How To Skip (Like A Boss)!

If you’ve ever watched a video of someone skipping and thought to yourself “There’s just no way I can do that”, well think again.  Jumping rope isn’t some magical talent that only certain people are just born with. It’s a skill, and (just like any other skill,) the more you do it, the better you’ll get.

Outfit: Hyba activewear

Outfit: Hyba activewear

I’ve been skipping ever since I was a kid and it’s something I’ve always loved coming back to so I do have a fair bit of practice. At the same time though, I’ve also had clients who’ve never skipped before in their life, but once they learn the basics and practice a bit, they find their groove and soon they absolutely love doing it.  It’s definitely worth trying out, since skipping is such a great cardio and conditioning exercise, helping you strengthen and tone your upper and lower body at the same time.  You can literally do it anywhere, and it torches calories at about twice the rate as jogging (a 10 minute skipping workout can burn 150 calories).  

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So if you’ve ever wanted to skip (like a boss), here are a few of my tips to help you get started:

1. Length of Rope -
 It’s really important to make sure your rope is the right length for you. The best way to measure the rope is to place the centre of the rope under one foot, stand straight up and bring both handles straight up. Ideally, the top of the handles should end at your armpits.

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2. Holding the Rope Properly - Grip the handles at their midpoint somewhat firmly.  Keep your elbows in (close to your body), and stand up straight with your shoulders relaxed. Turn the rope mostly using your wrists (and your elbows to a lesser extent).  Avoid swinging your entire arms in giant circles, as that will give you less control and actually makes the timing of the jumps trickier.

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3. Jump low to the ground - a common mistake that beginners make is that they jump too high (since they feel they need to clear the rope).  Remember, the rope will actually be hitting the ground each time your body jumps over it, so you actually only need to jump a little bit to clear it. If anything, jumping higher will only raise the height of the rope, making it more likely for it to hit the back of your legs. Keeping your feet low to the ground will help you maintain more control throughout the entire movement.

4. Get into a Rhythm - Think of skipping like a dance and find your rhythm. You can either do this to the beat of a song, or to an internal count in your head. Jump on the balls of the feet (the front part), and try to focus on staying light on your feet.  Finding your rhythm is one of the toughest parts, so don’t get discouraged if it doesn’t happen right away.  Just keep practicing, starting at a pace where you feel you have control and then slowly increase your speed from there.

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5. Practice-Practice-Practice - As I mentioned before, the more you practice, the better you’ll get. Don’t worry if you keep tripping up, remember that you’re still getting in a good workout and burning calories even if you’re pausing every time you make a mistake.  Consistency is key, try to practice a little bit each day (even if it’s just for 5 minutes) and you’ll see steady improvements in no time.

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You can track your workout in one of 2 ways.  One approach is to skip for time (aim for 1 minute to start, and see if you can increase it by 30 second intervals every few days... if you can get to two sets of 5 minutes straight that’s quite an achievement).  The other approach is counting the number of skips you make (either in total, or the number you can get in a row without tripping up).  Try to aim for 10 at first, and see if you can get to 100 skips straight.  

So don’t be shy, just grab a rope, find some space, and give these tips a try. Happy Skipping!!

Outfit details: Hyba Activewear

 

Cashew Milk

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If you’ve ever wanted to try making some kind of Nut Milk at home but don't know where to start, then let me suggest you try Cashew Milk (even if you don't like the taste of cashews!). I’ve made Almond Milk a couple of times now and it’s turned out pretty good, but Cashew Milk has taken my love of nut milks to a whole other level. It’s so creamy and delicious, doesn't have too strong of a nutty flavour, and it’s super (I mean like, super duper) easy to make. No straining of pulp, it blends into a beautiful creamy frothy milk and once you've soaked the cashews you can literally make it in less than 5 minutes.

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Cashews are packed with all kinds of healthy nutrients like Vitamins B6, E, and K, along with minerals like iron, magnesium, selenium, copper, phosphorus and zinc, all of which are important for maintaining a healthy body. They are however high in calories, so having them in milk form (where much of the milk is made up of water) is a great way to get all of the health benefits of cashews but with less calories.

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So here’s what you’ll need:

  • 1 cup Cashews (raw) 

  • 2 Medjool Dates

  • 1 tsp Vanilla

  • pinch of Sea Salt

  • 4 cups Filtered Water

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Method:

Soak the cashews in a large bowl of water for 3-6 hours.  
After soaking, rinse cashews well and drain.
Place soaked cashews in a blender and pour in the filtered water.
Add in dates, vanilla and sea salt.
Blend on high till the mixture turns into a creamy off-white colour (roughly 1-2 minutes).
Pour into an airtight jar and keep in fridge for up to 3 days.

 

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You can drink the Cashew Milk as is, or use it as a base for smoothies, lattes, or as a milk substitute.
 

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Give this a try, and let me know how you like it in the comments below!

Enjoy!
Zehra  :)

Healthy Pumpkin Oat Muffins with Chocolate Chips

Halloween may have come and gone, but we can still celebrate the amazing flavours of the fall season.  After all, we only get to enjoy pumpkin season once a year, so might as well embrace right?

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To be honest, I didn’t cook with pumpkin very much growing up (it’s not really a part of Indian/East African cuisine), so this year when Ahmed (who’s a Halloween baby) asked me to bake something with pumpkin, I decided to accept the challenge.  His only request was that we add chocolate chips. I figured I could make these muffins healthy enough that a few chocolate chips sprinkled on the top would be just fine  ;)

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One of the best things about these little babies is that the muffin batter is made entirely in the blender, so Ahmed was basically able to make the whole thing himself … I was more like his sous chef  ;)   Aside from a couple of overflowing cups of oats and smudges of orange pumpkin puree on my white counters, I’d say he did a pretty damn good job!

 

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These turned out so amazing, soft and chewy on the inside, naturally sweetened with a lovely hint of cinnamon and also a great source of fibre.  Most importantly, they got 2 thumbs up from each of my 2 most important critics  :)

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So grab your aprons, get the family together and get baking!

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Healthy Pumpkin Oat Muffins with Chocolate Chips

 

What you’ll need

  • 1 cup, pumpkin puree

  • ⅓ cup, pure maple syrup

  • 2 eggs

  • 1 tsp, vanilla extract

  • 4 tbsp, almond butter

  • 1-2 medjool dates (pits removed, and dates soaked in water for 10-15 minutes)

  • ¼ cup, unsweetened almond milk

  • 2½ cups, rolled oats

  • 1 tsp, baking powder

  • ½ tsp, baking soda

  • ½ tsp, salt

  • 1 tsp, cinnamon

  • ½ cup, dark chocolate chips

 

Method

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 12-muffin tray with coconut oil. Place all ingredients in blender in the order listed (wet ingredients first, then dry). Leave out the chocolate chips until the end (or do what we do, which is eat half of them while we’re making the muffins!). Blend all the ingredients, you may need to stop and push ingredients around to help out the blender. Once the batter is a nice smooth and thick consistency, you can add in the chocolate chips and stir them into the batter. ( Note: sometimes the batter gets a little hot in the blender, so it’s a good idea to let it cool down a bit before adding in the chocolate chips, so they don't melt into the batter).

Pour the batter into the muffin tray and bake for 12-15 minutes (till you can stick a toothpick in and it comes out clean).  Let cool for 10 minutes (if you can wait that long) and enjoy.

The kids love these as an after school snack, treat after dinner, or even in the morning. You could swap out the almond butter for a seed butter so they would be “nut free” and school friendly   :)

 

Enjoy!

 

Zehra

5 Stretches you Should be doing

You guys know I'm all about those super tough workouts. From Boot Camp to CrossFit to HITT, there's few things I love more than putting my body through a gruelling workout and that awesome can't-sit-down-or-climb-stairs muscle soreness I feel the next day. But as great as those intense workouts are, it's just as important to stretch out those sore muscles after a workout. In fact, for most people who work out regularly, chances are that stretching is the most important thing they’re not doing. Not only does stretching help your muscles recover faster, it improves our balance and range of motion, not to mention lowers our risk of injury.  

HYBA Activewear

HYBA Activewear

It’s important to practice ‘safe stretch’  :)  You don’t want to deeply stretch muscles too much without first warming them up a bit.  That usually means at least some light activity beforehand (walking, jogging, skipping) to get the blood flowing.  I personally prefer to stretch at the end of my workouts, so I know that my body and muscles are ready for whatever stretch/bendy/flexy goodness I’m about to throw at it.  I also like to incorporate some stretching stretching and flexibility movements into my workout itself.  Make sure to wear clothes that support your full range of motion.  Try not to rush through the stretches and remember to breathe through them.  Also, as with anything else, it’s important to know your own body.  Know your limits and don’t try to go too deep.

Here are 5 great stretches that you can include into your workout routine and even do daily.

1. Couch stretch

hyba activewear

hyba activewear

This is a great stretch for your quadriceps (the large muscles at the front of your upper legs).  These muscles are constantly shortened from all the sitting that we do, and that can eventually lead to hip or knees issues if they’re not stretched back out.  

Make sure your knee is on a soft surface (like a yoga mat or carpet), put the other leg out in front to stabilize you and pull the heel of the back leg up to your glutes. Stay upright and hold the stretch.  You can elongate the stretch in quads even further by pushing your hips forward a little.

2. Hip opener

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Just like it says in the name, this is a great stretch to open up the hips ;)

First open up the knees as wide as you can and lean forward trying to rest your elbows or even your forehead on the ground in front. Take a nice deep breath in and press the hips down towards the ground. As your body gets closer to the ground you’ll feel the hips opening up. Hold this stretch for about 6-8 deep breaths.

3. Shoulder capsule stretch

Wearing Hyba tights and sweater

Wearing Hyba tights and sweater

This is a great stretch to release tension in the back of the shoulders and can even help alleviate some types of neck pain. Start in the tabletop position (on all fours) and extend one arm under & across the body, past the other arm. Lean into your shoulder and the weight of your body will give your shoulder a deeper stretch. You can move in and out of the stretch with the breath, pushing more weight into the shoulder as you exhale to get a nice deep stretch. Hold for 6-8 deep breaths and repeat on the other side.

4. Deep lunge with lateral reach

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This is a such a great stretch for the entire front of the body as well as the obliques, especially for those of who slouch. This stretch helps open up the front body and helps with any tightness in the quads, hips and chest.

Get into a deep lunge position, either with your back knee resting on the ground or hovering off the floor. With the same arm as the back knee reach and stretch up, across and over the body leaning slightly to the opposite side of the body. If you need a bit of help with balance try resting the front arm on the front knee. Go for 6-8 deep breaths, bringing the arm back to your start position each time and reaching across with each exhale.

5. Shoulder 'Y' Stretch

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We’re always hunching forward, whether it's on our phones, driving, on our computer, or leaning forward to play with our little ones. Our shoulders get rounded and closes up our body, slouching us forward. This is a great stretch to open and loosen up the shoulders.

Start seated on the ground sitting up nice and tall with your legs . out in front and knees slightly bent. Now slowly start walking your hands out behind you into a 'Y' formation. You will start to lean back, the wider and further you go the deeper the stretch. You'll definitely feel this in the front of your shoulders, that's a good thing! Go for 6-8 reps, starting at the top and walking your hands back each rep. You don’t have to go too deep to start.  Hold it where you start feeling the stretch and then slowly work your way deeper.

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Be sure to give these awesome stretches a try, incorporate them into your workout routines and be consistent. A little each day and you will start to see your body loosening and opening up. You will also notice how much more effective your workouts are, you'll be able to lift more, have better form and recover faster!

Yours in Health, 

Zehra

 

Outfit details : 
Tights -  Hyba Printed Namaste Leggings
Top -  Hyba Hooded Popover
(use the code 20ZEHRA to get 20% off your order on Hyba activewear)

Photographer :  
Masooma Ali (@em__ali)

Tuna Salad

This is one to keep in your weekly rotation. I make this for the kids at least once a week for lunch. It's a simple recipe for Tuna Salad with a healthier twist and a great way to add in a bunch of greens! I mean common, I tell the kids it's a hulk sandwich :)

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What you'll need:

- 1 can of Tuna packed in water
-  ½  an avocado
- 1 tbsp mayonnaise
- 1 tsp grainy mustard
- 1 cup of fresh spinach chopped
- 1-2 small cucumbers
- ¼ cup chopped coriander
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tsp pepper
- 1 tbsp ground cumin
- juice of half a lemon
- 1 tsp lemon zest

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Mix all ingredients in a large bowl till well combined. The mixture taste best when eaten right away, but you can cover it and keep in the fridge for a few hours. This mixture is great in a sandwich, in a wrap on add it to a green salad to give you the extra protein and no dressing required! Give this a try, I would love to see your lunch pics so be sure to share on your socials #thefitnest #zallibhai

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