What Is Good Nutrition?

Recently, I was asked if I give my clients meal plans to follow in the course of coaching. I answered no because, along with the many other coaches certified by Precision Nutrition, I don’t believe meal plans are useful for the long term. I explained that my job was less about creating meal plans, and more about teaching my clients about good nutrition, and how to integrate it into their lives. This led to the question of what good nutrition is and how it benefits us.

So, What is Good Nutrition?

Good Nutrition Controls Energy Balance:

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If you’ve been paying attention to this blog n the past, you’ll remember that I’ve talked about food not being fuel. And while we agree that food is more than fuel, it does give you energy which you need to like…survive.

Without enough of the energy that comes from good, healthy foods, our bodies really can’t function properly. Like a laptop when EKEDC has refused to bring back power, our body will go into low energy maintenance mode, shutting down processes which we don’t absolutely need to survive (like reproduction, parts of metabolism & brain function, etc) to keep us alive.

Just like high current from EKEDC can damage our laptops & other devices, so is too much energy dangerous for the body. We can become resistant to some hormones, become susceptible to high blood pressure & other chronic diseases.

Good nutrition is just like a power stabilizer, ensuring that your body has the right amount of energy to function optimally, without blowing up and putting you out of commission.

Good Nutrition Gives Us Nutrients

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Take a look at the image above. It compares a chicken salad and a burger, which have relatively the same amount of calories in them.

But take a closer look: that chicken salad not only contains a lot of calories but is also rich in the nutrients the human body needs to thrive. Macronutrients like Proteins, Vegetables, Carbs & Fats are represented, but so are the little micronutrients and more. When you make sure you’re getting good nutrition, you don’t have to worry about counting calories, but instead, you focus on making sure each meal you eat enriches your body with awesome nutrients.

Good Nutrition Helps Us Look Good, Feel Better, & Perform at Our Best.

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As a student & coach of the Precision Nutrition method, I understand that good nutrition (and of course good coaching) helps my clients achieve their goals without having to sacrifice their lives on the altar of the gods of FitFam. So clients who want to lose weight can do this without spending their lives on the cardio machine or lifting the world on their shoulders in the weight room, people who work in offices can stay in good shape and live pain free, and those who simply want to be the healthiest versions of themselves a manageable way, are empowered to do just that.

Good nutrition is about helping people look better, feel better, perform better, live better and just be better overall.

Good Nutrition is Sustainable

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Often-times I get questions about different types of diets, and what I think about them. In fact, before they come to me, a good percentage of my clients have attempted to take control of their nutrition by engaging in some type of restrictive diet. From the Paleo diet to Atkins, Intermittent Fasting, Low Carb/Low Fat, etc.

You wanna know one thing all these diets have in common?

They’re not sustainable. Nobody wants to spend the rest of their lives being told they can or cannot eat something, and for the most part, people who get on these restrictive diets and achieve success, can’t maintain their success.

Also, when we talk about sustainability, we look at how we eat, and how good it is for the planet. Research has shown that human beings waste up to 50% of all food produced and that now more than ever, we have to be more environmentally considerate of our choices than ever before.

Luckily, what helps the planet will usually help out bodies and health as well.

Good nutrition is a sustainable, lifelong journey that takes care of us, and the environment around us.

Good Nutrition is About Making The Right Decisions

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A lot of people understand that eating well is a major part of their health battle, but not many understand that there are many decisions we need to make, besides what we eat, that affect our health. We have to decide to not just eat well, but also to exercise, visit our doctors & physicians, look after our mental health, create healthy environments for ourselves, and so much more. This is important because it all contributes to our overall health and the effectiveness of the things we eat.

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Now You Tell Me

Are you making the right decisions for yourself? Is your body’s energy in proper balance, or is it spiking all over the place? Are you getting all the right nutrients in your meals? Are you currently eating in a sustainable manner? Are you currently looking good, feeling great and living amazingly?

Are you living well, and practicing Good Nutrition?

If you would like to learn and build up a sustainable, habit-based approach to getting good nutrition that makes sense, feel free to hit me up right here.

Weakness Compels Strength,

– Panda

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Move Now: A Primer on Moving More

I’ve been told that I don’t know how to stay in one place.

I get that a lot. To be honest, if I’m in one position for more than 4 minutes, I get pretty agitated and need to find another position. I love to run, jump, climb, flip, play capoeira, do yoga… the list is endless.

 I love to move.

You may not be like me. You may find that you like to chill out a bit more and get a nice long sleep in on the couch. You may even get stressed out at the thought of organized exercise of any kind, and that’s okay. But I want you to know and remember something very important.

You Were Made To Move

Human beings developed by learning to move around their environment. Our brains and all the biological code that was built into it developed for the primary purpose of helping us move from place to place. In fact, one of the very first signs of life in any creature is a sign of movement. Ever placed your hand on a pregnant woman’s tummy to feel her baby move? You were feeling the presence of a person in there… for the presence of life… movement is life.

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What is Movement?

In the fitness world, “Movement” has become a term used interchangeably for “exercise”, which is not very accurate. Exercise is a modern invention, which is used to train our bodies in the absence of regular movement. For example, we go jogging on Lekki-Ikoyi bridge every other day, because we don’t have to chase a large beast for twenty kilometers, and we lift iron bars because we don’t have to carry that beast on our shoulders back home for the same twenty kilometers just so we can feed our families. Modernization has made life easy, but we still need to be strong. So human beings invented exercise. But while all exercise is Movement, not all Movement is exercise.

Movement is about more than sets and reps and following a routine. Movement was here before the exercises. Movement is about living a more active life, and doing the natural things that human beings do, and can learn to do really well like walking, climbing, squatting, running, jumping, fighting, cleaning, playing, dancing, tumbling, sex, and so much more!!!

Why Should We Move?

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Mind-Movement Connection: Like I said earlier, human beings evolved through constant movement. As Daniel Wolpert puts it, “We have a brain for one reason and one reason only — and that’s to produce adaptable and complex movements.” By constantly finding reasons and new ways to move, we keep our brains agile and strong, which is necessary for healthy development and the avoidance/management of mental health issues like dementia, bipolar disorder, and depression.

Body-Movement Connection: While Rene Descartes said “I think, therefore I am”, I’ve always felt that thinking AND moving, is a necessary show of life as our bodies must move if we’re alive. Moving our bodies ensures that the processes that keep us alive and well keep running smoothly; ranging from things like digestion and immunity to our breathing, sleeping and creating cool things.

Why Don’t We Move As Much?

 

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We Used To Move. Now, not so much…

 

Over the years (thanks to technology), we’ve come to move much less than our parents before us. Designedtomove claims that in less than two generations, physical activity has dropped by 20% in the U.K. and 32% in the U.S. In China, the drop is 45% in less than one generation. While figures on Nigeria and Africa as a whole are unavailable, we do know that just like the Western world, vehicles, machines, and technology now do most of our moving for us. And as a generation that we weren’t raised to move a lot. To the average person, running is only necessary if you’re being chased, and climbing is only necessary if you’re being chased by your neighbor’s dog and have to climb the jeep. The majority of our movement involves moving our mouses around screens and tapping away at our keyboards all day.

What Happens If We Don’t Move?

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If movement keeps our minds and bodies in great condition, then surely not moving will have a negative effect. Studies have shown that because we don’t move as much, we not only lose the ability we move as our bodies get rid of anything that we don’t use, but we are also plagued by problems like weak joints and muscles which affect us as we age, weakened immune systems – putting us at more risk for strokes and heart attacks, and weakened blood circulation to the brain – which jeopardises mental fitness and increases the risk of dementia.

How Often Should We Move?

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Just like the Holy Bible says “man ought always to pray”, I believe that we should always be moving. Remember that I said movement is more than just exercise. We should always be finding ways to make our bodies move, even if it’s in small ways like getting up from our chairs every hour while going about our day to day lives.

So what’re you waiting for? If in the time it’s taken you to read this post, you haven’t moved from one position to another, what’s your excuse?

Get up off your bum and MOVE NOW!!!

#WeaknessCompelsStrength

What Is Food To You?

A couple of days ago, I was chatting with some friends on a WhatsApp group, and I asked them, “What is food to you?”.

Why did I ask this question? Well, as a nutrition coach (in training), food and the choices we make around food are things that interest me a lot. Also, understanding the relationship people have with food, guides the ways in which I can help them.

The answers I got were (by and large): Fuel, Fun, Comfort, and Life, so I decided to cast my net a bit wider. I set up a poll on twitter and asked people what food was to them. Here’s how that went:

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Now I know I could probably have broadened the options, but hey, my measurement wasn’t approved by the Bureau of Statistics so you’ll have to bear with me.

Food does mean a lot more to different people, but let’s talk for a second.

Food As Fuel:

For some people, food is simply something they eat to keep moving. This may make things like choosing to eat clean, or fasting, easy for them while for some it makes simply eating in an of itself a challenge because mans doesn’t feel like they need fuel (raise your hand if you know what I mean). I’ve also read/heard different trainers, who encourage their clients to simply treat food like fuel so they can reach their body gains. I.e, if you want your body to operate at it’s best and burn fat, you’ve got to put the best an most expensive protein fuel in it so it can be super efficient like a Toyota Corolla that won’t finish more than one full tank in a week (if driving in Lagos has made you do this kind of calculation before, say amen).

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With all of this, it was no surprise that 21% of the people that voted believe that food is simply fuel.

But guess what?

 

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“Food Is More Than Fuel!” – Stone Cold Steve Austin (or maybe not him)

 

Food is more than the things you buy at your local station/bukka at pump price, for every situation.

Looking at the food we eat as a source of energy or calories consumed, simply doesn’t tell us all we need to know about food, and sets up a bad foundational relationship with food.

Your body is not a car or a tanker (Sorry, Banky W)

Looking at food as fuel doesn’t make sense because our bodies aren’t machines or combustion engines. Our bodies are complex, dynamic and sensitive systems. For example, research has shown that even if we eat a lot of calories, we don’t always digest everything we eat. Also, even when we’re not getting enough calories, our body can keep us alive by extracting nutrients anyway it can, even if it has to compromise itself to do it.

This makes us so much more than just machines we feed for performance.

So if e pass energy and calories, which wan remain?

In random conversations, I’ve been asked “but isn’t this nutrition thing just about restricting your carbohyrates and fatty foods and increasing the amount of protein you eat?”

 

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No… no no no, young jedi…

 

While foods can be broken broaly into the macronutrients Proteins, Carbohydrates and Fats, and those macronutrients explain how we get energy, there are other members of the group that you haven’t met yet; like micronutrients, phytochemicals, zoochemicals, water, and more, which are necessary to make the body function at its best. Let’s look at it this way; Just like Tuface (macronutrients) was the biggest and brightest star of The Plantashun Boiz, the band (foods we need) wouldn’t have been complete without (the macronutrients, phytos/zoos/water) Blackface and Faze.

 

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I still love listening to Faze’s “Faze Alone”… jam forever

 

So What Are Micronutrients?

Micronutrients are nutrients that our bodies need in very small amounts, in order to function properly. Some examples of micronutrients are Calcium, Iron, Vitamins A, B, C, and Magnesium. Without them, our bodies break down and have trouble maintaining functionality. In fact, most human beings are deficient in at least one micronutrient, the most common deficiency worldwide being in Iron.

Micronutrients help the body do a wide range of things. Including:

  • Build strong bones.
  • Clot blood (after an injury).
  • Muscle and nerve function.
  • Blood sugar control.
  • Nervous system regulation.
  • Tissue growth.
  • Red blood cell production.
  • Blood pressure regulation.
  • Keep our muscles an heart pumping.

Zoochemicals and Phytochemicals

Just like micronutrients, these two “chemicals” are often forgotten in our food needs and do not “provide fuel” for the body.

Zoochemicals are really important nutrients that can only be gotten from animals, while Phytochemicals are nutrients that can only be gotten from plants. These include Cartenoids which can be found in Ugwu, Lettuce & other leafy greens, DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) which can be found in milk or eggs, sulfides & thiols which can be found in garlic and onions, or Creatine which can be found in pork, beef, fish or salmon.

Together, Phytochemicals and Zoochemicals are responsible for a lot of things, including:

  • Decreasing dangerous cholesterol in the body
  • Neutralizing free radicals that cause cell damage
  • Reducing disorders such as schizophrenia, depression and attention deficit;
  • Improving brain and eye development
  • Replenishing ATP to provide cellular energy and support
  • Protects against macular degeneration and cataracts
  • Reduces inflammation & blood clotting;

As you can see, micronutrients, zoochemicals and phytochemicals provide a lot of benefits that go beyond “fueling the body”. When you don’t get enough micronutrients, your body starts to behave like a car that hasn’t been serviced in a long time. This can lead to poorly timed stops and puzzled looks while saying to your doctor/mechanic “but I bought fuel this morning na!”

 

So if we’re not going to look at food as fuel, what is food?

Food is a story:

I like to think of food as a story which we tell ourselves.

It can be a Fun Story.

Ever had one of those days when you and your friends just kicked back to have a good time, and there was laughter, a olot of fun games, chicken wings, and pizza? Or you went to a wedding where the bride was beautiful, the event hall was lit, the band was banging an the small chops didn’t stop flowing? Food is often a facilitator for good times, and as the good times roll, we eat to remember.

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It can be a Story of Comfort.

In times of grief, many people find comfort in the bottom of their ice cream bowls, while some people can only find calm by going into the kitchen to cook something up (guilty, your honor).

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It can be any story you want to tell about yourself

Our choices in food, and how we think about food can say a lot about the kind of person we are. By looking at what we eat, we can say:

  • I like to take care of people. There’s food at my place.
  • I’m a sophisticated foodie.
  • I’m a student. Where’s that carton of indomie sef?
  • I’m an Igbo/Yoruba/Edo man/woman & proud!
  • I’m not picky, I’ll try anything at least once.
  • I’m not into homey stuff, let’s eat out!
  • I’m on a budget today, can we do Mega Chicken instead of Road Chef?

Okay so that last one was probably something I said last week but let’s move on.

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Food is a story about love and life

The kind of food we eat, usually dictates the quality of life we’re going to have, and the kind of lives we lead will usually dictate the kind of food we choose to eat. In this way, the saying “you are what you eat” is very true, even though it doesn’t really mean that eating expensive meals at Eko Le Meridien will make your body worth a lot more than it is.

Now we know that food:

  • Is not just fuel
  • Does a lot more for your body than giving it energy
  • Tells a story about our lives
  • Is a story we tell about ourselves.

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As a Nutrition Coach, my job is to help people figure out the stories they tell themselves about food, decide what stories they want to tell themselves, and how they can make these stories consistent through their lives. Together, we can go beyond “fuelling the tank with food”, and we can create more meaningful stories.

So, here’s the question:

What is food to you?

After reading this post, is it… still just fuel? Is it a story that you like to share with people? Is it something you just don’t like to talk about?

What would you like food to be?

A story of happiness? Success? Here’s a tip; think big… You can say what you want to say with it.

 

Thank you for reading, and I hope you’ll start to think about food in a different storyline. If you’d like help with changing your story about food, please sen me an email at yemifatonais@gmail.com, or click on this link, fill out the form and I’ll get back to you.

Knowing Myself: My Return To Blogging, Becoming A Better Coach, & Committing to Moving Forward

Good Lord, it’s been such a long time since I’ve been here.

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*//Sidebar; it feels like I’ve said something of this nature a whole lot of times on different blogs.//*

If this is your first time on this blog, and you’re wondering who the hell this guy is anyways, I once wrote a little something about myself. I’ve found that over the years, I’ve remained the same person (with a few edits of course).

So a couple of years ago, I set up this blog because I wanted to have a place where I could:

  • Document my growth and development as a Coach.
  • Share my learning about movement, fitness and nutrition and the healthy life in the simplest and most actionable ways possible for others to learn and possibly follow (I said “possibly” because no be me sabi pass. Read other blogs and learn more).

It started out pretty well, but after a while, I fell off. Now, this isn’t pretty surprising; many of us start out with things and then give up after a while. But I don’t want that to be the story I tell myself. Not in this case.

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Anyways, I think the first step to progress is understanding why I stopped putting up posts in the first place.

In the past, I preferred to handle things as they come without stressing about what would come next, and I also made a habit of leaving things till the last minute before having at them and/or not getting them done.

Two of the biggest challenges I’ve faced in my lifetime.

But of course, understanding that you have a challenge and then facing it head on is what living and growing is about, and so I’m back here to face myself and grow and share my process and my learnings with you.

In the time I’ve been gone, I’ve undergone a lot of searching for a sensible path, not only as a coach but as a husband (I got married six months ago), a father to a child who doesn’t live with him, a man living in a society that is heavily drenched in patriarchy, and really, just another human being trying to find my path.

Thankfully, all the resources I have within myself have been slowly (and continuously) revealed to me like Kratos rebuilding his god-like abilities through the levels of God of War, and I’ve found people to help teach and mentor me along the way.

I’ve also been able to find and refine what I view as my purpose in this big ball we call our planet, and I believe that the major purpose for my existence is to continually learn. To learn to be (not just a great coach, but) a better human being and to help push ever onward, the next generation that comes after me in their quest to learn, adapt and evolve.

I’m currently going through The Precision Nutrition Lv1 Certification program for Nutrition Coaches (if you’ve read this blog in the past, you’ll know that I hold PN in the highest regard so this shouldn’t be a surprise), and I’ve learned that one of the most important steps towards being a good coach, is knowing the kind of coach/person that you are, and who you want to be. As part of the program, I went through an exercise where I wrote down the kind of coach I am, want to be, and never want to be. I’ve decided to share the result here, to have a referral point in case I get lost somewhere along this path I’ve chosen. Also, so that anyone who reads this can decide ahead of time if I’m a Coach worth associating with lol.

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So here we go:

What Kind of Coach am I?

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  • I’m the kind of coach that would walk into a room full of people, say hi to everyone, and then simply observe silently (unless of course there’s something worth talking about).
  • I’m the kind of coach that’d love to spend the whole day moving, playing and having a good time (but there are so many things to do and such little time *ShedsHotTears*).
  • I’m the kind of coach that believes his family is more important than every single client he could ever have (sorry, not sorry).
  • I’m the kind of coach that simply wants to learn who he is and to be the best version of himself possible, and then teach other people to do the same.

What Kind of Coach do I Want To Be?

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  • I want to be the kind of coach who understands on a deep level, how to tell the difference between the things under my control, and the things that aren’t, and has the ability to focus fully on the former.
  • I want to be the kind of coach that is as unreactive as possible, but listens/observes thoroughly before responding.
  • I want to be the kind of coach who takes full responsibility for himself and everyone who chooses to work with him/accepts his leadership.
  • I want to be the kind of coach who doesn’t just train people to eat better or move better, but one who raises learners and leaders who will change the world as they know it.
  • I want to be the kind of coach who will inspire the whole world to move.
  • I want to be the kind of coach who teaches and lives his truths, through his actions.
  • I want to be the kind of coach who gives of himself without reproach/conditions.
  • I want to be the kind of coach who dedicates himself to loving and grooming his partner to be the best she can be.

What Kind of Coach Do I Never Want to Be?

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  • I never want to be the kind of coach who will always look for shortcuts and the easy path to success with myself or with my clients.
  • I never want to be the kind of coach who is afraid to try/fail.
  • I never want to be the kind of coach who has no empathy towards his clients.
  • I never want to be the kind of coach who would allow fear to rule his life/decisions.
  • I never want to be the kind of coach who takes trust and value from clients, only to give them emptiness and dissatisfaction.
  • I never want to be the kind of (movement) coach who does not move (i.e. doesn’t practice what he preaches).

People who know & love me would say that:

  • I’m the kind of coach who would not give up and will keep pushing in some way, even when it seems like there’s nothing left.
  • I’m the kind of coach who will always look for positives in the most annoying and difficult situations.
  • I’m the kind of coach who will keep pushing YOU, even when you think you’re done.

If I was a movie character, I’d be:

  • Coach Carter
  • Pierre Dulaine
  • Mr. Miyagi

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*//It was after I’d written these three names down that I realized they were all coaches lol.

END.

If this is the first post you’ve ever read on this blog, thank you for coming. If you’re interested in living your healthiest life, one habit at a time, please feel free to check my this post, which was the first of 5 Habits You Can Incorporate Into Your Life Today.
If this isn’t your first time, welcome back. We’re going to be talking about a lot of things – ranging from exercise to nutrition, lifestyle habits and learning suggestions – as I grow and share my growth with you.

I hope that you’ll be challenged to grow as well.

#WeaknessCompelsStrength

The MetaFit Sessions

Well hey there!

It’s been… quite a while, hasn’t it? Okay let’s leave all the talking, I know what you want to say,

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I know… I missed you too…

So, what have I been up to since the last time I put up a post?

Well, I’ve been functioning as a super awesome Personal Trainer & Nutrition Coach by day, and a Makosa Dancing Superhero called MakoMan by night. It’s been an amazing journey so far; working with people and helping them achieve their strength and body goals, and I’m even happier because I’ve created a group program called The MetaFit Sessions, which I’m really excited to tell you about.

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Coming To Yaba, Lagos…

The MetaFit Sessions are private fitness training and health coaching programs set up for individuals who would like a private trainer to help them reach their goals of becoming stronger and losing weight, but would also like the motivation and communal benefits of training with teammates.
Every member gets access to:
Three (3) group workouts/week
Nutrition & Habit coaching
Direct support from Trainer
Group support & motivation
Members are given access to a closed workout session three times/week, which will focus on strength training, better movement quality, fat loss and proper muscular development.
Besides getting access to excellent and challenging workout sessions, members are given the direct and focused support they need from a private trainer, to make better decisions to improve their health by building new habits every week. By being a part of a small, judgement-free community of people with similar goals, members find motivation and purpose in numbers, without feeling out of place or left out, as is common in large groups.
Who Is This For?
The MetaFit Sessions are for you, if you:
  1. Live and/or work in Adekunle/Yaba/Alagomeji and the surrounding environs.
  2. Are able to attend early morning workout sessions (6:30am-7:30am).
  3. Would like a personal trainer, but would prefer to leverage through group pricing for more cost effective fees.
  4. Would like to be a part of a community that provides the social support necessary to help you achieve your goals of improved strength, better movement & fat loss.
Workout Location: Rowe Park, Yaba.
Price: N15000/Month
Spots available: Six
To make enquiries/reserve a spot, please call/whatsapp 080-5050-2548 or send an email to yemifatonais@gmail.com
#WeaknessCompelsStrength

Office Seat Stretches You Can Try Today

It started with a small pinch in your back.

You got up from your desk to get a drink from the dispenser, bent over to pick up a cup from the little fridge, and suddenly felt like someone shot a rubber-band pellet (if you didn’t play those games in secondary school, you shouldn’t be reading this) right below your shoulder blades.

Yes, you’ve definitely been sitting in your seat too long.

 And I understand. The demands in the office can be really intense. You spend all your time hunched over your laptop, sending emails and checking out your ex’s last post on Facebook and sometimes it’s all you can do to get up from your seat to get a meal (I see you eating at your desk over there). But the truth is, sitting in your desk for hours on end, day after day can have a number of negative effects on your body, including back and spine injuries, depression, chronic pains, decreased metabolic recovery rates, compromised posture (leading to more aches and pains), diabetes, obesity, cardiac disease, and many more scary problems.

  
 
So what do you do about it?

There are a number of ways you can reduce the negative effects of sitting all day. You can stand while making phone calls, walk laps with your colleagues when discussing important stuff instead of using meeting rooms (I really love this idea), or even move about and stretch in your seat. Personally, I like to do a three minute, full body stretch session every hour I’m at a desk, and I’d like to share some of those exercises with you. 

Neck & Shoulders

Start with a simple shrug of your shoulders. Pull your shoulders up towards your ears, hold for 2-3 seconds, relax. Repeat 3 times.

  
Then, sitting straight in your chair, relax your head to the right (trying to touch your head to your shoulder without raising it) and hold for 3 seconds, bring it back up and relax to the left. Then to the front, and to the back. Feel free to repeat the sequence until all the tension in your neck is gone.

   
 Hands & Arms

Starting with your fingers, make a fist with both hands (keeping your thumb out straight), and then release your fingers into an open palm.

  
Repeat 3 times, and then move on to your wrists; place one hand on the fingers of the other, and slowly bend the wrist downwards. Hold for 3 seconds, and then turn the wrist upwards. Hold for 3-5 seconds, and then switch hands. 

  
Going up into your arms, place your elbows on your desk and out your hands together like it was time for your morning prayers, lower your wrists toward the the desk till you feel a stretch in your arms. Hold for 7 seconds, and repeat thrice.

  

Back

Sit tall in your chair and put your feet firmly on the ground. Reach your arms above you and interlock your fingers. Take your arms as far back as you can, and hold for 2 seconds, then slowly lean to your right. Hold that position for 3-5 seconds, return upright, then lean to your left, and hold for 3-5 seconds as well.

  
Returning upright, raise your right knee, drop your hands and grab onto your shin. Curl your back forward and touch your nose to your knee. Hold for 5 seconds, drop and repeat on the left.

  
Moving to the chest, sit at the edge of your seat, pull your arms back and interlock your hands behind you, with your palms facing backwards. Lean forward slightly, raise your arms and reach for the back of your chair. Pull your shoulders down away from your ears, hold for 7 seconds, and then relax.

  
 

Feet & Legs

Lift your left leg in front of you. Flex & point your foot, so your toes stretch up to the ceiling, then straight out. Repeat 3 times, then rotate your foot in circles 3 times, clockwise, and then anti-clockwise. Drop foot, and repeat on the left.

   

You should be done with this in about three to five minutes. Feel better? Great! Set a reminder so you can do it every hour. But remember, try to get out of that chair as much as possible. Stretches in your seat are good, but a little bit of movement will go a long way in keeping you healthy.

– Panda

Want help finding an awesome nutrition and workout plan that you can follow and maintain? Send an email to panda@meta.fit

Five Fat Fighting Foods You Can Get In Bariga Market

I’m a market loving type of person.

I mean, maybe it’s the Yoruba boy in me, but walking through the market, hearing the noise all around me, seeing delicious foods in their different forms, pricing and haggling with the market women & turning my nose up at the women who try to scam me with ridiculous prices because they think men don’t go to the market, makes me feel so happy sometimes.

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Okay? Okay.

Another reason I love the markets, is because most of the foods I eat to help keep fat burning off my body, are easily found in the market.

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What? You didn’t know that some foods actually help you burn fat off your body?

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When I was in Uni, I had a good friend who would say that “all men are created equal, but some are ‘more equal’ than others”. I like to think about foods the same way.

While it’s very easy to think about foods simply in terms of the calories they contain (you wouldn’t be totally wrong if you thought that), different foods react differently in the body. Some of the foods we eat go through different metabolic processes, and digest at different rates. This means that individual foods can affect our bodies in varying ways, in terms of how much we can eat, how they affect our hormones, and how many calories we burn when we eat them. When eaten, some foods can actually help our bodies function, and burn fat more efficiently.

Five Fat Burning Foods You Can Buy in Bariga Market

Here are five foods that are scientifically proven to help burn fat, and are easily found in Bariga (or any other) market in Lagos:

1. Stock fish

 

image source: ekeekee.com

Every time I talk about food, proteins have to find some way or the other into my list. I’ve written on the benefits of eating more protein in an earlier post, and stock fish are a delicious and extraordinary source of protein, and help torch off flab.

Yes, those dried up fish you see in the market stalls that sell dried spices and crayfish (another good choice by the way), work wonders for fat loss. Their high protein & amino acid count help build muscle & encourage fat burn, and also keep you full for a longer period of time. In fact, according to a study in the journal for Nutrition, Metabolism & Cardiovascular Diseases, it was found that people who ate meals with stock fish (also known as cod fish), lose more weight than people who eat the same amount of calories in their meals, but without fish.

Not sure what you can cook with stock fish? Try this recipe for Seafood Okro with stock fish in it. It’s so awesome!

2. Palm oil

 

In my home, the two types of oil we use (for the most part) are coconut oil, and palm oil. While you can make your own coconut oil or buy at a supermarket (I get from Kinky Paradise), it’s not as easy to find as palm oil.

But besides being very accessible, palm oil contains the highest amount of Vitamins A & E than any other plant based oil. These two vitamins are quite important for a strong immune system, healthy skin, and great eyesight. Palm oil is also rich in the micro-nutrient palmolein, which positively affects the way your liver breaks down sugar (leading to better fat burn). According to some sources, adding Palm oil to your diet can help reduce your body fat by as much as 27%! That’s huge!

And here’s the thing, lots of our local Nigerian meals are made with palm oil, so it’s pretty much a regular fit for cooking.

Awesome, yes?
3. Bananas




Once upon a time, I had an aversion to eating bananas without cutting them into a bowl (don’t ask).

I don’t stress about that anymore, and I definitely buy bananas every single time I do my market runs.

Bananas have a bunch (see what I did there?) of benefits, including being a good source of natural sugars & quite awesome for pre-workout nutrition (which you need for a kick ass, fat torching workout), but they also directly aid in fat loss.

How do they do this?

Bananas help boost metabolism and reduce your appetite. They fall under a category of foods called Resistant Starches, which have fewer calories than other kinds of starch, yet cause you to feel fuller than other foods would. A consistent intake of Resistant Starch has been discovered to nourish the stomach lining, improve the health of the colon, improves the digestive system’s functions, and increases fat oxidation – a study found that replacing as little as 5 percent of your daily carbohydrate foods with a source of resistant starch can spike post-meal fat burn by up to 30 percent!
4. Eggs

 

I thought about a chicken crossing the road joke, but I’ll just respect myself and lay this eggy info on you (I’m sorry, please don’t stop reading).

Eggs are a nutritional powerhouse, as far as I’m concerned. Not only do they help build muscle, but they simultaneously assist in fat burn. Rich in vitamins, minerals, protein and antioxidants and a fat fighting nutrient found in the yolk, which is called Choline, every egg you eat literally jumpstarts your bodies metabolism and help you burn fat more efficiently.

They’re also quite easy to find and are a great protein option when you’re on a really tight budget.
5. Coconuts

Coconut oil may be difficult to make and a tad expensive to buy, but whole coconuts are just as nutritious and can also help in fat loss.

Coconuts contain healthy saturated fats, and help boost your metabolism. Rather than ending up in your bodies fat stores, digested coconuts actually aid your metabolism to help you burn fat.

Of course, if you can get coconut oil, feel free to pick some up. But if you can’t get that easily, then simply break open your coconut and get to chewing to get the amazing fat burn benefits it contains.

Not sure what to do with those coconuts besides being a simple snack? Here’s a superbly delicious Coconut Brown Rice recipe I found and liked. And If you’re looking to try your hands at making your own coconut oil, here’s a recipe that I tried and found very easy to follow.

And there we are! Five foods that can help you burn fat, which you can find in your local market. Do you know any other foods that are easily found, that help in the fitfam/fat loss journey? Please feel free to share in the comment section!

– Panda

Want help finding an awesome nutrition and workout plan that you can follow and maintain? Send an email to panda@meta.fit

#TipFive | Sleep: The Super Reset Button

🎶 Back And Forth |  Aaliyah

*singing* “It’s Friday…HAAAAAY!!!” *ChopsMouthForABit*

I’ve always loved that song, but I’ve never been able to get past that first line. Maybe because when the song starts, the concept of a “Friday” take over and I’m just happy like:

 

Feel me?

Friday’s are always a happy time for me. They usually mean tell me that most of the stress for the week is over, and that the next day I’m going to be able to do one very important thing:

 

You guessed it

I really love to sleep. At the weekend, I try to get in at least 10 hours of sleep, and during the week, I try to average at least 7 hours of sleep each day.

But it wasn’t always like that. A few years ago, I’d wake up early and stay up till late. What was I doing? I’m not exactly sure. Probably watching TV or having late night phone conversations thanks to Glo and free midnight calls, or learning how to bury bodies in the desert. I’d wake up grumpy and tired, with a headache that only a big pot of coffee could solve, and make my way through the days like a zombie trying to catch a danfo in Lagos. I didn’t know what the problem was, but one thing was certain; my belief was that:


So What’s So Awesome About Sleep?

1. Sleep Resets Your Brain

Have you ever had an issue with your phone/computer/internet connection device running slow, and you had to restart it for it to function at its regular speed? That sort of what happens to your brain when you sleep. All the baggage that you packed into it during the day gets a chance to be sorted out, things you learned during the day get stored in the places they need to be so you can remember them when you wake up, and obstructions to creativity get cleared out of the way, making it easier for you to create things, make decisions, and solve problems.

2. Sleep Keeps You Alive

I used to believe the saying “sleep is the cousin of death”. Now, I personally think that a lot of the time, sleep is the gatekeeper that holds death away. Good, quality sleep helps boost your immune system,  reducing the chances of contracting diseases which your tired body may otherwise not be able to fight. Sleep also helps in the healing and repair of your heart and blood vessels, fighting off chronic health problems like heart disease, kidney disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, and stroke.

3. Sleep Helps You Recover From Stressful Exercise

Good Sleep sets up the release of human growth hormone (HGH), which is pretty key in muscle and cellular regeneration. This means that post workout, getting good sleep will not only help ease sore muscles, but will also help those muscles grow stronger, helping you improve your performance and get even more fit.

4. Sleep Improves Your Sex Life

Before you go judging me for my obvious love of sexy time, let’s think about this; has your partner ever been unable to get in on some sexy time because (s)he was simply too tired? It’s not abnormal. According to a poll conducted by the National Sleep Foundation, up to 26% of people say that their sex lives tend to suffer because they’re just too tired. Getting enough sleep improves your energy levels, which in turn make it easier for people to respond to sexual stimuli. So if you want more sexy time, you may want to consider sleeping a bit more.

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I Think I Get Enough Sleep. How Do I Know For Sure?

Even though it’s generally recommended that everyone needs at least 7 hours of sleep everyday, people’s needs actually vary. But you can tell for certain that you’re sleep deprived if these things start to happen:

1. You’re Making Bad & Impulsive Decisions

Have you ever had to decide on something and you get told to “sleep on it”? That’s because when your body is tired, it makes it difficult for your brain to process important information and make sensible decisions. When you’re tired, impulsive decisions usually come to the fore, and we know that can be very bad for you.

2. You’re Always Hungry

Food is a source of energy. Our bodies generally recharge by eating, and by sleeping. So when sleep is in short supply, food becomes the most preferred source of fuel and your body starts to crave it in excess. So if you find that you’re always eating, even when you shouldn’t be, you may need to get some sleep.

3. You’re Putting On Weight

With an increased appetite and an inability to make good decisions, it’s not very likely that you’ll be overeating healthy food like vegetables or clean proteins, so putting on weight is a pretty obvious side effect. Sleep also aids in the digestive process, and not getting enough sleep means the food you eat will come back as unnecessary fat.

4. Your Brain Is Scrambled

Remember what I said about your brain being like a computer that needs a reboot? When you don’t get enough sleep, your memory starts to get a little fuzzy, and your creative juices start to dry up like Kainji Dam in December. Your brain also starts to have difficulty sending signals to your limbs and so your motor coordination gets shaky. In fact, certain studies have shown that a sleep deprived body can actually act similarly to an intoxicated body.

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So How Do I Get Better Sleep?

Well first of all, you’ll need to ditch the concept of sleep being “for the weak”. Sleep helps you get stronger in fact. But if you try to sleep, and find that you can’t, or sleep and still wake up tired, here are some tips to help you get better sleep.

1. Easy On The Edibles

Yes, food has a lot of influence on the quality of our sleep. While I don’t necessarily agree with the idea that “eating late” is a problem, I do advise that your last meal of the day should be at least 2 hours before you start to prep for sleep. That way your digestive system gets a head-start, and your body can simply ease into sleep without obstructions.

2. Have A Bedtime Ritual

Associating certain habits with sleep help make it easier for your body to remember the pattern and know when to start shutting down. Some people like to read their bibles, take a warm bath, do some Hatha Yoga or simple exercise, get in a bit of sexy time, while other people simply have a cup of tea. Whatever it is, make it constant, and your body will adjust.

3. Turn Your Lights Down Low

No, this has nothing to do with Lauryn Hill. When there are lights present, your body generally tends to be more awake, because we are meant to function in the daytime. So turning off the lights reminds our bodies that nothing is meant to be happening, and the process of falling asleep can begin.

All in all, sleep is a very overlooked aspect of good health and I hope you’ll work at getting more of it.

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I mean, don’t you want to look like this?

And we’ve come to the end of my FiveHabits series. I’ll definitely talk about other things over the coming days, but if I could recommend any five essential habits to help you get healthier, these Five are the most important to me. So put them in practice, and let me know how it goes for you, okay?

Panda

Want help finding an awesome nutrition and workout plan that you can follow and maintain? Send an email to panda@meta.fit

#TipFour: Verily I Say, Vegetables Are Great!

A couple of years ago, I started trying to shed fat and become a little less of the overweight capoeirista I was known to be. I really got into the habits that I’ve been writing about for the past week, and even a lot more (which I’ll probably talk about some other time). One little formula that definitely worked for me was to increase the amount of protein I was eating while simultaneously reducing dense carbohydrates. So I had to cut a lot of white rice, bread, and the delicious hot puff puff I would usually buy from the lady down the road from where I worked. Instead, I started eating meals that looked like this:

 

 

Yup, I was (and still am) into vegetables.

But anyway, in that time, my colleagues at work would always ask why I was eating so much veg every day. They would usually be having jollof rice or pounded yam, and they believed that vegetables, in the quantity I was having them, just could not be good for anyone. They’d look at me every day like:

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A couple of years down the line, it’s obvious (to me at least), that I made the right choices. But, there’s still a lot of misunderstanding about what vegetables are, why it’s important to eat them every day, and how much is good for you.

What are Vegetables?

Simply put, vegetables are the edible parts of plants. While fruits are the “seed containing” part of the plant, vegetables could be the roots, leaves or stems of the plants. There’s no need to go into a botany lesson so we’ll leave it there. Okay? Okay.

Why Are Vegetables So Important?

When I was a kid, Popeye was one of my favorite cartoon characters. He was always kicking ass, getting his girl & popping a lot of green stuff out of a can.

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Popeye Made Eating Veggies Cool

So why was he always so strong when he ate his veggies?

1. Vitamins & Antioxidants:

Vegetables are ridiculously rich in vitamins and antioxidants that our bodies need to perform properly. For example, many vegetables are high in potassium, which is important for maintaining healthy blood pressure. Many vegetables are also rich in various vitamins, such as C and A, help keep eyes, skin, teeth and gums healthy, fight infection and promote wound healing. They’re also rich in antioxidants, which fight cellular damage and help prevent heart disease, cancer, Parkinson’s disease, and more.

2. Hydration:

Earlier in the week, we talked about why it’s important to drink lots of water and stay hydrated. Vegetables are natural sources of water, and help keep our bodies well hydrated.

3. Filling but Light:

When I eat vegetables, I usually fill my plate and eat till I probably look like this:

FatCat

But the interesting thing is, they fill you up without actually filling you up. Vegetables are so low in calories that you would probably have to eat a Ghana-must-go bag of vegetables before you could consume the same calorie count of two packs of small chops.

4. They Keep Your Body Together:

Vegetables are high in alkaline content, and so they help keep your bone tissues and muscle mass from breaking down while you go through your daily routine. They also help keep your skin looking nice and fresh. Personally I’m trying to eat enough veggies so I look as fresh as RMD when I’m his age so yah…

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Daddy do it for your son.

5. Reduced Risk of Disease:

Yes, I said eating vegetables can help prevent things like heart disease, but consistently eating vegetables has also been known to reduce the risk of other diseases like stroke, heart failure, type 2 diabetes, multiple types of cancer, asthma, and so many other illnesses.

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These guys got it right, atink.

So What Kinds Of Vegetables Should I Eat?

All veggies are good for you, honestly. But then finding some particular types can be difficult (and also quite expensive). But in the average Nigerian market, you can usually find veggies like:

  • Carrots
  • Ugu
  • Spinach (Efo Tete)
  • Efo Shoko
  • Lettuce
  • Cabbage
  • Peppers
  • Afang
  • Cucumbers
  • Melon leaves

So You Want Me To Be Eating Leaves Like a Goat Everyday?

Well first of all, being Nigerian means we have some “stubborn goat” tendencies in our blood so it may not be such a bad thing. But, you’ll note that some of the vegetables I listed here  are commonly used in soups. This means that you don’t have to eat raw, leafy vegetables all the time. Yes, a salad is good (I love a heavy salad), but Afang soup is bae as well.

There are many ways you can prep vegetables and enjoy them without even noticing that they’re there. You could try making little snacks like roasted carrot sticks, or this really cool Edikan-Ikong recipe.

And yes, I know soups are best served with “swallows”, but who says you can’t eat eba as long as you’re eating healthy portion sizes?

  

So here’s a little challenge; for the next two weeks, try to eat vegetables every day. It doesn’t matter if it’s in soups, in salads, or if you simply chew the leaves straight from the plant. Eat vegetables every day for two weeks, and let me know if you notice any changes in your body.

Think that’s something you can do?

Awesome!

So that’s #DayFour of the Five Habits to a Healthier You series. We’ll be wrapping it up tomorrow. Remember to share this post with your friends and family, and help them become healthier versions of themselves too!

Panda

Want help finding an awesome nutrition and workout plan that you can follow and maintain? Send an email to panda@meta.fit

#TipThree | Benefits of Exercise That Don’t Involve Weight Loss

Quick confession: I’m a bit of an exercise junkie. I try to find (strenuous and challenging) ways to move my body a few times every week, and when I don’t, I feel pretty off balance.

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But for a lot of people though, exercise isn’t something they would do if they didn’t have to (and let’s be real; you rarely ever have to do anything you don’t want to). Some people feel like it takes too much time from their busy schedules, while some people think they shouldn’t have to workout if they don’t have weight issues. There’s also a category of people who flat out admit that they really don’t like exercise.

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Shout out to you… this one’s for you.

But there’s a ton of reasons why you should get your bones up and moving, even if you think you’ve got the perfect body and don’t need to subject yourself to the physical torture that can manifest itself as a workout session. And guess what? They’re not even about losing weight!

So Why Should I Workout?

First of all, the results of working out can be seen almost immediately after a good session; your heart rate increases, blood is delivered straight to your muscles, your body starts burning calories for fuel, and you get an almost immediate mood boost.

But let’s break down these benefits, shall we?

1. Stress Relief:

It’s a common saying that all human beings go through stress. But in my opinion, the average Nigerian goes through more stress than people from other parts of the world. From dealing with economic issues, to queuing for fuel so you can drive your car in traffic or run your generator when there’s no power (like I’m doing as I type)… we never run out of stressful situations.

Exercise helps you destress. Engaging in regular physical activities helps release endorphin into our blood, which calms us down and helps to ease tension as well as improve our moods. According to the Journal of Neuroscience, regular exercise reduces anxiety in humans, and can reset our brains to help us deal with stressful situations with more flexibility.

2. Longer Life Span:

When you exercise regularly, the concept of “long life” becomes a bit more real, and less a birthday wish to go with “prosperity”. And while we may like to say “something will eventually kill a man”, engaging in regular exercise has been shown to have the same positive effect on your health as giving up cigarettes.

3. Less Sick Days:

Calling in sick to work can be fun… unless you’re actually sick. Studies have shown that exercise helps build our immunity, and in fact, makes us less likely to catch the common cold than people who don’t exercise.

4. Increased Energy Levels

When you finish a workout, there’s every likelihood that you’re going to be lying in a pool of your own sweat, wondering why you did that to yourself and who actually sent you message. How exactly does that help increase your energy levels? Well, it’s been shown that regular exercise usually results in having more energy to tackle your daily tasks. Studies have even shown that exercising in the morning can help jumpstart your body’s metabolism, and leave you feeling extra energetic throughout the day.

5. Improved Sexual Performance

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Now that I have your attention.

No, I’m not joking. The American Council of Exercise has shown that regular exercise helps improve issues of erectile dysfunction among men, and helps to increase the chances of sexual arousal among women. It also helps actual performance during sex (something about being in good shape so that you can perform all those sexual acrobatics you dream about).

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Just… no. -_-

6. Improved Sleep Quality:

Well, if all that added sexy time doesn’t send you off to sleep, I’m not sure what will… except maybe some more exercise. According to the National Sleep Foundation (who comes up with these organizations?), regular exercise can help you sleep better at night. So burn a few calories and get a few extra zzz’s… not such a bad deal, is it?

But All This Gra Gra Exercise You Do, Is It For Me?

Well, I wouldn’t exactly call it “gra gra” but…

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You don’t have to jump into a crazy, Insane workout to reap the benefits of exercise. There are many, less complicated ways you can get some exercise in, and live your life to the fullest. If you don’t feel like spending your time in the gym, you can:

  1. Take regular walks.
  2. Play a sport.
  3. Pick up a martial art.
  4. Learn to dance.
  5. Register for the Argungu Fishing Festival.

Okay so maybe not that last one. But the point is, there are many activities you can engage in for regular exercise. Not sure where to start? 

First of all, make sure you confirm with your doctor that you can engage in any form of exercise. Then do a little self assessment, and find out how fit you are with this home based fitness test.

At the end of the day, what is most important is that you move your body a little bit more than normal. The benefits all build up to a healthier, happier you, and that’s something to look forward to, no?

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Okay? Okay.

– Panda

Want help finding an awesome nutrition and workout plan that you can follow and maintain? Send an email to panda@meta.fit