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.

12k.png

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

 

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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)

30 Cardio HIIT Challenge

Happy October!!

So much has happened in the last short bit and I promise there will be an update soon on all of it.

In the meantime, I am offering you this 30 Day HIIT Challenge.

cardio-hiit-challenge

You can start today and take a day off (I’d likely go with Halloween – because, let’s face it, you have candy to collect on Halloween), or you can start tomorrow and work right up to October 31.

This looks like a fun and short way to challenge yourself and get some cardio in that will get your heart rate up and make you sweat.

Give it a try.  Pay attention to the sets and the allotted time.  And most important, have fun!

~FB

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.

Weight-lifting – Why Reps are Ruining Your Gains

Once upon a time, somewhere along the way, someone came up with the magic number for reps in a weight lifting set.  A set of 10 or 12 or 15 reps in set is considered key….and this ideal number may be ruining your gains.

Men's Health

via Men’s Health

The idea of a 12-rep set stemmed from studies that your time under tension (how long a muscle is under strain during a set) is surpassed at 45 seconds and gets closer to 60 seconds in a set.  Your tempo in your performance should be considered more important and valued higher than your reps.  Your tempo should be enough to elicit hypertrophy (the growth and increase of the size of muscle cells) and the main goal is to prolong the eccentric contraction (or negative) on the way down in your lift (i.e. 1-2 second contraction on the way up and 3-5 second contraction on the way down).

Our fixation on the 3 sets of 12 (or 10 or 15) is killing our gains because is does not reflect on the study of how we got to the “magic number”, but instead, focuses solely on the “magic number”.

Most people, when weight lifting, instinctively start out with a weight that is comfortable in order to ensure they have the energy to get through all reps.  What would be more beneficial to muscle growth (or hypertrophy) is to start with a heavier weight and lift to failure.  If this means you max out at 8 or 11 reps, then so be it.  Focus on the time and effort you are putting into a rep and not on the number of reps in a set – and on your time under tension – and watch your gains increase.

~FB

Should You Do a 30-Day Challenge?

30DayChallenge_Thumb_2.jpg

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

10 INTERESTING FACTS ABOUT VEGAN DIETS* (Guest Post)

Vegan

(By Michelle Hannan)

“Veganism is as old as humans themselves, but with time, we have somehow lost our track of how good this path full of veggies is. I am not against meaty diets or people who love meat, I just prefer those diets that have veggies and fruits more than any other thing.

People may opt veganism due to their religious belief, moral values, or merely to lose weight in that particular manner. Here it is essential to understand that veganism is not just restricted to your diet, but it is a code of conduct, the way you choose your life to be. click HERE to see the food list that is not only delicious, but healthy too 

A vegan diet has so many benefits, and for you, ten of them are listed below.

1. The medical fraternity accepts 150-200 mg/dL to be a standard range of cholesterol. According to a recent study, an average Americans cholesterol level is 210 mg/dL, and the level of a vegan is 146 mg/dL. Well, it is safe to say that it is better to be under than above.

2. People may think that vegans do not consume dairy, so they lack in protein and calcium, but to their surprise food like broccoli, bok choy, calcium-fortified orange juice, collards, kale, and Chinese cabbage are an excellent source to meet the deficit.

3. With the vegan diet, men and women are less likely to be a subject of cancer, and the rate goes down to approximately 36%. Cancer is one of the most common and deadly diseases, but with this diet, you may save yourself with this trouble.

4. Elizabeth Blackburn, Nobel Prize winner, came up with a study that claims that vegan diet changed more than 500 genes in just three months. Apparently, veganism turns off the genes that cause cardiovascular diseases, cancer, and other diseases and turns on the genes that prevent infections.

5. Products that are listed as non-cholesterol are often vegan as bad fat is a product of meaty food.

6. Vegan diet not just brightens up your skin, it also makes you feel active and energetic for the longest time. So, if you feel frustrated and fatigued throughout the day than a properly cooked vegan meal can may you feel better.

7. While there are so many benefits of vegetables and fruits, if they are overcooked, all the benefits it carries go down the drain.

8. When one person decides to be a vegan that person helps saving the entire acre o a forest from demolishing. How? For meat production, forests are being cleared out to grow crops to feed the animals. I am not asking not to feed animals, but in order to fulfill the huge meat need, drastic measures have been taken.

9. To produce one pound of meat 2500 gallons of water is needed and to grow one pound of wheat, only 25 gallons of water is required. Considering the rumors that the third world war will be on the water, I think we should do more to save up this precious thing than wasting it.

10. Celebrities like Ellen DeGeneres, Miley Cyrus, Liam Hemsworth, Woody Harrelson, Sia, Pamela Anderson, and Peter Dinklage are the ones who believe that veganism is not just healthy, but it is also the right way to live.”

*The views expressed in this post are strictly that of the author, Michelle Hannan.

 

 

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