Pre-workout Snacks

Happy Sunday! I often get asked by my clients what they should eat before a workout, so I thought I’d write a Sunday post with some pre workout snacks to start your week off right! The key is not to eat something heavy… That fast food meal will make you feel heavy, sluggish and energy deprived, not to mention counteract your healthy lifestyle! You want a light snack with a bit of natural sugar to give you energy, a small amount of protein or fat to keep you satisfied and water to hydrate. Eating an hour to a half hour before your workout should be enough time to get the benefits you want. Here are some suggestions:

-Apple slices with nut butter
– veggies and 2 tbsp hummus
– handful of trail mix
– 2 Wasa crackers with nut butter
-2 Wasa crackers with cottage cheese and salsa
– handful of grapes and a light babybell cheese
-berries and 1/3 cup plain Greek yogurt
-homemade healthy muffin or granola bar
-Larabar, KINDBar, Simply Bar
-rice cakes with nut butter and banana
-Guacamole and Pita Crisps
Energy Bites click to see recipe

Water should be consumed before, during and after your workout. I wouldn’t bother with sport drinks…the average person doesn’t need the added sugar and can get the electrolytes from healthy food choices. After a good sweat session, get yourself a lean protein meal, still avoiding that takeout! Chicken, fish, lean pork or beef with TONS of veggies are great choices post-workout.

If you find you have some tummy troubles during your workout, this may be caused by too much fibre. Try eating your snack earlier or avoiding high fibre options like the Wasa crackers. You could replace these with rice crackers, banana, or toast.
So add some great pre-workout snacks to your weekly meal plan and you will find you have more energy to lift just a bit heavier, or run just a bit further! The only person you should be comparing yourself against is who you were yesterday, so always do YOUR best. Have a great week, live well, love always and healthy snacking!

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The 5 Necessary Work Day Stretches!

You know the feeling…stiff neck, sore back, eyes feel groggy and heavy. You have been sitting at your computer for the last 8 hours but it feels more like 12! Try a 10 min stretch  and/or walk break morning, lunch and afternoon and you should feel more awake, happier, more productive and have less pain! It is easy, doesn’t make you all sweaty and only takes a few minutes. Here are the 5 stretches I think are the most important for jobs that require a lot of sitting. If you have the time to get up, walk around and/or do a few stairs you will really feel the benefits of stretching and increase your alertness.

1)Neck stretch: Sit on your left hand, and tilt your head to the right, still looking forward. Use your free right hand to either support your head or press down gently for added stretch. Hold for 10-30 sec and repeat on the other side. Use your free right hand to lift your head back up to neutral to avoid excessively using your neck muscles.

2)Neck stretch #2: To stretch another overused neck muscle, the levator scapulae, perform the same move as above except til your head down and to the side, as if you are trying to sniff your armpit! Trust me, it works!

3)Chest stretch: During the day our shoulders will round and slump, putting more stress on the upper back and neck muscles, as well as creating a chain reacting down to poor lower back posture. Stand beside a wall, facing to the side. Put your arm from the elbow to the hand against the wall, with 90 degrees at both the shoulder and the elbow. Step forward with the foot closest to the wall. Hold for 10-30 sec and repeat on the other side.

chest stretch

4) You may experience low back pain from sitting in a chair all day which could be due to tight and overactive Hamstrings and Hip Flexor muscles that are tilting the pelvis to the posterior, creating back pain. Sitting in your chair, extend one leg with the toes facing up, keeping the other flat on the floor. Hinging from the hip (NOT the lower back) bring your chest forward. You will feel a pull at the back of your leg. Hold 10-30 sec, repeat for the other leg.

hams

5)Stretch the Hip Flexors and Quadriceps by standing up, near something sturdy for balance and grabbing your “shoelaces”. The knee should remain in line with the other knee and upper body is tall and upright. Hold 10-30 sec and repeat for other leg.

quads

When stretching, you should never feel pain, only a slight pulling sensation which could be uncomfortable if you have never experienced it before. If you feel pain, immediately pull back on the intensity of the stretch or stop the stretch all together. Always check with your doctor before starting a new exercise program! Remember, every little bit counts, live well and love always!

Why a Personal Trainer can help anyone succeed!

With the New Year in full swing I have already seen an influx of people in the gyms, and one way to make sure you follow through with your fitness goals in to get a Personal Trainer! Now I am sure you are thinking “It is too expensive, or I don’t need help”… but even fitness professionals can benefit from some time with a trainer! Here are a few reasons why:

  1. Motivation! Having an appointment gives you a reason to be at the gym, and having someone there cheering you on will increase your chances of sticking with it!
  2. Injury Prevention: From first time gym-goers to other fitness professionals, having someone there to watch your form and make sure you are doing appropriate exercises for your goals is always helpful!
  3. Get what you want: A trainer will create a personalized program to get you reaching your goals much faster! Whether this is to lose weight, tone up or shave off those few seconds of your race!
  4. Variety: Bored with the machines in your gym? A trainer can introduce you to equipment you may not be confident using, or give you some new moves that you can incorporate into your routine.
  5. Learn: A personal trainer with a recognized certification is a wealth of information- they can probably answer, or find the answer to many of your questions!
  6. Safety: Having someone there to spot you while lifting heavier weights and reminding you of your form and breathing is always a great thing!
  7. Gain a friend: Once you get to know your trainer, it will seem more like working out with a friend!

I do know that personal training can be expensive; however you may only need 2 or 3 sessions to learn about form, exercises, etc. Some gyms may also have group personal training which could be a cheaper option. Finally, if getting a trainer is just not in the budget, try some fitness classes. Classes are a great way to learn exercises techniques and stay motivated! Most instructors won’t mind answering any questions you may have after class- so you can still find out the best way to get those rockin’ arms 😉

So get out there, live well and love always!

New Years Resolutions- Be SMART this year!

Happy New Year to all! I personally had an amazing 2013 and am looking forward to 2014. Working in the health and fitness industry, I see many people hit January running full force with their resolution and then often fade out by March. This does not have to be the case! Choosing a resolution that follows the SMART guide has a much better chance of lasting throughout the year and maybe even an entire lifetime! Here is how to plan your goals the “SMART” way!

Specific: instead of saying “losing weight”, use “losing 2lbs per week until …” Or instead of “eat healthier”, try “eat the recommended daily intake of fruits and vegetables every day”. This takes your resolution from a vague idea to a concrete plan.

Measurable: Having a measurable goal gives you something to work for! For example: attending the gym at least 4 times per week, lifting 2lbs heavier weights each workout or losing 2lbs per week. Seeing the achievement of your goal through numbers gives you positive feedback.

Attainable: Be reasonable with yourself- if you really don’t think you can attend the gym EVERY single day or lose 30lbs in a month then you are setting yourself up for failure. Give yourself small goals that you KNOW you can do!

Realistic: This falls in line with the “Attainable” section. You need to look at your lifestyle and plan accordingly. This does not mean you shouldn’t challenge yourself- reaching goals is not often easy, but you need to find something that is within your reach!

Timely: Give yourself a time line so that you have something to work towards. For example, losing 2lbs per week for 12 weeks. Or not drinking alcohol for 1 month. When you reach this date you will have something to feel proud of! You can then extend your goals to a further date or challenge yourself with an additional goal.

Good luck with your resolutions, I wish all of you the best for 2014! Whatever happens, live well love always!

The Thigh Gap Disaster

It has come to my attention that having a  gap between your thighs is now considered “sexy” “fit” and “desirable”. Ladies- do not become victim to this awful theory. Let me tell you- I eat extremely healthy, run often, workout very hard and MY THIGHS TOUCH! You need to look at yourself and decide what is attainable for your body in a healthy way. Focus on adding, not taking away, for example- why not try for a 6-pack, toned legs or arms? Here are just a few good reasons and goals to strive for:

-feeling healthy

-feeling strong and able to take on anything

-being able to hold a plank longer than your boyfriend 😉 maybe even more push ups too!

-knowing you are preventing diseases such as heart disease, and diabetes

-being able to experience things in life without feeling winded and tired

-enjoying hikes in the outdoors

-getting that awesome rush of happy hormones after a good sweat!

 

Choose attainable goals for yourself that do not focus on appearance and do not compare yourself to others! Eat well, get moving often and you will find it easy to love yourself always! ❤

A MUST READ! “10 things I want my daughter to know about working out.”

A MUST READ! “10 things I want my daughter to know about working out.”

Hello all! You must read this blog post. It is an amazing perspective that I will start living by right now! It is easy to get wound up in how our body looks but this often only leads to immense stress and disappointment! Give this a read, you’ll be glad you did! Click on the highlighted title above!

No Equipment Workout!

Want to squeeze in a workout anywhere?! Don’t have any equipment?! Well the truth is you can get a great workout without equipment!! Here’s what to do:
WARM UP
-Jog on the spot, don’t forget arm swings!
-hamstring curl (bum kick) with row
-jumping jacks
Perform each for 1 min, repeat!

WORKOUT
-15 push-ups, less intense=drop to knees, more intense = lift legs on a step or bench
-15 squats, do not let the knees pass the toes!
-12 tricep dips on a bed or step
-10 lunges each leg, more intense=jump lunges
-plank 30sec, alternate lifting each leg
-bridge with 10 hip lifts, more intense=lift one leg while lifting, then switch

Remember to always breathe, and keep your core TIGHT! Repeat the circuit 2-3 times.

Cool down: light walk 5-10 min and stretch. (I’ll be posting a stretching routine in the future!) .

Eat well, exercise often and love always 🙂

*Always check with your doctor that starting a new exercise program is right for you.

Yes you CAN be a runner!

Image

I have heard so many people say they can’t run. Although it is true that someone with any sort of joint injury or medical condition may have been advised not to run, anyone can throw on a pair of runners and reap the benefits of running. It is cheap, burns TONS of calories, provides a surge of “happy hormones” in the brain and can improve your overall health! There IS such a thing as a runners high! You feel great after! The trick when starting out is to set small, attainable goals! No one can go from couch to 5 km without working up to it. Here are some tips:

-Find a runner partner! Having someone there for motivation always helps.

-Plan out a running loop that is not too long. Choose somewhere you enjoy such as a park etc. that you could repeat as you get stronger. Running on gravel, packed dirt, sand or grass will give some cushioning to your joints.

-Download a free running app. I use RunKeeper or Run4Good to track my runs. Seeing your distance, times and pace will help to motivate you.

-Get a good pair of running shoes. There is no type/brand/store that sells the best shoe. Something that fits you best and feels comfortable will do!

-Remember that you are doing this for you! You don’t need to win any races (unless you want to of course!!) so don’t put too much pressure on yourself. If you feel overwhelmed, scale back and start small!

-Start out with a walk:run ratio that pushes you to work hard but doesn’t over do it. I would suggest starting with a 5 min jog, 3 min walk. Increase the jog about 1 min and decrease the rest 30 sec every 4 or 5 runs. Then start increasing your distance. I run my 8km runs now at 10 min jog to 1 min rest. You can actually set RunKeeper to your preferred ratio and it will tell you when to walk or run.

-Warm up thoroughly before each run. A brisk walk, ankle rolls, high knees and bum kicks will get your muscles moving! Always finish a run with a full cool down. Walk for 5-10 min until your heart rate has slowed (for those of you with heart rate monitors it should come back down around 100 bpm). Stretch all major muscle groups and REHYDRATE! You are probably pretty sweaty…so that means you need water water water!

Running is a great way to stay fit, de-stress and enjoy the outdoors! Give it a try, and maybe you will be signing up for your first 5km, 10km, or even a marathon someday!!

Watch for future posts on what to eat before and after runs.

*Please check with your doctor before starting a running program to be sure it is right for you.

Sunday Workout: Toned Arms…and a treat for after!!

Sundays aren’t just for lazing around…don’t get me wrong I slept in, watched a movie and rested BUT I enjoyed having lots of free time for a workout. This is a workout for strong, toned arms, using only weights/kettle bell and a theraband. I also had some time for baking! I can never get sick of pumpkin treats…pumpkin is actually very good for you! These bright orange halloween decorations have lots of fibre, antioxidants, vitamins and a bit of protein. This link will take you to Chocolate Covered Katie’s blog, she lists a ton of yummy, healthier pumpkin treats. I have made the pumpkin pie muffins and pumpkin snack bars…both were delicious!! I used Sucanat (dried, organic cane sugar) and applesauce (unsweetened of course!) and they turned out amazing. So start your week off right, eat well and keep moving! You will love yourself for it!

http://chocolatecoveredkatie.com/2012/11/20/35-favorite-healthy-pumpkin-recipes/

Warm Up: Skipping or brisk walk or jog, 5-10 minutes.

Exercise Reps Description Variations
Squat Shoulder Press 15 Using weights (something you are able to lift), squat with the weights hanging by your sides, on the extension press arms overhead.  Maintain tight core throughout. Increase weight for increased intensity.
Row Kickback 10 each Using weight or kettle bell, lean onto a chair, spine should be neutral. Lift elbow up to side then extend straight behind. Increase weight for increased intensity.
Push-Up Plank 5-10 In a plank position, arms fully extended and on hands, lower body with control onto forearms, one arm at a time. Reverse, pressing onto hands. Put knees down on a mat for less intense, pull feet on a stability ball or BOSU for more intensity.
Lunge-Bicep Curl 10 each side Using weights or kettle bell. Step forward first, then as lowering into lunge, curl arms up. Return to standing as arms lower. If coordination of the move is difficult, perform full curl and then lunge separately.
Bent-Over Arm Extension 12 each Using desired theraband, bend torso forward ~45°. With one side of theraband under the foot, other end in hand, lift arm to the side fully extended. Could use weights instead of theraband.
External/Internal Rotation 15 each Tie theraband to a solid structure at about shoulder height. With theraband in hand, step away from the tied end, pulling elbow into side and elbow bent to 90°. Pull hand away from the side and back in. Could use weights instead of theraband. Facing the same direction, switch arms for internal rotation.