Archives for October 2012

The 15-Minute Yoga Routine to Beat your Halloween Candy Binge {Guest Post}

In just a few hours one (or both) of two things is going to happen. (1) You’re going to put out a big bowl of candy to give to trick or treaters; (2) your children are going to arrive home with their trick or treating haul. Suffice it to say that most of us will indulge in Halloween candy once or twice during the coming days.

Today’s post is written by Anna Quinn, a yoga instructor, writer and regular reader of my blog.

Did you know that the human body is built to cleanse itself of waste that can make you sick? Now that doesn’t give you a free pass to pound back a whole Halloween bag of goodies this Wednesday evening. But it does mean that you have the power to combat the effects of all those empty calories with a quick 15-minute yoga routine.

Halloween candy binge

Yoga postures, or “asanas”, combat the negative effects of a sugar-filled evening because let’s, face it; we’ve all woken up with mini chocolate bar wrappers stuck to our wigs! The good news is that your body already has the systems in place to eliminate toxins:

  • The Lymphatic System—stimulates lymph fluid via movement (so exercise is key) and flushes toxins out through the bloodstream.
  • The Digestive System—which processes the food we eat by separating nutrients and eliminating waste.
  • The Circulatory System—responsible for the delivery of oxygen-rich blood and waste elimination from cells.

The following yoga workout proactively encourages detoxification, circulation, and flushes out the toxins from a Halloween candy binge…

1. Forward bend

The motion of bending at the waist compresses the abdominal organs and eliminates waste by stimulating the digestive system. To perform a safe forward bend:

  • Sit facing forward with a straight back and legs extended straight
  • Ensure a slight bend at the knees to take stress off knees and lower back
  • Hinge forward at the hips, reaching head and heart forward
  • Grasp the backs of the knees or the soles of the feet

2. Seated yoga twists

The twisting motion squeezes the abdominal organs and stimulates digestion! To perform a yoga twist:

  • Sit cross-legged on the floor and twisting the body to the right
  • Come back to centre and repeat on the left side
  • A twist works by literally wringing the liver and kidneys out a like a sponge, squeezing out unhealthy toxins in the blood and cleansing the abdominal organs with fresh, clean blood when the twist is released.

3. Cat/cow pose

These two poses work collaboratively to encourage healthy spinal alignment and gently massaging the belly. To perform a cat/cow:

  • Come to a tabletop position on all fours, with the hands under the shoulders and the knees under the hips
  • As you inhale, lift your head and tailbone, letting your belly dip towards the floor
  • As you exhale, tuck your tailbone, round your back towards the ceiling and drop your head Alternate gently between the two poses letting your breath guide you

4. Yoga Inversions 

Placing the heart over the head encourages the drainage of lymph waste from the lower body. Inversions like yoga headstand, shoulder stand, bridge, or simply lying on the floor with your legs up a wall will soothe the immune system, nervous system, and reduce stress. My personal favorite inversion is bridge pose due to its soothing effect on abdominal organs, lungs and thyroid, digestion, and back muscles. To perform bridge:

  • Lay flat on your back and bend your knees, feet flat the floor
  • Reach your arms alongside your body with your fingertips grazing the backs of your heels
  • Exhale, pressing your feet and arms down and lifting your tailbone until your thighs are parallel to the floorHold the pose for 10 breaths and release on an exhale, rolling the spine gently down to the floor

Halloween candy binge

5. Corpse pose

I end all of my yoga classes with Savasana because it helps the body let go of the tension from your practice:

  • Lie flat on your back with your arms and legs resting comfortably, palms facing up and legs, ankles and feet slightly splayed
  • Close your eyes, let your jaw and tongue hang loose, and allow your breath to become natural
  • Focus on peaceful, calming thoughts
  • Rest in corpse for 5 minutes, then awaken the body by gently wiggling the fingers and toes

Anna Quinn is a staff writer for AndGeeks . A woman who admits she’s addicted to her smart phone, video gaming, and really any new and neat consumer electronic, Anna decided to put her passion to pen and earn a living writing about technology and consumer electronic reviews to help the average person make a smart purchase. When she’s not obsessed with a new gadget, Anna likes to balance her type A personality with a little hot yoga.

Saucony Women’s ProGrid Guide 6 review | not just for running

As many of you know, I’m a fair-weather runner. I run once, every 7 to 10 days and for no more than 40 minutes at a time. And only when it’s not raining. Given that I live in Vancouver, and our 8 month rainy season has just started, there won’t be a lot of runs in my immediate future.

Regardless, I still wear running shoes almost every single day. Why? I teach group step and over the years, have discovered that a lightweight running shoe gives me better arch support and lateral agility than a cross trainer.

Last week, I was pleasantly surprised to find a pair of Saucony Women’s ProGrid Guide 6 running shoes on my doorstep. 

Saucony Women's ProGrid 6

That’s right. The NEWEST shoe in Saucony’s Guide series (not even available in stores until November!). Love, love, love the colours; red, orange and SILVER! (Hubby is already calling them my ‘Katniss’ shoes). 

Saucony Women's ProGrid Guide 6

When I agreed to review these shoes, I had no idea how they would fit. I’ve never worn Saucony’s before.

Happily, the size 9 I requested (my usual size) fit me almost perfectly. Perhaps a tad more snug than my current running shoes, but lots of room for my toes to move around and no worry about my back heel slipping during movement.

Technical specifications? Saucony has made a few improvements to the ProGrid Guide 5, including

  • lighter in weight (just under 9 oz)
  • extra lug support to forefoot
  • enhanced arch support
  • a more secure toe box
  • articulated heel

Technical specs are fine, but what you really want to know is “how do they feel?”

Yesterday, I wore them to teach a group step class.

  • a quick practice run told me that even though the arch support was great, I’d still need to pop in my regular, over the counter insoles (I have high arches and almost always need a little help from Dr. Scholl’s)
  • they felt extremely light (my class hates it when I tell them my shoes feel light; they know that only means more plyometrics…)
  • although I was very aware of my feet during the warmup, I very quickly forgot that I was wearing new shoes once we started into the first pattern
  • lateral movements felt safe and secure (there’s nothing worse than rolling your ankle while flying over the step)
  • I was able to land softly (and quietly!) during box jumps and jacks (I’m still trying to teach my participants not to make so much noise on the step…)
  • my feet sparkled and shone in the sunshine (not really a comment about performance, but we all know that looking great often leads to feeling great…and feeling great makes you work harder)

Will I be wearing my Saucony Women’s ProGrid Guide 6 running shoes to step class tomorrow? Absolutely! But you should really come and see for yourself… Monday’s, 9:15 at the Port Moody Recreation Complex!

Disclaimer: Saucony and FitFluential LLC provided me with a pair Women’s ProGrid Guide 6 for review. They had no idea that silver was my favourite colour and that I would wear them not for running, but for teaching group step class!

#FatblasterFriday | Hi-Lo LEGS Workout!

Want to sculpt muscle, burn fat and engage your core simultaneously? (Rhetorical question, right?)

WORK YOUR LEGS! Together, your glutes, hamstrings and quads are your body’s powerhouse.

Lots of big muscles moving = lots of calories burned.

Today’s #FatblasterFriday is a Hi-Lo Legs workout. Only 6 exercises; 3 low impact moves (but don’t confuse ‘low’ with ‘easy’…), 3 high impact (or plyometric) moves, 15 reps each (or 15 repetitions per leg, where appropriate), 2 rounds and you’re done.

The entire workout can be done without equipment (body weight only), but for a little extra challenge I’d suggest a single dumbbell (5-15 pounds). No dumbbells around (make whatever joke you’d like now..)? Substitute a medball, telephone book or milk jug.

I used my new Ugi ball (isn’t it pretty?).

Let’s rock and roll!

Need a ‘Pinnable’ version of the workout? Here you go –>>>

legs workout

Be sure to check out my YouTube channel for more, challenging real-time workouts!

If you’re dying to try Ugi out for yourself, now’s the perfect time! Save $25, through October 31st, by clicking on the image below! Make sure to enter the promo code KICKSTART25!

legs workout

Have you ever tried a Ugi ball before?

Do you hate leg workouts as much as me? (Hint, the things we dislike the most are usually those we most need to do…)

Disclaimer #1: While I am a certified personal trainer, I am not YOUR personal trainer (unless you want me to be; email tgrand@telus.net for more information). Please see your doctor before embarking on any new fitness program.

Disclaimer #2: Ugi generously provided me with a 10 lb Ugi ball to use and review, as well as an affiliate promotion code to share with my readers. Check back next week for my thoughts about this fun new toy!

Intercostal muscle strain: a surprisingly long and slow recovery

It’s coming up on the 4 month anniversary of my intercostal muscle strain. Not sure whether that’s cause for celebration or consternation.

While I no longer see my chiropractor regularly (a therapy called the Graston Technique seems to have helped), neither am I completely healed. I’m back to teaching and training, as before and am spending considerable time strengthening my core. In addition to the three exercises I was prescribed back in August (Chiropractor-approved moves for healing your intercostal muscle strain), I am once again doing rotational work and even adding light resistance to crunches and planks.

intercostal muscle strain

Yet, every ten or twelve days I feel that same tenderness under my ribcage and am back to icing and ibuprofen.

Usually, it’s precipitated by overexertion: lifting a 20-lb box of cat litter up and out of the trunk of my van, then twisting only my upper body to place it on the ground (note to self, always turn feet before turning arms…); demonstrating an exercise to a client, using the heavier weight that they need, rather than the lighter weight that my core can handle; an afternoon of vacuuming and window washing (what a great excuse not to do housework!).

That’s the thing about intercostal muscle strain. It takes a long, long time to heal completely. Your intercostals are used each and every time you take a breath. Turning your torso engages them. Unlike other types of muscular strains, you can’t stop using your intercostals while they heal; just hold your breath for a couple of weeks and you’ll be fine! Ha!

Perhaps the most difficult aspect of having an injury like this is the number it does on your confidence. I’m much more tentative in the gym that I used to be. Picking up lighter weights than I know I can lift. Afraid of ‘over-doing it’ and being in pain again.

The biggest challenge is finding that fine balance between strengthening weakened muscles and re-injuring them. A balance I’m working on each and every day.

Have you ever had a long healing injury like an intercostal muscle strain?

How do you deal with injuries that interrupt your training (and your life!)?

 

 

 

5 tips for successful partner fitness training

Having a workout buddy can do wonders to improve motivation and accountability. No doubt about that. There’s nothing like knowing that somebody is waiting for you at the gym to ‘encourage’ you to get off the couch and into your exercise clothes.

Other benefits of  partner fitness training?

  • it’s an efficient way to combine workout time with social time
  • you’ll never have to search the gym for a spotter
  • having a common goal can strengthen personal relationships
  • hiring a personal trainer is often less expensive when there are two of you

But not all fitness partnerships work out.

When fitness partnerships dissolve, it’s typically due to differences between partners in commitment, ability and temperament.

Want to increase the odds of having a successful partner fitness training experience? Follow these 5 tips!

  1. ensure that both partners are equally committed. It sounds simple, but all too often, workout buddies differ in their inherent level of commitment. It’s no fun being stood up at the gym (or anywhere else, for that matter). If your partner is late for your workouts, is negative about exercising, or frequently cancels at the last minute, it might be time to re-evaluate the relationship.
  2. common fitness goals work best. If your primary fitness goal is weight loss and your fitness partner is hoping to shave minutes off their marathon time, the workouts that each of you need to do to achieve your respective goals are strikingly different.
  3. aim for similar fitness levels and abilities. When partners have very different fitness levels, the fitter individual almost always feels under-challenged, and sometimes, becomes resentful of being held back. These dynamics can spill over into your outside-the-gym relationship.
  4. save the coffee chatter until after the workout. While the social aspect of having a workout buddy can make exercise more enjoyable, don’t undermine the effects of your workout by talking the entire time. Warmup and stretching times are great for chit-chat; the rest of the time you should be working 🙂
  5. take turns being the trainer. If you and your fitness parter are equally committed to training, share a common fitness goal and have similar fitness levels and abilities, chances are you’re also equally knowledgable (or equally not-so-knowledgable) about exercise. Take turns mapping out your workout sessions, ensuring that you both remain equally engaged in the training relationship (and avoiding the teacher-student mentality)

P.S. Need to find a fitness friend? Group fitness classes are a great way to meet like-minded people; you may just find a fitness partner there!

Do you have a workout buddy?

How has partner fitness training benefited you?

 

 

#FatblasterFriday | ABSolutely Amazing All Abs Workout

Everybody wants amazing abs. The trick? Eat clean and work them consistently; 2-3 times each week and to fatigue each and every time.

Last spring, I had abs that I was proud of. I had all but eliminated added sugar from my diet and was training hard and consistently. Lots of all abs workouts.

all abs workout

Sadly, those abs are currently in hiding. Thanks to an injury that side-lined my training for much of the summer and a few too many trips to the ice cream shop 😉

In fact, in response to a recent photo I posted on Instagram, somebody actually asked if I was pregnant! (Note, doesn’t everyone know that you NEVER ask a woman if she’s pregnant, not unless she’s on the way to the hospital to deliver???)

all abs workout

But I’m determined. Those abs will reappear by Christmas time, come hell or Halloween treats (of which I’m having NONE!).

Today’s #FatblasterFriday is an all abs workout, baby.

ABSolutely amazing abs will be yours (and mine!) if you just commit to doing this workout 3 times per week. And don’t forget to progress the exercises (make them harder, that is), to keep on stimulating muscle growth and abdominal definition!

#FatblasterFriday Amazing All Abs Workout

1a. Plank + leg abduction (15 reps)

1b. Side plank + core rotation (15 reps)

Repeat 1a and 1b on opposite side

2a. V-sit push-aways (15 reps)

2b. V-sit + core rotation (15 reps each side)

Repeat 2a and 2b

3a. Diagonal crunch with foot on knee (15 reps)

3b. Reverse bridge glute squeeze with leg press (15 reps)

Repeat 3a and 3b on opposite side 

 

Don’t forget, your subscriptions MAKE MY DAY! Comments and Tweets would be LOVELY too!

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.

Chicken, garlic and leek soup recipe: a home made cold and flu remedy?

It’s officially cold and flu season. How do I know? I’ve been suffering with a nasty, upper respiratory tract virus for over a week now.

I don’t believe in over-the-counter cold medications.

Number one, I can’t pronounce most of the ingredients in them; chemicals scare me. Number two, they only affect symptoms; many of which are our body’s natural way of eliminating foreign hosts (e.g., fever, fatigue, some types of secretions). And number three, I hate the overly-dried out feeling that most nasal decongestants produce; give me mucous any day.

I’d much rather medicate via food. A good old fashioned home made chicken, garlic and leek soup recipe for me.

chicken, garlic and leek soup recipe

Garlic, for it’s antibacterial and antiviral properties.

chicken, garlic and leek soup recipe

Leeks, for their vitamin C (immune system booster and natural antihistamine) and potassium (helps maintain electrolyte balance; particularly important when vomiting and diarrhea are present).

chicken, garlic and leek soup recipe

Chicken, for tryptophan (a sleep-inducing agent) and selenium (support immune system function).

chicken, garlic and leek soup recipe

 Fitknitchick’s chicken, garlic and leek soup recipe

  • 1-2 Tbsp EVOO
  • 2 leeks, white parts only, cleaned and diced
  • 1 head of garlic, ~ 12 cloves
  • 1 cup chopped carrots
  • 500 g cooked and diced chicken breast
  • 8 cups low sodium chicken or vegetable stock
chicken, garlic and leek soup recipe
  1. Heat olive oil in a large stock pot over medium heat.
  2. Sautee leeks and garlic in oil until soft and translucent; about minutes
  3. Add stock, carrots and chicken to pot. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat, cover and simmer for 45 min.

Serve with crusty bread for maximum enjoyment.

Say goodbye to your cold and flu symptoms***

Do you have a favourite recipe that makes you feel better when you’re under the weather?

Do you believe in the healing powers of home cooking?

***Although there is no scientific evidence documenting the medicinal properties of home made chicken soup, I felt better within 12 hours of making and eating this recipe. Of course, I was on day 8 of my cold, so it may just be coincidence that I started to feel better then. But I prefer to think it was the soup!

Fitness professionals: do you feel pressured to maintain ‘the look’?

Body image disorder. Bulimia. Exercise addict. Food control freak.

Not exactly the words that come to mind when you think of the strong, lean, healthy-looking male and female fitness professionals that teach your classes, motivate you online and train you in the gym.

Recently, I’ve noticed a preponderance of posts by fitness bloggers using phrases like the above to describe themselves. These posts often contain a confession about feeling less than confident about their bodies, despite being in great physical shape.

My own experience with group fitness and personal trainer colleagues also supports the idea that fitness professionals feel pressured to maintain an extremely high level of fitness. They frequently overtrain. Obsess over their abs. Feel anxious when they miss a workout due to illness or family commitments. Compulsively document their workout routines and diet.

And me? Let’s just say that before I became a group fitness instructor and personal trainer, I never worried about back fat, muffin top, shoulder caps or the ‘peak’ on my biceps.

I wonder where this pressure comes from?

Do we place it on ourselves? Does it stem from the images of physical perfection we see daily in both digital and print media? Do the people we teach, train and motivate subtly require it of us? Or is it merely a by-product of living in a society that rewards more, better, faster, stronger?

I have purposely left this post for you to finish. 

Fitness professional or otherwise, please share your thoughts below.

 

 

 

 

 

 

#FatblasterFriday: I get by with a little help from my friends

So, here’s the deal. I’ve been sick all week. Too sick to work out at the gym. Too sick to work out at home. Even too sick to film a workout video for #FatblasterFriday.

I thought about having my kids do the workout for me. But, despite being very photogenic, their pushup form sucks.

#FatblasterFriday

I thought about just writing out some instructions for you to follow. But the whole point of #FatblasterFriday is to work out, in real time, together.

And then, I remembered a workout that I’d written, way back in the summer, as a birthday present for my friend Rebekah (now you’ll ALL want one for YOUR birthdays, won’t you?). She filmed herself doing the workout (with fantastic form, I might add) and posted it on her blog, BexLife.

Join Bex in an 8-minute, whole body workout!

Make sure you ‘Like’ her video and ‘Subscribe’ to her YouTube channel if you’re not already a fan.

I promise I’ll be back next week for an ALL ABS #FatblasterFriday video. Mine may even be flat after a week of eating very little…

Don’t forget to drop me a line and tell me what types of workouts you’d like to see on #FatblasterFriday!