Ghostly Poached Pears: A Healthy Halloween Recipe

Woooo's Halloween!

Treats at Halloween don't have to be unhealthy and loaded with sugar, here's a spook'tacular natural dessert recipe for poached pear ghosts.

Read on for the recipe, if you dare....!

Push Ups Part 2 - Advanced Variations

A couple of days ago I wrote about why I love push-ups (or press-ups as they're also known) and how to do them if you are a beginner, in my blog post & video 'Push-ups part 1'.

So once you've mastered the push-up try some advanced variations, which will help give you an amazing lean and toned beach-body look!

These exercises will challenge you and work extra muscle groups, so here are my top 7 advanced push-ups.

  • Close Grip Push-up - placing your hands closer together straight under your chest puts more emphasis on your triceps (goodbye bingo wings!).  Lower yourself down as far as you can while keeping your elbows close to your body. The closer your hands are together the harder the exercise, the ultimate aim being a 'Diamond press up' where your index fingers and thumbs touch in a diamond shape.
  • Spiderman Push-up - named because you look like Spiderman crawling up a wall! Get into the standard push-up position, lower yourself down bringing your right knee up sideways to touch your right elbow, push back up and repeat on the left side. This push-up targets your chest, shoulders and also your obliques to trim that waist. 
  • Balance Push-up - do a standard push-up, but as you return to the plank position extend your left arm and right leg out for a brief count. Repeat extending the opposite arm & leg.. This push-up really targets your whole body as your core, legs and shoulders have to work extra hard to keep you from falling over...wobble wobble!
  • Rotational Push-up - complete a standard push-up, and from the plank position twist your torso and raise your left hand to point to the ceiling, so your body looks like a 'T' shape, hold for a count and repeat on the other side. The rotation targets your core for an intense ab workout.
  • Decline Push-up - by placing your feet on a box or stepper you shift the emphasis of the move to target your upper chest and the front of your shoulder muscles (anterior deltoids). Ladies (and gents) this is the one to do if you want that nice little definition line between your shoulders and arms. 
  • One Hand Elevated Push-up - Place one hand on a stepper or box and lower yourself into the push-up, complete a set of reps before walking with your hands over the box and completing your set with the opposite side. This push-up allows you to descend deeper into the move on the elevated side working your chest and shoulders.
  • Incline Walking Push-up - Similar to one handed elevated push-up above, start with one hand on a box or stepper, complete a push-up and walk with your hands over the box to complete your next push-up on the other side, continue walking back and forth. The increased amount of 'hand walking' in this move really targets the shoulders and chest, plus your core gets a great workout as you try and balance your body.

So there are 7 of my favourite push-up variations to keep challenging yourself and improving your strength. If you work at these exercises they really will help build lean and toned muscles. 

I have great fun filming my fitness videos and hope you enjoy watching them, be sure to watch right until the end of this one for a couple of out-takes. I might be fairly good at press-ups but I'm a wimp with a clapperboard! And the Video Director is under the impression I'm much stronger than I really am! 

Push Ups Part 1 - How To Do A Push Up

Push-ups, or press-ups as they're also known, are one of the first exercises I wanted to learn when I began The Wag Doll Protocol fitness regime 7 months ago.

For years I did 'girlie' kneeling push-ups on my knees, under the impression that the average woman isn't strong enough to do regular full push-ups. Wrong!

Your body will adapt if you challenge it, your strength will improve if you practice and you will progress. The perfect push-up is within reach with consistant and determined effort!

Check out my video to see how I do regular push-ups, and for some hints and tips.

So to recap from the video, my top tips for learning to do your first push-up are:
  • Plank - practice holding the plank position with arms fully extended under your shoulders, body in a straight line, core nice and tight. This will increase your shoulder and ab strength. Plank is also the correct starting position for the full push-up, so if you perfect this move you are well on the way to having perfect technique when you move onto push-ups
  • Negative Kneeling Push-ups - Practice doing push-ups on your knees, focusing on the negative aspect of the move, which means lowering your chest to the floor very slowly, then push back up at normal speed. This will build up your chest strength, needed to do full push-ups.

  • Go for it! - When you attempt to do your first push-up then put every ounce of effort you possess into the move! You really have to give it your all. Get into plank position, lower yourself down, don't pause and push, push, push with all your might! If you can't do the move, then simply go back to practising the plank and kneeling negatives, if you can...then congratulations, you've done your first push up!

  • Practice - When you can do 1 push-up, it's simply a matter of building the numbers up, and to do that you just have to practice. Not once a week at the gym, but every day. The beauty of press-ups is that they can be done anywhere, so do them at home while waiting for the kettle to boil, during the adverts on TV or challenge yourself to do them everytime you walk into a certain room!

  • Check your form - As you build up the numbers of push-ups, be sure to keep in mind correct technique at all times. Push-ups done incorrectly can injure your shoulders, elbows and lower back. Don't get carried away with numbers while letting your form slide.

  • For regular push ups your hands should be under your shoulders, slightly wider than shoulder width apart. Hands at 45 degree angle. As you lower yourself down keep your elbows at a 45 degree angle to your body. Aim to get your chest a few inches from the floor, keep your head in line with your spine and do not extend your head forward like a pigeon!

woman in push-up position

Being able to do 3 sets of 15 push-ups is a great indication of upper body strength, and at that point you can start to incorporate some advanced variations to keep challenging yourself. I'll be showing some of the variations I do in my follow post "Push-ups part 2 - Advanced Variations" so be sure to join me!

Blog Upgrade Tips. How To Add "You Might Also Like..." on Blogger

I've been blogging for just over a year now and thought it was about time I upgraded Wag Doll with a few nifty extras, which I'm going to share with you as I make the changes.

One thing I've always admired on other blogs are the suggested 'You may also like" images at the bottom of a blog post. These help to keep your older content in the public eye, and suggest to your lovely visitors some other posts they might find useful, encouraging them to stay around.

Read on for my easy step-by-step guide on how to add this useful feature to your blog posts...

Clean Eating Dilemma, British Chocolate Week!

So this week it's Chocolate Week in the UK.... yes seriously, the chocolate industry has a whole week to encourage us to eat more chocolate. I really don't think they need to bother, it's Chocolate Week every week and most of us don't need much encouragement in the choccie department! It's rich and decadent and eating it releases feel-good hormones making us crave more.

But seeing as I covered British Egg Week in my I 'Heart' Eggs' post, then I thought I'd give a quick mention that you can still get your chocolate fix while following a healthy diet.

Be under no doubt, chocolate combined with sugar, flour and artificial fats is not good for you. So traditional chocolate bars, cakes and sweets have no place on my Eating Clean plan and I avoid them, they mess up your blood sugar levels leading to fat storage and weight gain.

But research has shown that organic dark chocolate does have some amazing health benefits. It contains flavanols which act as a blood thinning agent, lower blood pressure and reduce inflammation. In fact similar flavanoids are found in of my other favourite treats. Aah a brew and some dark choccie, who would have thought they were so good for you?!

Buy the best quality dark chocolate you can, organic if possible and ideally at least 80% dark chocolate, and eat just a small amount. Luckily chocolate combines so well with nuts, coconut, dried fruit, and fruits such as blueberries and cherries that you can add these to make a more substantial healthy treat.

As most of us have grown up eating milk chocolate loaded with fat and sugar, then high quality dark chocolate can be an acquired taste, your palate has to adjust to the intensity of flavour. Build up from 60% to the higher strength chocolate. My favourite has to be Green and Blacks Organic 85% Organic Dark Chocolate, but I can only eat a couple of squares and I'm done, I challenge anyone to eat more than that in one go!

Both Tesco and Aldi also do great tasting 85% dark chocolate which are a cheaper alternative to Green & Blacks.

Check out cocoa powder too. It's low in calories and fat and can be used in recipes or to make drinks. Cocoa powder also has great health benefits too.

Here's one of my favourite eating clean recipes so far, and one of my most popular. Falsetesers - A Clean Eating Chocolate Dessert. Surely something that looks and tastes so good must be bad for you!

So have you tried high percentage dark chocolate and do you recommend any particular brands for me to try? Or do you prefer milk chocolate, and would you consider swapping to plain for the health benefits? Comment and let me know.

I 'Heart' Eggs! Tutorial: How To Make Heart Shaped Boiled Eggs

I love eggs!

And this week is British Egg Week so it's a good time to explain why eggs are an essential part of my 'Eating Clean & Looking Lean' regime.

heart shaped boiled egg

I'll also show you how to make these ridiculously cute heart shaped boiled eggs....go on, show some egg love!


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