Sunday, March 11, 2018

Self-acceptance is really a lot of fun!

I just hit a milestone birthday recently.  One that normally makes women freak out and start frantically buying tummy-shrinking corsets, dyeing any "grays" that start peeking through, and investing in expensive anti-wrinkle creams or even more expensive fillers and injections.

I must be an oddball because I have not had a mid-life crisis nor invested in any of these time-defying technologies.  I actually feel GOOD about my energy level and body, and think that my face has some character.  I'm as happy now with myself as I was when I was 20. (I think, that was a long time ago!)

Sure, I'd like to still be up for parkouring around the city and trying to decide what bikini to wear on my next sun vacation, but I am content with being where I'm at.  An older friend of mine said "Enjoy today - you'll never be any younger!"  Hmmm, food for thought.

Speaking of food, I will admit to having an insanely clean diet with no deviations or cheat days.  Even if I happen to be grocery shopping on a  growling stomach, I am able to objectively evaluate the nutritional benefit of everything that lands in my basket.  Once in a blue moon I go on a binge with the parameters that I can eat as much as I want from this list:  raw vegetables, green tea, plain skim unsweetened yogurt, canned wild-caught seafood, organic multigrain wafer crackers..... OK, try to hit 600 calories from this list and I promise that you will feel about to burst, which is not a comfortable feeling.

I hope you, my dear readers, are in a place of rational self-acceptance, and you can have some fun with healthy habits!

Saturday, January 27, 2018

Should you train while on vacation?

I get asked this frequently by clients who are about to embark on getaways ranging anywhere from 5 days to 5 weeks:  should the regular workout routine be maintained so as not to become deconditioned?

I fully endorse physically active holidays, but I also laud the value of a break from regular patterns.  The body responds to new stimuli more strongly than familiar ones.  This is why a new workout routine often leaves one sore the next day, whereas doing the program you've done for a month already will not.

Not to mention, a vacation should be a vacation 😎

Most of the time I recommend that my clients engage in physical activity, but to try something fun and/or new, something that one couldn't do elsewhere.  For example, on a trip to Rome*, climb the levels of the Coliseum and walk the uneven cobblestone and brick streets on foot.  Your legs will be begging for a good night's sleep after some fresh, truly authentic pizza (which is nothing like Pizza Hut, let me tell you!).  If your vacation includes a beach, try snorkelling, sea kayaking or wake boarding.  If you are in an urban centre and like the social atmosphere of a gym, drop in on a class you've never tried (Crunch Fitness chain in the US has some interesting group fitness options).

If your vacation is a cycling tour of the French Riviera or a hike through the Grand Canyon, 'nuff said.

* Been there, done that, including the pizza! 🍕

Sunday, December 24, 2017

A new festive season salutation

What's really important over the holidays?  It's not a trick question.  Answer:  the same as what's important the rest of the year.  Health!

Most people take good or reasonable health for granted, and only when illness strikes do they bemoan not feeling up to snuff.  The state of one's health is largely self-determined, which means that being well needs to be everyone's priority project.

How many "Merry Christmas" and "Happy Holidays" greetings have you exchanged so far this season?  I'll suggest an alternative:  wish someone "Healthy Holidays" instead.  Of course there's nothing wrong with the standard, traditional salutations, but why not be a bit different in a good way?

Close on the heels of the Christmas and Boxing Day festivities follows the "back to the grindstone" monolith of New Year's, and the accompanying resolutions.  Take the pressure off expectations and instead reflect on what went well in 2017 and set a few meaningful goals for yourself for 2018.

I invite you to share your goals with me, and if I can help in anyway - especially for those related to health, fitness and nutrition - I look forward to doing so!

Thursday, November 23, 2017

"Those who fail to plan, plan to fail"

Do you agree with this statement?

I agree with it much - but not all - of the time.  Some things work better without planning them!  But for the most part, especially in the realm of fitness and nutrition, a little bit of planning goes a long way.

Most people do not have the luxury of being able to work out whenever they want, at any given time in a day, or to eat whatever they feel like and miraculously have their food choices be stellar in terms of nutrient composition, caloric intake and macronutrient ratio.  Even someone who has been working in this professional field for over two decades needs the structure and validation of a program.  I track every item that passes my lips with an app on a daily basis and analyze the nutritional profile from several viewpoints to identify excesses or deficiencies of micronutrients, identify my consumption ratio of C-F-P, track water intake and compare trends over time.  How else would I know that my average daily protein consumption for the month of September was 5% higher than in July?

Large and complicated life events require more planning.  For example, training for an obstacle-endurance race (Spartan, Tough Mudder) three months out, or one's first triathlon six months out.  You can't cram at the last minute for something like this, although people do try to crash diet when they realize that gosh, they still have 10 lbs to drop and the wedding is in a week and a half....

I am here to help people plan important aspects of their life - what is more important than exercise and nutrition?  It is my job to ensure people have a realistic, safe and hopefully enjoyable roadmap to follow to their desired destination.

If you're planning to commit to some health goals in the New Year, why not start now, and let me know how I can help.  Sorry to disillusion you, but the date January 1st is not imbued with some magical power that will make your wish to "get in shape" transpire when previous attempts have fallen short.  It's not about the date, it's about YOU.  Without you, nothing happens.

Sunday, October 29, 2017

Do you play by the gym rules?

I came across this amusing article on one of the many health and fitness sites I follow.  Having been in the industry for almost three decades, I really have seen it all.  Including all sixteen of these faux pas.  Rather sheepishly I have to admit that I am sometimes guilty of #11 - in fact, I use my cardio time to multitask on my tablet or catch up on my reading.  This works for elliptical or stationary bike, but not so much for treadmill running.

What do you think?

Thursday, September 28, 2017

There is beauty in simplicity

Lately I have been scouring the internet for articles on simplifying life, decluttering, de-stressing, etc.... The fact that I have been doing this indicates that I feel a need, and that perhaps a simple, uncluttered, unstressed life is not something that I currently have.

There are so many good lists and suggestions out there, giving sincere and earnest advice on how to improve your life with less:  less "stuff", fewer commitments and calming down.

Everyone has ways to uncomplicate their life which are personally meaningful.  For some the main emphasis would be reducing time spent on SM and in front of a screen.  For others it might mean having that huge garage sale to get rid of half of their household contents - the half that are never used and just collect dust without paying rent.

Being drawn to this desire to simplify means that I yearn to find balance, to rectify my current state of overcommitment and not having enough hours in a day to do all those "shoulds" and "musts".

So here's my list of what I can do NOW, and it's a reminder to self to stay on track with creating the life I desire in a different location and career:

1.  Go through the physical stuff - the closets, the drawers, the storage locker, the cupboards - and get rid of anything that hasn't been used in a year (it probably won't ever be).  Movers charge by the box, and it's better to pay to have 30 boxes moved rather than 50!  Donate the stuff that is in good condition.  Giving feels good :-)

2.  Cybertime and screentime detox.  Set a timer to deal with emails for 10-15 minutes, once or twice a day.  If SM is a necessity, schedule and regulate time for that, and keep it to a minimum.  10 minutes per day for a quick post, Tweet or update is all that's needed.  Getting this out of the way early means it is off the plate early.  Keep emails brief and to the point.  Save non-priority emails and chats, Skype, etc. for the least busy day of the week and set a firm limit (with a timer!) for that as well.

3.  Make time for exercise and stretching.  Even if it's a 20 minute bout of cardio or 5 minutes of stretching on the living room floor while dinner cooks, it counts!  Exercise feels good and improves mental and physical resilience.

4.  Set a sleep schedule and guard it without compromise.  7-8 hours is needed for optimal health and functioning.  Short-changing by an hour or two will affect mood and performance the next day, and 6 coffees won't fix the deficit.

5.  Take regular breaks and vacations.  This could be an afternoon off, a massage (save the RMT receipts for taxes!), a drive to a forest or park for a walk, or an inspiring documentary when in the middle of a tedious project.  A vacation could be an overnighter with a sleep-in the next day, a weekend getaway somewhere relaxing, or a longer holiday such as a cruise or a plane trip.  Longer holidays require advance planning and more detail, but if done right they can be amazingly rejuvenating.  Make sure any vacation is based around stuff that is relaxing and enjoyable, otherwise it's not a vacation.  The reason I don't vacation with other people, as much as I appreciate the good people in my life, is that my vacations are for ME, not for catering to the whims of someone else.  If I spend the time trying to keep someone else happy making sure they get what THEY want - there's no point in being away.  A vacation truly has to be a vacation :-)

What would you do to simplify YOUR life?

Thursday, September 21, 2017

To buy organic or not? That is the question.

In this era of growing concern over quality of food, many people are turning to organically sourced produce and animal products in an effort to avoid contaminants and other toxins.  "You are what you eat" is as true today as it was thirty-odd years ago when my mother admonished me to eat my vegetables and drink my milk.  However, nowadays one has to ask where those veggies and that milk is coming from.

I'm a big fan of gathering information to make important decisions, such as what to put inside my body.  I'm also a fan of smart spending, so $12 for an organic cabbage seems a little pricey when its non-organic counterpart is sitting pretty at less than $4.  I did some research to find out just which produce items should be purchased from the organic section, and which ones don't have to be.

The readily-available list is called "The Dirty Dozen and Clean Fifteen", and this link will take you to one of the many websites indexing these produce items.  I like this particular source because it rates the foods in terms of relative level of contamination as well:

How much of your food is organic?  Do you notice a difference between organic and non-organic?

Feel free to comment with your opinion on this topic!