Tag

fitness

Browsing

‘You are bold, you are brilliant, and you are beautiful!’

Ashley Graham is a goddess.

Seriously, she is drop-dead gorgeous — anyone who says otherwise is blind.

Graham recently graced the cover of the swimsuit issue of Sports Illustrated. Sporting a purple bikini with yellow-stringed ties, she sits on the beach, allowing the water to gently splash over her skin. You may ask, what’s controversial about that? It seems standard for any swimsuit edition.

The difference is that Graham is a plus-size model, the first of her kind to grace the pages of Sports Illustrated.

Screenshot 2016-02-29 11.04.45Graham has been featured on the covers of Elle Quebec, London Times, Cover Magazine, Style Magazine, The Edit, and the Shape Issues of Vogue, Harper’s Bazaar, Glamour, and Elle UK. She is also quite the entrepreneur, having collaborated with Canadian brand Additionelle on her own line of lingerie. She even appears in her own television advertisements, dressed in her sexy apparel — confident and absolutely seductive.

Despite all of these accomplishments, Graham was still on the receiving end of many body-shaming comments.

My favourite was made by a Facebook group I followed (used to follow I should say) called Bright Side, that said “you decide to get healthy and then see this.”

Former Sports Illustrated model Cheryl Tiegs said that Graham’s face was beautiful, but the magazine shouldn’t be glamorizing full-figured women because her waist was too large. YouTuber Nicole Arbour, whose “Dear Fat People” videos are too shameful to link to in this article, slammed Graham, saying that if she simply worked out she could lose weight. “I want to eat cookies and still be a Sports Illustrated swimsuit model; what’s next, you can be a midget and a Rockette? What’s wrong with having a physical standard for something?” Arbour said in her video.

It boggled my mind that people didn’t see what I did — a beautiful NORMAL sized woman.

Just because a woman is larger, doesn’t mean that she is unhealthy or inactive. I would be considered a plus-size woman, despite the fact that today I ate a salad for lunch, did some yoga, and walked to work instead of taking the bus. I know a lot of beautiful women that are on the larger side. They go to the gym on a regular basis, eat healthily, and live a full life.

During her Tedx Talk in May 2015, Graham starts by saying: “You are bold, you are brilliant, and you are beautiful! There is no other woman like you. You are capable. Back fat, I see you popping up over my bra strap, but I’m going to choose to love you.”

In the U.S., plus-size is defined as size eight to 16. “Most of the people in this room would be defined as plus-size,” she said. “How does that make you feel – to be labelled?”

Graham has worked hard to rid these labels from the fashion industry (which, admittedly, I have used numerous times in this article). She is also the co-founder of ALDA, a modelling agency that “represents beauty beyond size”. This group of five women have made strides to break down size stereotypes within the fashion industry and prove that beauty is not just skin deep.

I commend Sports Illustrated for having the courage to stand up and tell the truth: activity does not necessarily equate size, and size does not necessarily equate health. There is no need to pressure regularly sized women to lose weight through extreme dieting. There is no need to encourage women to drink juice for eight weeks or take pills from unqualified doctors on television. Sports Illustrated has come forward as a magazine for active individuals — regardless of whether you are a size zero or a size 16 — and that means that people like me may actually read the magazine.

One final thought: take a look at how gorgeous Graham looked at the Oscars. Does that look like an unhealthy person to you? As she said in her Tedx Talk, “the fashion industry may want to label me as plus-size, but I like to think of me as my-size.”

All women should be that confident — and it’s time we stopped shaming them for it.

 

 

What did you think of Sports Illustrated’s decision? Let us know in the comments below.

Winter weight gain: how to beat it

There’s nothing like the holidays to spend some quality time with your friends and family, get (almost) everything you’ve wanted from your wish list, and put on an extra 5-10 pounds in Christmas cookies. And although you’ve made a New Year’s resolution to lose the excess weight, it is now February and there’s still one more box of Ferro Rocher’s that has to be finished before you really get into your exercise and diet regime.

Let’s face it ladies, you’re in a slump. Even if you do make it on the treadmill at least once a week, that 20 minutes of sweat you produce won’t do anything if you indulge in a ‘’well-deserved’’ snack a few hours later. However, don’t lose hope. With lots of experimentation and a few breathless situations later, I’ve come up with the perfect plan to help you – and me – come out of the winter fatness slump.

Warning: the following tips may lead you to feel a sudden surge of happiness, cause your pants to fit a little better, and encourage you to put down that extra slice of pizza.

 

Skip the cardio

Cardio can get dull. It doesn’t matter if it’s Pitbull or Beyoncé, sometimes no chart-busting single can seem to get us pumped enough to run for more than 10 minutes on a treadmill. Skip the traditional cardio when you’re feeling less than motivated and spice it up. Fitness classes such as pole dancing, Zumba, or even yoga can give the same benefits (if not more) of cardio without provoking violent thoughts – like attacking that cake in your fridge. Put on an extra pair of tights and head out for a winter hike. Embrace your Canadian identity and take part in the plethora of winter sports that our country has to offer. Whether it’s skating, skiing, tobogganing, or even shovelling snow, changing up your routine allows your body to truly challenge itself. Within a few weeks, the feeling of waking up sore the day after a good workout will be so satisfying, you’ll crave it constantly.

Be Sneaky  

Waiting for your food to heat up? That’s 30 seconds of squats. Work on the 3rd floor? Take the stairs. If you sneak in physical activity within your daily life, you won’t feel as pained – except in your increasing health. Small steps such as parking your car in the furthest spot in the lot or getting off the public transit a couple of stops earlier just to take in those few freezing breaths of fresh air along with some much needed steps can help get you in the right direction towards a healthier lifestyle this winter. Although it may be hard, seeing as we haven’t felt the sun on our skin in what feels like a decade, your fitness regime shouldn’t freeze just because the lakes have.

F*ck Stress, Bench Press

Despite what you may have heard, lifting does not make you bulky. In fact, women’s hormones make it impossible to bulk up. That is, without incredible effort, high intensity workout plans and nutritional diets consisting of a lot of protein shakes. Lifting weights two to three times a week will help you lose that muffin top faster than an hour on the elliptical every day. On the plus side, all that lifting, pushing, and pressing that occurs during weight training can take out a lot of stress and anger that builds up from day to day experiences. It will also give your body a sculpted appearance, bring a certain glow to your skin, and give you an excuse to wear tanks tops and dresses all year long – because why not.

 

Let it go 

The end of the holiday season can bring on a lot of unnecessary stress. Getting our finances under control after spoiling our loved ones, and possibly ourselves, with gifts, heading back to the daily office routine, and not to mention the everlasting morning and evening winter — let’s just say it can all take a toll on our mental health. Whether you’re suffering from seasonal affective disorder or are just finding yourself in a slump, one quick fix is to get moving. Break into a sweat, get lost within the confines of your muscle movement, and get in tune with your physical and mental self. Oftentimes, it’s your mind that stops you from accomplishing the things that you want. Find a way to deal with your inner demons and learn to let it go. Whether it’s through talking to a family or friend, leaving town for a quick get away, or writing it down in a diary, learning to deal with stress and seasonal affective disorder can help you out of your slump faster then ever.

Find Your Motivation

Know thyself. If you have a strong reason for exercising, then you will be far more likely to follow through on your commitments. Whether it’s to lose weight, feel more energetic, increase cognitive function, build confidence, sleep better, run faster… know it. The secret to looking and feeling better about yourself isn’t in magazines. It isn’t in Nicki Minaj’s music video, nor is it on Instagram. It’s in your mind. Whether you think you need it or not, exercise is a must for everyone and anyone. Soon enough, spring will be here. Before you know it, you’ll will be forced out of your oversized knit sweaters and into something more fitting. And that’s something you’ll want to be prepared, right? Your summer body starts now.

Good luck!

Have any other suggestions on how to beat the winter slump? Let us know in the comments below!

 

WATCH: How To Fake A Thigh Gap

Ah, the thigh gap.  It first emerged during our date with wine and popcorn in 2013 while we watched the glorious Victoria’s Secret angels prance around in lingerie too expensive for our breasts. Since then, the thigh gap has become a phenomenon that women yearn to have. The gap has influenced many females to boast about their hot bodies on Twitter and Instagram (via filters) while others took to YouTube to watch exercises on how they, too, can obtain such hotness.

It must be nice to not experience chub rub in the warm, summer months. Of course, think of the amount of money you’ll save from not having to replace your jeans so often. (All. That. Chafting.) So, why wouldn’t you want a thigh gap, ladies? All that good food is a slight sacrifice for the compliments you’ll get on the beach.

Yeah, no. I need those carbs. But you can always pretend to have a thigh gap! Save your calories. Buy more jeans. You’ll thank me later.

5 Types of Yoga You’ve Probably Never Heard Of

Bikram, Anusara, and Vinyasha are all familiar practices for those who do yoga. However, the tree pose, whether it’s in a 20 degree or 45 degree studio, may become a little mundane the 45th time around. But did you know about the other types of yoga out there?  If you’re looking to spice up your sun salutations or challenge your overall yoga routine, try out some of these less conventional classes:

doga

1. Doga

There’s downward facing dog. And then there’s downward facing dog – with your dog. Your furry pal gets stressed too, you know! So the next time you’re on the mat, pick up your dog. Your biceps will thank you, and so will your he/she. The practice involves simple yoga poses with variations to include your partner in the action. We’re pretty sure you can skip the walk that day. Visit dogadog.com to find out more!

naked-yoga2

2. Nude Yoga 

You’ve probably thought about doing this in your hot yoga classes. Lululemon’s sheer yoga pants are definitely not a problem at the Bold & Naked Yoga studio in New York. They live by the not ”following the norm but rather playing outside of the box, because that’s where the fun is.” The studio offers both male only and co-ed classes (sorry, ladies!). But don’t worry, because these completely nude Vinyasa yoga classes emphasize that the classes aren’t meant to be sexual in any way. We can’t guarantee it won’t be hot in there though…

3. Aerial Yoga 

One of the more popular forms of yoga that has recently hit the fitness scene, aerial yoga is no fad. Hanging from silk hammocks suspended from the ceiling (also known as anti-gravity yoga) takes your practice off the mat and instead floating above ground. There’s something oddly comforting hanging upside down in the air. You’ll feel like an Olympian, and eventually look like one too. If getting inverted and the fear of falling out of a hammock don’t bother you, you will love this class.

2-laughter-yoga

 

4. Laughter Yoga 

If you haven’t heard of the above, you’ve heard of this. Especially popular in South Asia and amoung senior citizens, a laughter yoga session “strives to cultivate childlike playfulness.” Exercises include clapping while reciting a chant similar to laughing, speaking gibberish, deep breathing exercises, and/or playful pantomime exercises. You can finally have an excuse to practice your “milkshake laughter,” which is laughing while you pretend to mix and drink a milkshake. Because why not? Some classes even include laughter meditation, light physical exercises, and dancing. The idea of a laughter yoga class might make have you laughing already, but believe it or not – laughter can lower stress hormone levels. Haha!

Bow

5. Stand Up Paddle Yoga

It’s a class that combines yoga and stand up paddle surfing. Popular among yogis on social media due to its scenic photography opportunities, paddle yoga allows you to really become one with nature by paddling out onto the water on a paddle board to do poses like the the bow pose, the downward-facing dog, and the camel pose. Core strength is key doing this type of yoga. You get more of a workout because the motion of the water makes you engage your core as you try to stay stable. And with summer here, a yoga session afloat a surfboard feels like a pretty ”narly” option.

Not so calm now, are we? Get zen in a way you’ve never gotten before with these yoga classes. Chances are, your friends and family will never look at the fitness regime as ‘boring’ again!

featured image

How NOT to hate running: Hill Training 101

I used to avoid hills like the plague. My legs turned to rubber while gasping like a fish out of water to the summit of what could only be described as Mount Everest II. It was far from an enjoyable experience but as I got used to running hills I began to appreciate what they were doing for my body. I developed stronger legs and became a stronger runner. Now, I run for the hills and enjoy it. Everest II, it turned out, was just about 600 meters long and not really that steep.

In a recent email interview with Dr. Jack Scaff, the Honolulu resident known as “The Father of Running” in Hawaii, he shared his expertise on hill training. In his book, Your First Marathon, the Last Chapter in Long Distance Running, hill training is covered extensively.

“Hill running is good strength training; however, it tends to be anaerobic,” Dr. Scaff said, “When one approaches a hill, run perpendicular to the horizon, shorten their stride and come off the backside of the hill or downhill using the same type of stride ―short steps going up the hill, the same short steps coming down, longer strides on the flat and no pounding at any time. While going up hill also remain upright and lean as little as possible into a hill. Swing your arms parallel to your body and not cross.”

He further comments, “Running downhill is a paradox since all the muscle can do is contract. As you run downhill, the muscle must relax at the same time while it is trying to contract. And of course this decreases recruitment as well as subjects the muscle to a greater potential for injury. There is another style of downhill running known as out-of-control or windmill running (which is what the arms look like) in which the individual runs downhill with terribly long strides, simply following through with longer and longer strides while going faster and faster. It’s effective but difficult to stop, dangerous and road rash is a certainty.”

More Tips:

1. How to run a hill: head up, pump your arms, lean slightly forward and run about 80% effort and jog or walk on the way down. Repeat six to 10 times.

2. Pick a hill suitable for your training. For average runners choose a hill that is about 90 seconds long.

Follow Christine on Twitter at @christineruns.

Follow Women’s Post on Twitter at @WomensPost.

Keep fit and travel fit

It’s easy to let your resolve to stay fit fall by the wayside when you’re on vacation or travelling. If you don’t have access to a gym you might say to yourself, “Why bother?” But it’s not all that hard to at the very least maintain your level of fitness with only a couple of pieces of portable equipment, even in a small space. I’d like to share with you what I do while travelling. (And as a matter of fact, I’m writing this from India, where I’m spending four weeks.)

First, I pack a skipping rope and resistance band. Both of these pieces are light and can be stuffed into just about any part of my bag. They add versatility to the workouts I create, allowing me to include many exercises that are not limited to ones using my own body weight.

Second, I choose six to eight exercises. To give a few examples: planks, crunches, squats, leg lifts, biceps curls, shoulder presses, rows and push-ups are among my favourites. I move quickly between exercises and after each cycle I do one to three minutes of skipping to get my heart rate up (or if there are stairs or steps nearby, I’ll run up and down them as an option).

Third, I challenge myself to be as precise and controlled as possible. This really cranks up the intensity in a big way. I always go slowly and if I’m not fatigued by the end of the set, I’ll hold a position and focus on contracting my muscles until I am.

I’ve used these strategies to work out in spaces barely sizeable enough to swing a skipping rope. My workouts while travelling are short (20 to 25 minutes typically) but effective. I try to do something like what I’ve described two to three times per week, as well as walk a lot. I look at it as a period of time when I don’t have to work out like a maniac, I just have to maintain. After all, I’m on vacation.

Marathon runner beats the odds to survive car crash and run again

In the blink of an eye Leaha MacDonald’s running days were over. Instead of training for her next marathon she was lying in a hospital bed fighting for her life.

On September 16, 20ll, MacDonald was walking her bike across the street and was struck by an SUV. What came next for MacDonald was an incredible journey to not only beat the odds in surviving the collision, which threw her 50 feet, but to walk and, amazingly, run again.

On August 25 the Calgary resident will be lacing up her shoes with two friends to run the Edmonton marathon – just two years after that fateful day.  MacDonald started running again four months ago and is looking forward to participating in the marathon on Sunday. Her goal is to run it in seven hours – to complete the distance. Her best time is 4:11.

In a recent phone interview from her family home in Ontario, MacDonald and her mother, Mariann, shared with me details of her miraculous recovery and her passion for running. “I was on my way home after a work event – a team building session, and it was 4:30 pm. I was walking my bike across the street. If I didn’t wear a helmet I would have been dead. The helmet saved me,” MacDonald, with a positive, confident delivery, says. “Also, the doctors said I was in good shape, which helped.”

MacDonald was in a coma for two months. She sustained a severe brain injury and hip fractures. After three weeks in a coma doctors informed her family there was little hope of recovery and were recommending palliative care. MacDonald says: “They told my family there was only a two per cent chance of recovery and they thought I would live in a (care) home the rest of my life.”

Her mother adds, “She still has a long, long way to go yet, she is struggling with memory and problems with balance. She was paralyzed in the right leg and right arm and only started running recently. She is seeing a speech therapist and a physiotherapist. The doctors are surprised of her recovery.”

MacDonald explains, “I had to learn to breathe, eat, swallow, talk and sit again.” She spent three months in hospital in Calgary and then went home to Toronto to spend six weeks in rehab for brain injuries, which followed another six weeks at the brain injury rehab clinic. She then began to learn to walk.

She says, “Oh my God, as soon as I walked I told my physiotherapist I wanted to run.”

With six marathons and three half irons under her belt, this marathoner was determined to run again. She says, “I am a hugely stubborn person and almost two years after the accident, here I am running in my first official full marathon.”

In yesterday’s Edmonton Marathon MacDonald completed the distance in eight hours. She says via e-mail, “I thought I’d let you know that I finished today! I was super slow, 8 hours and I am very tired. But I did it!!”

Leaha MacDonald learned again to breathe, swallow, walk and will now run.  She is a symbol of perseverance and in my opinion is a true Canadian hero.

 

Change up your cardio with interval training

I saw this on a card from a gag shop: two hamsters standing in front of wheel. One hamster is saying, “First I do one hour of cardio then I do two hours of cardio then I do one hour of cardio…”. Funny, isn’t it? There’s truth to it. So many people put in time at the gym working up a sweat, eyes glued to the calorie counter, desperately hoping that their hour of cardio is over sooner rather than later.

In the first column I wrote for Women’s Post, I put forth the idea that doing more weight training and less cardio would help women reach their typical goals (fat loss) quicker and reduce stress on their bodies comparatively. Despite favouring weight training, I still think that it’s important to train your heart. However, I think that you can do it in far less time than the typical hour of low-intensity cardio and you can do in a way that gives you a hormonal boost which will trigger fat loss.

What I’m hinting at here is interval or “burst” training. It takes no time at all to do but it sure is ugly. If you’re unfamiliar with it, interval training is alternating short bursts of intense cardio (one minute or less typically) with recovery periods of approximately equal length. Interval training is short on time and high on intensity. For example, after an adequate warm-up, you might sprint for one minute and walk for one minute (local tracks are a perfect spot for this) and repeat five times or so. An interval workout can be as short as 10 minutes. It tends to be less popular among gym-going people because the effort level is decidedly uncomfortable. Most people would rather cruise on an elliptical for an hour than endure 10 minutes of all-out effort. That’s a shame because the effects are totally different.

Firstly, interval training conditions the cardiovascular system much more effectively because it presents a legitimate challenge to the heart and lungs that requires them to adapt. When you’re cruising on the elliptical, you’re not demanding much of your body so none of your tissues are required to change for the better. Secondly, interval training prompts a cascade of hormones that give you a metabolic edge. Among them is growth hormone which is known to help the body burn fat and build muscle. Moreover, because interval workouts are so short they don’t let the body get to the point of releasing cortisol, the major stress (and fat-packing) hormone, which can happen during longer bouts of cardio.

I suggest that you give interval training a go, provided you slowly build up your intensity level so that your body can handle maximum effort. You’ll see better results in a shorter period of time. But don’t expect to look pretty doing it.

6 tips to fuel your run

by Vanessa Perrone

If your goal is to keep fit or set a new personal record, the proper pre-run nourishment can set the pace for success. Below you’ll find some fundamental fueling tips to consider before heading out to hit the pavement.

1. Fill up the tank

Expecting your body to run on empty will most likely result in sluggish performance. Instead, fueling up on the proper foods at the proper time will provide your body with energy, a sense of fullness, and sustained blood sugar over the duration of your training.

2. Think carbohydrates

As the body’s preferred source of energy, runners primarily rely on carbs to fuel their muscles. Stocking your diet with a variety of whole foods such as quinoa, rice, pasta, fruits and vegetables are key for maintaining carb stores that will supply the body with energy during long runs.

3. Timing is key 

For most, three to four hours is sufficient time for a regular meal to settle before a run. But if you plan to work up a sweat at a higher intensity, extra time might be necessary. In either case, avoid high-fat or high-protein meals pre exercise. Steer clear of fried foods, heavy meats or rich sauces, as they exit the stomach at a slower pace and can be detrimental to performance.

As your run approaches, your meal should be lighter, should consist of quickly digested carbs and of a small amount of protein — if you can stomach it.

Here are some tested pre-run snacks:

  • oatmeal
  • slice of toast and fruit preserves
  • rice cakes topped with nut butter
  • trail mix (dried fruit & nuts)
  • banana
  • piece of fruit
  • small smoothie

4. Keep it familiar

Although broadening of culinary horizons is normally encouraged, avoid any unfamiliar eats on training day. Stick to trusted foods that will provide you with energy rather than discomfort.

5. Stay hydrated

Aim to guzzle three to four glasses of water within the hours before your workout to ensure optimal hydration on the run.

6. Trial and error

Pre-exercise fuel should be tailored to individual tolerance. To find that perfect balance, you must stay attentive to your performance. Why not journal your pre-run meals along with your running log? This is a sure way to establish which foods work best for you and will help propel you towards your goal.

Follow Vanessa on Twitter at @VanPerrone.

Follow Women’s Post on Twitter at @WomensPost.

Living by the 80/20 rule

Maybe it’s just me, but it seems that so much of life these days is about “more “: do more, live more, work more, be even more than what everyone expects. One hundred percent is not quite enough.

I have seen this, too, in how some people approach their diet, or in how they think they need to be approaching changes toward a healthier lifestyle. There is merit in being able to embrace a lifestyle concept entirely and live by it with full force but it is a rare individual who can go cold turkey from old habits. It can be quite stressful to do a complete overhaul; rebound binges may occur and guilt becomes yet another emotional hurdle to overcome. It can also be socially restrictive, preventing someone from being able to enjoy an evening out at a restaurant or at a friend’s house for dinner.

I like to support the 80/20 rule of living, especially when it comes to diet. The idea is that most of the time (this can be anywhere from 80% to 95% for a given period of time), I eat very nutrient-dense, clean food such as organic produce, cold-water fish that is simply prepared, and creative vegan meals. For a meat-eater this may also include organically-raised chicken or grass-fed beef. I stay hydrated with filtered water or herbal teas—my current favourite is Tulsi/Holy Basil. I can honestly say that I really enjoy eating this way and I certainly feel better for it. Over years of steady transition from what is the Standard (North) American Diet, my palate has adapted so that these foods are what I crave most.

The other 5-20% of the time, I am able to enjoy some of life’s indulgences. Here’s my confession:  the neighbourhood bakery makes really delicious, sinful brownies so I treat myself to one every month or so. I relish times spent with friends over some wine and a meal that they have lovingly prepared. There are also those nights, usually once a week, when neither my husband nor I are in the mood to prepare a meal so a local restaurant serves up a nice break from cooking.

The catch of course is being honest with yourself about on which side of the dividing line your choices lie. Is your 80/20 more of a 60/40 right now? That’s okay. As long as you know what your goals are and what your true starting point is, you can get to 80/20 by making small, steady changes over time. Then you CAN have your small piece of cake and eat it too.