Archives for July 2011

What would you pack for a sock knitting convention?

Sock Summit is almost here! Four days of knitting, learning, shopping and eating with 1800 of my closest online friends! What could be more fun?

I’ve been busily making lists of what to take (and what to leave at home; I imagine there will be yarn swifts and ball winders at the Marketplace…the vendor line-up is incredibly extensive). My classes all have supply lists, so that’s easy (although choosing which of my pretty stash sock yarns to use for my sock design class was excruciatingly difficult). And of course, I have a new traveling sock to work on; plain stocking stitch in a beautiful bluey-green yarn from Saffron Dyeworks. (Should I happen to finish this pair while I’m away, I’m sure I’ll be able to get my hands on some more yarn to start another pair!).

The weather is finally starting to act like summer, so shorts, skirts and tank tops with a couple of hand knit shawls to wear/show off if the convention centre is air conditioned or the nights are cool.

What about exercise gear and clean eats?

My hotel has a fitness centre (although you never know what type of equipment you’ll have to work with until you get there…), so I’ll be packing running shoes, shorts and workout tanks. I’ve already loaded my iPod up with a new playlist (I’m loving anything Lady Gaga these days!).

With all the sitting (car ride, lectures and workshops) and standing around (receptions, marketplace and downtown Portland shopping), I’ll definitely need to get a couple of workouts in. My typical travel training sessions usually focus on cardio (short burst treadmill intervals) and body weight exercises (squats, pushups, planks and dips), although depending on the caliber of the gym, I may be able to get in some heavier lifting as well.

Clean eating supplies are a bit more difficult. I’ll be crossing the border, so can’t take any fresh fruits or veggies with me. Not sure how big the mini-fridge in the hotel will be, so I daren’t risk too many things that need to be kept cold. So, eggs, Greek yogurt and cooked chicken breasts are out (my friend and roommate will be thankful that I’m leaving the hard cooked eggs at home!).

Protein powder (to add to water or milk), raw oats, dried fruit and some nuts will have to be my staples. I can make some protein bars before I leave and buy fruit and veggies when I get there. Maybe I’ll even get to visit Trader Joes! My biggest challenges will be to (1) avoid baked goods at the coffee shops (my downfall 🙁 ) and (2) make sure I get enough lean protein at restaurant meals (while resisting the fries…).

Last thing on my to-do list? Input all my on-line Ravelry friends’ cell phone numbers into my iPhone. We’re planning a ‘live’ meet up and I truly think that this will be the very best part of Sock Summit!

Stay tuned; we have free Wi-Fi at the conference and I’m hoping to blog from there…

Are you an over-packer or an under-packer when you travel?

Have you ever met up (in the flesh) with any online friends?

The toughest workout ever

Today I became a Bodyrocker. Don’t know about Bodyrock? Zuzana and Freddy post (almost) daily free workouts on their self-hosted site

Using minimal equipment (an interval timer, skipping rope, dipping station and sandbag) and high intensity whole body intervals they will kick your butt in as little time as it takes to read this post.

They have a huge online following of ‘Bodyrockers’ whose ‘before’ and ‘after’ pictures are nothing short of inspirational.

While I’ve been visiting them regularly for a few months, I’ve never done more than incorporate an exercise or two of theirs into my boot camp classes or personal workouts.

Today, I took the plunge. No time to get to the gym, but desperate to fit something in. Twelve minutes of all-out-huffing-and-puffing-can’t-talk-sweating-buckets effort. Exactly the kind of workout I love to hate.

Here’s the workout (50 s per exercise, 10 s rest between exercises, 2 times through) and my reps for each exercise;

Skipping (116, 139)

Alternating backward sandbag lunges (22, 25)

Skipping (105, 113)

Reverse pushups (I don’t have a dipping station, so used my TRX instead; 15, 16)

Skipping (113, 125)

Monkey pushups (12, 11)

Didn’t manage to beat Zuzana’s scores, but not a bad result at all.

I wish I had a heart rate monitor to calculate calorie burn; I’m betting I expended as much energy during this 12 minute workout as I do during a 45 min spin class!

I’ll be Bodyrocking again soon; you should too!


Do you like high intensity interval training?

Tell me about your toughest ever workout!

On the importance of celebrating little victories


In our quest for healthier, fitter, leaner bodies, we tend to focus on long term goals; the accomplishment or weight or dress size that to us, embodies success. The problem with long term goals is that they’re just that, long term. Way off in the distance. Maybe a year or more away.

In order to stay motivated and on track, we need more immediate feedback. Some sign that tells us what we’re doing is working and inspires us to keep moving forward. I like to think of these signs as ‘little victories’. ‘Little‘, not because they’re unimportant, but because they’re the baby steps that we have to take to reach our larger, more distant goals.

In the spirit of celebrating little victories, I thought I’d share a few of my clients’ recent accomplishments with you. Join me in cheering them on!

C.H. says; “I recently noticed that I get up off of the couch, or out of a chair … without using my hands … just raise myself up with my legs (and core!) …. made me smile … I’m getting stronger! Thank-you!”

M.H. has gone from 6 knee pushups to 6 toe pushups in 6 weeks and has consistently met her daily macronutrient goals for the past week!

J.H. has dropped a pant size since swapping his old long slow distance cardio (60 min plus per day) for metabolic strength intervals; “I was initially skeptical that your approach would work, but it does. I’m convinced.”

S.V. has increased her shoulder press from 10 to 12.5 pounds!

D.V. is noticing the beginnings of a six-pack!

S.F. is training for her first Warrior Dash and can now do 6 sets of stairs carrying a 15 pound sand bell!

J.Y. has given up Nutella (this is a huge accomplishment!).

Take time to celebrate the small successes in your own health journey. As well as looking forward to achieving your goals, stop and glance back over your shoulder, recognizing how far you’ve already come!

Tell me about a recent ‘little victory’ of your own?

If you keep a fitness journal (you do, right?), do you ever look back and compliment yourself on your progress (you should!)?

Optimist or pessimist? How attitude affects your workouts

As I sat down to write this post, I happened upon a quote (thanks Tiffany of The Gracious Pantry, and of course, Henry Ford, who said it first!) that perfectly captured the ideas I had been pondering. It’s all about attitude.

how attitude affects your workout

Is the cup half full or half empty?

Do you think you can or do you have doubts?

Are you your own fiercest coach or biggest under-miner?

When it comes to exercise, attitude is everything.

Optimist or pessimist? Think about how attitude affects your workouts.

In my job as a personal trainer and group fitness instructor I see examples of exercise optimists and pessimists on a daily basis.

Optimists are always up for a challenge. They willingly try the most difficult level of an exercise first, only scaling it back if they truly can’t manage to do it in proper form. They accept the heaviest weights offered and are determined to finish a set, no matter how demanding, even when I give them the option of quitting early. They smile while they exercise (sometimes that smile is forced through gritted teeth, but it is a smile, none the less!).

Although they may not be the strongest, leanest or fittest members at the gym, they are my favourite clients to work with. Sessions are fun, productive and rewarding, and leave me feeling good about my role as a trainer.

Contrast exercise optimists with their pessimistic counterparts.

Although clearly (to me!) capable of performing challenging exercises, they regularly finish their sets early, fail to take the initiative in progressing their programs and upping their weights, and routinely tell me they’re not sure they can do what I ask of them. They attempt to distract me with questions (yes, I know this is a stalling tactic :)).

Which group is more likely to stick with an exercise program and reap its benefits?

You guessed it! The more positive and can-do the attitude the better the adherence to the program. Although exercise optimists don’t always reach their goals more quickly than pessimists (weight and fat loss goals must also be addressed in the kitchen…), they tend to enjoy the process more and can readily identify unanticipated changes brought about by their efforts (e.g., better sleep, more energy, happier demeanor).

So, is the cup half full or half empty?

Remember, whichever way you look at it, you’re right, but one perspective will take you farther than the other…

Do you think you can? Or are you pessimistic about your fitness efforts?

What’s your biggest health and fitness accomplishment?

I used to be a good mom; a cautionary tale

When my children were babies (seems like ages ago…), I prided myself on giving them only the best foods I could find; organic peas, squash, sweet potato and apples lovingly cooked and pureed and frozen in ice cube trays to be thawed, warmed and spooned into their teeny, tiny mouths on silver spoons (okay, not silver, but the good stainless anyways…).

As they grew and started eating finger foods, I continued to focus on fruits, veggies, lean protein and whole grain breads and cereals (Cheerios were one of our favorites; I loved watching them learn to pick up the O’s with their itty, bitty fingers, dropping dozens onto their highchair trays before a single one made it into their mouths). They (the boys at least; dear daughter is another story and was the subject of another, recent post) ate and grew and thrived.

Then we started school. Lunches and snacks needed to be packed daily. Washing and chopping and packaging up single servings of the foods I had been giving them at home gave way to the convenience of cheese strings, drinking yogurts, Mini-go, chocolate puddings, fruit cocktail cups, gummies and goldfish crackers. Sound familiar?

At first, these easy-to-pack finger foods were merely accompaniments to the healthy snacks and lunches I was still making for them. ‘Treats’ I called them. All the other moms were packing them in their children’s lunch boxes, I rationalized. (I did draw the line at pop, chips and chocolate bars though; none of these have ever appeared in my children’s lunch kits).

But when the home-made parts of their lunches came home uneaten day after day after day, I prepared less from scratch and included more of their pre-packaged favorites; granola bars, juice boxes, popcorn and bakery muffins (which are really just donuts in disguise…). Of course, the irony is, these are all things that I rarely consume, myself!

Sure, they ate their lunches, but they were also less interested in the basic, healthy dinners I was serving and frequently raided the cupboard for more of their lunchtime ‘staples’. None of them were overweight, but they certainly consumed more sugar, salt and white flour than is healthy for a growing child.

Fast forward a few years. I’m now a personal trainer and healthy lifestyle coach. I want my children to embrace clean eating the way I have. I want them to be adventurous at the dinner table and to enjoy all the benefits of eating well.

They’re skeptical, to say the least. No matter how many different recipes I try, how tasty they profess them to be, they still want their ‘treats’; morning, noon and night. Fruits and vegetables are still seen as ‘do I have to?’ foods. The question ‘Is there dessert tonight?’ is asked at least once every evening (and usually, when they’re deciding whether to have seconds or not; clearly wanting to know if they should save room for something better).

If I knew then what I know now (and isn’t this always the way it goes :)), I would never have veered from my early child-feeding ideals. Never have allowed them to develop such voracious appetites for sweet, salty and fat.

I fear that leading by example isn’t enough, but it’s all I can do, along with (shh!) adding pureed veggies to their spaghetti sauce, applesauce and mashed bananas to their muffins, and quinoa and flax seed to their waffles (see my healthy version of an Aunt Jemima waffle, below).

Have you ever compromised health for convenience when feeding your family?

Are there any convenience foods that you absolutely refuse to buy?


Fitknitchick’s Healthier Aunt Jemima waffle (or pancake)

1 Tbsp light cooking oil (I use canola)
2 eggs
1 tsp cinnamon
1 Tbsp ground flax seed
1 Tbsp wheat germ
1 Tbsp wheat bran
1 Tbsp quinoa flakes
1/2 cup AJ Complete Buttermilk Pancake mix
1-4 Tbsp water (until batter consistency is to your liking)

Whisk together oil and eggs. Add dry ingredients and stir until moist and free of lumps. I like my batter fairly thick for fluffy waffles, but you might not. If making pancakes, you’ll want a slightly thinner batter.

Heat waffle iron. Pour batter into iron and close lid. Cook until fragrant (steam will still be coming out of the iron when they’re ready; don’t overcook, or waffles will be dense and dry).

Serve hot with syrup or yogurt (Greek style is my favorite) and fresh fruit or nuts.

Recipe makes 2 servings, each containing (without the syrup, yogurt and fruit); 284 cal, 34 g carbs, 12 g protein, 11 g fat, 5 g dietary fiber

Compare this to the recipe on the box; 160 cal, 31 g carbs, 5 g protein, 2 g fat, 1 g dietary fiber. More calories, protein, fiber and healthy fats in my version with no real increase in carbohydrate load. Bet mine will keep your kids fuller, longer!

That elusive balance point

Over the last few years, I’ve discovered that I only really need two activities in my life to keep me sane; exercise and knitting. One keeps my body strong and healthy, the other, my mind.

There is an optimal level of each and sometimes, the perfect balance is elusive.

Last week, while on holiday, I had many hours in the car to spend on my knitting. I knit socks. I knit lace. I worked on a garment. Lots of time to wrap string around needles and let my thoughts drift randomly. My brain relaxed and let go of the usual minutia it likes to bandy about and stress over. Knitting does for me what yoga does for others.

However lovely it was to knit my days away, my body was missing its daily visits to the gym. My legs and lower back were achey; too much sitting in the car and sleeping poorly on soft hotel mattresses, not enough squats and lunges and dead lifts.

This week, I happily returned to work, teaching my usual five classes and eagerly volunteering to sub three extras. I trained as many clients as I could and busily taxied my children back and forth from their various summer camps. Muscles content and tired, I fell into bed each night anticipating a hard-earned slumber only to be kept awake by to-do lists and re-hashes of the day’s petty slights and disagreements.

What did I do wrong?

Not enough knitting.

Next week my work schedule is light and the children need only be taken to the pool for their mid-morning lessons. Time to fit in a run or an at-home workout before and some knitting afterwards.


It’s an elusive balance, but when I get it right, I am calm, content and unflappable.

Do you struggle with finding balance in your life?

What activities help you feel more balanced and centered?

Life As I See It [Fitness, Health and Happiness]

Jumping straight into the deep end and a pile full of laundry

Holidays are great! Time for relaxing, letting go of schedules, indulging a bit and cutting yourself some slack. Everybody benefits from slowing down from time to time.

Returning from holidays? Not so great. Especially if you’ve overindulged and only got out of your lawn chair when you needed another beer or mojito or martini (insert your vice here).

While it’s tempting to ease back into your exercise and nutrition routines (what’s another week off, after all?), the slope between ‘a break from the gym’ and ‘starting all over’ is slippery and steep.

Cardiovascular de-conditioning occurs in as little as a week. Muscle loss takes longer, but you’ll feel weaker if you miss even four or five strength training sessions. Those 3 or 4 pounds you put on? They’re not going to disappear on their own. You’ll carry them as a souvenir of your summer vacation until Christmas (and beyond…).

Now I won’t lie; the first couple of workouts after a holiday (even an active holiday) will suck. You will feel like you’ve lost ground (you have!) and that it will never get any easier (it will!). You will feel discouraged and might even be tempted to postpone your return to the gym.

Don’t. Do. It.

If you think the first few workouts back are tough now, how do you think they’ll feel in a month? Or two? Or six? Get them over with IMMEDIATELY!

I just returned from ten days away from the gym. While I was fairly active during my holidays (see here and here), the frequency, intensity and duration of my workouts were nowhere near what they usually are. I knew the first day or two would be tough (and I can’t fake it, as I’m the one leading the class!).

What did I do?

While it was tempting to call on a sub ;), I jumped right into the deep end, pushing through the fatigue and the jello legs and got it done; 2 step and sculpt classes, 1 spin, 2 spin and abs, a body sculpt and a boot camp all in FOUR DAYS!

I’m officially back on track. Tired and with a whack of laundry to do, but happy to be feeling strong and like myself again.

How soon do you return to exercise after a vacation?

Do you look forward to those first few workouts or dread them?

Scooters, bikes and feet; family play-out any one?

Today’s the last day of the first of my summer holidays (yes, I’m taking another week off in August!). Back to work tomorrow (not that I’m complaining; I have the best job in the world).

I needed to get some exercise, but didn’t want to go to the gym (when you work in a gym, it’s often hard to get your workout in without stopping to socialize with colleagues, class participants and clients; something I love to do, but not on the last day of vacation).

The kids needed to get some exercise, but good luck getting them to agree unless you call it something else. To borrow a phrase from one of my favorite fitness bloggers, I suggested we all go on a ‘play-out’ (like a workout, but more fun 🙂 ).

So I laced up my runners, grabbed my iPod and some water, tossed the kids’ scooters in the trunk and headed for the nearby park (we are truly fortunate to live in a community that preserves green space and makes walking and cycling trails a priority).

Since hubby likes to cycle, I suggested that he meet us there and ‘entertain’ the children while I got a quick run in (I am not normally a runner, but I so enjoyed my treadmill runs while on holiday, I thought I’d give it a whirl).

I parked the car about 1.5 kilometers from our destination; the skateboard/scooter park, two geo caches that we visit frequently and, my daughter’s favorite, the ice cream shop. My plan was to walk with them as they scootered, meet up with my husband, go for a run, then catch up with them on their way back to the car.

The kids happily scootered along,

stopping to pick (and eat!) huckleberries along the way.

There was much excitement at the second geo cache (with some squabbling over who would choose first, of course).

The big hill proved too tempting to resist and the rolling began (do you remember doing this as a child? I certainly do and now understand why my mom wasn’t so big on it; think grass stains…).

I went for a run; about 6 kilometers in just under 30 minutes. Not so bad, given that I’m not a runner 😉

Back home for a healthy lunch, day 2 of ‘The Eat Clean Diet Stripped‘. Brown rice, sockeye salmon and citrus-pineapple-pepper salsa left over from dinner last night, all served with wilted greens (fresh from my garden). Looks yummy, doesn’t it?

It was!

How do you get your family to ‘exercise’?

What’s your favorite outdoor family activity?

Taking the long way home; road trip recap

We’re home from our summer road trip. Forgot to set the odometer before leaving, but Google Maps says we drove approximately 2600 kilometers in eight days. Whew!

Vancouver to Hope (via a detour due to a mudslide on the Trans Canada highway the night before our departure) followed by…

a quick stop at the Othello tunnels for a walk and lunch then onwards to Salmon Arm where we stayed the night. Great indoor pool with a water slide for the kids, well equipped fitness centre for mom and complimentary hot breakfast for all before we hit the road to Calgary.

The drive through the Rockies via Kicking Horse Pass is nothing short of spectacular. Each mountain vista more breath-taking than the last. Waterfalls, craggy peaks, snow fields and lots of signs for deer and elk crossing (we saw a few deer, but no elk; guess they can’t read the signs telling them where to cross, tee hee).

Hubby drove and I knitted on my sock and took pictures of the landscape. The children were harder to impress, looking up from their electronics to admire the view only when threatened.



We arrived in Calgary on July 1st, Canada Day! Another beautifully equipped hotel, right downtown; pool, fitness room and free hot breakfast again. I managed to sneak in a run on the treadmill and a quick weights workout while the children tired themselves out in the pool.

After a quick visit to the Calgary Zoo (the gorillas are my favorite; so like us it’s eerie), we hit the road for Drumheller; dinosaur capital of Canada, if not the world!

The Royal Tyrrell Museum is a must see if your children (and husband!) love dinosaurs. Lots of hands on exhibits and a great gift shop.

We hiked in the hoo doos (very other-wordly experience), climbed the world’s largest dinosaur (see picture above) and waited out a dust storm in our hotel’s indoor pool (the best pool of them all, and we had it all to ourselves). I skipped the minimalist fitness center and counted our hike as my daily workout. Two days was definitely enough to explore the area, so we packed up and headed south to Dinosaur Provincial Park.

Although the park itself is incredibly beautiful, and we thoroughly enjoyed the two guided hikes through the back country (into a dinosaur bone bed, no less!), the campground was filthy with mosquitoes. We were all eaten alive, despite the copious quantities of mosquito repellent we continuously sprayed on ourselves and the citronella-candle-covered picnic table. Combine that with dear daughter’s middle of the night throwing up in the tent escapade and we were hard-pressed to find a reason to stay a second night!

The drive back included stops in Lethbridge (where we happened upon a great and affordable Italian restaurant where I was able to fill up on fresh greens and baked salmon, yum!), Christina Lake and Grand Forks (this last stop was the only time in eight days where we had to dine on fast food; believe me, Subway was the healthiest option we could find. Wouldn’t you know it, youngest son proclaimed it to be the best restaurant meal of the holiday!).

We overnighted in Osoyoos, land of fruit trees, vineyards and summer recreation. Due to a cool spring, the only thing ready to be harvested was cherries (I had been so looking forward to berries, apricots and peaches…). I didn’t manage to take a picture before they were all eaten, but they were big, red, juicy and delicious (can’t you just picture them?). I found the contrast between the lushness of the vineyards in the valley and the desert scape on the surrounding hills to be very surreal.

Last day on the road. The closer we got to Vancouver, the cooler and wetter the weather got (this has been the story of our spring and summer to date), until finally, an hour out of town, the rains started, welcoming us home.

Do you like to explore the country?

Been on any good road trips lately? Do tell, please!