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!
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!
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.