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Workout motivation: do, don’t ditch

So, the calendar has an intense workout or long run scheduled but the little devil on the shoulder is making a convincing case to do otherwise. That dilemma is a classic one – even for those fit-as-a-fiddle women who seem to have all their sh*it together. No one is without flaw when it comes to maintaining the perfect workout schedule.  All have dips in motivation, and have bailed on a yoga or gym session without good reason. I know l have days where it takes all I’ve got to not succumb to pressing play to another episode of Easy. For those days when the motivation is lacking, the below list will provide an extra dose of encouragement. Here’s what happens when I actually get in that workout:

Enjoy the rest of the day with feelings of confidence… not guilt.

When the to-do list calls for an intense spin class or sweat-inducing morning of barre, it can be easy to use the I-don’t-feel-like-it excuse and reschedule for tomorrow. Remember that this workout was scheduled by yours truly for a reason. Bite the bullet and… Just. Get. It. Done. I know that guilty feeling that lingers when cancelling a workout. Actually doing it means enjoying feelings of confidence instead.

Feeling sluggish? Look forward to a second wind right afterwards.

Oddly enough, it’s during those evenings when the energy levels feel low and those gym plans feel far-fetched that I end up with a second wind afterwards. Sitting at a desk all day can bring on extra lazy feelings by dinner time but remember that to spur the body into action is to give it a wake up; a much needed one. Enjoy that post-workout energy boost.

Know you’re more likely to be alert while working.

Those morning workout people will often say that setting the alarm for early a.m. hours means arriving to the office alert, happy and ready to go. If mornings at the office are often a slog, perhaps saying yes to even gentle exercise in the morning is a way to combat that and become more productive.

Fit people often have more energy in general.

Have that friend who somehow conquers her runs, yoga practice and dance classes during the week and STILL ends up rock climbing and playing ultimate frisbee on the weekends? Well she’s not actually some super-human freak of nature. Energy breeds energy. To stay on top of the workouts is to kiss lethargy goodbye. Go to the gym during the week and on the weekends, active plans won’t seem so lofty.

Accumulated workouts are an investment in future well-being.

The present-moment version of a person may not want to drop and do those sets of planks but guess what? The future self is the one who most benefits. Getting sweaty today means looking more trim and toned tomorrow. The biggest benefit of all though is creating a healthier, stronger mind and body.

It’s one of the easiest ways to get a mood upgrade.

If these tips have yet to inspire a new, revamped fitness routine, know that today’s workout is probably the quickest route to a better mood. Even a half hour on the treadmill is likely to turn a deflated mood around.

 

5 ways to keep active this winter season

It may be difficult to stay motivated with your workout routine during the dark winter months, but this does not mean you should lose hope that momentum you’ve built up over the last few months!  Here are five tips from Women’s Post on ways to stay active in the winter.

Get out there

The biggest hurdle in embracing the winter season is the cold weather and chances of snowfall. The best thing to do is bundle up, change your mindset, and enjoy the season . Get out there and find something to do. It can be having a snowball fight with your kids in the backyard, or going ice skating with your friends. If you aren’t up for a big to-do, you can always just go for a walk and enjoy the sights — there is nothing like crisp snow on tree branches. Use this opportunity to practice your photography skills or catch up with a friend.

 

Try a winter sport

Just like summer, winter time offers a few sports that you can take part in or at least introduce yourself to, including skiing, snowboarding, snowshoeing, and snow tubing. If you want to stay away from anything competitive, try building a snowman or going tobogganing. Check out sites like Toronto Adventures Inc to get started.

 

Try a different gym class

If you’re anything like me, doing the same gym routine over and over gets a bit boring. Add the extra nuisance of marching through snow or beating winter traffic and it’s a wonder you get to the gym at all come January. The key is to get yourself excited about working out. Try something outside of your usual treadmill and elliptical routine. Take a  salsa dance class, do some boxing, go bellydancing, or sign up for a  winter bootcamp. Just switch it up to stay motivated and group fitness classes is a fun way to do so. Check out places like YMCA.

 

Try something indoors

So the cold air isn’t for you? That’s okay! This may be time to take advantage of the indoor track at the gym, or even going on long walks along the Toronto underground PATH. There are many indoor activities that are offered all year round or maybe even take part in your own at-home practice with exercise videos or create a home gym. You don’t have to be outdoors to be active!

 

Be prepared

The best way to get along with winter is by being prepared for all the season has so offer. Layer your clothing, stay hydrated, and create a positive mindset to the season ahead and you will find that it’s a great way to continue doing the things you love. Remember, you’re just trading the beach for an indoor pool.

 

How will you stay active this winter? Comment below !

Runners: what’s the deal with shin splints?

I’m not an expert runner by any definition of the word, but I run enough to know the intense and debilitating affects of shin splints.

I started getting them when I first ventured into the sport last year. The first few weeks were terrible, and as a new runner, I didn’t understand what I was doing wrong. Eventually, I fixed the situation by brushing up on my form and creating a stretching routine any professional athlete would be proud of! Sounds easy, right??

Well, a few weeks ago, they came back! I didn’t change my routine and yet, the pain shooting up my shins was unbearable.

Shin splints are common in high-impact activities that put a lot of stress on the feet and legs. It can also be caused by something called overpronation, when the arch of your foot is in constant contact with the ground due to ankle positioning. This limits the body’s ability to absorb the impact of that connection. Sometimes, stopping your activity and stretching out the area can quickly reduce this pain — but a lot of the time, if you continue the activity that caused the shin splints, it can cause serious injury.

So, what to do about it?

Stretch: This may seem obvious, but you would be surprised how little people stretch prior to a workout. Make sure to really work every area. Stretch your arms, your core, your neck, your ankles, and of course, your legs. Sure, the hamstrings are most closely related to shin splints, but if the rest of your body isn’t just as limber, it will cause muscle spasms that will carry down to those shins. I do at least 10 minutes of stretching before I put my shoes on. Try doing some yoga between runs to help keep those muscles stretched and toned.

Get new shoes: This is what I’m going to be doing in the next few weeks. My shoes are old and are loosing their support. This means there is less of a barrier between the pavement and my feet, causing more friction and more pressure on my shins/arches. If you don’t want to get new shoes, maybe try orthotic inserts to help support your arches.

Take a break: I know this isn’t what you want to hear. It wasn’t what I wanted to hear either. But if you are experiencing shin splints, continued stress on the legs will just make it worse and can lead to serious injury. Take one to two weeks off the activity that caused the shin splints. Also try to avoid any high-impact activities that would cause your weight to be placed on the arches of your feet.

Cross train: Just because you aren’t running, doesn’t mean you sit on the couch and watch TV all day! Go for a walk, swim, or hit the gym and use an elliptical or a stationary bike! As long as you avoid activities in which you jump, you’ll be fine! Maybe the better choice is to go for a long walk. Walking is just as good for you as running is, without the stress caused by having your foot hit the pavement with force.

Return slowly: When you do start running again, don’t pick up where you left off. Start slowly and work your way back up. Sometimes, increasing your speed or mileage too quickly can cause shin splints. So, when you do get back into the game, make sure not to over do it. After the run, if your shins are starting to bother you, stretch them out and ice it to reduce inflammation!

Best of luck!

 

What do you do to help ease the pain of shin splints? Let us know in the comments below!

‘Love Your Age Fitness’ guru Kate Maliha on staying healthy

The cliché, ‘age is just a number’ can be your reality if you look after your mental and physical health.

Kate Maliha, director of Love Your Age Fitness in Vancouver, is a Gerokinesiologist – certified as a Functional Aging Specialist and Medical Exercise Specialist – who believes exercise needs to be more thoughtful as we get older. Women’s Post sat down with Maliha to learn more about her business and her experience in the fitness industry.

Q: When did you form the company Love Your Age and why?

A: I saw there was a real need for programs geared to experiences of aging. I decided to go back to school to learn more about exercise and aging, so I got my masters degree. While my focus in human kinetics was on a variety of areas related to the aging body, I was particularly interested in the social aspects of exercise as we get older, in knowing more about what keeps people exercising as they get older.

My experience in the fitness industry prior to my graduate degree was that the industry did not seem to reflect an understanding of life as we get older and was fairly one-note in terms of both message and offerings – so I wanted to help change how the fitness industry provides solutions for older bodies.

What did you see were problems in the industry, in terms of responding to people who were getting older?

There aren’t a variety of fitness options that adjust for the changes people experience when they get older. For instance, what happens when you get an injury, or have a medical condition and you can’t do your favourite class or sport? Exercise needs are varied as we age, just as the experience of aging is different for everyone. Some exercise needs to be modified for a medical condition or a chronic condition, and some exercise needs to actually be the medicine for a health condition. And just as with any medication, there are specific dosages and specific prescriptions for exercise depending on your health. We need specialists in functional aging to really focus in on these aspects, rather than generalists. And as exercise specialists in aging, our focus is on the nuances of many, many different aspects of aging and the body.

You have a very personal story related to what you do?

Life has an interesting way of driving home lessons we really need to learn. During the course of completing my graduate degree I had both my children – really lucky for me actually, because I had experienced infertility for seven years. I had complications though, and my health really suffered. I also had trouble putting my health before all my family responsibilities. Here I was, after having my second child, and my body seemed broken. I had back pain, some incontinence from child birth, I couldn’t move quickly like I used to, getting up off a chair was hard, let alone the floor. I was stiff, tired. I understood what people mean when they say they feel old, regardless of their actual age. So I was really fortunate that I had lots of research information on functional exercise for aging, and I could apply that to myself.  I was able to take the information I had learned and get my function back, and be really healthy and pain free.  Now I’m so excited, it feels like having super powers, to have applied the knowledge and seen my body bounce back.  And I fully understand what it feels like, to be broken, in a sense. And then get put back together.

What excites you in your role as Director of Love Your Age?

A: Managing stress and keeping emotionally strong were the main reasons I got into the fitness profession 25 years ago, and it’s still my main motivator. It’s really exciting to see where the research is going now in terms of exercise for both mood and cognition. When we think about how we want to age, it’s great to think of the body but we aren’t bodies alone. They aren’t separate from our minds. We need to have strategies to optimize mental and cognitive health if we are going to age well. And new brain research in neuroscience supports the idea that the brain can regenerate, this concept being termed, neuroplasticity. That’s why our team created The Brain & Body Workout. There are just so many aspects of exercise for aging well, and they are all important. We can’t leave out cognition and mood. So we’ve incorporated research-based techniques used in brain therapy, techniques that work on the interplay between cognitive and physical aspects of balance training, as well as mind-body techniques. We are fortunate to have staff with specialities ranging from Osteofit and Steady Feet as well as research experience in brain health and socio-cultural aspects of exercise. We’ve been able to create something new and exciting.

 

www.runwithit.ca
Twitter – @christineruns
Instagram – @runwithit_christineblanchette
YouTube – runwithitcb1

What to look for before signing away your life to a gym

At the beginning of November, I made the decision to get a gym membership. This wasn’t a decision I took lightly. It’s a big commitment! Not only to my health, but also to my pocketbook.

To be more fit, to take your health into your own hands, is a daunting decision. A lot of the time, people say its not worth the price. And, it may be true. A gym membership often costs an arm and a leg, and maybe a few organs. But, it doesn’t have to be so painful, not as long as you do your research and think about your choices.

It took me a few weeks of hard work to decide which gym fit my needs. Here’s what to look for before you sign the papers:

Do your research: Don’t just consider the big guns — GoodLife, YMCA, LA Fitness. Take a look at your community centres, specialized studios, and smaller gyms in your neighbourhood. Is there a gym conveniently located near your home or your work? Convenience is a bit factor. If you need to go out of your way to get to the gym, you may not go as often as you intend. Don’t rule anything out until you’ve thoroughly researched all options. You may just be surprised at what you find.

Decide what kind of workout you want: Do you want to just use a treadmill, attend classes, or get some training? If you, like me, are just looking for somewhere to do a morning run and maybe do some weights, try looking at a cheaper gym. Places like GoodLife are great if you want to take part in group fitness classes or want personal training. If you are a yoga fiend or love kickboxing, maybe look at a few specialized studios. You don’t want to waste money on a gym if you won’t enjoy going, so make sure it works for you.

Get a tour: There is a lot about a gym you can’t tell from their website. The first, and ultimately the most important, is cleanliness. Sure, a gym may be cheap, but if the machines are gross and the lighting terrible, it can be a safety hazard. You also want to make sure there is enough space to do floor work and weights, and that the staff is knowledgeable as well.

Ask about terms: Most gyms will try to lock you in to a one-year contract, but always ask about alternatives. It is sometimes a better deal to purchase a year-long contract — the gym may waive certain fees in exchange for the commitment — but be sure you are ready for it. If you cancel before the year is up, you may be subject to cancellation fees. Also know that a gym, unless the province, city, or a non-profit runs it, must give you an option of paying your membership in monthly instalments. Make sure to ask what’s included in the membership as well, because often there are often different levels that will allow access to certain locations or classes.

Cost compare: This isn’t entirely about cost. Make sure to compare multiple factors. Is the more expensive gym worth the extra money? Will you use it enough to warrant the value? How does it fit into your budget on a monthly and a yearly basis?

 

Do you have a gym membership? What were your factors in your decision?

 

Essential gear for a great workout

With spring hopefully on its way, working out at the gym is a good way to wake the body up and prepare for the summer season. Here are some essential items needed to ensure that your workout is a success.

Sports bra

1.Supportive Sports Bra

A supportive sports bra is a must when you are working out in the gym. It is important to keep the ladies in check, and a quality sports bra increases comfort while exercising. When buying, avoid compression sports bras. They flatten the tissues in the breast and can cause pain during a work-out. They also provide little support for the breasts and decrease elasticity. Instead, look for a sports bra with cups and additional side panels for support. Adjustable straps help to customize the sports bra to each individual, and reduce bounce as well. Supportive sports bras start at $40, and are an affordable purchase for a better work-out.

By Dirk Knight
By Dirk Knight

2. Light-weight runners

Have you ever experienced being at the gym and suddenly you hear somebody stomping on the treadmill like they are a herd of angry horses? That is because they do not have a light-weight runners. Heavy shoes make a work-out more difficult especially in the cardio portion of a work-out routine. Having a more aerodynamic shoe can help increase performance at the gym. The Nike Air Zeus Pegasus 32 is a good example of a 2016 light-weight running shoe and runs at $110. Of course, other comparable options are available.

water bottle

5.BPA-free Water Bottle

A BPA-free water bottle is vital for a workout, enhancing performance and avoiding dehydration. Every 2 per cent of body weight lost in fluid decreases athletic performance by 25 per cent according to Human Kinetics. Drinking water will allow you  a more fulfilling exercise routine. Make sure your water bottle is BPA-free. Add ice to cool the water for a refreshing drink during and after workout. Also include some snacks such as trail mix or a clif bar for a post-workout snack.

By Fe Ilya
By Fe Ilya

4. Earphones that stay in

Listening to music while working out will help increase motivation and keep you focused at the gym. It can be really frustrating if your earphones are constantly falling out and you have to stop your workout in order to put them back in. Instead, find some great buds that will stay in and give you the musical motivation needed to succeed. Philips Earhook headphones are a good option. The earphones hook over the ears, anchors them down and keeps them stay in place while exercising. Buying earphones with an adjustable cord helps them stay in.

By Abi Porter
By Abi Porter

5. Facial wipes for post-workout

The sweatier the better after a great workout. Yet if you have sweat dripping down your face, how can you leave the gym looking like you just ran a marathon? Facial wipes solve the problem and are also refreshing after spiking your body temperature on the treadmill. Portable facial wipes are a quick way to get rid of sweat. An additional benefit is wipes help to alleviate potential acne which can be caused by sweating profusely.

With these workout essentials, it will make your gym workout much more enjoyable. Being prepared will make your exercise routine flawless.  Furthermore, you’ll soon be on your way to fitting into that short summer dress tucked away in your closet.

10 reasons to avoid the gym

Happy New Year, folks!

This is probably the 94th article you’re reading about new year’s resolutions, but let me tell you the only resolution you’ll need to make this year. It involves the gym. But, I’m not here to tell you to start going to the gym, because you probably already promised yourself that you would. Instead, I am going to tell you the reasons why you shouldn’t go to the gym at any time of the year. So cross that cute ambition off your list because these 10 reasons will change your mind!

1. January brings forth the likes of many

Believe it or not, everyone’s New Year resolution is to start going to the gym. And like you, a lot of people attempt to accomplish this resolution, especially the first few weeks of the year. That’s why, during last year’s attempt to begin a healthy lifestyle, you might have noticed the large rush of people who do not look like they belong there. Men and women alike struggle to keep up on the treadmill, weights scattered across the studio, and confused folks trying to determine how to work their legs out of the complicated machines. It’s an absolute madhouse. Do yourself a favour and stay at home.

2. Money, money, money

The cheapest gym membership is roughly $30. That is, without the activation fees, maintenance fees, late fees, and other unnecessary, existing fees. Every month, whether you go regularly or not, money will be taken out of your account. There is no cash-only option or month-by-month payments. All gyms will require you to hand over credit card information to automatically withdraw money from your bank account. Instead of using this money toward a gym membership you won’t use, hand over that information to a children’s charity, women’s shelter, or buy yourself a really nice dinner.

3. Guilty until proven guilty 

 Eating is so much more fun when there are no weight commitments involved. Calorie counting is not only tedious, but it’s time consuming. Besides, no one needs the stress of overeating amongst the thousands of other first world problems we have. Gluten-free meals may seem like all the rage, but what is bread without the gluten? So just eat your cake and don’t think about the consequences. Chocolate is a great source of iron, especially during your time of month. And fries? Well, given the fact they were once potatoes, they technically qualify as vegetable, you know. Life is too short to not indulge in your favourite foods.

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4. Instagram food, not your bod

And while you’re eating your favourite foods, go ahead and let your followers know. Don’t be that woman who posts a picture in front of the studio mirror with your workout ensemble on. Nobody likes that girl. We realize that with a gym membership comes great responsibility. You constantly have to prove you actually use it. Without a gym membership, the pressure is off! Besides, a beautifully plate of pasta is not only more like-worthy, it’s also more realistic. There’s no added pressure of making pasta look good, as there are with your body. Dimming the studio lights, standing with your chest out and sucking in your gut is just too much effort to demonstrate you are leading a healthy lifestyle. That plate of pasta, however, needs #nofilter.

5. Life is too short

There is probably a list of many other things you would rather be doing than going to the gym. Ending world hunger, knitting a sweater, reading a book, or Netflix binging all seem much more appealing than sweating and panting. If you’re life is busy enough, just keep telling yourself that you’re tired enough by the end of the day to skip going to the gym. The gym is for those people who have the ambition to take the time time and put in the effort to burn some calories. Calories that can be burnt doing something else– such as walking to the nearest bakery.
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6. Home is where the heart is

Work out in the comfort of your own home. Merely watching a YouTube video of yogis and boot camp enthusiasts will have you feeling good as new. The next step will be to try out these moves one day. This way, you won’t have to spend time travelling, sharing equipment, or staring at people who are too fit to be at the gym in the first place. After your ‘workout,’ you have instant access to a fridge full of food so you can replenish those calories. Whether you’re doing crunches on your living room floor, doing leg lifts on your couch, or getting frisky with your loved one in the bedroom, burning calories at home is just more convenient.

7. Gym nuts are intimidating

They grunt, they sweat all over the equipment, and they make you feel less of a woman than you actually are. You don’t need to be exposed to that type of negativity! Gym nuts are people that have already accomplished their goals of attaining the perfect body, so the fact that they continue to take up space on the elliptical beside you is rather pretentious. While you’re struggling to keep up with the beginner level workout, the gym nut beside you is going at 100 km/h and doesn’t seem to be winded. Do yourself a favour and make friends in the same fitness level as you. That way, you can share stories about your late night walks to the fridge and your struggles to wake up in the morning. How romantic.

8. You’ll get your workout clothes sweaty

It’s difficult enough doing laundry — there’s only so many gym outfits you can buy to avoid washing the same set after each session. After an hour of cardio, the only thing you can think about is how to get your clothes off your body and into the hamper. Not only is dealing with clothes an added chore to your already hectic life, but it’s also a waste of water. They look better while you’re running errands, anyways. Create the illusion of a healthy lifestyle at the grocery store with some cute running shoes and a pair of yoga pants while you’re shopping for avocados and kale. People will look at you the same way they look at the Kardashians; a whole lot of envy with an added sense of judgment.  

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9. Love yourself

So what if you have a hard time going up two flights of stairs? At least you look good. Sure, your clothes might be a little more snug then usual, but curves are gorgeous! If stairs leave you winded, take the elevator. That’s why they’re there in the first place. It’s 2016; technology is advancing at the speed of light. Soon enough, we won’t even have to lift a finger. (We all know how difficult that is) These luxuries were invented with people like us in mind. The least we can do is be thankful for them.

10. Find alternatives 

Maybe living a healthy lifestyle isn’t a bad thing. But I stand by my advice on avoiding the gym. Especially during the first few weeks of the year, where everyone will have the same mindset about shedding off their eggnog. Just know there are alternatives to getting fit, without the commitment of a gym membership. Like eating one slice of pizza instead of 10.

Progress.

Good luck and happy fitnessing!

Should you hit the gym or work out at home?

by Nicole Duquette 

Exercise for me, like many others, is not a joyful activity, but a trying necessity. It has taken many years for my relationship with exercise to be as painless as it is now, and I still get tripped up sometimes.
After many experiences working out at gyms and at home I greatly prefer at home workouts; although, I have also seen the benefits of a formal gym environment.

The main reason I prefer working out at home is because I am not a fan of group sweating. If I am going to be huffing and puffing, sweating profusely, and contorting my face into strained grimaces it is not something other people need to witness. Another reason I like working out at home better than the gym is that it requires less effort. Given my lack of love for exercise I am not exactly willing to go out of my way to wake up early, pack a bag, and drive to the gym before starting to workout. At home, I can workout whenever I have the time or motivation. No planning required.

However, other people are one thing that can be considered an advantage of going to the gym. The gym provides a social aspect that working out at home doesn’t. Going to the gym with others is a good way to spend time with friends or to make new friends by attending classes or chatting in the dressing rooms.

I recently gave up my gym membership in favour of working out at home because I simply couldn’t justify the cost ($50 plus a month). While the cost of gym memberships is a common deterrent it is no excuse for not exercising. There is some very costly home fitness equipment out there, but it isn’t necessary. It is possible to do an effective workout at home using inexpensive equipment. Don’t have dumbbells? Try water bottles filled with water or sand – experiment to get the weight right. Don’t have a treadmill? Head outside. Already have a video gaming system? Try a fitness game. Also, look into getting a stability ball or resistance band as they are less than $20 and can amp up any workout.

One thing that is worth the cost of a gym membership is the professional fitness trainers. People who haven’t worked out much in the past would benefit greatly from talking to a professional before getting started at home. Short term personal training doesn’t cost as much as long term gym memberships. A personal trainer can develop an individualized fitness program for you, and demonstrate proper exercise techniques to avoid injury.

My running-shoe shod feet may be firmly planted shoulder-width apart at home right now, but I know one of the many benefits of gym exercise will draw me back, sometime in the future. For now, though, I will enjoy the relaxed environment of my at home gym and the privacy of my own shower.