Thinking Out Loud

A strength coach tries to get InstaFit: Which popular exercise program is more effective – Kayla Itsines Bikini Body Guide or the Tone It Up Challenge?

This year, I decided to spice up my regular strength training and running routine by trying a few exercise programs that seem to be popular with the Instagram crowd due to their impressive #transformationtuesday progress pictures and heavy focus on their respective social media communities: the Kayla Itsines Bikini Body Guide (#BBG) and the Tone It Up Bikini Challenge (#TIUChallenge).

Besides trying something new for fitness last year, I was curious to see if these Insta-popular exercise programs are actually safe and effective from a strength training, functional movement and body composition point of view, instead of just another way to burn extra calories.

**Warning! This post contains #Fitspo images (bikini bods, abs, butts, etc.), so maybe don’t read it on your work computer OR if you’re trying to avoid images like that.*** (more…)

My post-marathon recovery plan and why runners need a post-season

img_9901

In the pain cave at the 2016 VIctoria Marathon

So far I’m having a fairly typical post-marathon recovery.

My legs are incredibly sore and I’m walking like a zombie. The head cold I got just before my race is still kicking around (because I ran a marathon instead of resting like a normal person). My underarms are still sore and chafed, so I’m applying lotion liberally and not wearing scratchy sweaters. My marathon hanger has subsided, and I’m ensuring I take in lots of protein to aid in muscle repair and recovery. And as usual, I totally compromised my immune system by running hard and have the worst fever blister ever covering 75% of my nose and a bit of my chin. It’s so bad I actually had to work from home today — I look like quasimodo with my poor nose and shuffle-limp. I’m currently locked away in the bell tower hunched over my computer, only lumbering downstairs occasionally for tea and snacks. (more…)

{thinking out loud Thursday} The weirdest search terms that have led people to my blog this year

“Old man eating spaghetti painting”.

Why someone would need to look that up, I don’t know… but how that term led someone to my blog a few years ago is a real head-scratcher.

I love looking at analytics and finding out how people came across my blog. Not only do these insights help me understand where my readers are coming from, what they’re interested in and what questions they want answered, but also help me to optimize my posts so they’re a bit more discoverable on the interwebz.
Thinking-Out-Loud2

So honour of Thinking Out Loud Thursday, I thought it would be fun to share some of the weirdest search terms that have led people to my blog this year.

Before I get to the weird stuff, some of the most common search terms people have used this year that led them to my blog are anything to do with the FitBit: how it calculates calories burned, how it tracks your calories and if it’s accurate or not. That probably has something to do with this post, this post and this post (a new FitBit Charge HR 2 review will be coming soon!).

But sometimes, much to my delight, I get a totally random phrase show up in my site stats and wonder how in the world that term led someone to a blog about running, lifting and yoga. Most of the time I can figure out what post they stumbled upon, but sometimes… I just don’t know. So without further ado, here are some of the most unusual search terms that have led people to my blog this year and my response to whomever was looking for that kind of information. (more…)

Get back to basics with these delicious and simple after-school-snack inspired smoothie recipes

Get back to basics with these deliciously simple after-school snack inspired smoothie recipesEven though I’ve been out of post-secondary school for over six years now, I still get a sense of anxiety on Labour Day. I actually have to sit down and remind myself that I’m just going to work tomorrow at my regular old job, not spending thousands of dollars on textbooks I’ll never use again, missing the bus because it was too crowded and walking in late for my first class, and reviewing the course syllabus only to see a presentation on there worth 50 per cent of my grade (which pretty much means FAIL to someone who has a fear of public speaking).

Going back to grade school each September was no different. Summer was over, I didn’t know if my friends were in my class or not and if the teacher was going to be nice or mean, and I didn’t know if what I was wearing was considered “cool” or not until I saw what everyone else was wearing (so Nike sneakers and Adidas tear-away pants are out, and platform sandals and black flares are in? Okay then…).

Ugh — school was a stressful time for this overly anxious and introverted kid. (more…)

All diets and fitness programs are wrong. Some are useful.

All models are wrong, some are useful.If you’ve been entrenched in the health and fitness industry for awhile, either as a professional or as an enthusiast, you probably already know that there is no single diet or exercise program for everyone. Following a paleo diet and doing CrossFit might yield fantastic results for one person, but might not be the best program for another (even though said Paleo-CrossFitter might try to convince you otherwise).

Aside from external factors influencing our overall health and fitness level (such as proximity to a gym or rec center or outdoor parks; availability of fresh fruits and vegetables; finances to afford new running shoes or home gym equipment, etc.), us humans are privy to myriad intrinsic factors that can determine whether or not a diet or exercise program will give us the results we’re after. Intrinsic factors, such as genetics, hormones, physiology and movement patterns, past injuries and what generally floats our boats (I’d rather go for a trail run than attend a hip hop dance class, just sayin’), are unfortunately harder or completely impossible to change. And although I think we know we have to work with what we’ve got to become the best version of ourselves, we’re never quite satisfied with that and constantly play the comparison game, hoping to find that magical solution that will transform our bodies into the taught and toned fitness “celebrities” we see enjoying their #greensmoothies and admiring their #gainz in the mirror on Instagram.

I keep seeing everyone post about The Whole 30 Diet and the author of that book looks like a model, so I want to do it, too. That guy on Instagram who’s super jacked always posts pictures of Poptarts and ice cream and talks about IIFYM — I want to try that diet, too. That one blogger quit sugar and dropped a ton of weight, I’m going to quit sugar, too. Even though I’m marathon training and LOVE carbs, I’m going to cut them about because someone on Twitter raves about their high-fat, low-carb diet and how it’s great for running performance and I want to be a better distance runner, too. (more…)

The surprising reason why I haven’t been able to lose weight

The surprising reason why I haven’t been able to lose weightRemember when I signed up for the Tone It Up Bikini Series Challenge after the Phoenix Marathon in February, lost an inch or so, then gained it all back (and then some) a few weeks later?

I decided to do some research into why I’ve been struggling this time around to get down to my racing weight for the Goodlife Fitness Marathon in October, which I can usually do when I really put my mind and body to it. And although summertime BBQs, patio drinks and chips and salsa has contributed somewhat to my predicament, the surprising reason why I haven’t been able to lose weight comes down to approximately a handful of berries, a lick of peanut butter, and a couple more pieces of my daily dark chocolate quota (yes, I’ve started eating chocolate again – but not as much!) per day. So roughly 150-200 extra calories per day.

Those few extra nibbles a day (which I accounted for in MyFitness Pal) added up to a small weight gain and now maintenance, even though I’ve been in a small calorie deficit almost this entire time. Which wasn’t actually as much of a deficit as I thought, based on MyFitnessPal logging data from two years ago when I made a concentrated effort to lose weight. (more…)

What happens when your ‘after’ is worse than your ‘before’: a Tone It Up Bikini Series recap

If you follow my Instagram account, you probably noticed my #tiucheckins and #tiubootycalls for the Tone It Up Bikini Series Challenge lessened in frequency over the last few weeks.

I promise you I WAS doing the workouts (with a 5-10K run on the weekend and usually just chores on Saturday), but my nutrition was less than stellar over the past three weeks. You know that saying, “abs are made in the kitchen”… well, I want to know where this kitchen is that makes these abs, because that would be fantastic.

Delicious meal at Diner En Blanc!

Delicious French-inspired cuisine at Diner En Blanc!

All kidding aside, I struggled to find a balance these past few weeks. Usually I’m really good at eating well Monday to Thursday, living a little on Friday and Saturday, and returning to normal by Sunday. Maybe it was the onset of summer that triggered vacation mode and the desire to have chips, salsa and vino almost every night; the lovely patio we have in our backyard that just looks too inviting NOT to have family and friends over almost every weekend (hence more drinks and snacks); or all the events and activities we’ve been attending that involve even more drinks and snacks. (more…)

2016 goals update: Six-month check in!

2016 goals updateYou know you’re probably not on track with the goals you set out for yourself in January when you can’t even remember what they are.

Since we’re half way to 2017, I thought I’d review the goals I set out for myself earlier this year to see how much progress I’ve made, and whether or not I should revisit and revise my goals for the year. A lot actually changed in January after I set out these goals (moved in with Matt, started a new job, secured some consistent freelance, got a new puppy), so I’m not too upset by my progress so far… which is essentially nada.

Let’s have a look at those goals, shall we?

(more…)

Tone It Up Bikini Series 2016: Week 4 update (and what happened when I went off the nutrition plan this past weekend)

Week 4 RecapHappy almost Friday, friends! Sorry for the lack of blog posts and engagement lately — I’ve been trying to pack in more freelance articles (two more for AskMen.com!) during the week to keep my weekends free and clear for fun activities… like camping!

I doubled-down on my Tone It Up Bikini Series workouts this past week and took some measurements at the three week mark to see how I was doing. I definitely felt better and less bloated, but it was great to see a wee half-inch drop all around (except for the booty!) and the 4 lbs I gained livin’ it up at Disneyland and Vegas in February absent from the scale. To celebrate, I #ateallthethings when I went camping this past weekend and paid the price.  (more…)

Are you self-creating stress?

My happy place. I always make time to get out in nature with the dogs.

My happy place. I always make time to get out in nature with the dogs.

This week I’ve been thinking a lot about balance, and my constant struggle to find it. Especially right now, with the month of May being full of birthdays, camping, trips and other activities. My weekends are pretty much booked full for the next two months. Part of me is excited by all these fun things and experiences I get to be a part of, but the other part is wondering how I’m going to find the time to take care of general chores, tackle yard work, write blog posts, write my regular freelance articles, help my online fitness clients, work at my 9-5 job, and make time for family and self care.

According to the American Psychological Association, busyness is the reason why the majority of American’s have high stress levels that interferes with their health, and as author Scott Dannemiller points out in this Huffington Post piece, the majority of the stress we experience is brought on ourselves:

Dr. Michael Marmot, a British epidemiologist, has studied stress and its effects, and found the root causes to be two types of busyness. Though he doesn’t give them official names, he describes the most damaging as busyness without control, which primarily affects the poor. Their economic reality simply does not allow for downtime. They have to work two to three jobs to keep the family afloat. When you add kids to the mix, it becomes overwhelming, and the stress results in legitimate health problems.

The second type of busyness also results in health problems, but it is a sickness we bring on ourselves. Like voluntarily licking the door handle of a preschool bathroom or having a sweaty picnic in the Ball Pit at Chuck E. Cheese’s.

It’s busyness we control.

Self-created stress.

I definitely think I self-create the majority of my stress. (more…)

%d bloggers like this: