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:

Twitter: https://twitter.com/FitFluential

Pinterest: http://pinterest.com/fitfluential/

Instagram: http://instagram.com/fitfluential

What’s the best diet for weight loss?

What’s the best diet for weight loss? Adkins, the Zone, low-carb, high-carb, low-fat, no sugar, wheat-free, dairy-free, low-cal, Paleo, vegan, HCG?

There are a lot of diets out there promising to be the answer to your weight loss prayers. All you need to do is buy their books or supplements or prepared meals and the pounds will start falling off. Many claim to have scientific research to support their views on nutrition and health.

Yet most fail to be the panacea they represent themselves as.

While it’s certainly possible to find people who’ve lost weight following each of these diets, there are also lots who haven’t lost a pound. Perhaps we only hear about the success stories. When was the last time someone told you they had religiously followed a popular diet and failed to lose weight?

Recently, I attended the Fitness and Health Bloggers Conference in Denver, Colorado. For me, the biggest take home message of the conference could be summed up by the following slide (taken from Dr. James Hill’s presentation, “The Importance of Evidence Based Approaches to Health and Wellness”);

Dr. James Hill

Source: Sacks FS. et al. NEJM 2009;360(9) 859-873.

On the left (circled) at the number of people who lost weight; some ‘big’ losers, a few moderate losers. On the far right are the people who gained weight; as much as 5 kg by the end of the study. Most people are in the middle; at about the same weight they were when they started the diet. Note that the people in the study were all obese (BMI > 30), not those aiming to lose the ‘last 10 pounds’.

(What this figure doesn’t tell us is how hard each of the diets is to adhere to; however, sample sizes in each group are the same, so all of the individuals pictured above made it to the end of the study. Perhaps I should write a post about diet adherence)

The take home message? Macronutrient manipulation is not important to weight loss for the clinically obese. Reducing calories is. Unless you have specific dietary issues (e.g., allergic to gluten or dairy or nuts), any calorically restrictive diet you choose will be equally likely to lead to weight loss.

So, what’s the best diet for weight loss? Any diet that you can stick with for as long as it takes the weight to come off.

Eat less, move more, forget cutting out entire food groups and don’t worry so much about your carb to protein to fat ratio.

Now some of you may remember that I’ve been playing around with macronutrients in my own diet. Specifically, I’ve been looking at programs that encourage people to reduce their intake of particular carbohydrates. While I’m not finished with my research, I do think that prescriptions for weight loss in the obese and those trying to lose ‘those last 10 pounds’ are different.

However, that topic really merits a post of it’s own too. Stay tuned…

Have you ever tried one of the diets pictured above?

What type of results did you get? Was it hard to stick to? 

AND, if you haven’t yet entered my giveaway for Arbonne Makeup Primer and a $40 Arbonne gift card, there’s still time!

Disclaimer: I know I’ve told you this already, but my registration to the FHBC was sponsored by Refuel with Chocolate Milk and FitFluential. Any misinterpretations of the data 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?

Will adding soy protein to your post-workout shake lead to improved strength gains? Findings from a recent study

For most women, adding resistance training to their fitness regime is the easiest way to reduce body fat and sculpt shapely muscles. Building muscle, however, requires protein, a dietary component that many simply aren’t getting enough of.

Not only does protein help to develop and strengthen muscle fibers, it also increases satiation, making it less likely that you’ll experience and give in to cravings for simple carbohydrates after your workout, thereby undermining your health and fitness goals.

I often recommend that my personal training clients consume protein shakes within an hour of their strength workouts; a simple way to get an extra serving of protein into their day. While many choose to supplement with whey or casein isolate powders, some have trouble digesting the milk-based proteins or, for other reasons, prefer to minimize the animal products in their diet.

Enter soy protein.

Like proteins derived from dairy and meat, soy protein contains the full complement of amino acids required by your body for all of its day-to-day functions. It’s low in fat and widely available. It contains more glutamine (a free radical-reducing antioxidant) and arginine (which speeds muscle recovery via improved blood flow) than either whey or casein. It has an intermediate digestion time (slower than whey and faster than casein), suggesting that when used in concert with one or both of the milk-based proteins, it may increase the length of the post-exercise recovery period during which muscle growth occurs. I’m all for getting the most out of my workouts!

At a recent academic conference, Dr. B. Rasmussen and colleagues (University of Texas, Medical Branch), presented the results of a preliminary study they conducted comparing the post-strength training benefits of consuming a soy/whey/casein protein mix relative to supplementing with whey alone.

Nineteen young adults (all male) were randomly assigned to one of the two treatments (whey and a combination of whey, casein and Solae™ SUPRO® isolated soy protein). Each participant was subjected to a high intensity leg-strengthening exercise and given their assigned protein supplement (20 g of protein) one hour after the workout was complete. Muscle protein synthesis was measured (by biopsy of a leg muscle) both before (as a baseline) and after the exercise bout (once 1-3 hours post exercise and a second time 3-5 hours post-exercise).

Despite the small number of participants in the study, results suggest an increase in post-exercise muscle protein synthesis by the soy/whey/casein combination group relative to the whey only participants. The authors concluded that the combination of slow, medium and long-digestion time proteins may lengthen the post-exercise recovery window, thereby allowing for potentially bigger strength gains than might be expected by using any one of the proteins by itself.

I want to know more; don’t you? I’d love to see this study extended over time to see if a longer post-exercise recovery window really results in improved strength in the gym. For example, assigning athletes to different protein supplementation regimes and measuring their 1RM on a standard strength exercise weekly for several months.

I’d also like to know whether the results are applicable to women; I work hard in the gym and if changing the type of protein I consume post-workout can give me better and faster results, I’m all for making a change.

Join me at a Twitter chat with Solae and FitFluential on Wednesday, May the 23rd, 8:00 pm CST (that’s 6 pm if you’re on the west coast). Follow my Tweets (fitknitchick_1) and the hashtag #SoyProtein for more information about soy and the benefits of including it in your post-exercise regime.

FitFluential LLC compensated me for this campaign. All opinions are my own.

Working out is hard: show me your #PROOF

If you follow my Twitter stream (you do, don’t you? If not, just click on the little blue ‘t’ button over on the right), you’ve probably noticed me Tweeting about my workouts and including the hashtag #PROOF.

It’s all part of a FitFluential ‘motivation and accountability’ campaign. The premise being, that because our friends and colleagues are anticipating our daily #PROOF, we’ll be less likely to skip a workout and more likely to ‘crush it’.

It’s great to see what everybody else is up to (although some people are clearly over-achievers, setting the bar stratospherically high for the rest of us…) and it feels wonderful to have somebody see your #PROOF post and Tweet back words of encouragement and support. Because, frankly, working out is hard and a little bit of positive reinforcement goes a very long way.

What constitutes #PROOF?

People have been extremely creative, posting pictures of themselves during and after workouts (exhibiting the compulsory sweat), snapshots of the scrap of paper they wrote their workout plan down on, link ups to their Daily Mile runs, photos of heart rate monitors showing calories burned, minutes in their ‘target heart rate zone’ and, my personal favourite, the maximum heart rate they attained during their workout (that’s my competitive streak coming out again!).

Anyone can join in. You needn’t be a member of FitFluential (but of course, you should be! The only requirement is an interest in healthy living!).

Some examples of my recent #PROOF? Why of course!

and

and

I’d love to see YOUR #PROOF!

All you need to do is Tweet the details and include the hashtags #FitFluential and #PROOF!

And please feel free to let me know in the comments box below.

 

(Almost) Monday Motivation: happy birthday wishes to Kelly Olexa, queen of the motivators!

It’s almost Monday. Nothing terribly exciting about that (unless your kids have been cooped up in the house all weekend and you’re thrilled to be sending them off to school for the day…).

Today’s Monday Motivation post is a special one. Today is the birthday of a funny, strong, powerful and MOTIVATING woman. Her company, FitFluential, has turned the fitness community on it’s head, providing a virtual meeting place for bloggers, YouTubers, foodies and health and fitness lovers alike.

Whether blogging, v-logging, Tweeting or Facebooking, her positive energy is felt (and caught!) by all. In the short time I’ve been associated with FitFluential, she’s motivated me to reach higher and farther than I would have on my own.

My YouTube videos? Her fault. More frequent blog posts? Guilty again. Partnering up with GNC and VegaSport. All thanks to her. The opportunity to attend FHBC this June? Muchus gracias my friend.

What else has she taught me?

  • FTW does not mean ‘free the whales’
  • if you’re engaging enough, YouTube viewers will not click away while you drink 16 oz of water
  • it’s okay to adjust ‘your girls’ on camera
  • Nickelback rocks (although I kind of knew that already)
  • when women post near-naked bodies of men on their websites, it’s not pornography, it’s art
  • a workout’s not a workout unless you CRUSH IT

Please join me in wishing Kelly Olexa, queen of the motivators, a heart felt Happy Birthday!

Kelly, have a wonderful, joyous, fitness-filled day (and it’s your birthday, so go ahead an indulge in that soda!).

Want to meet your favourite health and fitness bloggers in real life? Go to a conference!

Before I became a fitness professional and blogger, I spent many years as an academic researcher. One of my favourite parts of the job was travelling to conferences to present my research and meet others who shared the same interests and passions that I do.

I recently discovered that conferences are not unique to the academic world. Health and fitness bloggers have them too! I’d love to attend this June’s Fitness and Health Bloggers Conference in Denver, Colorado, in part, because I’ve never visited Denver before, but also because FitFluential will be there to talk about blogging and branding and social media. How fun would it be to meet up with some of my new, online blogging friends!

Even more exciting is the possibility of winning a scholarship that covers the cost of registration to the three-day event! Refuel With Chocolate Milk is graciously sponsoring 40 FitFluential members to attend the conference. Perhaps I’ll be one of them?

On that note, I thought I’d share with you one of my favourite ‘double-header fitness days’  shakes. The one I drink in the hour between my Monday Step & Pump and Spin classes. It’s got carbohydrates to refuel after the first class, protein to stabilize blood sugars, potassium to aid muscle recovery and caffeine to pump me up before I get on the bike!

Fitknitchick’s Chocolate Espresso Energy Shake:

  • 1 cup low fat milk or chocolate milk
  • 1 Tbsp no sugar, no salt added peanut butter
  • 1/2 cup espresso
  • 1 scoop chocolate protein powder
  • 1/2 banana
  • ice

Combine all ingredients in a blender and mix until smooth. I like to leave it in the freezer for an hour before I leave the house; by the time I get to drink it, it’s slightly slushy and icy cold!

What’s your favourite way to enjoy milk?

Tuesday Trainer stretches into Wednesday

Every Tuesday, Lindsay’s List hosts a series called ‘Tuesday Trainer‘ in which she showcases the favorite exercises and fitness moves of blogging fitness enthusiasts and personal trainers. Each week has a different theme, and if you visit regularly, you can use the videos to create your own workouts. How cool is that?

Yesterday’s theme was ‘your go-to stretch’ and I submitted this video;

Ever since I injured my lower back (an ‘overuse’ injury), I’ve been extra motivated to improve my hamstring flexibility. Tight hamstrings can pull on the hips, leading to postural deviations and lower back pain.

For lots more great stretching ideas from Lindsay and several of our FitFluential friends, head on over to ‘Tuesday Trainer‘!

P.S. If you’re interested in joining FitFluential, please click on through to their website. You don’t have to be a blogger to join. FitFluential is a community of like-minded fitness enthusiasts sharing their ideas about what it means to be fit and healthy!

Get out of your fitness comfort zone! Try the ‘Accumulator’ today

Yesterday, I did a scary-hard workout. Something way out of my fitness comfort zone.

A fellow Canadian Fitfluential Ambassador challenged me to try his “303 Rep Challenge”.

Now most of my workouts are in the 8-10 rep range, so the title scared me a bit. Fortunately, the exercises maxed out at 50 reps (which is still an awful lot for me!). Check out the YouTube link below (and for more information about the program, click through to Brad Gouthro’s website; feel free to admire his abs, but don’t tease him about them!).

I did the ‘Spartan Advanced Female’ program with a few modifications. I used a band for my pullups and I split the program in two, doing half the required number of repetitions for each exercise in the circuit repeated twice (same volume, just breaking it up a bit). It took me 23:45 and my legs were toast by the end.

BUT, I felt great AFTER it was all over. Sometimes you need to get out of your fitness comfort zone to keep moving toward your goals!

With that thought in mind, I put together an extra challenging workout for my morning boot campers. I called it ‘The Accumulator’. The workout involved eleven exercises and only required some dumbbells, a step and a mat (you could easily do this at home!).

The format of the class was quite simple. Round 1, perform 16 reps of exercise 1. Round 2, perform 16 reps of exercise 1, perform 16 reps of exercise 2. Round 3, perform 16 reps of exercise 1, perform 16 reps of exercise 2, perform 16 reps of exercise 3. And so on.

By the end of the 11th round, you’ve done 176 reps of the first exercise. You might need to lower your weights or take an easier progression as the workout proceeds. The best thing about this style of training is the ever-increasing ‘break’ between sets of the same exercise (my class didn’t see this as a positive :) ). I gave water breaks at the end of exercises 3, 7 and 10 each round.

If you like the workout, please feel free to ‘pin it’ and leave your comments below.

Enjoy the rest of your week and get out of your fitness comfort zone!

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.