Saturday, July 11

So Appetizing eh?!

One of my buddies on Facebook posted a link that I just had to share with you! It's amazing how drastically photos are altered and I wonder how much the companies pay to have their crap food look so good. Perhaps if we can keep the "real" images in our minds we won't be so tempted by the garbage we see in advertisements.

Thursday, July 9

Elliptical Machines

The elliptical machine is one machine I never recommend using or put in anyone's program. I do firmly believe that the best exercise you can do to lose weight is the one you enjoy doing, but unless someone is a die-hard fan of this particular cardio machine, I will never put anyone on it.

The movement this machine mimics is one that is unnatural and not performed by our bodies in real life circumstances. When you use a treadmill or a bike, you will become better at walking/running and biking. The elliptical will not help you run faster, bike for longer, or perform any natural movements with more efficiency.

The main reason people like the elliptical trainers are because they burn calories and are low impact. Well, unfortunately the calories you burn are actually less than what it will tell you on the machine; maybe 50-60% of what's shown is what you actually burned. The same is true for most cardio machines really. If two people of the same weight, height, and sex got on a cardio machine, one of them bikes 5x a week and is made up mostly of muscle, and the other does nothing and is made up mostly of fat, they're not going to expend the same amount of energy. Calories burned will generally depend on muscle mass, skill level, age, and sex.

As for the low impact argument made in favor of the elliptical- well, if your body can't handle impact from something as natural as walking, that needs to be addressed, not ignored. Impact will make your bones stronger and jointes more durable. Your body needs a certain amount of impact and all of these low impact exercises could actually make us weaker!

One of the best types of programs with the most benefits would be a circuit training workout. Join your cardio and strength training together, with little rest between exercises, and you will burn major calories! Combine a squat and a shoulder press; perform a step-up with a bicep curl; add an overhead tricep extention to a lunge. Do jumping jacks or run on the spot between each exercise and you'll be sweating like a pig! You'll be working so many muscle groups at the same time that the calories will burn off quickly and continue burning even after you're done the workout. You'll be more efficient in everyday situations because your body is use to performing as a unit.

If you truly love using the elliptical machine, go ahead and keep going with it, but know that it's super important and beneficial to your health to add some exercises that mimic the stresses your body is under outside of the "gym setting" as well. You'll see amazing results!

Monday, July 6

Running Trails

I'm in Mississauga, ON, right now staying with my brother and we went for a fantastic jog today! We drove to a park and went running through the woods along mountain bike trails. What an AMAZING dynamic workout.

If you are looking to lose weight, or just improve your overall fitness, you may think running on a treadmill or sitting on a stationary bike for an hour is the best way to get results. Well, you may be happily surprised to know that you don't have to spend a lot of money on a machine or gym membership; you can actually get even greater results using the outdoors.

Running through the woods, over roots, up and down hills, over uneven ground dodging rocks, hopping over fallen trees, ducking under tree branches and waving your arms like a crazy person through spider webs, is going to require the use of WAY more muscles than running on the even surface of a treadmill or sitting your arse on a bike. And the experience of being outside, breathing fresh air and enjoying natural sunlight, really helps time fly by. There are so many things to keep your eye on and distract you from the minutes ticking by.

Now, I teach indoor cycling classes, so I'm certainly not saying that bikes or treadmills are useless pieces of crap, but I've been using indoor cardio equipment for a very long time, and today the outdoors showed me how little that type of exercise has really done for me.

Exercising in the "real world", on natural terrain that our bodies are suppose to be able to handle, is going to make you stronger, more agile, faster, and able to balance and control your movements with significantly greater results. You will have much faster reaction time, better foot/eye coordination, have more explosive power as well as increased stamina.

BUT you need to be CAREFUL! I took it much slower today than I would have if I had been running on paved road or indoors because the risk of injury is obviously greater. I noticed myself holding my breath a few times (a big exercise no no) as I ran over particularly tricky parts of the trail. I had to consciously remind myself to breathe; you're forced to pay attention to your body and surroundings. Rather than mindless exercise, you're engaged in the activity and what you're accomplishing.

Take it slow to start and make sure you're wearing proper footwear. Take someone with you- always! Going alone isn't safe and isn't as fun. So, grab a buddy, find a path in the woods, and go for it!

Sunday, July 5

Flip Flopping on Whether or Not to Continue Wearing Flip Flops.

I have been experiencing crazy pains in my back and knees lately, and I'm realizing why; it's flip flops! Every single time I've worn the cute, simple, and casually stylish flip flop I've had aches and pains.

High heels get such a bad rap, but it's becoming clear that flip flops are more harmful to your body than those sexy stilettos. When we wear flip flops we automatically adjust the way we walk to try to keep them on our feet. And, obviously, there's no structure or support whatsoever. Our heels need cushioning!

Now, I'm not suggesting that everyone chuck out their flip flops, but I am suggesting that you only wear them around the pool or when you know you're not going to be on your feet for very long. I also recommend trying to find a sandal with a back strap. Anything that helps keep them on your feet is going to really reduce the stress on your body.