Why finishing 2016 strong is your best new year’s fitness strategy

This is the time of year when all good fitness bloggers share their strategies for getting through the holidays without gaining too much weight or losing too much ground at the gym.

Much of this advice centres around tips for navigating party food (‘eat before you go out’, ‘alternate alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks’, ‘avoid second helpings’, ‘offer to bring a salad’…) and squeezing in short bouts of non-exercise movement under the guise of having family fun (‘go skating together’, ‘climbing a tobogganing hill burns 300 calories an hour’, ‘ head to an indoor pool and swim laps while the children play’…).

While I believe these bits of advice can be helpful (and I’ve written many posts myself, chock full of tips for avoiding holiday weight gain and carving out time for your Christmas-day workout…), I also think that they completely miss the mark when it comes to really helping people stay focused on their fitness and health goals for the long term. Helping them find not just a new year’s fitness strategy, but an approach that will work for months and years to come.

Most of us start the year off strong.

successful midlife exercise program

That’s why the gym is so full in January and your Facebook feed has been covered with ‘New Year’s Fitness’ offers for the past month.

We implement the tips and ‘micro’-strategies offered up, but can only do so for so long before we begin to lose motivation and revert to our previous state.

As the year draws to a close, we fizzle out, hoping, at best, to ‘maintain the status quo’ at the gym or strive for ‘zero net gain’ on the scale.

What if we finished the year as strong as we began it?

What if we shifted our mindset to value seeing a project through to the end?

What if we recognized the importance of being someone who finishes what she starts?

What if we no longer created a ‘new year’s fitness strategy’ each and every year?

I’m guessing that January would be just another month on the calendar. (And we’d see improvement in a lot of other areas in our lives…)

successful midlife exercise program

A month in which we’d continue to progress our workouts, improve our health and see the numbers on the scale shift in the direction we’d like. Without the dramatic increase (and subsequent equally dramatic decrease…) in the number of people at the gym.

I challenge you to think back to your January 2016 goals, intentions and resolutions. Be it weight loss, improved health, squatting your body weight or doing five consecutive push-ups.

Remind yourself why those goals were important to you.

If they’ve become less of a priority as the year elapsed, re-instate them to the top of your to-do list for the remainder of the month.

By the time 2017 arrives, you’ll already be well on your way to have re-established positive habits. Long before the January exercisers have done their thing; starting and stopping for another year.

Finishing the year strong is surely your best strategy for ensuring a fit, healthy and successful 2017 and beyond…

P.S. Although the next session of my 40+ Online Women’s Fitness program does begin on January 1st, it’s by no means a ‘seasonal’ program. We’re just continuing on with the work we’ve been doing all year. New participants ‘arrive’ monthly, start by setting some goals, and choose versions of the exercises and workouts that are appropriate for their fitness level.
If you register now, you’ll instantly receive an introductory workout you can use to ‘finish 2016 strong’ and be ready to hit the ground running in the new year. Details and a link to the registration form can be found here >> 40+ Online Fitness Training

What I read on my summer vacation | fitness book reviews

Disclaimer: Ulysses Press sent me a free copy of Special Forces Fitness Training to review here. No other compensation was provided, and as always, the thoughts and opinions expressed here are all mine.

Way back at the beginning of the summer I shared my summer fitness reading list. The fitness books that I planned on reading over the holidays. Books that might introduce me to new exercises and ideas to share with my clients and readers.


I didn’t manage to get through them all.

Alas, the overwhelming urge to re-read the entire Outlander series before the television show debuted got in my way (I managed to get through 4 of the 8 books; well, 5 really, as I read the final book before I started my do-over…).

In my defence, reading about Jamie and Claire’s exploits did make me think a lot about exercise (or at least the strong, lean, muscular body that a “born and bred” Highlander must have given all of the horse-back riding and sword-fighting and caber-tossing and other forms of ‘physical exertion’ they perform…) 😉

But I digress…

Never one to beat myself up for what I didn’t accomplish, I’m sharing my thoughts about the titles that I did manage to finish reading; two are from my original list of five, the third is a bonus.

What I read on my summer vacation: fitness book reviews

1. Fitness After 40: How to Stay Strong at Any Age by Vonda Wright.

Of all the books I unearthed when researching the pitch for my own book on fitness after 40, this one seemed the most promising. Fitness After 40 is written by a female, over-40, orthaepedic surgeon with a specialization in sports medicine and a proven track record with over-40 athletes. Her approach focuses primarily on four components of fitness; flexibility, cardiovascular training, resistance training and equilibrium or balance training. While I found the sections on flexibility and balance training to be universally applicable (and I found several new exercises to share with my clients), the recommendations for resistance training were more ‘gentle’ in nature than those I give even my beginner clients.

Although the book states that it’s written for individuals of all fitness levels, I couldn’t help but feel that much of the book was aimed at ‘elite’ or ‘masters’ athletes. Individuals who have trained hard for years, often at the national level, and required rehabilitation for exercise-related injuries. While a focus on injury prevention is wise when it comes to training middle-aged and older adults, it seems a bit off-putting if one’s goals are to simply increase activity levels in the general population.

Recommendation: Unless you’re an over-40 elite or masters athlete who needs specific information about continuing with your training, borrow this one from the library.

2. Special Forces Fitness Training: Gym-free Workouts to Build Muscle and Get in Elite Shape by Augusta Dejuan Hathaway.

Members of the military’s most elite units need to be in incredible shape. Often times, though, they don’t have access to full service gyms, thereby requiring a strength and conditioning program that relies on minimal equipment and body weight exercises. In Special Forces Fitness Training you’ll find 30 such programs, including whole body workouts (‘King of the Jungle’), workouts that target the upper body (‘Get a Grip’), core workouts (creatively named ‘Core Workout I, II and III) and cardio workouts. They can be performed in isolation, or combined, depending on the time you have available for exercise and your fitness level.

While most of the programs offer direction for multiple levels (Levels 1, 2 and 3), a few differentiate the workload and duration by sex. A minor criticism (and perhaps one that simply reflects different performance standards in the military for men and women), but slightly off-putting when one notes that the recommendation for reps/sets/duration of many exercises is dramatically different for men and women. I have many women clients who are capable of doing the “men’s” workouts… #justsayin

With illustrations for every exercise (including those described in the warmup and stretch sections of the book), Special Forces Fitness Training makes a great resource book for the moderately-fit to advanced exerciser (regardless of whether they’re in the military or not). In particular, for those who work out at home and have limited access to equipment.

Recommendation: If you’re a group fitness or personal trainer looking for bootcamp-style training ideas, buy yourself a copy. It’s great value for the price point.

3. Lose It Right: A Brutally Honest 3-Stage Program to Help You Get Fit and Lose Weight Without Losing Your Mind by James Fell.

Let me start by saying ‘I love James Fell’. He has the very rare ability to read, digest and transform the results of scientific studies for the non-scientific reader all while being witty, self-deprecating, irreverent and ENTERTAINING. He’s not a fan of ‘pseudo-science’, celebrity trainers or magic fixes. In an industry plagued by fear-mongering and false promises, he’s brave enough to admit that weight loss is a long, slow process and that most who try, will ultimately fail. That being said, his approach is sound and easily accessible to anyone who truly wants to improve their health and is willing to do the ‘mindset’ work required to get there. Interested in understanding how brain chemistry, human evolution, cognitive behavioural change therapy and the food industry all conspire to make weight loss hard? This is the book for you.

Recommendation: If you’re tired of dieting, like knowing how your body and brain work and are ready to make a longterm investment in your health, download a copy right now.

Have you read any of the books I reviewed? I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Any titles I should add to my fall fitness reading list?



Head back to school after spring break | Blog School that is

Need some help with blog design? Not sure of the best way to promote your content online? Have an idea for a new product or service that you’d like to offer but have no idea how to integrate it with your site?

I’ve been there and with the support and encouragement of a fantastic web designer, have succeeded beyond my initial expectations!

In fact, I shared my experience of launching an online fitness service with her viewers and readers just last month. (Did you miss it? Click here to see the interview; really more of a ‘coffee with friends’ chat with a lot of ‘what not to do’ thrown in 😉 ).

Creating your first online product

Creating your first online product

Of course, I’m talking about my rock start friend Rita Barry, the Blog Genie.

Two years ago she held my hand as I made changes to my theme, layout and header. She remained patient with me when I changed my mind (again and again). She suggested simple and elegant solutions to make my blog easier to read, navigate and share. (And I’m hoping that we’ll be working together again this summer as I get ready to launch another new online fitness service…. details coming soon!).

Whenever I hit a stumbling block (comments disappearing! side bar gone! videos not loading!) or just need some help installing a new plugin, she’s quick to answer my emails and put everything to rights.

Sound like somebody you need in your life?

Starting next week, Rita shares her tips and tricks for building a remarkable blog via Blog School: Traffic RoadMap. This free, three-part training series runs from March 24th -28th.

Although the training series is free, you do need to enrol. Click through the link above to reserve your spot now. I’ll be joining in as well, since there are always new things to learn in ‘blog land’!

Once the three week series is complete, you’ll have the opportunity to sign up for her longer and more in-depth Blog School (registration begins March 31st; mark your calendar and in the mean time, visit the site by clicking on the thumb nail below)

Blog School is a 6 month training program focused on the 6 key areas vital to your blogging success. Each month guides you through a series of lessons and homework assignments that help you create a blog with purpose, direction and that you actually love to work on.

Blog School Online Course

If this sounds like something you’re interested in, I encourage you to pop on over to Rita’s site and check it out for yourself.

Just like making progress towards your health and fitness goals, making your online dreams a reality requires an investment of time and energy too!

Disclaimer: Although I love Rita’s products and services so much that I’d happily share her with you for free, as an affiliate of The Blog Genie, I do receive financial compensation for referrals that lead to new clients for her. There, all disclosed!

#40plusfitness, nutrition and prizes | A shout out to our sponsors!

Wednesday is the last day for registration in the 2nd session of the popular 10-week Online Group Training Program for women over 40. (There are already nearly 50 women motivating and supporting each other in the private Facebook group; we’d love to have you join in!).

In addition to workout plans, recipes and nutritional information and tips for managing your hormones through lifestyle and behavioural change, there will also be PRIZES!

Each week, one lucky participant will receive one of ten prizes generously donated by a variety of brands interested in supporting and promoting women’s health!

In no particular order, I give you….

#40plusfitness1. Lenny & Larry’s. If you’ve been reading this blog for any length of time, you’ll know that I love my chocolate. Even better when it’s low in sugar and packs a protein punch. Lenny & Larry’s Fit Brownies come in three delicious flavours; Chocolate Decadence (my favourite), Chocolate Raspberry (my second favourite) and Peanut Butter Crunch (which I have yet to sample, but sounds delicious). Each weighs in at 190 calories, with 13 grams of protein and 7 grams of fibre it’s a bar I can ‘get behind’ (as opposed to ‘get a behind from’ 😉 ). Plus, it’s gluten-free, non-GMO, low GI and Kosher, to boot. Our winner will enjoy one box of each of the three flavours (that’s 12 of each flavour!).

#40plusfitness2. Skirt Sports. Who doesn’t love to look a bit ‘girly’ when they workout? Running skirts and skirted capris are a fun and functional way to change up your usual shorts and crops. I own both a Tough Girl (in basic black; see last spring’s review here) and a Gym Girl Ultra (in “Untamed Print”; see photo to the left), and honestly, I can’s decide which I love more! Good thing we have a change of seasons up here so I can switch back and forth between the heavier Tough Girl and her summer time companion! One of our winners will receive a Happy Girl Skirt (’cause exercise makes us happy, right?) and all members of the group can take advantage of a 20% off promo code (I’ll share it with you in the Facebook group next week).

#40plusfitness3. Menopause Chicks. Shirley’s website is a must-read for any woman who’s living the roller coaster called peri-menopause. Her goal is to ‘crack open the conversation’ and encourage women to speak to their doctors and each other about this oh-so-natural part of life. In a recent post, Shirley shared an excerpt from Dr. Sara Gottfried’s book, “The Hormone Cure”, with suggestions to help women determine what the root cause of their menopausal symptoms might be. Thanks to the Menopause Chicks, one lucky participant will receive their very own copy of Dr. Gottfried’s book. Follow the conversation on Twitter and Facebook!

#40plusfitness4. Holy Crap Cereal. While I don’t consume very many packaged foods, I’m always on the look out for a healthier cereal option. With only chia, buckwheat, hemp hearts, dried fruit and cinnamon, Holy Crap fits the bill! It’s gluten-free, no-sugar added and non-GMO. All you need is a tablespoon or two to fill you up and keep you ‘regular’. And it’s the perfect addition to make-your-own squares and protein bars. Haven’t tried it yet? If you’re the winner, you’ll receive 3 packages, delivered straight to your kitchen (you’ll have to deliver it to your own belly!).

#40plusfitness5. and 6. North Coast Naturals. Two of the challenges many women face when they start to exercise more and pay attention to nutrition, is (1)  getting enough protein in their diets and (2) finding enough time to plan healthy meals and snacks. Shakes and smoothies can be a god-send when you’re time crunched and protein starved.  Unlike many protein powders and nutritional supplement companies, North Coast Naturals uses only the highest quality certified organic and natural ingredients in their products. Each of two participants will receive a generous prize package containing Ultimate Daily Greens, Raw Hemp Seeds and a tub of Soya Protein. Follow them on Facebook for nutrition tips and delicious recipes featuring a variety of their products (and watch their blog for a guest post on peri-menopause and nutrition, written by yours truly).

#40plusfitness7. Fitknitchick. In addition to this 10-week program, I’ve also started a monthly ‘grad program’ to help my #40plusfitness peeps continue moving towards their health and fitness goals once the program is over, I’ll be offering a three month subscription to this extended program to one of the participants of the current 40+ female group.

8-10. To be announced…

Disclaimer: All of the above brand sponsors have provided product for me to give to my participants as prizes. As you can probably tell by the links to previous posts, they’re all products that I love and use myself!

Last day to vote for Vancouver Mom Blogger of 2013!

Hey guys! I’ve been nominated as one of Vancouver’s Top 30 Moms who blog!

To reach the number 1 spot, I need your votes!

Please, if you have 30 seconds, click on the image below, scroll down the page you land on until you find my name (Tamara Grand , fitknitchick), click the box, scroll to the bottom of the page and hit VOTE!

I've been named one of Vancouver's top 30 Moms who blog. You can help me reach #1 by voting today! Click here and register your vote NOW!  Thank you!

That’s all it takes!

Thanks so very, very much!

#FatblasterFriday | A Bosu Circuit Workout that won’t embarrass you at the gym

Last week I asked my Facebook group (not a member yet? Click on the link and ‘like’ the page) for some suggestions for my next #FatblasterFriday real time workout video (subscribe to my YouTube channel so as never to miss a workout).

My favourite response?

“bosu balance trainer stuff that I could use in the gym (nothing I’d be embarrassed having people see me do if you know what I mean lol)”

Yes, my friend, I know EXACTLY what you mean 😉

We’ve talked before about why I love the Bosu. All of the wonderful things it can add to your workout. How it can be used for strength and cardio as well as core. How it challenges muscles that you didn’t even know you had…

Today’s #FatblasterFriday workout is a whole body, 5-move Bosu circuit workout that will strengthen your muscles, elevate your heart rate and challenge your core, all without EMBARRASSING you in the gym 😉

Set your timer for 10 rounds of 45 s work and 15 s rest. All you need is a Bosu (and perhaps a mat, if you need to come to your knees for pushups).

Bosu circuit workout

CLICK on the video below and DO the workout WITH ME!

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.

I need your help | it’s blog improvement month!

It’s that time of the year…

During the month of February, I’m on a mission to improve my blog. They’ll be some visual changes, a new header and possibly some re-direction of focus. Depending on what you have to say, of course!

I’ve put together a quick survey that I’d love for you to take. Two minutes of your time is all I need, I swear.

Screen Shot 2013-01-29 at 5.44.11 PM

The survey has 6 questions (and space for you to wax poetic about my writing, if you please…). It’s all multiple choice and there’s nothing you need to have studied before hand.

Please click on through and tell me a bit more about yourselves and WHY you read my blog.

Click here to take survey

Thanks a bunch!

Weighing in on weighing in | how often do you weigh yourself?

Yesterday was Day 1 of the DietBet I’m currently hosting (I’m super excited, as the ‘pot’ is just over $5000!).

Participants submitted their initial weights sometime between Friday morning and Sunday lunch. Amazingly enough, by mid-afternoon Sunday, nearly 20% of the participants had already updated their weight (and even more amazing, some had already lost significant percentages of their body weight…).

how often do you weight yourself?

Somehow, I hadn’t expected participants to weigh in daily. DietBet only requires initial and final weights. That’s certainly all that I was planning on. How often do you weigh yourself?

Now I’m not really a huge fan of the bathroom scales. And Friday’s weigh in was the first time I’d stepped on mine in about a month. (The number was higher than I expected, so maybe I stayed away too long..). My rationale? My scale weight isn’t a true measure of how fit and healthy I am. I’d rather focus on the number of pushups I can do and how many pounds I can squat, than how much my body weighs.

Truth be told, I’ve always found my scale weight to be higher than I think it should be (given what I used to weigh before graduate school, marriage, kids and peri-menopause…) and get discouraged when it shows no sign up changing despite healthy eating and frequent exercise.

But comments from some of my DietBet participants indicate that not everybody shares my view:

~ I have to weigh and post weight daily….whether down or up on the scale….to be accountable. …. I’ve tried that once a week thing & for me it is a disaster, LOL!

~ I weigh myself every day, usually twice a day (a.m. and before bed) 

I’d like to hear YOUR thoughts.

How often do you weigh yourself?

Why that frequency (as opposed to any other)?

Why not more (or less) often?

How do the scales help or hinder your weight loss (and weight loss maintenance) efforts?

Please discuss below! (And if you’re participating in Fitknitchick’s DietBet, let us know!)

Join my January DietBet: lose weight, win money and have fun!

I’ve done a ton of Christmas baking this year. While I’d love to tell you that I’ve been happy to just sample a bite, here and there, I can’t. I’m a terrible liar; always have been, always will be. But in my own defence, I have thoroughly enjoyed every single bite : )

January DietBet

I’ve upped my daily exercise in an attempt to offset the increase calories-from-sugar load (you’ve been following my Twitter #30FOR30 hashtag, right?), but I suspect that it’s not quite enough to prevent the inevitable  3 or 4 pound weight gain I’m likely to notice come January (I don’t weigh myself regularly, but I can tell when I’ve put on weight by the fit of my favourite jeans…).

Sound familiar?

If so, I invite you to join my January DietBet!

January DietBet

Here’s how it works:

  1. Join Fitknitchick’s DietBet <<<<—— by clicking on the link.
  2. Set up your profile and ante up ($25)
  3. Submit your starting weight photo a couple of days before the contest starts (photos and weights remain private; nobody will see it but you!)
  4. Lose 4% of your body weight in 4 weeks and claim your share of the pot!

The more participants, the bigger the pot and the larger your share of the winnings!

In addition to the monetary prize, I’ll also be rewarding the top ‘loser’ with a special ‘Fitknitchick’ prize. Watch the video below for more details!

And since a big part of weight loss is getting adequate exercise, I’ll be posting daily workouts on my Facebook page for the entire month of January! Make sure you’ve ‘liked’ my page and have added it to your interests list (details on how to do it can be found here).

Do you make New Year’s Resolutions?

If yes, is losing weight one of them?

Will you be joining my January DietBet?

What size are your feet?