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.
Morning Workouts- Early Bird Gets the Worm. September 24 2015
As a non-morning person, I have traditionally struggled to find the motivation to leap out of bed and get my disoriented, grumpy self to the gym. The snooze button and I have become close friends, despite my better attempts to pretend it doesn’t exist. After giving it a chance, however, I’ve started to see the benefits of getting my exercise in at the beginning of my day, as opposed to near the end. Here are the top 6 reasons that starting my day with a workout has officially turned me into a morning person!
It starts your day on a positive note.
Starting your day with exercise gives you a sense of accomplishment that you will carry with you throughout the day. Beginning on a healthy tip inspires you to keep this momentum throughout your day, swaying you toward the salad bar on your lunch break, or giving you a little extra nudge toward taking the stairs over the crowded escalator.
It elevates your mood and productivity.
As Elle Woods in Legally Blonde so eloquently put it- “Exercise gives you endorphins. Endorphins make you happy! Happy people just don’t shoot their husbands.” Regular exercise has been scientifically proven to have a positive impact on our overall mood and stress levels. Starting your day with exercise will release endorphins, improving your mood throughout the day. Naturally, starting the day energized and alert with a positive mindset will increase your productivity.
It boosts your metabolism.
Often, for those of us too sluggish to give up that extra hour of sleep in the morning to get our bodies moving, our digestive systems tend to be a bit more sluggish. I often didn’t feel an appetite in the morning, and would end up skipping this essential meal and waiting for lunch. Getting your body moving first thing is a great way to work up your appetite for the day’s most important meal. Exercise boosts metabolism, so by getting it in earlier on, you will burn more calories throughout the day. (Especially high cardio or interval training exercises.) Eating a healthy breakfast is also key in getting your digestive system moving and kick-starting your metabolism for the day.
It’s the best time to build muscle.
Our hormones are elevated first thing in the morning, and drop progressively throughout the day. Testosterone, for example, is at its peak level in the morning, and is an essential hormone in building muscle. (Hello, abs!) With proper sleep, the morning is also when our bodies have the most energy and thus the most potential for a productive workout. Also, sweating regularly is great for the skin. Who needs makeup with that post workout glow?
It’s just you and your thoughts... and maybe a few others.
The gym in the morning is a far different vibe than it is after work hours. The snarling guy waiting to use your machine, the girl hogging the mat- these un-pleasantries are far less likely to be an issue in the wee hours of the day. The morning shift at the gym is a much more peaceful, serene experience. You will find yourself far less distracted or intimidated, and have a chance to really escape and experience the therapeutic aspect of exercise. Even if you’re not a gym rat and you prefer to jog outdoors or hit an early yoga class, these spaces will also likely feel much more calm and private earlier on in the day.
It improves your family & social life.
Getting your workout out of the way first thing in the morning is a great way to make sure it actually happens! There are so many distractions that can arise throughout the day- a last minute work assignment, a friend’s get together, a sick child, etc. Hitting the gym before you start your day checks off that box, leaving more flexibility for other priorities throughout your day, such as spending quality time with family and friends.
So before you turn your nose up at the early morning keeners and hit that snooze button, give the morning workout a shot. It might take you a little while to adjust to the new routine, but once you start feeling the positive impact it has on your life, you won’t regret it!
The Do's and Don'ts of Prenatal Exercise! September 16 2015
Hey active lady, is your pregnancy making you feel nervous about exercising? Well fear no more! While it’s important to change your exercise regimen slightly, avoiding high impact activities like gymnastics or dance, there are several types of classes and exercises that are not only safe during pregnancy, but beneficial to your changing body. For the longest time, doctors were advising pregnant women to take it as easy as possible during pregnancy. They were seen as these fragile creatures who could miscarry at the slightest strain. Well this is oh so false. Being inactive during pregnancy has actually been linked to excessive weight gain and a reduction in strength and flexibility which, let me tell you, is not helpful during labour. A little weight gain is to be expected, so all you fitness buffs- let it happen. Embrace your changing body, nourish it, and exercise regularly so you feel better about yourself physically and emotionally. Below are a few safe and reliable forms of exercise to try out during your pregnancy.
One main factor to remember when looking for new types of exercise during your pregnancy is that your center of gravity will shift. It’s important to partake in activities that don’t require a lot of impact, (such as jumping) or balance (such as gymnastics, trampoline, fast paced forms of dance, etc.). There are lower impact dance classes, like Barre, for instance, that can be a safe alternative. Barre is great because you’ve got something to hold on to, which reduces your risk of falling. Just try and sit out the big turns and jumps if you can, as your balance won’t be what it used to for a while.
YOGA & PILATES
Yoga is certainly the most popular and probably one of the most holistically beneficial forms of exercise to practice during pregnancy. With its focus on stretching the body, strengthening the core, and relaxing the mind, yoga is amazing for preparing the body and mind for childbirth. It’s a great way to stay calm and deal with any anxieties or stresses you may be feeling about your pregnancy or anything else. It also trains you to control your breathing as you learn to synchronize it with your movements, which is a huge asset in labour. A stress-free pregnancy is a healthy pregnancy!
Similarly to yoga, Pilates focuses on elongating the muscles and strengthening the core. As long as you don’t strain yourself by pushing your body beyond your limits, it is also a safe form of exercise during pregnancy. As in any exercise, it is important to take certain precautions when practicing yoga or pilates. For instance, as you progress to the second and third trimester, avoid inversions and positions that involve lying on your back. This can put extra pressure on your blood vessels and cause your blood pressure to drop. Most importantly- don’t do hot yoga! Extreme overheating and dehydration can have negative effects not only on you but the fetus as well, and can contribute to premature labour.
Swimming is a perfect form of exercise for pregnant women, and probably the safest as it’s literally zero impact! There’s no risk of injury, and the buoyancy of the water also makes you feel lighter and thus the exercises less straining, even though you are working several muscles and burning a ton of calories. Aside from just swimming laps for cardio, there are a ton of aqua aerobics classes you can take to build strength and endurance in the water.
Spinning can be a great way to get some exercise while pregnant, as it requires no impact and allows you to have complete control over the level of intensity to which you push yourself. As in any form of exercise, it is important to avoid overheating and dehydration, and to listen to your body and be aware of signs of over exertion like dizziness or a rapid heartbeat.
Basically, don’t shy away from exercising during your pregnancy. As long as you are in tune with your body and take the necessary precautions, exercise is a necessary factor in ensuring a healthy pregnancy and a smooth childbirth. It also has positive effects on your mental well-being, reducing stress and anxiety. Keeping your health and fitness at a normal level during your pregnancy will increase your strength during labour, and will also make it an easier transition to your pre-baby self after giving birth!
Back to Life, Back to Reality. How to Beat the Stress of September! September 09 2015
September always creeps up so quickly, doesn’t it? Back to school, back to work… back to reality. Just as we finally adjust to the gentle hum-drum of summer, fast-paced September comes around and hits you like a freight train… at least if you’re not prepared. Suddenly, you are required to keep track of an entire family’s increasingly busy schedules, while trying to kick it into high gear yourself whether it’s at work or at home.
Organization is the key to keeping calm, cool and collected during all the back to school / work madness. It may sound obvious, but if you decide to cut it close and start your prep just before school starts, you’ll find yourself in a frenzy. First, you’re going to figure out how many items the kids are missing (back to school supplies, knapsacks, clothes). Secondly, you’re going to realize you had signed them up for a ton of extra-curriculars, most of which overlap, which means you’ll either need to find help or arrange a carpool in the next two days, otherwise one of your kids will have to forfeit their activities. These are just a few examples of how poor organization can become a huge headache if you wait until the last minute to figure things out. Don’t learn the hard way! Here are a few easy ways to make sure you and your family stay on track this fall!
Anticipation and Planning
Part of good organization is being proactive rather than reactive. Think about what potential issues or curveballs could arise, and have a plan in place to deal with these should they occur. (Ex. look into your carpool situation long before the first week of school, set up emergency contacts, etc.) The same goes for work, don’t wait until the night before you head back from vacation to figure out what you’re behind on. Stay up to speed and constantly organize and prioritize when and how things will get done, even if you push them off until later.
Personally, I find that my external environment strongly influences my internal environment. As such, in order to feel organized and efficient, it is helpful to organize your belongings and make sure the house is in order. Try organizing your desk or stationery drawers, your room, your home office, whatever feels chaotic to you. Immediately you will feel more focused and in control of your life. Creating a monthly agenda or keeping a calendar in a main room of the house is a great way to keep everyone up to date with activities and ongoing events. Even if it's inevitably going to be a stressful day, at least you'll know it's coming!
Asking for help
Don’t try to do everything yourself. If you’re the planner, create a foolproof agenda for your family, but then make sure everyone contributes to making sure it is followed. If you are working and your kids want to attend an extra-curricular, establish a relationship with someone that you can call in case you’re not able to drive that day, such as another child’s parents. Just make sure that the next time they’re in a pinch you do your best to return the favor.
Keeping up with your routine
Something we’ve touched on a few times; keeping a fairly regular, steady routine is helpful in staying organized. The minute you let go of your routine, it’s easier to skip or forget about your daily tasks, and this is how things begin to slip.
If you missed the boat this year and found yourself facing the headache of last minute organization, stop freaking out. It's never too late to put a plan in place to get you back on track. Don’t let the stresses of September take you down! Staying organized will give you the confidence to face the chaos head on.
Routine and Consistency- the Secret behind Health & Wealth August 24 2015
We have all felt the positive effects of a good week of routine- that feeling of accomplishment. Yet, we seem to fall off of it so easily. Somehow when a task or goal is put down on paper or into your calendar it becomes much more of a priority, whether you’re super task oriented or not. No one likes to feel that they’re neglecting their responsibilities, so if they’re written down in front of us we’re more likely to get them done. After a while, this routine starts to feel like second nature to us. Basically, by creating a daily routine for ourselves, we naturally become more motivated and task driven, and we’re more likely not to be swayed by tempting distractions if we’re dedicated to a routine. Creating a daily schedule for yourself can help improve your productivity in every area of your life.
Incorporating fitness into your daily routine is key, even if you’re not a huge workout buff. Maintaining a decent level of physical activity on a daily basis is essential not only for our long term health, but for our mental well-being and stimulation as well. Sitting behind a desk and being inactive all day can start to take its toll. Those who make time in their day for physical exercise tend to be more energetic, positive and productive. Make sure to jot this one down in your schedule. It doesn’t matter when or what you do, just make sure to be active at least once a day!
Routine forces you to manage your time as it takes planning. To create a routine, we are forced to sit down, consider our tasks the following day/week, and how we can fit these in with our other personal daily functions (such as the gym, meals, social and family events, etc.) After a while, you will have expert time management skills, and will benefit from this in other areas such as your work life or planning out your kids millions of sports practices and school events!
Eating & Sleeping
This area is so underrated. People totally underestimate the value of a good night’s sleep and a regular meal schedule. Sleep (or lack thereof) is directly linked to our mental function and our general productivity. Without a routine, we tend to let our bedtime creep later and later until we find ourselves trying to function on 4 or 5 hours sleep for an entire day at the office. Not only will you feel like crap, your work will suffer. Just get those 7 to 8 hours! Set a bed time and stick to it. That simple.
In terms of eating, so many people wait until they are starving before eating a meal. This is a huge mistake. You should constantly be grazing on small snacks to keep your blood sugar levels stable and your mind alert. There’s a reason they call it brain food! Setting a meal time for breakfast, lunch and dinner, as well as snack times can be helpful in staying regular. If you want to go the extra mile, plan out what you’ll eat for each meal, too! (This will also help you stick to healthier options and resist temptation.)
Routine for Kids
This is probably the most important area to stress. Creating a consistency for children, particularly around meal and bed times, is essential for their mental development and overall well-being. The younger years are the biggest learning years, they are essentially little sponges soaking up all the information they come across! It is crucial that we set them up for success by providing structure, regular meals and sleep schedules so that they can focus on learning and growing into the strong young adults we want them to be. Following a routine from a young age will also help them develop a good work ethic and a healthier, more balanced lifestyle as they grow up.
Take the time to create a daily schedule for yourself. Write it down each night or at the beginning of the week to start out. Before you know it, you’ll be living and breathing your routine without a second thought, and living a much fuller, healthier and more productive life!
The Importance of Setting Goals July 27 2015
When talking about setting goals, it all really comes down to one main factor- motivation. With anything in life, it is human nature to let things slip or push them off if we don't have any real boundaries, structure, or targets to reach. Setting goals may seem simple, but this process is an essential factor in our success and productivity in all areas. Whether it's forcing ourselves to make it to the gym three times a week, stick to a healthy meal plan, or setting goals for our kids, it is crucial to put these targets in place for ourselves to make it easier to maintain momentum and motivation. An easy way to make sure you stay on top of this is to set aside an hour for yourself every Sunday to write out a list of weekly goals. Try to include one that relates to each compartment of your life, for instance one pertaining to health and fitness, one pertaining to parenting, one for your relationship(s), and of course those pertaining to your career or personal achievements.
Many people don't consider setting goals to do with parenting, but this is an area that we can really let slip if we don't set guidelines and PLAN, PLAN, PLAN! Try making a goal for each week that you yourself have to achieve, for instance "Do 3 different activities with the kids" as well as one for the kids, ex. "Help with the dishes every night" or "Get an A on an assignment." Implementing a star/sticker program can be a great incentive for kids to meet these goals as well. Create a board with each child's name on it, and place a sticker underneath for each achievement attained, working towards a grand prize after a certain number of goals have been met. It's great to train children to become achievement oriented from a young age, as it will set lifelong habits that will translate into a good work ethic later on. (Plus, you'll get a heck of a lot of chores done around the house!)
In Fitness & Nutrition:
This is also an area where it's definitely necessary to set some goals. We are all busy and life does get in the way. Sometimes it's just quicker to grab that cookie and latte on the fly instead of the egg-white omelette you'd planned to prepare for breakfast. Or to skip the gym because something more fun came up. Setting a weekly goal will help you focus and make sure you don't let yourself slip in this area. After all, our health is our most valuable and important possession, without which we could not succeed in all other areas of our lives. A meal plan is a great way to ensure that you stick to a healthy diet (at least most of the time, we're all human!) In your Sunday list of goals, include a weekly plan for at least 2 meals a day. If you work, packing a lunch is a great alternative to the tempting crap that the food courts offer. Once you are hungry, it's hard to use good judgement! Do a weekly grocery shop to ensure you have most of the necessary ingredients to make most of the meals on the plan. This will also create ann incentive to stick to it, as you've already committed. Just make sure to keep things interesting, giving yourself lots of (healthy) variety. For fitness, set some weekly goals that are realistic and attainable. If you like hot yoga, try to attend three classes that week. If you're a gym bunny, set a goal for number of visits to the treadmill.
With the busy hum drum of every day life, especially with young kids in your mix, relationships often start to take the back burner. Whether it's your marriage or even your relationship with your best pal, it's important to set a weekly reminder to pay attention to these important relationships so that you don't wake up one day and realize you barely know each other anymore. I find it helpful to designate one night a week for "date night" and another evening or lunch hour for seeing a friend (better yet, a group of friends so you can squeeze a few in at once!)
So take the time each week to put some targets in place. You'll feel great meeting them, and your life will inevitably be more fulfilled and successful as a result!
Staying Fit as a Busy Working Parent May 22 2015
It's really easy to find excuses not to exercise when you're a parent of young ones working a full-time job. Life gets BUSY. But would you ever deem it excusable to neglect looking after your child for these same reasons? Didn't think so. The first step in the right direction is to start viewing fitness as a necessary part of taking care of yourself. You wouldn't skip a basic necessity of caring for your child, like food, education, or sleep, because you were too busy, would you? So why should your own body get the shaft? I'm not suggesting that every mother or father should make it a priority to resemble a fitness model or have "abs of steel," just that you incorporate fitness as a regular part of your routine to maintain your mental and physical well being. Trust me- your family will thank you for it!
Without regular exercise, we eventually become low energy, burned out human beings (which can equal lacklustre parents and spouses!) Maintaining a regular fitness regimen keeps your metabolism going, your energy levels higher, and your mood elevated. This has obvious benefits for your relationships with your loved ones, and even your sex life. But who has the time or energy to hit the gym after a long day at work, then feeding, bathing and coaxing a bunch of rambunctious kids into bed? It's never going to be super convenient, but here are a few tricks you can use to find the time.
If you're married with young kids and both working full-time jobs, you're just going to have to accept that for the next few years, you will need to rotate the morning and evening shifts. No one loves waking up at 6am to hit the gym before heading to the office for a long day of work. However, once you get there and get going, it's surprising how exerted you feel going into your day. Getting those endorphins going first thing in the morning is a great way to start, hard as it is to get yourself there. This means your spouse takes the breakfast shift with the kids, gets them to school etc. and when you get home that night, you're on deck for dinner, bath, and bedtime while your spouse heads straight to the gym. You'll probably be ready for an early slumber yourself at that point, but it will feel well deserved. The next day, swap. Or, find a similar way to divide and conquer, allowing for balance of responsibility between you.
Single parent? Bite the bullet and hire a babysitter for an hour or two after work to do the dinner shift while you hit the gym. It's a worthwhile investment.
8 Minute Abs, Arms, Legs and Buns.
Are you a stay at home parent with no nanny or assistance? I get it- there's literally no time to hit the gym, at least not on a regular basis. This is where home workouts come in handy. I am going to let you in on a little secret of mine. I swear by these hilarious "8 minute workout" videos (below) that I found online a few years back. Judging by their attire, they must be from the 80's. It amazes me that they're still up but I'm not complaining! If you can get past the funny clothes and hairdos, these videos are super useful and get you toned up in no time. There's one for abs/core, one for arms, one for legs. 32 minutes and Ta Da! Full-body workout. When you put your kids down for a nap, grab your laptop and set up in a room with a little floor space to do your exercises. Not in the napping stage? Set up in a room within sight while they eat their lunch. Or better yet, create an arts and crafts activity (no sharp objects!) that will keep them busy for a half hour. These are only a few examples of the masses of online workout and yoga videos available online. Do some research and find a few that work for you!
Play With the Kids!
Don't underestimate the amount of cardio you actually get running after your little ones. As they get older, continue creating games that involve running, such as a family soccer or baseball game, capture the flag or even scavenger hunts. It keeps you AND your kids active and is a great bonding experience.
Outdoor Workouts- So Hot Right Now. May 07 2015
With spring in the air and fitness rising on the priority meter, (hello, bikini weather) I thought I’d share with you the benefits and multi-uses of Mother nature’s back yard. Outdoor fitness is becoming more and more of a popular phenomenon. From fitness mobs and running groups, to park workouts and TRX training, there are dozens of ways to use the outdoors as your gym, and soak up some vitamin D while you’re at it! Just follow these few easy steps and you’re on your way to an awesome beach bod, and some extra cash for summer fun!
Image Source: http://www.domesticdork.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/12/NoGymNoProblem.jpg
Cancel your gym membership (for now).
Every spring, I cancel my gym membership. Why? I don’t see the need for a treadmill when I can run outside. I don’t see the need for machinery when I can use the monkey bars at the local playground for chin-ups and other exercises. I don’t need a floor mat when I can use my yoga mat in my back yard to stretch and do ab exercises. Most importantly, I save a solid few hundred dollars, and don’t burn fossil fuels driving to a gym or waste energy on electrically run machinery! Most gyms will offer a 6 month membership. If you can do month to month, even better! Save money, travel time and energy consumption by using the outdoors until the weather no longer permits it.
Join a running group.
Image Source: http://trainingcampsf.com/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2013/04/Group_running.jpg
As we’ve discussed before, community is a key element of staying motivated and driving performance when exercising. Most neighborhoods have a local group that gets together a few times a week to run. It’s a great way to meet people, and will keep you motivated to stick to a workout routine.
Use the outdoor elements.
Image Source: http://thefitchronicles.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/07/pre-beach-workout-photo-51.jpg
Often if you drive past your local park or even the beach, more and more you will see people exercising. Many beaches (south Beach, Miami for instance) actually have designated bars set up designed for strength conditioning exercises! Otherwise, any local playground will have monkey bars and other useful equipment that have multipurpose use, you just have to get creative!
1. Use the stairs. Find a set of three or four stairs (or even a picnic table). Step up 2 stairs with your left foot, then back to the ground with your right. Repeat with the other foot. Then step up 2 with your left, then 2 more with your right, then back. Repeat. Who needs a stair master?
Image Source: http://www.fitnessbyd.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/06/P1030157.jpg
2. Use the monkey bars. For chin-ups, grab on with both hands, pull yourself up to chin level, release and repeat. You can also use the monkey bars to strengthen your core. Hang on to the bars with both hands, and slowly lift your legs up as far as you can. Hold, and release. Repeat. Or, try any of the exercises above. They're tough, but will give you killer abs!
Image Source: http://redefiningstrength.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/12/monkey-bar-exercises.jpg
Weekend Warriors June 29 2014
Image via: http://www.thezerosbeforetheone.com/the-night-before-thanksgiving/partying
Today’s 20-somethings are living a polarized lifestyle. They party until dawn all weekend, binging on booze, drugs and junk food, and then starve themselves all week to get “healthy” while trying to mentally function at a 9-5 job. Sure, they’re young and resilient... but how long can they sustain this lifestyle before the damage to their bodies becomes irrevocable and they start to deteriorate?
Image via: www.keeferfitness.com/tag/tired/
I personally used to be one of these “Weekend Warriors.” Monday morning was the last thing on my mind, because I lived to party, everything else was secondary. I was drinking and partying and not hydrating myself properly. The next day I’d eat a bunch of crap to soak up all the poison I’d consumed the night before, and then nurse myself back into decent enough shape to repeat the crime the following night.
Come Monday, I’d feel guilty for the amount of junk and toxins I’d consumed and convince myself it was time to get “back on track.” This meant living on smoothies and soup all week, skipping meals, and forcing my deprived body to work out every day after work. Sounds fun, right? Not for long. I began having tons of medical issues. I was exhausted and constantly ill, which affected my job, relationships, and every element of my life. My potassium levels were so low that it was life-threatening. I was iron-deficient, malnourished and had a bunch of other issues that I won’t bore you with. The doctor basically told me I had to make some drastic changes or else it could be fatal. That was definitely the wake-up call I needed.
Image Via: http://www.allcoresociety.com/working-out/article-treadmill-vs-outdoor-running/
I am now much more conscious of my health. I don’t party on a regular basis, and when I do it’s in moderation, mixed with a side of H2O! I also maintain a balanced diet to ensure I’m getting the nutrients I need to stay strong and healthy. My fitness regimen, well it’s a work in progress. The point is I’m still here, and I’ve never felt better. So, Weekend Warrior, if you’re reading this- you may be pulling it off for now, but long term you can’t sustain balance and good health in such a toxic lifestyle.
Image via: http://www.notquitelegal.com/2014/03/31/thrive-measuring-happiness/
Sweat Therapy as a lost Art June 29 2014
Has the active community become too focused on visible results, and less about the joy of escapism and the natural high that exercise can bring you? The fitness world today seems to be so consumed with the body changing element of exercise that it’s become a completely result-driven, mundane series of robotic and strenuous exercises we push ourselves through on a daily basis to make our bodies look a certain way. People have stopped seeing their workout as a time to escape, think, and regroup, and instead find themselves eagerly anticipating the finish line.
Image via: http://www.pinterest.com/pin/61924563597131201/
Well get off the treadmill, I say- and go find something that you can get lost in. Stop pushing yourself, and start losing yourself. We’ve all felt the uplifting effects of a good sweat session- the endorphins, the release. Finding a sport or class you like is the key, something that you can connect with physically as well as mentally. The focus in your fitness regimen should always be to keep the body strong and healthy, and to feel energetic and balanced on a daily basis. Finding escape in sweating it out can be the best kind of therapy for your body and mind, so ditch your shrink, and go enjoy it!