Archives for May 2013

May’s Free Pinterest-friendly Workouts of the Day

May 31st is one of my most favourite days of the year.

Why? It’s the birthday of my youngest child, who today, turns 9. Where has the time gone? (And how did I get to be 9 years older?)

Pinterest-friendly workouts

As some of you know, I post Pinterest-friendly workouts of the day to my Facebook page, every (or almost every) Tuesday and Thursday. (If you haven’t yet ‘liked’ my page, you can head on over there now and click away; we’ll wait for you to get back).

Last month, I started re-capping the month’s workouts here, so they’d be easy to find and easy to Pin (go ahead, Pin one, I dare you).

If you’d like to thank me (!), I’d love it if you’d click on through and vote for me, Tamara Grand (fitknitchick), in this year’s Vancouver Top Mom Bloggers contest. It will literally take you 10 s.

In addition to getting to spend a weekend away from  my kids, there’s also a year’s supply of chocolate for the winner. And chocolate for me equals another year’s worth of Pinterest-friendly workouts of the day for you (and me both; I’ll need them!). Thanks a bunch!

Pinterest-friendly workouts

Pinterest-friendly workouts


Pinterest-friendly workouts


Pinterest-friendly workouts

Pinterest-friendly workouts

Pinterest-friendly workouts

Pinterest-friendly workouts

Have a suggestion for a workout that you’d like to see?

Drop me a line and I just might use your suggestion for one of June’s free workouts of the day!

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.

I’m in the spotlight! The FitFluential Ambassador Spotlight, that is

Ever taken a moment to look at the images in my left sidebar? The badges under the title ‘Sponsors, Events and Associates’? Ever clicked on the black and white one, the one that says ‘FitFluential Ambassador’?

ambassador button
If you have, you’ll have been instantly transported to the website of the largest, most inclusive fitness and healthy living community on the internet!

Boasting nearly 1000 Ambassadors, with blogs focusing on weight loss journeys, marathon running, CrossFit, triathlon, fitness coaching, personal growth, healthy recipes and boomer fitness, FitFluential has something to meet your fitness needs, no matter how individual they are (case in point, there’s even room for knitters 🙂 ).

I’ve been a FitFluential Ambassador for about a year and a half now and it’s been a rewarding experience on all fronts.

  • as a blogger, I’ve learned a ton about the technical side of blogging, community building and engagement
  • as a fitness enthusiast, I’ve been introduced to new exercises and styles of workouts
  • as a fitness professional, I’ve had the opportunity to meet other fit pros and to share tips and tricks for keeping my group fitness classes fun and my personal training clients motivated and on track
  • as a 45-year old mother of three, I’ve met many other women whose lives and outlooks on life are similar to mine, several of whom I’m proud to call my new, closest friends!
  • as a knitter, well, we’re still working on that one

Today, FitFluential is featuring my little blog on their Facebook page as part of their 2-year anniversary celebration!

Make sure you head on over and ‘like’ the page so as not to miss the workouts, motivational images and healthy recipes they share and post daily.

You can also follow FitFluential on the following social media platforms:




Ten things I’ve learned about fitness and nutrition at Cub camp

My daughter is a Cub Scout.

fitness and nutrition at Cup camp

In addition to weekly meetings, monthly hikes and quarterly bottle drives, Cub Scouts also go camping. A lot. And because Cubs are typically between the ages of 8 and 11, the parents of Cub Scouts regularly accompany them to camp.

As both the ‘accompanying parent’ and the volunteer food coordinator for three of this year’s camps, I thought I’d share some things I’ve learned about fitness and nutrition at Cub camp.

  1. You don’t need to go to the gym to get a great workout in. Hauling tents and sleeping bags and bin after bin of food is equivalent to a rigorous strength training workout. Hiking uphill in heavy, wet snow burns more calories than an hour of step class; especially if you have to drag a tired, resistant child much of the way. fitness and nutrition at Cub camp
  2. When cooking for a large group in a foreign kitchen, simple foods are best. Providing the un-assembled ingredients for morning oats, lunchtime wraps or dinner pizzas allows everyone to enjoy a healthy, nutritious meal without the cook having to cater to specific dietary needs (or diners to go without because they weren’t sure what type of sauce was used on the chicken or because they simply have a ‘non-adventurous palate’)
  3. Resist the ‘weekends are for splurging’ mindset. Dessert doesn’t need to be served with every meal. Excess sugar and empty calories ultimately put a damper on weekend fun by making us too tired and cranky to enjoy our time with family and friends.
  4. Graze on healthy snacks when meal times are spaced irregularly. At Cub Camps, we set up a ‘grazing table’, laden with fruit, nuts, cheese and cereal bars and have found this practice to greatly reduce pre-dinner melt downs (by children and parents, alike 😉 ).
  5. Choose a room (or set up your tent) as far from the centre of activity as possible. You’ll not only sleep better, but you’ll also have to walk more throughout the day. Note, however, that snorers also tend to frequent the periphery so remember to pack ear plugs.
  6. When food is served buffet style and you didn’t have a hand in it’s preparation, choose raw over cooked. Fill your plate up with salad (go easy on the toppings and dressing if you’re watching your calories or fat intake) and raw vegetables, rather than the cheaper, and nutritionally impoverished white rice, pasta, mashed potatoes and french fries that typically accompany meals prepared for large groups. Your digestion will thank you in the days ahead (if you do indulge, see point #8 below).
  7. Plan an activity that requires big muscle movement between dinner and bedtime. At camp, dinner tends to be the largest meal of the day. Thankfully, a rousing campfire, replete with action songs, skits and cheers is a tradition with Cubs and Scouts. Don’t be that parent who sits in their chair watching the activity. My kids love it when I’m stomping and clapping and dancing with them!
  8. Learn how to operate the coffee machine. Institutional coffee is often weak and watery. On a weekend when your fibre intake is lower than usual, a good strong cup of joe can help kick-start a sluggish bowel and return you to regularity.
  9. Get back to your regular routine ASAP. Because food and fellowship often go hand in hand, it’s unlikely that you’ll make it home without having sampled something sugary, salty, fried or processed (s’mores and brownies are my achilles heel). Ditch the guilt and get back to your routine. Immediately.
  10. Processed food is for the birds. Even seemingly healthy processed snacks can be laden with sugar, fat and salt, not to mention unpronounceable chemicals and preservatives. Take a page from the Cub’s handbook and feed them to the birds!

fitness and nutrition at Cub camp

Do you have a favourite indulgent camp food?

How do you ‘get back on track’ after a weekend of missed workouts and nutritional missteps?

Sock yarn blankets, parenting and ‘seasonal fitness’

Seems like everywhere I look, I see ads for ‘summer shape up’ challenges, ‘bikini body’ bootcamps and ‘get fit quick’ workouts. Many of which promise that if you simply follow their programs, you’ll have the ‘body of your dreams’ in a mere 4 weeks or less. (This one must be the best; only 7 days!)

Screen Shot 2013-05-23 at 6.14.30 PM

In reality, unless you’ve been eating clean and exercising regularly since LAST summer, you’re unlikely to obtain the promised results in time for the upcoming ‘bathing suit season’. 

While I love the idea of people getting more active and cleaning up their diets, I don’t believe in ‘seasonal fitness’.

Why? Losing weight, building muscle and creating definition require taking a long-term view. Consistency and progression are your keys to success. Each day, do a little bit more than the day before. Make it a lifestyle not a short term means to an end.

I like to think of fitness the same way I think about sock yarn blankets and parenting.

All three are big, long term projects, punctuated by shorter duration ‘tasks’.

Thinking about the end point (10 unassisted chin ups; 42, 7-inch knitted blocks; 3 university graduates) can be overwhelming.

Focusing on the smaller achievements (a single chin up; each separate block; preschool graduation) makes the journey more enjoyable and allows for reflection and mid-stream changes in direction.

seasonal fitness

By all means, use the summer as incentive to get moving and make better choices in the kitchen, but don’t expect to reach the end of your journey in a few short months.

Interested in turning your ‘seasonal fitness’ program into a long term lifestyle change? I’d love to help and have a few spots currently available in my online fitness coaching practice.

Shoot me an email ( and we’ll talk; not ‘seasonal fitness’, but fitness for all seasons!



Lolë Women’s Wear – Clothes to make you ‘Live Out Loud Everyday’

Disclaimer: Lolë sent me a gift certificate to redeem on their website in exchange for a product review. As always, all photos, opinions and patriotic statements are my own.

For me, when it comes to fashion, comfort always trumps style. Living in fitness gear day in, day out has left me with little tolerance for clothing that looks great on, but leaves you wanting to change out of it the moment you get home.

Sometimes, however, you get the best of both worlds. Clothing that flatters your figure, moves without pinching and binding and makes you feel stylish and pulled together (even if you’re only zipping out to the grocery store).

Enter Lolë. A Canadian-based women’s wear company specializing in modern, stylish and casual, urban and yoga wear. Their clothes are designed with active, inspiring and passionate women in mind; women who Live Out Loud Everyday (LOLE, get it?).

Lolë women's wear

I was first introduced to Lolë women’s wear by a German friend of mine, way back in 2003. A friend with a fun, quirky fashion sense (her favourite colour is orange) who was constantly encouraging me to try something a bit different. Something with a bit of flair. Something other than a pair of yoga pants

She convinced me that I really could wear green and that brown was just as flattering as black! (Note that these two pieces date back to the 2003 collection and can no longer be purchased; I really do hold onto things I like forever…)

Lolë women's wear

I also own a lovely, light blue tankini of theirs that’s seen me through several summer beach holidays. (Nope, not sharing bathing suit photos today or anytime soon).

Recently, Lolë reached out to me to help spread the word about their brand in exchange for a credit in their online store. As I’d already been browsing their spring catalogue and had bookmarked several items that I’d wanted to try, I was happy to oblige!

Despite all the ‘work’ Doris had done to encourage me to embrace colour in my clothing choices, since her return to Germany a few years back, I’ve returned to my old love of black. (But you can always accessorize black, right? A jean jacket, a hand knit scarf, some lovely bright Fluevogs…)

Lolë women's wear

Pictured above? The Circuit Walk Short (4-way stretch, 50+ UPF, 2 pockets front, 2 pockets back, 82% Nylon 18% Elastane) and The Delicate Tank (antibacterial, quick dry, 95% Nylon 5% Elastane, seamless, with shelf bra and adjustable straps).

Both are extremely light weight and will be wonderful layering pieces throughout the spring and summer. In fact, I’ve already paired the tank with the green cotton skirt shown above. My hubby likes!

What’s your favourite ‘non-gym’ look?

Have you heard of or tried Lolë women’s wear?

I thank Lolë for generously providing me with an outfit to review and my husband for his willingness to always be my ‘fashion photographer’!

How to get arms like Michelle Obama without resorting to plastic surgery

Last week, one of my clients mentioned to me a story that she’d seen on a popular evening entertainment show. A story about women flocking by the thousands to their plastic surgeon’s offices because they wanted arms like Michelle Obama.

arms like Michelle Obama

I don’t have photo rights to any pics of Michelle Obama’s arms, so you’ll have to look at mine instead

According to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, last year more than 15 000 people (98% of them women) elected to undergo ‘brachioplasty’ to remove excess skin and fat from the back of their upper arms. Compare that to the year 2000, when only about 300 surgeries were performed nation wide. That’s an increase of nearly 4 400% in just over 10 years!

While I’m not surprised to learn that women want to improve the look and tone of their triceps, I AM surprised to see that so many have chosen a surgical route to reach their goals. Surgery is expensive (nearly $4 000 for this procedure), leaves visible scars and can result in unexpected complications and infection during the recovery period.

Want arms like Michelle Obama without going under the knife?

  • eat clean and pay attention to portion sizes. Fat accumulates all over the body, including the back of the upper arms, when we consume sugar, alcohol, fatty and processed foods. Educate yourself about portion sizes and eat within your caloric requirements.
  • move more. The more your move, the more calories you burn. Daily calorie deficit leads to fat loss. Movement doesn’t need to be fast to be effective; start by adding a 15 minute walk to your day.
  • strengthen your largest muscles. Whole body strength training builds metabolically active muscle; muscle that will continue to consume calories long after your workout. Don’t limit your weight lifting to upper body exercise; your legs and butt are large, powerful muscles and will contribute more to your daily energy budget than the smaller muscles of your arms.
  • follow an upper body strength training plan. Michelle Obama clearly works out. I’m guessing that she spends 30 minutes a day, perhaps 3 days a week, training her upper body. No doubt she works in the 6 to 12 repetition range (the ‘hypertrophy’ range) and lifts weights heavy enough to fatigue her muscles by the end of each set.

If a client came to me wanting arms like Michelle Obama, here’s a program I would suggest they start with, 3 days per week, every other day.  

arms like Michelle Obama

 Have a favourite arm exercise that I’ve missed? Feel free to share and link up below in the comments!

Do you avoid the ‘f’ word? | Talking to kids about obesity

Lately, my nearly 9-year old son has become obsessed with body weight. Not his own, mind you. Everybody else’s.

talking to kids about obesity

It all started with a trip to the vet’s. Our ginger cat was due for his annual well-pet visit and the children wanted to tag along. Having never weighed him at home, we were surprised (well, sort of surprised, okay, not really surprised) when the vet told us that at 19.4 lbs, he was overweight and needed to be put on a diet.

Since then, my son constantly refers to the cat as ‘chubby’, ‘obese’, ‘fatty catty’ and ‘big butt’. While that cat doesn’t seem to mind (he’s wary of A. at the best of times), it bothers me to hear him use those words so comfortably when describing another living being (even if it is just the cat).

Recently, he’s taken to pointing out overweight people when we’re out in public. Most of this time, thankfully, it’s from behind the sound-proof glass of our car. Every now and then, he uses his ‘inside voice’ when we’re out in public.

I’ve had many quiet chats with him about why we don’t call people names and draw attention to their physical appearance (‘if you don’t have anything nice to say about somebody, don’t say anything at all’). He doesn’t believe there’s anything wrong with it, as he’s just stating the truth (‘just the facts ma’am’), as we’ve always taught him to.

I worry about this behaviour for several reasons:

  • there is one very obese child at his school who’s been a victim of both school yard and cyber bullying about his weight (his mother is a friend of mine and is working hard with him to modify his diet and help him to lose weight in a healthy manner) and I want my son to understand what can happen when people stigmatize others based on appearances
  • I have a pre-teen daughter who already has food issues (although she currently has no issues with her body, the teenage years are tough on girls and I know very few women who managed to escape them without developing negative thoughts about their weight)
  • ‘fattism’ is all around us. By now you’ve all heard about the Abercrombie and Fitch debacle. While many people were outraged upon hearing this story, I believe that negative images of and attitudes about overweight people are much more prevalent than we’d like to let on (just the other day I ‘unfollowed’ a fellow fitness peep who posted a pair of photos on Instagram, one depicting an overweight women stuffing cupcakes in her mouth, the other showing a lean, curvaceous woman posing provocatively in a bikini;  the caption below read ‘you can either eat delicious or look delicious’)

We don’t use either the ‘f’ word or the ‘d’ word at home.

While we do talk about the health benefits of maintaining an appropriate weight for your height and regularly discuss the merits of eating whole, unprocessed foods (usually when one child or another is trying to convince me to buy something I don’t consider a healthy option while grocery shopping), we try hard not to vilify certain foods or make judgements about people who eat them (who doesn’t enjoy a cupcake, now and then?).

Am I being overly sensitive to language? How do you talk to your children about body weight, obesity, and body image? Do you discourage them from using the words ‘fat’ and ‘diet’? Have you ever noticed them adopting ‘fattist’ attitudes? How does one avoid it?

I’d love to hear your thoughts about talking to kids about obesity.

Please add to the conversation by leaving a comment below!


#FatblasterFriday | a Mother’s Day workout just for you

I know that it’s only Friday, but I’m guessing that many of you will be celebrating Mother’s Day with a calorie-laden brunch, barbecue or dinner out. (Alas, my hubby is away and my mom lives across the country, so unless my children have secret plans, I’ll be cooking dinner myself and sticking to my usual meal plan)

Regardless, this week’s #FatblasterFriday is a MOTHER of a workout. My Mother’s Day workout is designed to work all of your major muscle groups in as little time as possible. Do it alone, or convince your mom (if you’re a kid) or kids (if you’re a mom) to do it with you. They’ll thank you when it’s over 🙂

Only 12 repetitions of each of 6 exercises, done in circuit-style, twice through and you’re free to enjoy the rest of your day.

All you need is a set of dumbbells (go heavy, or go home!), a yoga mat and a stool or bench (heck, even a staircase will do).

Are you in?

Fitknitchick’s Mother’s Day Workout

And for those of you who like to ‘pin’ things for later…

Mother's Day workout

I makes my heart SING when you

  • 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

Wishing all my ‘mom’ readers a wonderful Mother’s Day!

Does your family have any special Mother’s Day traditions?

Would you punish your husband for leaving you alone with three children over the Mother’s Day weekend?

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.

Hit a strength training plateau? Try pre-exhaust supersets

The other day I wrote about the pitfalls of high repetition strength training.

One of my commenters pointed out that done on an occasional basis, a day or two of high repetition workouts can sometimes help you push past a stubborn strength training plateau. (You know, that exercise that you just can’t increase your weights on no matter how hard you try).

While I agree that this is a reasonable use for high rep training, my go-to ‘strength training plateau buster’ workout  is a pre-exhaust superset.

Let me explain. Compound exercises (which we should all be doing….) require the use of more than one group of muscles. However, not all muscles are created equal. Some are larger, and hence, potentially stronger than others. Often times, it’s the smaller, weaker muscle required for a particular exercise that ‘exhausts’  before the larger, stronger muscle, preventing us from progressing on the lift.

strength training plateau

Take chest presses as an example. Although chest presses target the pectoral muscles, the triceps are needed to extend the arms fully and complete the lift. The smaller, weaker triceps are fatigued at a much lighter load (or volume of repetitions) than required to fatigue the pecs. Unless you work to increase the strength of your triceps, you’ll hit a strength training plateau on this exercise.

Pre-exhaust training offers a solution. Perform two exercises for the target muscle group, super-set style, in the 8 to 12 rep range. (Hint: choose a weight heavy enough to exhaust the target muscle by the end of the set, otherwise you’ll never get over your plateau).

The first exercise of the pair will be an isolation exercise; one that doesn’t require the assistance of the smaller, weaker muscle that’s inhibiting progress. Work to failure and then immediately follow with a compound exercise targeting the same muscle group. The larger muscle, although temporarily fatigued, will be assisted by the smaller muscle, allowing you to continue stressing it and ultimately, increasing its strength.

I use pre-exhaust training in my own workouts every few months, for a week or two at a time (caution, if you overuse the technique, like any other form of training, your body will adapt to it and it won’t have the same benefits). I’ve found it a particularly useful technique for overcoming strength training plateaus of the chest, back and biceps.

Try the following exercise combinations and see if the pre-exhaust method doesn’t make a difference in your training.

Chest: Incline dumbbell flys (isolation) followed by chest (or incline) chest presses (compound)

Back: Seated row (isolation) followed by barbell bent over row (compound)

Biceps: Preacher curl (isolation) followed by under hand grip chin ups (compound)

strength training plateau

Have you ever tried pre-exhaust training?

What’s your go-to strength training plateau busting technique?