Monday, 29 April 2013

Childhood obesity

I am always baffled by those commercials that tell us our children need to get more exercise. Where little Timmy swims at the pool once a week and Mom is astonished to find out that he needs an hour of exercise each day to be healthy.

First of all, really? Are there really people out there who are unaware that children require physical activity in their daily lives in order to have a healthy lifestyle?

We all know that we as adults should be exercising a few times a week, and try to fit in those walks or runs or a couple of classes at the gym whenever we can. Have we forgotten somehow that this is not just for vanity? The point of exercise is not just to fit into that pair of skinny jeans or so we can wear the little cami without worrying about arm flap - it is for our health. An inactive lifestyle usually leads to being overweight or obese, which carries risks of very serious health problems, according to the Center for Disease Control - heart disease, stroke, respiratory disease, Type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure and cholesterol, even certain types of cancer and infertility. An active lifestyle decreases these risks - a minimum of only one hundred and fifty minutes a week for adults, according to the Canadian Society for Exercise Physiology, which can be broken down into bouts as short as ten minutes (that's right, walking the kids to school every morning counts!)

And kids need more exercise than we do - sixty minutes each and every day, with "screen time" (TV, computer, video games) limited to less than two hours and very little seated, sedentary time. Hanging out indoors and inactive is one obvious and easily avoidable activity, but don't forget that strapping your toddler into a stroller or carseat for hours is just as harmful. They need to be physically active for a minimum of a full hour a day to avoid the risks of obesity. Children who are overweight or obese are likely to be obese as adults - which means that they are at increased risk for all the same conditions and diseases as an overweight adult.

So when we let our kids play video games after school, then turn on the TV to keep them distracted while we make dinner, then throw on a movie before bed - even if we bring them to the arena for an hour of free skating on the weekend to burn off some energy - we are putting them at risk for heart disease and a shorter, less healthy life.

This should not be news to most people. And yet it seems to be.

Many children are not meeting their daily exercise requirements. And I don't understand how that can be.

In my experience, children are by nature very active little human beings. When I was a kid, playing meant being outside with my brother, climbing trees or riding bikes or swimming in the backyard or rollerblading through the neighbourhood. I played volleyball and baseball and ran track and cross-country. And I swam competitively from when I was six years old until the end of first year university (when things took a bit of a temporary downward spiral, healthy-lifestyle-wise). My brother played baseball his whole life, and still does as an adult. The notion of an inactive childhood is completely foreign to me. My own children are whirlwinds of activity - our days are filled with bike rides, walks, soccer at the park, and playing at the playground. Even on rainy days when we're stuck indoors it's Jedis and ninjas up and down the stairs and all over the house. And this is on top of the walks to and from school and two thirty-minute soccer-filled recesses at school every day, a family swim at the rec centre once or twice a week and their zillion or so soccer practices, baseball games, and swimming lessons each week. How can any kid possibly not get a mere sixty minutes of exercise each day? Simply by nature, kids are active.

I am completely baffled by the scale of the epidemic of childhood obesity - childhood obesity has more than tripled in the last thirty years, which makes me wonder, given children's naturally active natures: what on earth are we doing to our children?

If our kids are becoming increasingly obese as the years go by it has to somehow be our fault, as parents and as society in general. Kids inherently want to be active. They are growing and learning and filled with energy and curious about everything. Is it the preponderance of technology, the number of different video gaming systems and free online games that makes it so tempting for kids to spend hours on end parked on the couch? Is it our laziness as parents because it's so damn easy to turn on technology to entertain our kids while we get other things done? Is it the easy availability of fast food and ready-made, prepackaged, nutrient-free meals and snacks that we're buying and our kids are grabbing off the shelves out of sheer convenience?

I truly don't know.

My older kids love to play Wii. I let them. We are a very active family and I am not the least bit concerned about their activity level. But I do limit how long they can play, and how many days a week. They have a few TV shows they enjoy, and I let them watch those too. They are both very avid readers and enjoy curling up with a book. But, as I said, we are a very active family. I would guesstimate that my kids get, on average, four or five hours of higher than moderate intensity physical activity each day - often more. The boys have grown up involved in sports and coming to Mommy's work to watch and help teach exercise classes and have been taught about healthy foods and choices since they were toddlers. We are not concerned about inactivity in this household. I will admit to feeding them fast food, on occasion - maybe once a month or so. But for the most part, we eat fresh meat and produce and plan our meals according to Health Canada's Food Guide. I have spent my entire adult life working in fitness and nutrition and we follow a very healthy, balanced, nutrient-rich diet in this house - so I am not concerned about my kids' nutrition, either.

But I am deeply concerned about the alarming increase in childhood obesity in general and all that implies for the future - including the fact that for the first time in over two hundred years children are expected to have a shorter life expectancy than their parents thanks to obesity, which is expected to shorten average life span by as much as five years (more than cancer or heart disease!)

This is a terrifying decline in a society with so much scientific and medical knowledge and we need, as parents, to find a way to turn it around. Walk the kids to and from school. Play at the park for half an hour after school. Go for an evening walk through the neighbourhood when the weather allows. Register them for at least one sport each season. Skip the fast food restaurants, shop the outside of the store (fresh fruit and vegetables, milk and cheese, chicken and fish and beef) rather than the aisles, spend a few extra minutes planning meals for the week and preparing school lunches.

Kids playing soccer, kids in sportIf we as parents make a few minimal changes in how we feed and entertain our children we can see drastic improvements in their overall health and provide them with the tools to live long, happy, healthy lives. The alternative is too frightening to consider.


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Body image: what are we teaching our kids?

Body image.

This is such a tricky topic, particularly for young girls.

I'm a little out of my element here since I don't have daughters of my own (for which I am grateful, at least with regards to this issue). But, I am a girl myself (well, a grown-up girl) who spent my youth as an athlete and my entire adult life working in the fitness industry. I have struggled with body image all my life. Like most women, I have a very heightened awareness of my own physical appearance - but also like most women, I have lived enough of life now to be relatively comfortable with who I am in my own skin. Young girls are not there yet. For children, how they appear to others and how others judge them is of the utmost importance.

I was walking to the grocery store with my kids yesterday, not far behind a trio of young girls dawdling on their way home from school. They were young - it's hard to gauge how old they actually were, but I remember wondering if they were really old enough to be walking that far without an adult - maybe nine or ten years old.

These girls were having a conversation about diets. DIETS. The tallest and thinnest of the three was telling her friends how she eats only vegetables because fruit has so much sugar. Her friend said that fruit and vegetables are both ok as long as you don't have any carbs at all. (What kind of a nine-year-old knows what carbs are?) I couldn't believe it - these were little kids. When they passed a garbage can they stopped and one of the girls emptied the contents of her lunchbag into it. I almost cried. (I don't know how much, if any, of the lunch was eaten - I thought it might seem a little creepy if I stopped to peer over her shoulder as we  passed by.)

When I was nine years old, I was still playing with Barbie dolls. I was climbing trees and bike riding with my brother, I curled up with the family to watch the Sunday night Disney movie with a big bowl of popcorn every week. My favourite food was roast beef with gravy. I played every sport there was. I was not concerned with calories or carbs - I didn't even know what they were - or whether I was thin enough.

What kind of a world are we living in when little children are worried about dieting and getting thin?

I do feel slightly hypocritical saying this. I have been known to obsess about my weight, and I definitely have not always chosen the healthiest ways to get thin. When I quit competitive swimming in high school and gained some weight, I lost it by dieting and running obsessively; I loathe running, hate it with a passion, but it's always been the most effective way for me to change my body quickly. I used to sneak out of my house at night after everyone was asleep to go for runs without my parents knowing. To get rid of the Frosh Fifteen  (which, for me, came on in my second year of university because I swam varsity during first year) I just stopped eating and lied to everyone who asked. For a trip to Acapulco the next year I wanted to be even thinner so I stopped eating again. When the Atkins diet became a big thing a dozen years ago or so, I was in heaven - I've always been a protein girl, and this was the perfect fit for me. Carbs became the devil, and I was thin.

Having kids a few years later was obviously hard on the body. I'm one of those people that gains a lot of weight when I'm pregnant - it's not that I'm pigging out on chocolate cake three times a day, I actually still eat quite well when I'm pregnant - it's genetics. I gained sixty pounds with each of my first two pregnancies. Fortunately (again, thanks to genetics) I tend to lose most of my pregnancy weight with very little effort, but after having babies number one and two so close together my body was unrecognizable. That's the one thing that sucks about breastfeeding - you can't diet. But the moment baby number two was weaned at eighteen months, I stopped eating again and started intense two-hour workouts every night after I put the kids to bed. I went from a size eight-almost-ten down to a size two in less than three months. My parents kept asking if I was healthy, my brothers told me I looked tired, my girlfriends told me I looked terrible. I thought I looked fabulous. I could have been wrong.

The worst part is that I am a health and fitness professional. I work in the fitness industry, I own a fitness management company, I'm a certified exercise physiologist, personal trainer and fitness instructor and am qualified to give nutritional advice. People pay me to help them get healthy and fit.

Sort of a "do as I say, not as I do" kind of thing, I suppose.

But almost every one of my girlfriends has been the same way at some point or another in their lives. We've all just accepted being unhappy with our bodies as a normal part of being a woman - but it should not be a normal part of being a child.

Although it's been a long time since I've done any "extreme dieting," I'm not entirely certain I'd make the very best role model for a daughter, as concerned as young girls seem to be with body image these days - not to say that boys aren't affected by these same perceptions, but certainly to a lesser degree. I take better care of myself now that I'm in my thirties and I'm smarter about healthy eating and exercise. But I'm sure that at some point if I have a wedding or New Year's party to attend and I want to look fantastic, I might push the diet. And I've probably dropped the odd "I have nothing to wear, I look fat in everything" comment without thinking. So I'm very grateful I have sons (and the world of other issues that go along with boys), but it breaks my heart that for the very few short years that kids are actually kids, little girls who should be playing make-believe princess already have to worry about real-life grown-up women neuroses.



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Friday, 26 April 2013

Organic eating - our growing garden


growing vegetables, growing organic food
Our family eats a lot in the way of fruit and vegetables, and we do our best to eat organic as much as we can. Healthy eating and a healthy lifestyle are an important part of our family lifestyle. Last year, for the first time, we planted our own vegetable garden - there's no better way to ensure your produce is fresh and organic than growing and harvesting it yourself!


Last year's vegetable garden was only moderately successful for a variety of reasons - we planted too late in the spring, we didn't put enough good soil down, and we didn't take the time to learn about what we were planting and how it would grow (see So we're basically farmers) - but it was still pretty amazing when the veggies started to ripen and every evening a part of our meal was something we'd grown ourselves and picked fresh that day.

This year we have high hopes for our vegetable garden.

Planting from seed, vegetable gardenAs soon as the frost left the ground we started preparing the garden. We added a stone retaining wall in order to build the garden higher with layers and layers of gardening soil and mulch and the nutrient-rich homemade compost that has been one of my husband's pet projects since last summer. We started growing most of our herbs and vegetables from seed back in the winter months, dozens of teeny-tiny yogurt containers filled with soil and seed lined up along the sunny kitchen windowsills behind the California shutters, our own little improvised greenhouse. And finally, last weekend, the first long weekend and official kick-off of summer, we planted.


gardengrowing in pots, basil, herbs
All the pampered little tomatoes and peppers moved from their cozy little pots in the window to the carefully prepared soil in the new vegetable beds. We filled the rest of the garden in with seeds for some of the faster growing veggies. The strawberry plants, which we thought died last summer when the squash overtook the whole corner of the garden but somehow sprang back this spring, were replanted into a sheltered corner of the garden and we bought a couple of fruit trees to balance out our "crops." The herbs and leafy greens were planted in pots on our sunny deck to protect them from the neighbourhood bunny who we're pretty sure would view them as a buffet if we kept them in the garden. And now we water and wait!

This year we have tomatoes, cucumbers, eggplant and peppers; pears, apples and strawberries; basil, cilantro, green onions and a variety of lettuces. This year, we planned it out and planted it right. This year, there's no reason we shouldn't be able to eat organic produce from our own garden every single day - and nothing tastes better than food you've grown yourself!

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Wednesday, 24 April 2013

Working out with baby

"I just don't have the time" is not an excuse.

Everyone has the time. There's no need to go to a gym, sign up for classes, buy expensive equipment or make a big deal out of it. Everyone can spare one hour a day to work out. No matter what your reponsibilities - whether you are a working single professional or a stay-at-home mom - you can find an hour a day.

If you don't have the responsibility of children, there's no excuse whatsoever. Even if you work twelve hours a day, there's plenty of time to fit in a little exercise. Half an hour's walk or jog before work or after dinner and taking the stairs instead of the elevator will take care of your cardio - you don't have to buy a fancy elliptical machine or treadmill for the basement or register for a ten-week aerobics class or pay for a gym membership, pack a bag and drive across town to get in a bit of a workout. If it's pouring rain, forego the walk and pop in a Pilates DVD instead of channel surfing for half an hour before bed.

Ideally, hire a personal trainer to put you on a program and tell them what you're looking for - a trainer can assess your fitness level, teach you the exercises you need to do, and give you a program you can follow at home on your own with minimal equipment other than some inexpensive hand weights or resistance bands and your own body. This can be done for a relatively affordable one-time fee and in only a few visits.

If you're a mom - working or not - there simply isn't the luxury of a few hours' free time. But that still doesn't excuse you from working out while you're mommying. A baby or toddler can be strapped into a stroller for a walk. Bigger kids are always clamouring to go for a bike ride - lace up your running shoes and walk or jog alongside them. Maybe you genuinely don't have the "alone time" to devote to an exercise video or the program your trainer has put you on. If your children are literally on top of you twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week...incorporate them in your workout.

My older kids love working out with me. They used to come with me to work when they were younger and had a day off school to "help" me teach Body Sculpt, Stretch & Tone, and Aquafit classes. I do my workout at home as if it was a class and they do all the exercises right along with me, laughing the whole time - for kids, exercise isn't work or a task to be completed. For kids, exercise is fun. As adults, we should try to have the same attitude. Why not just crank some of your favourite tunes and have a dance party with the kids?

If you have a baby or toddler, you can still incorporate him into your exercise routine. If your cardio has already been taken care of with a brisk stroller walk through the neighbourhood or a twenty-minute dance party in the living room, it doesn't take a lot of time out of each day to fit in some strength and toning exercises to get your body back into tight, toned, pre-baby shape.

Here are a few simple suggestions for incorporating Baby into your workout:

(Make sure your movements are careful and controlled and make sure you're holding Baby tight!)

20 calf raises holding Baby on your left hip
20 calf raises holding Baby on your right hip
10 squats holding Baby to your chest
10 lunges per leg holding Baby to your chest
10 leg lifts (straighten legs seated in chair) holding Baby sitting on your knees
10 standing overarm raises (arms down at hips to up at eye level) holding Baby with straight arms
10 standing torso twists (feet planted, turn left to right & back) holding Baby with straight arms
20 abdominal crunches, holding Baby sitting on lower abdominal area
10 chest presses (lying on back, hold Baby at chest, lift & lower)
Repeat whole set.

Obviously, these are just some suggestions; and obviously, these exercises don't cover every single muscle group in the body. But it's a start! Try pulling out the yoga mat and lying down for some leg work or abdominal work - an infant will laugh watching you, and an active baby or toddler will lie down to try to copy your moves. The free weights or resistance bands may have to wait until Baby is napping or asleep for the night, but you only need to find another ten or fifteen minutes three times a week to take care of those muscle groups you can't otherwise isolate to work when Baby's all on top of you.

No matter how busy or hectic your life, your job, your family, your schedule, you can find the time. There's simply no excuse for not working out - even a high-maintenance baby.

(Not intended as advice; always consult a health professional before beginning any exercise program.)


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Monday, 22 April 2013

Fit Mom Week Five

Fit Mom Day 30

Last day of 30-day Fit Mom Challenge.
Summary:
Feel way better.
Husband has noticed cut arms & toned legs.
Ass is perkier.
Jeans fit better. No muffin top in any garments currently own.
Fit into skinnier clothes held onto for unknown reason through last fat phase.
Not, however, as tight or toned as would have liked.
Have not been as disciplined as would have liked.
Overall verdict: 70%-ish success.
Plan to continue food journaling (for self, will not bore readers with diet in future) as have found useful tool - easier to avoid handfuls of chocolate or random scoops of kids' food as clearing plates (keeps inexplicably appearing in house) when know have to account for later.
MUST CONTINUE WORKING OUT. Must do better job of it. Must get back to pre-baby hot bod.
But successful month, overall.

Food Journal:
Breakfast:
  • 1 orange
  • Greek yogurt (100g) w/handful blueberries
Lunch:
  • 4 slices cheese
  • 1 cup spinach salad w/tomatoes & olive oil
Dinner:
  • grilled tuna w/lemon
  • 1 cup cucumber & black olive salad
Snacks & Beverages:
  • 1 banana w/peanut butter
  • one million cups water & black coffee
Workout:

90 min. walking
30 min. jogging (hate but end of challenge - going out with bang)

Circuit:
5x4 flights stairs
30 sec jump rope
30 sec lunge leaps
30 sec burpees

Chest: (w/8lb weights)
Push-ups - 20 reps
Arc lift – 12 reps
Chest Press – 12 reps
Windmill – 12 reps
Rear press – 12 reps
(Repeat set of all 5 exercises x3)


Fit Mom Day 29



Not feeling so hot today. Not sick, just way overtired (both older sons tag teamed wake-ups during night, requiring snuggles, water, tucking in, etc; Baby chose not to sleep at all; trying to function on perhaps two non-consecutive hours' sleep) and generally ugh. Will push through workout, but will not be anything crazy intense or spectacular finish had intended for last few days of challenge.

Food Journal:
Breakfast:
  • 1 grapefruit
  • 3 slices cheese
Lunch:
  • 4 spoonfuls of son's mac&cheese (hard to resist when feeling ugh.)
  • 2 cups spinach salad w/tomatoes & onions
Dinner:
  • grilled chicken
  • mixed greens salad w/tomatoes & cucumbers

Snacks & Beverages:
  • 1 banana
  • handful baby carrots
  • lots of water & black coffee

Workout:

60 min. walking
45 min. Stretch & Tone class

Legs & buns:
Hamstring curls - 20 reps each leg
Hamstring extension curls - 20 reps each leg
Straight-leg squeeze - 20 reps each leg
(Repeat set of all 3 exercises x3)
Back: (w/ 8lb weights)
Upright fly squeeze – 12 reps
Standing rear fly – 12 reps
Upright windmill - 12 reps
(Repeat set of all 3 exercises x4)
Abs: (w/8lb weights)
Crunches – 20 reps
Cross crunches – 20 reps each side
In & out crunch – 40 reps alternating
Extension criss-cross – 40 reps alternating
Oblique crunch - 20 reps each side
Lower ab lift - 20 reps
(Repeat set of all 6 exercises x3)


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Friday, 19 April 2013

Fit Mom Week Four

Fit Mom Day 28

Long, lovely day outside playing with the kids & doing backbreaking physical labour in the yard - did not leave a lot of energy for workout. HOWEVER, wore shorts haven't been able to fit into since before last pregnancy. Consider HUGE victory!

Food Journal:
Breakfast:
  • juice of: 1 grapefruit, 1 orange, 1 lemon, handful spinach
Lunch:
  • 1/4 chicken quesadilla (whole wheat wrap, grilled chicken, tomatoes & onions)
Dinner:
  • grilled chicken breast
  • mashed potatoes (screw it. weekend. hungry. deserve after hauling large stones around all afternoon.) 
  • grilled eggplant
Snacks & Beverages:
  • 1 glass skim milk
  • 1 stalk celery
  • handful green grapes
  • 2 black coffees
  • one million glasses water
Workout:

30 minutes walking

Legs & buns:
Lunges - 20 reps each leg
Squats - 20 reps
Plie squat - 20 reps
Calf raises - 40 reps
(Repeat set of all 4 exercises x3)
Arms & shoulders: (w/5lb weights)
Dead shoulder lift – 20 reps alt single arms, 12 reps double arms
Bicep curl – 20 reps alt single arms, 12 reps double arms
Side shoulder lift – 12 reps
Shoulder press – 12 reps
Tricep press - 12 reps
(Repeat set of all 5 exercises x3)



Fit Mom Day 27

Rest day, cheat day.

Fit Mom Day 26

Food Journal:
Breakfast:
  • juice of: 1 grapefruit, 1 orange, 1 lemon, handful spinach, slice ginger root
Lunch:
  • 1/4 grilled chicken breast
  • 1 cup mixed greens salad w/oil & vinegar
Dinner:
  • 2 beers...(forgot to eat solids...Friday night...hanging out with my man...)

Snacks & Beverages:
  • 4 slices cheese
  • 1 apple
  • lots of water & black coffee
Workout:

60 minutes walking
30 minutes jogging (ugh.)

Legs & buns:
Hamstring curls - 20 reps each leg
Hamstring extension curls - 20 reps each leg
Straight-leg squeeze - 20 reps each leg
(Repeat set of all 3 exercises x3)
Chest: (w/8lb weights)
Push-ups - 20 reps
Arc lift – 12 reps
Chest Press – 12 reps
Windmill – 12 reps
Rear press – 12 reps
(Repeat set of all 5 exercises x3)
Abs:
Crunches w/20lb weight 4x20

Fit Mom Day 25

Food Journal:
Breakfast:
  • 1 banana
  • 3 slices cheese
Lunch:
  • 6 slices cucumber, 6 baby carrots, 1/2 tomato
Dinner:
  • 1/4 cup whole wheat pasta w/tuna, tomatoes & onions
Snacks & Beverages:
  • 3 strawberries
  • lots of water & black coffee
Workout:
90 minutes walking
45 minutes swimming

Legs & buns:
Lunges - 20 reps each leg
Squats - 20 reps
Plie squat - 20 reps
Calf raises - 40 reps
(Repeat set of all 4 exercises x3)
Arms & shoulders: (w/5lb weights)
Dead shoulder lift – 20 reps alt single arms, 12 reps double arms
Bicep curl – 20 reps alt single arms, 12 reps double arms
Side shoulder lift – 12 reps
Shoulder press – 12 reps
Tricep press - 12 reps
(Repeat set of all 5 exercises x3)
Abs:
Crunches – 20 reps
Cross crunches – 20 reps each side
In & out crunch – 40 reps alternating
Extension criss-cross – 40 reps alternating
Oblique crunch - 20 reps each side
Lower ab lift - 20 reps
(Repeat set of all 6 exercises x3)

Fit Mom Day 24

Food Journal:
Breakfast:
  • 1 grapefruit
  • 1 slice flax bread w/3 slices cheese
Lunch:
  • 2 cups spinach & grilled chicken salad
  • 1/2 tomato
Dinner:
  • butternut squash soup (Wonderful husband made from scratch last night. Delish. Love him. Not solely for skills in kitchen, but at least in part.)
  • 1/2 chicken breast w/ lemon & herbs
Snacks & Beverages:
  • 1 orange
  • 2 glasses skim milk
  • lots of water & black coffee
Workout:

60 minutes walking

45 minutes Bodysculpt class

Legs & buns: (w/ resistance bands)
Straight leg lifts - 20 reps
Straight leg circles - 20 reps
Tap-tap leg lifts - 20 reps
In & out leg lifts - 20 rep
Scoop lifts - 20 reps
Bent leg lifts - 20 reps
Inner thigh lifts - 40 reps
(Repeat whole set of 7 exercises x 3)


4x15 push-ups
4x25 abdominal crunches


Fit Mom Day 23


Ran yesterday. Running sucks. Ow. But feel better. Working harder.

Food Journal:
Breakfast:
  • juice of: 1 grapefruit, 1 orange, 1/2 lemon, handful spinach
  • 3 slices cheese
Lunch:
  • 1 stalk celery w/peanut butter
Dinner:
  • baked chicken breast w/lemon
  • 1/2 cup green beans w/ red & green peppers
Snacks & Beverages:
  • 8 vegetable crackers
  • lots of water & black coffee
Workout:

60 minutes walking
45 minutes Stretch & Tone class

Circuit:
4 x 4 flights stairs
30 sec high-knee stationary jog
30 sec stationary "power skate"
15 tricep dips
25 abdominal crunches
Complete circuit x4


Fit Mom Day 22

Heading into home stretch of 30-day challenge. See & feel results, but not enough effort put in thus far. Must step up workout intensity, be more disciplined with diet. Therefore - am going for run tonight. Cannot overemphasize how intensely I dislike running. (Sigh.)

Food Journal:
Breakfast:
  • 100g Greek yogurt w/handful blueberries
Lunch:
  • 1/2 beef & tomato sandwich (1 slice flax bread, 1/4 portion leftover steak, 2 slices tomato, spinach, 1tsp. sour cream)
Dinner:
  • grilled chicken w/lemon & olive oil
  • 1 cup mixed greens salad w/ tomatoes & cheese
Snacks & Beverages:
  • 1 grapefruit
  • lots of water & black coffee
Workout:

60 minutes walking
30 minutes jogging

Legs & buns:
Lunges - 20 reps each leg
Squats - 20 reps
Plie squat - 20 reps
Calf raises - 40 reps
(Repeat set of all 4 exercises x3)
Arms & shoulders: (w/5lb weights)
Dead shoulder lift – 20 reps alt single arms, 12 reps double arms
Bicep curl – 20 reps alt single arms, 12 reps double arms
Side shoulder lift – 12 reps
Shoulder press – 12 reps
Tricep press - 12 reps
(Repeat set of all 5 exercises x3)
Abs:
Crunches – 20 reps
Cross crunches – 20 reps each side
In & out crunch – 40 reps alternating
Extension criss-cross – 40 reps alternating
Oblique crunch - 20 reps each side
Lower ab lift - 20 reps
(Repeat set of all 6 exercises x3)


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Wednesday, 17 April 2013

Fit Mom Week Three

Fit Mom Day 21

Does hauling zillion-pound stone pavers & bags of gravel around all day count as weight training? If so, can skip workout. Feel like that's cheating, however. (For that matter, does chasing three little boys around all day every day count as cardio? Hmmm...)

Food Journal:
Breakfast:
  • juice of: 2 oranges, 1 lemon, 1/4 cantaloupe, handful spinach
  • 100g Greek yogurt w/ handful blueberries
Lunch:
  • 1 slice flax bread w/3 slices cheese
  • 1 cup spinach salad (w/tomatoes & feta)
Dinner:
  • steak
  • 2 cups mixed greens salad w/olive oil & vinegar
Snacks & Beverages:
  • 1 stalk celery w/1 tbsp. peanut butter
  • 1 glass skim milk
  • lots of water & black coffee
Workout:

60 min. walking
45 min. Pilates class

15 tricep dips
20 push-ups
25 crunches
(repeat set of all 3 exercises x4)

Fit Mom Day 20

Every other Saturday has been rest & cheat day. May as well remain consistent.

Fit Mom Day 19

Plateauing. Hate that. Have to push through. Ugh.

Food Journal:
Breakfast:
  • 1 grapefruit, 6 strawberries
Lunch:
  • green leaf & spinach salad w/ cucumber & olive oil
  • 4 slices cheese
Dinner:
  • 1 chicken fajita (whole wheat wrap, 1/4 cup grilled chicken, spinach, tomato, salsa, cheese)
Snacks & Beverages:
  • 1 orange
  • 1 glass skim milk
  • 2 beers (Friday.)
  • 1 million cups water & black coffee
Workout:

60 min. walking
30 min. rollerblading

Legs & buns: (w/ resistance bands)
Straight leg lifts - 20 reps
Straight leg circles - 20 reps
Tap-tap leg lifts - 20 reps
In & out leg lifts - 20 rep
Scoop lifts - 20 reps
Bent leg lifts - 20 reps
Inner thigh lifts - 40 reps
(Repeat whole set of 7 exercises x 3)

Tricep dips 4x15 reps

Fit Mom Day 18

Suspect may have developed tapeworm. Not really, obviously, but am starving and completely without willpower. WANT ALL THE FOOD. Can't figure it out. Want to eat everything in house. Annoying.

Food Journal:
Breakfast:
  • 1 slice flax toast w/1 tbsp. peanut butter
  • 6 strawberries
Lunch:
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 stalk celery, 6 slices cucumber, 6 baby carrots
Dinner:
  • spaghetti (whole wheat pasta, 2 tbsp. salsa, sauteed tomatoes & onions & green peppers for sauce)

Snacks / Beverages:
  • 1 banana
  • 2 chocolate chip cookies (have you ever baked fresh cookies & not had one? Impossible.)
  • 2 glasses skim milk
  • lots of water & black coffee
Workout:

60 minutes walking

Legs & buns:
Lunges - 20 reps each leg
Squats - 20 reps
Plie squat - 20 reps
Calf raises - 40 reps
(Repeat set of all 4 exercises x3)
Arms & shoulders: (w/5lb weights)
Dead shoulder lift – 20 reps alt single arms, 12 reps double arms
Bicep curl – 20 reps alt single arms, 12 reps double arms
Side shoulder lift – 12 reps
Shoulder press – 12 reps
Tricep press - 12 reps
(Repeat set of all 5 exercises x3)
Chest: (w/8lb weights)
Arc lift – 12 reps
Chest Press – 12 reps
Windmill – 12 reps
Rear press – 12 reps
Push-ups - 12 reps
(Repeat set of all 5 exercises x3)
Abs:
Crunches – 20 reps
Cross crunches – 20 reps each side
In & out crunch – 40 reps alternating
Extension criss-cross – 40 reps alternating
Oblique crunch - 20 reps each side
Lower ab lift - 20 reps
(Repeat set of all 6 exercises x3)


Fit Mom Day 17

Food Journal:
Breakfast:
  • 1 cup Cheerios w/skim milk & strawberries
Lunch:
  • 2 cups spinach salad w/ cucumbers, tomatoes, onions, feta & pine nuts
Dinner:
  • grilled salmon w/salsa
  • green beans
Snacks & Beverages:
  • 1 orange
  • 15g raisins
  • 1 glass skim milk
  • lots of water and black coffee
Workout:

90 minutes walking

Circuit:
10 sets stairs (4 flights)
30 sec w/jump rope
20 tricep dips
20 abdominal crunches
20 push-ups
Repeat whole circuit x4

Fit Mom Day 16

Absurdly unmotivated today. Ugh.

Food Journal:
Breakfast:
  • 1 grapefruit
  • 15g raisins
Lunch:
  • whole wheat wrap w/cucumber, tomato, spinach, salsa, tiny bit of cheese
Dinner:
  • teeny-tiny 1/2 cup roast beef baked pie rest of family had countless servings of and appeared to enjoy immensely (shaved roast beef, roasted potatoes, carrots, green beans, onions, pine nuts)
  • 2 cups spinach & swiss chard salad (w/olive oil & mustard seed)
Snacks & Beverages:
  • 2 mini chocolate eggs
  • 1 glass skim milk
  • endless amounts of water & black coffee

Workout:
60 min. walking
45 min. Pilates class

4x20 hamstring extension curls
4x20 hamstring curls
4x20 straight leg squeeze
4x20 mid-glute bent leg lifts
4x20 push-ups

Fit Mom Day 15

Beautiful spring weather had envisioned working out in has finally arrived (somewhat late). Plan to take advantage by spending entire day walking with Baby. Should try to do something outdoorsy this evening, too - possibly bike ride or rollerblade?
Finally feeling like workouts starting to pay off - jeans fitting slightly looser, arms somewhat more toned. Bearing no resemblance to old fit self yet, obviously, but heading in right direction. Nothing worse than feeling of working toward something w/ no visible results.

Food Journal:
Breakfast:
  • breakfast juice (juice of: 1 grapefruit, 1 orange, 1/2 lemon, 1/2 carrot, handful spinach & kale)
Lunch:
  • (nothing - forgot to eat, enjoying sunshine)
Dinner:
  • 1 chicken fajita (whole wheat wrap, 1/4 cup grilled chicken w/lettuce, tomato, green pepper, salsa, cheese)
Snacks & Beverages:
  • 1 apple
  • 2 glasses skim milk
  • lots of water & black coffee
Workout:

90 min. walking
30 min. rollerblading

Legs & buns:
Diagonal lunges 4x20 each leg
Squats 4x20 reps
Calf raises 4x25 reps w/10lb weights
Arms & shoulders: (w/6lb weights)
Dead shoulder lift – 16 reps alt single arms, 8 reps double arms
Bicep curl – 16 reps alt single arms, 8 reps double arms
Side shoulder lift – 12 reps
Shoulder press – 12 reps
Tricep press - 12 reps
(Repeat set of all 5 exercises x4)
Back: (w/ 6lb weights)
Upright fly squeeze – 12 reps
Standing rear fly – 12 reps
Upright windmill - 12 reps
(Repeat set of all 3 exercises x4)


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Monday, 15 April 2013

Fit Mom Week Two

Fit Mom Day 14

Food Journal:

Breakfast:
  • scrambled eggs w/spinach & feta
Lunch:
  • tuna w/tomatoes
Dinner:
  • roast beef
  • roasted carrots & onions w/kale
Snacks & Beverages:
  • 1 banana
  • 3 mini chocolate eggs
  • 2 glasses skim milk
  • oodles of water and black coffee
Workout:

60 min. walking
45 min. Stretch & Tone class

4x25 crunches on exercise ball
4x20 crossover crunches (each side) on exercise ball
4x25 lower ab lifts on exercise ball

Fit Mom Day 13

Ow. Calling rest day. May as well make cheat day, too. Get all bad habits over at once.

Fit Mom Day 12

Hit the pool tonight for a swim alone. Not with children. No lessons, no parent-and-tot, no public swim w/pool noodles & inflatables flailing about and screaming children packed shoulder-to-shoulder and my own three dangling off me. Alone. For lane swim. For first time in perhaps a decade. Tried workout like would have done back in the day (swam competitively for fourteen years). Slightly over-ambitious, perhaps - made it halfway through. But felt fabulous being back in water. Will try to make habit of this.

Food Journal:
Breakfast:
  • 1 cup mixed berries (blueberries, blackberries, raspberries) w/15g rasins
  • 1 slice whole grain flax bread 
Lunch:
  • 2 cups chicken salad (1/2 sliced chicken breast, green leaf lettuce, tomato, cucumber, flax seed)
Dinner:
  • 20 shrimp, 6 slices cucumber, 6 slices tomato, 2 slices cheese
Snacks & Beverages:
  • 1 grapefruit
  • 2 glasses skim milk
  • lots of water & black coffee
  • 2 beers (It's Friday, shut up.)

Workout:

60 min. walking
45 min. swimming

Legs & buns:
Straight leg lifts - 20 reps
Straight leg circle lifts - 20 reps
Tap-tap leg lifts - 20 reps
In & out leg lifts - 20 reps
Bent leg lifts - 20 reps
Scoop lifts - 20 reps
Inner thigh lifts - 20 reps
(Repeat set of all 7 exercises x3 each side)

Calf raises 4x25 reps
Push-ups 4x20 reps
Tricep dips 4x20 reps


Fit Mom Day 11

Food Journal:
Breakfast:
  • 1/2 cup cottage cheese, 1/2 cup mixed blueberries, raspberries, strawberries
Lunch:
  • 2 cups spinach salad w/1 tbsp each rasins, chick peas, cucumber, baby tomatoes, olive oil
Dinner:
  • roasted chicken
  • roasted potatoes & beets
Snacks & Beverages:
  • lots of water & black coffee (Learned after several days of forgetting to buy coffee that no coffee in am results in headache & body shakes. That's normal, right?)

Workout:

90 min. walking
45 min. Aquafit class


Arms & shoulders: (w/5lb weights)
Dead shoulder lift – 16 reps alt single arms, 8 reps double arms
Bicep curl – 16 reps alt single arms, 8 reps double arms
Side shoulder lift – 12 reps
Shoulder press – 12 reps
Tricep press - 12 reps
(Repeat set of all 5 exercises x3)
Chest: (w/8lb weights)
Arc lift – 12 reps
Chest Press – 12 reps
Windmill – 12 reps
Rear press – 12 reps
Push-ups - 12 reps
(Repeat set of all 5 exercises x3)
Abs:
Crunches – 20 reps
Cross crunches – 20 reps each side
In & out crunch – 40 reps alternating
Extension criss-cross – 40 reps alternating
Oblique crunch - 20 reps each side
Lower ab lift - 20 reps
(Repeat set of all 6 exercises x3)
Legs & buns:
Lunges - 12 reps each leg
Squats - 20 reps
Plie squat - 20 reps
Calf raises - 20 reps
(Repeat set of all 4 exercises x3)

Fit Mom Day 10

Quads in agony. No exaggeration. Agony. Feels fabulous. Also, getting to point where feeling good about workouts inside, feel like should be starting to look better outside; am not, in fact, starting to look better at all. Annoying.
Incidentally, still sick.

Food Journal:
Breakfast:
  • juice of: 1 grapefruit, 1/2 orange, 1/2 lemon, 1/2 cup blueberries & blackberries, slice ginger root
Lunch:
  • spinach plate (mounds of spinach, 1/2 cup chick peas, 1/2 cup cottage cheese)
Dinner:
  • grilled tuna
  • tomatoes
Workout:

60 min. walking
45 min. Bodysculpt class (w/ resistance bands)

Legs & buns:
Straight leg lifts - 20 reps
Straight leg circle lifts - 20 reps
Tap-tap leg lifts - 20 reps
In & out leg lifts - 20 reps
Bent leg lifts - 20 reps
Scoop lifts - 20 reps
Inner thigh lifts - 20 reps
(Repeat set of all 7 exercises x3 each side)
Calf raises 4x20 reps

Fit Mom Day 9

Food Journal:
Breakfast:
  • 1 banana w/1 tbsp. peanut butter
Lunch:
  • whole wheat wrap w/ lettuce, tomato, cucumber, cheese, salsa
Dinner:
  • grilled salmon w/ lemon & pepper
  • grilled eggplant, squash & tomatoes
Snacks & Beverages:
  • 2 mini chocolate eggs (but medicinal as quads in agony from noble effort at exercising)
  • 1 grapefruit
  • lots of water & green tea

Workout:

60 min. walking

Circuit:
4 flights stairs
60 sec. jump rope
30 sec. lunge back / cross reach
30 sec. extension "jog" in plank position
15 push-ups
(8x through circuit; 5 min. break; repeat 8x through circuit)


Fit Mom Day 8

Food Journal
Breakfast:
  • 1 Greek yogurt (100g) w/1 tbsp bran
  • 1 slice whole grain flax toast
Lunch:
  • breakfast juice (juice of: 1 grapefruit, 1 orange, 1/2 lemon, 1/2 carrot, handful spinach, slice ginger root)
  • 4 slices cheese
Dinner:
  • 1 cup quinoa bake (w/chick peas, tomato, onion & herbs)
  • 2 cups salad (lettuce, spinach, cucumber, tomato, oil & vinegar)
Snacks & Beverages:
  • 2 cups green tea (forgot to buy more coffee)
  • ridiculous amounts of water; some with lemon
Workout

60 min. walking
30 min. kickboxing class

Arms & shoulders: (w/5lb weights)
Dead shoulder lift – 16 reps alt single arms, 8 reps double arms
Bicep curl – 16 reps alt single arms, 8 reps double arms
Side shoulder lift – 12 reps
Shoulder press – 12 reps
Tricep press - 12 reps
(Repeat set of all 5 exercises x3)
Back: (w/ 5lb weights)
Upright fly squeeze – 12 reps
Standing rear fly – 12 reps
Upright windmill - 12 reps
(Repeat set of all 3 exercises x3)
Abs: (on exercise ball)
Crunches – 20 reps
Cross crunches – 20 reps each side
Lower ab leg lift - 20 reps each side
(Repeat set of all 6 exercises x3)
Legs & buns:
Lunges - 12 reps each leg
Squats - 20 reps
Plie squat - 20 reps
Calf raises - 20 reps
(Repeat set of all 4 exercises x3)


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Friday, 12 April 2013

Fit Mom Week One

Fit Mom Day 7

Back at it. Feeling very gross and bloated, overweight and unattractive altogether. Going to have to start jogging as soon as cold passes and able to breathe again as jogging is only thing that works quickly to make me feel less ugh. Note: I hate jogging more than anything else in the universe.

Food Journal:
Breakfast:
  • egg white omelette w/ ham & onions
Lunch:
  • 6 cucumber slices, 6 baby tomatoes, 6 slices cheese, 6 vegetable crackers
  • 2 cup fruit salad (1 apple, 1 grapefruit, 1 orange, handful each strawberries & blueberries)
Dinner:
  • grilled boneless skinless chicken breast w/ lemon
  • 1 cup orzo salad (orzo, black olives, cucumber, tomato, feta, olive oil)
Snacks & Beverages:
  • 2 chocolate eggs (Putting all chocolate in house in freezer. Hopefully will help w/ temptation.)
  • 2 glasses skim milk
  • 2 cups green tea (Out of coffee. Humph. Tea is not coffee.)
  • one million glasses water
Workout:

45 min. Pilates

Abs:
Crunches - 20 reps
Cross crunches - 20 reps each side
In & out crunch - 40 reps alternating
Extension criss-cross - 40 reps alternating
Oblique crunch - 20 reps each side
Lower ab lift - 20 reps
(Repeat set of all 6 exercises x3)

4sets x 20reps push-ups
4sets x 20reps tricep dips
4 sets x 20 reps calf raises

Fit Mom Day 6

Calling today diet cheat day as family over for lunch and there are absurd amounts of rich food about the house and much alcohol flowing. May as well also make this rest day as useless to work out when feeling full, bloated and buzzed.

Fit Mom Day 5

Quite sore. Quite pleased about that, but good muscle soreness mingling with achy soreness of fever so hard to gauge effectiveness of workouts. Abs in agony with every coughing fit, so Pilates and abdominal exercises doing something, at least.

Food Journal:
Breakfast:
  • 1 Greek yogurt (100g) w/ handful blueberries & strawberries & 1tsp. bran
Lunch:
  • eggplant, cucumber, tomato, onion & spinach wrap (whole wheat wrap, no dressing)
  • 2 slices cheese
Dinner:
  • grilled herbed chicken
  • 2 cups salad (lettuce, cucumber, tomato, onion, feta cheese; drizzle extra virgin olive oil)
  • getting better at avoiding rest of family's dinner carb (rotating menu of potatoes, pasta, rice, bread: 3 growing boys w/ bottomless pits of stomachs)
Snacks / Beverages:
  • 3 mini chocolate eggs (having family over for lunch tomorrow - plan to force much of leftover chocolate on niece & nephews)
  • 1 orange
  • lots of water & black coffee
Workout:

45 min. Bodysculpt class (w/ resistance bands)
60 min. walking

Legs & buns:
Lunges - 12 reps each leg
Squats - 20 reps
Plie squats - 20 reps
Calf raises - 20 reps
(Repeat set of all 4 exercises x3)
Hamstring curls - 20 reps each leg
Hamstring extension curls - 20 reps each leg
Straight-leg squeeze - 20 reps each leg
Push-ups (not legs, but happen to be in right position) - 12 reps
(Repeat set of all 4 exercises x3)
Upper body:
Tricep dips - 3 x 12 reps
Abdominal crunches w/8 lb weights - 4 x 25 reps

Fit Mom Day 4

Spent most of morning feeling nauseous; reminded how wonderful a weight-loss tool the flu can be. Rallied self enough by afternoon to kill a workout. Feeling the Pilates from yesterday, pleased about that. Thursday traditionally at-home "date night" with husband; would really like glass of wine or two, but refraining. Rather pissy about it, though.

Food Journal:
Breakfast:
  • 2 cups green tea (foregoing coffee & food as balancing on fine line between nauseous & actually spending day with head down toilet)
Lunch:
  • chicken, cucumber, tomato & spinach wrap (whole wheat wrap; no dressing)
Dinner:
  • grilled lemon & herb salmon 
  • roasted tomatoes
  • grilled eggplant (family had rice as well; felt all smug because hate rice & thus did not feel like missing out)
Snacks & Beverages:
  • 1 grapefruit
  • 2 slices cheese
  • 2 glasses skim milk
  • water with lemon
Workout:

30 min. Stretch & Tone class
60 min. walking

Arms & shoulders: (w/5lb weights)
Dead shoulder lift – 16 reps alt single arms, 8 reps double arms
Bicep curl – 16 reps alt single arms, 8 reps double arms
Side shoulder lift – 12 reps
Shoulder press – 12 reps
Rear shoulder pull / tricep kickbacks - 12 reps each arm
(Repeat set of all 5 exercises x3)
Back: (w/ 5lb weights)
Upright fly squeeze – 12 reps
Standing rear fly – 12 reps
Upright windmill - 12 reps
(Repeat set of all 3 exercises x3)
Abs:
Crunches – 20 reps
Cross crunches – 20 reps each side
In & out crunch – 40 reps alternating
Extension criss-cross – 40 reps alternating
Oblique crunch - 20 reps each side
Lower ab lift - 20 reps
(Repeat set of all 6 exercises x3)
Legs & buns:
Straight leg lifts – 20 reps
Straight leg circle lifts – 20 reps
Tap-tap leg lifts – 20 reps
In & out leg lifts – 20 reps
Bent leg lifts – 20 reps
Scoop lifts – 20 reps
Inner thigh lifts – 20 reps
(Repeat set of all 7 exercises x3 each side)

Fit Mom Day 3

Really had big plans for this health / fitness challenge. Saw beginning of new healthy active lifestyle as natural extension of end of winter hibernation. Envisioned lots of energy, ambition, etc. as freshly back from relaxing & rejuvenating family vacation. Pictured warm, sunny spring weather, lots of outdoor activities with kids, bike rides through neighbourhood, long hikes through ravine watching nature begin to bloom, birds chirping overhead, etc. Instead, am sick, tired and achy and it's snowing in April.

Food Journal:
Breakfast:
  • 1 Greek yogurt (100g) w/ handful strawberries
  • 1 hard-boiled egg
Lunch:
  • grilled chicken salad (leftover chicken, tomato, onion from last night's fajitas w/ romaine lettuce; no dressing)
Dinner:
  • 1/2 cup whole wheat pasta w/ diced tomato (rest of family had same pasta w/ meatballs, hearty marinara & parmesan. And garlic bread. And creamy caesar salad. Grr.)
Snacks / Beverages:
  • 1 banana
  • 1 stalk celery w/ 1 tbsp. peanut butter
  • 2 glasses skim milk
  • one million black coffees 
  • one million litres water
Workout:

60 min. Pilates class
60 min. walking

Fit Mom Day 2

Still sick, but fever's gone so manageable - look and sound like crap, but feeling much less walking dead so workout seems manageable. Also, older two kids back to school so can get Baby to work out with me. Baby loves to work out with Mommy. There's nothing quite like doing push-ups with a wriggly 26-pound kid clinging to one's back.

Food Journal
Breakfast:
  • 1 bowl bran cereal w/skim milk & handful blueberries
Lunch:
  • 4 slices cheese, 4 slices cucumber, 4 slices tomato, 8 wheat & vegetable crackers
  • 1 hard-boiled egg
  • lunch juice (juice of: 2 beets, 2 carrots, 1 stalk celery, slice ginger root)
Dinner:
  • chicken fajita (whole wheat wrap, 1/4 cup chicken, 1/4 cup lettuce, 2 tbsp. tomatoes & onions, 2 tbsp. salsa, 2tbsp. full fat sour cream (fuck off)
Snacks & Beverages:
  • 1/2 apple w/ 1 tbsp. peanut butter
  • 2 mini chocolate eggs (am showing remarkable restraint as counter is literally covered with chocolate) 
  • 2 glasses skim milk
  • lots & lots of black coffee (incidentally, Baby calls coffee "Mommy juice" - smart kid)
  • lots & lots of water (I can't possibly keep track. But if you don't drink at least 8 glasses, make sure you do. More is better. I probably drink 80.)
Workout

60 min. walking

Arms & shoulders: (w/5lb weights)
Dead shoulder lift – 16 reps alt single arms, 8 reps double arms
Bicep curl – 16 reps alt single arms, 8 reps double arms
Side shoulder lift – 12 reps
Shoulder press – 12 reps
Tricep press - 12 reps
(Repeat set of all 5 exercises x3)
Chest: (w/8lb weights)
Arc lift – 12 reps
Chest Press – 12 reps
Windmill – 12 reps
Rear press – 12 reps
(Repeat set of all 4 exercises x3)
Abs:
Crunches – 20 reps
Cross crunches – 20 reps each side
In & out crunch – 40 reps alternating
Extension criss-cross – 40 reps alternating
Oblique crunch - 20 reps each side
Lower ab lift - 20 reps
(Repeat set of all 6 exercises x3)
Legs & buns:
Lunges - 12 reps each leg
Squats - 20 reps
Plie squat - 20 reps
Calf raises - 20 reps
(Repeat set of all 4 exercises x3)
Hamstring curls - 20 reps each leg
Hamstring extension curls - 20 reps each leg
Straight-leg squeeze - 20 reps each leg
Push-ups (not legs, but happen to be in right position) - 12 reps
(Repeat set of all 4 exercises x3)

Fit Mom Day 1

60 min. walking.

That's it. Nothing else. Too bloody sick. Should probably have waited until healthier to start, but have been planning this for a while to start April 1st. Meh.


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Wednesday, 3 April 2013

Fit Mom Challenge!

Ok girls, summer's coming - let's get in shape!

There was a time when I had a smoking hot body. Not just when I was young, not just when I was single and child-free. My body has never been better than after I had my first two children. By the time my second son was a year old, I was a size four (UK sizing - American size two), fit and healthy with toned shoulders and arms, a visible six-pack, strong legs and an ass I actually didn't hate. At almost thirty, a single mother of two, I was in better shape than I was in my teens and twenties. And I was healthy - fit and strong and full of energy, I felt absolutely fabulous.

Now? Not so much.

Since the birth of my youngest son a year and a half ago I've just sort of coasted along, taking periodic half-assed stabs at working out and dieting and meaning to get back into shape sometime...but sometime hasn't really happened yet. I'm disgusted with and disappointed in myself. As a fitness professional, as someone who has spent my entire life living and working in sport and fitness in one respect or another, I can and should be doing better.

So here we go! I'm designating April as Fit Mom Month and I invite you all to join me in my 30-Day Challenge to get our bodies back.

Every day I'll post my workout, other activities, and diet / food journal. I don't have a gym membership, so my working out will be done at home with the resources I have here - hand weights ranging from four to eight pounds, resistance bands, a yoga mat, and my own knowledge as a fitness professional - or in the great outdoors or at the local pool. As someone who has been teaching fitness classes for the last eighteen years, I'm lucky enough to be able to do a kickboxing or pilates or bodysculpt class for myself rather than having to go to a gym or buy a video. But I'm a firm believer - and I tell all my clients the same - that you don't need an expensive gym membership or fancy equipment to get a good workout.

As a personal trainer, I'm treating myself as a client for the next thirty days and designing a program for myself - at home - based on my own body type, fitness level, health and needs. I can't post universal advice, since diet and exercise are not something that can be applied to everyone universally. A personal program needs to be based on individual needs which require a health and fitness assessment - your fitness level, your health history, your caloric needs, your body type, and dozens of other factors - which is why a personal trainer is so important (not a plug, just a fact!) So unless you happen to have my exact same body type, fitness level, medical history, etc. this exact program may not work for you. But, understanding that this program is not intended as advice but rather ideas and guidelines to be adapted for yourself and your own abilities and interests, I hope many of you can join me in this challenge - and I look forward to hearing about your successes and challenges as well!


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Monday, 1 April 2013

Fit Mom

It is so hard to get back into shape after Baby comes along. And it is so easy to use Baby as an excuse to just give up. But I firmly believe that one of the most important things you can do for yourself as a new mom is to try to get your body back. It may seem shallow. It may seem like vanity. But the benefits are enormous - for both yourself and your baby.

We all know that we should exercise and eat well for the sake of our health. But there are so many more reasons beyond a healthy lifestyle. We feel better about ourselves when we know we look good. We're happier, we stand taller, we smile more, we put more effort into how we dress, have more energy for our kids and feel sexier for our husbands. It's hard to feel good about how we look when we haven't showered or slept, we're carrying twenty extra pounds, our boobs are sagging and leaky, and none of our clothes fit properly so we resort to spit-up covered sweats.

It's almost easier to just give up, to say "well, I'm a mom now" and decide that physical appearance is no longer a priority. But it should be, and not just for the sake of vanity. If we feel like we look good, we are happier - and being happy is everything. We are better people, better parents, and better spouses when we are happy. No-one's asking you to fit back into those size four jeans you wore in high school, or to have the exact same body you had before baby came along. But it's an easily attainable goal to try to lose the extra pounds that crept on while you were pregnant and during those first few months of healing and nursing and basking in the love of your new little one. It's realistic to get back to the pre-baby weight when you were more comfortable in your shape and body size, whatever size that may have been.

The Canadian Society for Exercise Physiology recommends one hundred and fifty minutes a week of exercise, which can be broken down into bouts as short as ten minutes each. That's not hard to incorporate into a busy schedule, nor does it need to mean an expensive gym membership - walking the kids to and from school, taking the stairs instead of the elevator at work, strapping baby into the stroller for a brisk walk through the neighbourhood, a night-time jog or bike ride with a girlfriend a couple of times a week. We should also eat well, both for the sake of our health and to maintain a healthy body image. "Dieting" is not necessary - a few basic lifestyle changes and simple meal and grocery planning while following the Canada Food Guide can ensure a healthy diet.

Weight loss - rather than simply maintaining a healthy weight and lifestyle - does require more. A little bit more. It doesn't need to be a lot more. A little more attention paid to what you're putting in your mouth - just a few less calories each day - and a little more physical activity every day will translate to those pregnancy pounds dropping away. Yes, it takes some effort at first - any life change does. But it's all about scheduling exercise into your life in a way it works for you and the lifestyle you already lead. And once you get in the habit of walking the kids to and from school every day instead of loading up the minivan, taking a half-hour walk with the stroller before baby's afternoon nap, bringing the kids to the public pool for a family swim once a week and popping in a Pilates video in the basement the night your husband's favourite show is on, it won't feel like effort.

Getting started on any fitness program is always the hardest part. Getting started on a fitness program as a new mom is even harder. But if you ever want to feel like a human being again, like a smart sexy woman instead of a shlumpy mommy, you have to take that step. Once you take that first step it gets easier and easier to lead a fit lifestyle instead of a lazy one.

Call a girlfriend and agree to meet once a week for a night-time power walk through the neighbourhood after the kids are in bed. Look up the public swim and skate schedules at the local community centre and plan a family outing once a week. Start taking the stairs instead of the elevator. Figure out what kind of exercise you enjoy - jogging, biking, yoga, pilates - and strap on the sneakers or roll out the mat once the kids go to sleep. Commit to doing something just twice a week to start - at least thirty minutes of dedicated time for moderate to high intensity exercise. After a few weeks of just a few changes you will feel so much better - you'll feel less tired and have more energy, you'll be able to keep up with your kids, you'll feel those muscles you forgot lived just under the squishy bits of flesh in your midsection, you'll look a little tighter and more toned in your jeans - and nothing is better motivation for a fitness program than seeing results.

Make a meal plan for the week so that you're not scrambling at the last minute and tempted to pick up fast food or prepackaged meals. Shop the outside of the grocery store - fresh fruits & vegetables, meat and poultry and fish, milk and cheese and yogurt, whole grains. Avoid the aisles if you can - that's where all the high-fat, high-calorie, high-carbohydrate, high-sodium, artificially preserved prepackaged foods live in boxes and cans. If you don't buy it, it won't be in the pantry; if it's not in the pantry, you won't be tempted to eat it. Keep fresh veggies pre-cut in water in the fridge for a quick grab-and-go snack - baby carrots, baby tomatoes, cucumber & celery slices - rather than prepackaged "convenience" food. Make these few changes and not only will you find those last few baby pounds dropping off, but you will feel healthier and have more energy - and the entire family will reap the benefits of eating healthier.

Give yourself permission to care about your body. Commit to half an hour of activity every day - even just moving, not necessarily exercising; walking the kids to school, kicking the ball around in the park - and make two of those half-hours a session of planned exercise that you enjoy. Pay attention to what you put in your mouth - plan your meals, cook at home, and keep only fresh foods in the house. After only a few lifestyle changes you will notice enormous results - you'll feel less tired, despite still being up half the night with the kids; you'll have more energy to play with the kids and, well, play with the husband; and you'll feel so much better about the way you look and feel - and be well on your way toward a healthy, fit, happier life. It is possible to be a mom and still be fit - and hot.


(Not intended as advice; consult a health professional before beginning any diet or exercise program.)


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