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Get back in shape in the fall

 

Fall is my favorite season to run for two reasons: cooler temperatures to do intensity workouts without overheating, and perfect season to get back in shape after taking time off in the summer. Every fall, I look forward to setting new goals whether it is to improve on a personal best or participate in a new event. It is also cross-country season, which is my favorite type of running because it is low key, inexpensive, offers challenging terrain, but more importantly brings me back to my childhood when I first started running in Quebec.

Fall is also a good time for those who want to learn how to run with clinics or clubs. Many of these run excellent programs to match your fitness level and challenge you as well. However, before launching into an exercise routine, visit your doctor. If you decide not to join a clinic, there are many online programs to choose from, but pick the proper running program to avoid overtraining or injury.

Here are my top 6 running tips to get you fall ready:

  1. Gear: Invest in sweat wicking fabrics, a light weight jacket, and long sleeve shirt. A vest is also ideal. Wear tights or capris. Dress for the weather conditions and wear reflective gear when there is less light. Dress in layers. I often wear a running cap to keep my head warm.
  2. Footwear: Visit a specialty running store to get them fitted properly. Trail runners are best for hitting the trails. I have two pairs of shoes to alternate my workouts in. For cross country, I wear trail shoes to keep me from slipping on rocks or loose gravel.
  3. Reward: When the weather is colder than usual, and you don’t feel like running, I find a good way to get me in the mood is to reward myself after a run with a hot drink. Otherwise, running with a friend will also keep you committed to working out. Once a week, I try to run with a friend to keep me motivated.
  4. Social: Join a running group to meet new friends and pick up running tips or advice.
  5. Hydration: Drink plenty of water even though it is cold, and follow a healthy diet. If you have any dietary concerns, ask a registered dietitian before you start running.
  6. Stretch: After your workout, stretch all your muscle groups. I do a cool-down after a hard training interval session then I stretch.

Fall is a good time to try some cross-country running, explore the trails, and improve your performance or get back into fitness after taking the summer off.

How to take care of yourself when running in hot weather

Running in hot weather can cause heat-related illnesses, zap your energy and diminish your performance if you are not properly aware of the dos and don’ts before heading out.  The consequences of being ill-prepared for the heat could lead to permanent brain damage or even death due to severe heat stroke and dehydration.

In 2002, while living in South Korea, I suffered from heat exhaustion after running 10km in the heat. I was quite ill and needed medical attention. From that bad experience I learned to hydrate enough before working out, not push myself like I did in the race, and not to race that same day for another 200 metres. I also learned that I don’t run well in the hot weather. My runs are done early in the morning or in the evening.

To keep you safe in hotter than normal conditions, here are my top five running tips that have helped me and are good reminders.

  1. Know the best time to run: Everyone has different levels of tolerance for running in hot and humid conditions. If your run is negatively affected by the heat, try to avoid running in the hottest part of the day, which is from 11:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. If there isn’t an option, try to choose routes in the trails where shade will keep you cool.
  2. Clothing: Wear sweat-absorbing fabrics to help keep you dry and comfortable. Try to avoid moisture-absorbing fabrics like cotton in anything from socks to shorts to t-shirts.  The lighter the garment, the better off you will be. Wear sunglasses and running caps to protect your eyes from the sun year-round.  Your cap will also help shield you from the sun’s ultraviolet rays while preventing your scalp from getting burned. It comes in handy on rainy days too if you’re not a fan of the water beating down in your eyes.
  3. Sunblock: To protect your skin from sun damage and to prevent skin cancer, apply sunscreen before your run.  A very pleasant benefit to protecting your exposed skin is it slows down the natural aging process.  Wear the right SPF according to the pigmentation of your skin.
  4. Hydration: Drink plenty of fluids. Drink at least two to three liters of water a day. Runners need to drink at least two cups of water two hours prior to running and another cup thirty minutes before.  Invest in a water bottle to carry with you or plan your route where you know of multiple sources of water.  Anytime you feel the heat, take a few sips of water as needed.
  5. Slow the pace when running or cross training in the heat. Pool running is a great alternative to running. It can be done with or without a flotation vest and can mimic the running motion in deep water.  Another option is the treadmill, the advantage being if you need to stop early you’ll still be back where you started.  Many gyms provide fans and water fountains. If you feel more tired from the heat than normal, it’s best that you stop and try again later.

After your run, drink plenty of water or a sports drink to replenish lost electrolytes. Don’t forget to eat some cooling foods as well, such as watermelon or cantaloupe.

Remember to listen to your body as this is your guide to stay within the boundaries of not overdoing it. Being a good listener could save your life.

www.runwithit.ca

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!

 

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:

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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!

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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.

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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!

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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!

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How To Ace The Belly Button Challenge

While you’re in front of the mirror scrutinizing every inch of your body today, go ahead and wrap your arm around your waist to see if you can touch your belly button. The “Belly Button Challenge”, as social media has deemed it, is the latest trend to take over the internet. The challenge has obtained 130 million hits over the past couple of days as men and women are taking to Twitter and Instagram to post their attempts.

Sorry to break it to you, but according the rules (we don’t know who makes them either), not being able to reach your belly button means you need to need a smaller waist. The challenge has become very popular in China but is quickly making international news with men and women from all over the world catching on to the bizarre trend.

Challenges like this have become very popular nowadays. Whether its sucking on a glass or cup for the Kylie Jenner Challenge or taking drastic measures at the gym to achieve a thigh gap, it’s no secret that women are constantly under pressure to reach the ideal standard of what is considered beautiful.

People are quick to comply to these trends as they jump on the bandwagon to attain the next requirement for the perfect body. As women who can touch their belly button from behind continue to brag about their accomplishments on social media, other women are scrolling through their Instagram feeds and researching the best exercise moves to get a non-existent waist line. The question is, how does one get a butt like Nicki Minaj, thighs like Cara Delevigne, and a stomach like Adrina Lima?

You don’t. Instead, the best way to ace the belly button challenge is to try it, fail it, and move on. And if along the way, you somehow do manage to touch your belly button, give yourself a pat on the back (or stomach). And then move on. Because the perfect body isn’t one that allows you to touch the lintiest part of your body. The perfect body is one you’re comfortable walking around in. One that allows you to spend time with your family and friends, eat your favourite foods, and take the stairs to the second floor without getting too winded.

If you really want a challenge, take yourself to a yoga class. Let’s face it, touching your belly button doesn’t even qualify as a yoga move. What would be truly impressive is seeing these women do the lotus headstand. But even then, why be a pretzel when you can eat one instead?

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