Why you should make smoothies

If you live in a rich society you are probably experiencing the same daily rush as I am.

You know the “get up, exercise/do yoga/do meditation (or a combo of the 3), work, eat properly, read and go to bed” ?

How the hell in all of this are we supposed to find time to do a good grocery shopping, cook properly and take time to actually sit and enjoy our meals ?

Since I left Europe the amount of time I spend eating has significantly reduced. I usually have my lunch in 15 minutes, 30 minutes for dinner when I am lucky.

I know it’s terrible for the digestion and I should take time to eat more consciously but…hey ! I eat healthy first, let’s take this thing step by step. 

I am always looking for ways to improve my meal prep and make my life easier. Preparing a smoothie has come to one of the best options. I usually prepare a mix of several fruits, or fruits and vegetables and for after my training, I love my combo banana-protein powder.

7 reasons to make smoothies more often:

  1. The most obvious one: it taste good
  2. It helps you keep regular meals during the day with a busy schedule
  3. It allows to increase the intake of fruits and vegetables (generally we don’t have enough)
  4. It boost your protein intake (which also tend to lack of quantity and/or quality)
  5. It helps fight the cravings
  6. It boost your metabolism
  7. Depending on your ingredients it keeps you awake in the morning or help you to sleep

Let’s be honest here: my smoothies never look as good as the one in this picture. I don’t take time to make them pretty for pictures. My goal is to prepare smoothies that are tasteful and with a big amount of nutrients. If it’s pretty, it’s a bonus.

A strong upper body to sprint

Running is one of my favorite tools to relieve stress and do cardio. 

What I prefer the most is to do sprints. It reminds me when I was a kid racing my cousins. And I can really let go all the stress of my day. 

With the strong heat in Miami I don’t always get to enjoy doing it outdoor: it’s too hot, it’s more a torture than a nice moment.

So when I can’t handle the heat, I just run intervals on the treadmill at the gym (more boring you die). 

I have been looking for exercises to improve the strength in my legs and flexibility in my hips to run better. And apparently, the exercises that I do to work on my upper body are also going to help me sprint better and faster.

Why is that ? 

Because when you sprint, it’s crucial that you push the harder that you can. If you have strong shoulders and biceps you will be able to do so. What is also important is to improve the coordination between the arms and the legs. 

If you train for a marathon it’s not really the goal to work on stronger/bigger arms: it will just add more weight to carry on for you.

When you run, be careful with the position of your arms:

  • Keep the elbows at a 90° angle
  • The arms are parallel to the floor and don’t cross each other
  • The hands are relaxed, palms turned inside
  • Push your elbows to the back

In addition, it’s crucial to have a strong core to run because it helps stabilize the all body and maintain a good energy transfer to the legs (which are doing most of the job here). When you have a good posture, you save energy, run faster and can protect your spine by reducing the impact of the running on it. 

10 exercises to improve your upper body to sprint:

  1. Pull ups (basic ones, isometric or with negative contraction)
  2. Biceps flexion with a resistance band
  3. Narrow push-ups
  4. Bench dips
  5. Lunges with upper body rotation
  6. Side planks (basic, up the leg, knee to elbow)
  7. Bridge with up knee
  8. High plank with tap on shoulders
  9. Superman plank
  10. Quadruped trunk rotation 

As I always say, planking is THE best exercise to strengthen your core. You can do it everywhere with no equipment and there are so many variations that you can always find a way to get it harder. 

Try to use one of these exercises and see if you feel an improvement in your sprints.

The performance race

Lately I have been feeling really exhausted and unmotivated about…pretty much everything.

I have this type of personality that when I face a difficulty I tend to think that I have failed at everything in all aspects of my life.

I have always had a big tendency to feel the need to control all my life and I have no patience, or very little.

So when I plan on achieving a goal, I get frustrated if it doesn’t happen in the timeframe that I set for myself.

The result ? Mental and physical exhaustion.

I am so hard on myself and have expectations that are so high that I have succeed to produce the total opposite effect of what I wanted to do : not achieve my goal.

In practical terms what does it mean ? I have lost appetite and want to eat more crap; my sleep is a disaster (I wake up several times at night); I have very low energy, my training has lost its quality and intensity; I don’t read/watch videos/ listen to podcast that much…

Worst aspect of all, I became a huge pain in the ass for all the people surrounding me, especially my partner (sweetie if you read this I am sorry, I am working on it).

I am learning the hard way that life is not a competition. Despite the society we live in and the subconscious rules that are forced upon us. So it’s time I stop banging my head on the wall I built with unrealistic factors.

I don’t have to be productive EVERY single day, I can’t be on the top of the world in all aspects of my life all the time.

I am trying hard to get better at expressing myself, live my life with passion and increase the quality of my relationships. But that’s the work of a life.

We live in a world of performance and I am feeling this way harder since I live in the US.

But it doesn’t have to be my case. I choose the way I react to everything and how I make my life.

Since I am in Miami I see a lot of people chasing money and working several jobs at the same time for multiple reasons. They aren’t millionaires and they aren’t more happy with their life.

I think life is trying to teach me a lesson: slow down, enjoy and make things happen in your own terms.

I need to get back passion in my life and reduce the pressure I am putting in myself. From today I am going to stop trying to full my days. Being busy from 7am to 11pm with 100 tasks doesn’t make me a better human being. Sleep more, have better food and especially, take more meaningful things to my life, personally and professionally.

I am setting myself 2 or 3 goals per month, write them down on my phone and putting them on the fridge. Achievable goals that aren’t going to stress me more.

I have 3 big goals for a year from now, we will see how it goes. I will probably have to adjust along the way.

My point today: don’t let the world AND yourself eat your personality and joie de vivre.

Self Love Challenge

A couple of weeks ago I did an amazing challenge I want to talk to you about.  

I am a believer on personal development and I have worked on it the last few years. We don’t receive personal and relationships education at school. And the knowledge we get from our parents and our social circles isn’t always appropriate.

I have learned that we can carry our parents’ burdens, conflicts and bad habits and behaviors.

In order to clean our state of minds and general well-being, it takes a lot of internal work.  And it’s in addition to all the work we already have to do on a daily basis. Sometimes it just feels as another form of pressure to me: on top of my day, I have to meditate, do yoga, breathing exercises, practice mindfulness…

This self-love challenge that I did on the initiative of my friend reminded me that taking care of myself in different ways is not another duty on my to-do list. It’s a small gesture from me to me to feel better on a daily basis. Because yes, you have to be a bit selfish to take care of yourself so you can take care of those around you.

I don’t want to spoil you the pleasure of doing this challenge, so I will just give you a few hints of what we did.

Every day we had to do a thing that was meant to reconnect with our body, our mind and our pleasure. It goes from taking a bath, to cook for yourself some fresh meal to make a list of the crazy activities you want to do in the next few months.

Some days were pretty easy, some others the challenge really made you face aspects of your life that can make you really uncomfortable. But it’s also part of the process: a little shake to remind yourself to not stay caught up in your comfort zone.

It’s also a good occasion to realize that if you have been forgiving a little bit about daily rituals that are good to you, it’s time to make them part of your routine again.

The best part of it was that we did it with a all group of females on Facebook. Every day we have been sharing our thoughts and reactions to the challenges. It has been a good way to meet new people, create a new tribe you feel connected to and don’t feel alone.

This is the kind of moment when you realize that age, nationality and culture matter but they don’t do everything: we have the same fears and joys in our hearts.

I do recommend you to contact my dear friend Capucine, she is a wellness coach. In addition to the challenge she can also help you work on yourself on many different levels:

Facebook Capucine Thustrup

Instagram @thesparklingnipples

Away abroad

Since I have been traveling and living abroad for a couple of years now, I get asked quiet often this question “don’t you miss being with your family”.

I understand why people ask it and I find hard to answer it because it’s a mix of yes and no.

I don’t want to look like a monster but to be honest, I don’t have a family with easy and positive relationships (I know it’s the case for a lot of us) so going away has been a relief for me.

It can sound weird or cruel. I have friends that can’t live more than 5 miles away from their parents or not talk to their mom on the phone every day.
It didn’t happen for me and my brother and sister.

After my parents split the atmosphere at home became really heavy, it never became light and fresh again, we still have old tensions in the air that are 10 years old. My parents and us we have different characters and ways to communicate. It seems that when we spend too much time together, we just hurt each other.

Yes, we should have family therapy but that’s another conversation.  

So no, it doesn’t really hurt me to be that far away. Yes, I miss my family and my close friends. But it never came to the point where I felt “I need to come home to be with them”. Being in my hometown would be the death of my soul, there is nothing there for me to grow and feel fulfilled.

The ones that are close to my heart know it and they really saw me get better being away.

Thanks to technology we can still be in touch on a daily basis anyway. Facebook, Whatsapp, Instagram, emails.. you name it, there are several ways to reach out and we are having fun with it. Even my grandparents learned how to use their smartphone to facetime with me (even if I see more they hair or their nose than their faces but still).

I miss big events like weddings of friends or new babies but in a way, I am also paying more attention.

Because I am far, I am trying to take care of them, I send them pictures, videos, voicenotes and I am working harder to maintain our connection. I can’t do it with everybody because it would be very time consuming so, time has made me do some selection. But I think I kept the best relationships on track and I am spending several hours every week to reach out to every person that I care.

It can sound selfish but let’s be honest, a day only has 24 hours, you work, you eat, you sleep, maybe work out and read a little, you can’t maintain deep relationships with 100 persons, especially if there are living on another time zone.

The hardest part is to make others understand my point of view. Even good friends sometimes tell me “I don’t get why you stay there, it’s hard, expensive, food is not good, you are far from us, what’s the point”. But it can be difficult to have others understand you no matter in you live in your town or in another country.

We are all unique, what works for me doesn’t for others and vice versa. It’s valid for any aspect of your life.

To conclude, yes, I miss moments with my families and friends, not being in environment with them but it’s also making me a better person so I think it’s worth it. And they think the same.

Food in the US

In July it will be two years that I left France. I knew I would grow and learn a lot coming to North America. But one thing for sure, I knew I would never find the same quality of food. And even if I prepared myself as much as I could to deal with it, it’s still hard to accept it.

It’s a little bit like when you are going to do a hard workout session, you know it, you think “I will just push myself through it”… but when you are in the middle of it you think “noooope it’s too much, I think I could, but I can’t”.

I hear you, yes, if I am not happy I should just shup up and go home. But it’s only fair to be comparing everything from your home country when you live abroad.
North America has a lot of good things, but the quality of the food is not one of them.

After a year in Québec and now almost a year in Miami, here is my perspective:

  • Yes, you can eat organic food and there is plenty of it. And it is as expensive as it is in France. On this, both our countries suck. You want to eat healthy fresh non-GMO foods? You have to triple your food budget. It’s a hard choice for me (I buy some food organic some not), I can’t imagine the struggle for families with children.
  • The diversity is not there yet. I don’t know if it’s a specific parameter from Florida because it’s a very sunny tropical weather, but here we have the same food all year long. In France we have specific vegetables and fruits for each season, which makes the cooking fun and you never get bored. Since I am in Miami, no matter what, it’s always the same products season after season.
  • The size of certain packages of food is huge. It’s not usual to see 3 liters sodas bottles or “family size” bags of breads or chips. American people have the same physiology than European but the sizes of the products are way bigger. I guess it’s part of the obesity problem.
  • The fresh markets where you can find local products from your area are not so common. It’s surprising because Miami is the door to Latin America so I thought it would be easier to find products from America and the south of the continent. But I also learned that is not really in American culture to cook all the time. You buy food that is already prepared or you eat outside. So there is no real need or demand for fresh local market products.
  • In Montreal in particular, the vegetarian and vegan communities are huge and still growing. They offer a wide range of products and restaurants but I haven’t seen that in Miami a lot. The main culture here is Latina and they aren’t big fan of vegetarian foods. I like it because it gives me more options to eat something different. But it’s the same issue than with organic food, to me the prices are sometimes (and I insist sometimes) ridiculous. Charge people 7 $ for a vegan muffin is outrageous, sorry. With these 7 $ I buy the ingredients and I make 6 vegan muffins. So no, I am not falling for that.
  • The absence of cheese. This is a hard one for me French lady. I love my cheese on a good bread and in America they just make weird block of gouda cheese-thing. All the others are imported products (most of them from France and Italy) that off course cost a fortune. Once again I get it, if it’s importation it’s normal that is more expensive, but still ridiculous to pay 8 $ for 60g of brie. My family and friends thought that living in America I would get fat, the truth is I am losing weight because I eat less cheese.
  • The least but not less important: what’s with the chocolate with stuff inside? In France you have dark chocolate, milk chocolate and white chocolate. The ones you eat just like that and the ones you use to cook pastries. You have some brands that offer chocolate with pieces of fruit or nuts inside but it’s not the majority of the offer. But here, even in Wholefoods the majority of the chocolates have stuff inside! Whyyyyyyyy ? I am ordering my Milka online.. thank you Amazon.

To be fair the situation is not as bad as we paint it in Europe. But it’s true that the products contain way more chemical products, especially sugar. You add that to bigger sizes packages and a lack of cuisine knowledge … people eat too much fat, too much outside and have bigger health problems.

I know French people we can be pretty arrogant with our food and our cuisine. But I have to say that in the defense of American people, the organic food is so expensive here that it’s affordable for a small part of the population. I can’t eat organic 100% of the time and I don’t have a lot of expenses, so for a whole family, it’s impossible.

I think we will solve a lot of health issues and will start to cook more when the basic healthy products will be available at reasonable prices.

How sport can help your mental health

When I used to be anorexic, sport/working out/training wasn’t fun or relieving at all. It was just a tool to punish myself after eating anything (even if it was just a bowl of soup).

That’s why I wanted to train alone, when you don’t work out for pleasure everybody can see it and I prefered to hide it.

I was just feeling literally like a giant stick of shit. The mental toll of this illness is very hard. I hated my body that’s a fact, but most importantly I was extremely weak. I couldn’t do any kind of exercise for a long period of time without feeling sick (nausea, dizziness, pain in the joints).

So when I saw my doctor the first step was really just to get back strength, muscles and flexibility and eat properly step by step. Further along I went back to exercise not because I needed too but because it was fun, I was enjoying myself, was pushing my limits and felt part of a group.

I created lovely memories at the gym with the family I have there and some people are still part of my life even being away from Europe.

It took me almost two years of working with my therapist and different coaches to train for pleasure again. I am still working on this today and always try to have fun when I do it.

Some days I need to go very hard and strong at the gym and lift heavy weights.

Some days I need to just walk on the beach or stretch at home watching a serie on Netflix.

Sport has been a very useful tool for healing because it gave me a way to expulse everything.

When I workout I only focus on my physical sensations, my breath, my moves. I put myself in a bubble to just live a moment of deep connexion with my body. I get only into my physical sensations and push it until I feel relieved.

Why does it help with mental illness of any kind ? Because you regain power with yourself along the process. You feel confidence and self esteem again, strength again. You actually realize the extent of your physical power and you feel limitless

The aesthetic of your physique changing is just the cherry on the top.

Plus when you exercise, your body releases hormones of happiness, which is why you actually feel good for real.  

So no matter what kind of mental illness you are experiencing, try do find a activity that you like and do it a couple of times per week, at your rhythm and find the joy in it.

The rest will come 😉

Visualization

It’s an interesting exercise that I did a couple of times on meditation and it’s really amazing.

As any form of meditation, it allows me to get quiet and focus on positive things. It makes me feel grounded, remind me how lucky I am and help me reconnect with myself and my goals.

The point is not to think about the object itself but the feelings and the sensations that it awakes in you.

For example, you workout not to have a 6 pack, because in itself it doesn’t make you happy. The 6 pack is just an aesthetic option for your body. But when you have it; you feel sexy, confident and strong.

You want to have a porsche not for the car, it’s just a big object. But you want it for the sensation of the speed, the adrenaline, the powerful sensation that you feel.

So when you visualize what is it that you want, focus on those feelings and sensations with all your 5 senses. Imagine the touch, the smell, the noise, the taste, the colours…

Make your dream alive, it will manifest in your life at some point. The more you think about those things that makes you happy the more you rise your energy.

I like to do this in the morning to put in a good mood before work but also at night before sleeping, it makes me feel grateful.

What do you visualize for yourself ?

Why you should eat protein

It doesn’t matter if you are an omnivore, a vegan or a selective vegetarian, you have probably heard lately that proteins are important. Even more if you are practicing sport at a regular level.

Before telling you the benefits of eating proteins, maybe we should back up a little bit.

Proteins are essential for your body for various reasons:

  • The synthesis of the muscles
  • The defense of the organism (with the production of antibodies)
  • The transport of various elements in the blood

How does it work? When you eat a protein, your body transform them in amino acids, little chemical elements, who will turn themselves … in protein again.   

The first benefit that you have when you eat one is, they provide you the sensation of being full. Eat enough protein and you won’t be snacking shit. Or less, at least.

I am not a nutritionist so I am not going to provide you a complete meal plan. But according to my experience it’s kind of easy to have a bit of protein at every meal:

  • I have eggs at breakfast
  • I eat chicken or turkey at lunch
  • My protein shake is in my gym back as a post workout
  • I have fish at dinner

We all have different needs and tastes but what’s important to know is that there is protein in not only meats but also cereals like quinoa, rice, milk, yogurt and cheese. So, you really have a lot of different options at your disposition.

What also works or me when I am hungry between meals is to have a snack with protein on it, like a Greek yogurt.  

We tend to have the majority of our protein intake by the end of the day but it’s not ideal. As we said before, protein is a source of energy so it’s better to have them along the day.

Bon appétit

Body mobility

When you train, you talk a lot about your shape, your muscles, your strength, your speed…way less about your mobility.

It’s an essential part of our daily life, we just forget about it because we take it for granted. But it’s thanks to our mobility that we can do the majority of our movements.

The majority of us confuse mobility and flexibility, these are two different things:

  • Flexibility is the capacity of your muscle to extend itself.
  • Mobility is the capacity of your body to “open” an angle between two different parts of your body that articulate together. The mobility is not the same if you are standing or lying (example: the flexion of your knee).

The important element that impact us on a daily basis is that we lose slowly our natural mobility. Why? Because we have a sedentarily lifestyle, we don’t move as much as we should, the body stays still too much for too long, especially for people working at a desk in front of a computer all days (hip flexion bye bye). 

If you make a conscious effort to take care of it, you should have both flexibility and mobility exercises in your workout routine. This way you can have strong muscles and a good global body structure allowing you to move the way you need and want.

It’s something you want to take care of not only because it’s good for your workout. Even if you are not a sport person, you need to be active and a lack of mobility can increase the risk of an injury. 

The body is an amazing machine, one element is out of place and the rest of the chain gets blocked.

A couple of months ago I hurt myself pretty bad: misplacement of a rib. I went to see an osteopath, turns out a bone in my feet was misplaced, it moved my rotula, my hip, my rib and finally my deltoid. So, the lack of mobility in my ankle messed up with my hole right side and then general body posture.

If you don’t want to work out fine, it’s your right. But I am pretty sure you want to be able to get out of bed by yourself in the morning, walk and be yourself without the need of somebody else helping you.   

I am myself not an expert on the matter so I go on Youtube and watch instructors showing how to perform the exercises and then, I include them in my routine according to my needs.

Depending on your age, your general health, your job, maybe your injuries, we don’t have the same needs to work on our mobility on a daily basis.

But for sure, twice a week to maintain your general mobility and prevent injuries is a good start.