Archives for June 2012

Physical activity in children: let them ALL play ball

I frequently write about the importance of physical activity in children. Our kids need at least 60 minutes of big muscle movement each day to keep them healthy and their bodies at a healthy weight.

Participation in team sports such as soccer, hockey and baseball is a great way for children to meet their daily physical activity requirement as well as learning the valuable life skills of leadership, teamwork and sharing. But not all parents can afford the sky-rocketing cost of extracurricular activities.

Last week, I was contacted by a representative of The Vancouver Canadians Baseball Foundation (VCBF) to help spread the word about a new program designed to help change that (thanks for thinking of me Liz!). Starting Thursday, July 5th, over 300 Lower Mainland children will be playing ball where their idols do, at Nat Bailey Stadium. The VCBF will provide transportation, meals, equipment and more importantly, an atmosphere that fosters personal and athletic development to these young children. What a great way to promote organized physical activity in children who may not have the opportunity to participate in team sports otherwise!

Vancouver Canadians Baseball Foundation

Photo courtesy of Liz Sauvé of Jive Communications

According to their press release materials,

“The Vancouver Canadians Baseball Foundation (VCBF) believes that every child has the right to play ball regardless of conditions that are beyond their control. This belief, combined with the vision of helping youth find self-confidence, hope, improved health, and a skill set that will help not just on a baseball diamond, but in life, has lead to the creation of the first-ever mini league of its kind in North America.

Starting Thursday July 5, in association with the Boys and Girls Clubs of South Coast BC, VCBF will bring more than 300 children from across the Lower Mainland to the historic Scotiabank Field at Nat Bailey Stadium to play ball for the first time.

Over a seven-week period, a total of six games will be played in an atmosphere that promotes collaboration and a spirit of fair play. Children, who might not have an opportunity to play baseball otherwise, will be coached and mentored by local sports personalities and community figures. They will receive free equipment they get to keep (glove, bag, helmet, etc.), free meals, free transportation to and from the stadium as well as a weekly ‘talk’ by an elite level athlete or inspiring leader geared to promoting self esteem and leadership skills.

“The life lessons and confidence developed through team sports such as baseball are invaluable to a child’s development,” says Jeff Mooney, Chairman of VCBF. “We believe every child should have access to this regardless of external conditions beyond their control. Our mini baseball league removes all barriers and allows a child to play, grow and make memories that will last a lifetime.” The program is the first of its kind by any major or minor league club in North America.

“The response we had from children wanting to be a part of this program was overwhelming. We cannot wait to see their faces when they get onto the field for the first time,” says Carolyn Tuckwell, President & CEO of the Boys and Girls Clubs of South Coast BC.

The VCBF mini summer league opens Thursday July 5th at 4:30pm at Scotiabank Field at Nat Bailey Stadium (media are invited to attend opening day).

Subsequent games are Wednesday July 11, Wednesday July 18, Friday, July 27, Friday August 10, and Friday August 17. Each session runs 4:30 – 6:30pm, except Friday August 17 from 1:00 – 4:00pm.

The mini league will consist of two divisions. All children ages 6-8, will be in the “T-Ball” division while all children ages 9-11 will be in the “Coach-Pitch” division.

For more information visit the VCBF website.”

I’ll be taking my family ‘out to the ballgame’ later this summer and can’t wait to share my childhood memories of attending Game 7 of the Detroit Tigers 1984 World Series win with them!

Do your children participate in team sports?

What have they (and you!) learned from the experience?

Disclaimer: I have no affiliation with VCBF and am posting this information as a public service announcement. They did offer to send me tickets to a game in return though; you can bet I’ll be going!

‘Think of me tomorrow’ total body workout

Yesterday was my last Wednesday morning bootcamp of the spring session.

School is officially out for the summer and even though my group fitness classes will continue to run, many of the participants won’t be able to make it with kids at home to supervise and entertain.

I wanted to make our last class together memorable.

As in, ‘you’ll-be-thinking-of-me-every-time-you-try-and-sit-on-the-toilet-or-brush-your-hair-for-the-next-few-days’ memorable. A little DOMS never hurt anybody…

Voila! The ‘think of me tomorrow‘ total body workout.

All you need is a set of weights, a mat, a stability ball, exercise band and a 1 minute timer. We also used a weighted body bar, but you could use dumbbells if your gym doesn’t have them.

This total body workout was designed as a series of 4 mini-circuits. Each mini-circuit has 4 exercises in it. Exercises are each performed for 1 minute with no rest between and each circuit is repeated a second time before moving on to the next. Got it?

And I may have thrown in cardio intervals between circuits… heh, heh,heh (burpees, high knees, long jump, fast feet etc).

Go ahead, try my ‘think of me tomorrow’ total body workout and think of me tomorrow!

fitknitchick free workouts

 

If you liked this workout, check out my Free Workout Library. And don’t forget to subscribe to my YouTube channel for exercise demonstrations and workout ideas!

Does your gym attendance change in the summer time?

Tell me about your favourite total body workout!

Healthy eating on the road: Fitness and Health Bloggers Conference recap

I often struggle with healthy eating on the road. So many high fat, high sugar, high calorie options. When I can, I make sure to pack my own meals and snacks.

But that’s not always possible, especially when I’m traveling by air (fruit, veggies, eggs and meat can’t be transported between Canada and the US) and living in a hotel (with few restaurant or grocery store options within walking distance) for several days.

Thankfully, the organizers and sponsors of the recent Fitness and Health Bloggers Conference in Denver made healthy eating on the road a top priority! Clearly, they understand the importance of energizing food to the creative task of writing! (Healthy living bloggers LOVE to eat!).

Each morning, the conference sponsors treated us to a breakfast of mouthwatering berries (Driscoll’s; I ate at least 6 pints of raspberries in 2 days and lived the benefit of a high-fiber diet!), Greek yogurt (Better Whey of Life; whom I found via Twitter are available at Loblaws and Safeway in Canada!), granola (Love Grown Foods; the granola I’ve recently found at my local Superstore and fallen in love with!),

Driscoll's Berries

and whole grain cereal (Attune Foods; I managed to fit the whole boxy in my carry-on and thanks for the T-shirt Andrew!).

Uncle Sam cereal

Snacks included maple energy bars (Pure Canadian Maple Syrup; the bars were amazing and I ate way more than my share! Didn’t even manage to get a photo but you can grab the energy bar recipe here), chocolate milk (Refuel with Chocolate Milk; great for quenching my never-ending thirst in the 100+ degree sun), chocolate-covered nutty energy bites from Goodness Knows (I’m suffering withdrawal symptoms today), dried cherries (Choose Cherries; fabulous on your morning oats!) more berries and granola and some chocolate covered calcium from Adora (can’t think of a better way to get my daily calcium than through fine chocolate, can you?).

attune foods

These are all products you can pack in your OWN cooler or picnic basket to ensure good health and digestion on your summer travels!

The conference was held at the Anshutz Health and Wellness Center on the Medical Campus of the University of Colorado and included a tour of their metabolic kitchen, a healthy cooking demonstration (with an incredible snack of red lentils, marinated chicken and fennel and watermelon salad)

and dinner (with options for vegans) provided by sponsor Chipotle Mexican Grill and Chef Paulo himself!

Clearly, we ate well (as apparently, the campus wildlife do too!).

fitknitchick

There may even have been the odd sweet indulgence;

fitknitchick

but you know what they say, “What happens at FHBC12 stays at FHBC12”!

The conference was about so much more than food and healthy eating, but since food is life, I thought where better to start my travel tales!

Disclaimer: Although FitFluential and Refuel with Chocolate Milk sponsored my attendance at the 2012 Fitness and Health Bloggers Conference, all opinions about the products I sampled at the conference are my own!

 

 

 

What to pack for a Fitness and Health Bloggers Conference?

I’ve been to many, many conferences in my life. Most of them were stuffy, academic meetings. T-shirts and shorts and Birkenstocks affairs. The only things I really had to remember to pack were my presentation slides (this is back in the day when we actually used slide projectors) and my resume (academic conferences are all about finding your next post).

Today, I’m in Denver at the 2012 Fitness and Health Bloggers Conference courtesy of FitFluential and Refuel with Chocolate Milk. Thanks so much guys for the sponsorship!

I wasn’t really sure what to pack. I don’t own Birkenstocks any more. I’m not giving a presentation. And  I don’t need another job.

Given the weather forecast, I’m not sure I’ll need my Lululemon hoody or new hand knit sweater. (Note that the evening lows are higher than the daytime highs we’ve been having in Vancouver; I will probably melt). But then again, I tend to freeze in air conditioning.

fitknitchick

All I really need to take is comfortable clothing (including workout gear; I believe there will be many opportunities to exercise), my camera and iPad for ‘real time’ blogging, some knitting for the plane ride,

fitknitchick knitting

and a whole stack of ‘blog’ cards to exchange with all the new blogger friends I’m hoping to meet.

What I’m most excited about (besides getting a 4-day vacation from my children) is meeting all of the bloggers that I regularly interact with on Facebook and Twitter IRL (that’s In Real Life)!

Wishing you all a wonderful, movement-filled weekend! Back with a conference recap next week! (Unless I can’t hold off and sneak in a few updates in real time!)

Have you ever been to a fitness bloggers conference?

What was your favourite part of the event?

I’m new to running and ran my first 5K; can I call myself a runner now?

If you’ve been reading my blog for awhile, you know that I’m no runner.

I spin, step, weight lift, walk and generally live a very active lifestyle. Despite all the pressure around me (doesn’t it seem like ALL fitness bloggers are runners?), I’ve avoided it for most of my life. I never ran track and field. I always chose the outfield (waaaay out in the field) during softball so I wouldn’t have to sprint for the ball. I chose rowing over track and field.

There was a brief period of time (between my 2nd and 3rd pregnancies; that would be over 8 years ago now) when I pretended to be a runner. Three friends and I jogged lightly a couple of times each week as a prelude to coffee at Starbucks. We never timed our runs or worried about how long they were. And there was a significant amount of walking involved. Jogging served the function of cementing our friendship and carving out a few minutes in our busy days for ourselves.

A couple of weeks ago, my friend Toni announced that she would be running (pun intended!) a SummerVirtual 5K/10K (it’s not too late to sign up and there are PRIZES!) over at her blog Running Loving Living.

running loving living blog

Silly me, I thought that ‘virtual’ really meant ‘virtual’ (i.e., something you do over the computer), and although I wasn’t sure how a virtual run would work, in the spirit of camaraderie, I signed up!

Guess what? The running is real; the only virtual thing about the race is that we all run our own 5 or 10K and report our times back to her!

In for a penny, in for a pound, as my grandmother used to say.

So today, I laced up my new Adidas  runners(I figured the day-glow laces might alert passer-byers to my body, should I trip and land in the bushes), strapped on my Timex Ironman Road Trainer, charged up my iPod and headed out for a run. (The last part of that sentence sounds so strange to my ears).

 new to running

I had asked a running friend for a local 5K route that didn’t involve trails (I don’t need a sprained ankle right now) or locations of recent bear sightings (runners worry more about bears than evil strangers in my neighbourhood) or too many hills (you know that I live in the Pacific Northwest, right? my driveway is half way up a mountain).

My goal was to run the entire way. I had no idea how long it would take and frankly, wasn’t concerned at all with my time. Toni assured me that the whole thing would take less than 40 minutes. 40 MINUTES!

new to running

The first 10 minutes was a challenge; I won’t lie. My hips felt tight. My left knee a bit twitchy. I couldn’t get my breathing quite right. But by minute 12 I was into a groove. Not a terribly fast one, but I was still moving and breathing and actually enjoying the scenery as it flew by.

I hit the halfway point at just under 15 minutes! Perhaps it wouldn’t take me 40 minutes after all! Of course, the return trip was a long, slow incline; not very much elevation gain really, but my legs could definitely feel the difference. I was tempted to stop and walk a couple of times, but talked myself out of it. Mostly because I knew that it would be extremely difficult to start running again if I did.

I tried to keep from looking at my watch (why does it always feel like you’ve been exercising longer than you have?), but when I hit the last kilometre, I had to take a peek. Four K done and 24:25 on my watch. Holy crow! I realized that I might be able to do the entire 5K in less than 30 minutes if I upped my pace just a little for the remainder of the run.

Guess what? (My children are obsessed with guessing games right now; it’s rubbing off)

 new to running

My first 5K in under 30 minutes! Can I call myself a runner now? (Cause I know I’ll have the sore hamstrings tomorrow to prove it!)

 new to running

Thanks so much Toni for encouraging me to do something outside of my comfort zone! I didn’t hate it and may just do it again next week. Wonder if I can beat my time….

All you runners out there, tell me about YOUR first 5K!

Were you proud of yourself? Elated? Exhausted? Ready to run another one? 

 

More than you ever wanted to know about fitknitchick

Happy Tuesday!

Are you ready for more randomness?

1. This week’s theme on Tuesday Trainer is ‘Rest week – Getting to know your trainers’. That means there’s no exercise video, just a clip of my answers to the three questions Lindsay posed last Thursday. Have a look (or not) and tell me what your answers would be! (If you’re desperate for a workout, check out my Upper Body Bootcamp video).

2. I’ve been nominated by the lovely Elle (of Eat Run Sail) for The Lovely Blog Award. The award is essentially a way of making bloggers reveal deep, dark secrets about themselves. Things they might not otherwise write about (unless they’re had a glass of wine first). I need to answer some questions (again, with the questions!) and tag some other bloggers to spill their guts too. Thanks so much Elle for the nomination and shout out!

fitknitchick

I’m going to break the proverbial chain and only follow the first two steps. I’m hoping nothing terrible will happen to my husband or children as a consequence.

Seven things about myself (presumably things that you don’t already know):

  1. I can’t whistle without a blade of grass between my thumbs.
  2. I once jumped out of a moving car to avoid something terrible happening to myself and a friend.
  3. I dislike wearing shorts; short skirts are fine, shorts are not.
  4. I received my Canada Cord in Girl Guides (the highest honour attainable!).
  5. I was the only cheerleader on my squad who couldn’t do the splits.
  6. My favourite chocolate bar is an Almond Joy. I always buy one when in the United States.
  7. My youngest son’s name is Adam only because we were tired of looking through the baby name books by the time he came along. We never made it to the ‘B’s’.

3. I’m celebrating a 2-FO week; that’s two finished objects (knitting, remember?) in one week. Never mind the fact that they’ve both been on the needles for at least two months. I won’t show you pictures of the socks I knit for my daughter because you’ve seen the yarn at least three times already. Yeah, it’s been that long.

I will, however, show you the lovely cardigan I made for myself. I plan on wearing it to this week’s Fitness and Health Blogger’s Conference in Denver and thought that those of you who are going might appreciate knowing what I look like (and what I’ll be wearing to the Thursday evening reception, in case you want to coordinate with me) in advance!

Hand knit sweater

Pattern is Pas de Valse knit in Saffron Dyeworks Pali Sport

Now tell me something random about you! 

Tips for packing a clean eating picnic

Guess what today is? International Picnic Day! (I didn’t know either, I had to look it up).

Now that the days are longer and the weather warm and sunny (okay, we’re still waiting for the ‘warm and sunny’ in the Pacific Northwest…), your weekends are likely to include picnics, barbecues and other outdoor eating events. Always lots of fun, but usually a clean eating practitioner’s nightmare!

Potato salad, hot dogs and burgers, fried chicken, spinach dip, pasta salads, beer, chips and chocolate cake were the usual fare at my family’s holiday picnics. While I enjoy each of these ‘treats’ in moderation, indulging in all of them at a single meal would leave me feeling tired, bloated and unable to join in the after-dinner frisbee fun. Instead, I choose one or two to sample and stick with my standard clean eating selections to fill up my plate.

Tips for packing a clean eating picnic;

  1. Choose lean poultry and fish for grilling rather than burgers, sausage or hotdogs. Whip up a spicy marinade and the burger and bun crowd will be asking for some of what you’re eating! My family’s favourite? Low salt soy sauce, orange juice, sesame oil, fresh grated garlic and ginger and a bit of red wine vinegar. Marinade chicken or fish for 2-3 hours prior to grilling. Mmmmm!
  2. Rather than offering to provide the chips and dip, use your artistic sensibilities to create a mouth-watering vegetable platter. Colourful peppers, crisp broccoli and cauliflower, pea pods and radishes; the more variety and unique the veggies the more appealing the dish. Serve with a greek yogurt-herb dip or avocado and tomato guacamole.
  3. Substitute whole grain buns for the usual white. (Or forego the bun completely and save your starchy carbs for dessert!).
  4. Use low fat greek yogurt or ripe avocado in place of mayonnaise in creamy pasta or veggie salads. Tastes just as good without the extra calories and saturated fat. I make a killer salmon salad; canned wild sockeye, ripe avocado, lemon juice, diced onions and peppers. Combine and refrigerate for an hour or so.
  5. Brew up a pot of home made iced green tea. Experiment with flavoured teas and leave the sugar laden sodas at home.
  6. Instead of whipping up a batch of fudge brownies, try angel food cake served with fresh berries. No fat, about half the sugar (and calories) and a great way to showcase seasonal strawberries and raspberries!
  7. Slice up a giant watermelon for dessert. Kids (and grownups too!) love spitting the seeds; something they’re probably not allowed to do around the dinner table at home. High in water content, low in calories and lots of fun to eat! The perfect, clean eating picnic fare!

What’s your favourite picnic food?

Do you stick with your nutrition plan at barbecues and picnics?

Recipes and requests: dessert hummus, healthy granola, monthly newsletter and a YouTube video

Whew! What a busy week!

There’s been lots going on in fitknitchick-land; cooking and baking and writing and videotaping and editing. Kids’ end of the year camps and ball hockey playoffs. Teaching, training and the odd workout 😉 for myself!

Today’s post is a bit of a mish-mash; hardly like me, but that’s how the week has been.

I’ve got a couple of recipes that I’m dying to share with you. And I’m hoping that you’ll return the share by helping me get as many eyes as possible on a new workout video!

1) The first is the newest culinary creation of Lindsay’s (AKA The Lean Green Bean); dessert hummus. Yes, you read that correctly. DESSERT HUMMUS! You can find the original recipe here.

I made the ‘spread’ version last week and took it to a fitness-girls-party; nothing left to bring home (or photograph, sorry!). Nobody believed there were chickpeas involved. Tastes exactly like cookie dough!

I made the ‘oatmeal balls’ version yesterday and made 2 changes; I upped the oats to 3/4 cup and added in an extra special ingredient, Holy Crap Cereal (1/2 cup). Both fit with my ‘Metabolic Effect’ nutrition plan perfectly; 2 or 3 balls after my lunch of lean protein and veggies and I get both my 5-10 bites of starchy carbs and the feeling that I’ve had dessert! You’ve got to try this recipe!

Holy Crap Cereal recipes

2) Second up; a healthier granola. Since I’m using oats as a condiment these days (topping my berries with them rather than the reverse), I like to augment them with seeds and nuts and dried fruit. I’ve tried a lot of different granola recipes and ended up cobbling this one together by mixing and matching until I found something that I love (unfortunately, my hubby does too, so it never lasts very long…).

  • 2 and 1/2 cups oats (the less refined the better)
  • 1/2 cup wheat germ
  • 1/4 cup hemp seeds
  • 1/4 cup flax seeds
  • 2 Tbsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 – 1 full cup unsweetened applesauce (start with 1/2 cup then add more as needed to moisten)
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • 1/4 cup honey (optional or substitute agave nectar if your prefer)
  • 1/2 cup dried blueberries (cranberries are great too)
  • 1 cup slivered almonds
  • 1/2 cup roasted pumpkin seeds
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened shredded coconut

Combine all ingredients in a large bowl. Stir until combined and moistened. Add more applesauce if necessary.

Spread out on parchment-lined cookie sheet (I usually use 2 cookie sheets). Bake at 300 degrees F for 30-45 minutes, stirring often.

Let cool, then store in an airtight container. Voila! A healthier granola, with pronounceable ingredients! It’s as yummy as it looks!

 fitknitchick recipes

And now for my requests of you all!

3) This month, I’m participating in an online video workout contest; Designer Whey’s “America’s Top Trainer” contest. I’ve filmed, edited and uploaded my entry. The winner of the contest will be determined by the popularity of the video. That means I would love it if you’d watch, comment (directly below the video on YouTube), ‘Like’, ‘Share’ (on Facebook and Twitter if that’s your thing) and above all, ‘Subscribe’ to my YouTube channel. I need my readers to come out in droves!

And finally,

4) On June 1st, I send out my first free Fitness and Healthy Lifestyle Newsletter. If you subscribed (by entering your email in the box at the top left of this page), you will have already received it (I’d love to hear your feedback!).

If not, there’s still time! Enter your e-mail here (it’s really that simple!) and not only will you receive July’s edition, I’ll also send you the one you missed! Please feel free to forward it to your friends and family and encourage them to subscribe as well!

I think that’s everything!

Hope you’ve had a great week!

Tell me something fun (and fitness-related) that you’re planning for the weekend!

The ‘Functional Four’ workout and a bonus move for your butt

I work as a personal trainer in a public gym. The majority of my clients are women in their 40’s who need to lose (by their own admission) 15-40 pounds.

In my experience, the best way to do that is to perform whole body, compound exercises at an intensity that elevates your heart rate for the better part of your 45 minute workout. (In addition to eating clean, of course).

The workouts that I prescribe typically include four functional movements; squats, lunges, pushes and pulls. Each of these types of movements target multiple muscle groups and hence, won’t increase the size of your biceps or triceps or tighten your inner thighs exclusively.

Curls and triceps extensions and calf raises? Vanity moves. Exercises that can improve the look of a single muscle group, but only once the layer of subcutaneous fat that covers them is burned off!

Am I suggesting that you shouldn’t perform vanity exercises? Absolutely not! I love vanity moves too!

Instead, I suggest that you place them at the end of your program, once the heavy, metabolic, fat-burning lifting is done! Think of bicep curls as a reward for completing your squats and lunges! Tricep extensions as the dessert to your meal of pushups and bent over rows. Hamstring curls on the ball as a rest for  your arms and back after finishing your third set of pull ups!

Below is my ‘Functional Four’ workout.

Complete 10-12 repetitions of each exercises using the heaviest weight (or most challenging progression) you can. Then move immediately to the next exercise, cycling through the entire workout 3 or 4 times. Your heart rate should remain elevated throughout; don’t rest until you’re done! Options are given for beginners,  intermediate and advanced exercisers.

fitknitchick workouts

And no, I didn’t forget about your abs! Almost all of the above exercises require you to work your core in a functional manner. Stabilization and mobilization while other parts of your body are moving.

If you want to increase the challenge of the above workout to your core you can (1) offload the weight during a given exercise (e.g., offset load squat, change the pushup into a T-pushup) and (2) use a stability tool in place of either the floor (e.g., lunge with foot on Bosu) or a bench (e.g., chest press with head and shoulders supported on a stability ball)

Once you’ve finished the heavy work you can indulge in a vanity move or two. One of my favourites in a hamstring curl on the ball.

Check out today’s Tuesday Trainer for some other great vanity moves.

Do you include the functional four in your workouts?

What’s your favourite vanity move?

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.