Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Making New Years Resolutions a Reality

As 2009 is rapidly coming to an end and the New Year is approaching, the concept of a ‘new years resolution’ may be subtly (or not-so-subtly) nagging at the back of your mind. Why? Because New Year’s Resolutions are usually goals you make for yourself that you know will ‘be good for you’ but not particularly easy or enjoyable to achieve and maintain (if it were easy it wouldn’t really be worth making a resolution about right?).

One of the top New Years resolutions in North America deals with health and fitness; most of which fall into one or more of the following six categories:


·      Weight loss

·      Diet

·      Exercise

·      Physique/Body

·      Health

·      Fitness Level


Almost everyone struggles with or can improve in at least one of these areas (myself included)! It can be daunting to decide where to even begin picking a New Years resolution that is best for you – In fact, it is often easiest to just scrap it or pick something so easy it won’t be much of an accomplishment to reach it (this seems to be my approach in the past).


This year, I have decided to spend some time reflecting on my life this past year and choose something I believe will be a positive change for myself or for the lives of others, something I want to achieve. I know it must be challenging yet attainable and realistic.


I only have a few days left and promise to lock one down before the clock strikes midnight on New Years Eve. In truth , I believe that by sharing this, it will make my goal more ‘real’ and  hopefully you (whoever you are) will hold me to it!


In addition, I invite you to do the same: to make 2010 a new year, a better year and decide upon one thing you can change or improve in your life – and the hardest part: to share it here with me on this blog. I would love to hear your resolutions (and hopefully it will inspire me or someone else), you never know who you touch.

But if you do decide to post, I warn you not to be surprised if I check in with you for a progress report.


Happy Resoluting!

Saturday, December 19, 2009

7 Ways to Keep Fit over the Holidays

When it comes to the holiday season, everyone gets busier than usual, between Christmas shopping, baking, decorating, the onset of more social gatherings, holiday parties, and traveling, it is easy for your workout routine to suffer.

Unfortunately, the fact that the holidays also entail more drinking and eating than usual, it is a time one would think to be MORE important to keep up with one’s fitness regimen in order to keep ourselves from mirroring Santa Claus’ waistline or losing the fitness level we have built throughout the year.

Fortunately, with a little proactive planning, you can maintain your fitness level, no matter where you are or how busy you get. The key is to be creative and practice shorter but more intense workouts. Here are a few tips on how to keep in shape while you travel:

Do a "Condensed-but-Intense-Workout"

If you are familiar with my blog, you know that my entire philosophy revolves around the theory of ‘quality over quantity’ when it comes to working out. That being said, go ahead and customize your own 30 min workout.

For example, you may choose to warm up with 5 - 7 minutes of jumping jacks, running on the spot, vertical jumps, burpees or any other activity of your choice. Then combine three lower body exercises (eg. lunges, wall squats, one leg squats) and three upper body exercises (eg. chair dips, push-ups, running arms).Then finish up with some abdominal exercises, low back lifts and stretches.

Or, try one of my workouts throughout this blog, a couple I recommend include:

Get Up 30 Minutes Earlier

Our time over the holidays tends to be packed with family and friend events, shopping, baking, traveling etc. It is easy to get wrapped up in the day and not have time to squeeze in a workout. To defeat this, try getting up 30 minutes earlier, as difficult as it is, 30 minutes of sleep won’t kill you and the exercise in the morning will actually provide more energy throughout your day. Getting out of bed is the hardest part!Get Active in Airports

If flight delays leave you with extra time at the airport, take advantage of it. Store your luggage in an airport locker and take a brisk walk through the terminal or take a jog outside the airport.

Everything in Moderation

Rather than trying to stick to a diet over the holidays, go ahead and enjoy a little of your favorites. Dieting and depriving yourself makes for a miserable experiece and often leads to binging later on. Instead, have a snack such as an apple with peanut butter, or nuts and fruit, before your event or party so you don't arrive starving. Then choose 1 or 2 of your favorite indulgences and thoroughly enjoy them. This way you won't feel like you missed out but you also won't have overdone it.

Bring Tubes, Bands and More

Don't leave out fitness equipment when you’re packing for a trip. Bring fitness videos, sneakers, workout apparel, a bathing suit or other gear that you can fit in your bag. Inspirational memos from a trainer or a motivational CD could help you get moving. However, most people find keeping a picture of a piece of clothing they would like to wear and feel great in seems to work best.

Get a Jump Rope

Jumping rope is an incredible, efficient way to get in a few minutes of intense cardio exercise and it can be done just about anywhere. If you don’t have a jump rope, try climbing flights of stairs instead.
Here is an example jump rope workout to try:

Plan to Relax

Don't overdo it. Staying fit is important, but don’t lose sight of the real reason for the holidays; spending time with family and friends. If the idea of exercising over the holidays makes your stomach turn, then view this as your time to take a break from it – a week or two won’t kill you. Bottom line: the holidays is the one time of year you should truly enjoy.

Ease Back Into Your Routine

Depending on how much you worked out during your travel, you may need to gradually ease back into your old routine. You may want to consider using lighter weights or decrease the intensity or the duration of your workouts until you can return to pre-holiday conditions.

Cheers and Happy Holidays!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

The ’30-30’ Cycling Workout

This workout is perfect when you want an incredible workout that will breed quick results and produce that euphoric endorphin high – not to mention that the time will fly by (This is one of my favorite workouts: fast yet efficient).

Like my 30 min treadmill workout, it can be intense, but only YOU will have the power over just how intense it can be – so if nothing is stopping you, give it everything you’ve got!

 Where to do it?? I perform this workout on a stationary spin bike in a gym, or on the trainer I have put my road bike on at home. If biking isn’t your thing you could definitely do this work out on an elliptical machine or any of the cardio machines in the gym.

And for all those real ‘cyclists’ and ‘triathletes’ – this is an excellent training workout – I actually learned it from a good friend and world-class ironman - it will make you strong, fitter and faster.

The incredible aspect about ’30-30’s’ is that it only really entails 15 minute of ‘all-out’ hard effort – which sounds easy enough but it is the limited recovery and high intensity bursts that make it very challenging – similar to running the 200m dash 30 times with only 30 seconds of recovery. By the 20th repeat you will be feeling it – be strong and push through.

Resistance?? I recommend putting enough resistance on the bike so that your legs are NOT spinning out of control (anything from what feels like a flat road to a slight incline). You will likely have to add resistance on your sprints to keep from spinning out of control.

Modification: As mentioned above this workout is intense and is meant to be performed at a high level of exertion, that being said, if you don't quite feel at the level to handle the duration of the workout, it is better to shorten it (do less intervals) and maintain high intensity rather than skimp of the intervals and complete the whole time. If you are just beginning try 3-5 intervals, take a 5 min break of easy cycling and then repeat one more segment of 3-5 intervals.


5-7 Min Warm-Up

30 seconds ‘ON’ (Hard-Moderate- Hard Effort)

30 seconds ‘OFF’ (Recovery)

x 30 repeats

5-10 min Cool-Down

Definition of Exertion Levels:

Hard Moderate (HM): HR: 80%-90% of Max. Pace fast and a bit uncomfortable; breathing forceful. Improve anaerobic capacity and threshold, improved speed

Hard (H): HR: 90%-100% of Maximum Pace, a sprinting effort, unsustainable for long period of time;              labored breathing. Builds anaerobic and muscular endurance, increased power.

Recovery: Heart Rate (HR) comes back down. Perceived Exertion: Relaxed, getting your breathing                  back. Keep legs spinning but take speed and any resistance off the bike

Friday, December 4, 2009


This workout is one of the most efficient yet simple ways to push your fitness limits, blast calories and ultimately get into the shape of your life. The nature of this workout consists of high intensity intervals, which means it cannot be done every day.

Many people, especially fitness junkies and athletes, will finish this workout and feel the adrenaline, the endorphins and the results and think if they did it every day, they would get that much fitter (either that or they’ll never want to go through it again). However, this is not the case, the truth is, you cannot push your body to threshold everyday, doing so will lead to diminishing returns and likely burnout and/or injury.

The key is to constantly change up your workouts and keep your body guessing, so try to add this workout in 

once or twice a week as a substitute for your current workout.

The BIG MYTH people tend to fall into believing is that you need more than 30 minutes to get an incredible workout. The truth is, to sustain a longer workout, especially 50 min and over, you cannot perform with the same intensity you would in a shorter workout.                               

 – To get fitter and see big results you need to push yourself beyond your comfort zone – it’s okay to struggle, it makes you stronger!

I called this a treadmill workout because it is approaching winter and the convenience of a treadmill is very popular at this time of year, but this workout can also be done running outside or on an elliptical machine if you are injured and need a low impact substitute (I currently do most of my workouts on the elliptical, as a back injury has made me very sensitive to high impact running).

I am going to use a perceived scale of exertion rather than heart rate to indicate the level you should be at throughout the workout. Below are descriptions of each level:

Exertion Levels Defined

Easy (E): Heart Rate (HR) 50%-60% of max. Perceived Exertion: Relaxed, easy pace; rhythmic breathing. Beginning-level aerobic training; reduces stress, enjoyable

Easy Moderate (EM): HR: 60%-70% of Max. PE: Pace comfortable; slightly deeper breathing, conversation possible. Basic cardiovascular training; good recovery pace

Moderate/Tempo (M):HR: 70%-80% of Max. PE: Pace moderate; more difficult to       hold conversation. Improved aerobic capacity; optimal cardiovascular training

Hard Moderate (HM): HR: 80%-90% of Max. Pace fast and a bit uncomfortable; breathing forceful. Improved anaerobic capacity and threshold, improved speed.

Hard (H): HR: 90%-100% of Max. Pace a sprinting effort, unsustainable for long period of time; labored breathing. Anaerobic and muscular endurance, increased  power.


Warm Up - 1.5 miles or 10 min

Stage 1 - 3 x 2min Interval

Breakdown: 1 min moderate - 30 sec hard moderate – 30 moderate - 1 min recovery 

*Repeat x 3

 Steady State/Recovery – 2 min

Stage 2 - 30 Seconds On (Hard Moderate to Hard) – 30 Off  (Easy/ Recovery) x 5

The ’30 seconds on’ should be as fast as you can go in a controlled effort

Cool Down – 5 min 

STRETCH – I cannot stress the importance of cool down and stretching enough – I’ve learned the hard – please do so before AND after your workout.