Self readiness questions


_DSC4980.jpg

BEFORE YOU BEGIN

There are many reasons why we hesitate to do new things. When it comes to change many of us take too long before deciding to take action. Most of us have just become comfortable with whatever the issue is.

For instance, if you’ve been struggling with extra weight for most of your life, you know what the problem is, in fact you’re quite familiar with it. You’ve learnt to live with it. You’re not really afraid of the problem but you’re more afraid of the new, unknown, the actual change.

Whether you’re now considering to make a change, or not, it’s important to understand this:

You can’t change something you can’t see.

Even if someone tells you, and draws a picture for you, you can’t do anything about it unless you agree with what they’re saying. If you can’t see the benefits of taking action to change or the costs of not doing so, you’ll feel stuck and there will be no motivation to begin.

Let’s jump straight to the questions.

ARE YOU READY TO IMPLEMENT CHANGE?

Here are a few questions that you can ask yourself before you begin a wellness journey that requires committed behaviour from your side. These questions can help you clarify the level of your commitment to this change.

On a scale of 1 to 10 with 1 being very unlikely and 10 being highly likely:

Q1. How much do you want to change your body?
Q2. How much effort are you willing to put in?
Q3. How likely are you to minimise your sugar intake?

Q.4 How likely are you to pay attention to what you eat?

Q.5 How successful do you think you will be with this goal?

Q.6 How committed to exercising almost every day are you?

If your overall score is less than 30, your chances to make this change happen now isn’t too bright. If this is the case, don’t worry maybe this is not a good time in your life to start on this project.

If your score is between 30 and 40, just start. Things may not be clear right now, but you don’t have to see the whole staircase. Just take the first step.

If your score is above 40, you are half way there, congratulations !

Mari Curteanu
Fit for a Leader?

Fitness and Leadership - why being in charge of your fitness levels makes you a better leader 

Because the way you do anything, you do everything.  Our smallest actions, even the way we text, tell a story about ourselves. 

Claiming to lead a team, a business or a family but not being able to make decisions about your own body, doesn’t add up. 

In fitness as in life, it’s all about making choices and deciding a strategy, while remaining flexible enough to make controlled adjustement to allow change.

Applying this method to yourself first (and what’s more personal than your own body…), makes you a more humble and understanding leader. 

When my eight-year-old son told me,  'Mummy you're fat, you need to go to the gym,' it stung. But I knew he was right.

He took the picture on the left and with a smile on my face I said, ‘In one year from now, you will see a six pack’. 

He of course laughed. My mini Buddha had once again set me off on a path that would change my life forever. 

And when the time came and he saw me, with an 8 pack, on a stage, he just said: “Mummy you can do anything in the world” 

It wasn’t that I could do it - it was that I got him to believe that anything in the world can be done. 

And that’s alot. 


Since then, I was asked quite a few times, by both friends and people that don't know me that well, how I managed this in just over 1 year and a half. 

The bottom line is Body transformations are about Inner transformations. I simply made the decision from a deep, honest place and just kept my promise. 

How? I chose to change my mind. 

  1. I changed my mind about what comes first – not the job, the bills, the washing up, the kids- it was me. I must come first.

 

This is the same as, when you go on a plane and they go through the safety procedures,  and they say in case of emergency landing apply the oxygen mask  to yourself  first, and then your child (or whoever is traveling with you and you are responsible for). Why is that? Because you’re no use to them dead. 

For all you givers out there - if you want to show love to anyone, start with yourself first.

 2. I changed my mind about what eating food is – it’s not an act of boredom, a consolation prize, a nervous breakdown, or escapism.

 

It’s also not something to forget about.

 

Food is fuel to your body. Do you forget to fill up your car? (or top up your Travel card…Doesn’t it suck when that happens?!) 

You can’t run on empty, and you can’t put Diesel into an electric car. You also can’t overfill the tank. I think you get it.

Hunger builds gradually. Like the fuel level on your dashboard,  it goes orange to warn you.

Cravings are sudden and sharp. Red line. They are not hunger. Cravings are impulses potentially trying to show you that you need some kind of food. Or something...Don’t ignore them, but don’t run to the corner shop and buy a bag of sweets either. Listen to these, see if they repeatedly show up at certain times of the day, of the month, learn what they mean. Ask someone you trust. Then drink some water and wait for your meal time.

 

Eat at the right times, the right amounts and eat what works for you. If you don’t know what that is, find out.

 

3. I changed my mind about asking for help where I know I am limited – I didn’t know what to eat and I didn’t know how to train.

 

I asked my sister, a fitness nutritionist, to make me a food plan and I asked a PT  to help me fit into this red dress.  It really is as simple as that. Then they said yes, and I ate what I was supposed to and I showed up at all my training sessions and worked as hard as I possibly could. Every single time. Many times, I would say  I can only do one more rep.  The PT would say no, go for two. And then I would change my mind, override us both, and do three.

I discovered that true health and fitness its not a one-hit-wonder thing -  it takes moving, eating and resting synergised, consistenly to succeed. 

I also found that I enjoy physical training, that I can lift weights like Nicu Vlad, that I can sprint to 47km/Hr on a wattbike, that I can do fitness competitions.

My entire team at the office including my manager joined the gym downstairs. It was like a family business. The fact that I once spotted a tiny error worth 20 billion dollars in a very important report,  just as I had gotten back from the gym with alert eyes and mind, really got the office more involved into fitness. 


For each of us, changing our minds is a very personal affair. But there is something in common:

It takes one single moment of clarity to look at yourself, and truly decide. 

If you find that you’re not ready, look into that. Not judging, but asking with curiosity - What’s holding you back? 

You will find eventually, that nothing is. And you will make the right changes. 


And that’s what Leaders do. Fit Leaders that is. 

Paula Curteanu
Pancake recipe
image2.jpeg

 

There is nothing like the smell of homemade pancake coming from the kitchen in the morning.

This is the basic clean recipe. It doesn't contain any sweeteners or protein supplements. I find it more volatile this way.  You can have it sweet or savoury with syrup or fruits and yogurt or even scrambled eggs and avocado ( which is my preferred way). Really up to your taste-buds.

What you need:

This will give you 8 pancakes

3 medium eggs organic or free range

½ teaspoon vanilla essence

1 teaspoon of coconut oil

pinch salt

25 grams oat flour

15 grams coconut flour

50 ml coconut milk or water

How to do it:

Break the eggs in a big bowl and whisk them with the vanilla and coconut oil to get some air into the mixture. You can use an electric mixer or work on your biceps. Whatever works for you. Mix until airy and fluffy.

Add the rest of the ingredients and mix well until everything becomes a nice smooth batter. It is important to get a good consistency as too much coconut flour will tend to thicken the batter. If that happens, add more water or coconut milk until you get it right.

Use a non-stick frying pan and keep the heat at 7/10. Using a big spoon place approximately 40 ml of the batter in the centre of the pan and gently but quickly start to spread it using the back of the spoon to form a circle.

Let it get nice and golden brown on each side before you move to the next one. It should take about a minute for each pancake to cook.

Hope you enjoy!

Mari Curteanu
Fat burning hormones
barrier.jpg

 

Did you know that we have around 600 hormones within our body?

Each hormone has a unique function and that is, to take a specific message “chemical message” from one part of our body to another part.

Different glands produce these chemical messages with the intention to activate and regulate different functions in the human body.

It’s really an internal body language which creates hundreds of functions every day.

There are many things that initiate the activation of our endocrine system to produce these chemical reactions and it can vary from the weather, stress, thoughts and the food we eat.

There is no such thing as bad hormones. It’s just ideal to maintain an overall hormonal balance for your body to function at its best capacity. When these levels are not met, they can produce different side effects within the body.

This is how hormones relate to exercise, food and rest.

When you exercise, there are different hormones produced by the body. All of these hormones favour fat burning.

Here's are some of the fat burning hormones triggered by intense exercise. 

Growth hormone – Intensity is a powerful simulator for growth hormone. This is the anti-ageing hormone. It’s the lean body mass producing. It prevents the breakdown of proteins.

Glucagon – it’s the opposite of insulin. It fuels the cells between the meals.

Testosterone – made by the adrenal glands, male and even female reproducing glands. It helps with muscle building and it follows growth hormone. If your glands produce growth hormone, testosterone is also present.

Adrenaline – is the hormone that releases the fat energy from your fat cells. It’s triggered by intense exercise.

The intensity, type, duration, frequency and resting periods of your training will determine how you can maximise and keep your body into the fat burning mode.

Even if you’re training every day, but don’t get enough rest and recovery your cortisol levels will be higher than usual and that could nullify some of those benefits you get from training.

Here's are some hormones that can trigger fat accumulation if they are not in balance.

Cortisol - the stress hormone. Everyone is familiar with this one.

Insulin - it clears our the sugar from your blood stream after you have a meal.

Estrogen - mostly dominant in females, but not exclusively.

You don’t need to remember the names or their specific functions.

TRAINING - All you need to remember is that all fat burning hormones are created during exercise and some of them also during sleep and rest.

REST AND RECOVERY is key. You’re not burning fat while you exercise but while your resting.

All fat burning hormones are using fat energy during rest. Without resting, you get little fat burn.

If you’re not resting enough and over stressing with work without exercising, your cortisol may be higher and nullify the fat burning effect.

EATING - If you consuming sugary foods, before, after or during the exercise, you will not burn fat. The sugars will be pumped into the muscles and used as fuel to exercise.

Snacking too often, especially on processed carbohydrates and sugary foods will spike your blood sugars and may cause excess of insulin release in the body. Too much of insulin spikes and fat burn don’t go to together.

Train well. Eat well. Rest well.

Stay awesome!

 

 

 

 

Mari Curteanu
Deadlifts or Squats?
marietta_curteanu_24-06-16_0034 (2).jpg

DEADLIFTS OR SQUATS

There is a lot of debate around which of the two lifts is the most effective exercise to measure raw strength and recruit more muscles in the body.

THE FACTS

Both exercises are putting most of the load on your hip and thigh muscles, each in a different way.

The deadlift clearly recruits more overall muscles in your body, simply because your forearms and biceps are always engaged in the movement holding onto the bar. Especially if you are lifting heavier you will fire these up instantly. While you squat you don’t use your arms muscles, as the bar rests on your shoulders.

On the other hand, your calves are not stressed during the deadlift. That is only achieved by the squat because of the way the weight and pressure is spread through the foot during the movement.

Deadlifts are the best exercise for your main back chain muscles, i.e glutes and hamstrings. Your back muscles are also stressed while deadlifting. Those of you who are lifting heavy for a while, you probably have developed strong trapezius and rhomboids muscles.

Squats place a greater pressure on the front chain, specifically your quadriceps and for that reason it’s considered to be the best exercise for these muscles.

Same as the deadlifts, squats also work the hamstrings and glutes.  Reaching specific angles between the thighs and the ground will recruit these muscles in a different way.

Both of these two lifts place a great pressure on your spine and this is where the core muscles come to rescue. During the movement every abdominal/core muscle is recruited to create internal pressure and support the spine while performing these lifts.

PICK ONE OVER THE OTHER? NAH!

Both deadlifts and squats are great exercises to perform. They both work your glutes, hamstrings, quadriceps (i.e mainly your thigh and hip muscles) as well as your core/abdominal and arms. If there are minor differences, then they complement each other. 

If you’re lifting already, you probably won’t pick one over the other. We won't either. 

Stay awesome!

 

 

Easy Stir & Fry

They say that the feeling of abundance in life, does not come from what we own, but from things that we enjoy doing. True. A walk in the park, reading a good book or cooking a delicious meal can all bring some joy to your day.

Today I chose the last one. I always find joy in cooking.

This is so simple to do, it literally takes no time. I had some left over lean beef fillet in the fridge from a couple of days ago, and did not want to let it go wasted ( you can use fresh meat instead). I thought of a couple of fresh ingredients to add to it and that was it!

The veggies add volume and flavour to this meal and little calories but many nutrients.  On the other hand, you get the consistence from the meat. Very balanced and delicious.

WHAT YOU NEED

1 fresh red pepper

1 fresh courgette

3 mushrooms

Some sesame seeds to sprinkle over

150 – 200 grams of leftover/or fresh meat – can be anything you prefer

2 teaspoons of coconut oil

For seasoning you can use all the spices you like. I like chilli and sea salt. 

HOW TO DO IT

Chop all the veggies. I like to cut the courgette in ribbons using the peeler, just like in the image below.

Heat the pan with the coconut oil.

Throw in the meat and cook it for a minute, mostly to reheat it as it is already cooked. If you're using fresh meat, it will take a few more minutes.

Remove the meat from the pan and set aside for a bit.

Add all the veggies and leave to soften for a minute or two.

Add the meat back and season and mix until it all marries nicely.

Taste it before you serve it to make sure your taste buds like it enough. Feel free to use your own seasoning potions.

Serve it in your favourite plate and sprinkle with toasted sesame seeds and more chilly.

WHAT YOU GET FROM THIS IN TERMS OF NUTRITIONAL BENEFITS

IRON – vital for the production of haemoglobin and myoglobin in your blood.

VITAMIN B – a range of these vitamins are necessary for the functioning of your brain cells and nervous system, healthy skin, hair and nails.

VITAMIN C – this vitamin fights the free radicals (cancer cells), improve connective tissue, helps in healing wounds and strengthen your immune system. Helps to the absorption of the iron from foods.

As always, thank you so much for reading and hope you have enjoyed this blog. If you do, please share it with your friends if you think they may like it too.

Stay awesome!

 

dsc_0928.jpg
Tips for a better sleep

FACT – the average duration of sleep has fallen from 8.5 hours to 6 hours from the 1960’s to present. But it’s not about the quantity, it’s about the quality nowadays.

 

How do we get the best of bedtime? These are my top 3 ‘pimp my bedtime’ tools.

 

 

1. Keep it cool 

A room temperature of around 19C is ideal for a good night’s sleep. The body cools down during the night to assist the main internal organs to go into ‘preservation’ mode. By lowering the room temperature, you just give your body a heads-up that you’re about to go into recovery.

 

2. Keep it fresh

Get as much oxygen as possible before switching off. Either in the room by opening the window, or outside of it by going for a walk or just sitting outside for a bit. As already hinted, the heart pumps less, the lungs contract sporadically. All the muscles elongate to relax and metabolise fat. So giving yourself more oxygen really allows the system to work as little as possible. Which is what we want.

 

3. Don’t sweat it

This is not about outside temperature but about the fact you may not be able to fall asleep. Just let it be. If you can’t sleep, listen to some relaxing music or an audiobook. Audiobooks always work for me, find out what works for you. They say people woke up speaking german after a few nights of Deutsche audio lessons.

 

Simple steps like these, when taken every day, will make the difference.

 

 

Good Night!

A small habit exercise

I love Mondays recently. I have changed my mind about Mondays. Clean slate paradise.

 

Changing your mind is a very personal affair. Changing your mind about your body is a long term effort that doesn’t happen overnight.

 

For practice, is best to start small, with things that are (apparently) not related.

 

Choose a small, annoying little habit you have. You know it’s not good for you but you can’t rid of it.

 

(Example – I keep receipts I don’t need in my wallet. When I need to pay by cash, I can’t see the cash; I need two hands to rummage through, I then drop whatever I hold in my other hand. This makes me avoid cash payments. I have no cash right now in my wallet. But I have receipts. Annoying)

 

Try this:

 

Step 1 – Pause – right before you start, take a time out. (It’s your life after all)

 

Step 2 – Look at the object of your affection (the receipt, a donut, etc.) and consider if you really need it. Need it, not want it.

 

Step 3 –  Decide– keep it or bin it.  99% of the times I don’t really need to keep a receipt or eat a donut. Everything is digital now. My bank statement loads automatically into the accountant’s software. And those office snacks leftovers can go in the bin. The receipt can go in the bin. You are not a bin.

 

Step 4 – Do it – whatever you have decided, do it. If you decide to keep it, remember why it was. And see if that changes next time. Chances are, it’s always the same reason. If you know why you’re doing it, you’re winning.

 

Step 5 – Don’t judge yourself – just notice the why’s. The less you resist it, the clearer it gets. And that’s what we want to do here – get really clear about it.

 

It turns out I still pick up receipts because a) littering guilt b) tax return accuracy c) personal information on receipts paranoia.  What can I do. If I really don’t need a receipt (and that’s most of the time) I will: a) ask the person who’s offering it to me to bin it instead  - planet saved b) file it on my paperwork day, Tuesday at 10 am – software glitches covered C) shred it, on Tuesday at 10am – no one can ever send me unwanted mail and identity fraud me.

 

If I have a receipt in my wallet on Tuesday afternoon, I have failed.

Chances are, I will need some time with this process.

 

In the meantime, I can and I will get some cash out.

Tips for a better mindset

I recently went to a work induction course. I joined a new collective of people about to undertake a very stressful project, with large budgets, people they didn’t like and tight deadlines.

 

The people running the course did a good job, mentioning that when you get into what they calledthe ‘Inside The Box’ mood, and you act from that place, things are not going to end up well. But they didn’t’ mention how to get 'Out of the box'. So I had my own go at figuring that out and I thought I should share. ( as I do)

 

But first, it's worth mentioning that knowing how to get out of a negative mental state is not useful just in the office. Sport psychology techniques can make or break records, and are known be a life-saver outside of the gym too.

 

If you often find yourself in a headspace you don't want to be, I would suggest to cut yourself some slack first. One of the greatest athletes of all time, Roger Federer, had a very bad temper as a young tennis player.  He got many warnings for throwing his racket onto the court and lost many matches as a result of his bad mood.

 

 

 

As he matured on the tennis court and outside of it, he experienced that ‘when you train the body, the mind follows’. And yes, the good news is that it works both ways.

 

Here is my two cents on recovering from a brain cramp.

 

1. Stop and Breathe.

Breathing is of course underrated, because it is done for us, automatically. But if you take between 5 to 10 seconds to control the inbreath and the outbreath, the parasympathetic part of the brain switches on and begins to take over from the fight-or-flight response. Everyone from new born babies to samurais use breathing into the belly as a foundation. To be more precise, it is breating into the lower part of the abdomen. Consider the location of your belly button - aim to breath in lower with about 2 inches; we are looking for three of four deep breaths here.

 

 

 

2. Notice the facts

From this state, notice without judgement what is causing you stress. When you learn something new, or come across hurdles, there is no use in judging yourself as good or bad. That’s usually harsh or just pointless and brings no resolution. If you stop, the mind starts being on your side and acts like a mirror. The mind’s top use is to find patterns. Just find the pattern.

 

3. Take action.

No use to just look in the mirror and recognize what is holding you back. Decide what to do about it, and do it as soon as it’s kind and considerate to you and those impacted by your decisions.

 

Try it with a smaller issue first and work your way up to bigger problems as you make progess.
 

Remember that the more disciplined you are with your physical routines, the better the mindset too.

 

And viceversa.

 

A win win situation.