Where My Journey Began

image

From the moment I picked up my first piece of iron in my highshool weight room I knew what I wanted to do.
I still remember it as if it was yesterday.. a small, windowless room with dark grey walls, a few posters that included the anatomical positions, the muscular system, and an exercise guide for the universal cable machine that sat in the middle and occupied most of the room. It was an intro to weight training, which was part of the phys ed. curriculum for grade 12. The feeling of holding those outdated dumbbells was something I can’t describe.. but my curiosity for this unknown world is what I found alluring and was my first step into this industry.
The first time I opened up my first anatomy & physiology books in college I was overwhelmed with information about the human body. I was mesmerized by the way the body works both physiologically and physically. This only served to reaffirm my belief that I was on the right path.

It’s been almost 10 years in this industry and I have learned so much in the classroom, from fellow trainers (especially from the last studio I had the pleasure of working at) and from experience.
It’s true that in this industry it’s easy to become certified as a personal trainer.. but what sets apart the real trainers from the fake is the willingness to learn & continue learning, the passion for helping others and the commitment to the work. A good trainer inspires, educates and listens. We give tough love when we need to and praise you when accomplish goals.
My journey in the fitness world is now taking me in a new direction. I am nervous and excited as I have slowly been building up to this. I am still eager to learn as I think it’s imperative to keep learning new skills..and I will continue to do my best.

The iron jungle has been my classroom, my work, and is my refuge. It is where my journey began and where I continue to be. It is a place where I have unleashed my frustrations, pushed myself beyond my limits, and grown as a trainer and coach.

It’s where it all began 🙂

Advertisements

Eating & Training For Your Body Type

image

So you’ve probably heard alot about the different body types  and might be confused as to what this all means ( don’t get confused with body shape, ex: hourglass, pear, apple, square..etc).

THE 3 SOMATOTYPES

In the 1940s Dr. William H. Sheldon introduced the concept of body types, or somatotypes. Since then, nutritionists, exercise physiologists, and even doctors have used it as an aid in designing effective, individualized fitness plans. The concept is that we all fall into the three categories below (although you can possess attributes of two different categories or even all three). Keep in mind that these are generalizations on basic skeletal somatotypes.

The body type that we are born with is based on an inherited skeletal frame and body composition. Most people are unique combinations of the three body types: ectomorph, mesomorph, and endomorph. Some typical somatotype combinations include pear-shaped ecto-endomorphs (thin, delicate upper bodies & high fat storage in the hips and thighs), and apple-shaped endo-ectomorphs (high fat storage in the mid-section & thin lower bodies).

image

The “I” Type

• Aka: Ectomorph
• Are thin, with smaller bone structures and thinner limbs ( Ex:typical endurance athlete, basketball players, runway models).
• Low body fat & low muscle. They have a hard time gaining mass.
• Have a fast metabolic rate.They’re high-energy and tend to burn off excess calories with near-constant movement throughout the day.
•High tolerance of carbs. Can eat almost anything without affecting their weight.

Nutrition & Training for ” I ” Types

• Higher carbohydrates in the diet + moderate protein + lower fat intake.
• Limit cardio to 1x/ week or even eliminate if possible
• Train each body part 2x/ week
• Vary your rep range. Train in the 5-8 rep range for your compound lifts (squats, deadlifts, bench press, etc.), but go up into the 8-15 rep range with smaller muscle groups.
• Ensure proper rest & recovery as this body type can easliy overtrain.

The V” Type

• Aka: Mesomorph
• Athletic, solid, and strong. Not overweight and not underweight,
• Can gain and lose weight without too much effort.
• Usually have a considerable amount of lean mass (Ex:explosive athletes like sprinters, wrestlers and gymnasts).
• Are built to be powerful machines. Excess calories often go to lean mass and dense bones.
• Tend to be testosterone & growth hormone dominant. If active this type can easily gain muscle and stay lean.

Nutrition & Training for “V” Types

• A mixed diet, with balanced carbohydrates, proteins, and fats.
• Cardio should be 3x/ week or less. Mesomorphs will benefit most from HIIT
• Due to rapid adaptation to conditioning, the body should be constantly hit with a combination of slow & moderate exercises, focusing on full ROM with weight training exercises that use fast reps produce good results.
• Hitting compound muscle groups with heavy weights followed by targeted isolation and definition exercises at a mid rep range of 8-12 works well. Legs should be hit with both low and high reps.

The “O” Type

• Aka: Endomorph
• Larger bone structure with higher amounts of total body mass and fat mass. (Ex:Football linemen, powerlifters, and throwers).
• Have the slowest metabolism
• Are built for solid comfort, not speed.
• Naturally less active, which means excess calories are more likely to be stored as fat.

Nutrition & Training for “O” Types

• Endomorphs don’t tolerate carbohydrates well, especially if they are sedentary.
• Do best on a higher fat & protein intake with a lower carbohydrate intake being properly timed (typically post-workout).
• Cardio should be about 3-4 sessions of cardio per week of about 20-30min
• Training should include high intensity exercises with minimal rest periods between sets (60sec or less).
• To achieve maximum muscle mass, push every set for as many reps as possible, increase weight when you can to maximize progressive overload. This will keep you within hypertrophy ranges (muscle building rep ranges) & help you burn off fat & build more lean mass.

So I think I’ve covered the basics. Hope this helps you understand your body so you can adapt your eating and training to best suit your goals.
For more detailed information on nutrition for your body type (which includes some nice infographics) click here.

Why You May Not Be Seeing Results

image

So you decide to try that new workout routine you found online. You start off great, working out steadily but a week (or two..or three) into it you realize it’s not working for you, so you stop.
Maybe a month later you find a book that promises to ‘melt that belly fat’ and you have all intentions to clean up your eating, and you do…for a week. But then you get frustrated because this book is just the world’s biggest ‘foods you can’t eat’ list and you give up.
You then buy a special on 3 months of boot camp or kickboxing classes and go religiously..till you feel burned out.
Another few weeks go by and you decide enough is enough and you spend serious money on some fancy detox and meal plan given to you by a holistic nutritionist and you couple that with working out almost every day…But

NOTHING. IS. HAPPENING!!!! (sound familiar?!)

WHY?

Short Answer: You’re doing too much at once and not giving your body a chance to adapt.

Lets start with the nutrition aspect:
Save yourself money and and time and avoid getting sucked into these fancy diets, detoxes, and pills. You may think that they’re working at first but any weight lost is most certainly water weight.. and it will come right back.
The best and most effective way to lose body fat is to have a meal plan that works for you! Not a meal plan that you find online or borrowed from a friend. Everybody is different. With different metabolisms, different body compositions, different caloric needs. What worked for Joe or Sally will not work to the same effect for you.
Most people are misinformed and think that in order to lose weight you need to stick to a mere 1500 calories a day and eat chicken & asparagus day in and day out (I’m being dramatic I know :()
But if they only knew that there’s more to life than just eating chicken & asparagus!,

Quick Fact: Being on a low calorie diet for too long will sabotage your metabolism, prevent you from building muscle tissue, cause hormonal imbalances, seriously affect your energy levels..and so much more. (Learn more about effects of eating too little here)

The best way to go about losing body fat without compromising muscle tissue is by eating more. For someone who is just starting off, if your goal is fat loss multiply your current weight by 10-12 to give you a caloric range you should aim for. Start at the higher end of your caloric range as you want to be able to eat as much as you can while losing body fat.
(For building, multiply your body weight by 16-18)
          
      Ex: using my weight of 142pds and taking into account the number of times I workout, my caloric range for a deficit phase would be 1988-2272 calories/day

From there make sure to include a lean protein, complex carb, and a healthy fat with your meals. The frequency of your meals should be roughly every 3-4 hours.. which works out to 5-6 times a day (your main meals, with snacks in between). 

Moving on to the exercise part, again you want to make sure that you stick to one program..and one program only… and give your body a chance to adapt. Ideally you want to include 3-4 workouts per week (it goes without saying that I am a die hard fan of the iron, so I will always be an advocate for it!). Your workout program should incorporate compound movements as these engage alot of muscles and you get the most bang for your buck. Also any exercises to strengthen any weak areas should be worked into your program as you dont want to have any muscle imbalances as this could lead to injury.
The funny thing about the human body is that it likes to be in a state of balance. So any time that you upset that balance..in this case with exercise.. it will quickly work to repair itself and return to homeostasis. The result would be a leaner, stronger body that will have you smiling from ear to ear.

So to sum it all up, if you’ve been trying to lose body fat (or gain muscle) for a while now, and you have not seen the changes you had hoped for, maybe it’s time you step back and re-evaluate what you are doing. Going from one thing to another is just causing chaos on your body and making you miserable. Focus instead on following a well balanced nutrition & workout program and STICK TO IT.

And then your body will thank you 😉

Monday Motivation: Metobolic Workout

I started the week off right. I got a metabolic workout in right in the morning (done at home). I’m not a fan of cardio as I get bored quickly (exercise ADD?!) so this is my go-to for some serious calorie burn.

First let’s cover some background on metabolic workouts.

What Is It?

The simple definition of metabolic training is a workout containing structural and compound exercises done with little to no rest in between exercises. This maximizes caloric burn, increase metabolic rate (amount of calories your body burns at rest) during and after the workout, and seriously challenges your cardiovascular system.
Because structural & compound exercises are multi joint exercises (like squats & chin-ups) they require an intense amount of energy to execute, and when done as part of a metabolic workout you are really burning off that fat. The calories burned during this type of training can easily reach around 500 calories for a 30 minute workout, increasing your metabolic rate anywhere from 10-25% for up to 48 hours, and some studies have shown an increase in metabolic rate for up to even 72 hours. Over time these hundreds of extra calories burned can become significant.
(Here’s a study on impact on post exercise oxygen consumption.)

My Workout: Ascending/Descending Ladder

● DB Front squat (30 pds)
● DB Bent over row (30 pds)
● Pushups
● Burpees

》Set 1: I did 1 rep of each, then 2 reps, then 3…till I reached 10 reps (note: I did not stop at all till I finished the set) Completed in 21min 15sec

》Rest 2min

》 Set 2: Worked backwards from 10 reps to 1 😧 Completed in 24min 42sec

Variation: I used weight to up the intensity level. To make it easier lose the iron and stick to body weight exercises.

Oh and I have to share this cereal that I found on the weekend.. perfect for a post-workout meal.
image

Happy training!

Good Mornings

image

The good morning is a posteriorly top loaded hip hinge movement that works the whole posterior chain. This compound movement targets the spinal erectors, low back, hips, glutes, and hamstrings. Although often neglected it is an exercise that has many benefits:

▪ Loads the deep core muscles of the lower back
▪ Trains proper hinging and requires proper firing of the glutes
▪ Teaches you to keep the lumbar spine in a controlled posterior tilt as you extend the hips back and bring them forward
▪ Teaches you to firmly ground yourself into the floor and balance your weight from the mid-foot to the heel
▪ Prevents hamstring and low-back injuries (common in those who focus too much on the anterior chain, like quads and abs, and not enough on the posterior chain muscles)

Apart from strengthening the posterior chain, including this exercise in your training will also aid in your squat and deadlift (you will be able to lift heavier ;)).

How To Perform Good Mornings:

○ Place a barbell at shoulder height on a rack
○ Rack the bar across the rear of your shoulder blades, as you would place when performing squats. This is your starting position
○ Slowly, exhale as you bend forward by pushing out your hips behind and torso forward, till you are almost parallel to the floor or when you feel a mild stretch on your hamstrings
○Now, inhale as you go back to the starting position by pushing through your hips and hamstrings
○Keep your back straight and knees slightly bent throughout the motion

Variations

○ Wide stance good mornings (targets glutes & hamstrings more)
○ Banded good mornings

Warning

》Avoid swinging while going forward or coming back up
》Keep your spine straight and in line with your head throughout the entire range of motion
》The good morning exercise could place excess stress on the lower spine and cause significant injury if done incorrectly. Start with a very low weight slowly work up from there
》Avoid locking out the knees as this places significant stress on the low back

(See how to perform the exercise here)

Fruity Chicken Skewers With Stuffed Zucchini

image

Ingredients (for Fruity Chicken Skewers)

☆Bamboo skewer sticks
☆Boneless skinless chicken breast (1-inch cubed), 6 oz (170 g)
☆Pineapple (1-inch cubed), 3 pieces
☆Apple (core removed, 1-inch cubed), 3 pieces
☆Red pepper (cut into large pieces), 3 pieces
☆Onion (cut into large pieces), 3 pieces
☆Butter (melted), 1 tbsp
☆Ginger, ½ tsp
☆Salt, ¼ tsp
☆Chili powder, ¼ tsp

Serving Size

•Serves 1 large or 2 small.

Preparation Time

•10 min. Preparation Time
•15 min. Cooking Time

Instructions

• Preheat oven to 350°F. Carefully slide ingredients onto the skewer using lots of chicken. (Ex: chicken-pineapple-chicken-apple-chicken-red pepper-chicken-onion-chicken).
•Continue making skewers until the chicken is used up.
•Combine melted butter, ginger, salt and chili powder in a small bowl.
•Place skewers on a baking tray or in a casserole dish and brush with the butter mixture on all sides. •Place skewers in oven and bake until chicken is cooked through (12-15 minutes).  
•Serves 1 large or 2 small.

Variations & Options

》For a lower-calorie meal, substitute fruit with vegetables. Zucchini and garlic are great options. For a more tenderized and flavorful meat, marinate the skewers for a couple of hours (or over night) in a mixture of 2 tablespoons oil, 3 tablespoons acidic juice (lemon, lime or orange), ½ teaspoon ginger and salt and pepper to taste.

Ingredients (for Stuffed Zucchini)

☆Zucchini (medium, halved lenghwise), 2
☆Olive oil cooking spray
☆Onion (finely diced), ¼ cup
☆Fresh garlic (minced), 1 tsp
☆Shitake or portobello mushrooms (small diced), ¼ cup
☆Tomato (finely diced), ¼ cup
☆Low-fat feta cheese (crumbled), ¼ cup
☆Pecans (crushed), ¼ cup
☆Tomato sauce, ½ cup

Serving Size

•Serves 1 large or 2 small.

Preparation Time

•5 min. Preparation Time
•10 min. Cooking Time

Instructions

•Preheat the oven at 375°F.
•Cut zucchini in half lengthwise. •Using a spoon and knife (if needed) remove all the white flesh (do not discard the skin or flesh). If the green skin breaks don’t worry.
•Preheat a large non-stick frying pan on medium heat.
•Lightly coat with spray and add the white zucchini flesh, onion, garlic and mushrooms.
•Sauté until onions are lightly browned and liquids have evaporated.
•Remove from heat. Add tomato, feta cheese and pecans to the pan. •Stuff the zucchini peel with the heated mixture.
•Reform the peel around the stuffing.
•Add to a baking sheet and cook in the oven for 30 minutes.
•Remove from oven and serve with warm tomato sauce.
•Serves 1 large or 2 small.

Variations & Options

》For an anytime meal option,
serve with Steamed Halibut.

(Source: Gourmet Nutrition V2)

Ladies, It’s Time To Step Up To The Plates (Pun Intended!)

image

If you walk into a gym on any given day, make your way to the free weight section. I bet that you can count on one hand the women that you see in that area.

Why?

Because women still believe that working out with anything heaver than 10 pounds will make them ‘manly’. Because society has led women to believe this.
Just watch a fitness DVD, open up a woman’s fitness magazine,
or look at your gym’s ads. You will most likely see thin women on a treadmill or elliptical, or doing boot camp style classes. And if there are any pictures of a more defined female physique that happens to be holding any weights, it’s almost always 5 or 10 pound dumbbells.
Or how about those silly instagram accounts of women claiming to have built their booty with squatting day in and day out?

Quick Fact:
The normal range of testosterone levels in healthy adult males is between 280 to 1,100 nanograms per deciliter (ng/dL), Testosterone levels in women vary, but normal measurements range from 15 to 70 ng/dL. 
Because of these differences in testosterone, it is physiologically impossible for a woman to ‘bulk up’ without the use of  anabolic aids.

Ladies.. we are capable of so much more than this. Why should women train any differently than men? Why should women limit themselves when both men & women have the same skeletal foundation.  Both genders push & pull, squat & lunge, and hinge.

image

Stripped down to our skeletons.. men & women are the same

Benefits Of Weight Training

• increases metabolism
• helps reduce risk of coronary heart disease
• strengthens bones/ joints
• decreases risk of arthritis
• decreases risk of osteoporosis (women are at higher risk)
• decreases risk of diabetes
• improves mental wellbeing (due to feel-good hormone serotonin)
• more muscle = more calories burned at rest
• improves posture
• improves balance &  coordination
• strengthens core musculature

The health benefits are many, but aside from that, the physical strength gained in the gym will impact other areas of your life: there’s the major confidence boost you will get when pushing yourself to beyond what you thought yourself capable of, the greater sense of self (and self-love), the strengthing of character and mind, the respect and awareness of our bodies.

image

From cardio to weights

image

What weight training can do

Where Should You Start?

If you are serious about changing your body then you need to start haulin’ iron. There’s no other way around it. And I mean getting down and dirty the old school way. Deadlifts, squats, pull-ups, bench presses..and variations on these exercises are the best way to start as they are compound movements. Compound exercises recruit major muscle fibres and tend to require significant stabilization of the entire body by involving numerous muscles that otherwise might not be stimulated with isolation exercises.
Make sure you follow a proper training program that will gradually progress you as this is the most effective way to see results (coupled with good nutrition of course!).
So unleash that brute strength that lies within and you will discover the extraordinary feats your body is capable of. Be the architect of your body and build and sculpt a lean and feminine physique. And with that you will find an unbreakable mental perseverance that will reflect on other areas of your life 🙂

Regaining Strength… 1 Year Post-Partum

      “If it doesn’t challenge you,
      It doesn’t change you.”
                             Fred Devito

So its been been almost a year since I got back into training again after my little guy was born (I took the recommended 6 weeks to recover). I have to admit that I’m not where I thought I’d be.
Due to quite a few pregnancy discomforts (from symphysis pubis dysfunction, to carpal tunnel syndrome, and then mommy thumb post-partum 😩) I lost alot of my strength. 

I was quite discouraged (ANGRY) after my first workout post- pregnancy where I unsuccessfully tried to deadlift at almost my max weight: 135pds (pre-pregnancy: 160pds).
I couldn’t get the bar off ground :oops:.
I drastically reduced my deadlift to a (sad) 50pds. My squat was scaled back to a mere 40pds… pull ups I could no longer do unassisted.  Pushups only from my knees.

I had to go back to the drawing board and rewrite my program. My focus would now be to strengthen my severely weakened grip, work on correcting my hip alignment, and further strengthen my core.

I have slowly started to see my strength return. And with that my ‘issues’ are taking care of themselves. Every time I add an extra plate or move that pin further down the weight stack I smile and do the happy dance (in my head of course!).
It’s taken me longer than I initially planned for and I had to create a new program to ‘fix’ myself first,  but I gritted my teeth and stuck through it and now I’m seeing results! I have to remind myself that pregnancy is a major change and stress to the body. It took 9 months of growing a baby.. it’s definitely not going to take less than that to return to where I was.

We all experience bumps along the road.. some will be harder to get over, but we shouldn’t let these stop us or derail us.
I know I’m not!

My Progress:

Deadlift
Day 1: 50pds
Current: 110pds

Squat
Day 1: 40pds
Current: 70pds

Pull-ups (assisted)
Day 1: 120pds
Current: 70pds

Pushups (from toes)
Day 1: 0
Current: 12

Peanut Butter Protein Treats

image

So these bad boys can be used as a snack or post workout meal. The goodness of peanut butter and chocolate in a bite-sized snack.

Ingredients

▪ ½ cup (125 mL) of cocoa powder
▪ ¼ cup (75 mL) of chocolate whey protein powder
▪ ¼ cup (75 mL) coconut flour
▪ ¼ cup (75 mL) organic quinoa flour
▪ 1tsp of baking soda
▪ 1tsp of vanilla extract (optional)
▪ 3 large cooked beets, mashed
▪ ½ cup (125 mL) liquid egg whites
▪ ½ cup (125 mL) of milk
▪ Peanut or other nut butter
▪ Unsweetened shredded coconut

Serving Size:
1 delicious square

Preparation time:
☆40-50 minutes (15 min preparation time + 25-35 min cooking time)

Directions:
☆Preheat oven to 320F (160C).

☆Blend all dry ingredients together in a large bowl

☆In a smaller bowl, blend all moist ingredients (i.e. beets, egg whites, milk).

☆Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and mix.

☆Pour into greased baking dish.

☆Bake for 25-35 minutes at 320 F (160C), or until the cake cooks through. (Keep an eye on it – don’t let it overcook because then it’ll get super dry and rubbery.)

Optional:
Spread a little peanut or nut butter on top or sprinkle unsweetened shredded coconut!

Why You Blame Your Trainer

image

There are 24 hours in a day.
The average person is awake for 17 hours.
The average time spent with a trainer is 2-3 hours per week.
That leaves 116-117 hours per week that a trainer has no control over what their client eats or workouts that are not completed.

The reality is that alot of times a trainer is hired based on unrealistic expectations.  The client expects to lose weight just because they have hired a trainer. They believe that the trainer is the answer to their problems.. an instant, guaranteed solution.

But this is far from the truth.

A trainer will provide you with the necessary guidance and tools to help you change your lifestyle to that of a more healthier and active one. These changes will only help in reaching fat-loss goals IF you are willing to follow your trainer’s instructions. But more than half the time these instructions/guidance fall on deaf ears.
And what happens when you realize months have passed and you haven’t reached your goal?
You blame your trainer.
It’s your trainer’s fault that you miss your workouts, or that you have a cookie here.. a slice of pizza there. It’s your trainer’s fault that come the weekends your ‘healthy’ eating goes out the window.. because it’s so much easier to blame your trainer than to own up and blame yourself.

If your doctor were to tell you that you had a life threatening illness and unless you made drastic changes to your lifestyle, you would not survive.. would you think  twice about it?
You probably wouldn’t even argue.
So why is it that most people are unwilling to make the necessary changes to their lifestyle in order to lose weight?

Quick Fact:
The average person will start to gain 1pd of fat per year after the age of 25 and lose 1/2pd of lean muscle after 25 years old.
What does this mean? By the time you have reached 55 years you will have gained anywhere between 25-30 pds of fat mass & lost about 10-12 pds of lean muscle tissue. (Lean muscle utilizes calories to work, repair, and refuel itself. Fat requires very few calories—it just kind of sits there)

You may not feel the effects of being overweight and inactive now.. but you most definitely will see how your lifestyle takes a toll on your body as early as your 40 ‘s. From coronary heart disease,  to diabetes, to cancers.. these diseases can all be prevented with proper lifestyle changes. Why wait till then, when it’s too late? If you start the process early on, it will only be that much easier.
(See the effects of obesity here.)

So before you commit to hiring a trainer ask yourself these questions:
• Am I ready to give up certain foods/ habits?
• Am I willing to make time to exercise on a weekly basis?
• Am I willing to avoid situations that can throw me off-plan?
• Am I willing to put my health first and not ‘cheat’ myself for a moment of satisfaction?

If you can answer yes to all these then you are willing to commit to a new & healthier lifestyle. This is when a trainer can be your best investment. Because you will be focused on your goals, you will take accountability for your actions, you will be able to follow your trainer’s program and trust that the process will work.

And then the magic will happen!

image