Archives for March 2013

How do you deal with disappointment?

Last week, my family and I experienced a monumental disappointment.

deal with disappointment

Love that we still have the EXPIRED passports…

The spring break trip (Las Vegas and Cirque de Soleil, Flagstaff and the Grand Canyon, Tucson and the Sonoran Desert Museum) that we’d been planning for months had to be cancelled at the very last minute.

Fewer than 48 hours before we were scheduled to get on the plane, our passports went missing. (Go now, check to see that yours are where you think they are; I’ll wait).

Not in their usual ‘safe keeping’ spot. Not in our home office. Not in the car, the luggage, the bedroom, the freezer (amazing how frequently things gets misplaced in the freezer…), or any of my many purses or gym bags.

dealing with disappointment

Nowhere to be found and nothing to be done about it in the time available. (Why do these things always happen on Saturday evenings?)

Yes, we could have applied for emergency passports and rebooked flights and hotels.

But at considerable cost and additional stress as we awaited the delivery of new documents; would they arrive in time? what if they don’t and we have to cancel anyways? how much more will it cost us? do the children need another two days of anxiety and uncertainty?

Rather than wallow in pity and self-blame, we (well, actually I; my husband is still ruminating…) chose to re-frame and move forward, quickly booking a 3-day local get-away so we had something else to focus on and telling ourselves that all of our travel research was not for naught; next winter’s holiday is already planned and ready to be booked when the seat sales start in November!

We enjoyed a wonderful ‘stay-cation’ (although, for the record, two weeks is really too long for spring break) and showed our children that lessening the psychological impact of disappointment is possible given a ‘can-do’ attitude and some quick thinking.

dealing with disappointment

What does all of this have to do with fitness and healthy living? Good question!

Perhaps you’ve experienced a disappointment somewhere along the road to your health and fitness goals.

I know that I’ve had my fair share 😉

As in life, the road to health and wellness is paved with disappointments. You can let them hinder your progress or you can use them to fuel your determination to keep moving forward. You can choose pessimism over optimism. It’s up to you.

We all have to deal with disappointments. What’s your strategy?

Tell me about a recent disappointment that you’ve experienced and how you dealt with it (always happy to have more tools in my tool box!)

My paleo diet success story | a guest post from a paleo pal

Way back in September, I followed the paleo diet for a little less than 30 days. Even though I’ve since added some grains and a small about of dairy back into my day, I’m still curious about this approach to nutrition. And I know, from your questions and comments here and in response to anything I post about paleo on Facebook, that many of you are too.

Today, please welcome my friend and fellow healthy lifestyle blogger, Kerri of Fitviews, as she shares her family’s reasons for and experiences with adopting the paleo diet.


I’ve been eating Paleo for about a year and a half now. In August of 2011 I did a “Going Paleo” experiment on my fitness blog. Typical to my style I jumped in with both feet and went strict Paleo a la Robb Wolf’s Paleo Solution for 30 days. It was tough, but worth it.

paleo diet

Recipe link:

At the end of that little Paleo experiment I felt AMAZING. So amazing that I was struck by how not-amazing I’d been feeling without realizing there was a problem. Paleo has become a game-changer in my life. In my health, in my fitness, and in my over-all sense of feeling well.

After that experience there was no going back. I’ve been Paleo ever since.

paleo diet

A typical paleo breakfast at Kerri’s house

This wasn’t the first time I’d taken a stab at Paleo however. A year prior I’d tried Paleo and Primal both and failed miserably. I just couldn’t stick to either. What was different this time around? Why was I able to stick with it for 30 days and beyond? My husband.

You see, my husband has narcolepsy. The worst case his sleep specialist doctor had ever seen. As you can imagine it had a huge effect on his life. It was tough on all of us.

A couple of years back I began noticing that he seemed worse after eating certain foods. Through trial and error with his diet we found that Paleo (actually maybe a tad closer to Primal for him, he does some dairy) made all of his symptoms rare if not completely absent. He didn’t start out trying to go Paleo. He was simply removing foods that seemed to be an issue, but where he wound up was very much Paleo.

On Paleo my husband is now taking half the dosage of all his medications (or less) and doing 1,000 times better than we ever dreamed possible. Needless to say this was a big incentive for me. I wanted to be supportive to him, but I also wanted to see what Paleo could do for me.

It’s done a lot. Eating Paleo I feel just all-around well: energetic, clear headed, and ready to take on my days. My urge to binge eat is non-existent and my adult acne is no longer an issue (it seems to be dairy that causes that for me). It also cleared up myriad problems I’d struggled with for years with my periods, PMS, etc. Yes, I’ve lost pounds and inches too, but for me sticking with Paleo has more to do with how I feel.

Needless to say, we’ll be eating Paleo for years to come.

paleo diet

Recipe link:

paleo diet

Recipe link:

Is Paleo for everyone? I won’t even pretend to know the answer to that one. What I do know is that we should all be searching for what works for us and not just following the crowd. In that quest I firmly believe we need to pay more attention to how food affects us. How it makes us feel. What physical reactions we are having to it. 3o Days of Paleo is an awesome way to do just that. Like I said, it’s tough, but absolutely worth it.

Would you ever try 30 days of the Paleo diet?

KerriheadshotKerri Olkjer is a wife and homeschooling mom from rural Colorado. Most days you can find her wrangling kids (the people kind and the goat kind) and chickens, all the while sharing her adventures via instagram and twitter. She blogs about her wanna-be-farmer ways on and fitness, family, and good food on Join her the first Wednesday of each month for #paleochat on Twitter.

Canadian #fitgear giveaway | Mandala Sky yoga and lounge wear

I live in fitness, yoga and lounge wear and am always on the lookout for new brands to try and share with my readers!

Living in Canada, however, has its drawbacks when it comes to online shopping 🙁

The majority of online fitness retailers call the US home and despite Free Trade, the combined costs of (1) the slightly weaker buying power of the Canadian dollar (about 98 cents to the US dollar), (2) the excessive cost of shipping to Canada (I was once quoted $35 shipping on a $25 shirt!) and (3) the duty (read “tax”) that the Canadian government slaps on imported goods (everything but yarn; yarn, for some reason, is thankfully exempt…), I often ending up clicking away from my favourite websites with un-purchased items still in my basket.

(Although if I know that I’ll be travelling state-side in the near future, I’ll sometimes order and have things shipped to my hotel. Nothing like arriving at your destination with new clothes waiting for you!)

Imagine my delight when I recently discovered Mandala Sky yoga and lounger wear! Stylish and feminine with beautiful drape, figure-flattering details and MADE IN CANADA!


Turns out that Mandala Sky is also native to my home province! Designed on Salt Spring Island by the uber-talented Sky Marcano and manufactured locally in Vancouver, British Columbia, Mandala Sky is a small, but growing, ‘Made in Canada’ company; exactly the type of business that I LOVE to support!

Here’s me in my Hope Tunic and Leggings (95% Rayon from Modal, 5% spandex) and Jolene Jacket (66% Rayon from Bamboo, 28% Cotton, 6% Spandex), running from yoga class to coffee with the girls to the grocery store to after school pickup!

Mandala Sky yoga wear

I love the feel of the fabric; so soft and luxurious feeling.

I love the splashy details; both whimsical and organic.

I love the long silhouette of the jacket; body skimming without being tight.

I love that Sky is willing to send a pair of the Hope Leggings AND a Jolene Jacket (in your choice of colours) to one lucky reader of my blog! Your very own Mandala Sky yoga and lounge wear!

All you need to do to enter is visit Mandala Sky online and leave a comment below telling me which piece is your favourite (I challenge you to choose just one!) and where you’d wear it!

Extra entries can be earned (via the Raffelcopter widget below) by:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Contest is open to both Canadian and US residents and closes at 11:59 pm Friday, March 29th, PST. The winner will be contacted via email the following day and asked for clothing size and colour preferences. Note that because the Jolene Jacket is made to order the winner can expect to wait 3-4 weeks before delivery of their prize.

Disclaimer: While Mandala Sky provided me with samples of their yoga wear to review and giveaway, as always, all comments and complete adoration for the clothing line are all mine!

#FatblasterFriday | 5 benefits of stretching more frequently

I’ll be the first to admit it. I don’t stretch enough. Although I preach the value of stretching regularly to my group fitness classes and personal training clients, when given the choice to spend my last 10 minutes in the gym on cardio, strength training or stretching, I’ll always opt for one more set of squat presses 😉

If you’ve seen me in yin yoga class, you’ll know that flexibility is not my strong suit. Forward fold, pigeon pose, seated hamstring stretch; all are torture for me.


Despite knowing the benefits of stretching, I simply don’t do it enough.

Why stretch, you ask? Besides the obvious, ‘it feels good’, here are five benefits of stretching more frequently:

  • improved range of motion. Want to be able to kick higher? Throw harder? Run faster? Increasing your range of motion at knee, hip and shoulder joints can improve the speed and power of your every day (and sports-specific) movements. Joints with limited range of motion tend to get stiffer and tighter over time, eventually limiting mobility and independence.
  • better circulation. Stretching increases blood flow to your muscles. Better blood flow means faster flushing of post-workout waste products out of the muscle tissues and more rapid recovery between workouts.
  • improved posture. Muscles work in pairs to help you maintain proper posture. Muscle tightness on one side of the body results in over-stretched (and often weak) muscles on the opposite side. To improve posture, stretch tight muscles and strengthen their over-stretched counterparts.
  • pain and injury prevention. Lower back pain is often a direct result of tightness in the hamstrings, hips and glutes. Tight muscles pull the pelvis out of it’s natural alignment and result in increased pressure on the lumbar spine.
  • relaxation and improved mental health. Combining slow, gentle stretching with deep, regular breathing often leads to the release of relaxation and ‘happy’ hormones. Practiced just before bedtime, stretching can also act as a sleep aid; one of my favourite benefits of stretching!

Today’s #FatblasterFriday video is a guided stretch. Lasting about 8 minutes, it will guide you through a gentle, whole body stretch,.focusing on the muscles that are most commonly tight and in need of lengthening. Listen to the birds in my backyard and enjoy a few minutes of relaxation and rejuvenation with me!

Feeling all happy and relaxed? Then PLEASE

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.

Ensemble of confidence | a strength training guest post from Contemplative Fitness

My friend and fellow personal trainer, Roy Cohen’s writing (and photographs) always makes me stop, reflect and CONTEMPLATE (guess where his blog name comes from?). Please enjoy today’s guest post courtesy of the author of Contemplative Fitness

strength training

“Music has the power of wings.” Mike Scott, of The Waterboys

Music to my nerves…

I practice strength training for a multitude of reasons, not the least of which is that the connection it fosters between the thinking me, and the physical me can be as soothing and as formative in my life as music has been. In a sense, the act of strength training is music – physical music.

The body in motion, acting as directed by the mind, cooperatively though under stress, is a kinetic ensemble which can blend to create a satisfying result. That kind of ensemble movement can be to feeling, what an ensemble of sounds can be to hearing.

Being strong is a good problem to have…

The utility of strength training in the modern era is unequalled as a form of exercise. That is just my opinion. However, as a person who has taught exercise beyond traditional strength training, and as an athlete who over a lifetime has practiced and participated in many more genres of sport and fitness, I believe my opinion is worth your consideration.

It may be called strength training, but practiced properly its value extends far beyond strength.

Sticks and stones…

There is no type of medicine that can reverse the inevitable loss of bone density which occurs in people beyond middle age. There are some relatively benign medications which can slow down the loss of bones density, and a couple of more harsh medications that can cease it. None of these medications though, can be taken without inherent vulnerabilities disclosed elsewhere.

The regular practice of strength training can slow down the onset of bone density loss in all ages. So long as the strength training is practiced properly, it comes with almost no vulnerabilities. Tension on muscles equals tension on bones, and regular tension on bones is what helps slow down the loss of density.

Love me tendon…

Strength training makes muscles stronger. And trees are made out of wood. What goes largely unrecognized with strength training is that it promotes tendon strength as well. Tendons are where muscles taper, become increasingly dense, and fuse muscles to bone – just above and just below our joints.

Having stronger tendons offers our joints greater support. For those who experience difficulty with joints due to injuries, arthritis, or other damage, having stronger tendons on each side of the joint can offer needed support.

The practice of traditional strength training, using lighter to more moderate weights, performed slowly, and through a complete range of motion will help tendons become stronger. The support increased tendon strength offers those with trouble joints can be summed up in one word; confidence.

In transition…

Of all the values associated with strength training, the one that goes the most unappreciated, underrated, and the one which is rarely maximized by the general fitness population, is the transition phase during the lift.

When one transitions from the eccentric phase of a strength movement (the lowering of the weight), to the concentric phase (the raising of the weight), and maintains absolute control of the weight during this transition, as he applies complete concentration to the muscles involved, true strength is developed. This is the kind of strength that generates confidence as much as it generates power – everyday life kind of strength.

Strength gained from mastering the transition phase of a resistance exercise is most applicable to one’s daily life – much more so than the bragging rights associated with how much weight was on the bar. This can be where mommy strength is created, where the might of a daddy is developed, and where the power of the employee can be cultivated. This is the kind of strength one will appreciate possessing – beyond the gym walls.

Beyond pop: melody, lyrics, and structure…

A pop song is often underappreciated – just something to be heard as background noise or to pass the time. However, there is much more behind a pop song than most people will ever recognize or appreciate. There are benefits to a pop song far beyond superficial entertainment. When one extracts the multitude of values contained in a pop song; the lyrics, the intentions, and the energy, and applies those values to their own frame of mind, a person’s world can be changed for the better.

Traditional strength training is often considered to be superficial, like a pop song. Lifting weights equals bigger muscles, and more strength – big deal.

Like music though, strength training can offer much more when accepted on a more visceral level. When one extracts the multitude of values, and better understands the reaching benefits of strength training, a person’s world can be changed for the better.

Of course the benefits of strength training don’t end there. With regular strength training, one’s blood pressure can be reduced, attention spans can be increased, and mental acuity can be heightened. Strength training can promote better balance, enhance flexibility, and of course, improve our appearance.

Of course all of that should be music to everyone’s ears. Be well… rc

Roy Cohen began his fitness career in 1981 as an instructor for Nautilus Fitness Centers.  He has competed in marathon running, competitive stair climbing, ocean-going paddle board racing, bodybuilding, and obstacle course racing.  He owns the Contemplative Fitness training studio i San Diego, CA, and holds a degree in Exercise Science. He can be found on Facebook at Contemplative Fitness.

5 tips for fitting in exercise on vacation

Spring break is finally here 🙂

exercise on vacation

If you’re lucky enough to be heading someplace warm and sunny, are you planning to exercise on vacation?

While taking a break from working out can sometimes be beneficial, abandoning exercise entirely while on vacation only leads to a painful week or two of ‘re-entry’ when you head back to the gym…

5 tips for fitting in exercise on vacation

Plan. When searching for a hotel online, I have three criteria that need to be met; (1) a fitness centre, (2)  a kitchenette in the room, and (3) a room on the highest floor available.

exercise on vacation

The fitness centre need not be state-of-the-art; some free weights and a cardio machine will suffice.

Eating breakfast in the hotel not only saves time and money, it’s also keeps portion size in check and limits the sugary, starchy carbs that are the mainstay of most kid-friendly restaurants’ menus…

Choosing a room on a higher floor gives us the option of taking the stairs at least once each day; a great antidote for time spent parked by the pool or in the car on road trip vacations.

Pack. Make sure to pack at least one set of workout clothes. Don’t forget your running shoes.

exercise on vacation

You can always rinse tank tops and shorts in your bathroom sink; technical gear dries quickly. I also make sure to pack my workout journal; having a workout planned ahead of time makes it much easier to get in and out of the fitness centre quickly!

My go-to hotel fitness centre workout? 15 minutes cardio, 15 minutes of strength training including combination moves like squats/shoulder presses, lunges/bicep curls, deadlifts/rows and pushups, of course! (You might even try the hotel gym workout I videotaped over Christmas…)

Pre-empt. Don’t wait until there’s a lull in the activity to fit your workout in. Early morning is the best time to exercise on vacation. Get up and get it done while everyone is waking up, reading the newspaper, checking Facebook 😉 and showering. If you leave it until after your day’s adventures are over, it probably won’t get done. Cocktail hour can be hard to resist…

Play. Plan for at least one activity every day that requires physical exertion. Hike, swim, water ski, snorkel or kayak. All will burn more calories than sitting poolside. In addition to getting in a little extra exercise on vacation, you’ll also be making fabulous memories with your family and friends.

exercise on vacation

Permit. While maintaining your usual exercise routine while on vacation is admirable, give yourself permission to do a little less than you normally would in the gym. Remember that you are on holidays and that rest and recovery are valuable tools in your muscle-building-fat-burning toolbox.

Are you heading anywhere exciting for spring break?

Do you plan on fitting in exercise on vacation?

#FatblasterFriday | Strength, speed and balance training on the BOSU

I used to teach a weekly Bosu class. Sixty minutes of balance training, core, speed, agility and strength. I gave it up because it conflicted with Sunday family time.

balance training

But I miss it (and my body misses it; the ‘use it or lose it’ principle definitely applies to balance training 😉 ).

Never used a Bosu balance trainer before? Here’s what you’re missing out on:

  • improved balance (guess that’s why it’s called a ‘balance’ trainer)
  • better core stabilization (just standing on the dome activates all sorts of tiny stabilizer muscles; muscles you probably didn’t even know you had)
  • stronger knees and ankles (a must if you want to protect yourself from falling on ice or tripping over your children’s toys)
  • enhanced proprioception (knowing where your body is in space)

Today’s #FatblasterFriday workout combines upper and lower body strength moves with some plyometrics and a bit of fast foot work. Only 6 exercises, performed circuit style, 30 s on, 10 s off. Twice through the circuit and you’re free to get on with your day!

You’ll need a set of hand weights and a Bosu balance trainer (but don’t fret if you don’t have one or somebody let the air out of yours… I’ve included Bosu-less options as well).

balance training

Did you like this workout? Then PLEASE

  • WATCH and DO the workouts with me
  • SUBSCRIBE to fitknitchick on YouTube 
  • CHECK OUT the #FatblasterFriday Playlist for more, real time workouts
  • PIN the above WORKOUT PHOTO
  • GIVE me your FEEDBACK on YouTube or in the COMMENTS section below
  • LIKE and SHARE my videos with your friends via email, Facebook and Twitter


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.

Healthy living and weight loss encouragement | all bets are off

In January I hosted a DietBet (lose weight, have fun, make money and BUILD COMMUNITY). Over half of my participants lost at least 4% of their body weight in just four weeks. Many of those needed to lose much more and were thrilled to find a group of motivating, encouraging and inspirational peers to share the journey with.

At their request, I decided to host a second weight loss game. Happy to continue providing a platform for positive lifestyle change and delighted to see so many people sharing their tips for curbing the munchies, fitting daily exercise in and getting back on the horse after a binge meal (or two).

weight loss

Despite the success of this second game (44% of players met their weight loss goals; you guys rock!), I won’t be promoting a third anytime soon. This decision is not a reflection on the game itself (it clearly works for people who have significant weight to lose), but a personal decision on how hosting the game made me feel unhappy with my body.

You see, I not only hosted the games, I anted up and participated as well. Despite the fact that I didn’t (and don’t) really need to lose weight.

The act of stepping on the scales weekly (and being sent email reminders to ‘weigh myself more frequently to improve my chances of winning’) did a number on my head.

weight loss

  • It made me think that my body weight SHOULD be 4% less than it is (it stressed me out to not see the scale moving despite my very clean eating habits and almost daily visits to the gym)
  • It made me consider taking extreme measures to cut calories (even though I know that caloric restriction undermines my attempts to gain muscle mass and makes me a very cranky female dog).
  • It made me think back to all the different weights my body has been during the last 20 years (marriage, pre-baby number 1, post-baby number 1, pre-baby number 2, post-baby number 2, pre-weight lifting, pre-baby number 3, post-baby number 3, teaching 10 group fitness classes a week, the arrival of peri-menopause) and decide that the lowest weight was the best (never mind that I was considerably younger and had no muscle mass…)
  • It made me forget that I love looking and feeling strong (I love having a ‘big butt’)
  • It made me think that I’d be happier if I were 6 pounds lighter (happiness doesn’t come from a number on the scale)
  • It took the joy out of eating (food is fun) and exercising (even more fun)

It took watching some of my own #FatblasterFriday workout videos to realize that the body everybody else sees is NOT the same body that I’ve been seeing when I’ve look in the mirror as of late. (That girl in those videos has a rocking bod! Strong arms, toned butt and lots of confidence in her appearance…)

While I’d love to continue motivating and encouraging my friends and followers who aren’t yet through with their weight loss journey, I just can’t do it by hosting another DietBet (at least not right now; I need to deal with my own body image issues first). Instead, I’ll continue to support and inspire by sharing workouts, healthy eating tips and thought-provoking discussions about body image and weight loss here, on the blog, and in my Facebook group (if you haven’t ‘liked’ my page you’re missing out on twice-weekly free home workouts).

And my bathroom scales? I’m finding another use for them.

weight loss 

Does the number on your scale influence how you feel about yourself?

What other ways do you measure progress towards your health and fitness goals?

Albion Fit workout clothing review | one for me and one for you

You’d think that one dresser full of workout clothing would be enough. And it would be; if only I’d remember to do the laundry

Last week, as I was sorting through my dirty clothes basket, trying to determine which ‘previously worn’ workout top smelled the least offensive (I WAS on my way to the gym and was only going to get it sweaty again…), the mailman arrived with a parcel just for me. A brand new Classic Racerback top courtesy of Albion Fit.

Albion Fit workout clothing

I LOVE the colour (it matches my eyes).

I LOVE the fit (the shirring makes me look like I’ve had a lift; “not that there’s anything wrong with that” and no I haven’t, “they’re real and they’re spectacular”).

I LOVE the cut (racer backs make your delts pop and the tapered waist accentuates your abs).

I LOVE the swirly detail (a bit prettier than your average tank).

I’d LOVE it even more if it were a tad longer (note that I have a long torso and it may well be long enough for you if you’re short-waisted) and if the bottom edge were finished a bit differently to prevent rolling.

It comes in Teal, White, Pomegranate and Basic Black and even has capris to match (if you’re into the whole matching outfit thing).

Albion Fit workout clothing

Want to see it in action? Check out last Friday’s #FatblasterFriday pyramid workout!

I know you’d LOVE to win one of your very own! One lucky reader will win a Classic Racerback tank in the colour (and size) of their choice. Easy as pinning, commenting and following on Twitter!

  1. Head on over to the Albion Fit workout clothing page
  2. Take a minute to browse through their women’s fitness and swimwear
  3. Pin your favourite item, grab the Pin URL and  share it in the comments below
  4. Log in to the Raffelcopter widget and indicate that you’ve Pinned and Commented (that’s your mandatory entry)
  5. Earn additional entries by following Albion Fit and Fitknitchick on Twitter
  6. Contest is open to both US and Canadian citizens (hooray for Canada’s inclusion!)
  7. Contest closes at 11:59 pm (PST), Friday, March 15th, 2013
  8. Winner to be announced on the blog and notified by email the following morning 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Disclaimer: While Albion Fit generously sent me product to review and to share with my readers, all opinions (and lame television sit com jokes) are my very own.