Sunday, August 26, 2012

Simple, Honest to God DIET.

I was standing in front of the mirror. Oh misery.

A little over 2 months ago, I decided it was time to put a stop to my weight gain. After 3 kids, the whole thing was just getting out of hand... and it's so hard when you're a foodie like me. I had no idea whatsoever how to start and how I could stick some kind of weight loss plan into my day.

Another look down at my stomach. 
I deserved a good beating for letting it all go that way. Uhh... a punishment. That's what I needed. I remembered trying some type of workout exercise a few years ago and it was still fresh in my mind how hard that was and how I didn't really give it a fair try. Yep, it was Jillian Michaels 30 Day Shred. I quickly looked it up on YouTube. So, all I needed was 20 minutes a day and a sensible diet, right? I took out my old, cat clawed camping mat and dug out a pair of dumbbells I got a good few years ago. They look surprisingly new. Oh, right, that's because I never used them.
I picked Level 1 and hit play.

I can't lie, it was intense, specially when I was so out of shape, but when it was done, it felt great. It's like a near death experience and coming out into the light after 20 minutes of vigorous pain.  I could actually feel my muscles clinging for dear life, trembling in terror. The last time I broke a sweat like that was when I dug out a  mango tree in my garden and that was no picnic. I was soaked in sweat. 
I was so sore the next day, I thought I'd take a break, but how could I get "shredded" in 30 days if I took breaks every time I was sore? So I did it again the next day and behold, the soreness was gone and the happy feeling was back. At least temporarily. That's what got me hooked... I couldn't stop anymore or I would feel like crap the entire day. Against my better judgment, I'll admit I never took even one day off, with no ill effects. My body was quickly getting used to that cycle of exercises and in a few weeks, I wouldn't feel any soreness at all.
I kept on strong for 3 weeks, which is more than I thought I could handle, telling myself it's just 20 minutes. I was really patting myself on the back by then, specially with 2 kids running around my mat and my toddler playing "under the bridge" when I did push ups and laying on my stomach when I did crunches. This new routine actually changed things around the house. It became a rule to let mommy have her "exercise time" every morning and even my 4 year old daughter started to join me in with the exercises, which is ohh so cute! Even my toddler gets on her back and tries to do crunches... with so much ease I must say. Flexible little monkeys!

The first change I felt in my body was in the legs and stomach, how they looked more toned. I'm not nearly getting into my old favorite jeans yet, but those that felt kind of tight around the waist are now too loose to wear.
It was time to take it up a notch and try Level 2 of the workout. I also looked up Jillian's recipes online and tried a few. While some of them are nice, I feel they rely far too much on processed food, like store bought tortillas, low fat processed products, jerky and specific brands that I don't have access to. But it's a good guide though. The punch line of the diet is, start cooking your own food. Keep it simple. You can't possibly have control of your calorie intake if you're not making it yourself. Even an innocent salad can undermine your efforts. Cutting down on the carbs is also a good idea. I don't know the science behind it, but take my word for it, your gut will thank you. You'll feel lighter, less bloated. You don't need more than a couple of handfuls of carbs a day, the rest should be lean protein, vegetables and fruit. If you follow Jillian's workout, you will be building muscle fast, which needs quite a bit of protein to build properly.
It's been 2 months now. I only lost 2 kilos, but while it might sound disappointing (don't we all love numbers?), my body actually build muscle like it never did before. best of all, I went down two full sizes.

So does it work? Yes, it does. No questions about it. 
But it works much faster on a reasonable meal plan (I hate the word "diet"!). Don't force yourself to eat disgusting stuff like quinoa... that thing is truly hellish. It smells terrible and looks like maggoty porridge. But there are a good few super foods out there that can make for a wonderful healthy, low calorie meal. In the next few posts, I'll share everything I've been learning from my experience. 

So get that mat and a couple of 1.5 kg (3 pound) neoprene covered dumbbells (you will be sweating profusely, better have a good grip on those) and hit Play!

Even my kids got the Jillian Michaels bug!

I'll be back soon with some tried and true recipes.

Feel free to message me with any questions, I'm no professional, but I'll do my best to help you get there! 


Wednesday, August 22, 2012

MIZLALA by Meir Adoni

 (Picture by Dan Peretz)

My husband's recent 37th birthday was an excellent excuse for trying out Meir Adoni's new restaurant, Mizlala ("Eatery"), the little sister of the his very fancy flag restaurant, Catit. I googled the menu, just to get a preview. I will have to be honest and admit that middle eastern fare is not really my favorite and the menu seemed to be heavily influenced. Still, Meir never let us down, so I had to try to shut down my negative vibes, which all resonate with couscous, tajine and some form of roasted chicken and the overwhelming scent of cinnamon, curry and cumin.
I went ahead and made the reservation. And luckily, I was not disappointed.
The place in itself is very minimalist, with shades of grey, warm woods and crystal, all in good taste and a flare of Bauhaus. The entire restaurant is surrounded by wide, top to floor bare windows, that let you look at the rather dirty, graffiti covered, very South Tel Aviv'ish Nachalat Binyamin street. While it's not a pretty site, when you're inside shielded by a good beat and loads of sinful food, that eye sore is disturbingly charming. 
The menu is divided in 4 categories, plus desserts. It can be a bit confusing at first, but once you get a good look at the dishes and try some of them, it becomes quite clear what they were up to.
Number 1: bread, appetizers and other small dishes to get your saliva squirting in your mouth.
Number 2: Quick, super filling meals, ideal for midday business lunch (wish I knew!)
Number 3: Fish, seafood and meat dishes - light version
Number 4: Meat -the heavy stuff

Unknowingly, we ordered 7 different dishes (plus one on the house), plus 2 desserts.
We nearly died.

Lets see the spread:

White Sourdough Bread with Anise Seeds served with Pepper Aioli & Butter - we wanted more!!!

‘Zvia’s Cubana’, Mashed Grilled Tomatoes & Hot Green Pepper - light as air brioche, amazing.

Palestinian Tartar, Chopped Rump Steak, Crude Tehina, Pine Nuts, Yogurt, Broad Beans and Cumin - Intense flavors, I would have loved to pick on some sweetness, perhaps a few bits of dates here and there... how about a crushed honey candy?

“Boulangerie” Croissant, Calf Brain, Tomato Tabgha, Smoked Peppers and Eggplants, Potatoes - A whole meal, like the mother-load of all borrekas.

Seafood bisque with butter roasted bread and ceviche (not on the website menu)- salty, buttery deliciousness.

Seafood risotto (not on the website menu)- very very tasty... but the rice was undercooked. They took it back without a question and brought us another dish instead - I was more than happy!)

Charcoaled Sweetbreads, Jerusalem Artichoke, Roasted Mushrooms, Chestnuts -intense flavor bomb. By then, I was eating a lot slower and nearly feeling the food on my back teeth.

Exotic Soup, Coconut Milk, Passion Fruit, Piña Colada Sorbet - very refreshing. We needed that!

Cacao and Nuts Ice Cream Sandwich, Toffee Ice Cream and Chocolate Whip (on the house) - so yummy... and way to much at that point. We still ate most of it.

The only two things that nagged me bit, were the overpriced and not very impressive sangria with canned lychees (come on! That was 40 shekels a pop!) and the bread... what can I say... 4 small of slices of bread for 23 shekels... and so much sauce and butter to wipe off the plates. That can't be right. More bread please!

Overall, a great place for an evening out! I'm set on going back soon and... and do it all over again! ;-)