Foodie pen pals package and my favourite (after-chocolate) core move

Today’s the ‘big reveal’ day for those of us participating in April’s ‘Foodie Pen Pals’ program. Don’t know about Foodie Pen Pals? Here’s the deal.

Once a month, blogger extraordinaire, Lindsay (The Lean Green Bean), collects the names and email addresses of foodie bloggers and blog readers who want to participate in a culinary exchange. Participants are matched up according to country of residence and asked to contact their pen pal to get information about dietary preferences, food allergies and lifestyle. Then, the shopping begins!

Packages are to be mailed by the 15th of the month and contain no more than $15 worth of treats. On the last day of the month, participants ‘reveal’ the contents of their Foodie Pen Pal package to the world! (No worries if you’re not a blogger, you just get to enjoy your treats!).

This is my second month participating and I have yet to be disappointed with the contents of my care package.

Clearly, Sarah (of The Laughing Medusa) did her research. (If you’ve spent any time on my blog, you’ll certainly know what my favourite treats are!).

She included a (large!) bar of organic dark chocolate flavoured with Earl Grey tea. The tastes and texture complemented each other perfectly! I had a hard time stopping at one square…so I didn’t. (You can blame Sarah for the exercise video below; after finishing the chocolate I felt compelled to do some core work as an antidote!).

Although I absolute adore nut butters, I’ve never come across either of the two flavours Sarah included; pecan and coconut. I love that they’re packaged as individual servings and can be thrown into my purse to use as apple toppers (or just squeezed out of the plastic tube, straight into my mouth). I need to find a place to buy these locally! Very yummy!

 The quinoa was served as an accompaniment to salmon and roast veggies. While I normally don’t buy pre-packaged food, I could easily make an exception for this brand! Sun-dried tomato and basil are two of my favourite flavours to add to rice and grains and this brand does it without being too salty for my tastes.

Thanks Sarah, for introducing me to some wonderful foodie finds! And after you’ve opened and eaten YOUR Foodie Pen Pal package, join me in a few sets of the waistline-whittling Russian Twist! (This was the video I had planned to make for last week’s Tuesday Trainer, before I got side-lined with the flu).

Interested in joining May’s Foodie Pen Pals? Instructions can be found here, in addition to links to the rest of this month’s ‘Reveal’ posts!

If you enjoyed this post, please feel free to explore the rest of my site. And don’t forget to subscribe; you’ll automatically be notified each time I publish a new post!

(Both e-mail and RSS options can be found by clicking on the relevant social media button under my photo, top right hand corner of the page)

Burlesque Bootcamp: strut, bump and grind your way fit!

Burlesque Bootcamp. Any images come to mind?

On Thursday night, I attended a Burlesque Bootcamp fundraiser at Younique Fitness Studio in Port Moody. As a boot camp instructor, I assumed we’d be doing pushups and squats and lunges and planks. Naive as I am, the suggestion that I bring a pair of high heels and a feather boa did nothing to alter my preconceptions about the evening’s activities. (Note to self; always prepare for the unknown with a Google search)

Burlesque Bootcamp is exactly what it sounds like. Learning the fundamentals of burlesque dance. Getting your sexy on, but in a safe, supportive and all-female environment.

Burlesque Bootcamp at Younique Fitness Studio

After a gentle, barefoot warmup, our instructor Lindy, invited us to strap on our heels and join her in the ‘breakfast bump and grind’. Standing tall, abdominals engaged and legs slightly bent, imagine you have an apple on one hip, an orange on the other and a teeny, tiny coffee bean between your upper thighs. Now bump the orange off, then the apple and grind the coffee bean; ‘the harder the better’.

My first few attempts were rather wooden. But the laughter and support of friends (who were initially somewhat inhibited too) loosened my hips and put me in the mood!

Next came ‘strutting’. Exactly like it sounds. A slow, sexy walk, with hips and shoulders swinging in time to the music. Now stop, face the ‘audience’ (in our case, a wall of mirrors), legs wide, one arm up, other arm up, ‘breakfast bump and grind’, before exiting the stage. Oh, and don’t forget your ‘I’ve got a secret, but I’m not telling’ stare. The art of burlesque is more about what you don’t show than what you do.

Burlesque Bootcamp Younique Fitness Studio

The most entertaining part of the evening came when Lindy gave us 10 seconds to come up with a stage name. ‘Kitty’, ‘Scarlet’, ‘Coco’, ‘Lola’ and ‘Ginger’ quickly introduced themselves. Mine was ‘Tantalicious'; I’m not sure where it came from, but love how it rolls off the tongue! A friend remarked on the speed with which we were able to name ourselves; perhaps indicating some secret side we didn’t even know we had?

The highlight of the class was our ‘performance’ of  Cher’s ‘Welcome to Burlesque‘. Just watch the video; there are no words. This is what we looked like;

Burlesque Bootcamp Younique Fitness Studio

By the end of the evening, I could feel muscles that I hadn’t felt in a long time. In particular, my cheeks. No, not those ones, the ones on my face. From smiling, laughing and luxuriating in the light-hearted atmosphere Lindy helped us to create.

Thanks so much to Lindy and Younique owners Krista and Melanie for a fabulous and fun evening!

Burlesque Bootcamp at Younique Fitness Studio

I’ll definitely be going again, and next time, I’ll be the girl in the fish-net stockings and elbow-length gloves!

Have you ever gone to a Burlesque Bootcamp?

What was your favourite move?

Tell me, what would YOUR stage name be?

Burlesque Bootcamp at Younique Fitness Studio

During the last week of every month, Younique Fitness Studio hosts a ‘Pay It Forward Event’. One of their regular classes is designated as a fundraiser and all proceeds are donated to a local charity. The Burlesque Bootcamp raised money for Variety, The Children’s Charity, in honour of Louis Valente, the father of a friend who recently passed away.

 

 

 

 

 

Fitness and nutrition challenges: you tell me yours and I’ll tell you mine

No matter how devoted you are to maintaining a healthy lifestyle, you probably still have fitness and nutrition challenges.

Foods that trip you up. Social settings that act as triggers to unhealthy food choices. People that are less than supportive of your workout schedule. Voices in your head that tell you to skip the gym and stay at home watching True Blood instead (don’t judge).

If you could just get a handle on that one little problem, everything would be great.

Want to know what my biggest fitness and nutrition challenges are?

I’ll tell if you will.

Fitness: Although I know that exercise can be done anytime, anywhere (goodness knows I’ve posted my share of short-at-home-in-your-hotel-room workouts), I somehow still feel that unless I go to the gym and spend 45-60 minutes lifting weights, I haven’t gotten a workout in. As a consequence of this mindset, I’ve passed up shorter (and probably more effective ;) ) workouts just because I only had 20 minutes to spare.

With my recently increased workload (more clients and registered programs and writing opportunities, hooray!), I’ve got to start using those 20 minute windows if I’m going to keep making progress in the gym. In theory, it’s easy to do; my preferred mode of training is supersets and I can easily get in 3-4 sets of two exercises in the 15-20 minute window I often have between clients. In practice, it’s pretty difficult to change your mindset and just do it (especially when your mind has been set for a long time!).

Nutrition: In the past, my biggest nutritional challenge was sugar. I was completely addicted. With some very concentrated effort, I’ve been able to give up most forms of added sugar. I don’t buy (many) processed foods. I’ve switched to the darkest chocolate my palate can handle. And when I bake, I strive to make my muffins and cookies and bars as healthy as possible. Flax seed and chia and wheat germ are added to everything. (This is one of my many ploys for increasing the nutrient density of my children’s school lunches)

The problem? When I sit down for my mid-afternoon coffee, I crave something baked to go along with it. Even my healthy versions of baked treats have butter and wheat flour and brown sugar; all of which I try to avoid because they perpetuate the crave-consume-crash cycle.

Now it’s your turn. Tell me about your biggest fitness and nutrition challenges. What have you yet to master?

As always, I love to hear your thoughts; today, let’s try to help each other overcome our challenges by commenting and supporting and offering ideas for effecting change!

 

 

 

 

A Tuesday without Tuesday Trainer? Come work out with me!

It’s Monday evening and I’m suddenly realizing that there’s no Tuesday Trainer tomorrow. Lindsay is on holiday with her family and has left us without a leader! No weekend assignment to create a video about _____. No videotaped instructions from my favourite fitness bloggers.

What’s a girl to do?

I could skip the workout; I worked out yesterday and the day before and am scheduled to try a new style of fitness class on Wednesday. According to yesterday’s post, I could claim tomorrow as a legitimate rest day.

But I WANT to go to the gym. I’ve MISSED my strength workouts these past two weeks (and given my poor showing during a Tabata pushup drill in class this morning, I need to get to work regaining the strength I’ve lost…). So I’m taking a deep breath and designing my own Tuesday Trainer program. (You all know that I work as a personal trainer, right? So why is it so difficult for me to design a program for myself?)

How about I pretend that I’m writing a program for YOU and we’ll do it together? Okay? Okay!

(Note that I’m assuming that you’re healthy, with no joint pain or hip/knee/shoulder troubles; if so, please listen to your body and modify where necessary!)

We’ll be doing supersets (I love supersets; fast and efficient when done properly). Alternating between two exercises at a time, 8-10 reps of each exercise, 3-4 supersets of each pair. Got it?

  1. Barbell squats/pushups
  2. Alternating Smith lunges (or barbell lunges if you don’t have a Smith machine)/pullups or inverted rows
  3. Seated shoulder press/preacher curl (or some other sort of bicep curl)
  4. Dumbbell deadlifts/barbell tricep skullcrushers
  5. Roll outs on the ball/medball V-sit core rotations

and finishing with 20 minutes of 1:1 intervals on the Arc Trainer (or your cardio machine of choice).

Ready? Off you go!

And don’t forget to show me your #PROOF!

Disclaimer: Although I am a registered Personal Trainer, I am not YOUR Personal Trainer. Always adapt workouts to suit your body and fitness level. Always consult your doctor before beginning a new exercise program.

Lack of Motivation Monday: three questions to ask yourself

It happens to the best of us. Even those who exercise for a living. (But don’t we all exercise for living?)

We wake up and find ourselves lacking in motivation. “I don’t feel like it today”, “I’m too tired to get to the gym”, “It won’t hurt to skip my spin class today”, “I have a lot of other things to get done”.

When my motivation to work out needs a boost, I ask myself three questions:

  1. Did I exercise on two of the last three days?
  2. Can I fit a workout in tomorrow?
  3. Can I find 30 minutes in my day to move, without going to the gym?

If I answered ‘yes’ to the first question, I just might deserve a day off. I aim to exercise 5 days out of 7, leaving me 2 days a week for rest and recovery. Maybe my lack of motivation is just my body’s way of saying ‘rest today’.

Whether or not today is an official rest day, however, depends on my answer to question number two. If there’s time in my schedule for a workout tomorrow, I’m off the hook. Rest day it is. If not, and particularly if the rest of the week is jam packed and there’s even the slightest possibility that I might have to miss a workout later in the week, off to the gym I go.

I might not feel like exercising, but I know that I’ll regret skipping out on my workout later in the week. Usually once I’ve laced up my running shoes, uploaded an energizing playlist and warmed up a bit on the treadmill I get into the groove and end up happy with my decision.

Even when I’ve answered ‘yes’ to questions 1 and 2 and feel like I’ve officially earned a day off, I ask myself how I might fit 30 minutes of movement into my day away from the gym. A walk, mid-day, to clear my head. Some pushups and a plank, just because. Some shots on goal in the back alley with my youngest child.

Thinking about skipping your workout today? Ask yourself three little questions. If you can’t honestly answer ‘yes’ to at least two out of three, you might need a little more motivation!

Check out some of my previous Monday Motivation posts and get moving.

You’ll never regret the workouts you do, just the ones you miss! (A cliche, but true!)

What’s your secret to staying motivated to exercise even when you don’t want to?

 

Saturday shout outs; recent blog posts I love!

Finally, the weekend is here! Saturday is my favourite day to get caught up on my weekly blog reading.

Today, I thought I’d share some great posts from the last week with you. Posts that have inspired me and made me think differently about fitness, nutrition and blogging!

Have some favourite blog-finds of your own this week?

Feel free to share in the comments section below!

Here’s to a fabulous Friday; food, fitness and fun!

Warning: today’s post is full of “F” words. Food, fitness and fun!

TGIF! I don’t know about you, but this past week has been about the worst on (recent) record at my house. I had the flu and couldn’t get out of bed for nearly a week. Then two of my kids came down with a wicked, nasty stomach bug that kept me wiping bums and changing bed sheets into the wee hours of the night. The floors need washing, the fridge re-stocking. And when was the last time somebody changed the cat litter box?

But the end is finally in sight (knock on wood). Kids are up and bickering as usual (much preferable to the eery quiet of earlier in the week). I’m back to teaching (sort of) and training clients and trying to regain some of the strength I lost (why does it go away so quickly?).

Here’s what I’m looking forward to this weekend:

Food

My appetite is back and my body is craving veggies! Good thing my hubby planted our first crop of leafy greens last weekend. There’s spinach, and arugula and kale ready for harvesting.

They’ll make a fine, mixed green salad for Friday dinner. I’ll be serving them with poached fillet of salmon and roast asparagus. Dinner’s at 5, if you’d like to join us!

 

(And the recipe is super easy; herbed goat cheese, toasted almonds, sliced strawberries all on a bed of fresh greens. Drizzle with 2 parts olive oil and 1 part balsamic vinegar)

Fitness

On Saturday, I’ll be leading a workshop entitled ‘Fitness for Fat Loss‘ at a friend’s newly opened fitness studio; Younique Fitness in Port Moody, B.C. They’ll be a 45 minute workout followed by a lecture, outlining ways to tweak your workout to up your rate of fat loss while maintaining and even increasing muscle mass. Win-win-win! There’s still time to register. Will I see you there?

 

Sunday marks the first class in the next Bosu Blast course that I’m teaching at the Port Moody Rec Centre. Adding some Bosu work to your exercise routine is a great way to improve balance, core strength, speed and agility. And, there’s NO CHOREOGRAPHY!

Fun

What’s more fun that a blog hop? Today, I’m participating in ‘The Get-Fit Blog Hop‘. It’ a great way to ‘meet’ new-to-you health and fitness bloggers and get some inspiration for your next workout or healthy meal. Click through on the link below then start hopping from one blog to another. Leave comments to let the authors know you’ve visited or leave a link up to your own ‘Get-Fit Blog Hop‘ post if you’d like! Come back and tell me who you’ve visited and what you’ve learned!

Get Fit Blog Hop

 EDITED TO ADD: The blog hop button now works. The original html code I was given had some sort of problem. So please, TRY AGAIN!

What’s you favourite “F” word? (Remembering that my dad and 13-year old son read my blog…)

Found a great new blogger via the blog hop? Tell me about them so I can make sure to visit too!

 

Feeling better bootcamp workout: work, rest, repeat

After eight days without exercise (does hauling laundry up and down the stairs and making and re-making beds count?), I’m heading back to the gym this morning to teach a ‘feeling better’ Boot Camp workout.

I love my Wednesday morning boot campers. They’re strong, funny and hard-working. Their energy is infectious (and I’ll be drawing heavily on it to get through the hour). While I always encourage them to ‘go at their own pace’ and to ‘take a break when they need it’, today’s workout will really highlight the ‘work, rest, repeat’ principle.

Rather than give them a set number of repetitions to perform, I’ll be timing each exercise and drill, asking them to give it their all for as long as they can, then rest before moving on. Although my timer will be set for 40 s of work and 20 s of rest, participants are allowed to begin their rest break earlier, as long as they’ve pushed themselves to fatigue. This is the ‘rest-based interval’ approach as described in The Metabolic Effect Diet (the book is fabulous, as is their blog!).

I find that using rest-based intervals results in participants pushing themselves harder than they might in a more rigidly defined interval workout or when they feel like they must work right until the end of a timed interval. It’s also a great format to use when you’re recovering from illness or getting back to exercise after a long hiatus.

Today’s bootcamp workout will be focused on the ‘functional four’; squats, lunges, pushes and pulls performed as small circuits with cardio bursts thrown in at random.

Set your Gymboss Interval timer for 12 rounds of 40 s work and 20 s rest. Start with circuit 1; perform each exercise or drill for up to 40 s, rest 20 s and move on to the next exercise. Repeat circuit for a total of 3 rounds. Rest 2 minutes and move on to circuit 2.

Here we go!

As always, feel free to Share, Tweet and Pin this workout!

Which was your least favourite exercise? Ha!

Disclaimer: Although I am a registered Personal Trainer, I am not YOUR Personal Trainer. Always adapt workouts to suit your body and fitness level. Always consult your doctor before beginning a new exercise program.

Rediscover your abs with clean eating and Tuesday Trainer

About 6 weeks ago, prompted by feeling mushy around the middle, and determined to feel great in a crop top before I turn 45 this spring, I started adding an extra metabolic strength workout to my weekly schedule. I took some photos, but decided to keep them to myself, lest I fail and have no improvement to show you (accountability for cheaters, I know).

Since I’m seeing results, including the rediscovery of my abs, I thought I’d post them now.

circa February 28, 2012

circa April 10, 2012

I don’t know about you, but I see a huge difference!

Now to be honest, it’s not just the new workout that’s doing it. I’ve also been pretty diligent in the kitchen, keeping my hand out of the cookie jar (mostly), cutting back on my starchy carbohydrates (except for my morning oats), reaching for dark chocolate over milk (forgetting all those mini eggs I ate Easter weekend…) and pushing myself to lift as heavy as I can in the gym. I’ve also been drinking a lot of water. Clean eating has it’s rewards!

My tips for rediscovering you abs?

  • eliminate sugar and processed food (you knew I was going to say that)
  • cut back on starchy carbs, paying attention to cravings and feelings of satiation (if cravings are too intense, increase starchy carbs by a bit)
  • water, water, water
  • reduce caffeine intake
  • small, regular meals (before you’re starving!)
  • bye bye alcohol

Of course, to have abs to reveal, you need to build them first!

This week, Tuesday Trainer is featuring an all abs workout. Each trainer has submitted their favourite ‘reveal your abs’ exercise. I’m demonstrating Before getting sick, I had planned on demonstrating a ‘Russian Twist on the ball’. Not only does it target your ‘six pack’, you’ll also feel your obliques and your glutes working. One of the best ways to get rid of that little pooch is to learn some glute activation; so be sure to keep your hips up and bum cheeks clenched throughout!

I promise I’ll get to filming today or tomorrow and have it ready for you to look at later in the week.

Meanwhile, head on over to Lindsay’s List to see what the other trainers put together for you and then pop in to YouTube and subscribe to my channel (click the link, now find the ‘subscribe’ button above the video, click on it!). There you’ll find the rest of my Tuesday Trainer videos as well as some other workouts and video blogs. Don’t forget to share!

How frequently do you work your abs?

Tell me your ‘reveal your abs’ tricks!