Archives for December 2011

On letting go and moving forward; fitness in the new year

I don’t make New Year’s resolutions.

I used to, but somehow the things I resolved to do never got done.

Sad to say, this is only a small part of my yarn stash

Perhaps they were too big (learning a new language). Or too long term (knitting up all my stash yarn before buying more). Or just too darned optimistic (getting up early every morning to meditate).

Regardless, like almost all resolution-makers, I abandoned my ambitious plans for change long before the end of January. Instead of leading to a better, more positive me, those failed resolutions made me feel even worse about myself.

That being said, I still believe that the end of the year is a great time to reflect on where you are in your life. To celebrate the successes and examine the not-quite-successes of the last twelve months. To move forward by, in the words of my favourite yoga instructor (as we settle onto our mats and begin to turn our focus inward);

Letting go of whatever you’re holding on to that no longer serves you.

After a long, hard think (oh the things you can think*), I’ve identified three things that I need to let go of to move forward in my life.

  • Occasional twinges of inadequacy. I am surrounded by rock stars. Bloggers who post more frequently and more profoundly than I do. Trainers and instructors who have more clients and a larger following than me. Moms whose children are calmer and better-behaved than mine. Facebook pages that have more ‘likes’. Friends who have bigger biceps and more defined delts. Anyone that can do unassisted pull ups!

I need to let these comparisons go. I am exactly who I need to be right now. I am enough.

  • The tendency to put others’ fitness goals before my own. I love to workout in the morning. I have more energy and stamina then than another time of the day. Mornings are also the preferred training time of most of my clients and the most likely time other group fitness instructors are looking for subs. Frequently, I give up the hour I’ve scheduled for myself to teach a class or train a client who can’t possibly make it into the gym any other time that week. Some weeks, the only workouts I get in are during the classes I teach.

I need to stop putting myself second. To stop being so accommodating with my time. My fitness goals are just as important as everyone else’s.

  • An all-or-nothing approach to fitness. During the past few months, my family has faced a number of health challenges. Both my husband and daughter spent time in hospital. My already busy schedule became more so. Often, I didn’t have an hour to get to the gym. Did I fit shorter workouts in? Not always, even though I know that even a little bit of exercise is better than none.

I need to let go of the idea that a workout doesn’t count unless it’s long and hard.

By letting go, I’ll be making room for more positive emotions and opportunities. I’m not expecting it to be easy (nothing worth anything ever is). But I know that I’ll still be trying come spring. Long after most New Year’s resolutions will have already been forgotten.

Do you make New Year’s resolutions? Do you keep them?

What do you need to let go of in your life?

*Seussical the Musical

Enough is enough: the new year starts today!

Whew! The holiday season is over for another year. Lots of fun with family and friends. But a few too many cookies and a few too few trips to the gym. Sound familiar?

I’m starting my new year today. Join me?

(I’m still learning the ins and outs of video logging – vlogging for short. Please be patient with me on this still very steep learning curve!).

Tell me about your new years fitness plans.

What steps are you taking towards a healthier you in 2012?

**** Just in case you missed the links in the video;

The 30 Day Burpees Challenge, brought to you by YourInnerSkinny

Online food tracking at myfitnesspal

Wanna be a Hot (Sweaty) Mama? Check out this book review

Last month, Kara Thom and Laurie Kocanda, the dynamic duo behind the book Hot (Sweaty) Mamas: Five Secrets to Life as a Fit Mom, visited fitknitchick to talk about balancing motherhood and the time demands of raising a family with exercise and healthy living.

They generously gave me two copies of their book, which I passed on to giveaway winners Jennifer and Melanie to help them in their fitness journeys. Jennifer was gracious enough to agree to help me out with a review of the book (as long as I don’t reveal her last name :)).

In my opinion, Jennifer is already a ‘hot sweaty mama’. She’s in her late 40’s with an active 11-year old daughter. She left her downtown career a few years ago to spend more time with home, family and volunteer projects. Exercise has always been part of her life. She ran her first marathon at 18 and continued with different forms of exercise over the years. Currently, she weight trains 3x a week (following the programs she gets from her (‘great’; her words) personal trainer; full disclosure here, Jennifer is one of my clients and a faithful reader of this blog from day one!), runs 3x a week and tries to get into an indoor cycling class when she can. Currently, she’s training for a half marathon and her main fitness goals are to lose weight (she’s recently given up a long-term relationship with Nutella) and to be fit and healthy.

fitknitchick: Do you already practice any of the five secrets to life as a fit mom? Which ones? How have they helped you become a hot sweaty mama?

Jennifer: I definitely practice some of the 5 secrets, in particular I have learned that there are no good excuses. I often hear people say I don’t have time to exercise and I have to say that most days I could say the same, we all could, but I always put it in my calendar and if I have to change it for some family reason or other commitment, I look for another time to re-schedule it, i.e. on those days when my daughter has had to stay home sick, I do it early before my husband goes to work or once he comes home. If I didn’t schedule it in and as much as possible make sure I do it earlier in the day, then I wouldn’t be hot and sweaty half as much.

fitknitchick: Were any of the secrets new to you? Which of Laurie and Kara’s tips or suggestions did you find most useful?

Jennifer:  I found the food and sleep tips and suggestions really helpful. I know those are the two areas I need to work on more – getting more sleep and being more mindful as I eat.

fitknitchick: Do you have any tips that were not mentioned in the book?

Jennifer:  I can’t recall if this was mentioned in the book or not but what helps me most is to do my workout as early in the day as I can – the later I go, the more likely I won’t get to the gym because I get into other ‘priorities’.

fitknitchick: Would you recommend this book? Who would you recommend it to?

Jennifer: This book would be gread for someone trying to get back to exercise after becoming a Mom or someone who has given up trying to find ways to fit exercise into their life since being a Mom – it could help you to realize, you can do it, others have before you and it is okay to do it [spend time on yourself]

Thanks so much for your comments Jennifer!

I have a few of my own to add, not from the perspective of a ‘hot sweaty mama’ (although I certainly hope my husband thinks I’m one!), but from the perspective of a personal trainer of ‘hot sweaty mama-wanna-bees’.

My favorite of Laurie and Kara’s secret was #1; You have to train your brain before you train your body. I’m a huge believer in the effect of psychological preparation on success.

  • Be realistic in your expectations of exercise (by itself, it won’t lead to you losing the 40 pounds you gained during your pregnancy) and more importantly, of yourself (start slow, start small).
  • Focus on non-weight loss reasons for exercising (oh the energy you’ll have!).
  • Figure out what you like to do; you’ll be much more likely to do it!
  • Think about what activities you can easily integrate into your life (if the pool’s an hour long drive away, don’t create an exercise plan based solely on swimming!).
  • Schedule exercise the way you schedule you’re annual mammogram (if it’s on the calendar, you’re less likely to skip it).

Have you read Hot (Sweaty) Mamas: Five Secrets to Life as a Fit Mom?

What did you think?


Favorite fitness Xmas presents

I love Boxing Day! After all the cooking, cleaning, traveling and entertaining of the past week, it’s wonderful to have a day when you have nowhere to go and nothing much to do.

The children are happily (!) playing with their new toys. Hubby has retired to his study to get a jump start on next week’s teaching duties. I’m leisurely reading blogs and knitting and taking yet another day off from the gym.

But just one. Tomorrow, I’m looking forward to a visit to the weight room so I can break in a couple of my new fitness inspired gifts.

Pink Lulu workout top and headband (thanks to my sister Tracy) and fresh-smelling weight training gloves (from hubby, who must have noticed how stinky and holey my old ones were).

Hope you had a fabulous day with your family too!


My favorite blog posts; the final installment

With only two days left until Santa arrives, my house is alive with excitement and nervous energy. The children can’t wait until Sunday. I can’t wait until Monday (when the real holiday for moms begins!).

This past week, I’ve been directing you towards some of my favorite posts of the last year. Today’s installment will be the last! Enjoy and have a wonderful weekend with family and friends.

I’ll see you next week!

An early Xmas present; my new workout buddy!

Wow, this will be my second post today! That’s a first!

But I got something in the mail this morning that I just couldn’t wait to share. Join in my excitement and then head to the gym with me for a demo. Got your towel and water bottle?

Disclaimer: I have no official affiliation with the company that produced this product. I purchased it myself and the information (and enthusiasm) provided in this video comes from me, not them. If you’d like to order your own, please visit Muscle Up Canada.

P.S. The delivery man returned later in the day with this (more purple!);

Favorite blog posts part deux

Earlier this week I posted the links to a few of my favorite fitknitchick blog posts of the past year (and why I’m re-posting rather than writing new content this week).

Here’s a few more that I think you’ll like, whether you’re reading them for the first time or the fifth!

  • a post about mindfulness and a speeding ticket; June 1, 2011
  • thoughts about the search for physical perfection; February 8, 2011
  • and my signature piece about exercise and knitting (this one was Freshly Pressed, but you still might have missed it :)); April 24, 2011

I’m still enjoying spending time with my family, so new posts will have to wait until the enjoyment evaporates (I’m giving it another day or two!).

A year in review; my favorite blog posts

One of the things I’ve come to love about blogging is how instantaneous creative expression can be. I can be struck with an idea while driving home from work and have a post written up and published within an hour of leaving my shoes at the front door. (Okay, sometimes it takes longer than an hour to get the wording just right and the photos uploaded, but it’s pretty quick, compared with say, writing a book!)

One of the things I don’t like about blogging, though, is how quickly those finely crafted words become last week’s post. Archived and all but invisible to new readers or those who haven’t visited in awhile. You can find them if you search, but most of us can’t be bothered.

I’ve now been blogging for a little over a year and in that time have managed to write upwards of one hundred and thirty posts! So many, that even I can’t remember what they’re all about.

Some were quick, newsy updates. Others were carefully thought out reviews of research papers, books and equipment. My favorites (and yours too, according to WordPress statistics), were those posts that touched on my own personal challenges and included details about my family life and my love of knitting.

Over the next week or so, as I take a break from work and blogging to spend time with family, I’ll be directing you to some of my favorite posts of 2011. (Of course, if the children start to drive me nuts, I’ll most surely drop by to tell you about it!)

I’ll start with these three;

  • thoughts about finding time to exercise (very appropriate for this time of the year); January 15, 2011
  • ideas about time management for fitness professionals (and other self-employed types); April 9, 2011
  • finding the balance between physical activity and creativity; July 15, 2011

Whether you’re reading them for the first time or revisiting a favorite of your own, enjoy! (And to be automatically notified when a new post is up, please subscribe to my blog; see sidebar, bottom right, ‘Email Subscriptions’).

Have a fit and fabulous holiday, from my family to yours!

Salad days are over for another year; what to do?

Only 5 more days until it’s officially winter, but according to my kitchen garden, fall’s been over for a long time. The boxes and raised beds full of lettuces and other leafy greens have been cleaned out and covered up until next year.

From May to October, I bypass the grocery store’s salad fixings, preferring those from my own garden instead. Spinach, kale, swiss chard, peppers, radicchio, arugula, romaine and collard greens, to name a few. There’s nothing better than grabbing a fresh handful of greens when making a lunchtime salad or scramble.

Come November, I’m forced to purchase the less-than-appealing offerings of my local produce stand or give up salads entirely until spring. While some of it is edible, much more is wilted, tasteless and over-ripe, having sat too long in it’s cellophane bag before finally reaching my plate.

Without salads as an option, how’s a girl to get in her daily 6-10 servings of veggies?

My solution is to switch from raw veggies to roasted. Slow roasted and in large enough quantities to serve as lunch for several days in a row. Roasting brings out the natural sweetness of the vegetables and may even fool your sweet tooth into thinking it’s already had dessert!

Peppers and asparagus with chicken and olive oil pesto

What type of vegetables do I roast? Whatever type you prefer! I’ve tried potatoes (red/white/sweet), asparagus, peppers, mushrooms, zucchini, tomatoes, cauliflower, broccoli, beans, pea pods, onions, ginger and garlic (of course!). Often times my ‘recipe’ is dictated by what needs to be eaten up soonest!

Sweet potato, mushroom, onion, ginger in coconut oil

All you need is

  • a large roasting pan (I use a glass, pyrex dish)
  • an oil or fat (canola, olive, sesame, coconut)
  • seasonings (sea salt, pepper, cinnamon, cloves, oregano, basil)
  • veggies

Wash, peel (if necessary) and cut veggies into bite size chunks (the smaller they are, the faster they’ll cook).

Toss prepared vegetables with chosen oil and seasonings.

Pour into pan and roast at 350 degrees F for about 45 min.

Serve hot or cold!

What’s your favorite vegetable?

Ever tried roasting it? Please share your recipe!