Monthly Archives: March 2010

Strength Training at Home

Personal training classes are officially done!!

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All I have left are my written and practical exams. Written exam will be multiple choice and fill-in-the-blank on April 16. Practical exam will be sometime after that. I’ll have to design an hour-long program and guide someone through it while being observed by my PRO trainer. Eek! I feel like I could use a lot of practice on spotting and explaining things properly. Hopefully I’ll be able to practice on a few people I know before then.

Alarm went off at 6am today, which is mega-lame for a Sunday. I did however make that hot breakfast I promised ;)

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A sweet omelette Ellie style. One cup egg whites, mixed with 1 scoop vanilla protein powder and cinnamon. Fried and filled with mixed frozen berries and almond butter.

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Topped with sugar-free syrup because it just felt right. Good times y’all. This will definitely get a remake!!

No pictures of snacks today. I need a break from my boiled egg photos. For our last personal training class, we just went over some of the business aspects. I have no idea where I’ll be training. I was all gung-ho on a Goodlife Fitness gym, but the feedback I’m hearing on it isn’t that great. Of course, I’ll take whatever I can get when I’m in Toronto, but it would be neat to try something different like boot camps or work on wellness stuff in offices. Of course, writing my little heart out too! ;)

Oh, also notable, I got lost on my way home. I missed the turn-off to my city and ended up on the road to the U.S. border (to Maine). Oops! I managed to get turned around pretty quickly, but there were definitely a few panicked moments and cuss words thrown about.

Dinner was whipped up in 10 minutes, and I was sitting down to eat by 5pm!

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Tofu pan-fried in sesame oil and Bragg’s, with a whack of Europe’s Best Imperial Blend. It’s got edamame, water chestnut, snap peas, mushrooms, bell peppers, carrots and bamboo shoots.

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All topped with Diana’s teriyaki sauce and black sesame seeds. The bamboo shoots almost remind me of pineapple in both texture and taste. Or, from what I remember of pineapple, since it makes me sick!

Requisite after-dinner chocolate…

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President’s Choice European extra-dark. It’s alright. I think it’s 85% which is a touch too dark for me, 70-75% seems to be what my tastebuds like best.

 

Strength Training at Home

M. Said:

Could you do a post on this pretty please?….

if one was going to buy a few workout items for home (cheap hopefully!)

what kind of free weights do you recommend and at what weights/how many?

what else-a balance ball?

Would be awesome to know if one could use above items to cover strength training(and abs) at HOME,cause I can’t afford a gym…

Would be SUPER GRATEFUL for a post with advice/tips/what to do!

Thanks if possible.I would be happy if I knew I could get enough strength training in for all body parts at home somehow with free weights….

Merci!

Ask, and you shall receive!

You actually don’t need much to get in a decent strength training workout at home. All you really need is your body! Think about it, our bodies are 100+ lbs of weight to throw around, that sounds like a pretty hardcore workout to me ;)

I did a post on bodyweight exercises waybackwhen, but I see some of the pictures and links in it have expired. To recap, some awesome equipment-free things to do include:

Squats
Lunges
Squat jumps
Lunge jumps
Push-ups
Dips
Planks
Burpees
Mountain climbers
Jumping jacks

And that’s just the tip of the iceberg! There are a million variations of those moves, and the great thing is they’re not only resistance training, but will also keep your heart rate up.

Now, as for specific equipment, you will need a mat. Especially for floor exercises. Carpet can be really uncomfortable when you have to kneel on it. Not to mention the fibres get stuck on you when you’re rolling around on the floor sweaty :\

As for weights, these Bowflex adjustable dumbbells are my dream item:


But, they can also cost almost $500. Something that’s a little more affordable would be closer to this weight set.


You can usually find these for under or close to $100. They’re kind of flimsy, but you get a barbell that adjusts into two dumbbells and over 100 lbs of weight.

If that’s not up your alley, then 5, 10, 15 & 20 lb dumbbells should be a good starting point. That’s enough for most women, or newbie men (although 30 lbs + would be required for intermediate men). Most exercises that require a barbell can be adjusted for dumbbells, and that’s always an additional investment you can make further down the road if you want to.

If you’re lifting weight, a bench is also something to consider.

This could run you another $100, reeeeally nice to have, but not necessary. As mentioned, a ball can be subbed in for many of the exercises you would need a bench for.

  
I also can’t forget tubing/resistance bands.

You can buy tubing in a variety of widths, all at a different resistance. There are a gazillion exercises you can do with tubing. Everything from the seated row seen here, to shoulder presses, bicep curls, donkey kicks. etc. I don’t personally use bands a lot, just because I prefer adding load in the form of actual weight. But these bands work your muscles just as well, and you will be sore the next day! Google can give you better exercises than I can, a quick search led me to this page full of fun animated demonstrations. I just have to stress, that when using bands it’s all about FORM. Don’t let the bands own you, keep it a nice and controlled movement, otherwise you could pull something and do unintentional injury!

Question of the Day: Any at-home strength training items you think are a must? As mentioned, I’m a strong believer that all one needs is their body, imagination, and a sense of humour ;)

Fitness Test Day

Happy weekend!! I hope it’s been happy anyways :)

Once again, thank you for all the recommendations for my skin. I’ll keep you updated on the hydrocortisone. It has worked on my eczema numerous times in the past, but the strange spots on my leg I don’t know…

Anyways, moving on from that embarrassing (for me) topic! I managed to not embarrass myself doing a fitness test at personal training class today. Yay!

I first have to admit that I totally cheated on the sleep challenge last night. I was up late going through the bones and muscles of the human body that I wanted to know for today. I squeaked by with about 6.5 hours. Fail. Especially for a weekend, when I like to catch up on sleep. No worries, I am already in my peejays and ready for Sunday’s 6am alarm!

Today was my first day both eating breakfast and showering at my own apartment since last WednesdaySt. Patrick’s Day! I was at my grandparent’s last weekend, then at the gym every other morning. I’m losing my breakfast skillz, this was all I could come up with…

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Homemade marshmallow protein bar and two boiled eggs. I’m thinking I may venture out and actually make something hot tomorrow ;)

I had another marshmallow protein bar for my mid-morning snack.

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One great thing about making my own protein bars is that I don’t stress about eating them all the time. I’m not scared about what crazy chemicals I’m putting in my body if I eat more than one a day :)

Lunch was a peanut butter protein sandwich.

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Plus an orange. For the “protein,” I just dissolve some chocolate protein powder with water and use it as a spread. With the PB, it tastes like nutella!

Afternoon snack attack:

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I love how healthy my fellow personal-trainers-to-be eat! Usually I feel like a weirdo opening up my mini cans of tuna in public, but one guy bust out a full-sized one today with a can opener. I am with “my people” ;)

Highlight of today was definitely the fitness test. We did it firstly to learn how to conduct one, but also put ourselves through it to experience it from the client’s point of view. It’s nothing hard or overly strenuous, but intimidating no matter what shape you’re in!

We started with the Rockport Walking Test for VO2 max. VO2 max, put simply, is how much oxygen you can take in during exercise. It’s a pretty good indicator of how fit you are. Athletes for example, will have a high VO2 max, as the ability to take in more oxygen fuels activity better.

For the test, we just walked on a treadmill for a quarter mile as fast as we could. It’s supposed to be one mile, but for time’s sake, we multiplied our time by four. So I did my “mile” in 13:08 (walking at 4.8mph!). The second you stop the treadmill, take your pulse for 15 seconds. Then multiply that number by four, and it will give you your heart rate or beats per minute (bpm). Mine was 128 bpm. Then you plug those numbers into a hugely complicated formula, or you can just fill out this form. I ended up with a VO2 max of 51. So that’s 51 millilitres of oxygen that I take in per kilogram of weight, per minute. According to all the “charts,” it’s above normal for my age, so that’s nice :) Men are always higher, I think there were a few dudes who had theirs in the 60s.

After that we also did a push up test, curl up test and sit and reach test. I only did the first and last ones, both of which I sucked at. Okay, I still did 25 push ups on my knees, which again, is “above normal,” but I really wish I could do that amount on my toes by now!

For the sit and reach test, you sit on the floor with your legs in front of you, then reach for your toes, measuring how far your fingers go past them (or, how far they are from your toes). I managed to get my fingers a half-inch past my toes, which is better than I was expecting. I didn’t think I could even touch my toes!

None of these tests are hugely important. They help a little in program design, but they’re really meant to benchmark your current fitness. Six weeks from now, I will hopefully be able to crank out more push ups, and it will be nice to have quantitative results of fitness improvement rather than just “I guess I feel kinda better…”

We stayed a little late to practice more training sessions. If anything, it’s been a lesson on machines for me, as I’m a dumbbell/barbell girl. Machines just always feel awkward, however they are ideal for the “new exerciser” who hyperventilate at the thought of a squat rack. Gosh! I used to be that person!

Anyways, after the hour+ drive back home, I could feel my tummy eating itself from the inside out. It’s a careless beast sometimes.

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Polished off the last of my veggies with my fave salad of all time – maple balsamic spinach salad. With some roasted sweet potato for good measure.

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Nothing fancy here. I just wrapped the salmon and sweet potato in tinfoil, doused it in balsamic vinegar, maple extract and sugar-free syrup, and baked till it was done! I can’t believe after a week of going through a package of maple smoked salmon, I came home and made more maple salmon for supper tonight. It’s that good!

I got an excellent question in my last post about buying equipment for strength training at home. I wanted to get to it tonight, but my 8 hours of sleep are more important, so I’ll get into it tomorrow!

 

Question of the Day: How do you measure your fitness level? I’m a number nerd, and a slave to my heart rate monitor. When I do cardio, I love seeing how quickly it peaks and recovers. I also love hitting those high numbers and sustaining them for longer periods than before. Of course, discovering I could actually complete toe push ups was pretty awesome too ;)

Sweet and Savoury

Aaaaand I’m back! ;) Contrary to popular belief, healthy living bloggers are not super-human. That includes ditching my nightly rambles for SLEEP. And to pack a day’s worth of food and a gym bag (which, bytheway, takes close to 30 minutes each night).

You didn’t miss much yesterday, except for possibly the best turkey burger I’ve ever had at a place called Relish. However, I’m not upset this went un-photo-documented. Just gives me an excuse to go back!

I did take a picture of a pretty tasty bar yesterday…

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I had a Nature’s Path Optimum peanut butter bar with a couple boiled eggs for breakfast.

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Nutrition info is here. Paired with the eggs, it made for another filling and “balanced” breakfast. I haven’t been overly impressed with these Optimum bars in the past, but this flavour was really good. Would definitely buy it again :)

Okay, now on to present day! Fun fact: I went to the gym before work Monday to Friday this week. I usually take a day off, or do a DVD somewhere in there. But since I’m out of town doing personal training classes all weekend, I wanted to get my harder workouts out of the way. I usually like to take a rest day every three days, so my body is definitely feeling tired today! Getting close to 8 hours of sleep every night helps though ;)

Warm-up: 20 minutes on the treadmill. I don’t feel like typing it out. I started slow, then got fast, then got slower, then got faster. Intervals.

 

Exercise Weight Reps Sets
Front squat push-press  30 lbs 10 3
Superset:      
Good morning 50 lbs 10 3
Barbell squat  50 lbs 10 3
Superset:      
Barbell bent-over row  40 lbs 10 3
Incline push-up bodyweight 10 3
Superset:      
Assisted pull-up  75 lbs 10 3
Dumbbell bench press  20 lb dumbbells 10 3
Superset:      
Dumbbell lunge 15 lbs each hand 10 each leg 3
Dumbbell shoulder press  15 lb dumbbells 10 3
Superset:      
Barbell preacher curl 20-30 lbs 10 3
Dumbbell tricep extension 15 lbs 10 3
Alternating:      
Plank  bodyweight 1 min 2
Hamstring curl on ball bodyweight 10 2
Prone jackknife  bodyweight 10 2

As you can probably tell, it was a full-body weight lifting day. My “DOMS” is not so “delayed” today – I can already feel my hamstrings!

I had a full morning of meetings at work today, so I chowed down before taking off.

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Nothing new here – cottage cheese, maple extract, cashew butter, frozen berries, Grape Nuts.  The cleaning lady nearly gagged when she saw me eating cottage cheese for breakfast. Don’t knock it till you try it!

I had the most delicious sandwich waiting for me after emerging from the conference room.

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Maple smoked salmon, laughing cow cheese and blueberry jam. The maple flavour in the salmon is really strong, and it was awesome with the jam. I’m having fun with all these sweet/savoury pairings!

Polished off with probably my favourite apple of all time.

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The aptly named red delicious.

Remember Fatty February? Well it’s still in full swing!

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Having just two hardboiled eggs every day has helped with increasing my fat a lot, plus, they’re mega filling. The full-fat cheese doesn’t hurt either ;)

I recreated my nut-butter chicken for dinner tonight.

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Except tonight, I stuffed it with bacon peanut butter.

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Sosososo good. Kind of another sweet/savoury combo. I love how salty the bacon makes the peanut butter!

Dessert was a vitamin.

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Well, technically a mineral. I can’t do horse pills, but I also wanted something a little better than the aspartame tablets I got last time.

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I’m okay with it because they’re so small.

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And not that bad tasting either! For those of you who’ve recommended online stores in my quest for my vitamins, thank you! However, I have a strict no buying food products online rule. This is mostly because shipping to Canada is bananas. I spend enough on food that I don’t want to get into the habit of spending even more online. Plus, I’m old-fashioned. I like to be able to touch something before I purchase it.

Also bought:

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This has helped my eczema in the past, so I’m praying for a miracle. My skin has gotten much worse over the last few weeks, including new red spots on my legs, eczema on my arms, and what looks like hives. This on top of daily baby oil, shea butter, calamine lotion and anti-histamines. I know, I need to go to a doctor. I need like a magical fairy god-doctor or something. I love that I can go to the doctor for free. I don’t love that I can’t make an appointment with one because there are so few of them around here.

Anyways, this weekend is my second and last weekend of personal trainer classes. I’m commuting about an hour to another city on Saturday and Sunday for them. I believe this weekend will include fitness testing and more mock training including creating our own training plans. Not gonna lie, I’m frightened! I need to find some training confidence stat. It would be so much easier if I could practice on non-experts instead of my fellow trainers!!

 

Well, that should be enough to make up for two days of random rambles. I will be back tomorrow, maybe with my fitness test results. Wish me luck!!

 

Question of the day: What’s your favourite sweet/savoury combo? I think turkey and cranberry sauce are made to be together. Apples and cheese are another good one!

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