow up with a few more 2-minute stretch sessions during the day/in the evening.


-IMPROVE OVERALL POSTURE- Sitting, standing and sleeping are the most common positions we experience:
-Do not sit for too long without taking a short break and moving around a bit. If your job requires for you to sit at a desk all day try to get up and walk around a bit, whether it be around the office, going to grab a coffee, taking the stairs instead of the elevator when going down for lunch, getting up and doing a few light stretches.


-When you are standing do not lock your knees, try to spread your legs and press forward with an arch in your lower back to help take some pressure off of the back muscles. Wear comfortable shoes if you are going to be standing for a long period of time. Make sure to relax your shoulders and slightly retract the scapula (bring your shoulder-blades closer towards each other) to reduce pressure in the trapezius muscles.


-Try not to sleep on your belly. Low back joints tend to jam together due to the prolonged hyperextension from sleeping on your tummy. If you can, try to sleep on your back with the knees slightly bent and if you sleep on your side, use a pillow under your waist if you have a small waist OR place a pillow between your knees to help alleviate pressure on the spine by improving its alignment.


-TRY TO KEEP YOUR ABDOMINAL MUSCLES TIGHT DURING THE DAY:
Pull in your belly-button towards your spine (pull in your stomach) to activate the core muscles and reduce pressure in the low back. Strengthening the core musculature really makes a big difference in alleviating the load placed on the lower part of the spine and it can also help you tighten your midsection :)


THESE ARE JUST A FEW TIPS/TRICKS THAT I CAN THINK OF THAT HAVE HELPED ME IN THE PAST WHEN I WORKED MORE SEDENTARY JOBS, OR WOULD EXPERIENCE A TIGHT LOWER BACK FROM STANDING ALL DAY AT WORK. REMEMBER THAT WEIGHT MANAGEMENT AND PROPER NUTRITION PLAY A HUGE ROLE IN OVERALL HEALTH INCLUDING GOOD SPINAL HEALTH. EATING A SOUND NUTRITIOUS DIET AND STAYING ACTIVE ARE KEY IN IMPROVING AND MAINTAINING OVERALL HEALTH.
IN MORE EXTREME CASES OF LOWER-BACK PAIN IT IS IMPORTANT TO CONSULT YOUR PHYSICIAN AND PERHAPS LOOK INTO SOME FORM OF ANTI-INFLAMMATORY MEDICATION TO HELP YOU HEAL FASTER.

HAVE A HEALTHY WEEK!
 
Alex L. :)

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Alex's Sugar-Free Peanut Butter Cookies Recipe

By: Alex Liska
 This recipe is sugar-free and diabetic-friendly! It's great for those following a carb-reduced diet! Ingredients are All-Natural! I recommend  using PureVia Stevia for baking because it doesn't have a bitter aftertaste.

Ingredients:
-1/3 cup butter, softened
-1/2 cup all-natural peanut butter
-9-10 envelopes PureVia Stevia (Not sure what the conversion from sugar to stevia would be if you are using a liquid extract)
-1/2 teaspoon baking soda
-1/2 teaspoon baking powder
-1/4 tsp. sea salt
-1 large omega-3 egg
-1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
-1 cup grind-ed/blended oats (substitute for flour)
-1/4 cup finely chopped peanuts (this is optional but gives the cookies a crunchier taste)

Directions:
Beat the butter and peanut butter on high speed for 30 seconds in a large bowl using either an electric mixer or a Braun "stick" mixer. Add in PureVia Stevia, baking powder and baking soda. Mix until all ingredients are well incorporated and scrape the sides of the bowl to make sure the dough isn't sticking to them. Beat together the egg and vanilla and mix in with the rest of the ingredients. Slowly add in the grinded oats little bits at a time, making sure to blend them in well with the other ingredients. Mix in the chopped peanuts. Let the mixture cool for about 45 min. in the fridge so that the dough is easier to handle.
Roll balls (1 inch each) and place about 1.5-2 inches apart on a cookie sheet.
Make a criss-cross pattern on the cookies using a fork (this will also slightly flatten the dough)
Bake in a 375 degree oven for 8-10 minutes or until the bottom of the cookies are lightly browned.

Let cool and Enjoy!!! :) 

***NOTE TO THOSE THAT WOULD LIKE A HIGH-PROTEIN SNACK, YOU CAN ADD IN 2-3 SCOOPS OF PEANUT BUTTER OR VANILLA-FLAVORED LOW-CARB WHEY PROTEIN TO THIS RECIPE (MIX IT IN WITH THE GROUND OATS) TO MAKE THESE HIGH-PROTEIN COOKIES...IF YOU ARE GOING TO DO THIS, THEN ONLY USE 6-8 ENVELOPES OF PURE-VIA AS THE WHEY PROTEIN IS ALREADY SWEETENED!!!***

XOXOXO,
 
Alex L. :)


Wednesday, March 3, 2010

The Unnecessary Pressures Being Placed on Today's Men to Look Like Pro-Bodybuilders and Be Filthy-Rich (Men's Health/Lifestyle Feature)

By: Alex Liska


I am writing this article because I think that this is becoming a serious issue for a lot of guys and is adding to the already stressful lives of so many men out there.
I have received a lot of messages whether it be on facebook, e-mail, bodybuilding.com etc... from guys asking me if I only date bodybuilders or men that are in tip-top shape; I have also been asked if I would date a "Joe the plumber" kind of guy or an "average Joe" that is not rich! I would like to say first and foremost that I am in a committed relationship so my reason for writing this is to express my views on this hot topic and hopefully help guide some guys in the right direction when it comes to living a healthier, less-stressful life :)

Many guys have expressed to me that they are unsure about what girls think about them because they may not be swimming in piles of money or look like a pro bodybuilder or an extreme athlete... I think that the media, magazines and the opposite sex are adding a LOT of unnecessary pressure on today's men to live up to an unrealistic expectation. Music videos would be one good example i can think of. They all feature men sitting in leased/financed luxury vehicles, wearing the latest fashion and driving around with attractive women. Magazines all feature these "stud-muffin/beach hunks" on the covers!

We all have ups and downs so because a man cannot afford to buy his girlfriend "Manolos", "Gucci" attire, or "Chanel" handbags or whatever other "fashionable" crap that females like, it doesn't mean he is less of a man.
I personally HATE shopping and I don't care about brand names of any sort. I am comfortable in boxers, sport-bra tops, marinas, no-name jeans/shorts, track-pants, cheap but comfortable shoes and I HATE wearing make-up.
I would hate to be with a man that expects me to paint my face on every morning or strut around in needle-thin heels all the time so I don't expect my man to think he has to be driving a luxury vehicle, injecting himself with roids or growth hormone or have to slave at work so that he can feel secure in our relationship. I think any woman that truly loves the man she is with should accept him the way he is, and if anything ENCOURAGE him to exercise and eat healthy and give him moral SUPPORT so that he can have a longer life-span and live stress-free! Never should a woman be the reason why a man is going out and putting his life at risk (in some cases) or over-exerting himself at work so that she can wear the latest fashion and sit in the passenger seat of the most luxurious vehicles out there.

Stress is a major factor in poor health these days and it can be easily avoided and overcome with a few basic lifestyle changes. Exercising and eating healthy are a great way to cope with stress factors, they are a form of release and give you a sense of satisfaction by helping you feel better, mentally and physically. Guys, you should workout to stay fit and be healthy, not to look fitter to impress girls! Eating healthy is also important, so make sure to follow a healthy eating regimen and don't let unnecessary stress get in your way.

I admire the dedication and determination of bodybuilders and I admire the drive and focus of successful business-men BUT! I don't think being a bodybuilder is reasonable or even "healthy" for everyone! I know there are a lot of them that are natural and so on, but it would be sad to think that anyone would feel under pressure to use illegal sport enhancers to fit a certain "looks profile". And if you find yourself attracted to "high-maintenance" women, maybe it's time to re-think your choices LOL, go for girls that are more down-to-Earth and that won't set you up for failure through unreasonable expectations. It's your life, live it stress-free, live it the best you can!!! :)

Best of Luck to you all!!
 
-Alex L:)  

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

My List of 10 LIGHT and EASY SNACKS (Low Carb, Low-Fat, Moderate-High Protein)

By: Alex Liska
 One of the hardest things for a lot of people is knowing what to eat when they are hungry in between meals. Knowing what to eat when you have a goal weight in mind is crucial. If you eat healthy for your major/main meals of the day but snack on the wrong foods or even worse; STARVE because you're afraid to eat, can mentally and physically put a damper on your training and eating regimens.
I came up with a basic list of 10 Light and EASY snack foods that are low in carbs, moderate-high in protein and low in fat so that you don't have to feel guilty and you can satisfy your cravings before they EVOLVE into a massive hunger attack!! LOL... I hope this helps:
  1. 1/2 cup Fat-Free Cottage Cheese with 1 tsp Cinnamon, 1 tsp. Vanilla Extract and 1/2-1 envelope PureVia (Stevia All-Natural Herbal Sweetener)
  2. 1/2 cup Source Yogurt (Finesse/Astro Zero or Plain Fat-Free yogurt is fine aswell) with 1/2-1 scoop of low-carb Whey Protein (Only add the Whey if you want a snack that is higher in protein).
  3. 1 cup Rinsed Celery Stalks with 1 tbsp of All-Natural Almond Butter (This snack is not high in protein but is quite filling and nutritious).
  4. 30 grams of 85-90% Cocoa Dark Chocolate with 10 plain Almonds and 1 glass of skim milk.(High in Antioxidants, Flavonoids, Moderate Protein, High in Amino Acids, Fiber, Iron and Calcium!)
  5. 1-2 Slices Fat-Free Cheese with 1 cup of Cucumbers and Cherry tomatoes (half of each).
  6. 1/2 can of rinsed Tuna with 1 tbsp lemon juice, 1 tsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil and 1 cup Celery/Cucumber/Lettuce/Cut green beans (any green of your choice!).
  7. 1/2 Scoop of Whey Protein (10-15 grams) mixed in Water with 5-10 almonds on the side. (This is a good snack for those that are focusing on a diet that is high in protein)
  8. 1/2 cup of Plain Yogurt (Fat-Free) or Cottage Cheese (0-1%) with 1/2 cup of Frozen Unsweetened Cranberries (Very Nutritious and LOW in sugar). Since Cranberries are quite tart i add PureVia Stevia (instead of sugar or sucralose) in this snack to make it taste more like a dessert:)
  9. 1/2 Cooked/Grilled/Sauteed Chicken Breast accompanied by a Pickle! (Healthy, Low fat, Moderate protein and the acidity of the pickle makes this quite filling and will kill any major cravings instantly!)
  10. 30 grams Partly Skimmed Mozzarella Cheese with a Handful of Sundried Tomatoes (the kind that comes in a bag, not the oil-packed ones in the glass bottle, those are better for salads/main dishes than snacks)


I really hope this list comes in handy to all of you that are making an effort to eat healthier and live a more active lifestyle! I know how hard it can be to overcome or dodge cravings, they happen to all of us. Luckily though, with the right snacks at hand it is a lot easier to feel full, satisfied and ward off unhealthy foods :)

Best of Luck to you all and Have a Healthy Week!

XOXOX
 
Alex L.:)