Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Exciting Changes

So many things have been going on lately that it's been quite tough to keep up, particularly with my blog. Here's a quick update:

Earning my Pink Belt
In addition to my Jiu-Jitsu training, I completed my Women Empowered training - which is the Gracie Academy's official self-defense program for women - and earned my pink belt! Although I've already earned my Blue Belt, doing this program and focusing on self-defense for women was really enlightening and empowering.

me and my pink belt

Women's Self-Defense Class
On April 10th I launched my women's self-defense class. It's an amazing curriculum that's based on the Grace Academy's Women Empowered curriculum - focusing on defenses to the 15 most common attacks on women. I had no idea how many people were going to show up for the first class or how it would go. I am super thrilled to say that it was awesome! We had 13 women on the mats, and everyone left full of enthusiasm and eagerness to continue with the program.

it's not just about learning defenses - it's about having the right mindset as well

our first class

Whole Life Challenge - Participant & Ambassador
Once again I'll be doing the Whole Life Challenge. I still swear by this challenge as it always helps me refocus and work on tweaking my routine in a supportive environment. Knowing that there are thousands of others around the world doing the same challenge, at the same time, as me really helps keep me motivated.

In addition to doing the WLC, I've actually been invited to be an ambassador for the challenge. This gets me more involved in the challenge itself as well as gives me an extra bit of motivation to really stay on track and be a good role model/motivator to my team members as well as everyone else who is out there trying to live a healthier lifestyle!

Want to know more about the challenge? Watch this:
Ready to join my team? Sign up via this link:

Want to join but you're not 100% sure about paying -- I've got 2 FREE login codes ... write a comment below or send me an email (plumpetalsfit {at} and I'll get in touch with you with your code. The challenge starts on May 2nd, so don't wait too long!

Sweat Pink Ambassador
I received an unexpected email from the Sweat Pink team telling me that I had been chosen to be an ambassador. I'm thrilled to be part of this active community network! Check out more at Fit Approach.

Eating and Training
I've got to be honest here, my eating habits have been slipping a bit. My main meals have still been spot on, but I've snacked and it has not been good. It's another reason I'm really looking forward to having the structure of the Whole Life Challenge. I've started to detox off the caffeine and sugar (my biggest weaknesses) - slowly but surely. At least my water has been on point. I've been drinking 3 - 4 L of water a day - the warmer weather has definitely helped!

my favorite meal this past week: avocado, tomatoes, cilantro, and a poached egg over whole grain toast with a beet, carrot, apple, and ginger fresh juice -- delicious! I'm going to have to try it without the bread to make it WLC-compliant for the challenge

My training lately has involved outdoor cardio and Jiu-Jitsu. I haven't been to the gym for a weights session in a long time. I miss it, but right now this is what I'll be sticking to. We've been doing weapons defense in our Jiu-Jitsu class this month. It's been a blast -- as you can see, us girls have been taking it really seriously ;)

the Jiu-Jitsu version of Charlie's angels ;) 

A New House!
The final bit of news is that D and I closed on our new house this month!! It's the first time either of has ever owned property. We're looking forward to making it a happy, healthy home!

Thursday, April 2, 2015


When I was heading to Bangladesh back in February, my mom asked me what I could/couldn't eat as I would have been on the Whole Life Challenge during my visit. I sent her my list and she said to me, oh, you can have gram flour. I had totally forgot about gram flour - which is basically flour made from chick peas. It's actually the main ingredients to one of my favorite dishes that my mom makes for me, which was a total bonus for my trip home.

It's been many, many years since I've used gram flour in any of my cooking/baking. The fact that it's gluten free and vegan added to its appeal. I decided to give it a go. I'm definitely pleased with the outcome.

You can easily make gram flour at home by taking 2 cups of dried chick peas and putting them through a food processor and then running them through a sieve to separate any large chunky bits. You can also pre-roast the dried chick peas in the oven (200 C for 15 min) before putting them in the food processor.

I always associated the use of gram flour with traditional Bangladeshi dishes. However, one of my friends forwarded me an article about Socca which is basically a gram flour based pancake. It's incredibly simple to make.

1 cup of gram flour
1 cup of water
1/2 teaspoon of salt
1 tablespoon of extra-virgin olive oil - plus extra for the pan

1. Pour the gram flour and salt in a bowl
2. Gradually whisk in the water and olive oil
3. Heat a pan and add some EVOO, enough to coat the pan. Add some of the socca batter. Cook for 6-7 minutes then flip and cook the other side for around 5 minutes.

I did a couple of variations of this.

My 1st attempt: pouring 3/4 cup of the batter and making a single pancake.

My 2nd attempt: I added some spices to the batter - 1/2 teaspoon each of cumin, garlic, ginger, and turmeric powder. I mixed the batter again to combine all the spices. I then put smaller dollops of the batter in the skillet -- about 2 tablespoons of batter for each. This turned out smaller pancakes.

mini socca pancakes

My 2nd attempt was definitely tastier. I guess it all depends on what you want to garnish the socca with. I added slices of avocado and sweet cherry tomatoes -- it was delicious!

I found the meal to be quite filling and hearty. I'm sure you can experiment with different combinations of ingredients - both to add to the batter as well as for the toppings.

Nutritional info (for the entire batch - makes about 20 small pancakes - based on the original socca basic recipe and not including the extra oil for frying)

475 calories
20.6 g. protein
53.2 g. carbohydrates (9.9 g. fiber)
20.2 g. fat (2.6 g. sat fat)

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Back to Basics

I've been getting quite a few emails asking for advice and strategies on how to lose weight. The basic premise of living a healthy lifestyle is something that is commonly addressed nowadays. A single search on the internet will lead you to thousands and thousands of sites talking about how to eat healthy and how to exercise efficiently. Perhaps this is the problem. There's just too much information out there and for someone who wants to get started, it can get overwhelming.

When people ask me what I did to lose weight, they're not happy with my answer. I talk about staying away from refined sugars and starches, not drinking soda, not eating anything with preservatives or artificial ingredients ... and the most common reaction is a look of horror followed by asking 'So, what do you eat?' When I add on my resistance training routine along with my Jiu-Jitsu, they shake their heads and say that it's impossible. That it's too much.

There are a few things I have to say to this:
1) I'm happy with the way I eat and the way I train.
2) The changes I made to my lifestyle did not happen overnight. They took time. They took discipline. They took deliberate thought and action until they became habits.
3) I do these things because they work for me.

While I do believe that the basic premise of living a healthy lifestyle is the same for everyone, the exact details will vary ... after all, it's your lifestyle.

You need to figure out what works for you -- what suits your tastes, what suits your routine. That being said, you also need to accept that changes will probably need to be made. You may need to cut a few things out of your diet, step up the intensity of your exercise, and rearrange your routine. You can't expect to continue to do the same thing and expect different results -- it's going to take some work.

There is no 'one size fits all' outline for how to live a healthy lifestyle. You really do have to sit down and figure out what works for you.

The first thing to do is go back to basics --
1) Set your goal(s)
2) Start eating a bit less
3) Start exercising a bit more

From there, come up with a food and fitness based plan on how to reach your goals. What you eat and how you train will differ depending on what your fitness goals are. Do you want to run a marathon? Enter a strong man/woman competition? Excel in MMA?

What you want to achieve will determine your actual plan.

Once you've figured that out, make changes in a way that you know you will be able to sustain. If you don't think you can cut out sugar, dairy, gluten, and red meat all at once, then don't. Set yourself up for success -- don't choose impossible goals or tasks that you dread. Remember, this is your life. You are in control. You make the choices -- and you have to own up to the consequences.

I really think it's important to start with small, simple changes, and then keep modifying as you go along.

Of course, there's nothing wrong with going all in from the very beginning. I cut everything out all at once and it worked for me -- but I'll be honest, it's not easy to sustain. I'm now trying to come up with a better balance that will suit my lifestyle.

When in doubt, keep it simple. Here are a few basic tips to get you started:

1. Drink more water (cut down/eliminate soda, juice, alcohol)
2. Eat more fresh foods (cut down/eliminate processed foods that are filled with artificial flavors and preservatives)
3. Move more (take the stairs instead of elevator, walk instead of drive, find a fun activity to participate in)
4. Eat less and chew more
5. Get enough sleep

You can do it -- just keep trying.