50 Fitness Facts You Need To Know

I love this awesome list of fitness facts!  Just when I thought I could call myself an ‘fitness geek’ BAM.

Some of these facts really surprised me.  Did any of them surprise you and if so, which ones?

  1. Carbohydrates, protein, fat, and alcohol have 4, 4, 9, and 7 calories per gram respectively.
  2. It takes a 3500 calorie deficit to lose 1 pound.
  3. Insulin and growth hormone have an inverse relationship.
  4. The average person can store 500 grams of glycogen.
  5. Only fat and protein are essential macronutrients – carbohydrates aren’t.
  6. Muscle glycogen is about 3 parts water to 1 part glucose.
  7. You burn more calories during the 23 hours you don’t exercise than the 1 hour you do.
  8. You don’t need to do cardio to lose weight.
  9. The fat burning zone does not burn more total fat calories – only a higher percentage of calories from fat.
  10. You’re never too old to do squats.
  11. Weight loss is not a physical challenge – it’s a mental one.
  12. The scale cannot measure body fat percentage.
  13. You can eat anything you want and still lose weight – but weight doesn’t always equal fat.
  14. You can’t target fat loss – fat loss is systemic.
  15. Muscle does not weigh more than fat – it’s just denser than it.
  16. 0 grams of fat on a label doesn’t always mean there’s no fat in the food product.
  17. Whole grain bread is still a processed food.
  18. Eating healthy is not more expensive than a junk food diet.
  19. You can’t calculate body fat percentage from height and weight alone – you need to physically measure it.
  20. You can get glucose from both protein and glycerol – not just carbohydrates.
  21. Just because a box says “whole grain” on it, it doesn’t make it healthy.
  22. You should never attempt weight loss at the expense of your health.
  23. Being vegetarian doesn’t just mean you don’t eat meat – it means you follow a plant-based diet.
  24. Workout times and negative side effects are positively correlated.
  25. Gym membership prices are negotiable.
  26. Cooking your food can both lower some nutrient content, and make some more bioavailable.
  27. There’s a high correlation between the fitness level of the people close to you, and your own physical fitness.
  28. It’s harder to put on 10 pounds of muscle than it is to lose 10 pounds of fat.
  29. Once an adult, fat cells can be created, but they cannot be lost – only shrunken.
  30. Eating at night does not make you fat – overeating does.
  31. You don’t need to do curls to get good biceps.
  32. Being skinny does not automatically mean you have a low body fat.
  33. The perimeter of the grocery store is where 90% of the healthy food is.
  34. If bad food is in the house, you’ll be more likely to eat it.
  35. Thyroid hormone output and exercise intensity are positively correlated.
  36. Healthy levels of testosterone are good for both men and women.
  37. You don’t need a gym membership to strength train.
  38. Unless you weigh less than 100 pounds, it’s unlikely you need less than 1000 calories to lose weight.
  39. Workout intensity is positively correlated with the degree of EPOC – the afterburn effect.
  40. There are 3 types of skeletal muscle fibers – type I, type II-A, and type II-B.
  41. 80% of people who begin an exercise program will quit.
  42. The body has 3 energy systems – ATP-PC, anaerobic glycolysis, and aerobic.
  43. Strength gains come from muscle hypertrophy and improved muscle fiber recruitment.
  44. Dehydrating a muscle by 3% can cause a 10% loss of strength.
  45. The thermic effect of food (TEF) is highest for protein.
  46. Lactic acid is not the cause of delayed-onset muscle soreness (DOMS).
  47. The more muscle mass you have, the more calories you burn at rest.
  48. Direct abdominal exercises are not necessary to get good abs.
  49. You can lose weight and still gain muscle; likewise, you can also gain weight while still losing fat.
  50. Consistency and patience are key to long term successful weight loss.

(source: coach calorie)

Banish Belly Bloat

Experiencing a little post-summer belly bloat from all of the barbecues and other indulgences?  Here are some of the best ways to help you get your flat tummy back:

1. Get hydrated! Start each day with 12-16 ounces of warm water with a splash of organic lemon.

2. Skip the sugar  – in all of its forms. Especially liquid calories from any source (soda, juice, alcohol) all of which store belly fat. Be on a mission to get high fructose corn syrup out of your diet as it is especially good at laying down belly fat.

3. Ditch the flour – wheat flour, especially, is just like sugar. Did you know that two slices of whole wheat bread raise your blood sugar more than two tablespoons of table sugar?

4. Start the day with protein, not starch or sugar.  Try whole omega-3 eggs, a protein shake, nut butters or even kippers! Skip the bagels, muffins, donuts and cereal.

Along with these simple rules, you can also work on blasting belly fat by adding in these healthy foods that will contribute to a svelte stomach:

  • Greens 
  • Chia Seeds
  • Cayenne Pepper
  • Oats, Oat Groats and Steel Cut Oats
  • Fermented Foods (kefir, saurkraut)

**Note, laxatives and harsh cleanses will only temporarily relieve bloating but will not heal the issue.  In fact, these things will only cause more bloating and digestive discomfort in the long run

(article adapted from myyogaonline.com)

100 Reasons to Exercise Now!!

  1. Because it makes you feel confident
  2. Because it helps you get stronger
  3. Because exercise helps combat depression
  4. Because you’ll feel proud of yourself
  5. Because you have goals you want to reach
  6. Because you’ll feel bad if you don’t
  7. Because you want to move forward, not backward
  8. Because it burns more calories than not working out
  9. Because it improves your heart health
  10. Because you want a great butt
  11. Because it prevents diabetes
  12. Because you want to be a good example to your kids
  13. Because you want to feel good in your clothes
  14. Because it reduces your risk of cancer
  15. Because your body was made to move
  16. Because you want to be an athlete
  17. Because you want to look better
  18. Because it lifts your mood
  19. Because you want to stand taller
  20. Because it reduces back pain
  21. Because it feels good
  22. Because it makes you feel accomplished
  23. Because you spend most of your day on your butt
  24. Because swimsuit season is always coming
  25. Because strong is the new skinny
  26. Because dieting only works so much
  27. Because it strengthens your bones, too
  28. Because it helps you lose weight
  29. Because it allows you to eat more food
  30. Because it’s the best way to spend “me” time
  31. Because it helps you de-stress
  32. Because it’s cheaper than therapy
  33. Because you want a strong core
  34. Because you want to take care for yourself
  35. Because you take pride in your body
  36. Because it strengthens your legs
  37. Because it helps your clothes fit better
  38. Because you want to push yourself
  39. Because you are capable of more than you ever imagined
  40. Because moving your body feels good
  41. Because it keeps your mind sharp
  42. Because it helps you beat belly bloat
  43. Because it helps you sleep better at night
  44. Because it gives you energy
  45. Because you want to stay healthy as you age
  46. Because you want to look younger
  47. Because you want toned arms
  48. Because it improves your balance
  49. Because it burns off last night’s dessert
  50. Because it boosts your immune system
  51. Because sweat is sexy
  52. Because you want to live longer
  53. Because you want to get better at your game
  54. Because you want to catch someone’s eye
  55. Because exercisers earn more money
  56. Because you’re more likely to eat better when you exercise
  57. Because you want to shave time off your running pace
  58. Because you want to breathe easier
  59. Because you want to see the scale drop
  60. Because exercise improves your sex life
  61. Because you are worth it
  62. Because being fit makes everything in life better
  63. Because you promised yourself that you would
  64. Because you deserve a better life
  65. Because it’ll help you drink more water
  66. Because you want to do real push-ups
  67. Because it reduces your health care costs
  68. Because you’ll miss fewer days of work
  69. Because you want to create a new future for yourself
  70. Because it’ll help you like what you see in the mirror
  71. Because it makes clothing shopping more fun
  72. Because you want to look and feel incredible
  73. Because exercising can be fun
  74. Because it’ll give your skin a glow
  75. Because it’s a good way to spend time with your friends
  76. Because it’ll help you prevent the middle-age spread
  77. Because it reduces your blood pressure
  78. Because you don’t want to let yourself go
  79. Because you don’t want to squeeze into an airplane or rollercoaster seat
  80. Because it strengthens your spirit
  81. Because it’s a cheap way to entertain yourself
  82. Because you’ll be able to reward yourself
  83. Because you need a reason to wear those new workout clothes
  84. Because you’re tired of being tired
  85. Because not working out is not going to get you very far
  86. Because it’s a great way to spend time outside
  87. Because you made a commitment to yourself
  88. Because you’re tired of starting over
  89. Because there will always be another wedding, vacation or reunion
  90. Because you’re not a quitter
  91. Because it improves your cholesterol
  92. Because it boosts your metabolism
  93. Because it prevents age-related muscle loss
  94. Because if you can do this, you can do anything
  95. Because a fit body is a healthy body
  96. Because it beats sitting on the couch
  97. Because  everyone has at least 10 minutes to spare
  98. Because you want to be stronger than your excuses
  99. Because not working out isn’t working out for you
  100. Because the only workout you ever regret is the one you skip

Which reason resonates with you?

(source: sparkpeople.com, image: weheartit)

We made it through another winter everyone…holla!

Today is the first official day of spring and is the day that I consider the first of my New Year.  

Celebrating my New Year when nature is starting to come alive again makes sense to me.  Plus if I f^&* up on my resolutions then I get a second chance ;)

I want to invite all of you to celebrate with me as if it was the start of a New Year for you or perhaps just a very special day where you can energetically release patterns, behaviours, relationships and other stuff that doesn’t really serve you and focus on cultivating joy and achieving your goals.

Think of today as your very own blank canvas.  Consider these questions:

Are you having trouble eating healthy? Start today.  

Have your workouts been irregular? Go today.

Is there someone/something in your life that is draining your energy? Release them today.

What do you want to feel more of? Write a list.

What do you want to stop doing? Write a list.

What do you wish to achieve this year? Set an intention.

What makes us come alive and feel joy? Focus on those things.

This is a precious day that will never be repeated.  What will you do to celebrate it? Do it.

(image: flickr)

Build Your Own Yoga Practice 

Whether you are a regular yoga practitioner or not, I am going to guide you on how to create your own yoga series so that you have the freedom to BE YOUR OWN TEACHER and start a daily yoga practice, even if you can’t make it to a class.

Self practice gives you the opportunity to deepen your yoga practice and really learn to listen to what your body truly needs rather than relying on the instruction of a teacher who is working to build a class around the needs and abilities of many.

Now that it is warmer, I encourage you to take your practice outdoors.  Go somewhere that inspires you, somewhere where the energy feels great, where you feel nourished.

Use this chart as a guide.  The chart is read from top to bottom, left to right so Pose 1 is Namasthe, Pose 2 Tadasana and so on.

To Begin:

Located a flat, quiet surface and sit in easy pose with your legs crossed, hands resting on your knees palms facing up with your index finger and thumb touching in Jnana Mudhra, the hand gesture of being open to wisdom and divine guidance. Be sure that your spine is straight and long, it may be more comfortable to sit on a cushion or yoga block so that your hips are elevated.

Meditation:

Begin your practice with a meditation of your choice, I like to start with my Honouring Your Body Meditation but yours could be a longer one or something as simple as sitting in silence and focusing on your inhaling and exhaling.  

Be sure to set an intention for your practice ahead, some examples of this are: Surrender, Forgiveness, Compassion, Self Love etc.

Warm Up:

3-5 Sun Salutation A (Surya Namaskara A) - A flow, moving through the first 10 poses or asanas on this chart. The key is to link your breath with these movements as you flow beginning with an inhale and exhale at Namasthe and then an inhale at Tadasana followed by an exhale on Uttanasana and so on.  For those of you familiar with ujaay breath and your bandhas, you may start to introduce this during your sun salutations.  

Standing & Balancing Series:

Perform poses 11-19 (or your choice of poses) - first beginning with your right leg, then immediately repeating with your left.  Hold each of these poses for a a minimum of 5 breaths before moving to the opposite side.  *I recommend doing at least 3 poses from this section including one balancing pose.

Intermediate practitioners may  practice 1 complete sun salutation after completing each pose.

Inversions:

Poses 20 - 22 are intermediate inversions - So for those of you who are comfortable with handstand, peacock and headstand A, you may either practice all of these poses or select one of your choice.  For handstand and headstand, please hold for a minimum of 25 breaths.  For peacock please hold for a minimum of 10 breaths.  

Beginners may wish to remain in downward facing dog (pose 7 on this chart) as this is in itself an inversion.  Hold for 10-25 breaths.

**Inversions are not safe to practice if you experience high or low blood pressure, are pregnant or have any eye or ear issues.  You may not want to practice on the first few days of your moon cycle also. Please review all contraindications before practicing.

Heart Opening:

Poses 23-24 are deep heart chakra openers, practice for 10-15 breaths before taking rest.  Repeat twice. Advanced practitioners can take pose 23 into Upward Facing Bow Pose (Urdva Dhanurasana) and repeat twice.

Rebalancing Pose:

After a strong heart chakra opener, it is important to practice a pose that rebalances the glandular system and spine and stimulates the parasympathetic nervous system to bring your body into deep relaxation. Pose 25 Shoulder Stand is an intermediate pose and should only be practiced if you know you are able to do this safely.  If so, practice for 25 breaths before dropping your legs into Plough Pose.  

Beginners may opt for simply elevating legs up the wall or balancing against a tree.  This has the same effect as the shoulder stand without potential risk of injury to the neck.

Seated Series:

Now that your body is fully warm and you are breathing deeply we can venture deeper into the chakra system with the seated series.  Poses 26 - 35 work on your subtle energy body so these poses are meant to be held for a minimum of 10 breaths per side. Select at least 5 of these poses to work on based on what you intuitively feel as though you need that day.

Finale:

Fishing off with 5-10 minutes in Savasana or Corpse Pose, laying on your back with your legs and arms extended.  Advanced practitioners may release bandhas and ujaay breath here. 

Upon rising, spend a few moments in seated meditation to ground your energy.  You may use this time to practice gratitude or say a prayer.

With a regular self-guided yoga practice you will begin to cultivate your intuitive powers and hear the voice of your inner healer.

Enjoy your journey and please let me know if you have any questions!

Are You Skinny Fat?

tips on what not to do if you’re skinny fat

Check out this awesome article by Pauline Nordin of Muscle and Fitness Hers.  Skinny fat is a health issue with serious potential repercussions simply because in our society if you look thin, you are generally considered to appear healthy and fit.  The problem lies in that there are no tell tale signs on the surface; however, the heart and other organs of a skinny fat person often have more toxic fat accumulation due to lack of hydration (fat cells store only 25% water whereas muscle cells store up to 75%) as well as weaker organs, slower blood flow, higher bad cholesterol and a weakened cardio capacity.

There’s always a lot of focus on obese people, and how they’re going lose weight. Easy formula: exercise and watch the diet, and the normal scenario is you’ll lose pounds per week. But, for those who are not very overweight yet not very fit either, the formula is not quite as simple. When your muscle mass is too small to look quite buff and your body fat is a bit too high to show off the muscle, you find yourself in the skinny fat zone: too high body fat, too low muscle mass.

Skinny fat people tend to over estimate their muscle density and expect to turn out looking like a fitness model. But fitness models are dense on their “lower” weight; they are not muffin tops. Fitness models might seem petite and lean, but you’d actually find them to carry a lot of muscle. If you’re a skinny fat, you need to focus on both fat loss and muscle gain, at the same time. Doing too little cardio, you will build muscle, but also keep your belly fat for longer. That’s fine if you have no problem with waiting until you see some definition. Doing too much cardio, you’ll burn so many calories every day it’ll be too much for your body to even think about packing on mass. This is because packing on muscle mass means your calories need to go to muscle buildinginstead of just to compensate for the cardio you do.

Skinny fat people cannot just go on a hardgainer diet to build muscle, unless they want to build more body fat as well. But going on a low-carb, high-protein diet won’t let you train hard and intense either. Remember, training requires carbohydrates. I like to say, “Train like your goal is to build the maximum amount of muscle, and diet like you’re going for ripped abs”. This is true for everyone except for hardgainers.

Skinny fat people have another thing to contend with: their bodies prefer to expend calories but not to build muscle, hence you can remain at a certain “normal” weight, but it’s tough to build muscle. You’re a hardgainer on muscle, but an easy gainer onbodyfat.

So, what to do, huh? Well, first of all, remember you don’t have enough muscle mass to sacrifice. You need to hit the weights heavy and hard. Remember you cannot do cardio for hours to burn fat because your body won’t let you burn that fat if you have more fat than muscle (not literally speaking, ok). Remember, you need to work with your genetics, but also, genetics is one part, hard work is the other. You need to be patient. You need to keep it real. Be realistic. Don’t live by the scale, live by what you look like, strength gains and how your clothing fits. It might appear nothing is happening, but your body is slowly building moremuscle and the fat is slowly melting off.

Keep it up and enjoy the process!

(source: muscle and fitness hers)

How To Lose The Last 10 Pounds

Have you ever wondered why it’s so hard to lose the last 10 pounds? Doesn’t it seem like your weight gets to a certain number and sticks? Getting rid of the last and most difficult pounds is so hard because not only do you have to fight for it, your body fights back! Here’s what you need:

  • A very clean nutrition program, and a personal plan of executing it.
  • A dynamic training schedule with HIIT, plyos, cardio and new moves your body is not used to. Push yourself way out of your comfort zone. Your body acclimates quicker than you think to your training-keep it guessing. Take new classes, join bootcamps and give everything you’ve got to them.
  • Don’t get caught up in what plan you should be doing, pick one and stick to it.
  • Give your plan an honest time commitment-minimum 12 weeks.
  • Take an honest evaluation of possible hidden calories and sabotagers and make a plan to overcome and avoid them. Think about the weekend, office snacks and stress. How will you handle these things?
  • Write everything down - what you’re eating and your daily exercise.
  • Don’t forget about alcohol and and sugary drinks. Find calorie and sugar free alternatives, like green tea with lemon slices.
  • Your stomach is small, about the size of your fist, so exceeding it’s capacity with large meals makes a flat taught tummy impossible. Think of how you feel when you eat too much? Eat frequent small clean meals to shrink your mid-section and reset your appetite thermostat.
  • Your body will lean out faster on food rather than shakes and bars. Cook your food and bring it with you whenever possible.
  • Build Muscle. I know this one seems counterproductive in terms of scale weight, but adding lean muscle will raise your metabolism and torch calories even while you’re not exercising. Plus, the appearance of muscle beats the look of skinny fat any day!
  • Relieve stress with exercise. Stress is a large cause of stubborn belly fat and emotional eating.


Here’s a tough part of this goal, do you believe you can lose the weight? And, is it worth it to you to forgo weekend splurges? Can you give it up for awhile? I always tell myself, “Get there and then maintain it!” Maintaining a low percentage of body fat for women requires a near perfect diet and training program.

Our bodies are hormonally programmed to hold onto a certain level of body fat, so your metabolism will adjust and your body will fight to maintain fat. However, it’s not impossible. Are you truly accountable for what you eat and how you train? Go over the list and pinpoint what your sabotageurs are and try to avoid them for a month. I can promise you this, you’ll be blown away by the difference!

(from oxygenmagazine.com, written by Kim Dolan Leto)

100 Reasons To Meditate

Still making excuses as to why you don’t have time in your schedule to meditate?

Just as we spend time strengthening and detoxifying the physical body through eating healthy, whole foods and engage in regular and intense physical exercise it is equally critical to develop a strong and detoxified energy body.

Our personal energy bodies consist of the electromagnetic field that surrounds us which communicates with the energies of all living things including people, the food we choose to eat and our environment. The electromagnetic field also communicates with the 72,000 energy channels throughout our body as well as the seven main energy centers, or chakras.

I could blab on about this all day but why do that when we can do this:

Physiological benefits:

1- It lowers oxygen consumption.

2- It decreases respiratory rate.

3- It increases blood flow and slows the heart rate.

4- Increases exercise tolerance.

5- Leads to a deeper level of physical relaxation.

6- Good for people with high blood pressure.

7- Reduces anxiety attacks by lowering the levels of blood lactate.

8- Decreases muscle tension

9- Helps in chronic diseases like allergies, arthritis etc.

10- Reduces Pre-menstrual Syndrome symptoms.

11- Helps in post-operative healing.

12- Enhances the immune system.

13- Reduces activity of viruses and emotional distress

14- Enhances energy, strength and vigour.

15- Helps with weight loss

16- Reduction of free radicals, less tissue damage

17- Higher skin resistance

18- Drop in cholesterol levels, lowers risk of cardiovascular disease.

19- Improved flow of air to the lungs resulting in easier breathing.

20- Decreases the aging process.

21- Higher levels of DHEAS (Dehydroepiandrosterone)

22- prevented, slowed or controlled pain of chronic diseases

23- Makes you sweat less

24- Cure headaches & migraines

25- Greater Orderliness of Brain Functioning

26- Reduced Need for Medical Care

27- Less energy wasted

28- More inclined to sports, activities

29- Significant relief from asthma

30- improved performance in athletic events

31- Normalizes to your ideal weight

32- harmonizes our endocrine system

33- relaxes our nervous system

34- produce lasting beneficial changes in brain electrical activity

35- Cure infertility (the stresses of infertility can interfere with the release of hormones that regulate ovulation).

Psychological benefits:

36- Builds self-confidence.

37- Increases serotonin level, influences mood and behaviour.

38- Resolve phobias & fears

39- Helps control own thoughts

40- Helps with focus & concentration

41- Increase creativity

42- Increased brain wave coherence.

43- Improved learning ability and memory.

44- Increased feelings of vitality and rejuvenation.

45- Increased emotional stability.

46- improved relationships

47- Mind ages at slower rate

48- Easier to remove bad habits

49- Develops intuition

50- Increased Productivity

51- Improved relations at home & at work

52- Able to see the larger picture in a given situation

53- Helps ignore petty issues

54- Increased ability to solve complex problems

55- Purifies your character

56- Develop will power

57- greater communication between the two brain hemispheres

58- react more quickly and more effectively to a stressful event.

59- increases one’s perceptual ability and motor performance

60- higher intelligence growth rate

61- Increased job satisfaction

62- increase in the capacity for intimate contact with loved ones

63- decrease in potential mental illness

64- Better, more sociable behaviour

65- Less aggressiveness

66- Helps in quitting smoking, alcohol addiction

67- Reduces need and dependency on drugs, pills & pharmaceuticals

68- Need less sleep to recover from sleep deprivation

69- Require less time to fall asleep, helps cure insomnia

70- Increases sense of responsibility

71- Reduces road rage

72- Decrease in restless thinking

73- Decreased tendency to worry

74- Increases listening skills and empathy

75- Helps make more accurate judgements

76- Greater tolerance

77- Gives composure to act in considered & constructive ways

78- Grows a stable, more balanced personality

79- Develops emotional maturity

Spiritual benefits:

80- Helps keep things in perspective

81- Provides peace of mind, happiness

82- Helps you discover your purpose

83- Increased self-actualization.

84- Increased compassion

85- Growing wisdom

86- Deeper understanding of yourself and others

87- Brings body, mind, spirit in harmony

88- Deeper Level of spiritual relaxation

89- Increased acceptance of oneself

90- helps learn forgiveness

91- Changes attitude toward life

92- Creates a deeper relationship with your God

93- Attain enlightenment

94- greater inner-directedness

95- Helps living in the present moment

96- Creates a widening, deepening capacity for love

97- Discovery of the power and consciousness beyond the ego

98- Experience an inner sense of “Assurance or Knowingness”

99- Experience a sense of “Oneness”

100- Increases the synchronicity in your life

(list source: ineedmotivation.com, image: flickr)

The Truth About Laxatives and Laxative Dependency 

Yesterday, a friend came to me for nutritional advice, telling me how much difficuly she had losing weight (she was up about 30lbs) and how, no matter how hard she tried, she could not get lean.

After an hour of intimate conversation, she revealed to me that she had been taking a powerful laxative tea every night before bed for about 2 years and relied on laxative pills after a heavy dinner or drinks out with her friends.  Lately, it had been getting progressively worse as the more laxatives she consumed, the more her body needed them.

As we talked, we were munching on some veggies and hummus and after having about a handful she stood up and showed me her belly.  It was bloated and round as if she was 4 months pregnant.  She told me that this happens to her every time she eats, even when she chews gum.

After coming through anorexia myself, there were definitely times when I too abused laxatives in the form of tea and herbal cleanses.  Although I did not get addicted to them (take them frequently), my own experience taught me that my body would get dependent on them quickly and it was very easy to slip into dependency.

One of my best friends in the world also suffered from laxative dependency for years and it has wreaked havoc on her digestive system and of her body.

The Dangers of Laxatives

  • All laxatives, especially herbal ones cause the expulsion of potassium but not sodium from the body.  Sodium rich blood causes cells to swell and those cells with the most sodium content store sugar and in turn become places of fat storage
  • With the lower levels of potassium in the blood, the cells cannot excrete the sodium from them and thus they store water rather than allowing your body to excrete the water, thus, you become bloated
  • Once laxatives are stopped, the cells begin to accumulate more fat causing the individual to put on more weight than before

Weaning Yourself Off Laxatives

  • Stop the laxatives all together and seek medical attention
  • Increase your consumption of potassium rich foods like spinach and banana
  • Take a potassium supplement
  • Eat regularly throughout the day every 2-3 hours even if you don’t feel like it.  You must train your body and metabolism to fire up again
  • Look out for the signs of low potassium: nausea, vomiting, muscle cramps, depression, fainting, changes in heart beat

So if you are abusing laxatives and if you are afraid to stop, please seek medical help.  Abusing laxatives will destroy your digestive system from the inside out. My own experience has shown me that the body CAN heal from this but it is important for you to take the first step toward healing your body.  It may take several months and there may be a slight weight gain (I’m not going to sugar coat this) but weight loss is much less painful than having to shit in a bag attached to the side of your stomach in the future.

Top Food Nutrient Combinations

Foods that Complement Absorption

Vitamin C and Iron
Iron comes in two forms, heme and non-heme. Non-heme iron is the found in plants and is not as well absorbed as heme iron found in animal products. Vitamin C helps switch iron to the ferrous state, which is easier absorbed.

Example:
*Add beets to a shake or meal
*Squeeze a fresh orange or lemon on top of a spinach salad
*Add sliced strawberries to any breakfast cereal; hot or cold
*Add green peas to your kidney bean salad

Calcium, Magnesium and Vitamin D
Vitamin D acts like a traffic controller guiding calcium into your bone to make them strong. Since Vitamin D is hard to obtain in sufficient quantities from the sun a supplement is best recommended to take alongside Calcium.

Fat soluble Vitamins and Fat
Fat soluble vitamins include Vitamins A, D, E and K which require fat to be present to be ideally absorbed in the body.

Example:
*Olive oil drizzled on baked sweet potatoes
*Unsalted almonds or walnuts as a great afternoon snack
*Mashed avocado spread on whole grain toast
*Pine nuts sprinkled on asparagus or broccoli

Foods that Inhibit Absorption

Calcium and Iron
These minerals bind together preventing absorption in the body. A study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition revealed a dose of 165 mg of Calcium (in Milk form) reduced iron absorption as much as 50-60%. It is recommended for Calcium to be taken at bedtime for not only improved absorption but a better sleep too for its muscle relaxing properties.

Example items to not combine:
*Broccoli with Kidney Beans
*Kale with Lentils

Oxalic Acid and Calcium or Magnesium
Oxalic acid binds to calcium to form insoluble salts that cannot be absorbed. It too hampers the absorption of Magnesium.

Example items to not combine:
*Almonds or cashews with Sesame seeds
*Spinach and fortified soy/rice milk

Phosphoric Acid and Calcium
Phosphoric acid binds to calcium in the intestine forming calcium phosphates which are not absorbed.

Example:
*Limit pop consumption which is extremely high in phosphoric acid and only drink away from Calcium rich beverages like fortified soy milk

(article written by Karla Heintz, source: myyogaonline)

The Best Green Superfoods on the Planet

Greens are good, Green Superfoods are even better! Green superfoods have the highest concentrations of easily digestible nutrients, fat burning compounds, vitamins and minerals to protect and heal the body. They contain a wide array of beneficial substances including proteins, protective photo-chemicals and healthy bacteria helping you to build cleaner muscles and tissues, aid your digestive system function and more effectively protect you against disease and illness.

Green superfoods are extremely rich in chlorophyll - the pigment that gives plants their green color. The molecular structure of chlorophyll is very similar to that of human blood and studies show that when this is consumed, the production of hemoglobin in blood is increased. Higher amounts of hemoglobin in the bloodstream means more oxygen-rich blood, the first and most important element that cells need to thrive.

Wheat grass - Wheat grass is the sprouted grass of a wheat seed. Unlike the whole grain, because it has been sprouted, it no longer contains gluten or other common allergic agents. Wheat grass is super-alkalizing and is excellent for promoting healthy blood. It normalizes the thyroid gland to stimulate metabolism thus assisting digestion and promoting weight loss due also to its high enzyme content and cleansing effect.

Barley grass - Barley grass has 11 times more calcium than cows milk, 5 times more iron than spinach and 7 times more Vitamin C and bio-flavonoids than orange juice. It contains significant amounts of Vitamin B12 which is very important in a vegetarian diet. Barley grass juice has anti-viral activities and neutralizes heavy metals like mercury in the blood Wild blue-green algae - Algae was the first form of life on earth and its power is immense. Wild blue-green algae is a phyto-plankton and contains virtually every nutrient going. With a 60% protein content and a more complete amino acid profile then beef or soya beans. It contains one of the best known food sources of beta carotene, B vitamins and chlorophyll. It has been shown to improve brain function and memory, strengthen your immune system and help with viruses, colds and flu.

Spirulina - Spirulina is a cultivated micro-algae which has been consumed for thousands of years by the indigenous peoples in Mexico and Africa. It is one of the highest know protein sources on earth and contains 70% complete protein, towering over steak which consists of only 25% once cooked. Studies have shown that spirulina can help control blood sugar levels and cravings thus making it a key food for diabetics, and can be used to assist in weight loss and as a general nutritional supplement.

Chlorella - Chlorella is a fresh water algae and like its other algae cousins contains a complete protein profile, all the B vitamins, vitamin C and E and many minerals. It is amazing for the immune system and for reducing cholesterol and preventing the hardening of the arteries, a precursor to heart attacks and strokes.

Green leafy vegetables - Green leafy vegetables are so readily available and so highly nutritious, however most people do not eat enough of them. Studies continuously confirm that populations that eat a diet high in green leafy vegetables run a far lower risk of heart disease and cancer. Fresh raw green leafy vegetables contain high doses of chlorophyll, easily digestible proteins, enzymes and a wide range of vitamins and minerals. These particular vegetables act as mini-transfusions for the blood, a health tonic for the brain and immune system and a cleanser of the kidneys. Try any of the following: rocket, spinach, dandelion greens, kale, watercress, parsley, lettuce, endive, chicory, broccoli sprouts and mustard sprouts.

Zain’s Green Superfood Smoothie

Ingredients:

1 Cup Coconut Water

1 Cup Organic Frozen Raspberries

1/2 Tsp Raspberry Keytones

7g Fresh Young Coconut Meat OR 1/2 Tsp Virgin Coconut Oil

1 Tsp Wheat Grass Powder

2 Capsules Blue-Green Algae 

1/2 Tsp Spirulina

1 Cup Black Kale

Directions:

1. Blend all ingredients in food processor or magic bullet.  Serve immediately

(source: myyogaonline.com, photo credit Kathy Patalsky)

Trying to Cut and Build Muscle Simultaneously?

Athlete Pauline Nordin says - 

Take Your Time

You can build muscle while staying lean, just don’t rush it

In this article, Pauline shares her advice and her personal journey to mature muscle:

Getting shredded means you need to cut calories and increase your calorie expenditure through exercise.
Building lean muscle means you need to consume a surplus of calories while also making sure you maintain some energy expenditure, and you need to perform progressive resistance training.

When you want to get cut and get more muscle at the same time, that’s when it starts to get a little tricky. You are actually asking your body to break down fat and build muscle simultaneously, which is kind of confusing for your system. You see, to lose fat you need to restrict your calories or expend more calories than you consume. But this also means there are no calories for your body to use for muscle building.

Most beginners have the privilege of being able to do both at the same time. They can build muscle, and the increased metabolism due to training stimulates fat loss.

The most important things to remember is: you need to be able to push yourself hard in the gym. If you are eating too few calories or the wrong kind (like too much protein or too few carbs), you won’t be able to sustain intense training, which is necessary to stimulate muscle growth.

Now, I know you know my story and that I never consistently ate more than about 1700 calories throughout my 11 years of training, but I am not average. I was able to focus all my energy into my workouts and then go curl up in a ball somewhere. I used to have no energy at all, but I was very tough and stubborn. After all my years of training, I’ve been able to keep my bodyweight at around 117 pounds. I haven’t really grown per say, but rather exchanged fat for muscle.

Anyway, back to what I was talking about…

To get really lean, you need plenty of muscle to help your body burn calories for you. If your body mass is too low however, your won’t burn calories efficiently without having to train every day for hours on end. That would be impossible to keep up, and sooner or later you would be drained, overtrained and your muscle would break down little by little.

If you’re a newbie, you have to treat your muscle gently. New muscle gains won’t stick to you the way older, more mature muscle will. Look at people who’ve been training and dieting consistently for decades: they can take a lot time off of training without shrinking. Beginners, however, cannot add muscle and then take a break or go all out doing double cardios. They will just tear down the house!

It took me three years before I felt I had enough muscle mass to diet down for a show. And even then, I weighed in at 110 pounds and was no way as lean as I could’ve been for the max weight limit of 115 pounds in my category. The winner was a world champion, and she weighed 115 sharp. We looked like two totally different people. So how could we have been in the same weight division, right? She was 35 years old, and I was 19. She was shredded like I am now. I had ‘baby’ cuts with some abs and so on, but I could have lost another 3 pounds of fat or so and still wouldn’t have been shredded enough for the bodybuildingdivision! Did I do something wrong? Did I not diet hard enough? No, but my muscle was still young and needed more time to mature!

I understand your passions (and frustrations) when it comes to getting a super tight body. I understand you want to try everything I do or other fitness professionals do, because you think that’s how it has to be. It doesn’t. First off, I train extremely hard day in and day out (some even say I’m obsessed!), and have done so for the past several years. It has taken time for my muscle mass to mature and my body to be where I want it. It doesn’t happen in a night.

PLANNING TO GO APE SHIT OVER THIS SHIT, THIS WEEKEND?

PUT IT DOWN AND STEP AWAY FROM THE EGG

YEAH…I’m talking to you.

Let’s start with some cold hard facts:

  • 1 Cup of Mini Eggs is 1082 Calories and has 42 Grams of Fat (not the healthy kind) and 140 Grams of Sugar
  • 1 Cream Egg is 150 Calories and has 8 Grams of unhealthy Fat and 20 Grams of Sugar
  • They are full of artificial colour, corn syrup, flavour and ‘modified ingredients’ what the F is a modified ingredient anyway?
  • Once you start eating these, you will not stop.  They are highly addictive and they are meant to be
  • The sugar and fat in this delicious crap (yes, I realize they are amazing I’m not trying to pull the wool over your eyes here) will mess up your hormones and will affect your mood, not to mention after a mini gorge on them, you probably won’t feel so hot.

The last thing you need is to sabotage yourself by binging out on Easter chocolate, trust me, I have been there and its not worth it.  I don’t even buy them anymore…I know…Bah Humbug! Who cares? If you are tempted, its better not to put yourself in the line of fire.

Here’s a little helpful trick:  If you start on the eggs, think about how you’re going to feel when you wake up on Tuesday morning, it always works!

Why not respect your body this Easter?

If you are dying for some chocolate or are in the mood to celebrate with something sweet, try snacking on a bit of dark chocolate OR one of my sweet treat recipes that will actually make you feel great, fill your body with healthy fats and superfoods and will having you indulging guilt-free.

Whattdoyousay you kick that egg to the curb and whip up a bowl of THIS instead!

9 Ways to Curb Sugar Cravings

When it comes to sugar, some of us fall short and give into cravings.  I have noticed this most when I am feeling fatigued or close to a menstrual cycle; however, over the years, I have learned to overcome this simply through creating new neuro-impulses in my brain.  In short, making the choice not to self-soothe with sugar but opting for other ways.

Each time you are about to reach for sugar or something sweet that may throw you off your program, you have a CHOICE.  You can choose to have it and you can choose not to.  It’s that simple, really.

I know it may not always feel that way but if you pause for a moment and give yourself some space (ie. practice mindfulness) you can identify whether or not you actually want to enjoy that treat or if it is even necessary.

I love this article by Meg Worden on nine awesome things to help you curb sugar cravings easily - (from elephantjournal.com)

1. Breathe: When you feel a craving come on, take three deep breaths. Your brain needs oxygen to think, to consider what else you might want to do. Deep breathing not only feeds your brain a direct hit of O2, but it calms the central nervous system, brings you from fight/flight back to chill and gives you a couple of extra seconds to remember that you are actually capeable of choosing. It’s true. You aren’t a hapless victim at the mercy of your every craving. It is entirely possible for you to have a craving and respond according to what is in your highest interest.

2. Drink Water: Drink water all day long for a variety of worthwhile reasons. But if you are having a sugar craving, right after you breathe, then go drink a tall glass of water. Often cravings are actually the body calling for air and water. Our high stress lives cause dehydration and shallow breathing. It will also buy you some more time to remember that you are a powerful choice maker and you have excellent reasons to stand by your choices.

3. Eat Your Vegetables: No matter what you feel hungry for, make a point to eat a meal of vegetables. Or mostly vegetables. Pile them high on your plate and dig in. It will keep you full and fed. Veggies give your bod a high dose of nutrition and quality nutrition keeps cravings at bay. Salads are wonderful meals. Make them even more satisfying by adding healthy fats for satiety, like avocado, cashews, raw pumpkin seeds, cubes of baked sweet potato and high quality extra virgin olive oil.

4. Have Fruit For Dessert: When you have an after meal sweet tooth, have an apple or some berries with a little bit of honey. Eat fruit as fresh, local and seasonal as possible for the most exciting and satisfying flavor. Train your palate to enjoy a more subtle sweetness. Fresh, white summer peaches, plums, pineapple…Also, is the grill hot from dinner? Throw some fresh fruit on the grill. You won’t believe how the heat brings out the sweet.

5. ExerciseGet out and sweat. This will get your heart beating, your blood flowing and make you feel really good about yourself and your body. It moves stagnant energy around and you will be far less likely to want to ruin it all with pie. Instead, have a post-workout smoothie with frozen mixed berries, coconut flakes, raw cacao, blue-green algae, and coconut water.

6. Procrastinate: Put those procrastination skills to good use. Make no mistake, sugar is addictive. It gives you a temporary high, then a crash that makes you crave more. Sometimes just making the decision that you are going to quit  is enough to send you into a binge spiral. A better option is to just not eat it right now. Procrastinate. Table it. Put it on the back burner. Call it up and make some lame excuse about how you’d rather wash your hair. I promise that by getting  some temporal distance from it will calm the cravings. Especially if you are doing all of the other things on this list.

7. H.A.L.T.: Classic addiction advice. HALT stands for Hungry, Angry, Lonely, Tired. Cravings are likely to show up when you are any of these things. So it’s always valuable to assess whether your craving is masking a true hunger that can be fed with a healthier option, or whether it’s another emotion that can be solved by calling a friend to vent, calling a friend to hang out, or taking a nap. You can think about this while you are breathing and drinking water.

8. Get Clear On The What And The Why: Do you want to be healthy? Lose weight? Feel great? Sleep well? Have more energy? Win a Pulitzer? One of your daily life practices should be getting and staying really clear on your goals. And I’m calling this a practice because it takes practice, engagement and refinement. Life is dynamic, it is constantly shifting around and your goals will need subtle alterations. So this means staying aware of what you actually want out of your life is a powerful state to be in.

Cravings can be turned into a trigger to remind you of what you want, why you want it and empower you to choose for yourself the option that gets you closer to those goals. Think of why you don’t want to eat sugar. What will you gain? Then what will you gain if you get that? And what will you gain if you get that? Keep going until you get to your core motivation. Then see if you can pare it down to three to five words, a short sentence that can be like a mantra for you to easily remember throughout the day, and especially when cravings surface.

9. Change Your Story: This is related to number eight. Instead of telling yourself  “I quit eating sugar,” which sets you up for failure in the event of a slip, tell yourself “I don’t want to eat sugar.” Extra bonus points for adding in why you don’t want to eat the sugar. “It makes me sick/depressed/low energy/spastic.” Or perhaps you think about all of the things you are without the sugar, radiant/energetic/masterful/sexy… you get the idea. It will help strengthen your resolve and create less dissonance if you accidentally eat the cupcake. Which could happen. But just keep going. Give it time. A little distance from the sugar habit and you will be feeling fantastic, empowered and reaching for the peaches with a juicier abandon and no remorse.

As a last thought, I want to say that I am not suggesting that you never ever eat sugar as long as you live. Less is definitely more and if you want to eat zero, I support you completely. But if there is some special dessert that you can’t imagine your life without, please eat it. But when you do, savor it, love it and only sometimes.

Now go. Do. Breathe, drink water and figure out how you really want to live this one precious life of yours. Then hold on to that vision.
What’s the Big Deal About Antioxidants?

To explain the usefulness of antioxidants, one must understand free radicals. In addition to being a musical band (You have heard of the Free Radicals, haven’t you? No? That’s okay, I don’t like them anyway.), they are also a source of harm for your body.

Free radicals are atoms or groups of atoms with an odd (unpaired) number of electrons and can be formed when oxygen interacts with certain molecules. Once formed these highly reactive radicals can start a chain reaction, like dominoes. Their chief danger comes from the damage they can do when they react with important cellular components such as DNA, or the cell membrane. Cells may function poorly or die if this occurs. To prevent free radical damage the body has a defense system of antioxidants.

Antioxidants are molecules which can safely interact with free radicals and terminate the chain reaction before vital molecules are damaged. Although there are several enzyme systems within the body that scavenge free radicals, the principle micronutrient (vitamin) antioxidants are vitamin E, beta-carotene, and vitamin C. Additionally, selenium, a trace metal that is required for proper function of one of the body’s antioxidant enzyme systems, is sometimes included in this category. The body cannot manufacture these micronutrients so they must be supplied in the diet.

Vitamin E: dl-alpha tocopherol. A fat soluble vitamin present in nuts, seeds, vegetable and fish oils, whole grains (esp. wheat germ), fortified cereals, and apricots. Current recommended daily allowance (RDA) is 15 IU per day for men and 12 IU per day for women.

Vitamin C: Ascorbic acid is a water soluble vitamin present in citrus fruits and juices, green peppers, cabbage, spinach, broccoli, kale, cantaloupe, kiwi, and strawberries. The RDA is 60 mg per day. Intake above 2000 mg may be associated with adverse side effects in some individuals.

Beta-carotene is a precursor to vitamin A (retinol) and is present in liver, egg yolk, milk, butter, spinach, carrots, squash, broccoli, yams, tomato, cantaloupe, peaches, and grains. Because beta-carotene is converted to vitamin A by the body there is no set requirement. Instead the RDA is expressed as retinol equivalents (RE), to clarify the relationship. (NOTE: Vitamin A has no antioxidant properties and can be quite toxic when taken in excess.)*

(from: amiannoyingyouyet.blogspot.ca)

I love this article by fitness model Monica Brant.  Here she pretty much sums it up with her thoughts on diet an other important aspects of a fit/health lifestyle.

Monica Brant has been one of my training role models since I started improving my physique and training for fitness.  She has a super strong and positive outlook and she runs fitness camps for women several times a year. 

Check her out: http://www.monicabrant.com/

Monica Brant Female Fitness Model Best Diet Secrets

Now that we’re all thinking about beaches, boardwalks and bathing suits, dieting is on the forefront of everyone’s minds. We thought we’d take five minutes and ask someone who looks great all year round “Monica Brant” about her summer dieting secrets. For those people like Monica living in a warm climate, dieting is a constant concern. Let’s see what Monica has to reveal about her diet and how she maintains her superb physique.

On Diets


I’ve been competing for about eight years now and during that time, I’ve tried many approaches to dieting. Especially during the past year, I’ve learned a very important lesson: different diets work differently for different people. There’s no such thing as a “one size fits all” diet. I know what works for me not for anyone else. And this is true for everyone. One of the most important things you can learn is to know your body, understand what works for you as an individual. It’s basically a process of trial and error. Personally, it took many years of experimenting before I found the right diet, which I put to use at last year’s Fitness Olympia. During the competition season, I follow a modified 40:30:30 diet [protein:carbs:fat] with more protein than carbs. Everyday, these ratios changed slightly. I don’t like to follow a certain ratio too rigidly. By keeping my diet variable, my body doesn’t have a chance to adjust. Understanding my genetic limits, I know what I can get by with what I can eat and what I can’t.

On Diet Plans


There’s nothing wrong with trying out different diet plans. Just because one diet doesn’t work for you doesn’t mean you should quit trying to lose weight altogether. If nothing else, dieting teaches you discipline. Whenever you start a new diet plan, you should pay attention to how it makes you feel. Try to write everything down in a log book. For example, try the Zone Diet for 6 weeks to see if it works. Then, try the Atkins Diet for six weeks and see how it compares. The main thing you need to remember is discipline and consistency. You’ve got to stay with a program for a minimum of six weeks. Two or three weeks is not enough for your body to adjust to a new diet. You have to train your body to stay at a lower bodyfat level, especially if it’s a new level that it hasn’t been accustomed to before.

On Bingeing


I know what my body craves sugars and starch. I also know that these things keep me chunky. Once again, the real trick is consistency. I eat “clean” about 75% of the time. Since this can be really tough, I give myself little breaks here and there. For instance, I treated myself to a rich dessert yesterday at a restaurant. Don’t be afraid to splurge once a week, maybe on the weekend, and eat something sinful. It will help keep you honest for the rest of the week. Not only that, it will help prevent your body from falling into a regular pattern.

On Protein


I try to eat protein with every meal, whether it’s chicken, turkey, tuna or a protein shake. If you’re like me and travel a lot, there are a couple ways to make sure you’re never without protein. For example, I always pack some canned chicken/tuna in water. It’s really convenient. Whey protein is also really easy to take. My favorite is Universal’s Orange Creamsicle Super Whey Pro. Instead of taking the whole bottle, what I do is spoon out measured amounts of protein into little plastic baggies and take them with me wherever I go. That way, I can be sure to get a lot of protein. I usually want at least 1g of protein per pound of bodyweight. When I’m training intensely, I take about 1.5g of protein per pound of bodyweight up to 200g per day. The reason why women need more protein is because without adequate amounts, their bodies will eat away lean mass, especially when they diet. And with less lean mass, your metabolism slows down.

On Exercising


Everyone knows cardiovascular exercise is important during dieting. I try to work out every day, even when I don’t have access to a gym (for example, doing sprints on the beach or running up the stairs at a hotel). Running is definitely a good idea if your knees can handle it. I enjoy interval training. According to conventional wisdom, you should aim for a target heart rate of 138-148 when you’re performing cardiovascular exercise. I personally prefer 145-160 instead. When I’m interval training, my heart rate can hit the 180s. And during my routines, my rate is 180 the entire time. That’s why conditioning is so important. If you’re trying to lose weight, you need to exercise for at least 20-30 minutes, minimum. What can you do in ten minutes except warm up your muscles. If I’m training legs, I’ll get on stationary bike and do interval sprints. Whatever you do, the best time to exercise is in the morning before breakfast or at night after your last meal. I’d also recommend weight training for all women. Twice a week would be awesome. Resistance training definitely makes you feel better and lean mass burns more calories than fat. Besides, weight training is the only way you’re going to get that toned look.

On Water


Water is a must. Proper hydration is critical for staying in top shape. Personally speaking, I drink at least a gallon of water per day. No matter where I am, I have water handy I keep it next to my bed so that I can drink from it in the middle of the night. I have a bottle in the car, and another one in my gym bag. Wherever I am, I have water.

On Supplements


Supplements can definitely make a big difference. I would strongly suggest it for people who are serious about sticking to a weight-loss program. Go with what you feel comfortable with. Because Ripped Fast 2 is so powerful, I’ll only take one capsule at a time. Universal also has an effective formula called Herbal ThermoStack E/C/A which works better for women because it doesn’t have ephedra in it. Remember, stick to a program for at least six weeks. Do the cardio. Hit the weights. By doing so, fat burners will work even faster. In addition to these fat burners, I also use plenty of whey protein and a good multivitamin. Women’s Fitness Pak is about as complete as you’re going to find. In terms of snacks, my favorite is the Muscle Bar. This little bar packs a lot of nutrition with protein, a little carbs, and a little fat. For women who want a little more lean mass, I’d recommend Creatine Chews. It’s got plenty of creatine and it even tastes like Sweet Tarts.

On Hunger
Contrary to popular myths, the key to dieting is to eat something when you’re hungry. Of course, this doesn’t mean you should be snacking on Doritos all day long or a Snickers bar. Instead, pick up a nutrition bar or mix a protein shake. If you just can’t avoid something sugary, at least have it with a meal to blunt your body’s insulin response. It’s important to keep your blood sugar levels even. Eating smaller meals more frequently throughout the day will help you achieve this. And always stay within your means. As I mentioned earlier, everyone’s means will vary from individual to individual.

On Rest


Rest is definitely important. If I’m tired and feeling run down, I want to eat sweets. On the other hand, if I’m well rested and exercise regularly, my desire for these foods are greatly diminished. Try it and see for yourself!


Break Free From Your ROUTINE

Routine can be as addictive as a tub of Ben & Jerry’s right after a…well let’s just be real…after one spoonful.

And while enjoying this (as a major treat every now and again in the correct portion…OMG I sound like my mother, sorry) is relative to savouring the moment, it can also sabotage all of your efforts to live a healthy, fit, lifestyle.

Same goes for routine.  I know it may not seem that way but it’s true.  

Taking a break every now and again from your routine is necessary to achieve balance and lasting health.  Really, it is.

Routine offers little room for spontaneity so it is invaluable for us to break free of our regularly scheduled training, eating and timings.  How many of you honestly, feel compelled to eat the same foods day in day out or train your bodies the same way everyday?

Although this may be helping you achieve results physically, what do you think it is doing for your mind and spirit? 

One word: SUFFOCATION and deep down inside, especially overtime, you start to get the feeling of, is this all there is?

HELL NO. Life is happening.  

Here are some of my favourite ways to jump on the freedom train:

1. Get out of town - You will be forced to try new cuisine, experiences and train in a different setting.

2. Take a new class or train at a different gym - Never tried yoga or barre? Why not grab a friend and have some fun trying it out? Perhaps sign up for a guest pass at another gym or taking your workout outdoors.

3. Try a new recipe every week or a new food each day for a month - Need some inspiration, click here.  Check out what foods are in season and as you are walking in the market, see what draws your attention. eat intuitively.

4. Book a spa day - Pamper yourself at your favourite spa.  Enjoy a massage or a treatment package either on your own or make it a date with a friend.

5. Try shopping at a DIFFERENT market - One where you don’t know your way around and enjoy the experience of trying new things.  Farmers Markets are amazing if you have access to one.

6. ***Write down areas in your life where you are dedicated to your routine and notice how you feel in those areas of your life.  Do you feel in control? When you break free do you feel out of control? Notice and become aware of your control patterns.  The need to control is based in fear and does not serve your higher self.*** 

Sometimes, I wish I could do this to myself and have all of the impressions and beliefs that I have stored in my head washed away.

When I think about the crap that I have exposed my mind to over the years in the form of pictures, magazines, advertising, television, social media, other people’s ideas and beliefs etc, it’s no wonder there’s been confusion, fear, self-doubt and self-harm in response to it all.

When was the last time that you took a step back from the media and people that you surround yourself with so that you can take a good look at it from a different perspective? Is there toxicity and if so where?

If you read and follow the same media day in day out, do you notice that your beliefs and what you hold in the highest regard has started to emulate that?

I know I did, looking back, I have been so brain washed that I even started to take on dreams that were not even mine!

It took a lot of space in the form of meditation and detoxing my life to come back to my own reality, beliefs and actually listen to the voice inside my heart.

If you find yourself feeling full of society’s ideas about how you should look, what you should and shouldn’t eat, how you should move your body, wear your hair, dress/act/speak a certain way, NOW is the time to BREAK FREE because the bottom line is, you have been given this life and this time to be who you are on this planet and to express yourself not be a puppet of society.

Zain’s Brain Wash:

1. Step away from media.  This may be challenging I know but try it for a day. During that day, spend some time in nature and on your own.  

2. Meditate. This will help you to create the space you need from your own thoughts.  Observe your mind from a distance.

3. Journal. I mean, really get down and dirty. Write out your beliefs and what matters most to you.  Are you living those values daily? 

4. Take a look in the mirror, I mean really f’n look. Hard. What do you see?  Do you see your beauty or your imperfections? What are the judgements you have on yourself and where did they come from?

5. Are there any breaks that you can take from media permanently? Subscriptions to emails that you can unsubscribe from? Magazines that are no longer serving your higher self? 

6. Where do you feel most like yourself? During walks? Yoga? Can you spend more time doing those things and cultivating your true beliefs?  Is there a friend in your life who really helps you to see clearly, even thought their message may be challenging to hear?  Can you connect with this person?

Let’s get back to beautiful selves, shall we?

How Much Does The Mind Really Matter?

If my journey has taught me anything, it is that your thoughts can truly affect your potential to achieve your fitness and health goals.  We have all heard that demanding and self-defeating voice inside of our head that tells us ‘we can’t’ and more often than we like to admit, we listen.  

In my experience, I have allowed my mind to hinder me through self-compromising thoughts telling me that I will never lose the weight when I was heavy or that I would never be able to stop the vicious cycle of binge eating/restricting especially after a relapse.  

In my opinion, the most difficult thing in the journey to reach your ideal and optimal health and achieve the body that you want as well as your fitness goals is overcoming your own mind and using it to create positive beliefs.

If you stop to think about it, what are your beliefs about your body?  Do you believe that you can lose the weight? Do a pull-up? Run that 10km? Or do you doubt yourself?  

Do you compare yourself to others and wish that you had what they have rather than focusing on what you do have?  Do you believe that your genetics prevent you from being slim or that you can never have a nice round butt because you were born with a flat one?  Do you believe that certain foods or food groups are fattening or bad for you? Do you believe that you should never eat carbs because they will make you gain weight? 

I have been thinking about this and how it relates to my life and I wanted to share this example with you:

I am still somewhat afraid of certain foods, especially of cheats.  In my current program, I am able to enjoy a couple of planned cheats per week and although I have tried to enjoy them, I still have the guilt associated with the enjoyment of such treats and I know that this is something that will take time to overcome.  Somewhere deep inside of me, is the belief that if I eat the cheat meal that I will lose control or experience the same negative feelings that I have mentally attached to weight gain, especially since I am really happy with where I am at physically.  In short, I have created the belief, that that slice of pecan pie at the local pie shop will be enough to make a significant change in my body and so rather than enjoying it, I decide not to have it.  Because the belief has been created in my mind, the pie would probably affect me more than the next person. The truth is, the pie would do absolutely nothing to my body or to my weight or measurements except maybe for a day or so and I would return to normal after a couple days because of the fact that I eat clean and train regularly.  This way of thinking takes practice and I have been working on challenging my current mental state so that I am able to break through such barriers.

Alternatively, my fiancee, a fit man with a sculpted body who also trains and eats clean would enjoy the pecan pie wholeheartedly as he holds no belief that the pie would do anything to affect his body and therefore, it wouldn’t.

Check out this awesome article written by the gorgeous WBFF Bikini Pro Ali McClafferty.  I love this woman, she is one of my fitness role models and I find her articles to be filled with honesty and the richness of her experience.

We have all heard the phrase “Mind over Matter”, but how much does the mind really matter? I am not talking about going to the extremes of being able to walk over hot coals without flinching, but we do have to learn to push through pain and accomplish things when we do not think we can.

This concept can be applied to everyday circumstances, but when it comes to working out, eating healthy, and accomplishing goals, the mind matters quite a bit.

With any goal we set for ourselves, we have to be mentally tough to conquer them. This could be talking yourself into getting up early to workout or leaving that cookie alone, even though it’s calling your name and telling you to eat it.

When it comes to working out and staying in shape, you may have to be physically strong, but you need to be mentally stronger. More times than not, your mind will give up before your body does. Your will is your power. Having a strong will is crucial to get through your workouts and learn to push yourself beyond the point of giving up. The fatigue that you will feel or the pain of lactic acid rushing through your muscles will be unpleasant, but if you have no connection with your will, you will fail to push through. You must learn to be mentally energetic when your body is weak.

A good way to test your will power is to complete a task that you would consider “uncomfortable.” It is natural for our bodies to avoid doing things that we know will hurt or make us feel uncomfortable. One of the best ways to step out of your comfort zone is by getting into the gym and doing something to break out of that comfort zone. Your body will attempt to look for an escape route for what it sees as unnecessary pain it has to go through. This can even happen before you step foot into the gym.

The anticipation of knowing a workout will be hard, or physically exhausting, can trick the mind into thinking of several ways to come up with an excuse as to why you should skip the workout. We are in constant battle with our minds and we are our worst enemies. When we challenge ourselves to do something we are afraid of and we then succeed, we increase our confidence, which in turn, increases our mental toughness.

A great w ay to overcome this fearful situation or that situation that makes us feel uncomfortable is by practicing self-talk and positive thinking. There is a direct correlation between our every day lives and how we act in the gym.

Testing our limits, pushing ourselves beyond the comfort zone, and becoming mentally stronger can have a positive influence on every day activities and essentially, who we are or who we want to be.

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