My First Pilates Class

Pilates
Last night I participated in my first Pilates class. I’m not sure how I feel about it.

I’d always wanted to try Pilates but never got around to it. And since there aren’t a lot of people who practice/teach it in my area, I’d put it on the back burner. But last night I finally got to it. I’m on the fence. I know that Pilates is supposed to be great for strengthening your core and increasing flexibility but I just really didn’t feel “into it” last night; certainly not like I feel after a Yoga class/workout.

I actually couldn’t wait for the class to be over – which I hate to say, because I love working out. But I continued on with it and tried my best to really push my body. I’m not overly flexible and I have heavy legs but I did my best. I did put my all into it.

exercises-pilates

I’m definitely game for taking another class and giving Pilates another whirl. Like I said, I know it will help strengthen my core and I would love to become more flexible. I just don’t know if I’m going to fall in love with Pilates the way I have with other exercises.

Learn more about Pilates here.

~Fit Bitch

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Guest Blog #2

Since I posted the Contact Me page and email address a few weeks ago I’ve been approached a few times from several readers about guest posting for me. Of course, I welcome(d) the idea. Below is an article written by Melanie* – the first person to submit a piece of writing/research to me for viewing. If you are interested in guest-posting or you simply have a question for me, please visit the Contact page or email me at the address provided there.

Sunset
The Role of Fitness During Cancer Recovery
When you are recovering from cancer, it may feel as though you don’t have enough energy left for your daily life. Although it may sound counter-intuitive, having a fitness program that works with your recovery is one of the best ways to boost your energy for the fight against the disease. The important thing when making a fitness plan for your recovery is to find the level of exercise that is right for you. As always, consult with your doctor about which phase of recovery you are in and follow their guidelines when beginning any new exercise program. Depending on your capacity for physical activity, the following are a few exercises to consider during cancer recovery.

Light Exercise

If you are in the early stages of recovery or currently undergoing aggressive cancer treatments, it is important to remember to not overexert yourself. Simply going for a light walk can make a world of difference for your physical and psychological well-being overall. Studies have shown that light walking can improve stamina and strengthen bone density. Often, light exercises such as walking are ideal for those undergoing treatment for mesothelioma or other cancers that affect the lungs that may impede normal lung functioning.

Furthermore, walking every day can reduce tiredness from chemotherapy. Even if you cannot walk much, do not get discouraged. There needs to be a starting point from where you need to build your stamina, and a few steps a day are nothing to be ashamed of. This is especially true if you suffer from cancer that affects the lungs.

Moderate Exercise

If you are starting to regain your strength, then you might be well enough to start engaging in moderate exercise. It is important to note that during moderate exercise, generally your breathing should quicken but you should not be out of breath. Water aerobics are perfect if you are ready to take on a moderate level of exercise. It is easier on your joints but provides resistance to every movement that you make. Swimming laps in a pool is a great full body exercise, and it can maximize the benefits of water aerobics. Water aerobics builds cardiovascular endurance, improves strength and circulation, and maintains healthy muscles and joints. All of these are very important for the recovering patient.

Advanced Exercise

If you are almost fully recovered and have gained back a formidable amount of strength, it might be a good idea to start implementing more advanced exercises. More than maintaining your fitness, these can actually improve your physical fitness and allow you to continue living a normal life. One of the best overall advanced exercises that you can take part in is running.

Running works out many parts of your body, and it also greatly improves cardiovascular fitness. Furthermore, you don’t need any equipment but running shoes to engage in this exercise. Whether it is around the neighborhood or at a local park, running can be done virtually anywhere. Remember to pace yourself and do only what you can. It would not help your recovery if you injure yourself, as this would cause you to be inactive for an extended period of time.

Exercise is one of the key components of having a successful recovery from cancer. Patients in cancer recovery who pursue a regular fitness program report higher levels of energy, a better overall mood, and a higher quality of life than patients who do partake in regular exercise.

*Melanie is currently a Master’s student with a passion that stems from her grandmother’s cancer diagnosis. She often highlights the great benefits of alternative nutritional, emotional, and physical treatments on those diagnosed with cancer or other serious illness. To read more from Melanie, visit her blog for the Mesothelioma Cancer Alliance. In her spare time, you can find Melanie trying new vegan recipes, on her yoga mat, or spending time with her family.

Stop Eating Sh*t

Jen An

Thanks Jen.

I know it may be hard to fall in line with Jennifer Aniston’s (or any celebrity’s) preaching way of thinking when it looks like she has never experienced a fat day in her life (although we’ve heard the stories of how she was asked by producers to lose weight prior to shooting “Friends”). Truth is, yeah, she may be thin but it takes discipline to stay lean and healthy. And to swear yourself off completely from foods you enjoy is not the best idea. You’re more likely setting yourself up for failure. I am not a junk-food eater but on occasion, I like to indulge in something. Like right now, for instance, I am savoring some yummy chocolate. Not dark chocolate, either. I just had a handful of crappy straight-to-my-ass chocolate pieces. And I’ve now, just now, put the box deep inside my desk so that the urge to continue eating it is gone. Out of sight, out of mind.

But, I was feeling like some chocolate today and I went for it. If I have a craving for more sweet stuff later I have some beautiful strawberries in the fridge. See, it’s okay to indulge once in a while; the rule is to not overindulge.

When you want something, have it. Enjoy it. Savor it. APPRECIATE it. And you will be satisfied.

~Fit Bitch

Active, Healthy Kids

active-kids
When I was a kid and growing up (not that long ago) I was a little chubby. Not fat, but certainly not rail-thin like my brother. But, we were active. We ran and jumped and played. Our summer vacations would involve running around (driving my mom nuts), riding our bikes thru the yard or family rides on the street, endless swimming, playing tag, roller skating (yes, I said roller skating), climbing trees, playing hide and seek or kicking the soccer ball or having a game of catch. There was none of this “sitting on our butts playing on an iPod all day” crapola that’s going on now. We were active. We were busy. We were healthy. And as I’ve said, being healthy doesn’t mean being thin.

When I was 4 or 5 I tagged along a few mornings to my mom’s exercise classes – I loved wearing my leotards and legwarmers and feeling like I just stepped out of Olivia Newton-John’s “Let’s Get Physical” video. I also did ballet and gymnastics and once in school I was in the dance club. We played sports like soccer and softball and badminton and we went swimming and skating. We never got tired or bored of our activities.

Kids today are very limited. It’s become an unfortunate epidemic and it doesn’t need to be the way it is. It’s understandable that times are tough and many parents can’t afford to put kids in a bunch of different activities but there is no reason that children can’t be active and healthy.

Here are some great ideas for keeping kids active:

First of all – most of the activities I listed above were free – it costs nothing to run and jump and play…and sometimes that’s all a kid needs.

– Get a group of kids together (neighborhood kids, classmates, cousins, etc.) and let them play Red Rover or tag or give them the proper ball and let them have a gave of pick up of soccer, softball, basketball, volleyball, dodgeball, etc. You can also pick up badminton rackets at the Dollar Store and let kids work up a sweat chasing after the birdie and swinging the racket.

– Check out community (it doesn’t have to be your community) camps, classes or groups. Many of them are free or very low cost. And it’s a great way for children to meet other children and socialize outside of the house and school.

– Shaun T (Insanity, Hip Hop Abs) has a great program for kids – Shaun T’s Fit Kids Club (http://www.beachbody.com/product/fitness_programs/fit_kids_club.do?code=SEMB_MSN_FKC). I’ve seen the videos and they’re great and inexpensive (tho you may be able to find them online – YouTube perhaps?). You could also check Amazon or Ebay for reduced versions.
Shaun T

– The Internet offers a plethora of means for finding exercises and tips for active and healthy kids. Take advantage of all the free literature and videos online.

– Get other parents involved. Brainstorm together or come up with a plan to host your friends’ kids and take turns providing fun physical activities. Or have parent-kid playdates and you and your friends take your kids hiking or on a bike tour, or to the beach to run or get involved in one of the at-home activities from above (playing tag, soccer, etc.). Kids love to see their parents having fun and they learn by example so get out the skipping ropes and join in some Double Dutch or break out the sidewalk chalk for some Hop Scotch (OMG my childhood is flashing before my eyes!).
Bike Ride

– This blog Activity Hero is also a great means for information and ideas.

There a bazillion ways to keep your kids active and entertained and healthy. Lazy kids are usually a result of lazy parents so be good role models and have fun with your babies.

~Fit Bitch

At Home Workout Videos – Review Part 1

exericising-at-home
I love the gym and I love my fitness classes. But I also really enjoy home workout videos. I like them for many reason: I get to save gas (and travel time!) on going to the gym, I can switch things up and not get bored, I can work different muscle groups, I can learn from different instructors, etc.

Over the years I’ve done tons of different videos, Tae Bo, Insanity, P90X, Jillian Michaels, Extreme 90, as well as different Yoga, Zumba and other dance videos, etc. My absolute favorite workout videos are the Insanity program. I love it because it’s tough and effective. And it’s real. Shaun T and his cast are panting and sweating and dying on the floor along with the rest of us at home. It’s the hardest thing I’ve done in my life but I felt like a million bucks when I completed it…twice.

On the days that I don’t have class or don’t actually go all the way into the gym but still work out, I have a huge selection of exercises to choose from. A lot of the time, when I’m really craving cardio, I will do one of the Insanity videos (Pure Cardio is my favorite). But, selection is key. Relying on the same exercises too much will hinder me more than it will do me any good so I like to have a lot of options.

A few months ago I found an oldie but a goodie – Cindy Crawford’s The Next Challenge.
Cindy
This is a video I’d wanted to do when I was younger and had a complete girl crush on Cindy. Sadly, I was never able to get it. But, now that I have it I am absolutely in love with the workout. I use it on days when I want to get a decent workout but not about to go crazy like I do on other days (like my Monday and Thursday 3 hour sessions), or just don’t have a huge amount of time but still need to do something.

The Next Challenge has a warm up, some cardio, abs, strength, a little more abs, and a cool down. The warm up is a little lame and the strength is great for beginners (I use more weight than what she uses), but the rest of the routine is great. I really enjoy doing this workout. I always finish feeling like I’ve worked hard, even though it’s not as intense as what I’m normally used to. And my abs always get worked really well.

I don’t do this video all the time – I’m maybe throwing it in there once a week, or sometimes I will do it in conjunction with another workout – like Pure Cardio or Plyometric Cardio (both from the Insanity series) or sometimes even with a yoga vid. I honestly really like the way my body feels after I do this work out with Cindy.
Radu

It’s great for someone who, maybe isn’t just starting out with fitness as I’ve had a few friends tell me it was too intense for them, but for someone who is, just as Cindy says, looking for the next challenge.

~Fit Bitch

A Simple Trick

Sometimes I get the munchies. Sometimes I am hungry, other times I am just bored. When the boredom takes over and I feel like I may indulge without actually being hungry, I will often follow one simple “trick” to prevent myself from overeating or eating mindlessly: I Brush My Teeth.

Teeth

It’s so lame but it works. If I’m tired and being a couch potato or distracted at work, I will often get up and brush my teeth so that I won’t eat. I figured “I’ve eaten my meal. I don’t need to eat anything else.” When I ask myself if I’m actually hungry or just tired or bored, usually the answer is the latter and if it is I need to curb it. {If I truly am hungry I will not deny myself food – I’ll grab something small and healthy.}

We’ve become a society that feels the need to snack and snacking is quite often a result of boredom. I have been guilty of mindless eating while watching TV or even, on occasion, being lonely and I don’t want to resort to this too often. The teeth brushing thing really works for me.

There have also been days where I’ve been bored or hungry and exercised to curb both. I do this sometimes even if I’ve already worked out that day. It’s kind of the “mind over matter” thinking, only it’s become a “move-the-body over matter” instead.

~Fit Bitch

How to Eat Healthy on a Budget

healthy-eating-on-a-budget
I saw this article today and thought I’d repost to give some tips on
How to Eat Healthy on a Budget.

Some other ideas:

1. Check the flyers. There are three major grocery stores in my town. Every week I check the flyers of each to see what sales are on. I’m a big fan of BOGO and sometimes stock up on items that are on sale, BOGO or reduced. A few weeks ago one of the stores had full pints of blueberries on 3 for $5. I got 9 pints. Also, I often visit the grocery store(s) several times a week. Sometimes I will find items (and on sale) that were not originally on my list.

2. Buy seasonal produce in large quantities and freeze what you cannot use immediately. You can make shakes and smoothies all winter from a couple of flats of frozen organic strawberries or raspberries. The flavour is better, too!

3. Shop the farmer’s markets for food in season. The best prices and the freshest organic produce come from the farmer’s market.

4. Join a food co-op. Members often receive a discount or monthly coupon for five to 10 per cent discounts.

5. Buy a share in a CSA (community supported agriculture). Shares are typically about $400 (you can pay in installments) for a weekly box of produce during the growing season. The cost typically works out to about $30 or less per week. My sister-in-law does this and they always have farm-fresh meat and eggs.

6. Use coupons. The best way to obtain coupons for natural or organic foods is to visit the website of the manufacturer, or use an Internet search engine and type in the words “grocery store coupons” and “organic” for printable coupons.

7. Buy from the bulk bins. Organic flour, sugar, cereals, pasta, spices and many snack foods are less expensive (and easier on the environment) if you purchase them from the bulk food section. Some stores even have peanut butter, maple syrup, cooking oil and even cleaning products available in bulk. Bring your reusable bags or containers and reduce your waste at the same time.

8. Grow your own healthy foods. I LOVE gardens.

9. Have breakfast for dinner. Sometimes I will make eggs for supper. They’re super cheap and you can make tons of different dishes with them (omelets, wraps, scrambles, etc.) and they’re so friggin’ good that I often crave them. But, aside from my addiction with eggs, there are several items you can have as a cheap dinner – cereal, oatmeal, toasted sandwiches. You don’t always have to have a 3 course meal for dinner. Also, have a shake or smoothie as one meal replacement occasionally.

10. Practise cooking creatively. When you have leftovers from dinner, try to use them in another meal — add them to a pasta dish, veggie burrito or omelet, or fold them into a soup or sauce. Don’t waste food.

11. Soup is always a great and inexpensive meal.

There, just a few ideas but it might help you save some money.

~Fit Bitch

My First YogaFit Class

yogafit

Last night was my first YogaFit class. As I mentioned in a post yesterday, last night was my first trip back to the gym in two weeks since I’d come down with bronchitis. Although I’d worked out at home here and there, for the last two weeks I’ve pretty much taken it easy as I have a history of lung problems and really didn’t want this getting any worse. (Of course, I hacked all night long but it was worth it.)

I went to the gym first and did strength exercises and weights and also some abs exercises. I’d done a really good abs workout the day before and holy moly could I ever feel it last night. I hadn’t noticed it much during the day but once I started lifting those weights I could really feel the burn from the prior day.

After about 30 minutes of strength I went to my Zumba class for an hour as usual and then it was followed by our first night of YogaFit. I was super excited. The class is limited and closed so there were only 13 of us there, including a BFF Angela. I’ve been trying to get her to do some yoga with me for months now since she injured her hamstring back in February. She did one yoga workout with me and then left me high and dry. But I made sure she signed up for this class.

Although I was hot and tired from class (and the gym…and it being a billion degrees), I’m glad I had a workout beforehand…for two reasons: Number 1) My body was already nice and warm and I felt that I was able to do more in the YogaFit class. I had more flexibility and, to be honest, I sorta felt like a superstar. It was great. Number 2) My body was still revved up from my previous workouts. So, even tho the YogaFit class was semi-relaxing, my body was still burning from the higher intensity workout.

The class itself was really good. It wasn’t exactly what I’d imagined; I expected it to be a little more intense than it was, but then again, it was the first class. It was soothing and relaxing but I could still feel the workout. And I loved that there were participants from many fitness levels. No one is there to judge. We’re all there to learn and to work on our fitness and our bodies. It was a great experience, a great first class. I’m definitely looking forward to doing this for the rest of the summer.

~Fit Bitch

How Much to Exercise Each Day

From Jillian Michaels:

“You may have heard the U.S. Surgeon General’s recommendation of at least 150 minutes of moderate physical activity each week (and that breaks down to just 30 minutes of physical activity five days a week). What’s important to understand is that this is intended for people who want to maintain the most basic level of fitness — but not for people who want to lose weight. But if you want to drop those pounds, you’re going to have to be prepared for a bit more work.

I much prefer the World Health Organization’s recommendation of 60 minutes at a time as a starting point for my clients — an hour is ideal to get the most out of your workout and see significant results. Your 60-minute workout sessions should always include a 5-minute warm-up, followed by 50 minutes of your primary cardio or strength-training exercises, followed by at least 5 minutes of cooling down and stretching.

Push

Of course, putting in more time will get you more results — but there’s a limit. Excessive intense physical activity releases stress hormones, such as cortisol, into the body. This can actually inhibit weight loss, causing your body to react by storing fat and retaining water out of self-protection. So, to reach your goal, I recommend limiting intense exercise to no more than two hours a session.”
~Fit Bitch

Post WorkOut Fuel

I was on a mini vacation earlier in the week so Monday and Tuesday the only exercise I’d gotten in were a few walks. Although I enjoy walking, the intensity is lower than what I’m used to…plus, since I’m still recovering from a two week bout of bronchitis and have been taking a little time off to let my lungs rest and doing low to moderate exercises here and there, I hadn’t planned on working out too much while away so the only footwear I’d taken with me were my flip flops and that’s what I walked in.

When I finally got back home yesterday I really wanted to amp up the intensity – especially since I’m back to the gym tonight, followed by a high intensity Zumba class, followed by (my very first) YogaFit class. I settled on Insanity Plyometric Cardio and finished with a separate ab workout. By the time I finished all my exercising I was soaked with sweat, panting and coughing (from the lingering bronchitis). But I felt so good. 🙂

Now, since I’d been away I, for some reason, didn’t eat as great as I could have. I didn’t eat horribly but I had a few treats that I normally wouldn’t indulge in if I were home (including, since July 1st was Canada Day , chowing down on some really delicious Poutine). So, after my workout I really wanted a good healthy dinner. I made a recovery protein shake with tons of spinach, flax seed, berries, half a banana, a scoop of natural peanut butter and almond milk. It was lip-smacking good.

For dinner I had a lovely piece of lemon sole (it was a small piece – about 3/4 as big as my Blackberry) and a frittata. I’ve never made a frittata before but I was looking for something that would have protein and veggies and a little carbs. So I made one using a crap-ton of veggies – two big bunches of spinach, red pepper, onion, garlic, tomato, mushrooms – 2 eggs, and a handful of chopped (hash brown type) potato. I mixed it all together and baked it in the oven.
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Nom Nom Nom

Nom Nom Nom

It turned out really good. I had a portion of it with my fish for dinner and saved the remaining for lunch today. I need lots of fuel today, as I mentioned above I’m finally getting back into things tonight and won’t be getting home from the gym until about 10pm. I am very much looking forward to my recovery shake this evening. It really was drool-worthy yesterday.

Does anyone have any favorite pre or post-workout foods?

~FitBitch