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Daily Archives: April 22, 2016

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Emma Ascher: March 2016 Bodyblitz winner

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For scuba diving instructor Emma Ascher, having a healthy mind and body was vital to her everyday self-confidence out on the water. After letting her diet and exercise habits slip and feeling less than comfortable in her denim cut-offs, she rekindled her love of the weights room and is back looking taught, toned and terrific.


Three months ago I was living and working on a tiny island in Thailand, which meant I spent a lot of time in a bikini. I had never been overweight but in the preceding months, I had gotten out of shape and I decided something needed to be done. Around the same time, my friend gave me a copy of WH&F and I read it cover to cover! I was hooked and decided the BodyBlitz challenge was exactly what I was looking for.

After registering, I joined the only gym on the island. It was tiny and dominated by men. I felt really intimidated at first and just bumbled around trying out different machines. But then I did some research and put together some fitness plans with the help of WH&F, and YouTube. Within a couple of weeks I felt much more confident and I developed a passion for lifting.

This challenge has given me everything I could have ever wished for. It provided focus and an end date to aim for. I have seen big changes in my body and overhauled my attitude and mindset. My confidence and passion for life has been reignited and I have no intention of stopping my fitness journey anytime soon.

Read on for her thoughts on overcoming challenges, workout motivation, treats and goals. 





bodyblitz-march - Women's Health and Fitness Magazine

On overcoming challenges:

The biggest obstacles I faced were the after-work drinks and the treats my boyfriend would bring home for me. Convincing other people that I was serious about a lifestyle change was the most difficult thing.

The first week was the hardest in adapting to the healthy eating and exercise. Getting up early to work out, and eating vegies instead of pizza, is tough to start off with. But after just one week I could see and feel the changes and that spurred me on. After the first month, I was in a groove and it became more of a habit. My body clock adjusted to the early mornings and exercise made me feel accomplished for the rest of the day. My taste buds changed and I craved fruit and vegies instead of processed, high-salt carbs.

On workout motivation:

Exercise was initiated because I wanted to lean down and muscle up, but it goes way deeper than that now. It improves my mood and confidence, which reflects back in my career, relationships and ambitions.

On food swaps:

My attitude to food changed a lot. I now view food as fuel for my body and not just a pleasurable pastime! I still enjoy food but now my body craves clean protein and vegetables.

I moved country right in the middle of my challenge, which meant living with my parents for a few weeks. They were incredibly supportive and my mum had a fridge stocked with fresh foods. After a couple of weeks, they were noticing the weight loss too.

On treats:

I did occasionally indulge myself but I would try and be smart about it. If I knew I was going out for dinner, I would eat really clean for breakfast and lunch so I could enjoy a full meal without feeling too much guilt. I would combine my family events with cheat meals and I would make sure I trained legs the day after to put the extra calories and energy to good use. This prevented me from any guilty feelings the day after that were sure to derail me from my end goal.

On measurements:

The ‘before’ pictures are a necessary evil. They were depressing to take because I didn’t like what I saw but they definitely helped motivate me to change. The ‘after’ pictures are much more fun and are an even bigger motivation to continue. My after picture will one day be my new before picture!

‘Before’ and ‘after’ measurements work the same way. The before measurements can be demoralising, but it’s also the first area you see changes. I think documenting pictures and measurements are vitally important to showing progress and maintaining motivation.

On goals:

Having an end goal date really helped me stay on track through the challenge. And knowing that I had submitted those awful ‘before’ pictures made me determined to see as big of a change as I could manage in the time allowed. I never want to look like that again.

My new goal is to live a happy, full and balanced life. My diet and exercise is always a top priority for me but I realise that sometimes you just have to live. I love my active and clean lifestyle, but if I fancy a drink and dinner with my man, then I’m going to go for it. I hope to inspire other women out there and make them realise that it’s never too late to start a healthy lifestyle and to regain control of your body and mind

What she did

Monday: 30 minutes on Stairmaster and weight training (glutes and hamstrings)

Tuesday: 20 minutes on Stairmaster, 20 minutes on treadmill walking on an incline and weight training (shoulders and arms)

Wednesday: Yoga class and weight training (legs)

Thursday: 30 minutes on Stairmaster and weight training (back, chest and abs)

Friday: 20 minutes on Stairmaster, 20 minutes on treadmill walking on an incline and weight training (glutes and hamstrings)

Saturday: Functional fitness class and foam rolling

Sunday: Rest day




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Italian Pesto Chicken Salad

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Italian Pesto Chicken Salad Recipe
Italian Pesto Chicken Salad
Prepared pesto is the secret ingredient in this lightened-up, healthy creamy chicken salad recipe. For the prettiest dressing, go for a bright-green colored pesto. Serve the salad open-face on toasted bread or scoop it on top of fresh salad greens.

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Lemon-Herb Pasta with Chicken & Vegetables

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Lemon-Herb Pasta with Chicken & Vegetables Recipe
Lemon-Herb Pasta with Chicken & Vegetables
Yogurt seasoned with garlic and fresh herbs replaces cream to make a healthy pasta sauce in this chicken and vegetable pasta recipe. If you don’t have a grill basket, the chicken and vegetables can be grilled on skewers instead.

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Am I Peeing Too Much? How to Tell What's Normal

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Do you get up to pee twice as often as your co-workers? Or maybe you're the type of person who can go hours without a bathroom break, no matter how much water you down. Pee patterns seem to run the gamut from high frequency to hardly ever—which made us wonder, What's a normal number of times to go in a day? (You can laugh now, but you'll thank us later!) We tapped ob-gyn Neil Grafstein, MD, an assistant professor of urology at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City, to answer that question, plus a few more.

How often should we be peeing?

“Most people urinate four to seven times during a day," says Dr. Grafstein, but there's really no magic number. Your pee frequency is influenced by factors beyond how hydrated you are, he explains, including the types of fluids you're drinking: "Caffeine and alcohol are bladder irritants, so they cause you to urinate more frequently." The sensitivity of your bladder also plays a role. Some people heed the call of nature at the slightest urge; while others don't feel the need to empty their bladder until its fuller.

Is it possible to train your bladder?

Yes, says Dr. Grafstein, as long as you don't have any underlying incontinence issues. You can retrain your bladder by delaying peeing until the urge becomes strong. “A little sensitivity does not have to be responded to all the time,” he says. Certain professionals who aren't able to get to the bathroom often (think surgeons and teachers) end up doing this naturally.

But isn't holding it bad for you?

Only once the urge becomes painful. If you've really gotta go, go, says Dr. Grafstein. When you hold in urine for too long, your bladder may become distended, increasing your risk for bladder infections.

What if middle-of-the-night bathroom trips are wrecking your sleep?

If an urgent need to pee in the, er, wee hours becomes a regular thing, try keeping a fluid diary, Dr. Grafstein suggests. Document how much, what, and when you drink. Consuming most of your daily fluids at night? Shift your habits so you consume more earlier in the day. And cut back on booze near bedtime. Also consider that it may not be the urge to pee that's waking you, says Dr. Grafstein. You could be experiencing restless sleep for another reason, like anxiety or sleep apnea.

Can the color of your pee really tell you if you're well hydrated?

Like your pee frequency, the color of your pee can be affected by a variety of factors, such as the food you've eaten (as beet lovers know) and what you've had to drink. But generally, yes, the color of your urine can be a helpful clue to your hydration status, says Dr. Grafstein. The goal: If the toilet bowl turns a see-through yellow color, you're golden.

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Healthy breakfast bowl ideas

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Muesli can be high in sugar, fat and kilojoules, so we turn the experts to show us how to make healthier options. 

“The perception that muesli is healthy may lead people to eat it in larger quantities than is recommended,” says accredited practising dietitian and Dietitians Association of Australia spokesperson Kate Deppeler. Compare energy density (kJs per 100 g), grams of fat per 100 g (especially saturated) and sugars per 100 g. Keep serving size to half a cup – not three quarters as some packaging recommends or the two thirds or full cup often suggested for processed cereal products. 

Here are a few tips on how to turn your muesli into a healthy breakfast:



If you love muesli, homemade is best. “Making homemade muesli allows you to have total control over the nutritional content of the finished product,” Deppeler says. You can add a serving of real fruit, extra protein (think protein powder) and good fats in seeds such as chia.

Tasting Notes: Add “a variety of grains, such as rolled oats and bran, and a small amount of chopped nuts, seeds and dried fruit”, Deppeler says.


The yum factor of toasted muesli puts it on notice for overeating. Which is extra dangerous since toasted varieties are often cooked in fat and cram in significant extra kilojoules with no extra nutrients or satiety.

Tasting Notes: Keep toasted muesli serves to one quarter of a cup, which has about the same number of kilojoules as a half-cup serving of natural muesli.


Blinging up muesli with nuts and seeds is a great way to make your brekkie more nutrient dense – and tasty, Deppeler says. Nuts and seeds are excellent sources of healthy fats and provide an additional source of fibre.

Tasting Notes: Limit portions of nuts and seeds to a pinch as they are energy dense. “A little goes a long way,” says Deppeler. But don’t eschew them to save kJs; the extra nutrients you gain will help cultivate conditions that result in less hunger later.


Muesli soaked in yoghurt or milk has become the brunch du jour, but despite a reputation as a healthy option, so-called bircher can be deceptive. “Due to the addition of nuts, seeds, dried fruit, fruit juice, yoghurt, sweetener and oil or butter, the kilojoules quickly add up,” Deppeler cautions. A bowl of bircher can contain as many calories as a plate of fish and chips or slice of lasagne.

Tasting Notes: Café servings amplify existing energy surpluses as their serving sizes can literally equate to half the average woman’s daily energy needs. It’s ideal to make your own so you can control additions and quantities, but if you do order out, estimate a half cup and leave the rest.




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Sugar Snap Pea Salad

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Sugar Snap Pea Salad Recipe
Sugar Snap Pea Salad
Sweet, crisp and snappy, this healthy pea salad recipe is all about the sugar snaps, plus a little Aleppo pepper for some heat. The creamy sheep- or goat’s-milk cheese adds a touch of richness and the edible flowers give it a gorgeous pop of color. Serve this beautiful salad alongside lemon-grilled chicken or fish.