Blog Archives

3 Reasons You’re Stuck

It happens to all of us at point or another. We think we are doing everything right.. exercising and eating as ‘clean’ as we possibly can. But then it happens.. you’re stuck and you can drive yourself crazy trying to figure out what you’re doing wrong.

but why2

Here are the top 3 reason’s that can stop your progress, and tips on how you can move past them.

1. Not Sleeping Enough

Sleep deprivation can affect your concentration and impair your memory; can make you feel lazy and less motivated (the thought of working out will feel like a major hassle); and affect your performance levels.

Insufficient sleep can also cause you to gain weight over time, by decreasing your body’s levels of leptin- a hormone responsible for making you feel full-  and by increasing your levels of ghrelin, which increases your appetite and makes you want to eat more. (according an October 2010 article in the journal “Best Practice and Research: Clinical Endrocrinology and Metabolism.”)

Another downside of sleep deprivation is the affect on your body’s ability to release growth hormone. By not getting enough sleep you are limiting your body’s ability to recover and regenerate cell & muscle tissue.

The Fix:

  • ensure you are getting good quality sleep, about 7-9 hours will ensure your body will function at its best.
  • avoid high sugar, refined carbs before bed time as this can raise your blood sugar & stress the organs involved in hormone regulation. Have a high protein snack instead.
  • avoid screen time exposure 2-3 hours before bed as the blue light emitted from your devices can disrupt your circadian rhythm (if not, consider installing a blue light filter app)

2. Stress

If your brain detects the presence of a threat, whether it’s from a dangerous animal, work, or financial troubles, it will trigger the release of a cascade of chemicals, including adrenaline, CRH (corticotropin-releasing hormone), and cortisol. Your brain and body are preparing to handle the perceived threat by making you feel alert, ready for action and able to withstand an injury (fight or flight).

The release of adrenaline decreases appetite as blood flows away from the internal organs and to larger muscles to prepare for “fight or flight.” But once the effects of adrenaline start to wear off, cortisol, (the “stress hormone”) remains and starts signaling the body to replenish your food supply. Today we use up a lot less energy dealing with our stress compared to our ancestors (they had to fight off large animals), yet we are stuck with a neuroendocrine system that didn’t get the memo, so our brain is still going to tell us to reach for that cookie.

Besides fighting off large animals, our ancestors had to worry about famine. Their bodies learned to adapt by storing fat supplies for the long haul. Because of this when we are chronically stressed by life and/or work demands, the excess cortisol in our bodies slows down our metabolism, increasing visceral fat (belly fat). This type of fat releases chemicals triggering inflammation, putting us at an elevated risk for developing heart disease or diabetes. As you can see, chronic stress in our lives takes a major toll on our bodies.

The Fix:

  • practice relaxation techniques
  • find a quiet space & focus on some deep breathing
  • learn how to say no. Distinguish between the “shoulds” and the “musts” and, when possible, say “no” to taking on too much.
  • exercising too much without proper recovery can also impact the body in a negative way. Ensure you allow your body sufficient time for recovery. (Read my post on rest and recovery here).

3. Input vs. Output

By now you should know that your goals (whether its gaining mass or losing body fat) is dependent on whether you are fueling your body appropriately.

If your goal is fat loss then your output (exercise) should be greater than input (food). If you are consuming more than you are burning off, or if the quality of food is poor then you will not lose fat. Be cautious, though, to not restrict your calories too much as this can actually hinder fat loss as well and wreak havoc on your body, especially in women. The safest way to fat loss is learning portion control, eating quality, unprocessed foods, and having a proper weight training program.

If on the other hand, your goal is to gain muscle, then your input (food) should be greater than output (exercise). If you are not eating enough and exercising too much then you will not gain muscle muscle mass.

The Fix:

  • for either goal, you should aim for nutritious, unprocessed foods. Include lean proteins, fruits & vegetables (especially greens), and healthy fats.
  • limit high sugar, processed foods.
  • have a proper weight training and HIIT  program to help build muscle.
  • be patient, it takes time. If you are gaining or losing too fast, then its likely not happening at a healthy level.. which is not sustainable in the long term.

 

There are other variables that come in to play, but I believe these are the top ones. Ultimately it comes down to listening to your body. Our bodies will always tell us if something is not working.. you just have to learn to listen.

 

Happy Training! 😊

 

 

 

Advertisements

Rest & Recovery: Why You Need It

Rest and recovery; the R & R’s of the fitness world. Most may think they are the same thing- and while they are both critical elements of any successful training program- they are also the least utilized.

The Difference?

First, a little math

  • The average person may train about 4- 8 hrs/ week
  • This leaves you with 152-156 of non-training hours/ week to rest & recover

You would think that’s more than enough time to recharge and be ready to hulk-smash that next workout, yet there are some that will be walking into the gym and dragging through their workout.

Rest: according to Merriam- Webster

1repose, sleep; specifically:  a bodily state characterized by minimal functional and metabolic activities 

2a:  freedom from activity or labor

  b:  a state of motionlessness or inactivity

  c:  the repose of death

3a place for resting or lodging

4: peace of mind or spirit

Most of these (except for 2c) are a combination of time that is spent sleeping and not training. It is also the easiest to understand and implement.

Recovery: encompasses many aspects and refers to techniques and actions that are taken to maximize the body’s repair. Recovery involves different systems in our body that require time to repair, these include muscle repair, chemical and hormonal balance, nervous system repair, and mental & spiritual.

For most, the goal should be to have a a good balance between exercise, nutrition, and rest & recovery. Make heath and fitness a priority without personal sacrifice. Don’t be afraid to enjoy a night out with friends, or a piece of your own birthday cake. Unless you are a professional athlete, don’t overwhelm yourself with perfection.

The Approach

  1. Get enough sleep. Although different for everyone, the recommended amount of sleep for adults is 7-9 hours. Sufficient sleep helps to with mental health, hormonal balance, and muscular recovery.

      2. Keep Hydrated. Water is critical to our bodily functions. It aids in nutrient uptake, helps regulate body temperature, protects and moisturizes the joints, and aids in riding the body of toxins. Drinking adequate amounts of water is critical to health, energy, recovery, and performance. The easiest way to check for dehydration is in the color of your urine. If it is a dark yellow, then you definitely need to increase your intake.

    3. Nutrition. Everything you eat has the ability to help heal your body, or to hurt it. Eating clean and balanced meals in moderation, and reducing the amount of processed foods is proven to be effective to remain healthy and increase performance. Pay attention to how your body reacts to the types of foods you consume. I believe that unless you have a reaction to it or an underlying issue, there’s no need to cut out specific food groups. Including variety in your food choices will make it easier to eat healthy.

4. Stretching. You should be able to move your joints through their full range and be pain free. If you can’t then that means that your flexibility is being compromised. Having a desk job can contribute to tight hip flexors and bad posture, so be sure to include dynamic stretching in your warm-ups and save the static stretching for after your workouts. Yoga is a great way to improve your flexibility.

 

2017-29-3--13-00-11

5. Self-Myofascial Release. This works by finding tight muscle areas, applying pressure to those trigger points to release the tightness, and then ahhhh!! This can be done with a foam roller, lacrosse ball, or your hands. (Just an fyi if you’re new to it: self-myofascial release is painful at first, but so, sooo good afterwards)

6. TLC For Those Injuries. It goes without saying that if you have an injury, your rest and recovery will be longer. Remember to use the typical heat, ice, compression, elevation for any injury you may have. The more tlc you show it, the faster your recovery.

 

And that’s it. Ensure that your body gets the care it needs. The fact that you are already exercising is great, and with enough time to recuperate, your hard work in the gym will surely show!

Happy Training 🙂

To keep the body in good health is a duty… otherwise we shall not be able to keep our mind strong and clear.

-Buddha

Why You Can’t Just “Wing It” If You Want Results

“What should I do today?”

“Legs.. I’ll do deadlifts. No, wait..maybe some squats..when was the last time I did squats?”

If you’re deciding what your workout will be as you’re walking into the gym.. then I’m sorry to say.. but

80effcc77d3f4904b6ca134350819a94ee15d88d5b7f206e567f27d6160692b1

In order to see any results you need to have a structured program. Walking into the gym, let alone trying to reach any goals without a fitness plan, is like trying to drive in a foreign country without a map; you will eventually get somewhere, but where you end up may or may not have anything to do with where you actually wanted to be. Without a proper fitness plan you have no way of tracking your progress, and no way of knowing if you will reach your goals.

The Right Way

Write down your goals. This is the first step to create a fitness plan. Do you want to reach a certain PR in your deadlifts? Do you want to chisel your back? Maybe you just want to feel comfortable on the beach. Whatever your reason is to workout you need a structured fitness plan to get you there. Once you’ve established what you want to accomplish, you need to create a ‘map’ to get you there, these are your short-term goals. Short-term goals are mileposts on the way toward your long-term goal.

Example:

  • Long term goal: doing 12 unassisted chin-ups
  • Short term goals:
    • wk 1-4: build muscle strength by doing band assisted chin-ups
    • wk 5-8: work on holding your weight- negative chin-ups 
    • wk 9-12: 3 unassisted chin-ups x 2 sets, 1.5min rest between sets (add 1 set per week)
    • wk 13-16: 4 unassisted chin-ups x 3 sets, 1.5 min rest between sets
    • wk 17+ : gradually increase reps per set, until 12 straight reps achieved

 Establishing a fitness plan eliminates the guess work and tracks your progress. Having a schedule to follow helps eliminate the “I’ll do it tomorrow” thought pattern and holds you accountable. Once you get into the habit of following a plan, you’ll see how easier it is to get through your workouts which in turn helps motivate you to succeed. Also by having a visual record of your progress means you can actually see how far along you’ve come, which is always motivating.

Keep It Simple

It doesn’t need to be fancy (unless that’s your style). Simply having a small journal with your workouts written in them and space to write in reps, sets, weight, is enough. The main point is to make it a habit.

And that goes for any goals in general. The only way to ensure you reach them is by writing them doing, creating a ‘map’ & then following it. It eliminates any guess work, helps you be prepared for any obstacles you may encounter, and serves as a visual record of how far you’ve come and how much closer you are to your end point.

 

And that’s that.

 

Happy Training 🙂

  

Ladies!! 5 Lifts You NEED To Be Doing Right NOW!

I’ve seen it too many times… back when I worked at gyms and still now when I work out at my local commercial gym: alot (not all) of women are neglecting the big old compound exercises. The reasons could be many:

  • Lack of knowledge: not knowing how to correctly perform the exercise
  • Intimidation: some women feel intimidated walking into the free weights section because of all the testosterone around. I say OWN it.. do your thang girl!!
  • Have been misinformed: some women might still believe that these big lifts are just “too manly” for them, totally not the case.

giphy-hell-no

I could continue, but then this would turn into a looonnnggg rant.

Ok, so moving on… these lifts I like to refer to them as the “Build-A Body” group, because when implemented correctly can help ‘build’ your lady bumps and humps 😉  and who wouldn’t want that?!

  1. The Deadlift: A foundational lift. This exercise mimics everyday movements like bending and lifting (ex: picking up your little one). This one is my ultimate favourite lift. With so many different variations, I incorporate the deadlift in almost every one of my workouts. Muscles worked include:
    • entire posterior chain (hamstrings, glutes, hips): equals a beautiful backside
    • engages your core musculature (internal girdle): a strong core increases overall strength, protects your back, and lets you wear those crop tops without thinking twice
    • biceps and forearms: develops your grip strength so you can lift more heavy SH*T!
      • Here’s a great article on deadlifting written by Tony Gentilcore (who is only the world’s deadlifting god) 
  2. The Squat: Another foundational lift as you do this movement every time you sit and stand. With many variations to choose from, you can never get bored of this one.
    • helps build and shape nice thighs
    • helps build glutes
    • builds overall strength
  3. The Hip Thrust: This one is a great glute builder/ isolator exercise. Remember that your glutes are pure muscle and in order to grow them you need to learn to fire the glutes  and stimulate them properly using heavier loads, varying rep ranges, etc. You can increase or decrease the intensity level by doing body weight hip thrusts, adding bands, doing singe leg variations.. possibilities are many.
  4. Pull-ups: This is the ultimate upper body exercise as it builds incredible strength. As a multi joint exercise:
    • works & strengthens entire back musculature, shoulders, biceps, grip strength
    • creates a tapered effect of the back making your waist look smaller
    • different hand positions target the muscles a little differently/ changes difficulty
  5. Vertical/ Horizontal Presses: These include push-ups & variations (horizontal press exercises); military press, push-press, shoulder press, etc (vertical press exercises). These exercises:
    • increase upper body strength (women have less muscle mass compared to their lower bodies.. we gotta work harder at it!)
    • work your chest, shoulders, triceps and core
    • Band assisted push-ups (beginners)
    • Awesome push-up variations (advanced)
    • Military Press helps build amazing shoulders
    • Push Press helps build raw strength. Improves shoulder stability. And can I just say it look badass when a woman does it!!

So here it is ladies.. a short list of some lifts to definitely include in your training. Don’t be intimidated or embarrassed of walking into that gym and grabbing some iron. Your body will thank you 😉

giphy-you-got-this

 

Happy Training 🙂

 

 

Metabolic Workout: Kettlebell Complex

Before I get into what kettlebell complexes are and what purpose they serve I will quickly give some background info on metabolic conditioning for those that are new to the game. Metabolic conditioning workouts are structured patterns of work vs rest periods designed to elicit a specific response from the body. This response is usually maximizing the efficiency of a particular energy system. The body has several different ways in which it gets its energy. Different ratios of work to rest periods will utilize different energy systems and as a result cause specific adaptations in the body.These adaptations should be specific to the trainees desired outcomes and fitness level. For example, a sprinter would have a different work:rest ratio compared to someone who wants to get lean or put on muscle. Simply pairing difficult exercises together and going through a circuit without taking into account timing will not reap the same results.

 

What Are Kettlebell Complexes?

Kettlebell complexes are compound exercises performed successively and with no rest in between. (If you are unfamiliar with what compound exercises are: compound exercises require coordinated movements that recruit multiple muscle groups to move multiple joints through a range of motion simultaneously.)

Complexes can be performed with dumbbells, barbells or kettlebells. All are efficient training tools, however the kettlebell, because of its compact nature and offset center of gravity adds a unique twist complex training.

 

What You’ll Need: a kettlebell, skipping rope, timer, and willpower!

My Workout:

Warm-up: 5min

  • Kettlebell Complex 1min:
    •   5x kettlebell swing
    • 5x goblet squat
    • 2x single arm swing (R)
    • 1x clean & press (R)
    • 2x single arm swing (R)
    • 1x kettlebell snatch (R)
    • 2x single arm swing (L)
    • 1x clean & press (L)
    • 2x single arm swing (L)
    • 1x kettlebell snatch (L)
    • 3x kettlebell swing
    • 3x goblet squat
  • Skipping 30sec

Rest: 30sec

Repeat: for 8 rounds

Cooldown: 5-7min stretching

Total time: Under 40min

Here’s what it looked like

 

Happy Training 🙂

Tips For Getting Your ‘Summer Body’ Ready

55492-my-summer-body-is-almost-ready

 

In Canada the winter months may seem ENDLESS, the layers of clothes are many and most people tend to go into some type of ‘hibernation mode’ (too much food, too little exercise). More often than not you might have experienced some weight gain. Or you could be in a building phase, which is typical during the winter months, and your intake has purposely been higher & workouts scaled back to allow for some gains/ growth. In either case you will have found yourself to be carrying a bit more cushion than you might like.

At the first sign of spring, the gyms seem to come alive with those looking to perfect their ‘summer  body’. The average person will spend hours on end on their cardio machine of choice in hopes of shedding unwanted weight gain and/or reduce their food intake way too much. This will only work against your body by killing your metabolism resulting in little to no change at all.

Here are some tips to help rev up your metabolism so that you can shed those last stubborn pounds and reveal your summer physique.

Better Food Quality. Your meals should consist of nutrient dense, whole foods. Cut out sugar & high processed foods as these do nothing to promote optimal body composition and only put you at risk for metabolic diseases. Be sure to consume a lot of dark leafy vegetables (aim for 1-2 cups per meal), anti-oxidant rich  fruits and beneficial fats.

Protein With Every Meal. High-quality, high-protein intake keep you feeling full longer. It also sustains lean mass which in turn increases your metabolic rate (more muscle mass= more calories burned at rest). This is very important if you are trying to lose body fat. Also, don’t make the mistake of cutting calories without increasing protein as this will cause you to lose muscle mass along with fat mass, lowering your metabolism. Include lean red meat, fish, eggs in your meals. A clean, low-carb protein powder can help supplement your diet.

Include 4-5 Days of Weight Training. In order to look lean & tight you need to increase your muscle mass and reduce body fat. To do this you need to make sure you are really stressing out your muscles. Repeated tension or load on the muscles will cause the muscle to adapt and grow over time. Most people don’t lift heavy enough, or they continuously lift for the same amount of high reps and only 3 sets per exercise. Proper stress will only occur if you vary your training; ex: High-volume training (high reps, mod weight), high-load training (4+ sets, 4-6 reps, 85-90% of 1RM), varied tempo. Also be sure to include big compound movements (squats, deadlifts, pulls, presses, chin-ups) as these are multi-joint exercises and recruit major muscles.

Sprints vs. Steady State Cardio. While distance running (steady state cardio) has its benefits (heart friendly), if you are looking to seriously burn off body fat, incorporate sprint training into your workout regime. The high intensity of sprint training causes the same metabolic stress on the body as weight training. Just take a look at a sprinter’s body vs a marathoner. Have you ever seen a sprinter who carries extra cushion on them? Nope, neither have I.

marathoner-vs-sprinter-female

Reduce Stress. High levels of stress from work/ every day life will result in high levels of cortisol being released into the body. This will actually lead to an increase in fat mass especially around your mid-section. Take time to unwind & reduce your stress levels. Meditation,  breathing exercises, yoga are just a few ways you can reduce stress levels.

Recovery. Give your body rest. All the hard work you put in the gym, although beneficial, is still a stress placed on your body. Too much of a good thing can ultimately lead to overuse injuries, fatigue and even weaken your immune system. Allow your body time to repair & rebuild, and always listen to your body.

Happy Training 🙂

ff_3231

 

 

 

 

What’s Your ‘Why’?

image

     “We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence then, is not an act, but a habit.”
                     -Aristotle

What’s your why?.. Your reason for doing this?
Why do you want to commit to a totally different lifestyle when you’re pretty damn comfortable with the one you currently have?
Why would you put yourself through the soreness.. the frustrations.. the discipline this new way of life will require?

These are questions you need to ask yourself before starting on a new fitness program. Whether you are doing it on your own, and especially if you will be paying for a coach to guide you through it, you need to have a strong reason for doing it. Because if you don’t then most likely you will find yourself in the same place you started.

You need to realize that sacrifices will need to be made, and this is where most people will get turned off. They don’t want to give up their sleep/down-time/family time, ‘give up their social life’, or the multiple- times-a-week restaurant outings, or their favourite {insert junk food here}. Because they need to have a life right?

But see this is where most people are wrong. You don’t have to give up your social life/ family time.. but you do need to make sacrifices. You need to decide whether your health is more important than all the excuses you make. If you’re not feeding your body right and exercising then you’re not taking care of yourself. And it will catch up to you at some point because it always does (just look at how many people you know that suffer from type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular problems, high blood pressure, etc that live an unhealthy lifestlye). If you’re not healthy how can you take care of your family? Enjoy time with friends & family?
Yes it’s going to be hard in the beginning and you’re going to need a hell of alot of will power as your body ‘detoxes’ itself.. but once you get over that initial mountain and you fall into a routine.. and start to see the first changes in your body, then you will realize it’s all worth it.

Quick fact: According to this study it does not take 21 days to form  habit , rather it’s  dependant on the individual, environmental factors, the habit being formed, etc.

So find that Why and let it be your driving force. Don’t do it for anyone other than yourself. Don’t let any excuse be bigger than your Why. There will always be obstacles but it’s up to you to overcome them.

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 🙂

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

%d bloggers like this: