Monthly Archives: July 2010

Fitness Friday – Gadgets

Happy Fitness Friday everyone!! Oh, and I guess a happy weekend to you too, especially if it’s a long weekend like it is here in Ontario :)

Before we get into today’s topic, I once again want to share one of my workouts!

Yesterday, I experienced my first ever bootcamp in the park. The gym I work at hosts bootcamps in the summer and I decided to check out what it’s like.

The regular instructor is on vacation, so we had one of our expert trainers step in to teach. When telling my co-workers I was attending the class, I would get looks of concern, shock and pity. Going in, I had a slight idea that I was perhaps in for more than I bargained for.

Source

As soon as I arrived, I was told to drop and give 50 push-ups. Yes, in a row! I did them on my knees, and I think I squeezed out 40-something before we were told to rest. Then I had to throw a fellow participant on my back and run up a hill. Then squat-jump up a hill, run sprints around the park, and the torture goes on. Needless to say, it was the longest 50 minutes of my life. I nearly threw up. But I sure did feel proud of myself by the time it was over!

Not all bootcamp classes are that difficult. You always have the option to go easier on yourself. Of course, being a personal trainer at the host gym, I wanted to show what I was made of! :P

I’m happy to say that I actually have many more bootcamps in my future! I’ll be spilling the beans about it next week. I am both excited and terrified, which is a good thing.

Now! On to today’s fit topic, inspired by comments from a post long, long ago.

Averie (LoveVeggiesAndYoga) asked:

Fitness topic…hmmm…Do you believe in gadgets, i.e. hrm’s, polars, garmins, etc or not? and why? and if so, your top picks and why.

 

Short answer: Yes, I believe in gadgets. But first, an overview.

We’ll start with my favourite gadget, and one that I personally own and frequently use.

This is an Polar F11 Heart Rate Monitor. The F11 is a slightly higher end model that also measures your VO2 max through your resting heart rate. It also tracks your progress and will even provide a program for you based on how many calories you should be burning each week. The lower end models work just as well if all you’re looking for is a calorie burn and heart rate. Price can range from $50 to $300.

One thing that you should definitely look for in a heart rate monitor is one with a chest strap. This is the best way to pick up and measure your pulse. Don’t be fooled into buying the cheaper versions that do it through your fingers, they don’t work as well.

Polar is known as one of the best companies out there for this product and most gym equipment are compatible with their chest strap. Meaning, if you’re wearing the strap, the treadmill you’re on will be able to display your heart rate.

Besides knowing precisely how many calories you’re burning (which is helpful if you’re losing weight, or training for a long-distance endurance race) I think it’s a good thing to be aware of your heart rate while working out. It’s the best way to tell if you’re working too hard or not hard enough, and if you’re cardiovascular abilities are improving. There are heart rate norms out there based on age and gender, but I find it’s very much unique to the individual. You won’t know what’s normal for you until you’ve been monitoring your heart for a few weeks and get used to the numbers you see.

Another way to measure you calorie expenditure is through use of the Body Bugg.

The Body Bugg is something you wear 24/7 and measures how many calories you burn over the course of a whole day (as opposed to a heart rate monitor, which you typically only wear during exercise). The Body Bugg calculates calories burned through the heat and electricity your skin gives off. Honestly, I don’t entirely understand the science behind this, but it can be pretty useful for people who are serious about weight loss. Losing weight is all about taking in fewer calories than you burn over the course of the day to create a deficit. This can help you calculate how to get the appropriate deficit. Plus, you can upload the data on your computer to get fancy charts ;)

Calories aren’t all of it though. People who exercise outdoors like to know how far and fast they’re going. That’s where a gadget like the Garmin Forerunner comes in.

This (giant) watch uses GPS to measure the distance of your runs. Based on this, it provides a real-time pace for you, and can also break down your runs into timed mile splits. Some Garmins come with chest straps to measure your heart rate and calorie burn, those without will give you a more of a “guesstimate.” (p.s. guesstimate is an actual work according to Windows Live Writer!)

If Garmins are way too frickin’ expensive for you, there is a cheaper way to measure your runs – the Nike +iPod.

The Nike + gadget comes in two parts: a piece that you plug into your iPod Nano and a piece that goes into the sole of a special Nike shoe. Note, you can also buy cases for the shoe piece that can be tied into your laces if you don’t have the special shoe. This is another gadget that I personally own. For $80, it was much cheaper than a Garmin. My only complaint is that it measures distance based on your stride length, then how many strides you take. It needs to be calibrated frequently and can throw you off when it gets un-calibrated. On the bright side, you can make special playlists with it, get your pace in real time, and sometimes the voice of Lance Armstrong will congratulate you when you break a personal distance record :)

Workout gadgets aren’t all about running. Another gadget that I love and use is attached to my bike – a Cateye Strada Wireless bike computer.

The left component attaches to your front spokes, and the right component to your handlebars. It measures your RPM and gives you a distance and speed based on the circumference of your tires. The great thing about this particular model is that it transmits with no extra wires and there are no buttons – you push the face of the right component to toggle through options. Not necessary, but it’s always fun to see how far and fast you can go!

Now these are just some of the more basic and popular gadgets out there and the ones I’m most familiar with. There are tons of other companies out there that make similar products. It’s all about finding one that provides you with the info you need. I’ve actually bought all of mine on eBay through good deals. Sometimes they are overpriced, but sometimes you get more than your money’s worth. I’ve been wearing my $130 Polar 5-6 times a week for 18 months and it still works like new. It’s become my favourite training partner :)

Finally, while I do advocate the use of gadgets, it’s also nice to take a break from them sometimes! I am the type of person who will take it too easy on myself unless I have numbers in front of me telling me I can push harder. In terms of improvement, nothing is more motivating than empirical data that says you are in fact getting better. But don’t be a slave to your gadgets! Run without the Garmin sometimes or hit up the gym without your heart rate monitor. It can be oddly liberating. Sometimes, something as simple as removing a wrist watch can take the “work” out of “workout” ;)

 

Question of the Day: Do you use gadgets?

10 Ways To Live The Life You’ve Always Wanted

 

10. Know it’s never too late.

So what if you’ve been at it for 20 years? So what if you’ve got a family and think you’re stuck? My 87-year-old grandmother started yoga just a few years ago, and my mother went back to school to get her third degree with three small children. Life is long my friends, you have a lot of time to go after those things you want.

4464_102803921132_719571132_3162968_6678941_n

Can we talk about how long and dark my hair was when I graduated university?? Whoa.

 

9. Know that a day spent miserable is a day wasted.

We are given 365 days a year, times 70+ years. But it can all be taken away in an instant. Don’t waste your hours wishing you could be spending them differently. Take advantage of the gifts you have. Get up and do something that makes you happy. Find joy in every day.

IMG_8377

 

8. Get dirty. Make mistakes.

Then make more mistakes. Learn from them. Teach others what you’ve learned from them. Wear them with pride, and keep chugging along.

"Success is the ability to go from one failure to another with no loss of enthusiasm." -Sir Winston Churchill

 

7. Know that you are worth it.

No one deserves to be unhappy. No one. Most reasons behind feelings of worthlessness are petty. You deserve better.

 

6. Eat cookies.

IMG_0255

Sometimes, eat them for breakfast.

IMG_0257 
Don’t be scared to go against the grain, most rules are silly. Who said you shouldn’t eat dessert first? ;)

IMG_0263 

5. Trust the process.

Things will work out if you let them. It may not be your original plan, sometimes things fall through. But keep at it and you will end up where you should be.

 

4. Want it.

Really want it. Go after it with a passion. Think about it, plan it, write it down, let people know about it. Scream it from the mountaintops and take charge.

100_5746

 

3. Learn to be your own best friend.

When you like being around yourself, so will others. You’ll attract good people and create meaningful relationships. Be at peace with who you are. Stop trying to change yourself and be content with who you really are, because that person is awesome too.

img_9518

 

2. Indulge.

Treat yourself. If you’re working as hard as I suspect you are, remember to take a time-out and recharge. Do something selfish or decadent. You can have your protein cakes and your marshmallow fluff.

IMG_0277

 

1. Ad astra per alas porci.

My motto. “To the stars on the wings of a pig.”

In other words: anything is possible. No really. Anything. What are you waiting for? Go for it!

Working Girl

Before we even get into things, I have to address several comments I got in my last post that deeply concerned me.

Some of you do not know what marshmallow fluff is!!

IMG_0221

Marshmallow fluff my friends, is made up of sugary pillows sent straight from the heavens.

IMG_0226

In all reality, it’s a lot like spreadable marshmallows. Fabulous with anything peanut butter or chocolate related.

IMG_0224

I typically only ever use a tablespoon at a time, which only sets me back 24 calories.

IMG_0222

So there you have it! I typically don’t allow sweets like cookies or pastries in my pantry, but dark chocolate and marshmallow fluff are the two exceptions that must always be made :)

 

You may have noticed that I was MIA again yesterday – and with good reason! I’ve been working! After 2.5 months of being unemployed “between opportunities,” it’s nice to get up and have a job to go to. My days have a sense of purpose again. Plus, I was starting run out of things to complain about ;)

IMG_0166

Monday had a late start, so I took my time preparing my new protein waffle/pancake recipe.

  • 1/4 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1/4 cup unflavoured soy protein powder
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • several shakes cinnamon
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup egg whites
  • 1/3 cup skim milk (it seems skim milk produces a different consistency than almond, before I used 1/2 cup almond milk)

IMG_0173

These weren’t any ordinary pancakes, ohno.

IMG_0176

I also added a tablespoon each of flaked coconut, walnut pieces and chopped dates.

IMG_0178

Made better only by the presence of iced coffee.

IMG_0180
In these troubling humid times, iced coffee is a must.

Now, y’all know I am not about fancy or complicated recipes. To me, the idea of simple food pairings is tasty enough. On Monday, I got to put together a pairing I’ve been dyyyying to try.

IMG_0189

Watermelon + feta cheese. It was delightful!! I love pairing berries with cottage cheese, or apples with cheddar cheese, and this combo was just as tasty. Watermelon is very sweet and juicy, which paired wonderfully with the saltiness of the feta. Thumbs up!!

I then proceeded to spend the rest of the day training clients at the gym! My very first client that I trained last week was back in and said she already felt a giant increase in energy and gained a ton of confidence at work. After a week! I was brimming with pride for her :D

T’was close to my bedtime by the time I made it home, so I opted for a light and simple dinner.

IMG_0203

A small chunky salad tossed in cottage cheese, feta & hummus. Looks gross, but I assure you, it was awesome.

Before I knew it, my alarm was blaring at 4:30am to get up and ready to hit the gym once again. It was eerily familiar to the days when I worked the morning shift as a radio newscaster.

IMG_0210

My years of getting up at 4am have turned me into a pro for these early mornings. I had these overnight oats and iced coffee waiting for me in the fridge. For the oats, I just mixed up some yogurt with a dash of milk, scoop of oats, raisins, fresh apricot, cinnamon, maple syrup and a dollop of almond butter. The measurements here don’t seem to matter, as I’ve noticed the outcome is always different for everyone. Experiment! :)

Today, I was shadowing one of our best trainers at the gym. He specializes in functional training, something I’m not overly familiar with, so it was really fun and interesting to watch! It’s not something I can see myself specializing in, but I really appreciate aspects of it, and would love to start incorporating more of it into my programs.

Even though I kinda wanted to go back home and pass out, I stuck around the gym for a workout of my own. Full-body:

Straight set x1:
One arm dumbbell snatch 12 x 20 lbs

Alternating sets x3:
One arm dumbbell row 12 x 25 lbs
Plie squat 12 x 25 lbs

Straight set x1:
Alternating Step-up w/ forward knee lift for 1 min
Alternating Step-up w/ back leg lift for 1 min

Alternating sets x3:
Standing one arm cable chest press 12 x 25 lbs
Bulgarian split squat 12 x 10 lbs

Straight set x1:
Mountain climber for 1 min

Alternating sets x3:
Barbell upright row 12 x 30 lbs
Good morning 12 x 45 lbs

Straight set x1:
Reverse lunge w/ forward kick 20 each leg

Alternating sets x2:
Skull crusher 12 x 30 lbs
Barbell curl 12 x 30 lbs

Straight sets x 2:
Plank 60 sec

Whole thing with 15 minutes warm-up on the treadmill and 5 minutes cool-down stretching took me 65 minutes and burned 450 calories. It also left me unable to run up and down the stairs in the subway station without my legs wobbling ;)

After the workout, I was ready to come home and nap. I closed my eyes and fell asleep for what felt like an hour, only to find 10 minutes had passed. I claimed defeat and made lunch.

IMG_0214

Giant kale salad topped with shrimp, egg whites, and a dressing made of pesto/laughing cow/lemon juice. The egg whites were an afterthought, and a delicious one at that! I just zapped half a cup in the microwave and added the bits to the salad. Such an easy and delicious way to add protein.

I also polished off this Chakra Bar that I hate half of on Monday.

IMG_0191
I purposely left the price tag on because $2.99 is pretty frickin’ steep for a granola bar. But if you look closely, there are two servings, which sort of justifies it. And in all honesty, the full bar is kinda huge (110g).

IMG_0192

Not gonna lie, I was attracted to this bar because of the ingredients:

IMG_0193

See that?? The first ingredient is love!! Not any kind of love, but organic love!! I’m such a sucker.

IMG_0236

The spirulina is what makes it green. According to the Chakra Bar website, spirulina  is “a blue-green algae and is known as a green "superfood". It has over 60% digestible vegetable protein, is jam-packed with vitamins and minerals and is a great source of chlorophyll (antioxidant).”

Taste-wise it had that “grassy green” taste to it, but I don’t mind it. It was a little sticky from the syrup, but I liked the additions of the seeds. I probably won’t buy it again because it’s $$$. But it was fun to try!

It is approximately here where I dropped off the face of the planet for three hours.

IMG_0242

I read the final Harry Potter book when it first came out, and forgot completely what happened!! It was like reading a new book all over again. But now I’m depressed it’s all over. Anyone else ever suffer from post-book depression? I think I may stick with this theme and re-read the final books in the Twilight and Golden Compass series. I love children’s fantasy novels, I cannot deny it. Plus, it is summertime and I want something that won’t make me think too hard ;)

I did eventually stumble out of my room, disoriented, to make a quick dinner.

IMG_0246
That would be grilled pork in a mesquite flavouring with a microwaved sweet potato slathered in Heinz BBQ beans. Classy :)

 

Now it is time to get my things ready for another 4am wake-up call. But I’m excited for my morning client. He wants to bulk up, which means some old-school heavy weightlifting, my favourite!!

 

Question of the Day: What’s on your summer reading list? Any recommendations for the class? As Holly would say, sharing is caring!!

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 485 other followers