Posts Tagged ‘Physical exercise’

My coach

My coach

We all know that having a great exercise partner can mean the difference between success and failure. But why not turn your BFF into a fool-proof exercise companion?

I am going to try to train Cadie to do this. I think she’d really like it, and it would be a great way to burn some extra energy on days when we can’t get out.

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"Tai-chi" exercises being perfoemed ...

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I’ve designated August as a gripe-free month. As I said yesterday, I’ve struggled and wallowed, and now I’m done. I really just want to focus on being happy, or at least not being sulky. Last November I was following a blogger in South Dakota who was also feeling blue. She decided to dedicate every Tuesday post in November to the things for which she was thankful. I know the holiday is still months away, but a good idea is a good idea. I’ve decided to dedicate all of my posts this month to the things I love, and for which I am thankful. Today I am going to write about my love of BodyFlow.

If you’ve never been to a Bodyflow class you don’t know what you’re missing. It’s an hour-long, relaxing love-in type of exercise class. We start out with some Tai Chi, then move into sun salutations, standing strength and balance exercises. Then into Pilates for the core. Coming back to Tai Chi and ending with a short meditation.

It’s the perfect combination of stress relief, physical exertion, focus and relaxation. I was really hesitant to try it. I argued that doing Tai Chi, Yoga and Pilates was a waste of time. I don’t need to tone, I need to push hard and sweat a lot. I thought that was the only way I was going to reach my goals. But I tried it out on whim, and fell completely in love with it, and ended up getting a great workout in the process.

It’s fantastic to go in on a Tuesday night (Tuesday is the worst day of the week) and visualize my stress turning into a little ball of negative energy and then picture myself throwing it over my head and as far away from me as humanly possible. Then I take a deep breath and do it  all again.

I’ve also come to the conclusion that I love Yoga. I now have favourite poses (swan, crocodile) , and I have even been complimented on my form for my warrior two. Who knew I was such a graceful warrior?

I love taking a break from dog care and allergies on a Saturday afternoon to think about…well…nothing. I take the time to just focus on the movement  and my breathing and enjoy a fabulous exercise class.

So, today I am going to take time to enjoy and be thankful for my Tuesdays and Saturdays in Bodyflow.

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In the Netherlands, bicycles are freely availa...

This is where I'm used to riding (Image via Wikipedia)

My coworker and I were coming out of Body Pump last Thursday, when I finally admitted it…I don’t like step class. I’m completely uncoordinated and I live in fear that I will take a tumble off that board (I may be overstating it, but this really is a serious concern). Aside from the fear is the knowledge that I just don’t like that class. I have no trouble eliminating it from my weekly routine. This means that I need to find a new class for Tuesday night.

After talking to a friend I’d really like to find a Body Flow class. It’s a combination of ballet and yoga, plus it’s supposed to offer a guided relaxation at that end of class, so I think that would be a nice addition to my weekly schedule.

We both talked about adding a spinning class to our routines. I love bike riding, and I thought that I would like to try the spinning class. See, I measure success in sweat, and I thought that spinning class would be a good way to sweat a little. I tried talking my coworker into going with me one Saturday morning, but it’s a long way for her to come, and she reminded me that this whole experience is about pushing myself beyond my comfort zone…so that’s what I did.

I took Cadie out for a nice hike early Saturday morning, so that I’d be back in time to get to Spin Class at 10:30.

I got there nice and early, I got a lot of help from some really nice women who came over and helped me adjust my seat and my handle bars, then class began. I was pedaling, and feeling really proud of myself for being able to keep up. But man! my legs were killing me, and that seat. No one should have to sit on that seat. Though, in retrospect, I don’t know that “coming out of the saddle” as the instructor put it, was really any better.

I made the mistake of checking out the clock after 3 or 4…maybe 5 sections, honestly, I lost track. The point is, that in checking out the clock I realized 2 things:

1) I had already been pedaling for 30 minutes

2) I had another 30 minutes to go.


This is when I decided that I would stop trying to keep up; instead, I would just try to keep my feet moving. I figured that just finishing the time was enough of an accomplishment for a first class, right? So that’s what I did: I just kept my feet moving, and I could feel the wheels getting heavier underneath me. At one point my toe slipped and I stopped pedaling. You have no idea how much effort I needed to get my foot back in the straps and push forward. That’s when I made my second big mistake–I looked at the clock again. I still had 20 minutes to go.

Doubt flooded my mind, and the words “I can’t do it, I can’t do it” seemed to be on a loop in my mind. I slowed the bike down again, and started debating with myself about how best to leave this very small room without looking (feeling) like a quitter. Then something miraculous happened. The instructor said “it’s time for the stretch” Ha! I made it, if only by accident.

It was probably the most intense workout I’ve ever  had. I can still feel it in my knees (a side effect of not having the bike adjusted properly) but it was a good workout. I’m going to try it a couple more times to decide if I like it, but I would say the first time was a success.

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A diet rich in soy and whey protein, found in ...

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I haven’t posted on Village on a Diet in some time. That’s because I emailed the CBC to complain about their residency restrictions, and I was waiting until I heard from them. The CBC never responded to my email. Jerks! So, I apologize to be writing about a show even though many of you can’t see it. Because of this, I want to recap the developments over the last few episodes.

Participants are starting to form bonds, and see some progress. However, it isn’t all good news, and many are struggling to keep going despite seeing no change, or worse, seeing their weight increase. A professional chef brought participants a truck full of free groceries, and then made house calls to try to teach each resident individually to use the ingredients in the bags. This sounds like a dream to me, but he was met with a lot of opposition from residents who are not really prepared to make major changes to their diets.

One of the more shocking moments was the chef’s visit to the local pizzeria, where he ordered the restaurant’s most popular pizza Meat, Meat and More Meat. It was sickening to look at, and the chef couldn’t disguise his revulsion. It was several layers of meat and cheese (I would be more specific, but in all honesty I lost track of the layers as they were going on). The chef challenged the pizza maker to try making a lower-calorie pizza with less meat, a crisper crust and more vegetables. Despite being skeptical at first the pizza maker soon became an artist, as she learned how to make a healthier pizza, and promised to add it to the menu as a regular item. However, upon following up it became obvious that the healthier pizza is not part of the menu. An ugly exchange took place between the chef and the pizzaria owner, and, just this week, she left town.

One of the biggest challenges for the participants over the last few weeks has been managing their expectations and dealing with disappointment in constructive ways.

I have been doing some reading about the show, and thinking critically about my reaction to it. One television critic expressed her dislike of it, indicating that she found it reinforced negative gender stereotypes, and that it built on the same old formula that every other show about weight loss has ever used. Finally she slammed the show for implying that the only thing necessary to lose weight was to eat less and exercise more.

In particular, she was critical that the women seemed to be motivated by the conventional beauty myth, (i.e. refusing to get married until the dream dress fits). I see her point, but really, there are certain limitations that have to be contended with when making a documentary-style television show. If the participant is motivated to lose weight so that she can wear her dream dress, shouldn’t she be able to say so. Besides, one of the most emotional moments was seeing this same woman 4 weeks later, wearing a dress 4 sizes smaller than the one from the beginning of the experiment.

Now for the critique that the show mistakenly shows that losing weight is simply a matter of eating less and moving more. I don’t really know  how to answer that critique, since, to the best of my knowledge, that is the only way to lose weight. Simple instructions, that mask a lot of hard work. I think that’s what we see in recent episodes: residents trying to cope with the reality that implementing these simple actions into their daily lives, undoing their old habits, and forming new ones, will be one of the hardest things they’ve ever done. That being said, the rewards are big, and I’m definitely pulling for them to see this through to the end.

What are your thoughts, do you think that any television show or documentary can accurately protray the struggle to lose or maintain a healthy body weight and lifestyle?

In other news, international friends, as I said I did email the CBC to complian about the residency restriction on their website, and I will let you know if I ever hear from them.

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Icon from Nuvola icon theme for KDE 3.x.

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Last week the new Health Canada (Canadian version of the FDA) released their updated fitness guidelines. The biggest change is to the requirement for children, and oddly enough, the guidelines call for a reduction to their physical activity requirements. Previous guidelines called for 90 minutes of physical activity a day for children; the new guidelines call for 60 minutes. Adults require 150 minutes a week of physical activity, and no meandering through stores either: we need cardiovascular exercise and resistance training; in other words, the heart needs to be pumping. 

While some people, including Olympian Silken Laumann, have slammed the changes to the guidelines as being too watered down to help combat childhood obesity, Health Canada officials defend the changes on the grounds that lower expectations will encourage more people to get active.

What do you think? Are you more willing to try to meet the lower physical activity goals or is this just watering down the message? Also, do you think the goals are worth promoting even if they are too low, according to research, to have an optimum benefit for those looking to lose weight or maintain a healthy body weight? Or is making any progress at all in the battle against a sedentary lifestyle enough?

Finally, how do you stack up: are you getting your 150 minutes a week? If you have kids are they getting their 60 minutes day? How easy/difficult would it be for them to get 90 minutes a day? I tabulated all of my physical activity per week, and so far it looks like I’m doing pretty good.

Step Class: 60 mins (Tues)
Body Pump: 60 Mins (Thurs)
Skating (3x): 90 Mins (Mon/Wed/Fri)

Total =             210 mins/week

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I don't know how much more of this I can take!?!

Since it seems that the entire northern hemisphere is snowed in, rather than stew about how inconvenient the weather’s been–how it’s kept me from getting to my cardio classes, and causes me untold stress at work–I’ve decided to dedicate a day to celebrating ways to enjoy the snow, and getting fit at the same time. After all, winter’s only just beginning.

Equipment: good boots, warm clothes.

Benefits: walking in the snow is a good way to up the ante on your walk workout. The snow provides extra resistance, so a 20 minute walk at a good pace will feel more like a 40 minute walk. I took Cadie to the park on Saturday to walk in the deep snow. She loved it, and the dog who usually needs 2 hours of exercise was ready for a nap after only an hour. Plus, the temperature is usually warmer when it snows, so it’s the perfect time to get outside and enjoy the scenery.

Street view

As you can see my super takes good care of the building; she usually has us all dug out before 6:30 am. Still you can see the street just beyond the sidewalk; it’s not a good day for a drive, but it is a good day to go snowshoeing.

Equipment: regular boots, snowshoes, warm clothes.

If you are looking for an exercise that will really work your legs you should think about snowshoeing. The idea behind snowshoeing is that the large surface of the racquets sinks only a little, compared to the projectile shape of the foot, that will sink right through loose snow. That’s important to remember, because what it means is that snowshoeing works best on fresh, deep snow. One of my favourite memories of Cadie as a puppy was a cold winter day when she and I went snowshoeing together on the beach. She trotted along ahead of me, and I struggled to keep my feet straight, and underneath me.

The snow may not be deep enough yet for snowshoes

The real exercise comes in trying to maintain your balance, so it’s good for your thighs, butt and core, plus it’s a lot of fun to watch people fall into the snow.

Hide and Seek with the dog
Equipment boots: warm clothes, dog toy

This is a great hiding place for a dog toy

Most dogs love snow, and it’s a good way to burn a lot of energy outside the house. Cadie and I discovered Saturday that hiding her tennis ball in the snow made for an exciting tracking game. It was great; she got to use a lot of little-used natural dog skills, like sniffing, digging and barking. The combination of physical exercise combined with mental exertion tired her out super quickly, and she had a lot of fun at the same time.

This picture isn’t going on the internet is it?


Equipment: boots, warm clothes, toboggan, hill, tight, packed snow
Hiking back and forth up a hill while carrying a toboggan offers fairly obvious exercise opportunities, but they are coupled with the thrill of going down the hill. Tobogganing is a lot of fun, and no one is ever too old to enjoy it.
Equipment: nylon socks, warm clothes, skates, ice

Skating is a great activity; the only problem is that, when using an outdoor rink, you can’t skate during or right after a blizzard, when the weather is warmest, and the scenery most beautiful. Still, skating is a good, low-impact workout, and a great way to catch up with friends while staying active.

Of course there are more activities you can do, this is just a sample, and I tried to focus on activities that people can do almost anywhere. Don’t worry if you look a little silly, no one looks good during a blizzard. The most important thing to remember is that a relaxing thawing out routine is essential to enjoying winter weather. Mine involves a cup of hot chocolate and a quick nap under a warm blanket.


Are my paws dry yet?

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Step Aerobics Class at a Gym Category:Step aer...

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I’ve had no trouble adding Step Class to my routine; I discovered that the gym closest to my office runs a Step Class at 4:30, which is perfect timing for me (lots of time to get there and get changed, but I’m still home to walk the dog by 6).

The problem I’m having is keeping Body Pump in my routine. It’s not that I don’t like the Body Pump, or that I’m looking for excuses not to go to class, it’s just that things always seem to come up on Thursdays. Last week I had to do some banking, and this week we had a largish (by Toronto standards) snow fall, and since I’m nervous about driving in the snow I decided to head straight home.

I was disappointed; I’ve always thought the combination of Body Pump (weight training class) mixed with Step Class (cardiovascular training) would make for a good training schedule. Plus, classes are Tuesdays and Thursdays, which is good because it leaves Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays for me to fuss about the dog. Oh well, I remain optimistic that this is a good plan, I just have to get to the gym, and I might have better luck next week.

The silver lining to last night’s snow is that it gave me the chance to walk Cadie’s legs off. We started at a park where I threw the ball for her, then we walked a little bit, and then finished off at another park, with more ball throwing. She was thrilled; it’s kind of like taking a kid to an amusement park. She was practically airborne as she bounded around the park, and tried to pull me back to the park when it was time to leave. In total we were out for 2 hours, and while we were in the park she was attentive and responsive (i.e. she came when she was called), she was well-behaved, and when I got her home she was calm and sweet…in short, she was my dog again. So even though I didn’t get my workout, the night was a total success.

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