Has our world shrunk?

This past weekend, I attended the Canfit Pro conference in Calgary. I attended two, full-day courses, one on functional training and the other on MMA Kickboxing! Super-fun, super exhausting and now I have to write two exams! Yikes! Saturday was a full day of various workshops. The workshops and presenters all talked about changing lives through fitness and healthy lifestyles but two presenters used the same phrase that kind of struck a cord with me. “We are shrinking!”. At first, I was thinking… well that is a GOOD thing because we keep hearing the statistics rattled off in the news almost daily that as a society we have become alarmingly obese and what is worse is that our kids are becoming that way too! However, this wasn’t the shrinking that they were talking about…

So many things today have been made to make lives easier. Tools so we don’t have to work so hard or do so much manual labour. Think: remote controls, cordless phones, dishwashers, swiffer sweepers, robotic vacuums! One presenter threw out a statistic that on average people are burning 750 calories less PER DAY than we were three decades ago! If you think about that – its quite astonishing! If one pound of fat is 3500 calories – it would only take about four days or so of eating at an excess of that to gain a pound! Over a year – wow!

If that isn’t bad enough… think of it in this context: When we don’t exercise, we don’t create energy. We feel slumpy and lazy and our cells don’t regenerate and carry the oxygen that they can if we exercise daily. This translates into not wanting to play with our kids, take our dogs for a walk or even go outside to enjoy some fresh air. If you are overweight or obese, you probably don’t feel like walking around Disneyland or a water park! You might not want to get on a bike and go for a ride, or hike up a great trail to see the world from up high.shrinking2

THIS is how obesity and being unfit shrinks our lives – it shrinks our experiences and our kids’ experiences. How sad is that? Instead of having the energy to play outside – we are in front of our computers or TVs or smart phones and we are teaching our kids to do the same.

I had the amazing opportunity to do a 90 minute workshop with Peter Twist from Twist conditioning. He is SUCH a spiritual, peaceful yet energetic man. I can’t even explain the aura that he omits – his energy is absolutely incredible. He had us team up and we did all sorts of relays using agility drills. The theme was teaching beginners through advanced how to safely use plyometric exercises.  We had SO much fun! A huge room full of adults running races (not to mention we are all trained fitness professionals – can you say COMPETITIVE???). Everyone was laughing and cheering – OH AND OUR HEART RATES WERE THROUGH THE ROOF! Exercise and FUN!! Now that is the best of both worlds. He reiterated, “Safety, not Circus” and “Work so you can Play”. His mantra throughout all of his facilities, and training: “Body Ready – Mind Sharp – Attitude Positive!” – how awesome is that? We had to repeat that throughout the whole workshoptscc-ceo-peter-twist-1.

Sunday when I got home, I was beat – physically tired, mentally exhausted and just plain done. But I had picked up a few new training tools as well as some MMA gloves and pads. So I got my girls up to show them some of the new stuff I learned. I had them punching and kicking and using battle ropes in our living room! We were laughing and they were breathing super hard – they said, “Whoa Mom, this is hard work!” – I replied with, “Yes, but you’re smiling and laughing, which must mean its fun too!” and we all had a good laugh!

So this is something to think on for all of us. What is standing in the way of the experiences you want to have? If it has anything to do with your weight or fitness levels its something that is completely changeable. I didn’t say “easy”, but its something that each and every one of us can work towards to improve. There is almost no injury or illness that can’t be modified for. Each small step is a one step forward to EXPANDING your world and those of your loved ones!


Setbacks and crabby days…

Tonight, I was inspired to sit down and write a post about setbacks. And yes… I’m feeling crabby as well. I came down with a cold last week, the one that everyone in Cranbrook seems to have right now – the true sign of school being back in session! There are so many jokes about the man cold – but I will humbly admit – my husband is a million times tougher than me when it comes to being sick. We use the term, “Olivia Cold”. I actually feel quite sorry for my family, having to endure my whining and sniveling. At times, I will try to convince them that I truly am dying… but it doesn’t seem to help it get better.

There are those people who carry on without a blink – “power through” as they say. I dislike those people (sorry if you’re one of them) – well, let’s be honest – I’m just jealous. Today, I even sent my friend an article I found stating that wine is actually GOOD for colds. Well, I’m not sure I’m convinced on the scientific part of that – but the emotional side – hell yes!

I try all sorts of things – believing that I will get rich off of some new home remedy. Today, I actually thought I may have given myself third degree burns from oregano oil inside of my mouth – again, my family just laughs and tells me I smell like a meatball. Thanks for the sympathy.sick3

The worst part about getting sick for me – is missing my workouts. This brings me back again to just over two years ago, when I was forced to miss close to three months of workouts. A sure-fire way to bring an exercise addict to psychosis – and that I’m not laughing about. Although, I’ve learned to lay off the workouts when I’m not 100%, it still messes with my head. However, I’m at a place now, where I know that I will be further ahead in the long run if I let my body heal, rather than push it to a point where it takes three times longer to recover.

The point is, we all have “set-backs”. A cold or flu, an injured body part, a life-event, or whatever it may be. It’s part of life and as hard as it is to not get discouraged, we must tell ourselves that we will “jump back on the wagon” and everything will be okay.

This is harder to do if you’re someone who has recently embarked on a new routine. It takes a while to get into the groove but you do and then you finally start to see some progress – and then – WHAM – out of no-where, that routine gets thrown out and you feel like you’re going to lose all that progress you made.

The great thing is, we have something called “muscle memory”. I see this a lot with clients who have been away from their fitness routines for quite some time. Within one to two sessions, their form finds perfection and within a few weeks – their strength gains are phenomenal. I even saw this with myself and my Yoga practice. After being away from it for three whole years, the little things came back – such as placement and breathing. Tsick2he body is an amazing thing!

So as we approach winter and the onslaught of cold and flu viruses, falls on the ice or whatever life brings our way – let’s remember to TRY to stay positive (yes – I’m trying to convince myself of this at this very moment). Our bodies will heal, our bodies will remember – but we must allow our minds to relax and our spirits to embrace the “break” it needs. You’ll find your way back, much faster than you expect!



P.S. If you are sick – please stay out of the gym as a favour to the rest of us!


Intuition… A.K.A. – Go with your GUT!

It’s hard to know where to begin with a topic like this. But, I will start with something non-fitness/food related. Kids. Now, hang-tight if you are not a parent – it will get better – lol!

I remember when I was pregnant with my first daughter. The Internet was still pretty slow back then – but it was available. Actually, now that I think about it – Wow! The virtual world has come such a long way in a short time. I didn’t have any friends at that time who were having babies – I was pretty young by today’s standards. My Mom couldn’t remember anything, which had me wondering if perhaps I was adopted, except that my Dad and I are way too much the same to not be genetically related.

Every little thing I panicked about. I am the kind of person who needs to research everything and study everything and just be plain anal and type “A” about everything. So, I read all the “What to Expect” books and what was available on the Internet. At one point, I had myself convinced that my baby was going to be born with purple horns and three eyeballs. That was the point at which my husband and my Mom wanted to rip the computer out of the wall and turn off the wonderful World Wide Web.

Then the baby came. I had no idea what the hell I was doing. Again, no friends with experience. So, I researched everything. I was basically a basket case the first two years of both of my daughters’ baby-hoods. I really didn’t start to like them at all until they were around the age of five.

I compare myself to one of my best friends, who until just three months ago did not own a thermometer. Four babies and she didn’t own a thermometer??? WTF? I mean, babies are just petri-dishes of disease… you need a thermometer if you don’t want to kill them – don’t you? She also did not own any baby books. Oh and guess what? All FOUR of her babies slept through the night. Ummmm… at the ages of 12 and 10 – mine STILL don’t sleep through the night and some nights I swear I’m going to lose my shit – okay – well I’m not gonna lie… I DO lose my shit.gut2

I have pondered this many a times. I have come to one solid conclusion: my dear friend and I had one major difference – she trusted – TRUSTS her gut! That built-in mechanism we were blessed with called intuition. I, on the other hand, with my spazzy, OCD, read and research everything until I’m running circles, lost the ability – or maybe didn’t even start with it, to trust my gut – my innate intuition.

Ok – so I hope I haven’t totally lost all of you non-parents yet – I think you get where I am coming from. Let’s apply this to ourselves.

This week at the gym, I had several people approach me and talk to be about diets. Questions like, “Have you read this diet?”, “What do you think about this way of eating?”, “What do YOU eat?”.

While I am currently working toward my level one nutrition coaching certification, it is not in the scope of practice for personal trainers to prescribe meal plans. However, we can discuss nutrition, we can evaluate your food diaries and give suggestions and we can discuss nutrition in general terms.

Most fitness professionals will agree that the Canadian Food Guide is, well – shit. If you ate with those recommendations, you’d probably be obese and lethargic all the time.

If you’ve followed, you know that I had struggles with my weight. To this day, I still have to keep everything “in-check” to maintain and no, its not completely effortless – but it has become a way of life and something that I believe is sustainable for me.

I’ve read just about every diet book out there. I’ve never followed any of them. I simply read, pull certain information, perhaps give it a try or incorporate some ideas – but I can honestly say I’ve never followed a specific plan or “way” of eating.

I became over-weight myself for the first time after having two kids and being home-bound and in-active due to my postpartum anxiety. We ate very healthy as a family, proteins, carbs, fats – but for me – it was simply about portion control. When I was breastfeeding, I could eat like a machine and was super-thin. But when the babies were weaned, I continued to eat the same calories and be anxious and the pounds crept on.

For the past few years, fitness has been a large part of my life and that has evolved into a different way of eating all together. I was doing it all – bodybuilding, crossfitting, marathon training and starving myself. It was egg whites, protein shakes and chicken breasts. I wouldn’t even touch a carrot because it had too many carbs. That resulted in poor performance (in hind-sight), low energy, moodiness, hair-loss, dark circles under my eyes… oh and then there was that hospitalization thing.

About a year ago, I came across an awesome website, called “Eat To Perform”. I started to read more about it – and there are other similar sites as well. I kept reading over and over about fueling your body to perform – not to lose weight. So, I thought I’d give it a try. This meant adding carbs, which scared the crap out of me – but it also was the timing of the carbs. I gave it a try. What happened? I started lifting heavier, I had more energy, I was sleeping better… aaaaaaaand… I gained weight. That was hard, but I know now, that at the time, I was not a healthy weight for my stature. I still struggle with the fact that I’m not wearing a size four anymore – but then I consider my health and what that means and it brings me in-check.

Fast forward to today. What am I doing now? Well, today, I have learned to go with my gut – to follow my intuition. I believe that this is something that takes practice – a lot of it. But, with continued practice – and I am practicing every single day – comes health and success. I stock our pantry and fridge/freezer with foods as close to mother nature as possible. With kids, its hard – they are picky – but I believe if I continue to provide healthy options, they will learn to choose correctly as well. I also KNOW myself. I know that if I have sweets in the house – I will eat them. So, I simply don’t make them available. I have learned what makes my body feel good, what helps it lift heavy, train hard, get through long days of training clients, teaching classes, my own workouts, running my kids around and all the other commitments I have. If I don’t fuel properly – I won’t make it through the day.

This way of nutrition has become so intuitive that if I actually tracked my food (which sometimes I definitely do if things are getting off-track) – based on a female-cycle – I know there would be some very obvious patterns. I can feel if my body needs extra carbs, a little more protein, or a little more fat. I can also tell when I need a glass (or three) of wine. You have to become in-tune to your digestive patterns (bloating, gas, elimination patterns – TMI – I know!), your sleep, your moods, your energy. It all takes practice – and following your body’s signals.

All that being said, there are ways to make it easier. You have to make the right foods and choices available to yourself (your wine rack must be fully stocked – JK – not really). Things I do: every Sunday – I cook a package of chicken breasts – they are ready to go. I have hard-boiled eggs on hand ALL the time. I have Quest bars in my car, my gym bag, my drawer at the gym. If I know I’m going to be out all day, I whip up a protein shake to go, nuts, eggs, apple, veggies, etc. It all comes with me. I also eat chocolate every single freaking day. I allow myself to have wine three nights a week – but if I have that wine – I don’t eat a carb with my meal – its protein and veggies. If we eat out, I will have a couple bites of dessert – we order one dessert for the family – and we share it – knowing a couple bites will satisfy the palate but also knowing that depriving will lead to failure.

I have written a novel this time – and I could continue forever… but I hope this helps you consider a few things or recognize a few things in your own patterns. I will always preach that we need to develop and learn a way of eating that is sustainable for our entire life – not a rigid plan that includes depriving us of the things we enjoy. As soon as we do that, we will fail and life needs pleasure and joyous moments – and if a bite of chocolate and a glass of wine gives you joy, then learn how to make that work for YOU! Trust your GUT!gut3