The ABC’s of Meditation- 3 Different Styles for a Stress Free 2017 December 30 2016
Sometimes (ok, almost always) the end of the year brings with it a ton of stress and anxiety. Not just in terms of the year-end madness at work, but because of all the untied loose ends and unfinished business that unveil themselves as we inevitably head into an existential reflection of what we’ve accomplished throughout the past year. Hopefully, you are feeling positive about 2016 and entering 2017 with optimism and motivation. But incase you’re just human, and find yourself feeling a bit anxious or uneasy about what lies ahead, know that you’re not alone. More importantly, there are coping mechanisms that we can (and should!) use every day to help us stay level headed and balanced. Meditation is, for some, a vague and ominous concept. However, it’s important to know that meditation is simply just the act of silencing your loud inner voices for a while, connecting with your inner calm, releasing stress and worry, and being in the present moment . Rather than making it a big deal, think of it as a simple and gradual process that you are trying to turn into a habit.
(Image via www.boldselfimprovement.com)
There are many different methods of meditation, so if you’re not connecting with one, don’t give up! There doesn’t have to be some huge revelation or amazing epiphany that occurs, but rather a sense of deeper connection with yourself and a developed ability to control your stress and emotional state through the process. If you stick with it, this can be a useful tool or coping mechanism for times of high stress and anxiety. Here is a quick breakdown of the three main types of meditation.
This is probably the simplest form, making it the most suitable for beginners. This form of meditation solely entails being in the present moment, and silencing all other thoughts and outside noise. Though simple, this type of meditation is not always easy, particularly if you’re someone that struggles to clear your mind and silence the outside noise. However, if you’re one of those people, this type of meditation may prove to be the most beneficial, if you’re up for a challenge! To try Mindfulness Meditation, sit in a quiet space and try focusing on your breathing. Then, let go of all judgement. If negative thoughts creep in, let them go and focus on the silence. Just be in the moment. For more info, check out this article.
This type of meditation involves the repetition of a mantra, or a positive saying that has significance to you and your life. It is recommended to practice Transcendental Meditation twice a day, in 20 minute sessions. This is a great approach if your goal is to promote relaxation, alleviate stress, or promote positivity and self-development. This is a good type of meditation for those who struggle to clear the mind and be in the moment, as the mantra guides you in a sense and allows you to focus on your intention. This is a beneficial practice for anyone looking to lift their mood, is recovering from a trauma or experiencing extreme stress or depression. For more info, click here.
(Image via Popsugar)
This is an instructor-led form of meditation that guides you through the process. Different techniques are taught in these sessions, such as body scans and affirmations, and it’s a great option for those who prefer instruction or get distracted easily. The guided style is particularly effective if you have a specific focus on your meditation, something you’re trying to eliminate or achieve like reducing physical tension or overcoming emotions. There are tons of Podcasts and Apps that offer Guided Sessions if you’re interested in trying it out, such as Headspace. Learn more here.
Are you ready to get in touch with your inner self and work toward a self-aware, stress free 2017? Which form of meditation works best for you? Let us know in the comments below!
Why Wait for the New Year? 8 Things to do BEFORE 2016 is Over. December 02 2016
So often we wait until January 1 to finally look at our lives, reevaluate, and set goals or put a plan into action. This makes the first day of the new year seem ominous, existential and fraught with pressure and intimidation. Why not start the process a bit earlier and knock a few things off your 2017 list before you wake up with the inevitable post NYE hangover, feeling depressed and overwhelmed as you are finally forced to take a good hard look back at the past year? Attempt at least a few of the following steps over the next month to take some of the pressure off that first day of the New Year and give yourself a head start at accomplishing your goals and following your resolutions!
Tie Up Loose Ends.
You know those smaller items that keep getting pushed to the bottom of your “to do list” every month to make room for seemingly more important ones? Time to face them. Whether they’re household chores, uncomfortable conversations or tedious admin tasks, tackle them one by one and give yourself a clean slate for the new year.
Pay a Visit to your Doctor & Dentist.
Rather than trying to schedule a dozen appointments in January (along with the rest of the world) pay a visit to your doc and dentist and get a check-up before the New Year rush. You’ll feel better knowing you’re healthy and on top of it rather than neglecting any pending health issues until the new year that might impede your forward momentum. (We know, it'd be a whole lot more enticing if the doc looked like this guy.)
(Image via Huffington Post)
Do a Year-End Clean
Go through your closets, file cabinet, and any other storage areas and give them a thorough cleanse. Get rid of anything that hasn’t been worn or used in the last year, or that doesn’t have any purpose for the foreseeable future. The new year will be busy, so you’re more likely to give it the time it deserves now and you’ll feel refreshed and organized come January 1.
Volunteer for the Holidays
This may not be something on your “to do” list, but ending the year with a good deed is good karma, and will set you on a positive and righteous path for the new year. Giving to others less fortunate is a habit we should continue all year round, but this time of year is especially important so that families in need can enjoy the holidays. You’ll feel rewarded after helping others, and this sense of accomplishment will be a great thing to carry into 2017 as you reflect on your year.
Book a Trip
Give yourself something to look forward to in the cold, dreary months of winter to come! Book a trip somewhere you’ve never been. Try to opt for a destination that will both rejuvenate you and enrich your mind and soul.
Sign Up for or Renew Your Gym Membership
Don’t wait until after all the boozy parties and rich Holiday dinners to get back on your health and fitness regimen. Get into your routine before the damage is done. Once your program is in motion, it won’t be as hard to motivate yourself to achieve your fitness resolutions as it would be after months of being lazy, inactive, and over indulging.
Organize an End of Year Gathering
Whether it’s a Holiday Bash, a New Year’s Eve soiree, or just a simple dinner or cocktails with close friends, gather some of your most treasured people together before the end of the year. Relationships are a big part of mental well-being, so don’t let your hectic work schedule or family obligations get in the way of spending time with friends and family at this special time of year. It’s a great way to reconnect with loved ones and start the new year in a good place in your relationships.
Write Yourself a Letter
Before you ring in 2017, take some time to write yourself a letter outlining all your accomplishments, significant milestones and events in 2016. Next, describe a few goals you’d like to achieve in the year to come. This should be an annual tradition so that you can look back the following year and compare. This practice also forces us to hold ourselves accountable to our goals so that we are continuously growing and evolving and thus enjoying a more fulfilling life.
Sometimes we get so caught up in the hustle and bustle of our busy lives to realize we forget to stop once and a while and enjoy ourselves, and the people around us. This can wear on a person after a while, causing them to unknowingly emit negative vibes. So, it’s important to make a conscious effort to adopt a few daily habits to ensure you remain your happiest, most positive self. Whether it’s a quick moment as you’re going through the motions or a concentrated effort, try these 5 tricks regularly to improve your mood- permanently.
Ever stare at that girl in line at the grocery store with amazing boots, coveting, while never bothering to tell her how much you like them? Why not let her know? It’ll make her smile, and as we all know, smiles are contagious. There’s something satisfying about making someone’s day. Plus, it’s the law of attraction, once you’re smiling and feeling good, chances are someone will pay it forward and pay you a compliment next.
When we start thinking negatively, it’s easy to start losing sight of the positives and thus a snowball effect starts to happen. Once a day, whether it’s in the morning when you wake up or before bed at night, jot down a few things you are grateful for. They can be general or things that happened that day. This will help you maintain perspective and feel grateful for your blessings no matter what comes your way.
Inevitably in life we are going to go through some rough patches. Rather than beating yourself up over mistakes made, or seeing time as wasted, look at these experiences as an important lesson you will grow from. These tough times will shape you, strengthen you, and teach you more about yourself than anything else in life. So take a deep breath and consider what you learned from this unfortunate experience, and what you’ll take away from it moving forward.
Keeping in line with the whole “negative downward spiral” concept, complaining only perpetuates negative thinking. It also projects negative vibes, which no one wants to be around. When a problem or unfortunate circumstance arises, rather than talking about why it sucks, start thinking about how you can solve it or move past it, and talk about that instead. Think you’re not a complainer? Challenge yourself: no complaints for one week. You’ll be shocked how hard it is! But also how other people respond to your lack of negativity.
Sure, everyone dreams of grand gestures and huge moments, but so many small acts of kindness and happy moments are lost in between if we set our expectations too high. We’re not suggesting to “settle” or accept less than you deserve, but just to be reasonable and set attainable goals and expectations of others. This way, when those little acts of kindness happen, you won’t miss them. Appreciating these little moments will, naturally make us more grateful and lead to a happier, more positive outlook on life.
Try adopting these 5 habits and watch how much better you feel! Here’s to a happier you!
6 Tips for Staying Energized Throughout the Work Day November 01 2016
You know that drop in energy that inevitably happens about mid-afternoon every day? You’ve had your lunch, you’re just over half way to the end of the work day, and suddenly your eyelids get that dreaded heavy feeling and you feel you could really use a chocolate bar or a giant latte to pick you back up again, or even contemplate packing it in early for a nap date with your cozy bed. Believe it or not, this is normal. Our energy level naturally drops at night before bed, as well as in the afternoon, but there are a few surefire ways of beating this dip in energy in the afternoon, and staying alert and motivated until day’s end!
I know, it seems like this is the answer to every problem that ever existed. But it kind of is! Our bodies are made up of almost 60% water, so keeping this replenished is essential for a vast array of bodily functions to perform efficiently, including our energy and brain function.
- Lay off the Booze
Ok, so everything in moderation… we know the holidays are coming! However, alcohol is a huge dehydrator and also impacts our quality of sleep. These two factors combined are a deadly combo for your energy level, skin, and brain function. Try to cut down on alcohol consumption where you can and you’ll guaranteed feel a difference. Even if you just make a deal with yourself to not touch a drop during the weekdays, this will be a start.
- Eat a Wholesome Breakfast
They’re not kidding when they say breakfast is the most important meal of the day! But you should also pay attention to what you’re eating for breakfast. Filling up on crap that will cause your blood sugar level to spike and then crash will have the same effect on your energy. Try to eat foods with complex carbohydrates and ample protein so you’ll feel satisfied longer and have a sustained release of energy throughout the day.
- Have a Light Lunch
As the old saying goes, eat like a King for breakfast, a Prince for lunch, and a Peasant for dinner. Filling up on a large, rich lunch will focus your energy on digestion and give you a sense of inertia in the afternoon. Allow your brain juices to function properly without being distracted by digesting a massive lunch! Steer clear of heavy carbs and go for options like salads and soups with light protein for energy.
- Take Regular Walk Breaks
More and more studies are coming out about how sitting all day long is a silent killer! Our bodies were made to move, so if you’re working behind a desk it’s crucial for both your mental and physical health to take regular walk breaks to get your blood flowing and muscles moving, and to get a bit of fresh air. This will also wake you up, making you feel refreshed and rejuvenated and give you a second wind. If your boss is a stickler about your hours in the office, make the effort to come in a bit early so you can allow yourself these breaks throughout the day, it’s worth it. Another hot new trend- walking meetings! Run it by the boss under the heading of “workplace health and wellness”, they might just love the idea.
- Remember Sugar is Not Your Friend.
While it’s human nature to opt for the “quick fix,” especially when we’re crunched for time, it’s important to think about the end result. Sure, sugar is the quickest way to achieve a spike in energy, but the crash afterward will leave you feeling even worse than you did in the first place. When you start getting that familiar sweet craving mid-afternoon, recognize it as your body signaling dehydration or hunger, or perhaps a lack of movement causing drowsiness. Take a quick walk outside and grab a bottle of water, or grab a healthy snack like some carrots and celery. Whatever you do, say no to the chocolate bar!
5 Simple Ballet Moves that Will Tone Your Body All Over! October 02 2016
While ballerinas may look dainty and delicate, don’t be fooled by their slender, waif like exterior. These dancers are strong oxes, and their bodies can withstand an amazing amount of pressure. Ballet, when done correctly, appears to be graceful and easy... but it’s a heck of a lot harder than it looks! Ballet works nearly all muscles in the body, it’s a very all-encompassing workout. It requires core strength, balance, and endurance. From holding posture and grace through lengthy, exhausting performances to displaying impeccable balance and stamina, ballet dancer’s bodies are some of the strongest, most well-toned bodies from head to toe. Try these 5 moves to help get that “toned all over” lean ballet physique.
1. The Grand Plie
This classic ballet move involves keeping your body aligned while slowly bending the knees. Be sure to keep your heels on the floor for as long as you are able to. Once you have bent your knees as far as you can go, slowly straighten your legs and return to first position. The Plie is great for strengthening and toning the thighs and the butt!
2. Single Leg Releve
Whilst standing on one leg, slowly lift and lower the other heel, tapping the floor with your toe. This engages your calf and tones the butt as well.
3. Stretch on the Barre
Raise one leg to the side and place it on the bar (in “a la seconde position”). Then you’re your body forward and away from the raised leg. This will stretch the hamstrings as well as the sides of the body.
Starting in fifth position, slide both feet equally out to second position. Make sure that your toes don’t lose contact with the floor as you lift your heels up to change positions. This will strengthen and tone your legs and calves.
5. Plank Hip Dips
Start by getting yourself into plank position, with your elbows and toes touching the ground and suspending your body. Then try dipping your hips to each side as far as you can toward the floor. This is amazing for building core strength and toning the obliques!
Athleisure- A Passing Fad or a Lifestyle Trend That’s Here to Stay? September 06 2016
The “sporty spice” look has been having a major moment lately! Not only are an abundance of trendy Activewear labels popping up everywhere, but even high fashion labels more commonly known for their chic, upscale apparel have been featuring a more laid back, sporty spin on their trademark look. Some have even partnered up with a known and loved fitness brands to create some awesome athletic yet streetwear-worthy hybrids. This growingly popular movement has been coined “Athleisure,” and does not seem to be merely a passing fad but a lasting lifestyle trend that involves an increased focus on health and wellness, which we see as a pretty positive thing!
By combining high fashion and sportswear brands, you get a fusion of elevated style and versatility, which is much more appealing to a wider demographic. It’s ready to wear and doesn’t just look good on the runway, and also has the quality and precision in its technical design to last longer and allow for a little movement. Basically, Athleisure gives you the durability that real life requires, while still placing emphasis on the aesthetic appeal of the clothing. Let’s face it- a silk slip dress looks great when you step out the door, but after running around in 30 degree weather all day and sitting through meeting after meeting you’ll have sweat stains and wrinkles in no time.
This new “Athleisure” style makes it comfortable for the modern woman or man to live their active lifestyle without too much interruption, having to lug around a huge sports bag or head home to change between events. There’s also a mental piece to it- if you’re looking the part, you’re bound to feel more motivated to actually do something active. The clothes themselves are so comfortable that it makes your daily motions easy and carefree, which no doubt has a positive impact on your overall mood as well. There’s an emphasis on comfort, while keeping style in mind. It is finally possible to dress comfortably without looking frumpy!
To name a few notable examples of these “Athleisure” brand fusions, Adidas x Stella McCartney have produced a fabulous collaboration of sporty wares that are totally street worthy, and a personal fave is the Cushnie et Ochs x Bandier collection that is oh so hot right now. Atheleta and Derek Lam also got together to create an amazing line of athletic inspired looks that would be appropriate both during and after any fitness class. Balmain has decided to keep it in house, creating their own drool-worthy collection of sportswear that is definitely also lunch date friendly!
In addition to these designer/sportswear collaborations, we have seen a few celebrity style icons lending their names to the craze, such as Kate Hudson with her affordable new Fabletics line.
Kanye West’s Yeezy Line is also packed with simple, sporty sweatshirts, baseball caps and tees that look athletic with a cool urban twist.
Beyonce’s stylish “Ivy Park” athletic wear line is holding its own without tying itself to any other sportswear brand. Rihanna is also making waves with her fierce Fenty x Puma collaborated collection.
What do you think of this new “Athleisure” lifestyle and look? We are ALL about it!
4 Ways that Travelling the World Will Nourish Your Soul August 05 2016
Particularly in Western society, as we grow up and take on more and more responsibility like full time careers and families it gets easier and easier to tell ourselves we can’t afford to take the time out of our busy lives to travel, to see the world, to be carefree and experience new things. Our society teaches us that work comes first, and that personal time and enjoyment is reward for hard work. While these are good values to live by, it is important to remember to regularly nourish the soul, not just the body. Travel is something that everyone should value and experience, as much as we value our own physical health. It feeds the soul, and is good for the mind, body and spirit. Here are four solid reasons you should take the time to travel at some point in your life, and really experience all that other cultures and countries have to offer. Whether you take some time to explore the world on your own, or have your family in tow, make it happen!
- It broadens your perspective on life.
It’s hard to realize how much of a sheltered bubble we actually live in until we have properly stepped out of it. Placing yourself in new surroundings forces you to step out of your comfort zone, cross paths with people you normally wouldn’t, learn how other cultures live in comparison to yours, and most importantly that your way of life isn’t the only one! Living in North America, it can often feel like we’re the center of the universe, however there are so many other cultures out there that live quite differently based on cultural or religious values, or sometimes on the necessities of their climate and the state of their economy. While western society is generally considered one of the most advanced on a world scale, there is always more to learn from other cultures, and room for improvement in our own personal lives.
Contrastingly, sometimes viewing the poverty, struggles and corruption of third world countries is a necessary eye opener that makes us realize how blessed we are to live where we do and have the opportunity to live a comfortable, safe and healthy life. Basically, travelling both broadens our perspective on life and makes us more grateful for what we have.
- You will Learn about new cultural experiences, cuisines and traditions.
Now for the fun part- the cultural experience! As much as you might love the in and out burger and hitting the club on Saturday night, American cuisine and culture can be unhealthy and bland in comparison to the world of spice and flavor you will find abroad! Test your limits and try everything, you will no doubt discover new dishes and experiences that you never thought you’d be into! A cultured palette is a great thing to bring to the table (literally) on any date or business dinner as well, just saying. Plus, a girl or guy who can salsa? Talk about fire. Knowing about different types of foods, wines and cultural practices immediately makes you seem worldly and interesting, and gives you more to offer in any given relationship or conversation.
- You will learn a ton about yourself.
One majorly undervalued result of traveling is not the knowledge you bring back about the rest of the world, but how much you learn about yourself while exploring it. Testing your limits by putting yourself in unfamiliar (and sometimes uncomfortable) settings or scenarios, you will be forced to trust yourself and learn a lot about who you are, what you are capable of, and what your likes and dislikes are. You will also find yourself befriending people more easily, often people from different walks of life that you would never normally cross paths with, let alone befriend. Travelling forces us to put ourselves out there, it makes us more confident and outgoing, and above all it teaches us about self-reliance and courage.
- If offers an opportunity to meet likeminded people from different walks of life.
Some of the deepest, most influential relationships are born while travelling. The traveler has a certain mindset, a certain willingness to learn and expand one’s horizons, so those we meet on this path often teach us more than those we have known our entire lives. We are more open minded and accepting of people’s differences, which allows us to overlook things that would normally deter us from forging unexpected friendships. The bonds made while on the road are stronger, and being out of your regular routine and on a path of self-exploration together forms some of the deepest, most meaningful bonds.
So quit making excuses! Just pick up and go. Document every special moment. Enjoy it- the experience will make you feel more alive than ever, and the memories will last for a lifetime.
The Fitness Tracker- Does It Really Work? July 26 2016
For better or for worse, our society is becoming increasingly obsessed with weight loss and physical appearance. More specifically, we are obsessed with controlling everything that goes in and out of our bodies, and knowing exactly how much is consumed vs. how much is burned on a daily basis. As such, more and more tools and devices are being created to help us track these metrics, which, in my opinion, can become a dangerous game that leads to obsession. Though it is important from a health perspective to stay active and exercise regularly, the line between health maintenance and obsession is too commonly crossed these days.
Fitness tracking bracelets (most commonly known as “the Fitbit” although this is just one particular brand) are all the rage right now. The Fitbit is an accessory (worn as a bracelet) that tracks your daily movement and calories burned. It seems like everyone and their mother are walking around with one of these fitness measuring devices- counting their steps, tracking their weight loss. But here in lies the misconception. It is not necessarily weight LOSS that the Fitbit is tracking, but burned calories. Weight loss is dependent on a combination of calories consumed vs. calories burned. So, the question is- are people really losing weight? Or is this yet another device to help us obsess over every workout missed, every calorie consumed, without any real benefit?
The problem with the Fitbit, is that it doesn’t actually track your caloric intake, and puts all of the focus on exercise. Naturally, effective and sustainable weight loss relies on a combination of a regular workout regimen and a healthy, reduced calorie diet. In plain English- you have to burn more than you consume to actually lose weight. By putting the focus solely on exercise, one might neglect the importance of diet and calories consumed by over-focusing on calories burned. That’s not to say that this device is totally useless. It is helpful to know how much we’re burning, but also to be mindful of what we consume. Basically, it is important to make the following distinction when investing in a Fitbit: this not a device that makes us lose weight, it is a device that makes weight loss easier, by giving us knowledge about how much we are burning.
To effectively lose weight, it’s more about a lifestyle. Getting super specific and counting calories eaten vs. burned is a slippery slope- it’s really not that important to be exact, as long as you are seeing results. You can use a fitness measuring device to help you keep track of your progress, but it’s important to remember that this information is only giving you one of the tools you need toward your end goal. So long as you are being consistent in your regimen, and burning a relative amount more than you consume, you will likely see results. If you aren’t, then just cut back on meal portions or increase your cardio. That simple.
For those of us without a cottage to escape to every weekend, or kids old enough to head off to Summer Camp, those long summer months can be a bit of a daunting time. The heat, the long days with kids to entertain and keep busy... you know the story. Well, we know it’s easy to start running out of ideas so we’re here to help! Summer is a great time to get outdoors and enjoy some quality time with your little ones, and we’ve got some great activities to try so that your whole family stays active, busy and happy together!
Okay, so this may involve a little drive if you are city folk, but it will be worth it! Get your beepers up at the crack of dawn and piled into the car, and take a trip out to the nearest lake! Though it’s not the most active of pastimes, fishing is calming, relaxing and rewarding, and allows you some quiet, quality time with your kids. Sitting together in a safe and serene setting and encouraging reflection and sharing will no doubt have a therapeutic effect for all of you. Plus, a little healthy competition is always good amongst siblings… who will catch the biggest fish?
Camp Out in the Back Yard
This one doesn’t involve any road trips! All you need is a tent or two, some sleeping bags, marshmallows and some kindling for the fire. This is a great intro to camping for young ones who aren’t quite ready to spend a full night in the real woods, and makes for really fun family bonding. Teach your kids to pitch a tent, build a fire, and any of the other skills they’ll need on a real camping trip. Then, show them some of the age old camping experiences, like s’mores and stories around the fire! An added bonus? This is a pretty inexpensive way to create an amazing memory for your family.
Plant a Garden
What better way to teach your kids about nurturing and caring for something than to have them plant a garden and see the plants through from seed to blossom? This is a fun way to bond with your kids, get them outdoors and moving around in the sunshine, and also to get them involved in a little housework without making it feel like a chore! Let them pick a few of their favourite things, whether its flowers and plants or a vegetable garden, and involve them in every step of the process from planting and caring for them to enjoying the (literal) fruits of their labour!
Have a Water Gun War
Want to really tire them out? Divide the family up into teams and have a water gun war! This is particularly great as the kids start to get a little older and have a ton of energy to burn! (If you’re opposed to water guns, you can always fill some balloons with water!) This activity will build team spirit, encourage family bonding and have them running around outdoors and getting a fantastic amount of cardio without even realizing it! Plus, once again, a little friendly competition never hurt anyone. Who’s got the best aim? Our bet’s on mom.
Go Paddle Boating
If you don’t have a cottage with a vast lake and a boat at your immediate disposal, paddle-boating is a great alternative. This activity gets you and the kids active out on the water, and can be done at the lake or even in your local park pond. Paddle boats are usually easy to find and available for rent, so why not try one out for the weekend? They’re also suitable for all ages and experience levels, so you can take the little ones too. Just don’t forget your lifejackets and whistles!
Now that you’re equipped with some fun ideas, we hope you have a blast trying some of these activities out with your kids this summer!
Acro Yoga- 5 Reasons Everyone Should Try It! May 31 2016
In case you’re not familiar, Acro Yoga is that beautiful practice that involves a graceful symbiosis between partners. When done correctly, it looks like a calculated dance of twisting and tangling of body parts, and a balanced lifting of one another in symmetry that appears light as air and effortless. You’ve no doubt seen hundreds of beautiful pictures of Acro Yoga all over Pinterest and the internet, it’s a hot search item for yoga inspiration. More specifically, Acro is a practice that combines yoga, healing arts and acrobatics. These three practices are of equal importance, and are thought by Acro enthusiasts to perfectly balance each other out. There are two parts of Acro Yoga, and in order to understand the full practice and the relationship between them each person must explore both sides to discover where their true passion lies.
Acrobatic (Solar)- Consists of three roles, the Base or “mover”, the Flyer or person being moved, or the Spotter which consists of both.
Therapeutic (Lunar)- This person embraces the healing connection and projects loving kindness. They are the giver in the partnership.
Still not convinced that Acro Yoga’s for you? Here are 5 pretty solid reasons why everyone should give it a try!
It Builds Trust and Partnership Skills
In acro yoga, you learn to support others, and in turn you learn to allow others to support you. Acro yoga forces you to trust your body, as well as your partner entirely. The practice involves physically moving another person and vice versa, which requires both total engagement and complete release at times. You will learn to take control by letting go.
It Fosters Effective Communication
While most types of yoga involve a mind body connection within yourself, Acro Yoga requires you to effectively communicate with your partner. You are not only sharing a physical experience, but a mental one as well. If you don’t work together by physically trusting one another and efficiently communicating verbally, you will fall apart. This is a beneficial skill to have in all areas of life, particularly in partnerships and relationships.
Anyone Can Do It
Most people assume this style of Yoga is extremely difficult, or that only partners of complimentary sizes or skill levels can participate. This is not true! Acro Yoga focuses on technique more heavily than strength, so, contrary to popular belief, really anyone can participate.
Enhances Existing Relationships or Helps Form Meaningful Connections with New People
Whether you want to try Acro with an existing partner or friend, or give it a try with a new partner you’ve just met, this practice is an amazing way to foster deep connections based on trust and communication.
It Creates a Sense of Community, Tribe and Celebration
Being a shared experience rather than a personal journey like most forms of yoga, Acro Yoga creates a real sense of community and celebration unlike any other that stems from exploring your limits and pushing your boundaries as well as your partners.
We hope you are feeling inspired to grab a partner and check out an Acro Yoga class soon. You will be surprised at your own strength and ability to trust another if you are open to the process!
Cardio by definition is any form of movement that increases heart rate and blood circulation throughout the body. Our bodies are made to move, yet so many of us today have jobs that force us to remain stationery for hours at a time. Cardio, for many, has become a dreaded word. An ominous entity that is to be feared and avoided at all costs! However, cardio doesn’t have to be super intense or intimidating. There are many ways to get your daily cardio in, so it’s important to find a way that is enjoyable for you. Whether it’s running on the treadmill at the gym, or going for a nice long power walk, bike ride or run outside, it’s really important to make time for cardiovascular exercise. Many people tie cardio and weight loss together, as it is the quickest way to burn calories which translates to loss of fat. However, cardio has a ton of other health benefits, which makes it equally as important for those who don’t have losing weight at the top of their priority list. Here are a few notable health benefits of performing regular cardiovascular exercise.
Improved Heart Health
It’s important to think of the heart like any other muscle. Not working it properly can cause it to weaken over time, which can result in serious long term health problems. Like all muscles, the heart needs to be exercised to grow stronger. Cardio gets the heart pumping faster and harder, and on a regular basis will keep it in shape and healthy.
Increased Metabolic Rate
Just as it speeds up your heart rate, cardio also improves other bodily functions, such as your metabolism. The more intense the session, the more your metabolic rate will improve. HIIT (high intensity interval training) is particularly effective in speeding up your metabolism. This helps to maintain your weight or lose extra pounds by allowing the body to burn off excess calories faster.
Improved Hormonal Balance
Regular cardio also changes your body’s hormonal profile. Cardio releases endorphins and “feel good” hormones that eliminate symptoms of depression and can help to decrease the appetite. Basically, regular cardio is a huge natural stress reliever, and it’s way cheaper than therapy!
Enhanced Recovery Rate
Cardio can decrease the body’s recovery time too, for instance after an intense strength training or lifting session, doing a bit of light cardio will help bring more oxygenated blood to the muscle tissue, which will reduce muscle soreness and improve the repair & rebuilding process. This naturally allows you to get back to your routine more quickly, so you can continue working those muscles and building additional strength!
Other important benefits of regular cardio include:
Increased Bone Density
Reduced Risk of Cancer & Heart Disease
Improved Quality of Sleep
Increased Energy Level
Just getting started? Begin by building up your cardio base and endurance, then dial up the intensity. According to the American College of Sports Medicine, we should aim for 30 minutes of moderate intensity cardio 5 days a week, or 20 minutes of intense cardio at least 3 times a week. If your goal is to lose weight, you may want to up this to 60-90 minutes per day. Generally speaking though, when increasing your limits, focus on increasing the intensity of the workout rather the volume, unless you’re training specifically for a long distance event like a marathon.
Basically, performing regular cardiovascular exercise not only helps you burn calories and look lean and mean, but improves your overall quality of life. It enhances your overall mood, and will make you feel as good as the inside as you look on the outside! So next time you're dreading the treadmill, try to think of cardio as friend, not foe!
While any escape from real life can be relaxing and rejuvenating, a yoga retreat simply offers a more fulfilling and nourishing experience than your average vacay. Most retreats are located in breathtaking, scenic locations that you might not find a reason to visit otherwise, and offer a zen atmosphere suitable for personal growth and self-reflection. Retreats also often offer healthy, organic meals leaving you feeling clean and refreshed in both body and mind. Retreats are a wonderful way to meet new, likeminded people, particularly if you are travelling alone or on a journey of personal growth. While these retreats offer a priceless experience, they do, unfortunately often come with a hefty price tag. We’ve sourced out a few little gems that are both affordable, and offer a unique and worthwhile experience. Below are our top 5 yoga retreats, all under $250 a day!
Sun Lotus- Cowichan Valley, Vancouver B.C. (June 24–26 & July 22–24 & August 19–21, 2016) - $93/day
Self-described as a “magical garden of yoga,” this property sits on its own organic farm, so you can look forward to healthy, fresh and sustainable organic meals. The retreat offers yoga, spiritual dancing, and the option to learn about the benefits of plant medicine from the retreats Shamanic Leader, Joanna Pardhy-Casey.
Museflower Retreat & Spa- Chiang Rai, Thailand. (Year Round) $143/day
Offered year round, this is a holistic retreat that includes two daily hatha yoga classes, organic vegetarian meals, and a therapeutic massage. This location also boasts amenities like the Himalayan Crystal Salt pool, and access to surrounding tribal villages as well as cultural excursions like elephant trekking tours. Sign me up!
Chill’ Asana Retreat- Sayulita, Mexico. – (Year Round) $128/day
A hidden gem in the hillsides of the jungle overlooking the Pacific coastline and the Sierra Madre mountains, this retreat incorporates both yoga and martial arts. Co-leader Nathania Stambouli claims these two practices complement each other nicely, as they are both about mindfulness, awareness, and consciousness. The retreat also offers goal-setting workshops and hiking.
Finger Lakes Yogascapes- Ithaca, New York. (August 5-7, 2016) $211/day
This all women’s retreat offers the perfect balance of rustic and luxurious, with crisp linens and fresh robes in the heart of nature on the Firelight Campgrounds. The retreat offers Vinyasa & restorative yoga sessions, as well as foraging excursions and waterfall hikes! You can also look forward to a true camping experience with nightly s’more making and stargazing!
Kindalini Yoga Detox Week- Sacres, Portugal (March 6-13) $180/Day
Located at the Martinhal Sargres Beach Resort, this retreat is surrounded by the beautiful cliffs of the Alentejo coastline. The retreat partners yoga with meditation. Each session focuses on cleansing a specific organ of the body, while some focus on mental detoxification, addressing negativity and fears that are causing a mental roadblock or affecting one’s over-all outlook on life. There is a spa on location that offers a wonderful Ayurvedic healing massage, and is adjacent to beautiful beaches and the Natural Costa Vicenta Park.
In Western Society, it’s all about a “lean and mean” physique, especially for the ladies. As a result, most women avoid weights and strength training in fear of putting extra bulk on their frames. Cardio based workouts tend to be more popular amongst women, resulting in a serious neglect of the important strength building aspect of exercise. The trick is to find a balance between cardio and strength building by combining the two in one fluid form of exercise. Here are a couple of ways you can use your own body weight and movement to condition and strengthen muscles, and improve cardiovascular strength and endurance.
HIIT/ Circuit Training
People often think that we have to use intimidating strength building machines or lift weights to build muscle, but this is a common misconception. Using your body weight and movement to achieve this actually provides a much better and more balanced workout. HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) is rapidly increasing in popularity, especially amongst the ladies, as it provides an intense, full body workout by using just your own body weight in a strategic series of fluid movements. HIIT by definition means working out at a moderate intensity for two minutes and then pushing your body to the limit for one, then repeating with little rest between movements. Circuit training is a great combo of cardio and strength training, as opposed to singular weight training which only targets certain areas to build isolated strength. (Ex. Bicep curls, bench pressing, lat pull-downs, etc.) Also, as there is no machinery involved in HIIT, you can transition more rapidly from one movement to another.
HIIT entails progressing through a series of movements such as squats, lunges and knee lifts. Often people use props such as kettle bells and ropes in their circuit training as well to continue pushing their boundaries. This fluid range of motion not only helps with flexibility (allowing your joints to move more freely) but it builds core strength, helps with posture, back strength, endurance, and burns fat like crazy! You will also develop better balance through control and awareness of your body. The best part about this form of exercise is that there is a ton of variety in the movements and exercises you can do. You can always switch it up which helps keep you motivated to push your boundaries and break plateaus. Oh, and since it’s free and can be done anywhere, there’s little room for excuses! Check out this article by Shape magazine for some more in depth instructions on HIIT.
TRX (Suspension) Training.
This form of exercise also doesn’t involve any heavy duty machinery, and can be done anywhere, anytime. TRX exercises use gravity and your body weight to build strength, flexibility, core stability and balance. There are hundreds of exercises you can do with this portable equipment, to strengthen and condition all parts of the body. You can attach the TRX ropes to any anchor point (monkey bars, a door frame, etc.) but you can also usually find them attached to the wall somewhere at your local gym. For more info on TRX training or to order the equipment, check out their site. https://www.trxtraining.com/suspension-training
So don’t be afraid of a little muscle! Now you have all the tools you need to build up your strength, and maintain that lean physique you’ve worked so hard to achieve! After all, strong is the new skinny. ;)
7 Super-Foods you Should Eat for a Better Workout! March 15 2016
It’s no secret that diet is even more important than exercise in one’s health and fitness regimen, and a proper combination of the two is essential particularly when looking for toning and weight loss results. Incorporating the following foods as a regular part of your diet will give you varying benefits such as elevated energy or improved dexterity, and will also help you achieve your desired physical results much faster!
Many of us shy away with anything overly fatty, particularly those of us watching our waistlines. However, there is such a thing as “healthy fats” which are actually good for us AND beneficial in maintaining our weight and overall health. Avocados are a perfect example of a super food high in “healthy fats.” They contain cholesterol lowering mono-saturated fats that help keep your body strong, and free of pain. Studies have proven that those who eat a diet with restricted fat (less than 31%) have weakened muscles and joints and are therefore more prone to injury. Eating just a few slices of avocado each day is a healthy (and delicious) way to ensure you are consuming enough of the right kinds of fats to maintain your body’s strength and durability, without bulking up.
Packed with energizing carbs and potassium, bananas are a great way to replenish the salts and electrolytes lost through excessive sweating. Potassium helps with muscle cramping and fluid absorption, making this fruit the perfect healthy before or after workout snack!
Carrots are full of complex carbohydrates that energize the muscles, as well as potassium which helps to control blood pressure and muscle contractions. Plus, they are refreshingly crunchy and delicious!
Dark poultry like chicken thighs or turkey drumsticks have the same juicy, rich impact as dark meat, as well as the iron, zinc and vitamin b’s as red meat, with less of the fat. A diet lacking in Iron or Zinc can cause one to feel fatigued, and naturally have less than stellar workout results, so this food is a perfect way to pack in the nutrients!
This low fat, low cal snack is packed with all the protein, complex carbs and non-saturated fats we need to fuel a solid workout. Pair it with your carrots and you have a delightful, light, energy boosting snack!
Not only does salmon improve heart health, recent studies have suggested that regular consumption of Omega 3 fats (which salmon is rich in) could be linked to lower abdominal fat, which is particularly beneficial for those working out to tone their core.
One of the richest foods in antioxidants, blueberries, blackberries and raspberries are packed with potent nutrients that protect the muscles from free radical damage that can be caused by exercise. As a general rule, the darker the berry, the higher the nutrient content. So pack a few in your shake before you hit the gym! All you need is a handful, and your body will thank you.
4 Important Steps Toward a Healthier Morning Routine! February 18 2016
Not a morning person? Most of us aren’t. However, like anything, we can train our bodies and minds to be anything we want them to be, so long as we’re dedicated. This includes forcing ourselves to be healthy, positive people in the mornings, not just after 3 coffees when the clock strikes noon. It’s just a matter of training ourselves into a routine that will set us up for an energized, healthy, and productive day ahead. Follow these 4 easy steps every morning and you will no doubt feel (and see) the difference throughout your entire day!
Ditch the Caffeine
I know, this is not exactly what you want to hear. That morning coffee has become an ingrained part of many of our rituals, almost like a drug that we feel we can’t function without. Well, the first few days will be hard. However, swapping your morning cup of joe for a glass of lemon water will have many more health benefits, and eventually have a similar energizing effect. The difference is, lemon water will leave your system hydrated and cleansed, where coffee leaves you dehydrated and artificially stimulated. To name a few health benefits of lemon juice, it boosts your immune system, purifies the blood, and flushes toxins from the body. Extended consumption will also make your skin look healthy and radiant. :)
Make time for Meditation
It may not seem like an important enough reason to miss out on that extra ten minutes of sleep, but making time to clear your mind and calm yourself before the hectic day ahead has proven to have positive effects on one’s stress level, mood and overall emotional balance throughout the day. You don’t have to be a meditation expert, or even dedicate a huge amount of time to it, just simply allot ten minutes or so to lie in a quiet room, focusing on your breathing and clearing your mind of stressful thoughts and worries. This will help you feel centered, and start the day calm and relaxed, so that you’re better equipped to face any curveballs or obstacles that might be thrown your way. For more guidance on meditation, check out a book called Meditation Made Easy.
Get your Blood Flowing
Not everyone has the stamina to attempt a full workout first thing in the morning, especially before a full day’s work. (Though this is the recommended time to exercise.) That being said, taking a few minutes each morning to stretch your muscles and get the blood flowing is hugely beneficial in raising energy levels and releasing tension. It will also increase blood flow so your brain functions better too! Try a few yoga poses, or jumping rope at home for ten minutes. Whatever your quick routine of choice, all it takes is a few minutes to wake up your system. As this isn’t a ton of exercise, we recommend that you try and fit in a proper visit to the gym or a workout class of your choice later that day.
Don’t Cut Corners with Breakfast.
Whether you’re a chronic breakfast skipper, or you tend to be lazy and hit the first fast food joint during your mad dash to the office, you’re not setting yourself up for success with these habits. Make it a priority to allot that 15 minutes to whip up a balanced, nutritious breakfast. After all, it’s the most important meal of the day! It gets your metabolism started and gives you the energy (and brain juice) you will need to have a productive morning. Smoothies are an awesome way to pack in a lot of nutrients with very little prep time. It also helps to pre-cut your fruit so that you can save time in the am. Remember to add protein, flax seeds, and other supplements if you’re substituting for a proper meal.
All in all, these steps combined should take you no more than 45 minutes to an hour every morning, and they are so worth getting up a bit earlier for!
Whether you and your partner have been talking about “getting fit” for a while, or your single bestie needs a little nudge out of her rut, what better way to show your love than with the gift of health and fitness for Valentine’s day?! (Maybe you can even get one for yourself, while you’re at it ;)). Here are a few awesome ideas to get your loved one motivated to make his or her health a priority, and have some fun in the process.
The class pass is a great way to access a large network of fitness studios, and try a variety of types of exercises. The class pass consists of classes like yoga, pilates, lagree, spinning, barre, kettle-bell training, and many other types of new-age exercise classes. This gift is great for an adventurous friend or someone who likes to mix it up and is thus hesitant to commit to one particular package. Purchase them their first month, and they’ll no doubt be hooked after that!
30 Day Yoga Challenge
Most studios will periodically host a 30 day challenge during which customers are challenged to practice for 30 consecutive days. Within these 30 days, students are challenged to try different poses each day, building in difficulty as they progress. This is an awesome gift for any yoga loving friend, but the challenge is appropriate for Yogi’s of all levels, beginners too!
Yoga or Meditation Retreat
Albeit a generous gift, this one is probably most appropriate for your romantic partner. (Or a really lucky best friend or parent!) What better way to unwind and connect with yourselves and each other than a relaxing, rejuvenating yoga retreat in a tropical paradise? These retreats are usually held in exotic and beautiful locations like Mexico and Costa-Rica.
Looking for a fun way to spice things up, and also get some exercise? Try salsa dancing! Grab a package for yourself and your partner, and try out this exotic, sensual style of dancing. You’ll work up a sweat, and build trust and coordination. Learning how to move together in harmony will no doubt transfer well to other areas of your relationship, too. ;)
Enter them in a Mini-Marathon.
This gift works well for your bestie, your partner, or even Mom and Dad! A mini-marathon is a fantastic way to work toward an attainable goal and get yourself in excellent shape through training. Most importantly, you don’t have to be an ultra-athlete to attempt a mini-marathon. This can be an intimidating endeavor, so entering yourself along with the recipient is a nice approach to this gift. Once you’ve finished, you’ll both gain a real sense of accomplishment, and will be in excellent physical shape! Hopefully, after feeling the positive effects of all that training, you’ll continue implementing these fitness habits in your daily lives thereafter.
We hope this gives you a few inspirational ideas for gifts this Valentine's day, why not offer something besides chocolate this year?
Stepping Out of Your Comfort Zone with Your Fitness Routine January 21 2016
Plateauing by definition is “a force of nature that lessens the effectiveness of once effective measures over time. The plateau effect is a state that is experienced when the human body fails to respond to exercise that has proven effective in the past.” Have you plateaued physically and emotionally when it comes to your workout regimen? Whether we want to admit it or not, this eventually happens to all of us, which is why every so often it’s important to push ourselves out of our comfort zone. Try something new! What have you got to lose? No harm has ever come from gaining new experiences or trying new things. One might argue that you could dislike something or have a negative experience and regret trying, but these lessons learned should be looked at as self-knowledge gained. Now you know!
To give an example, if you’re a big weights buff, and you feel that you’ve hit your physical limit, maybe it’s time to start working some of the other areas of your body, like your core strength and balance. Unexpected forms of lower impact exercise like yoga and pilates that are often viewed by hardcore gym types as “softy sports” are actually really effective in strengthening the core, and building long, lean muscles. Even if this is a form of exercise you’d normally turn your nose up at, give it a try. You might just find you feel awesome after a few classes!
Here are a few popular forms of exercise classes available and their varying benefits. Why not try a few that you feel might suit your needs? Try to be open minded, and perhaps work on an area that you haven’t necessarily valued as much previously.
As mentioned, yoga is great for building core strength, flexibility, balance and posture, and is amazing for stretching and elongating the muscles. A few other benefits are that it really helps to get you in tune with your body, establishing a strong mind-body connection. It is known to help regulate breathing as well, thus having therapeutic and calming effects for those that practice regularly.
Pilates has similar benefits to yoga, but uses machinery in its more advanced forms and can (depending on the type of yoga you are practicing) be a bit more intensive. Pilates also engages both the mind and body, builds amazing core strength, stretches and elongates the muscles, and helps to build flexibility and good posture.
Are you feeling a bit bored with your gym routine, or like you just can’t seem to get rid of that spare tire around your hips? Zumba is an awesome way to spice things up a bit, and drop some L-B’s! Zumba is an fun, upbeat combo of dance and exercise that is a great way to blow of some steam or relieve some stress! So much so that you won’t even realize how much of a workout you’re getting until you’re ready to drop from exhaustion! The Benefits? This form of exercise will dramatically improve your cardiovascular system, coordination, and with regular practice you will see rapid weight loss. (The average person burns up to 1000 calories in just one class!) By moving to the rhythm of the music, your body naturally tenses and flexes muscles all over, making Zumba a great way to tone up as well.
Spinning is fantastic as it really gives you autonomy over your workout. You are in a controlled environment and able to increase and decrease resistance, build and lower your heart rate, and train in intervals with the help of a professional teacher. As such, in this form of exercise it would be very difficult to plateau because you are constantly changing your routine and challenging yourself! The results? Amazingly toned legs and buttocks, improved heart rate and endurance, and a feeling of accomplishment (and adrenaline) at the end of every class!
Kettle Bell Classes
For all you weight lifters that don’t want to stray too far from home, this is a great option for something a little different that’s still in your arena. Kettle Bell training is a more of a full body workout than basic weight lifting, combining cardio and strength training. It also consists of more fluid movements, which avoids the monotony of isolated repetitions and is great for building flexibility and toning several muscles at once. The unique combo of strength training and cardio increases your metabolism exponentially and builds muscle while burning fat, which makes this method ideal for weight loss as well. Why spend hours at the gym doing separate cardio, strength training and stretching when you can squeeze it all into one class?
Swimming & Aqua Sports
Aquatic exercise is awesome for those looking for a full body workout, with little to now impact. Water exercises are deceivingly easy due to buoyancy and lack of resistance, yet swimming is one of the only sports that works almost every muscle in the body, building cardio strength, core strength, endurance, flexibility and muscle strength all at the same time. Due to the lack of stress on your joints and bones, this is also one of the lowest risk forms of exercise for injury. With regular practice, swimming also improves circulation and reduces your blood pressure, reducing the risk of heart disease and stroke. Water sports are a great option particularly for rehabilitating athletes or for those who have been hard on their bones, joints or muscles and are looking to stay fit without doing too much further damage.
These are just a few examples of some of the amazing other options there are to try outside of your regular gym routine! Grab a schedule next time you’re at the gym, or just look online to discovery many others that may end up being your new favourite thing! Sayonara, comfort zone.
Shifting your Perspective and Improving Self- Confidence for a Happy, Healthy and Prosperous New Year. January 01 2016
It’s easy for things to pile up and seem overwhelming when we are feeling negative and have low self-esteem. Negative energy builds upon itself, I’m afraid, until things that to someone in a more positive place might seem insignificant, suddenly seem unbearable. This makes it harder and harder to focus on the positive aspects of your life, thus allowing negativity to overwhelm you. The trick is breaking this cycle by bringing a little positivity into your life. Here are a few ways to shift your perspective, build your self-esteem and lay the framework for a healthy, happy and prosperous 2016.
Let Go of Negativity and Focus on the Positives.
It’s time to “trim the fat” so to speak, and weed out any people, thoughts or energies that are having a negative influence on your life. We ourselves determine our worth by the treatment we accept from others. Value yourself! Accept nothing less than respect and dignity from those you choose to keep in your life. It’s easy to make excuses for the people that we love when they are behaving badly, especially if you suffer from low self-esteem. It often seems harder to let go of people than to put up with the disappointment they repeatedly cause us. Be strong, and be honest with yourself. Ask yourself, am I benefiting from this relationship? Is this person going to lift me higher and support me in my life and endeavors? If the answer is no, it’s time to let go. It may be hard at first, but in time you will be surprised at how okay you are without these people weighing you down.
When it comes to your perspective, try and count your blessings rather than your disadvantages or misfortunes. Remind yourself regularly of what you DO have, by writing down a list of what makes you happy and what you are grateful for in your life, whether it’s once a week or once a month.
Take Care in Your Presentation and Appearance.
It’s easy when you’re feeling low to just give up on your appearance. It starts to seem pointless to make an effort so we get lazy in our grooming process. It may seem superficial, but when you look good on the outside, you feel better on the inside. Put yourself together every day, even if you don’t feel like it. Looking your best will give you the confidence to face the day, and push you out the door with your best foot forward. Also, even if it feels like you can’t really afford it, don’t be afraid to splurge on yourself every once and a while. Buy that dress that makes you feel like a million bucks. Better yet, wear it out dancing with your best friends. It’s amazing how much a little laughter, dancing and perhaps innocent flirting can do for the self-esteem. Laughter is contagious, and so is happiness. Positive vibes attract positive people, simply put, but misery also loves company… so take your pick!
Travel Somewhere You’ve Always Dreamed of Going.
No more excuses, just go! You can’t put a price on this kind of experience. Travel has a wonderful way of clearing the mind and shifting your perspective, and you never know what life altering adventures or experiences awaits you outside your realm of normal. It’s time to burst your bubble, get out of your rut- whatever you want to call it. After a few weeks away, your “problems” will suddenly seem less troubling and unmanageable.
While travelling with friends is great, going it alone is really the best way to force yourself out of your comfort zone, and will no doubt build self-confidence as you rely on your own devices to navigate foreign lands and forge new friendships.
Stop Over-Analyzing and Stay Busy.
Now is the time to reinvest paranoid, negative energy spent worrying about other people into yourself and what makes YOU happy. Start thinking of your own needs first, make sure they are being met, and then worry about other people. Just make sure they’re the ones who worry about you, too! Focus your time and energy on making yourself happier, stronger, more successful- whatever you desire.
Busy up your schedule with things you find fulfilling, whether its work, hobbies, or social events. You’ll feel more positive and have much less time to over analyze and focus on the negative aspects of your life, or those unworthy of your thoughts. Find yourself a hobby that will better your mental and your physical health. Make it a priority and schedule it in if need be, just make sure you keep at it. Practice makes perfect, and being good at something you enjoy will naturally build confidence. When you’re confident in yourself and your abilities, it’s easier to drown out the negativity that once overwhelmed you.
We hope these tips will help you start 2016 on a positive note. Wishing you a very Happy New Year from the No Sweat team!
We’ve all undoubtedly made dozens of new year’s health and fitness resolutions, with a genuine intention of following through, yet they always seem to fall by the wayside after a couple of weeks. Sure, life gets busy, but sometimes we also set unrealistic standards and expectations for ourselves that actually become intimidating and set us up for failure. Here are a few general rules to follow when making your resolutions that will make your goals more attainable, and therefore make you more likely to stick to them!
Set Realistic Goals
If you set out to work out 7 days a week from a 1 or even 0 day a week schedule, you’re inevitably going to burn out quickly. It’s important to set goals that are realistic, and that won’t seem so overwhelming that you’re tempted to give up. It helps to set a plan in motion to increase your exercise regimen gradually, making it less intimidating and more motivating. Start with 2-3 days a week, go with this for a couple of weeks, then increase your limits. This applies to your exercises as well, start slow and build your strength and endurance by pushing your threshold gradually. Remember it’s not a race, it’s a marathon!
The same rules apply to your diet- don’t try to cut everything out at once. Ease your way in so you don’t end up in a starve and binge cycle where you limit yourself so much that you overindulge every time you allow yourself. This is hard on the body and not effective for weight loss. Sugar and carbohydrates are common groups that come up on the “elimination list,” just make sure to maintain a balanced diet and match your efforts with regular exercise. It’s all about building a healthy, maintainable lifestyle. Starving yourself will only cause low energy, and less productive workouts as a result. You need your fuel! Just make sure it’s the right kind.
Sign up for Programs in Advance
Because the fitness world has figured out that the first couple of months of the New Year is probably the biggest time for people to try to find their inner health and fitness buff, there are hundreds of programs available to help get you on track come January. Signing up for a program in advance is a great way to give yourself a little nudge to follow through on your resolutions. Once you start going regularly, you will find yourself part of a like-minded community and thus more inspired to follow through and chase your end goal.
If you enjoy yoga, sign up for the 30 day challenge at your local studio. There is almost always one happening in January! If you’re looking to build some muscle at the gym, sign up for a few sessions with a trainer there. They’ll get you on the right track, and feeling more confident to continue on your own thereafter. These kinds of programs also make amazing Christmas gifts! If you have a close friend or family member that you know is looking to make some improvements to their health in the New Year, grab them a fitness package. They’ll thank you for it now, and then again later!
Don’t Keep Your Resolutions a Secret
Sharing your goals and resolutions with friends or family will also help you stick to them. Saying them out loud makes them real, and signifies a deeper commitment. Plus, once you’ve brought your best pal or your mom in on your secret, they won’t likely let you give up easily either. It’s nice to have someone else nudge you once and a while too, especially if you’re starting to feel uninspired.
Track Your Results
Whether it’s at the end of each workout, or the end of each week, take a moment to track down what you’ve accomplished that week. This will depend on what your goal is- eating healthy, losing weight, toning up, etc. Track down any headway you’ve made towards your goal, or any lapses. This will help you keep track of your progress, and not let any cheating slip through the cracks!
Be Patient and Persistent
Visible results are never immediate, however, the way you feel physically after upping your exercise regimen and improving your diet will improve almost immediately. If the endorphins aren’t enough to keep you motivated, remember that all things worth having take time, commitment and effort. Remember why you set your goals in the first place, you will achieve them eventually! In the meantime, you will enjoy feeling a lot more energized, healthy, and positive.
We hope these few pointers will help you stick to your resolutions this year, and wish you a happy, healthy and prosperous New Year!
5 Fun Holiday Activities to Try with Your Kids! December 08 2015
Though this time of year is supposed to be filled with festive fun for the whole family, most of us parents secretly start to dread those couple of weeks when the kids are off school and kicking around the house, the relatives are in from out of town, and private time seems like a distant memory. Well, why not make the most of it and plan some activities that will keep everyone, including yourself, active and busy? Here are a few fun activities that will help you stay healthy, provide some bonding time, and hopefully relieve some of that tinsel tension this holiday season!
Go Snow Shoeing.
While walking through knee deep snow in your not so waterproof winter wear might not seem appealing, snow shoes offer a fun way to experience the winter wonderland that awaits, while keeping your feet dry! If you have somewhere up north to visit, removed from the main roads and hustle-bustle of the city, this activity is particularly fun. The best part is, it’s a safe and easy way for family members of all ages and abilities to stay active, so you can take your toddler and grandma too!
You may not have done this since you were your kids’ age, but you’re never too old! Bundle up, grab a few toboggans (or rent some if you don’t own any) and find your biggest local hill to slide down! You will no doubt take a couple of spills but seeing your kids giggle as you tumble will be well worth it. They’ll love that you’re getting involved and you’ll be surprised at how quickly your inner child emerges. If you have really young ones, you can take them down with you on the same sled. This is a way to include them in an activity that they might otherwise be too young for. It’s also a great way to get your kids outdoors and breathing some fresh air rather than playing Nintendo in the basement for their entire winter break.
Have a Snowman Contest.
Divide the family in half, and have each side build their best snowman. The losing team clears the dishes after dinner! This can also work with snow forts and snow angels- take your pick!
Bake Some Christmas Cookies Together.
If you’re getting tired of the outdoor activities, get your kids involved in some baking. Find a healthy recipe for Christmas cookies of your choice, and give everyone a task. This is a great way to spend time together and also helps your kids learn to work as a team, and fine tune their baking skills of course! Here’s an awesome healthy cookie recipe from Eating Well to get you started!
Orange Spice Molasses Cookies
Makes: 40 cookies
Active Time: 1 hour 10 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 25 minutes
Preheat oven to 375°F. Coat a large baking sheet with cooking spray or line with parchment paper or a nonstick baking mat.
To prepare the rolling sugar: Pulse 1/2 cup granulated sugar and 1 tablespoon orange zest in a food processor until well combined. Place in a shallow dish and set aside.
To prepare cookie dough: Grind oats in a blender until they look like a fine powder, 1 to 2 minutes, scraping the sides as needed.
Beat butter and 1/3 cup granulated sugar in a large bowl with an electric mixer on medium-high speed for 5 minutes. Add brown sugar and 2 tablespoons orange zest and beat another 2 minutes. Add molasses, applesauce, egg yolk, vanilla, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger, cloves, allspice, pepper and salt; beat on medium-high until incorporated, about 30 seconds, scraping down the bowl and beaters as needed.
Turn the mixer to medium and slowly add the ground oats. Scrape down the bowl; with the mixer on medium, slowly add whole-wheat flour. (The dough will be moderately sticky.)
Using a slightly rounded tablespoon of dough, roll into balls, then roll in the rolling sugar to coat. (If necessary, wet your fingers to help roll without sticking.) The zest will make the mixture slightly wet and it will clump; lightly brush off the excess so that just a thin coat is on the cookie. Place cookies about 1 inch apart on the prepared baking sheet.
Bake the cookies in batches until the edges are set and the tops are cracked, but the centers are still soft and puffy, about 10 minutes.
Let the cookies cool on the baking sheet for 8 minutes. Serve warm or cool on a wire rack.
Per cookie: 85 calories; 2 g fat (1 g sat, 0 g mono); 9 mg cholesterol; 16 g carbohydrates; 1 g protein; 1 g fiber; 48 mg sodium; 77 mg potassium.
We hope this helps bring back some Christmas spirit, and that you and your family have some fun this holiday season!
If you are a runner or an athlete, you have no doubt felt the effects that high impact exercise can have on your joints, muscles and bones after a while. This is why athletes have been making a real movement toward lower impact forms of exercise such as body weight training, swimming, spinning, and even yoga. Sports are hard enough on their joints, they don’t need to be putting extra strain on them off the field, court, ice- whatever it may be. Us every day folk could take a page out of this book too. There are many different forms of low impact exercise that are quite effective and easier on the bod! These types of exercises help prevent injuries associated with traditional, high impact exercise and equipment, and is great for all ages and fitness levels. It can also be beneficial for rehabilitation purposes. Most importantly- despite popular belief, it produces visible results the same way that more traditional, heavy duty exercise does. So put down the bench press and try a different approach. Your joints and bones will thank you, and you’ll be surprised at the results you see!
Body Strength Training
It’s a common misconception that we have to push ourselves on strength building machines and lift heavy weights to build strength and muscle. It’s actually a much better workout to use your body weight and movement to build strength and muscle. Body strength training is a great combo of cardio and strength training, as opposed to weights which only target certain areas to build isolated strength. (Ex. Bicep curls, bench pressing, lat pull-downs, etc.) Another benefit is that because there is no machinery involved, you can transition more rapidly from one movement to another. Circuit training is a popular form of body strength training, which entails progressing through a series of movements such as lunges and knee lifts. This fluid range of motion not only helps with flexibility (allowing your joints to move more freely) but it builds core strength, helps with posture, back strength and endurance, and burns fat like crazy! You will also develop better balance through control and awareness of your body. The best part about this form of exercise is that there is lots of variety in the movements and exercises you can do. You can always switch it up which helps keep you motivated to push your boundaries and break plateaus. Oh, and it’s free and can be done anywhere, anytime… which leaves little room for excuses!
Swimming is often thought of as more of a leisure sport, when it actually works every muscle and offers quite an amazing full body workout! Because water is non-weight bearing, the workout often feels much easier as there is really no strain on the muscles. This is probably the lowest impact form of exercise, so it is particularly good for those already suffering from joint or bone issues, pregnant women, those in rehabilitation, or the elderly. However, it is an excellent alternative from anyone’s regular gym workout as it works both the upper and lower body all at once. Interestingly, as opposed to other forms of exercise, because those carrying a little extra weight tend to be more buoyant, this form of exercise will be less intense for the overweight and probably more intense for those with a lower BMI.
This is where all the runners live- it’s the same intense workout, without the heavy pounding feet on the pavement. Spinning has a lot of the same physical benefits of running- it increases endurance, strengthens legs, and ups your cardio fitness. The difference is that it is done in a controlled environment, and it is low impact and a whole lot easier on your muscles and joints. This form of exercise is great for anyone craving that high intensity workout, but not the achy knees and ankles. It is particularly beneficial for athletes training off season in helping them stay fit, while taking it easy on their bodies that will no doubt take a beating during the next season.
Love that heavy sweat you work up during a serious workout? Hot yoga is no joke, and no- it is not for sissies. While it’s not always the highest intensity workout, hot yoga is known for building incredible core strength and balance, and increasing flexibility and endurance. It also helps with toning and weight loss with regular practice. Being in a 90 plus degree hot room also helps you work up quite the lather, and sweating out all those toxins can be very cleansing and therapeutic! Another known benefit of yoga is that it has positive psychological effects, as it fosters a stronger mind-body connection. Yoga is also a low impact form of exercise that uses only bodyweight and movement to build strength and balance, and really stretches out the muscles. There are many different types of hot yoga, all at varying levels of intensity. (Bikram, Moksha, Vinyasa, the list goes on.) Be sure to check the class descriptions at your local hot studio to see which best suits your needs.
So, next time you hit the gym, will you think twice about picking up the barbells? Ask a trainer to show you some body strength training exercises, you won’t regret it when you’re old and nimble!
While we look forward to this festive time of year, filled with social events, seasonal cocktails and delicious hors d’oeuvres, the health conscious part of us also often dreads it; it’s kind of a love-hate relationship! The weight gain, the bloating and puffy eyes from lack of sleep and alcohol consumption- it all accompanies the fun times with friends and seasonal celebrations. Well, fear no more. There is no reason we can’t enjoy these festivities, and even indulge here and there, the trick is doing everything in moderation. Try these few simple tricks this season and you’re guaranteed to see (and feel) the difference!
Pick and Choose.
This applies to both the parties you attend as well as the treats you allow yourself. Don’t feel that you have to accept every single invitation you are extended. Pick and choose those that are important to you- close friends or family, important business colleagues, etc. By hand-picking a few, you will inevitably be on your game, more present and alert, and most importantly you will enjoy yourself more as you won’t be worn down from a long string of monotonous events and sleepless nights.
Like in an exercise regimen or diet plan, having a plan is key. Make a mental commitment to yourself before attending the party of how many drinks you will consume throughout the evening, how many hors d’oeuvres you are allowed to sample, and how late you will stay. This number will vary depending on what party it is (i.e. your best friends Christmas bash on Friday night vs. your boss’s elegant cocktail party on a Wednesday) how much you have eaten that day (is this dinner?) and so on. Be sure to consider how many parties you are attending that week also, and try to stay balanced.
Eat a proper lunch.
It is often said that we should “eat like a king for breakfast, a queen for lunch, and a peasant for dinner.” Calories consumed earlier in the day have more time to be burned off. Don’t starve yourself all day because you know you’re going to be eating tons of delicious treats and drinking lots at your party that evening. This is a dangerous mentality that can be detrimental to your ability to maintain your balance, as not only will you have little to no self-control and binge on the wrong things, but you will also get much more drunk if you don’t eat all day, resulting in an awful hangover the next day. Eat a generous, healthy lunch with lots of protein to keep you going for the rest of the day. This will give you a good base and keep you satisfied so you don’t make the wrong decisions later on (including being the drunkest person at the party)!
Eat a small healthy snack just before you leave.
Even if you’ve had a decent lunch and aren’t particularly hungry, force yourself to have a quick hit of protein and a veg before heading out to the party. (A couple of lean cold cuts and some cut up pepper or cucumber is a personal quick and easy favourite.) This type of snack is low in calories and will curb your appetite enough that you will be able to exercise self-discipline when hundreds of deliciously cheesy and breaded hors d’oeuvres are being paraded under your nose.
Apply the Rinse cycle
When there are trays of free cocktails being circulated every few minutes, it’s easy to lose track and forget to hydrate. It’s important that you make a point of chasing every drink with a glass of water. This is what we call “the rinse cycle.” The rinse cycle has several benefits, such as decreasing your level of intoxication, keeping you hydrated, and reducing hangovers. Don’t quit once you leave the party though, that full glass of water before bed is the most key part of kicking that looming hangover to the curb!
The Benefits of Walking- For the Non-Workout Buffs! October 21 2015
As you may have noticed, we talk a lot about living the “sweat life” and, being major sweat junkies ourselves, generally cater more to the fitness buffs in our blog topics. However, we do recognize that there are many people out there who don’t share the same affinity for the adrenaline rush of a good workout, or get the same therapeutic experience from strenuous exercise. Whichever category you fall into, it is important to understand the importance of basic exercise, and the body’s need for movement. You don’t have to kill yourself on the treadmill, but at a minimum you should be walking regularly to keep your joints and bones strong, your heart healthy, your muscles moving, and your energy level elevated.
Walking has many known benefits, both physical and mental. For instance, it’s gentle and easy on the joints, and therefore appropriate for people of all ages and fitness levels. (It’s especially useful for those with arthritis and the elderly.) Whether you’re a gymaholic or a gymophobe, here are four major benefits of regular walking that you just can’t ignore!
It’s great thinking time.
Another major benefit of walking is that it’s less strenuous than other forms of exercise, and therefore requires less attention, allowing us to focus on internal issues. Walking gives you a chance to think; it’s a time to solve problems, hatch brilliant ideas, think about your loved ones and relationships, and generally pay more attention to life. Unlike driving, walking really allows you to be in the moment and be more engaged with the outdoors and the world around you.
It Improves brain function and reduces stress.
Walking, particularly outdoors, is a great way to clear the head. It rejuvenates and refreshes you, and provides an opportunity to sort through your thoughts and deal with any anxieties you may be having. Walking lowers cortisol levels, reducing stress, and also improves circulation which allows more oxygen into the blood stream. This improves your focus, energy level, mood and overall productivity. If you’re starting to feel burnt out after sitting at your desk for a while, taking a quick walk is a great way to get your creative juices flowing!
It boosts the immune system and strengthens the heart and bones.
Regular walking has been proven to increase overall health on a long term basis. Particularly when done outside, walking allows us to soak up lots of vitamin D that can be difficult to get through food. Vitamin D is essential for good bone health and boosts the immune system. Frequent walking also maintains healthy joints and keeps the bones and heart strong, preventing heart disease and osteoporosis.
It keeps you toned.
Though walking won’t have the same impact on your physical appearance as more intensive exercises like running or lifting weights, walking briskly on a regular basis will keep your metabolism working help you burn more calories, which is helpful in maintaining your weight. Power walking will also keep your legs and bum toned, and if you walk fast enough that you are using your arms for momentum, you may even notice more definition there, too!
The best part about walking is that it really doesn’t take more than 15-30 minutes a day, but the more you walk the better! It’s all about finding opportunities. Opt for the stairs instead of the escalator, every time. Take a brisk stroll on your lunch break, or skip the subway and take the scenic route to work in the morning on foot. Your body (and mind) will thank you! What is your favourite time of day to get your walk on?
In a world where full time jobs are less and less common and contract work is becoming the norm, Entrepreneurialism is becoming a much more common and desirable venture. While we’d all like to think we have the next billion dollar idea, there is a lot more that goes in to becoming a successful entrepreneur than just a dream. There are a few essential characteristics one must possess in order to be a truly successful entrepreneur.
In order to attempt any business venture, let alone one that involves a significant amount of risk, financial investment and commitment, you must be a confident person. You must be confident in yourself and your ability to succeed before even thinking of taking on such an endeavor. Once you have mastered your own self-confidence, parlay this into confidence in the product or service you are offering. Make sure you have complete faith in your company and its potential for success. If you take your time and do the proper research to that point that you feel 100% confident backing up all of your claims, you will be ready to take your first leap toward success. If you are truly confident, you will project this to your customers, which will naturally increase their confidence in your credibility. While risk taking is inevitable, it is also important to remain somewhat conservative and level headed in your investments. Basically- don’t bite off more than you can chew, no matter how sure you are of your product. If this is not your strong suit, be sure to have an expert on your team advising you in this department.
Creativity & Resourcefulness
Part of being confident is being willing to break traditional conventions and defy existing “rules” or normality's. Entrepreneurs are innovators, so you have to be willing and able to think outside the box. Having a strong vision is the most important first step in starting your business. It’s about seeing an opportunity where others haven’t, and figuring out how to put together the resources to make it happen. Not everyone has a creative mind, so many feel that by just thinking up a great idea they are ahead of the game. However, it’s what you do with this idea, and how you execute your plan that defines you as an entrepreneur. You need to be the type of person that is willing to put in the work and do the research to figure out the best route to take to achieve your goals, not just take a stab in the dark. No one has all the knowledge from the get go. It is important, though, to know how to find it. Don’t be afraid to seek out resources who will fill those knowledge gaps and better your chance of success.
Passion and Persistence
If you aren’t passionate about your product, you might as well forget it now. Sure, money can be a great motivator, but if you don’t see immediate financial reward you’ll be likely to give up early. However, endeavors driven by a deep passion within are often those that persevere. Unfortunately, it’s more often than not a long road to success for entrepreneurs, filled with failure and constant trial and error. As such, resilience is one of the most crucial characteristics for an entrepreneur. You must have a thick skin and a sense of determination, and be willing to dust yourself off and try again… and again if necessary. It is this passion and confidence in your vision that will get your through the lulls and bumps along the road that can get disheartening. If you believe wholeheartedly in your passion and are 100% mentally committed, you will be more likely to dig deeper to find a solution to any problems that arise.
Open-Mindedness and Adaptability
The state of the world and the marketplace today is in flux. Just as you get comfortable with a new software, program or process, it advances. Any successful business recognizes the importance of staying ahead of the curve, and makes it a priority to keep pace with a rapidly changing environment. This also entails being able to identify times when internal changes are necessary. Being open-minded is essential in order for these changes to occur. It is important not to let your business become too personal to you. A business owner must be flexible and progressive for the betterment of the brand. This means being open to constructive criticism, and making necessary adaptations based on market demands or changing tastes. While it’s important to stay true to your vision, the finished product often looks entirely different than the starting idea. Be open to these modifications, and see them not as a personal attack on your beloved concept but a form of evolution. This should transfer to your staff as well. While you are the brains behind the operation, it is important to surround yourself with talented people so that your business is strong in every department. Value your team and their opinions, and be open to new ideas from all angles. This open-mindedness is what makes a true innovator.
Above all, the successful entrepreneur is self-driven and motivated. They are the people that get up early every morning and start their day, no matter what’s on tap. You have to make your passion a priority every day, not just when it’s convenient, and be willing to work overtime to make sure you achieve success. There will always be obstacles and distractions, but it’s the people that don’t let these things throw them off track that have what it takes to be a successful business owner. Entrepreneurs have a natural drive and ambition, a killer work ethic, and a natural sense of urgency that comes from within.
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