This the season when our social lives explode!
There are parties, work social events, and visiting friends and family. Along with the social outings comes food and drink of TEMPTATION in overwhelming amounts!
"Lots of things to avoid", I hear you say. "I am better off not attending!"
Life is about balance. A few carefree days in December to enjoy yourself is good for the body and the soul!
Add it up: Christmas day, boxing day 1 or 2 work parties. That amounts to 5 or 6 days where you eat some really tasty food and have a few glasses of wine to toast a great year. This will most definitely NOT destroy all your hard work. Staying healthy and fit is all about consistency. You have 365 days every year to make good choices. A few days of indulgence from time to time will be fine.
A few tips to help you out over the festive period:
* Get your workouts in, plan them in advanced and highlight when you might miss a workout, fit it in somewhere else.
* Don't starve yourself before a social event, this is the worst thing you can do. You will slow your metabolism down, making it harder for your body to burn those few extra calories to may consume.
* Don't beat yourself up. If you missed a workout, make it up the next day. You had a chocolate left by a client in the lunchroom at work - so what! Enjoy life! The stress you cause by beating yourself up will lead to excess stress hormones in your body which could can lead to more fat storage and health problems.
Author: Gareth Nock & Pam Condotta
We are slowly moving in the fall and winter months, staying on track during these busy months is key when we are looking at health and wellness goals!!
Here a few tips to keep you focus and stay consistent as the colder months draw in!
1: Book your exercise ‘appointments’
Your workouts are like important meetings, you would miss an appointment with your boss or a client wouldn't you? So don’t miss your workout appointments. Sit down and schedule your week and make sure the workouts sit as a priority, specific times, days and style of workout.
2: Be more active
It’s time to get moving, can you be more active? – take the dog for an extra walk, take the long route to work or to pick up your healthy lunchtime meal.
Maybe invest in a pedometer or a FitBit devise to help you track your steps and your workouts.
3: Set Goals
To keep you motivated to eat well and exercise set some goals for the next 3 months. Keep it simple and also be sure you can measure it against where to start to where you end up.
Lose 10lbs, walk every day for 30 minutes, take a yoga class twice a week, lose 5 inches – the list is endless, write them all down and then split in to 3 columns and assign the goals to a month!
4: Keep it fun
However you decide to stay active and achieve your goals make sure you enjoy it!
Nothing worse than dreading every minute of your meal or your training session for the day – vary the workouts, try a class or join a sport team. Start mixing up your nutrition set yourself the goal of cooking a new dish every week that you have never made before!
5: Balance your meals
When you are deciding what to prepare for your meal or for the next day make sure you have the following in every meal: Lean proteins, Healthy fats and Carbohydrates.
Try oily fish, eggs and avocado for your proteins and fats and use variety of different vegetables and fruit for your carbohydrates!!
Ensuring you get all the Macro nutrients in each meal will leave you feeling full, help you to absorb all the vital nutrients from your food and make it so much tastier.
6: Get a friend
Or get one of your current friends to join you!
Workout together, set your goals as a team, share recipe ideas – having a partner or friend on board with your plan will keep you accountable to your goals.
7: Commit to something new
Time to put your money where your mouth is!
Look into signing up with personal trainer, do your research and ask around for referrals to find the right one for you, maybe find a dance class or healthy cooking lesson to join. Small group training is massive right now you don’t have to look far to find a boot camp or wellness group.
You can workout with more personal attention from a coach than you would large fitness class but still have a small group of like minded people to train with.
Just relax, stress is a big factor when people lose focus on their plan.
The most important thing is to be consistent but allow yourself an off day, laze around have an ice cream - enjoying yourself is part of healthy lifestyle!
Author: Gareth Nock
It’s that time of the year to enjoy the amazing outdoors! So get outside and try this awesome 4 point, full body workout that will help you stay on track during the summer months and also help keep that tan topped up!
Try each exercise for 12 reps and repeat all one after the other – take a 1 min recovery and then repeat everything again, do this 4 times through.
The king of lower body exercises, great for strengthening and shaping the butt, thighs and the core!
From standing, start by pushing the butt back and down. Keep the abdominals braced and arms held out in front to help the chest stay upright, aim for a 90 degree angle at the knee.
The step up is an excellent exercise to increase balance, stability and strength in the lower body. Complete 12 on each leg
Start with right foot up on bench – lift arms above head and then step left foot up on to bench. Bring the left foot back down to the floor, keeping right foot up. The right knee should be tracking the middle of the foot throughout the movement
Repeat this 12 times and then change leg
Inch Worm Push Up:
This move really is FULL body! It trains your core muscles, helps build flexibility and strengthens the whole upper body too!
Start by bring the hands to the floor, bend knees if needed. Then walk hands all the way out till they are under your shoulders, now lower the chest down towards the hands keeping the abs braced and butt squeezed. Return to the top of the push up and then walk the hands all the way back in.
The Open & Close Crunch:
A great exercise to train the main abs and the deep stabilizing that protect the lower back.
Begin lying down on your back, lift chest and shoulders at the same time as lifting your knees towards chest. As you extent arms and legs out goes as far as you can while keeping your lower back in contact with the floor, brace your abs to help maintain this position.
Author: Gareth Nock
Welcome to Summer!
Ready to keep that hot beach body? Here are some tips before you take the plunge and try a hot or heated yoga class.
Know what you're getting yourself into. Are you walking into a heated or hot room or are you taking a class outdoors on a rooftop terrace at high noon sans shade? Enclosed rooms can vary in temperature (85-115 degrees fahrenheit) and humidity. Note: most have good ventilation with a source of fresh air and climate controls. If you are feeling overheated, start exhaling through your mouth and take a minute or two seated on your mat to help your body cool down - remember, heat rises. If you're going to be out down-dogging in the wild, be sure to wear protection for your skin and eyes... from the sun! Lots of fitness companies are taking care of us by adding uv protection into their clothing lines :) Be prepared - hydrate before class and make sure you have a meal well before stepping onto your mat to allow your body time to digest.
Never wander far from your practice: Too busy to join a class? Here are some moves you can bring with you to the beach this summer to enjoy the sun! Many of these poses will also help improve balance and coordination.
1. Easy seated pose "Sukhasana"
Find a space on your mat or at The Sun Circle and just bring your body into stillness. *Read this first, then try it: close your eyes, and listen. Be aware of the layers of sound around you - the wind in the trees, water, children playing, birds chirping... Now bring your awareness back to you - your own breath, heartbeat, how that breath feels as it expands through your body effecting your lungs, chest, ribs, back and sides. Then, let it go slowly.
2. Reverse bridge/tabletop "Ardha Purvottanasana"
Strengthens posterior chain and core, activating glutes, hamstrings, postural muscles of the back. Opens up chest, hip-flexors, quads.
3. Hindu Squat "Malasana"
Strengthens the core. Stretches the ankles, inner thighs and postural muscles.
*4. Balanced half moon pose "Ardha Chandrasana"
Strengthens core, ankles, quads, glutes and back. Lengthens chest, shoulders, hamstrings and calves
5. Extended big toe hold "Utthita Hasta Padangustasana"
Strengthens quads and ankles. Stretches hamstrings and adductors.
6. Dancer "Natarajanasana"
Stretches shoulders, chest, abs and quads. Strengthens hamstrings and ankles.
Remember heat does a lot of the work for you. It loosens up your muscles so you don't need to push it. Relax. Centre your focus on your breathing.
***You should avoid hot yoga if you have a medical condition such as high blood pressure; Chronic conditions such as MS, Parkinson's or Diabetic neuropathy; are prone to heat sensitivity; are pregnant, elderly or a child.***
Author: Pam Condotta
Summer is officially arriving this month! If you spend six months of the year training in a windowless gym, like I do, it is natural to want to abandon the workout when the temperature goes above twenty degrees celsius (at five degrees, I've got my flip flops on) wooed to patios by great weather, cold beverages and good friends! Instead, try some of these ideas for a fun way to stay active and social!
Boot camps or small group training. No need to enlist yourself in the military. This style can vary in specialty from hardcore TRX teams, Bootcamp drills, Mommy and Me Yoga programs, Booty Camp, Running Clubs... the list goes on. If there's a type of program you're looking for that you can't find, contact your local gym and they can help you put it together with the right motivation, skills and training.
Organized or, in some cases, not so organized sports. Join a coed team or throw an impromptu game together yourself. From basketball, soccer, cricket, ultimate frisbee, volleyball, softball, touch football or that game you made up in middle school that involves hula hoops and water balloons. Checkout www.torontossc.com to join a team today. Deadline is 19 and space is limited!
Don't want to commit to a full summer of games and practice? Get a team together for a one-day event. Relays and themed fun-runs are great for groups and the photos will last a lifetime. Some events include Mudderella (muderella.com), Wanderlust (http://wanderlust.com/events/), CityChase (http://goodlifefitnesscitychase.ca), TheColorRun (http://ca.thecolorrun.com/events/) and Island Girl Full/Half/5k Marathons (http://www.islandgirlrunning.com/)
If you'd rather be a spectator than play the sport, check out regional and national leagues available in your area. The PanAm and Parapan Am Games are taking over Toronto this July and August. For tickets, checkout http://www.toronto2015.org/tickets and cheer on the best of the world!
Author: Pam E. Condotta
Pilates is a unique set of principles and movements done mainly of the floor, focusing on alignment and strength of the shoulder and pelvic girdle. Pilates create long, lean, strong and perfectly alignment bodies.
The Pilates A,B,C
Whether you are side lying, prone, supine or on all fours it is essential that you are in your neutral spine.
Aim to keep the head stacked correctly on top of your spine (chin in to keep the back of the neck long) and relaxing the tops of your shoulders away from your ears, so the shoulder blades slide down your ribs cage and back, this will also activate the stabilizing muscles in the shoulder girdle.
Then focus on finding a natural curve in your lower spine, in most people this creates a small gap between lower back and the floor in a supine position (lying down - face up).
The correct breathing takes time to master. Always breathe in through your nose and out through your mouth (through pursed lips). Feel your breath travel in to your rib cage almost like you are breathing into your arm pits, during the breathing cycle you should feel the chest rising and falling more than the belly. In Pilates we use the inhalation to prepare the body for movement and exhalation at the point of greatest effort of the exercise.
In Pilates we center the body by mainly focusing on the Pelvic Floor and Transversus Abdominis.
Pelvic floor is located low down in the pelvis and is like a sling under the base of your pelvis, the Transversus Abdominis or TA is locate higher up around the lower abdominal area and acts like a corset around the lower torso.
The pelvic floor muscles also inhibit the bladder - to activate, create the sensation you are stopping yourself passing urine (drawing up from low down in the pelvis). The transversus abdominis muscles activate when we create a slightly hollowing or drawing in at the lower abdominal area, like a corset being tighten around your waist.
When activating these muscles you are looking to master a level of around 30% of the maximum contraction possible (100%). This is optimum and most effective in spinal stabilization and your body can also, over time learn to activate these muscle groups subconsciously.
5 simple exercises to help with mobility and strength.
To further benefit from Pilates check out Gareth's teaching schedule and try a class.
Happy Spring beach lovers! This month's blog is all about stripping down, starting fresh and nourishing ourselves: from the inside out!
Time to ditch the heavy starch root veggies along with our cute knit sweaters and transition to seasonal fare and flair: Go with salads and sleeveless! Salads are not your friend? Juice or blend those veggies to get them into your body.
Check out this month featured detox green smoothie recipe.
Remove that dry winterized skin and replace it with energized skin that demands to be touched!
Try dry skin brushing. It's a fast, effective, numerous health benefits not only removes dead skin cells but also activates waste removal via your lymph nodes.
Finish off your polish with a simple moisturizer like organic coconut oil.
How to choose a coconut oil, best and worst brand.
Meditation need not be complicated. It's all about be present in the moment. You can find a place to just sit and be still and be aware of your breath. Or you can make it a moving meditation: go for a walk, put on your favourite music and have a solo dance party! Find time and make it fun!
Seva: selfless work or volunteer work.
Take time to give back to your community. Feel like giving back on a global scale? Add travel to your plan and volunteer abroad! Find a cause you care about or a location you're interested in visiting and do some research before you go.
That's a photo of me while volunteering with Lead Adventures (http://www.lead-adventures.com) in the Galápagos Islands.
Interested on Volunteering Abroad, check out the links below:
Sumatran Orangutan Society http://www.orangutans-sos.org/
Arm in Arm https://www.arminarmvolunteers.org/sri-lanka/
For Toronto Area, you can volunteer in the organizations below:
The Schlifer Clinic http://schliferclinic.com/
Sick Kids http://www.sickkids.ca/CareersVolunteering/volunteering/index.html
Author: Pam Condotta
Keep the body mobile and tension free while traveling with this great set of stretches and exercises.
Try to complete these once an hour for the duration of your travel and follow the guidelines on how long to do each one.
1. Shoulder Shrugs
From your seated position, lift your chest and sit up tall. Slowly lift your shoulders up towards your years and then lower back down.
Repeat 15 times.
Benefits: Shrugs improve blood flow to the head, neck and shoulders reducing the chance of tension headaches.
2. Neck Stretch
Sitting up tall, gentle hold one side of your end and then ease the head down towards the shoulder and hold until you feel a stretch down the side of your neck.
Hold for 30 seconds and repeat twice on both sides.
Benefits: Neck stretches reduce tension through he neck and shoulders
3. Chest & Back Stretch
Gentle place your hands behind your head, keep the spine upright slowly pull your elbows back and squeeze your shoulder blades together until you feel a stretch across your chest.
Now gentle lean to one side to bring the stretch down into your lower back and waist.
Hold all parts of the stretch for 30 seconds each. Repeat all parts twice.
Benefits: A great stretch to open up the chest and reverse the tight and rounded position in the upper body that happens when we travel long distances
4. Seated Twist
Move forward towards the front of your seat. Place your hand on opposite thigh and then gentle pull yourself around to the side, lifting your chest and then looking back towards the seat.
Hold this position for 30 seconds on each side and repeat twice.
Benefits: Twisting at the spine is wonderful for increase mobility and reduce stress.
6. Back Stretch
From your seat, sit tall link your hands together and push them up towards the roof.
Hold this tall position for 1 minute.
Benefits: Release tension around the lower and mid back, great when you have been seated for long periods of time.
7. Seated Calf Raises & Ankle Circles
Start by lifting your heels up from the floor and lowering down, repeat this 20 times.
Now lift one foot and circle 10 times to the right and 10 times to the left, repeat this other foot.
Benefits: When travelling and sitting for long periods of time the feet and ankles can swell as the blood flow is reduced, walking around regularly and completing these exercises will help to increase the blood flow and reduce the risk of the blood pooling in the lower body.
8. Standing Hamstring Stretch
Find space in the gangway, stand with your hips facing forward. Step one foot forward and now tip forward from your hips. Keep the spine long and as you lower you will feel the stretch down the back of the thigh.
Hold this for 30 seconds and repeat on the other side. Do this twice on each leg.
Benefits: A seated position will always shorten the hamstring muscles which can cause lots of discomfort around the lower back and hips. These stretches will help to reduce the risk of this happening when traveling.
Author: Gareth Nock
This time of year we find ourselves hibernating in our beds in the fetal position 'till March break sends us beach bound or the spring thaw frees us to enjoy the outdoors frostbite free. Although adorable, grizzly bears do not have a desirable beach body physique. Here, I've listed six excellent techniques you can use right now to energize the mind and heat up your body. Three are yoga Asana/poses/postures and three are Pranayama/breath of life/energy.
1. Cat/Cow Flow
Begin in neutral spine on all fours with your knees directly underneath your hips, hands under your shoulders, fingers spread wide. If you are being mindful of our wrists, choose fists instead of flat palms. On exhalation, tuck your tailbone between your legs, drawing your belly button up toward your spine; lifting your mid-back towards the ceiling and tucking your chin toward your chest. On inhalation, lift your tailbone toward the ceiling, arching your lower back; drop your belly toward the floor; and expand through your chest by lifting your heart-centre and the crown of your head toward the ceiling.
Begin standing with your feet wider than your hips; toes turned out slightly; arms extended tall and wide. As you exhale, begin to draw a big circle with your arms; bending your knees as you reach your hips back; and complete the bottom of the circle with your arms. Inhale back to the top the same way you came. Visually, this will look like you are scooping down to pick some lovely flora.
3. Heart Opener
This one is great if you've missed your lunch break vinyasa because you are swamped at work. It can be done at your desk as a quick caffeine free pick-me-up. Seated on a chair, sit slightly forward or away from the backrest. Bring your hands to the sides of the chair and hold onto the seat. Draw your shoulders down toward your rib cage and lengthen the crown of your head to the ceiling. As you inhale, lift your chin slightly as you expand though the upper chest. As your chest/shoulder mobility increases over time, you may bring your hands back along the seat toward the back rest.
First, begin in a posture that allows spinal alignment; this may be seated cross legged, in a chair or laying down.
1. Breath of fire.
To practice breath of fire, think of an excited dog panting or me: red-faced, post bodycombat class. Keep the breath travelling through the nose to keep heat from escaping the body. Focus on the exhalation of breath and contraction of the abdomen in a rhythmic manner. Can be done one or two breaths per second. **Tip: have tissues on hand as this can be very cleansing for the sinuses!
2. Ujjayi breath
The nickname 'Darth Vader' breath should explain this one well. By gently contracting the muscles at the top of the throat, we are both energizing and heating that area and the breath as it passes through. Because we are keeping the mouth closed, this heat continues to build with each slow, deep breath.
3. Expansive Breath
Start by bringing your breath into your belly, then expanding up into the ribs and chest. From there, lengthening into sides and widening through the back of the body. Once you feel that fullness of breath through the whole of the torso, bring it a little higher into the base of the throat. This is one full inhalation. Then we want to slowly purge that breath from the body completely.
Note: It is natural to feel lightheaded or giddy the first time you try these breathing techniques. This is due to the detoxification process and the increase in oxygen in the blood stream. Start with a short practice period of ten breaths and the rest. Build from there!
Author: Pam Condotta
In January, millions of people around the world are going to decide that they want the New Year to be different. You’re likely one of them. Unfortunately, a large percentage of those millions of people are going to choose courses of action that lead them nowhere. If you want the New Year to be different — truly different and not just imaginatively different — then my fitness-guru, Gareth Nock, has got THREE important tips to think about before you even begin to consider your health and fitness resolutions for the New Year.
1) Set S.M.A.R.T goals:
When you set goals it is important to make them S.M.A.R.T to improve your success.
S - Specific: Try to by very precise with your goal for example "I want to reduce 5lbs of body fat in 6 months" instead of "lose weight"
M - Measurable: When goals are Specific you can then set a start point by measuring where you are once you start, using traditional circumference measurements, a body composition scale or a simple 1 - 10 scale for how you feel.
A - Attainable: To attain any goal you must have a good plan, you have to develop new habits, skills and attitudes!
A professional in the field of your chosen goal can help you build this plan.
R - Realistic: The goal you set must be realistic. You are both need to be willing & physically able to achieve the goal you set.
T - Time Framed: You should finalize your goal setting with a time frame. With no time frame tied to it there’s no sense of urgency. If you want to lose 10 lbs, when do you want to lose it by? “Someday” won’t work.
2) Diet & Lifestyle:
Some simple diet and lifestyle changes you can implement in your New Year plan.
* Increase your water intake - hydration is important for your performance, energy levels and your skin!
My favourite is to add some lemon and lime to the water, it gives a little kick and this will also support your immune system.
* Walk more - increase your steps on a daily basis, try getting off the bus or subway a stop early, twice a day 7 days a week - that's a lot of extra steps
* Increase your good fat intake: Healthy fats in your diet are super important for the function of your metabolism, absorption of vital fat soluble vitamins and reducing inflammation in the body. Try Avocado, Almonds, Salmon & Coconut Oil.
3) Sustaining Motivation:
Once you have made you positive changes you have to stick to the new habits.
* Set yourself small daily/weekly goals to achieve and reward yourself with some new workout music or a massage - these will add up and keep you on track to a larger goal a little further in the future.
* Have a daily reminder of where you are headed - e.g: Create a pin board, write your #1 goal and also some smaller weekly goals on it to remind of your journey and put it on a place that you go to or see every day.
* Be accountable - commit to a course or sign up for some personal training, maybe arrange your workout schedule with a friend so you have to meet them at the gym. Having an 'appointment' will really help to keep you consistent and this is the #1 factor in getting where we want to be.
Author: Gareth Nock
Meet The Bloggers
Gareth is a UK born fitness guru, presenter and blogger based in Toronto. He has been working in the fitness industry for the past 12 years.
In addition, he has been helping people overcome negative thought patterns and beliefs that limit them from achieving their goals.
Gareth currently teaches group exercise classes and coaches small group training at Goodlife Fitness. He also works in fitness education with the Kbell Training Academy.
Find his class schedule here.
Socialize with Gareth
Favourite Quotes Gareth Live By
Pam is a registered Yoga instructor, Thai Yoga Massage practitioner and Personal Trainer based in Toronto. With six years experience in the field of fitness, she specializes in working with pre and post natal clients, seniors, rehabilitation and those with specialized needs.
She believes every moment should be embraced and loves helping others live free of physical, emotional and mental limitation. She also loves to cook!
You can check out her food blog recipes and Yoga class schedule here.
Socialize with Pam
Favourite Quotes Pam Lives By
The small print
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