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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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

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

Fitness Fads to Avoid in 2018 (Guest Post)

(By Scott Reid**)

Fad

With every New Year it seems a new fitness fad comes along, promising quick or instant results with very little work. But we all know that if something seems too good to be true, it probably is, and when it comes to our health some fads are not only a waste of time, they can actually be harmful.

So, let’s pledge to make 2018 fitness-fad free!  Good old-fashioned exercise and nutrition are what is needed to get in shape and there are no quick fixes unfortunately. Here is a quick guide to the top fitness fads to be avoided this year.

  1. Cutting out all carbohydrates

One of the reasons this fad is still popular is to start with, if you stop eating carbs you will see a rapid weight-loss, but this is due to water loss rather than any kind of fat loss, and it will soon balance out again.

But if you are trying to work out and exercise to build up a good physique, you need carbs for energy and to perform at your best. If you want to increase muscle mass and have stable, consistent energy levels, then you need to eat some carbohydrates.

  1. Eating Small Meals Every Couple of Hours

 There is a myth that if you eat small meals regularly it helps to cut down fat by boosting your metabolism but the difference between this and eating fewer larger meals is actually negligible – it’s just another fitness fad.

In fact, if you are eating every few hours, your body is constantly digesting food which can make you lack energy and feel very lethargic, making it hard to concentrate and get tasks done during the day.

The best time to eat meals is when you feel hungry and when it suits your body and your lifestyle. There is no magic timing procedure for eating which results in weight loss.

  1. Only eating one type of food

We’ve all heard of the notorious cabbage soup diet and no doubt seen numerous detox programs which advocate giving your body or system a break by only eating one type of fruit or vegetable all day.

These are just bad fitness fads. Your body needs a variety of food groups to stay balanced and get all of the nutrients you need to keep going all day. Eating just grapes for a day doesn’t rest your system; it pushes it out of whack and will probably give you an upset stomach for your troubles.

A balanced diet, with real nutritious food, is the way to go – don’t cut out particular food groups and don’t rely on only one food even if only for a day – it really won’t have any kind of positive impact on your overall health.

This goes hand in hand with cleansing routines – these are fads which often proclaim eating a single food to cleanse your system – let’s knock these on the head for 2018.

Try something like the 105 Plan.

  1. Changing your exercise routine each time

There is a new fad out there about changing up your exercise routine, never doing the same exercise twice, with the bizarre premise that your muscles will get used to the routine otherwise and stop responding.

Muscles don’t work that way – they respond to whatever movement you carry out so if you are not seeing results then you are not working out hard enough or correctly so seek advice from a personal trainer. It may be that you need to add some more weights to increase the challenge.

However, if you constantly change what you are doing, how can you measure results as you will be exercising different muscle groups each time, with no consistent approach? This is a fad which doesn’t work.

It’s great to vary your exercise but just jumping from one thing to another every day isn’t going to produce any kind of consistent results.

There are many fitness fads out there and no doubt new ones will spring up throughout the year endorsed by some celebrity or other and picked up by the media as the latest and best way to get fit, reduce fat or whatever it might be.

But anyone who is serious about their health and fitness knows full well that these types of fads are just that – fashionable trends which will be discredited and disappear as quickly as they arrived and should just be ignored.

The only way to get fit and healthy is to change the way you eat, to a healthy balanced diet, on a permanent basis, and to include regular exercise into your daily routine. It’s that simple. Unfortunately, it involves gradual change and hard work, whereas our society seems to demand instant results, which is why all these fitness fads become popular in the first place.

Rather than spend a fortune on the latest fad, only to be disappointed, let’s all agree to make 2018 fitness-fad free.

(** The views and opinions expressed in this post are that of the writer.)

 

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.

Ellipticals

elliptical

If you’ve been a follower of this blog for some time, you might recall that my fitness routine initially started with an elliptical I had purchased (from Sears) at least a year prior.  I had every intention of utilizing this machine in order to lose weight.  But, the first time I tried it I found it “too hard” and didn’t bother to use it again.

When I hopped on it more than a year later, I was at a place in my life  where I was fat, (not just overweight, but fat), sad, depressed, and overall unhealthy.  I was now determined that it was time for a change.  I lugged that darned elliptical machine into my living room, turned the TV on to Oprah, and I powered (read “struggled”) through that workout.  I was hot and sweaty and out of breath.  My heart was beating and I felt like I was going to die.  But I continued.  I made a point to get on that elliptical every day.  I would make a point to set my goal each day and, as soon as I was close to achieving it, I would set a new one.  Eventually, the three minute workout that initially “nearly killed me” the year before, turned into a 20, 30, 60, and eventually 120 minutes routine.  It became part of my daily habit.  And I swear, that elliptical saved my life.

When I came across Reviews.com, a great site that offers comparisons and reviews on tons of products, I had to check it out.  The people are Reviews.com do the work for you by researching and reviewing anything you might be looking for – including the Best Elliptical Machines.

The Elliptical Reviews pinpoints what exactly you should be looking for in the machine, who they consulted, which ones were tested, and how they chose their overall best.  They compared prices, as well as the “luxuries” of each model reviewed.  It really is a useful site and I would encourage anyone wanting to invest in an elliptical (or anything, really) to check out the site and invest the time, too.  Buying any piece of exercise equipment is a big deal and can often run you a lot of money.  Your health is definitely worth it, of course, but I would suggest examining the research at Reviews.com and see if all of your questions are answered.  Perhaps they even answered questions you didn’t know to ask.

One of the greatest things I love about my elliptical is that the strides are short.  I’m 5’6 but I have fairly short legs (my torso goes on for days) and the strides are perfect for my little stumps.  What’s interesting to note about this is that every single elliptical machine I’ve been on in my lifetime, aside from the one I purchased, has incredibly long strides and I feel very awkward on them.  Is that something I would have researched back then?  No, I really just lucked out with that one.  But, now that I know there are different lengths of the strides, it is certainly something I will look for should I plan to purchase another one in the future.

So, if you are in the market for something (anything) new, pop over to Reviews.com and do a little comparison shopping.  You never know what you might be looking for.

~FB

Staying on Track

If you recall from my previous post, I noted it’s much easier to have success with your fitness/weight loss/health goals if you make a plan and make a commitment.  I know, personally, that if I say I’m going to do something, I may not always follow through with it. But if I commit to something, I am committed 100%.  So, here are my commitments for 2018:

Whole 30

To kick off the new year, I’ve committed to another Whole 30 – which begins TOMORROW. As always, I’m super excited to start another Whole 30 Program.  I have over-indulged in my fair share of chocolate this Christmas season, and I really need to slay my sugar dragons.

Whole30 Reset

I began preparing for my 30 days late this past week.  I got my grocery shopping done and spent part of the weekend eating clean meals.  My fridge is organized and the chocolate is going into cold storage.  I have been waiting to get started and now I’m more than gung-ho. I know how great I feel during and after my 30 days and I know the chocolate will be there later on down the road if I really feel the need to have some.  But, for the next 30 days, I’m committed to clean eating and drinking.

Gym Routine and Workouts and Rest

Fortunately, I don’t really ever need to push myself to exercise.  In fact, I’m eager to do my workouts and, it seems, it’s often all I think about.

Rest Day2

I mean, if I’m being completely honest….

In addition to my boot camps, family fitness classes, and attending Zumba, I have regular gym sessions (I often exercise more than once a day – splitting my days with lifting in the morning and cardio/boot camp in the evenings).  Therefore, I sometimes get through a work day on 3-5 hours of sleep.  And, let’s be honest, that just isn’t enough.  Although I am fully functional on just a few hours of sleep, I am committing to resting more in 2018.  I am going to let go of my fear of missing a workout and spend time relaxing (and snoozing).

RestDay

Eye Health

A few years back I had eye surgery.  It was a gross surgery where my eyeball was cut into and a membrane was scraped out.  Although, my vision in that eye on it’s own has not improved (and may never), my vision with both eyes together is still better than 20/20. That being said, I’m constantly fearful that the sight in my good eye will go and I’ll be SOL.  If it happens, I won’t be able to read and my driver’s license will likely be taken away.

Eyes

Be proactive and take care of your vision.

I have been as proactive as I can be, but the issue with my “bad” eye was such a fluke that there really is no way to prepare for or prevent the same thing happening in the other eye. However, I am careful with my eyes and I do what I can to ensure my eye health is up to par.  I keep drops in my desk at work and at home, I always have my sunglasses on during the day, even in the winter, and especially with all this snow in Nova Scotia so as to prevent Photokeratitis – or snow blindness.  In fact, I have several pairs of sunglasses with different UV protection and different shades of protection so that I have a pair to go with every weather condition. And I already have my next appointments set with my eye surgeon/check-ups.

Although I don’t wear glasses or contact lenses, Warby Parker now offers a Prescription Check App that allows an eye doctor to assess your vision and provide an updated glasses prescription.  If you are someone who wears glasses, or just want to have your vision checked out, then it may be worthwhile checking out this app.

So that’s my short-list of my commitments for staying on track this year.  What’s on your list?

~Cheers

 

 

Welcome to 2018 – This is YOUR Year

It’s a brand new year, which means the resolutions have been made and people are out in abundance to make this year their best year ever.

Diets have been started, gyms have been joined, pacts have been sworn to.  And while I’m hoping that most of you will have success, some of you will fail.  Why?  Because plans aren’t being made.

I never make resolutions for the New Year when it comes to fitness and health.  I may make other resolutions, such as reading more, watching less television, spending more time with friends, etc.  Those are the resolutions that are easy to keep.  Because they’re easy. Changing your health and lifestyle doesn’t come easy for many.  It didn’t come easy for me at first.  Mostly because I wasn’t being honest with why I wanted to “change my life”.  (In complete honesty, I didn’t want to change my life, I just wanted to stop being fat.)  It wasn’t until I made the commitment to change my life and improve my health – for me (and not for the New Year) – that things started shifting for me.  I made a plan and I stuck with it. Why?  Because my lifestyle was becoming detrimental to my health.  I wasn’t exercising and I was eating crap and I have a heart condition to worry about.  I didn’t want to die from a heart attack before I turned 30.  That’s when I made the commitment to and for myself.

I wholeheartedly want you to succeed in your resolution.  But, instead of calling it a New Year’s Resolution, why not calling it a Lifestyle Change or a 2018 Commitment?  And instead of making a resolution, why not sit down and plan out how you will improve your health this year?  What will you do?  Make a list:

Will you commit to: Working out 3 days a week?; Creating a grocery list to include only the good stuff?  Plan your meals in advance?  Trying and sticking with a fitness class for a full session?  Eating clean?  Quitting smoking/drinking/binge watching tv?

Think about what you want to accomplish.  Do you want to:  Improve your overall health? Sleep better?  Eat more veggies? Lose weight?  Get stronger?  Run your first 5/10K?  Have mental clarity?

Once you know what and why you want to accomplish, and you commit to your new life changes, your rate for success goes up.

And for all of you who are old pros at this, be sure to support those around you. Encourage those in your circle to continue to eat better, exercise, sleep more, log out.  Welcome the newbies to your lifestyle.

And don’t be a dick in the gym!  We were all the newbie at one point.  For some, stepping into a fitness room for the first time is intimidating enough.  Be friendly!  A smile goes a long way!

2018 Gym

Saw this in someone’s feed and stole it.

Cheers and good luck!

~FB