12 Days of Fitness

See that Search button up there at the top right of the screen??  ^^

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If you type the word Christmas in that search bar, you will get my Christmas workouts and tips from years gone by.  There are a handful of articles that might be helpful in you succeeding the holidays without overindulging and keeping you in tip-top shape throughout December.

And since it is December and we’re getting closer and closer to Christmas (we’re about 18 days away), I thought it would be a perfect time to post another Christmas Fitness note.  This one is the 12 Days of Fitness.

12 Days of Fitness

And technically, we are a little further out than the 12 days of Christmas, but I know there are days that some of you absolutely won’t be able to fit in a workout.  Some of us are busy with work (and many shift workers can’t manage every day), or kids, or functions, or shopping, or whatever is happening in your life, so you get a few extra days in between to hopefully find time to take time for yourself and get your exercise on.

This workout is actually super easy so that 1. you can fit the time in or 2. you’re new to exercise.  The workout only calls for one exercise per day, as you can see from the picture.  However, it is an accumulator workout so you can also look at in several other ways:

  1. As just noted above, perform just the specified exercise per day; OR
  2. Each day add the next day’s exercise (this is the accumulation) so that you’re doing 1 exercise the first day, 2 exercises the second, 3 exercises the third day, etc. ; OR
  3. You can do every exercise each day.
  4. Or – if you want to go even further than #3, you can do each exercise for a full minute (or longer) each day.

The great thing about at-home workouts is that you can make it fit to your schedule.

If you’re anything like my and you like a cheesy Hallmark Christmas movie (obsessed), you can try one of these fun Hallmark Christmas Movie Workouts.  They’re cute and, let’s face it, if you pay attention to these movies, you’ll get a good little workout.  Incorporate it into your evening binge with friends or your kids or partner.  (Bonus Burpees or squats if Candace Cameron Bure is in your movie or/commercial.)

Hallmark 1

Hallmark 2

The main thing to remember is to take time for yourself this holiday season.  Go into the new year feeling refreshed and shiny and bright.

Cheers!

~FB

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Healthy Living from Head to Toe (Guest Post)

 

By Jennifer McGregor

PIXEL

Photo Credit: pexels.com

 

It is frequently assumed that health comes from genetic predispositions and exercise.  While those do play a part, one’s overall health is determined by a wide range of factors, many of which are frequently forgotten about or ignored entirely.  A complete head to toe health plan should incorporate aspects of self-care, exercise, healthy eating and stress management.  Here are some strategies you can use to incorporate more healthy practices into your everyday life.

Begin with a self-care checklist
It will become easier to take care of yourself if you view healthy practices as a pyramid.  If you’re just starting to try to live a healthier lifestyle, start by following a self-care checklist.  Think of self-care as the base of the pyramid, and the foundation for all the other healthy practices that follow.  At its core, self-care is simply about taking care of the basic daily needs that support your overall well-being from both the physical and mental angles.  For example, make sure that you get enough rest at night.  While the exact amount of sleep you need varies according to your personal body clock, most adults need between seven and nine hours of sleep to be fully rested.  You should also take time throughout the day to relax and rest your body or mind, particularly if your day has been stressful.  By stepping away from your responsibilities for 15 minutes, you will become more energized and better equipped to manage your situation for the remainder of the day.  Yoga can be a good way to rest, due to its focus on getting mental wellness and physical fitness in sync.  As a bonus, you can do yoga in any location, however yoga classes offer the additional benefit of social interaction.

Strengthen your body with healthy meals and regular exercise

The next stage of the health pyramid is keeping your body healthy through proper nutrition and exercise.  Both eating well and following a regular fitness plan help to get your body working efficiently, with improved blood flow, stamina, and lung capacity.  They also benefit your mental health.  Exercise increases the amount of oxygen in your bloodstream, which increases your ability to memorize data and recall information.  It also causes endorphins and other positive chemicals in your body to be released, reducing the amount of stress you feel and lessening feelings of anxiety and depression.  Eating a healthy meal composed mainly of healthy vegetables helps to support these processes while keeping the rest of your body in check.  Dark, leafy greens, for instance, have many different nutrients that ensure all your body functions run as effectively as possible.

Remember, with both exercise and nutrition, once you establish a plan, it is important that you stick with it.  Don’t expect results from intermittent days of exercise and good eating spread across the season.  While an occasional cheat day won’t do too much damage, try to stick to your schedule.

Increase your confidence and sense of belonging

Finally, with your body supported by good food, exercise and self-care, you can help support your mental health.  Mental support comes in many different forms, but the two core facets are self-esteem and a sense of belonging.  When you are comfortable with yourself and your own mind, many things will seem much easier.  It will also provide a confidence boost during more troubling times.  Similarly, when you connect with a group of friends or family, you will feel more secure in your current living situation.  Both of these are excellent for your mental health.  Meditation and other similar practices can help you center yourself and become closer with a group of friends.  Hobbies can be a great way to find a friend group with similar interests.

To become healthy from head to toe, start with a foundation of self-care, then work your way up the pyramid by strengthening your mind and body.  Finally, establish a sense of belonging and purpose through shared interests and activities.

Jennifer is a pre-med student who co-created PublicHealthLibrary.org. She enjoys writing about health and medical topics.

Stay well.

~FB

Run, Run Santa (or Sandy)

I used to run every day.  I absolutely loved it.  I totally had that runner’s high and I craved it more and more each time I threw on my sneakers and headed out.  I’m not the best or fastest or most controlled runner, but I love it and I gave it my all.

A while back, I kind of fell of the running wagon and I just haven’t been able to put myself back into it.  I’ve done the annual races, but just wasn’t able (or willing?) to commit myself to my running habit again.  I think part of it has to do with me teaching fitness now.  I just don’t have as much time to devout to my sneakers as I would like.  And part of it is just….meh.

I ran a good portion of the last year.  I had a morning running buddy and we started in late summer last year running in the mornings before the sun was up and we carried it through portions of the fall and winter.  And we picked up again in the spring again and ran through to June.  Then this summer Nova Scotia got hit with an unbearable wave of humidity that I have never experienced in my lifetime.  I ran one morning in July and nearly killed myself with it and said screw it for the rest of the summer.  It was just too darn hot!

I ran once in September and then Honey Boo Boo and I did a race together (which was awesome together, but so stupid to not have prepared for it) and I realized how much I’ve been missing it.  So I decided to get back onto my wagon.  I’ve been out for a couple of evening runs (my favorite, by the way) and have been running at the gym.  And to keep me enticed, I have signed up for the 12 Ks till Christmas virtual run.

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Virtual Pace Series

I have been wanting to do this virtual run for several years but just never got around to actually signing up for it.  A few years ago, I ran pretty much every night right up to December 23.  I should have done this race then.  It would have been the perfect time.

This year in June I did a Goonies virtual run (Goonies is my favorite movie!) and I was so happy and exited to do it.  So I absolutely said I would do this virtual run this Christmas.  I have already signed up and have gotten a few of my friends to register as well.  I am so excited.

You can sign up too.  AND if you sign up asap, you can get early bird pricing (it ends tomorrow).  You can even register a team.  And portions of the proceeds are split between charities.

Just click on this link to register:

12Ks of Christmas

Commit yourself to running 1 kilometer every day for the 12 days leading to Christmas.  Don’t have the time to commit to doing it every day?  Get your race kit and start your run December 1st (or whenever) and get your Ks in when you’re free.  That’s the great thing about virtual runs.  You complete them on your own time.  No getting up at 5am unless you want to!  For me…I’ll be getting most of my runs done in the evenings or on my lunch break.

I think this is just what I need to get me back into my running habit.  Wish me luck!

~FB

 

Goal Reaching

A few weeks ago I was interviewed by a young woman for a small piece she was writing on inspiration and Goals.  I thought I’d share it with you.  

18 Again

1. During your life so far, what has been one of the biggest goals you’ve set that you were able to achieve?  I have always had issues with my weight…growing up as the chubby girl.  Overcoming a weight issue has been a goal since I was a child.

2. What did you have to do to accomplish that goal? I began working out regularly and eating better and making better choices in my life.

3. Where did you get your inspiration? I saw a photo of myself one day and did not recognize that it was me.  The girl in the photo was very overweight and I couldn’t believe it was me.  I inspired myself in that moment to fix my life.  I started an exercise program when I got home that evening and have not looked back.

4. Were there any obstacles that got in your way? If so, how did you handle that? What about people? Were there any people who discouraged you while reaching for your goal? I have a heart condition and was told when I was in my teens that I would have a pacemaker by the time I was 30.  I was worried at first about how vigorous exercise might harm me, but in all honesty, my heart is nice and healthy now that the extra weight is off.  I still struggle with it on occasion and it is genetic, but at least I don’t have to worry about jeopardizing my health myself.  As for people…there are always people who want to see you fail.  I still come across those people in my life.  But the worst was a “friend” who told me to stop losing weight because I “look sick”.  It’s funny how she never commented on my weight when I had an extra 60 pounds on me.

5. Did you ever think about giving up? If so, how did you overcome that feeling?  I never thought about giving up. I knew what I was doing was benefiting my life.

6. When you achieved your goal, how did it help you in life? Or what is life like now that you have accomplished your goal?  Once I reached my goal, I looked into how I could help others reach theirs.  I got certified as a personal trainer and as a nutrition and weight loss coach.  I now teach boot camps and other classes and coach people one-on-one.

~Cheers

PS (Thank you Lilly for this.  <3)

Push-Up Challenge Update (I Still Hate Them)

As you may know, this year I have been participating in a Push-Ups challenge.  For the entire year.

First, I committed to doing one hundred push-ups every day for the month of January.  Then I continued in February by committing to 50 push-ups every damn day for the rest of the year.

I hate push-ups.  I STILL hate push-ups.  But I’ve been doing them.  Consistently since January 1.

Pushups

And I was getting really good at them.  I was flipping them out without a hitch.

Then back in March I (somehow – not push-up related) injured my shoulder.  In fact, I injured it quite badly tearing the rotator cuff in two places.  And now, 6 months later, it’s still not any better.  I’m finally in physiotherapy for it.  I’ve seen a couple of doctors, had an x-ray (pointless, BTW), and was prescribed some medication.  None of it has helped.  I have another appointment with a doctor in a few weeks, but for now it’s just pain, pain, pain.

And ripping out those stupid push-ups was almost nil for a while.  But I found a way to do them that does not cause me pain (or a lot of swearing!) and for months, I have been practicing modified push-ups with a shoulder rotation.  Now I’m sort of back to the point where can use more body weight and do a few that way, but after about a dozen or two, I have to break or go back to a modification.

But, I will continue with my challenge of 50 push-ups each day until the end of the year.  And you should consider doing them too.

Here are 5 reasons (there are many more!)why you should being incorporating push-ups into your daily activity – even if you’re not exercising regularly:

  1. Builds Upper Body Strength: you can build upper body strength without having to use a ton of weights. Push-ups target the shoulders, pecs, and triceps which will develop a strong and defined upper body.
  2. Strengthens your core: most people don’t know that a strong core is key to a push-up. Ever wondered why your hips sag or hike during your push-ups? Your abdominal muscles are acting as stabilizers during the push-up just like they would in a plank.  Weak abs = poor push-up form.
  3. Increases energy quickly: Sure does! Popping off a few push-ups can immediately boost your energy, increase circulation, fire up the brain, and heat the body .
  4. Increases Bone Mass: Bone mass naturally declines with age, which can leave bones prone to fracture. It’s crucial to perform weight-bearing exercises to keep bones strong. Since pushups strengthen major muscle groups as well as the wrists and elbows, your risk of injury will be reduced because you‘re keeping these body parts strong.
  5. Weight loss: Since the push-up is a total body movement it will increase your heart rate quickly and, in turn, can/will/should/may result in burning more calories, promoting weight loss and overall improvement in your body composition.

~FB

Why I Stopped Tracking My Workouts (and Macros)

A couple of years ago I got myself a FitBit.  At first, I had complete buyer’s remorse and wanted to return my tracker immediately.  But I hung onto it and eventually, I fell in love with it.  I loved being able to set goals, and alarms to keep me moving, and I especially loved being able to track my sleep pattern.  I definitely do not sleep as much as I think I do.
Fitbit-ChargeHR

FitBit Charge HR

My main reason for getting the FitBit was the heart rate monitor.  If you’ve been following this blog for any amount of time, you may recall that I have a heart condition.  As a fitness professional – and participant – I thought it was important to be able to keep an eye on my heart rate during my workouts.  Though, sometimes I still overdo it and find myself gasping for breath or wanting to barf because my heart rate if out-of-control high.

Should You Do a 30-Day Challenge?

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I was recently posed the question, “should I do a 30-day challenge?”

My answer: YES!

As this blog has shown, I am a huge supporter of 30-day fitness challenges.  Over the years, I have offered a plethora of challenges: abs, plank, squats, etc.  And, of course, the push-up challenge (which I am still participating in).

Here’s why I like 30 day challenges.

  1. First of all, it takes about 30 days to build a habit.  You may not be able to transform your body or reach your fitness goals in one month, but you can certainly create a fitness routine in 30 days that will put you well on your way to those goals.  The challenges can be a great way for someone new to exercising to start out, or it can be a great complement to your already existing fitness regime.  All one simply has to do is commit to 30 days (that includes rest days) of the challenge and put the time in to complete the daily task.  Sometimes, it is mere minutes of one’s day.
  2. Another reason I like a fitness challenge, because they can only take those mere minutes of your day.  For many beginners, the idea of putting in hours in the gym or for a workout can be exhausting to just think of.  So, the idea of completing these daily exercises in just a short period of time is certainly more welcoming.  Getting the task over with and moving on with your day can be exciting and rewarding in itself.
  3. The challenges provide structure and guidance and progression.  You don’t have to put the time and effort into your exercising.  The challenges tell you what to what to do, how to do it, and when to amp it up.  There is no guess work in your workout.
  4. Committing to, and completing the challenge is a often its own reward.  First, committing to something and sticking with it can be a big deal.   I am one of those people who, when I commit to something, I make darn sure I am committed.  No if, ands, or buts.  But that is not always the case for many people.  For those people, making that commitment and sticking with it, can also mean a huge personal growth.  Reaching the 30 day mark can mean big gold star for some and the amount of pride that comes with completing that last day/full challenge can be enough to push one to starting a full-time fitness schedule.
There are plenty of reasons to start a 30 Day Fitness Challenge.  And there are many challenges to try (seriously, just type in “challenge” in the search bar above).  Whether you’re just starting out in the exercise world or you want to add something to your regular routine, try committing to one month and see your success.
~FB

Healthy Snacking

I am not 100% healthy all the time.  I admit it.  I am human and occasionally, I like to indulge in snacks that are not the healthiest choices.  (Who doesn’t like popcorn at the movies?)

But most of the time, I try to be very conscious of what I’m eating and I like to know what I’m putting in my body.  So, when it comes to snacking and making those healthier choices (and opting not to stick to just fruit or vegetables), I often like to go the homemade route.

My recent obsession are homemade protein nut butter cups.  They’re made with just a few ingredients – dark chocolate or cocoa or chocolate protein powder, coconut oil, and nut butter of choice (I use almond hazelnut).  Melt and mix and freeze.  Easy peasy.

Protein-PB-Cup

I’m also a huge fan of making my own “Larabars“.  It’s definitely a lot cheaper than buying actual Larabars, and I can throw in whatever I want.  I also like healthy cookie dough dip (made with chickpeas but you’d never know it!) and black bean brownies.

And, in the summer when it’s super hot, I might make a little “nice cream” – a healthier version of ice cream made with frozen bananas.  This is a great compromise for people like me who are also allergic to dairy.

Knowing exactly what I’m eating is definitely important to me, not only because of the obvious benefits of eating healthier and cleaner and knowing my ingredients, but also because I can eliminate as much garbage from my diet as possible.  This is especially important when I’m following the Whole 30 Program and eliminating sugar and processed “foods” and other junk.

However, as I said, I am human and I do like to indulge on occasion.  But that doesn’t have to equal eating garbage.  There are plenty of healthier options on the market – even for your favorite “junk foods”.

For example, Amplify Snack Brands – the makers of Skinny Pop popcorn – have some wonderful snack products that are comparable in taste to your regular snacks, but without the garbage and the guilt.  Their Paqui Tortilla Chips use non-GMO corn, are trans-fat free, are nut, soy, and Gluten-free, have no MSG, and are certified Kosher.  Oh, and they come in a bunch of crazy flavors (Haunted Ghost Pepper, anyone?).

Amplify also in their roster, Oatmega Bars – grass-fed whey protein bars offered in a plethora of flavors – and Tyrrell’s Hand Cooked Potato Chips– which offers “no iffy ingredients”.  And of course, let’s not forget the  Skinny Pop brand of popcorn and other products, which are also “free of all those things, including GMOs, MSG, peanuts, soy, tree nuts, and Gluten”.

As you can see, there are many options on the market for snacking better and it’s commendable to see companies with a conscience – ones that care about our health and the ingredients they choose to put into their products (and therefore, that we put into our bodies).

So, if you’re on the go or not able to making your own healthy snacks (or have no interest in it), check out Amplify Brands (or at the very least, ensure you check your labels for ingredients on your snack foods) to see what product might become your next favorite snack.

Be kind to your body and what you put into it.

~FB

Staying Inspired

I have been having a very emotional and stressful week.  I normally am an upbeat person and always on the go, so when stress and lethargy run high in me, I’m not sure of the best outlet. Because I normally don’t deal with it.
Earlier this week my cat of 12 years started seizing and his health is in jeopardy and I’m a basket case. Dealing with my own heart condition is one thing, dealing with a heart condition in a very loved pet is another.  The thought of losing my long-time companion has me feeling like I’ve been punched in the heart.  Literally.  This pain is real and it’s taking my breath away.
And although I haven’t had much of an appetite lately, part of me has been thinking about comforting my pain by stuffing my head with chocolate and all that kind of goodness.
Oddly enough, a new-found friend has also been suffering through an emotional and stressful week – probably the hardest one he’s had in a very long time , but instead of easing his pain with the kind of garbage one would find in comfort food (like my craving for all that is chocolate), he turned down my offer of coffee and a pastry and instead kept to his healthy journey.  What a man!  What an inspiration.
Josh's lunch

This is his actual lunch – I was very jealous!!

So…thanks to him, I said no to drowning my sorrows in chocolate and red wine and instead picked up some carrot sticks and hummus.  I don’t yet have the appetite, or frankly the desire to eat anything, but when I’m ready, my healthy choices have already been made.
~FB

Push-Ups

Let me say this:  I hate push-ups.  I’ve said it before.  And I will likely say it again.  I hate push-ups.  I have hated push-ups for as long as I can remember.  I’m not sure why, but I would rather do 100 burpees than do 10 push-ups.  Don’t get me wrong.  I do them and I make my class participants do them.  It doesn’t mean I enjoy them.

I think my disdain for them originated because I had such little upper body strength.  Therefore, I had a difficult time performing them.  Then, a while back, I started doing them all the time.  I even got a set of those perfect push-up handles and my push-ups improved and increased.  Then, I had a terrible back injury and my push-up ability sort of went down the toilet.  And I guess I lost any motivation to improve them.

 So, for the month of January, I committed to and participated in the 100 a Day Push-up Challenge.

Push Up Challenge

Ugh.  As soon as I committed to this I dreaded it.  But I committed…

I started the challenge by doing 10 here and 10 there.  I’d do all varieties of push-ups – regular, modified (from the knees), triceps, etc.  Eventually, I moved on to doing 30 regular push-ups, followed by 20 triceps push-ups twice (50 and 50).  Eventually, I was doing as many push-ups at a time that I could do.  Sometimes that would be 50, sometimes it would be 70, and by the end, it was 100.  I did my push-ups anywhere I could…at the gym, in my living room, or even in the lunch room at work.  I made sure I got them done.

Over those 31 days I noticed that my arms and back and stamina for those wretched push-ups because stronger and increased.  I didn’t dread getting down to the floor to do the darn things as much as when I first started.  I was able to fling off more and more at a time and it made me happy.  (Not as happy as when I finally finished the challenge.)

I had fully intended to continue doing a push-up challenge – committing to doing 50 push-ups a day for the year.  I started off okay, but then I got hit with bronchitis and a throat infection and the flu and my push-up training came to a bit of a halt for a week or so.  But, the last few days I have gotten back on track and have completed (at minimum) my 50 push-ups a day.  My hope is that by the end of this year (Lord, give me strength..we are only in February) I will finally enjoy doing push-ups.

If you want to get in on this, comment below and let me know you are going to COMMIT to doing 50 push-ups a day, every day, until the end of 2018, and watch your body change and your strength increase.  It takes just minutes a day.  Why not commit to this with me?

Cheers.