Summer

Summer. The time of everlasting daylight, mosquitos and for most, routine turned upside down. Maybe you have (grand)kids who are out of school and need care; maybe you have (grand)kids who now don’t need to be driven to extra-curriculars; maybe you don’t have kids in your life at all. I’d still wager a guess that your day-to-day in July and August isn’t exactly the same as it is during the hum-drum months of November and April.

I don’t know about you, but workout routine is always one of the first things affected by changes in my schedule. And for me, the summer schedule changes so much it puts me in a different time zone.

I’m actually not kidding. I spend a healthy chunk of time every summer at our family cabin on a lake northeast of Toronto. The cabin is on a heavily treed island just over 3 acres in size. I am a lifelong runner and admitted cardio addict. Perhaps you can see my problem: I cannot walk (or run) on water and there is no treadmill (in this rustic little spot that would be the ultimate blasphemy). One summer I was in such withdrawal that my devoted husband ‘cleared’ a ‘trail’ through the forest creating a 200-ish metre trail so I could ‘run’ laps of the island (all terms in quotes used very loosely). It’s pretty much bush-whacking. It’s awful. I’m shocked that I haven’t broken an ankle.
 
My point? It’s easy to obsess over routine, and when we can’t maintain it we beat ourselves up about the fact that we can’t do things exactly the way we do at other times of the year. Why not embrace it instead? See it as opportunity; an invitation to do something different?

In my old age I have become wise (okay, at least little wiser than I used to be). I mostly take the summer off running; I save my ankles from stray roots on the path and let my body recover from the abuse it suffers through the other 10.5 months of the year. Running, as great as it is for producing endorphins and burning calories, also offers a repetitive slamming of feet into concrete that is very hard on the joints. In fact, the majority of my personal fitness program is designed from a Corrective Exercise perspective in order to let fuel my addiction. But I digress …

For me summer has become a time to do other things. I swim. I cycle (on a wind trainer, not on the suspect trail described above). It’s the only time of the year that I do burpees with any regularity. And the change can be good for both body and soul: I used to feel frustrated that I wasn’t working hard enough in my summer workouts. Even after a cross-channel swim (I am on an island, after all) or a 45-minute spin I’d feel like a slacker. As I’m sure you can appreciate, without a training partner, a group fitness instructor or even any real training plan it’s hard to bang out a HIIT style workout solo. And then in another bolt of genius I realized that this is periodization in its essence: summer is when I focus on flexibility and fundamentals. I can feel my chronically shortened muscles lengthen because I have time to do mat Pilates most days. Continuing with some easy cardio maintains a solid aerobic base from which to build when I ramp back up for the next goal.
 
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On top of that, this year I have specifically used some lake time to focus on nutrition. While I do okay getting balanced meals of mostly whole foods on the table the majority of the time, this is different. I’m eating healthy with intention because I have time when I’m not rushing from work to my secondary taxi-driver job delivering kids to and from extracurricular activities. More fruit and veg. Local. Organic. No sugar. Healthier carbs.
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But enough about me. What does this mean for you? Maybe you are a fanatical devotee of Saturday morning spin class, but can’t make it because you’re at the lake or a baseball tournament or a soccer game or …. you get it … fill in your own blanks here. Rather than get frustrated, try something else. Often summer creates gaps in the studio schedule that means you might be able to snag a spot in a usually full class some other time. Unleash on Tuesday nights? Bring it on! Never tried Fitilates? This might be your chance.

If you’re out of the city, there are dozens (okay, probably hundreds) of options away from the studio as well … paddleboarding or kayaking if you’re on the water … walking/hiking/cycling if you’re not. Maybe you haven’t run in years and you think you hate it but then again maybe you’ll like it when it’s not -25 and you’re not on a treadmill staring at the wall. Do. Something. Different.

There’s value in all of it. This summer, be kind to yourself. Keep moving. Put good stuff in to your body. Enjoy the season. It will be over before you know it.

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Shawna Hiley, B.Sc., Ph.D.
CSEP Certified Personal Trainer
NASM Corrective Exercise Specialist

Personal Trainer at Infinite Fitness

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Benefits of a Workout Partner

Valentine's day is only a few short days a way and although we think that you should consider giving acts of love year round, we figured we'd focus on the top 5 reasons to workout with a partner.

  1. You are accountable to someone else. - Let's be honest, it's easy to quit on yourself some days. Maybe the alarm rings at 6am and you think, but I need 20 more minutes. Or something comes up at work and you just can't leave the office on time. But if you add in someone else to the mix, it becomes much harder to skip. Maybe they're expecting you to meet them at 6am or they are there at 5pm saving your bike. Whatever the reason, your much less likely to let someone else down!
  2. You are more likely to try new things - human nature wins this one. We are way more willing to try something new if someone else does it with us. Aka, if we look foolish, we won't be alone ;) Grab your friend and hit up the yoga studio down the street or venture out to a cycling class or aerial yoga - anything that strikes your fancy!!
  3. You get better results - and who doesn't want better results?! Working out with someone else adds an element of competition and pushing yourself just a little bit further. By yourself you may have quit at just the slightest bit of discomfort but add your buddy there and you are that much more likely to give an extra 10%!
  4. You won't have to ask anyone for a spot - want to try lifting just a few more pounds or looking to test your 10 rep max? You won't have to approach that stranger in the gym and ask them to help you out. Your partner will be more than happy to help out!!
  5. Personal Training is even more affordable - if the cost of one on one sessions seems a bit overwhelming, a partner session may help to take the strain off your wallet so that you can focus on your fitness!
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Now that you know some of the reasons to grab a partner for your workouts, here's some qualities you should look for in a workout partner:

  • You need to like them - hahahaha, that seems obvious, eh? But if you don't like them, pretty much all of the above goes down the drain.
  • Both of you need to come with good attitudes - while some days one of you may need to lean on each other a little more than the other, it's going to get really old, really fast, if you are constantly leaning more on your friend or vice versa.
  • Similar goals and styles - if one of you wants to run a marathon and the other is looking to increase lean body mass, you're probably not a good match. Same thing if one of you needs a loving, gentle approach and the other prefers the drill sergeant, it's likely going to lead to frustration before results!



We'd love to hear from you... do you workout with a partner?

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Do You Set Bad Resolutions?

I recently saw a social media post talking about bad new years resolutions. It got me thinking, what makes a new years resolution bad in the first place?? Is it that as a society we tend to set the same three to five resolutions every year? Or that it's more common for us to fail at our resolutions than it is to succeed??

I don't think that it's any of the above. The definition of resolution is
"a firm decision to do or not to do something."

If we go off that definition alone, then we are nailing the act of making a resolution. However synonymous  with resolution is plan and that's exactly what's missing from most resolutions, making them bad resolutions. The plan doesn't need to be elaborate or even extensive but there needs to be one. Not sure how to come up with the plan, here's an easy way to get started.
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Step One
Make your wish list. Here's where you are going to figure out what it is you actually want to accomplish this year. Grab a piece of paper and a pen, and yes, it must be written by hand, not typed on a keyboard. Why? Because the act of writing has been proven to help you remember things better, clarify your thoughts and even help you achieve your goals! If you're someone who wants to keep this list with you at all times, you're in luck - write it down, snap a picture of it with your phone and carry it with you always ;)

Alright, back to the wish list. Grab that paper and pen and set a timer for 5 minutes. For the next five minutes dream big. What do you want to accomplish this year?? There are no obstacles in your way, no responsibilities and nothing that says you can't. Let your thoughts flow freely and write down whatever comes to mind.

Step Two
Look back over your list and narrow it down to 1 -3 things that speak to you the most. If you're not sure how to narrow it done, write down your whys for dreaming up that goal in the first place. The goals that you can an attach a strong why to are most likely the goals that you should focus on.

Now grab another piece of paper for each goal that you chose to focus on. You'll need to focus on one at a time now so you'll need a little bit more time. Write down your first goal at the top of the sheet of paper as if you have already achieved it. For example, if I currently weight 190 lbs and my goal is to lose 30 pounds in 2016 at the top of my paper I would write: I weigh 160 lbs by December 31, 2016. I have succeed in making my goal specific and timely but there is still no action.
Set your timer for 10 minutes. Write down all the steps that you would need to do to achieve this goal, and I mean all of them. Using my example above, my list may look something like this:

- drink 3L of water a day
- no snacking after 8pm
- eat veggies with every meal
- resistance train 2-4 days a week
- cardio train 2-5 days a week
- core/mind body training 1-4 times a week
- find babysitter so that I can go to the gym
- talk to my boss about leaving 30 minutes early (cut my lunch by 30 minutes) so that I can make it to my fitness class twice a week
- wake up for the 5:30am class 2-3 times a week
- prepare lunches the night before so I don't have to do it in the morning
- meal plan every Friday night
- grocery shop every Saturday
- prep for the week on Sunday
- arrange a walking meeting with a colleague once a week (we discuss work and walk at the same time)
- talk to my personal trainer about my upcoming goals
- weigh in once a week or once every two weeks to track progress

Etc, etc.

Yours will be even more specific to you. Write down everything no matter how small or mundane the task seems! Repeat for goal 2 and 3 if you have them.

Step Three
Now the action truly begins. Go through your list and pick out two goals that you can focus on that day. Based on my list above, maybe I could schedule a meeting with my boss to discuss a flexible work day and I could track my water intake for the day. Then do them. It seems easy right? So easy that maybe you think you could tackle even more steps from that list. And maybe some days you can. But most days you won't. And that's ok. Why set yourself up for failure with too many to-do tasks?? Pick a couple and get them done. Be pleased with yourself that you moved closer to your goal.

If your action steps looks like it would take longer than 30 minutes to complete. Break down your action step. For example, if I simply listed meal plan, that might seem time consuming or overwhelming. But if I made my action step to chose two healthy recipes to try for dinner next week, I could likely do that in less than 10 minutes.

Work Towards Progress, Not Perfection
Small attainable action steps add up to big, mind blowing results. But not over night. Look over your action list at the start of every day. Chose where to focus. Need to revisit an action step, do it. Need to change your goals, do that as well. Remember this is your 2016 and your journey, you get to chose how you want it to go.

I'd love to hear what you have planned for 2016 and if this type of goal setting worked for you! Please feel free to leave me a comment below. 

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Fitness Fact - Halloween Tricks and Treats!

It's no secret that Halloween weekend usually means eating a year's worth of fun-sized candies and chocolate bars and drinking cocktails with friends at numerous Halloween parties. So, for this week's Fitness Fact Friday, we've chosen to ease your minds about ingesting some goodies and write a post in DEFENSE of cheat meals, cheat days, and, realistically, cheat weekends!

Cheat meals don't have to spell diet disaster. In fact, a well-structured cheat meal can actually help you surmount weight-loss plateaus. The secret, however, is to cheat smart.

As everyone knows, diets are a nightmare, and they don't work. It's always best to strive for a 90/10 ratio of healthy, lean meals to cheat meals, not only to maintain your sanity and happiness, but also because these cheat meals help reset hormones responsible for metabolism and insulin regulation, replenish glycogen for increased energy, and keep calorie-burning and fat-torching mechanisms high.

The science behind using cheat meals as a dietary tool revolves around the same hormones we discussed in the post about sleep: leptin and ghrelin. Leptin, a protein mainly produced by fat tissue, regulates appetite and energy balance in the body. It acts on the brain's hypothalamus to suppress food intake and stimulate the use of energy, or calories. Leptin plays a key role in regulating body weight and fat mass through its stimulating effect on the brain. In fact, studies have shown that within 24 hours of fasting, leptin levels decrease to 30 percent of their normal value.

Ghrelin, a peptide hormone mainly produced by the stomach, is an appetite stimulant that signals the release of growth hormone. Low-calorie diets and chronic exercise have been shown to result in increased ghrelin concentrations, which may lead to increasing food intake and body weight.

In addition to affecting appetite and energy use through leptin and ghrelin, sustained caloric-deficit diets also cause the body to attempt to conserve energy by decreasing levels of the thyroid hormones T3 and T4, which help regulate and maintain metabolism. Sustained low-carbohydrate diets deplete the body of glycogen stores and can leave you feeling sluggish and weak, which can negatively affect your training performance.

But keep in mind! This doesn't mean that gorging on 10 lbs of treats is beneficial to your fitness. The trick is to continue to keep track of cheat meals (schedule them if you can!) and to choose treats that are as nutritional as possible. Try choosing a few bites of dark chocolate instead of processed chocolates, or choose the protein-rich smoothie we posted earlier in the week instead of ice cream, etc. And if you just can't resist those adorable little candies and chocolates, remember that we're always here for you to burn off a treat or two ;)

Have a safe and spooky Halloween.

(written by Jenaye Lewis)ghosts&pumpkins

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When A Dinner Fail Turns Into A Lunch Win

The plan for dinner was spaghetti squash with a ground turkey, zucchini and tomato sauce. The sauce turned out great. The squash, well see for yourself...
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Yup, definitely doesn't look like spaghetti and I have no idea where I went wrong. It's not the first time I have made it but something did not go right tonight. Luckily the sauce went just fine on bow-tie pasta (and the boys were quite happy I didn't serve them this) but I didn't want to waste the squash. So Tristan suggested soup. Without a recipe, I decided to just wing it. It turned out delicious!! It was quick, the kids said the house smelled yummy and we now have a healthy lunch for tomorrow. It turned out so good, I thought I'd share...

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I boiled some veggie broth and threw in some onion, carrots, apples, cumin, curry and salt. I let them cook until the carrots were soft. Remember, I had already roasted the spaghetti squash for 40 minutes at 425-degrees and scooped it out into a bowl of mush. 

I then threw it all (squash included) into the Vitamix in batches until it reached this consistency. 

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And that's it. Easy hearty soup in less than hour. Perfect for a chilly fall day. Enjoy!!

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Be Proactive and Prevent Colds and Flus This Year

It's sad to say it, but as we enter into the first few days of fall, we also have to accept the oncoming cold and flu season! Luckily Jenaye has put together this handy infographic to keep the germs from settling in.

Here are a few of the most important tips to help prevent, protect against, and combat cold and flu symptoms! Tips 1-4 are for you to incorporate but we can help you with the fifth tip: Exercise! Generally you want to aim for at least 30 minutes of physical activity every day. Check out our class schedule, Pilates and fitilates Reformer classes and Personal Training packages to make this easy for you to commit to.

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Campsite Workout

That moment you are on vacation and you think it's time to take a break from everything... Well just wait, maybe not everything! Did you know you could keep up with your fitness with this easy to do, fast campsite workout. You need nothing more than a picnic table! Tristan and Jessica took the boys to Drumheller and wanted to show you just how easy it is to fit in a workout. Enjoy!

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