Tuesday 12 August 2014

The Steady State

Sometimes it feels like we are sprinting through life.  We are excited about our fitness and we have a ton of energy to charge toward our goals.

But we all hit walls – every single one of us.  We abruptly lose our momentum and it seems like we have no energy left for moving forward.

Sprinters are fun to watch, but we know that in a sprint, the race isn’t going to last very long.  Marathoners may not move as quickly, but they are still going, long after the sprinters have run out of breath!

Marathoners find their steady state.  This is where they get the best results and where they achieve the most consistency.  If we can find that as we move toward a work-life balance and reach for our goals, we are far more likely to make it over the long haul.

Monday 28 July 2014

Reduce Stress in 3 Easy Steps!

Stress could very well be the most problematic disease in our life today.  It keeps from experiencing peace and makes us less effective at everything we do. 

 Since we are all pressed for time, I have only three things I want to say about stress:

1)            Just Stop

Sometimes when we feel we can’t stop, is the time when we need to the most.  Even just taking an hour to go for a walk and clear the head can do the trick.  Have a bath or take a nap.  Once we slow the breathing down, it feels like forty things just fell off the plate and we have more time than we thought.

2)            Drop the Rubber Ball

The CEO of Coca-Cola gave this commencement speech to students and Georgia Tech about 20 years ago.  I come back to it often.

"Imagine life as a game in which you are juggling some five balls in the air. You name them - work, family, health, friends and spirit - and you're keeping all of these in the air. You will soon understand that work is a rubber ball. If you drop it, it will bounce back. But the other four balls - family, health, friends and spirit - are made of glass. If you drop one of these, they will be irrevocably scuffed, marked, nicked, damaged or even shattered. They will never be the same. You must understand that and strive for balance in your life."

3)            Focus on one thing at a time

Whether it’s eating an elephant, juggling family and work, or just trying to get to the end of the day – no one can multi-task very well.  We can only do one thing at a time - some people just prioritize better than others.  

How do we prioritize better?  Pick the most important thing in life and focus on it – then move on from there, one thing at a time.

We all struggle with stress and busyness in our lives.  When things start feeling over whelming, just stop, drop the rubber ball and go back to what’s most important.  It’s as easy as 1 – 2 – 3.

Friday 18 July 2014

Just along for the ride!

Have you ever watched anyone working in their element and thought to yourself, wow that person is doing exactly what they were built for?

Jen is a police officer.  Her and I have been training together for the last few months.  While she’s lifting weights I get to hear her really cool stories about work the day before.  My jaw drops when I listen to all that happens in our city and think about what she puts herself through and the risks that she takes everyday to help us live in a safe place.

I want to make her stronger so she can wrestle bad guys more effectively.  It motivates me!

She surprised me one day when she invited me on a ride-along. I jumped at the opportunity but as the day came closer, it stirred up fears within me that made me almost back out.  I thought to myself…

“What happens if we pick up a murder and I have to sit in the back with him?”

“What if they didn’t pat him down enough and the guy pulls a gun out when we’re not looking?”

“What if Jen and her partner go into a house and the bad guys run out and steel the cop car with me in it?”

“What if they run a background check on me and find the skeletons in my closet?” 

Just kidding about the last one… sort of.

The scardy-cat in me wanted to back out, but the small voice within me behind all the chaos said if I did that, think about the potential awesome opportunity I would be missing out on…  How many other aspects of life can we apply that to?

Jen welcomed me all suited up in her bulletproof gear.  “Am I going to get one of those???”  I didn’t.  I wondered if I should be more or less scared.

From what I get to see of Jen she is sweet, considerate and radiantly beautiful in and out. She has a personality that makes you feel so welcome and so comfortable. It was cool to see her element, ready to take on the challenges most of us try our best to avoid.

They kept me safe through some high-speed driving – which was awesome! 

Riding with Jen and her partner gave me a glimpse into what they do for every single person in this city – they keep us protected.  I began to feel that they should be genuinely thanked for stepping out on the line for us everyday.

Thank you Jennifer and Tyler for an incredible experience I will never forget.

Thursday 10 July 2014

Fight the Good Fight

Just like Rocky, when you get knocked down, you’ve got to rise up again.  If you lose a fight – be thankful.  You’ve learned a lesson and you get the chance to come back stronger for the next round.

The righteous may fall 7 times, but they rise again!"

I stand behind that message.  Every battle big or small requires us to jump some hurdles.  If you buckle, cave or give up after the first few, how strong is the foundation of your dream?  Are you really committed?

Someone once said, “Commitment means staying loyal to what you said you were going to do long after the mood you said it in has left you.” 

Many will never see their dream come to pass because they lost the fight to fear. They postponed it to wait for a better time.  But the better time never came.

In the first year of stepping out on my own, there have been many mental barriers I had to face that I didn’t even know I had.  But the truth is that a dream was placed uniquely within me… a desire to affect everyone that I come in contact with.  When I started to unlock my dream, I pushed farther than I knew I could.

It's the same if your goal is to lose weight, or get healthier - ask anyone who has done it the healthy way. They will say how it has positively impacted the people around them. Family. Work. You name it. 

And the greatest part in overcoming obstacles is you get to see what you’re made of!

So when you get knocked down, just remember you have a heart. And a fighting spirit that’s stronger than you might even know.  Fuel it and fight! 

Tuesday 24 June 2014

Strength in Numbers

The path to getting healthier can feel like a long one at times.  But like all big trips, it helps when you have good some company along for the ride.

No one is going to be more committed to your fitness journey than you, and maybe your personal trainer.  But after the session, or even after a long day at work, when we arrive home tired and wanting to unwind, that's when temptation can hit us the hardest.

And that's where the real work begins.

Here are some tips to create a support network for your training:

1) You don't need to tell the world, but tell a friend.

Have an accountability partner.  Someone who can understand the struggles you are facing and will work with you on your journey.  Maybe they can offer some support or can help you through some of the challenges you are facing.

2) Be selective with your team.

Not everyone will be happy for you when you start to take better care of yourself.  Some people will feel worse about themselves when they see your health and fitness reaching new levels.  They may unknowingly try to hold you back. 

3) Train with a group.

A group fitness class or boot camp can create a community atmosphere where members push each other to hit and surpass their goals.  That and a spirit of friendly competition always helps to boost the motivation! 

4) Celebrate the success of other people.

Congratulate others on their accomplishments.  The more you are able to encourage the success of others, the more confident you will feel about yourself and about reaching your own goals.

If you want to grow your dreams, you've got to grow your team!  Building a support network and being actively engaged in the support of others will make the process  of moving forward in your fitness far more effective and enjoyable!

Wednesday 4 June 2014

Nutrition Myth Busters

There are a lot of options and opinions out there of what we should and shouldn't be eating.  However, food and nutrition research published by IDEA is shedding light on 4 grey areas.  

Here is a summary:

1) Raw Food is not always better than Cooked Food

Sometimes, it takes a little cooking to unlock the nutrients in a food.  Raw spinach, for example, is great - but if they are slightly cooked, phytonutrients are activated which make some of the health benefits more bioavailable.

2) A little processing is sometimes OK

Don't get me wrong; adding excessive sugars, fats and sodium is a problem.  Sometimes we need a little convenience in our lives to make a healthy diet more realistic. We need to be careful with processed foods, but if we learn how to read nutrition labels properly, we can make good choices and not have to spend the whole day preparing our meals.

3) Natural means NOTHING

It is a marketing term.  Natural foods don't have labels.  And anything in a package labelled "natural" may not be the most healthy choice.  Read the labels carefully :)

4) Reducing Sugar is great - Eliminating?  Not so much

Most of us really need to REDUCE our sugar intake - but let's not eliminate it altogether.  There are as many as 257 names for sugar.  They are not all created equal and some are meant to be in our foods.  So take it all in context :)

There is a lot of information out there but as a rule, balance is key.  If you like red meat - enjoy! - but just watch your portions and how often you eat it.  Taking a little time to research is an essential part of a total fitness plan!

Sunday 25 May 2014

Look in the Mirror

A client shared some of their struggles with weight and self-image with me earlier in the month.  I encouraged them to write about it.  This was posted with the permission of that client, who wants to remain anonymous, but would like to share their struggle in hopes that others can relate to what they are going through:   
I’m very proud of you!


Look in the Mirror

Looking in the mirror, I didn’t recognize what I saw.  I don’t know how long it’s been going on for, but I guess I have always had an image in my mind about what I looked like to other people.  I thought I was in a good place with my fitness and my eating habits.

Until I was getting ready for a dinner and none of my good clothes fit. 

It used to make me laugh, thinking how useless it was to look at yourself in the mirror and feel bad about how you look.  I’ve more or less, had a good relationship with myself and a relatively positive self-image for most of my adult life.  But I think that I’ve turned a blind eye to things that have been creeping into my life that shouldn’t have ever been there.

My relationship with food has become the mirror.  It's become a mirror of my relationship with myself.

Now, I suppose I have a choice to make.  I can give up and sink further.  OR I can dig my feet in and start process of reclaiming lost ground.  

I refuse to give up.

Saturday 17 May 2014

Time and Time Again

Time waits for no one.  We end up waiting for time.  And too often, time fails to show up.

In terms of our mental health, we need to schedule time for ourselves.  We also need to schedule time for our workouts.  If the relentless pursuit of more time is not filtered through the discipline of time management, some of the most important parts of our lives can slip through the cracks.

Take home point:  Be deliberate about how you spend your time.

I challenge you to make three appointments for your physical fitness and three appointments for your mental health this week.

Put them in the calendar.  Honour these appointments as you would any other.  Make time work for you!

Happy Long Weekend,


Monday 12 May 2014

The benefits of a slow start

My husband is a pilot, so I’ve had a chance to hear some flying analogies in the year we have been married.  I thought this one applied well to the world of fitness…

On takeoff, the engines of an airplane work tremendously hard even though the plane really isn’t moving that fast.  If you were to take a snap shot of the airplane just beginning to take off, you might think it may never get airborne.

But once the plane picks up enough speed to leave the ground and climbs to altitude, the engines throttle back and the airplane can cruise comfortably up where it belongs.

We belong in a state of health in our bodies, in our mind and in our spirit.  If we have allowed ourselves to stagnate, it can take a tremendous amount of energy to get going again.  With time and consistent effort, we can make that climb, and the effort to sustain our healthy state won’t be nearly as much when we started and seemed to be making very slow progress.

It’s a process, but ask someone who’s been through it.  Ask them if it was worth it - I’ll bet they’ll say it was.

Friday 25 April 2014

Seth Godin on Taking a Short Cut

In this post, I am quoting a blog by Seth Godin.  We all like to save time - but in health and fitness, as it is with many things, the quick way is not always the best way...

All of us are willing to spend a little time and a little money looking for a shortcut now and then. A quicker, more effective way to lose weight, make friends, earn money and get clean, fresh breath. Sometimes, one of those shortcuts pays off and it reinforces our belief that there might just be a better way.

It seems, though, that those that spend the most effort in search of shortcuts are often the most disappointed and the least successful.

This entry was reposted from the blog of Seth Godin

Saturday 19 April 2014

Running My Own Race

Life can feel like a competition.  Sometimes we find ourselves wanting to climb over another person to get ahead.  And even though we only have our two feet to put in front of us, we often look over our shoulders to see who's chasing us, rather than keeping our eyes fixed on where we are going.

I love to run and I love to race.  But the more I think about it, the more I realize that when I train for a marathon, I'm not giving any thought about trying to beat someone else.  When I'm running with a friend or a race with 40,000 other people, the only person I have any say over is me.  And whether that person finishes in front, behind or beside me, I am still running my own race.

Life for some reason, can cause me to think differently at times.  Suddenly I care about what other people think, how they look, how they are doing and how I stack up next to them.

I have to remember that I am not better than someone else if I finish ahead of them - and I am not inferior to someone who finishes in front of me.  I am here to do I was put here to do and at the end of the race, I just have to know that I did my best.

Monday 7 April 2014

Get back up!

One of the hardest things to do when reeling from a loss, is to get back up.  We are tired and we feel sorry for ourselves – and it’s just comforting to lie on the ground rather than to stand up on our own two feet and risk getting hit again.

Falling down happens in many different ways.  It could be missing a workout or two or seven, binging on unhealthy snacks, turning a sugary snack into a meal in itself – or just giving up on ourselves for a period of time.

So as someone who has to pick themselves up over and over again, I’m writing this to encourage you to stay in the fight.  The only way to lose is to give up – so stand up one more time.  It’s in the times when we least feel like we can go on that the greatest victories come.

Saturday 29 March 2014

Set the Bar - Then Fly Over It!

One of the best ways to get started on the footpath to better health is to set a goal, then fly past it on our way to something greater!

When we have an objective like Tough Mudder, a Spartan Race or the Edmonton Marathon, having a goal is the most effective way to start putting one foot in front of the other.  It helps to get us out the door on days we don’t feel like leaving the house.

Just wanting to lose weight and be fit isn’t always enough for us to get up and get after it.  Many of us need a goal - a starting line - something to work toward so that our fitness and weight loss targets are about more than looking and feeling good.  Feeling more alive and energetic is a great side effect, but we have to be careful about training based on our feelings, because our feelings don’t always serve our best interests.

So I would encourage you to make a goal for the month of April.  Set the bar and take a step to reach it.  Then another… then another… then one more!

Tuesday 25 March 2014

Looking for a Diet? Try Real Food.

A recent study looked at several modern diets, some with devoted followings in popular culture, trying to understand out which one was the best.  These days it really is difficult to figure our which method of dieting is the best when much of the information is circulating in contradiction.  Everyone knows that what we eat is important, but just what is best for us to eat?

I found this article when a story about it in The Atlantic was re-tweeted by Michael Pollan, author of In Defense of Food.

While there are several books by celebrity authors advocating low carb, high protein, vegan angles etc, the study concluded that in reality, the truth of what we should be eating is very simple : "(a) diet of minimally processed foods close to nature, predominantly plants..."  This turns out to be our best shot at disease prevention and the promotion of good health.

If we eat food the way it was meant to be eaten and prepared (as naturally as possible), the whole concept of dieting really goes out the window.  We don't need to worry about what's been added to our food if we don't process it with stuff that shouldn't even be there in the first place.  

Michael Pollan had it right: "Eat food, not too much, mostly plants."

Monday 17 March 2014

The Four-leaf Smoothie

In honour of St. Patrick’s Day and my Irish heritage, I’m going to talk about a green nutritional trend that has been getting a lot of attention.  Green smoothies and juices are one way that people are choosing to take in their vegetables these days. And let’s be honest, as much as we may care about what we put into our bodies, it can be tough to creatively ingest several servings of broccoli, kale and spinach in one sitting.

 So here’s what my husband and I put in the blender many times during the week and share:

1)   A mitt-full of organic baby spinach

2)   A couple stems of organic baby kale

3)   A few stems of organic broccolette

4)   A few leaves of romaine

5)   2 mini cucumbers

6)   Half of an avocado

7)   2 organic bananas

8)   A spoonful of Greek yogurt

9)   A couple of blueberries

10)  Half a cup of orange juice

11)  Half a cup of almond milk

12)  Protein powder

13)  As much filtered water as needed for consistency

Any of these items can be substituted depending on what we feel like, or what’s in the fridge, but you get the idea.  Don’t be put off by the colour – it’s ‘magically delicious.’