"I have been impressed with the urgency of doing. Knowing is not enough; we must apply. Being willing is not enough; we must do."
-Leonardo da Vinci
"Successful people aren't born that way. They become successful by establishing the habit of doing things unsuccessful people don't like to do. The successful people don't always like these things themselves; they just get on and do them."
"Doing the best at this moment puts you in the best place for the next moment."
"The higher your energy level, the more efficient your body The more efficient your body, the better you feel and the more you will use your talent to produce outstanding results."
"Little by little one walks far"
January 31, 2011
"I have been impressed with the urgency of doing. Knowing is not enough; we must apply. Being willing is not enough; we must do."
January 29, 2011
A little while back, I posted this review, on the supplement Greens Plus. Basically what it came down to, was I truly liked the way the product made me feel, but I wasn't too keen on the taste.
January 27, 2011
The Right Bike Trainer To Combat Holiday Weight GainWe're well into winter, and after 'suffering' through too much food over the holidays, it's time to take the bull by the horns and fight back. There are plenty of people struggling to regain their fitness, but with so much rain and snow across the continent it's a job that's easier to think about than to actually get done.
That's where an indoor bike trainer can come in handy. Maybe this short primer on bicycle trainers will be just enough to push a few folks off the fence and back into a regular exercise routine.
So here goes.
After writing oodles of bike trainer reviews, I've figured out that perspective cycling trainer users should know a few basics before they spend their hard earned cash on a bike trainer that might not meet their specific needs for winter exercising. They may choose a product that isn't 'enough' trainer for them, or on the other hand, they may waste money getting something that they don't have the power or resolve to make adequate use of.
Wind Trainers May Be Enough
If you're a rather casual rider, a wind trainer may be enough for you. These are the simplest of trainers with the least number of things that can go wrong. With a minimal number of parts, high quality (good metals and bearings) wind trainers from companies like Kurt Kinetic, CycleOps, Minoura, or Blackburn will last forever...or what may seem like forever to the people in the apartment next to you.
I bring up the people on the other side of the wall to make a point.
Wind trainers can be loud. Loud enough that there are reports of cyclists wearing earplugs when using a wind trainer.
And there's another downside to wind trainers. They don't produce enough resistance, even at high speeds, to provide a good workout for strong cyclists.
But after having griped a bit about wind trainers, I will say that if you're not hampered by tight living conditions, and you're likely to only use your bike trainer for mild to moderate steady state workouts a wind trainer may be all you'll need to keep the jelly rolls off your midsection this winter.
Mag Trainers Come In Second Place
Magnetic (mag) trainers have come a long way in the last few years. The internet's littered with old complaints from mag trainer owners who didn't appreciate their trainers clattering their way to the scrapyard.
That's not the way it is anymore.
This class of bike trainer develops resistance by rotating repelling magnets past each other. Most mag trainers provide the ability to be adjusted through multiple levels of resistance.
The most common method of 'switching gears' is to dismount and change the resistance level at the trainer unit itself. For a few extra bucks you can get mag trainers that have a lever which attaches to the handlebars, enabling you to increase or decrease the resistance while riding.
The latest innovation in the mag trainer world is the CycleOps Magneto. The CycleOps company reports that their trainer is the first and only mag trainer to 'progressively' increase resistance the harder the cyclist pedals. Using centrifugal force, the Magneto changes the configuration of its magnets without any input from the rider.
Mag trainers are appropriate for moderately serious cyclists who need more resistance than a wind trainer can provide, but who don't want to go 'all in' with a fluid trainer.
Fluid Trainers Sit Atop The Food Chain
It's really hard to beat a high quality fluid trainer like the
Kurt Kinetic Road Machine, or the Cycleops Fluid 2.
Fluid trainers are the quietest of the three types, so having to turn the TV up to ear shattering volumes isn't necessary if you're watching your favorite rerun of 'Cheers' while pedaling off your Christmas fudge and pumpkin pies.
With regard to resistance, fluid trainers are willing to motor along at low intensities, but also ready and able to fight back no matter how hard the cyclist wants to work them. This category of bike trainer provides what could be termed an 'exponential' increase in resistance.
If you look at a chart of the type of resistance that fluid trainers provide, you'll see an ever increasing slope that gets steeper and steeper the more the speed increases. On fluid trainers, trying to eek out an extra kilometer per hour once you get over thirty kilos can be quite an effort.
Fluid trainers are for serious cyclists who aren't afraid to spend money on their cycling equipment and who will be using their trainers for high intensity interval-style workouts.
No More Excuses
There's currently an appropriate bike trainer available for casual cyclists, for hardcore competitors, and for everyone in between. Excuses to stop exercising when the weather doesn't cooperate have a hollow ring to them, now that keeping in shape can be as close as your living room on a good indoor bike trainer.
So check out the latest selection and start working your way back into 'fightin' shape.
About the author: Ron Fritzke is a cycling product reviewer with a passion for ‘all things cycling’. A former 2:17 marathoner, he now directs his competitive efforts toward racing his bike…and looking for good cycling products.
January 25, 2011
January 24, 2011
Before yoga class starts, we are made to be aware of our body. As human beings we are trapped in our mind, and we never focus on the body as it is. As we begin the class we are told clear the mind, leave the past and future behind and focus on the present moment. With movement, combined with breathwork, it's amazing how easy that becomes.
When I start the yoga class my mind is a mess. Even without thoughts of what needs to be done, I'm even stressing over the idea of being in a challenging class for 60-90 minutes! By the time class is over, not only did it feel like a mere 15 minutes, but I feel mentally and physically refreshed. It's as though I was able to leave myself and return rested and renewed.
Here is a simple breath work meditation taken from "How Now, 50 Ways to Celebrate the Present Moment."
Each inhale and exhale you take is a bridge between what's within you and what's outside you.
The more present you are to your breathing, the more robust that bridge becomes. Try breathing naturally, at your own pace, and count your breaths to 10. Sounds simple, right? Yet due to our wandering minds, most of us lose track many times along the way. When it happens, begin again without frustration or worry. Counting your breaths is not a game to win or a skill to master. Instead, it's an instant, ever-handy way to deepen your aliveness.
P.S. This is a great exercise for decreasing stress!
January 22, 2011
January 20, 2011
It has been twenty days since the New Year. I bet the regular gym goers are already beginning to complain less over equipment wait times, and overcrowding in their facility. It really does not take long for most people to forget about the number one resolution year after year: weight loss.
If you are finding that your original motivation is about to kick the bucket, here is a way to jump start your original goal.
Resolution CPR - A Month's Worth of Little Goals to Keep the Resolution Alive
Have a different little goal every week.
The problem with New Years resolutions is that they are so long term. There's absolutely no timeline or short term planning. That's wwhy when I'm asked if I've started on my resolutions, I playfully scoff and reply, "Not yet! I have the whole year!"
Try rotating weekly goals between nutrition and fitness.
Week 1 - Focus on only eating food with one ingredient.
Examples: eggs, nuts, fruits, veggies, lean meat, brown rice, quinoa, cheese etc.
Week 2 - Use your gym membership/personal training sessions/ yoga classes at least three times.
Week 3 - Try not to eat anything processed, frozen or dine out.
Week 4 - Try an activity you have always been meaning to try but never did.
Examples: Go for a swim at the community centre, try out a free martial arts class at the dojo down the street, try out the BOSU in the gym.
You may not complete this first month of suggestions perfectly but little weekly goals that are not too demanding will start getting you into the mentality of setting and working on goals. Having specific fitness and nutrition tasks to think about on a daily basis are the first steps toward long term success.
Reach Your Goals!
January 18, 2011
When doing a strength training program, and being beyond the level of absolute beginner, adding more than one set per muscle group is ideal. With more sets there is an increase of blood flow to the muscle, and it stimulates better growth/development and therefore, strength.
Doing a straight set program (chest, rest, chest, rest, chest, rest etc) is a great technique but not only can it be a bit boring, it can leave the workout feeling somewhat lacking in momentum. It's also not the best regimen for getting a bit of cardio benefit. So how do you organize your weight workouts to get in more than one set, while keeping the sequence interesting.
Here are some ideas
1. I like to do what I call, Bouncing back and forth.
This program has many combinations. An example would be: chest, back, legs, rest. Repeat 2-3 times. Then move on to biceps, shoulders, legs, triceps, rest. Repeat 2 to 3 times. Finish with core work and stretching.
2. The circuit.
Circuits are always fun. Simply run down your list of muscle groups, performing one exercise per muscle until all have been hit, then repeat the whole sequence one or two more time. Example: Chest, back, hamstrings, shoulders, triceps, quadriceps, biceps, calves, core. Rest, repeat.
Other ways to get in all of your sets are:
-breaking them up with cardio (chest, run 1 min, chest, run 1 min, etc)
-Adding stretches for the muscle in between sets. (chest, stretch, chest, stretch)
-Adding any other activity in between. (chest, boxing, chest, sun salutation, chest dancing etc).
What do you do to make getting in multiple sets more fun and interesting?
January 17, 2011
Moroccan Spiced vegetable stew
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 large onion, halved and sliced
2 tsp minced garlic
3 tsp ras al hanout*
16 oz vegetable broth (I like the "no chicken" broth from Pacific Organic) or water
1 tsp lemon juice from 1/2 lemon
1 Tbsp honey
1 cup dried apricots, quartered
1 medium carrot, sliced
2 cans (30 ounces) chickpeas, drained and rinsed
.5 can (7.5 ounces) solid-pack pumpkin
1 medium zucchini, sliced
2 Tbsp parsley
salt & pepper
In a large pot, heat 1 Tbsp olive oil over medium-high heat until it begins to smoke. Add the onion and cook 5 minutes until onion browns at the edges but is still firm. Add garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add spices and cook until very fragrant, about 45 seconds to one minute. Add broth, lemon juice, honey, apricots, and carrots. Cover, reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer 10 minutes. Add chickpeas, pumpkin, and zucchini to pot; increase heat to medium-high and simmer until liquid has thickened slightly and carrots are tender, 4 to 6 minutes. Add parsley and lemon juice to taste; stir to combine and adjust seasoning with salt and pepper.
* You can make your own ras al hanout with 1.25 tsp sweet paprika, .5 tsp each cumin and ginger, and .25 tsp each cayenne, ground coriander seed, and cinnamon--or whatever mix of Middle Eastern spices you like.
January 15, 2011
Some people make it look so easy, don't they? It's as if they're never too tired to exercise and they never crave junk food. It makes me sick! Actually, while I am joking about the sick part, I know how hard it is for some people to stick to their diet and exercise plan. The ones who have succeeded in reaching their health and fitness goals have some things in common, and here they are:
1. They have activities that they enjoy
Being able to work out almost every day is easy if you enjoy the activity. Becoming resentful of going to the gym, or running every morning if you do not even like it, will only pave the way for failure and disappointment. Most people who have reached fitness goals look forward to their workout because they love the way it makes them feel first, before the way it makes them look.
2. They know how to say no
Personally speaking, if I said yes to every dinner invitation, every chocolate offered to me and every event that would cut into my scheduled workouts, I'd never have achieved any projected result. The bottom line is that YOU are responsible for your outcome. Don't feel bad for not trying every one of Grandma's ten different kinds of cookies. She will forgive you...Eventually.
3. They make it happen no matter what
Whether it's by waking up early, preparing a weeks worth of lunches to take to work or packing the gym bag the day before, succeeding involves not giving yourself room for excuses. If you set out to accomplish a goal then you have to expect to go out of your way once in a while to overcome and prevent obstacles.
Make It Happen!
January 13, 2011
For many people their yoga practice is more than exercise. It is their whole mind and body well-being lifestyle. The studio is their sacred place. Here are a few tips on yoga class courtesy to avoid making a yoga studio faux pas:
Yoga Class Etiquette 101
1. No talking in the studio
If you practice with friends, keep the pre and post catching up in the lobby. Some studio change rooms even discourage discussion!
2. Bring a mat bag without a zipper or Velcro
Walking into the studio to set up and causing a loud, "ZZZIIIIPPPP," is just as disruptive as talking! A bag with strings, a carrying strap or even a fabric sleeve is preferable.
3. Move over for others
In a crowded studio be sure to move your mat over towards the next person as comfortably as possible to make room for other students.
4. Put straps and blocks back
If you borrow equipment, be sure to put it back as you originally found it. It's just not nice to expect the studio staff to clean up after you! If you rent a mat, disinfect and hang to dry.
5. If you are new, head to the back
From the back you can see more experienced students and learn from them. If you are a new student and practice in the front, not only are you most likely taking the spot that advanced students need to check form, but the students behind you may follow your lead without realizing you are inexperienced!
Of course, with any class, arrive early and try not to leave the room until the class has finished.
January 11, 2011
Using your stairs at home can give you a fantastic cardio and/or strength workout. By adding the stairs into your regimen, and by performing step ups you will strengthen your legs and butt, while using core stabilizing muscles to balance.
Step Up Instructions
1. If you are a beginner start out with no weight. Intermediate to advanced can use dumbbells, soup cans, or even tote bags filled with books.
2. Start by standing at the bottom of the staircase and placing one foot on the bottom step.
3. Step up one leg at a time by placing all of the weight on your heel and by keeping your hamstrings, quadriceps and glutes strong while driving up through the foot until both feet are on the step. Perform one set of 10 to 15 reps on foot and then switch sides.
1. For more cardio alternate feet.
2. Side Step. Turn sideways and step up facing sideways. Try adding a lateral raise while lifting the free leg out to the side.
3. Reverse step up. Start by standing on the bottom step. Step off the stair with one foot. This will bend the knee of the leg remaining on the step. Straighten the leg to bring the foot back up to the step.
4. Stairs can also be used for uneven squats (one foot on, one foot off) and lunges, by placing one foot on the step. The back foot on the step will make lunges more challenging!
Stairs for Cardio
Time yourself 1 to 2 minutes and try cardio intervals on your stairs in between weight lifting sets. Remember to wear running shoes for traction!
Step into Fitness!
January 10, 2011
Borrowed from "How Now"
When do you hide your light?
If not for our deep seated inhibitions, most of us would offer the world much more.
Perhaps more humour, honesty, service or just plain life force. Take a moment to consider what wonderful parts of you remain burried or held back. Ask yourself, how would I be different if I didn't care what other people thought? Ask the people closest to you to as well. Try bringing forth one of those attributes, when the time is right, just to see what happens. Then, if inspired, keep going, with an aim to share your full specrum.
January 8, 2011
January 6, 2011
January 4, 2011
At the One Love Yoga fundraiser back in December, I received complimentary hot yoga classes, to different yoga schools in Toronto. I tried two out in the same week and the experiences were vastly different.
The first yoga school, in Toronto's west end, was one of the nicest studios I have ever been in. The school even smelled good. Being a full service spa, I don't think the class was supposed to be "hardcore." It was advertised as a hot yoga class but I hardly sweat.
To be honest, despite the studio's impressive appearance, the experience was not very promising:
The receptionist asked me to buy my first two sessions. I mentioned that I'd like to try the class first. The studio is quite far from where I live. She scoffed at me!
The teacher started the class quite late. That would be forgiven (who knows her circumstances) but after class she was the first to leave. I've been to some studios where the teacher will leave first, and allow everyone to relax and go at their own pace but then they wait outside of the classroom for any questions. This one just disappeared!
The instructor knew that I was a new student and offered no adjustments, tips, attention etc.
On my way out the staffs were grouped together drinking coffee and poking fun at a student.
Bottom Line: Appearance isn't everything! I'll never go back.
On New Year Eve I tried IAM Yoga at Yonge and Bloor in Toronto
-Everyone was extremely friendly and helpful.
-The studio looks great, and it's very clean.
-I wrote on my waiver that I do have a past knee injury I try to keep in mind while practicing and the instructor asked me about it.
-The class was as advertised. It was tough and very sweaty.
-The instructor, (Britt) was extremely helpful, knowledgeable and attentive. She even offered me tips that have improved my practice.
-The instructor and the front desk acknowledged me on the way out, and answered my questions about scheduling and pricing with a "no pressure" approach.
Bottom line: How do I fit them into my schedule? I'm dying to go back!
Edit: I purchased an unlimited week for $20 and tried the "core flow class." VERY challenging and another fantastic experience! I'm becoming addiction to hot yoga thanks to IAM Yoga.
January 3, 2011
This is from "50 Ways to Celebrate the Present Moment," by Raphael Cushnir
Remember How to Skip?
Your body knows how to play even when you don't. Just a smidgen of your willingness is all it needs to let loose.
Often, just a few moments of uninhabited play will jog loose what was stuck, bringing creativity, ease, and joy where they previously seemed impossible.
With that in mind, go ahead and skip. Make sure you've got ample room to get up a good head of steam. Skip your way through the embarrassment and self-judgements about your silliness and wasting time. Skip until you're out of breath. Skip until you can't help but feel a bounding sense of glee!
January 1, 2011
If you are lucky enough to have access to a BOSU, I sure hope that you are using it! BOSU stands for "both sides utilized." It can be placed flat side or ball side down and can be used for various balance, core, strength and cardio exercises. Here are some neat ways to get the most out of your BOSU:
Taking Basics up a Notch
-Use the BOSU flat side down (to start, when balance improves switch to ball down) to take basic exercises up a level by adding the challenge of balance to them. Standing on the BOSU try: shoulder press, bicep curls, overhead extension, squats and lunges with one leg on the ball and one off.
-With ball side down use the handles to do push ups. Or place the BOSU flat side down, and place your feet on the ball for push ups. This targets the upper pectorals more, while simultaneously engaging the core.
-Using both a stability ball and BOSU try a bench press bridge. Use the stability ball like a bench for your press, but place feet on the BOSU, and raise the hips up high into a bridge. This targets the core, buns, hamstrings, chest, triceps and shoulders all in one exercise!
-Use the BOSU flat side down to perform aerobic step exercises (variations of step ups with weights) but now you have to balance, and the surface is even smaller!
-Much to the dismay of my clients one of my favourite cardio BOSU exercises is uneven traveling squats. To do this one, place the BOSU flat down. Perform a squat with one foot on the BOSU on the other off. Then step or jump over the BOSU to do the other side. Get into a nice rhythm and repeat this exercise for 15 squats on each side. It's harder than it looks!
The BOSU is a fantastic supplement to any fitness program. If you own one, or have access in your condo gym or fitness club, start using it!