Monthly Archives: September 2012

Stupid Things that Smart, Healthy People Do

You’re not a stupid person.  And you’re not lazy either.

Then why does it feel like you are stuck in a rut or at a plateau with your health and fitness?  Everyone gets there from time to time.  You put in the effort, do the things that you know are right.  And sometimes it feels like you’re just spinning your wheels, or worse yet that you are backsliding.

I’d be willing to bet that there are at least a couple unhealthy habits in your life when you’re stuck, and that you’re not even aware of them.

The things on this short list of 4 Stupid Things that smart people do will hold you back every time.  Fix them, and get SMART, and you’ll find it much easier to get where you want to go.

1-  You eat out too often.

The Drive Thru is part of our culture now that it’s hard to avoid it.  And just about every fast food restaurant or coffee shop has what they consider “healthy options” that make us feel less guilty when we buy from them instead of brown bagging our lunch.

Remember, restaurant food (even “healthy” options) are designed to taste good first and foremost.  They are loaded with excess salt, sugar and calories.  A fast food salad can have more calories and fat than one of the burgers sold there.  The “healthy” chicken breast sandwiches are loaded with obscene amounts of sodium.

Cook real food and then pack leftovers.  You’ll save time and money.  And you’ll be leaner, fitter and healthier.

2-  You sleep too little. 

This is another negative in the age of technology that we live in.  Everything is 24 hours a day.  We work more than ever and now take our work home to fret over right up until bed time (after we’ve pushed our bed time later than in the past).

If you are getting less than 7 hours of sleep per night, you are probably sleep deprived and your body will be producing excessive amounts of the stress hormone cortisol.

When your body produces too much cortisol lean muscle tissue is broken down.

Less muscle = less metabolism.  Less metabolism = more fat storage.

Sleeping a bit more can actually make you leaner.

3-  You stress too much over the little things. 

Life today is more hectic than ever.  In a generation or two we’ve become a society that is ON all the time.  We actually carry devices with us that allow anybody to reach us… at any time… for anything!  How did that seem like a good idea?

We’ve also become overburdend with endless tasks from work and home.  Parenting has changed.  Today’s mothers and fathers seem to feel the need to oversee every activity that their children do and to attend every single function from practices to meetings to games etc…  All in all, it means that we’re all a bit more stressed than our parents were.

When you allow stress to take over your life, your body reacts much like when you sleep too little and you produce the hormone cortisol.  In this case, it is used for a “fight or flight response” to ready you to survive some type of crisis.  Answering 200 emails a day isn’t exactly what the hormome is released for, but, it’s released nonetheless.  And it starts to break down muscle tissue… and turns you into a fat storage machine.

Take a few minutes each night to write a list of TEN things (no more) that you really, really have to accomplish the next day.  You’ll be surprised how hard it is to come up with ten really important things.  And the simple act of writing them down, makes them somehow feel less urgent, and less stressful.

…then consider taking a tech free break several times per week.  Go about your life without a cel phone or mobile device.  Just like in the old days.  Life will go on and you’ll feel less stress.

4-  You exercise regularly… but you’re on autopilot.

One thing about the human body is that it is amazing at adapting to whatever we ask of it.  Once the adaptation is made, however, the body will stay the same, because it doesn’t NEED to change.

When you begin a new exercise program, you probably feel some soreness afterwards.  This might last for a week or two, but, you adapt pretty quickly and soon don’t feel much of anything when you repeat the same workout.  This is a sign that you’re body has “adapted”.  It’s built some new muscle, increased it’s cardiovascular capacity and maybe even burned some body fat.

The way that you change your body is that you give it a stimulus that it isn’t used to.  Once it gets used to the stimulus, you need to change it to get the same adaptation process again.

Give yourself 2- 4 weeks (maximum) with any training program before you tweak it in some way.  You can, literally, train forever without ever reaching that stuck plateau.  You’ll continue to make changes and continue to improve your fitness levels.

Pay attention to the little things.  Examine whether you have fallen victim to one, or more of the 4 “stupid” things that can bring your fitness results to a screeching halt.  Focus on the solution and you’ll be amazed at how the results just start happening again.

Ernie Schramayr-  All Canadian Fitness

My Favourite Fitness Apps

I can hardly believe that I’m writing this blog… let alone that I have favourite “apps”!

I am one of those people that always snickered when people texted, hated carrying a cel phone with me and relied on a pad and pen to keep notes.  I had a cel phone that I rarely carried with me with which I had never sent a text message.  It was the old style flip phone that, basically, made calls and received calls.  Well, that all changed this past Christmas when my wife decided it was time for me to upgrade and she gave me a Samsung Galaxy 2S phone with “Android” techonology.  Wow!

Was I impressed?  Actually no, I was annoyed.  And stressed!  The thought of learning how to use it and having to read this big manual was really freaking me out.  And what if I turned into one of “those” people, constantly looking into my hands tweeting about life instead of actually enjoying it?  After much eye-rolling, my 11 year old daughter walked me through it and several months later, I’m like a pro using this incredibly powerful tool for all kinds of things.

Besides making calls, texting, receiving emails, reading the daily news and playing games, I’ve really, really enjoyed finding and using a variey of fitness applications offered for free by the Android system.

My 3 favourites are;

1-  RunKeeper

I use Run Keeper for my weekly mountain bike rides.  It measures your distance, your pace, your calories burned and your time.  You can set it to announce out loud where you are (I keep it in the pocket of my Camel Back water pack and look forward to updates every so often).  Run Keeper also maps out your ride (or run) using a GPS system and will provide a synopsis for you to archive if you’d like.  There are multiple settings for things like running, cycling, hiking, skiing etc…  Super easy to use.

Here is a screen shot of a Run Keeper activity log;

2-  Tabata Timer

When I’m short on time, or I just want to push the intensity higher in my cardio training, without increasing duration, I love doing Tabata drills.

Choose an endurance exercise like squat jumps, jumping jacks, burpees or even high knee running on the spot.  Perform the exercise for 20 hard seconds of effort, followed by 10 seconds of recovery.  Repeat 8 times for a 4 minute “Tabata”.

The Tabata Timer APP times out the work and the rest and signals the start/ finish with either a whistle or a horn  as it counts them down for you.  You just set it up to count as many repeats as you like…. and then you get to it.  Simple.

3-  Workout Trainer by Skimble

I have to create workout plans for clients every single day, so when I do my own workouts, it’s sometimes fun to let someone else (like this app) do it for me.

Workout Trainer by Skimble offers a selection of workouts for different bodyparts or for strength, endurance or core training.  The total time for the workout is given as well as the intensity level.  You can preview exercises and then choose to “Do Workout” if you’re ready to go.  I found it great for times when I train at home with no equipment.

As I get to know my phone better and appreciate all of it’s features, I’m sure that I’ll find more “favourite” fitness apps.  When I do, I’ll share them with you!

Ernie Schramayr-  All Canadian Fitness

Avoid the Back to School Fitness Slump

The old saying “if you fail to plan, you plan to fail” holds especially true in the fall and winter when the urge to hibernate becomes powerful.

While it is relatively easy to stay active during the summer, it becomes challenging later in the year when the temperature drops and the days become shorter.

Add your children’s busy activity schedules, the new TV season and social reasons to overindulge (Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas) and it’s easy to see why many simply throw up their hands and choose to wait for New Year’s Eve to make a resolution.

The good news is that it doesn’t have to be hopeless. With a bit of planning, you can stay in control of your body, your energy and the way that you feel.

The most important meeting a trainer can ever have with a client is the initial consultation when the plan is hatched. It should include specific goals or targets to help you avoid plateaus or slumps.

Rather than “just getting going,” it should identify certain things that you would like to “peak” for. Things like looking great at the holidays, running a race, fitting into your old jeans or starting hockey season. The idea is to have something that you are actually accountable for and working toward. Just “working out” becomes boring and, chances are, it will fall by the wayside when life gets hectic or it gets cold and dark outside.

Take a simple calendar and spend about 10 minutes creating your training year. Write in things like birthdays, weddings, sporting events, holidays. etc. Give some meaning to your movement. If you create and stick to a plan, you will never be off-track and never have to make another New Year’s resolution.

Once your plan is in place, consider exercising somewhere that is well lit, energetic and where there is music or “noise.” The idea is to extend the amount of time you spend in the light each day, even if it is artificial light.

As soon as it gets dark and you start hitting the couch with your blanket and your book or Dancing With The Stars, there’s less chance of you getting up again.

If your schedule allows you to exercise in the early evening, that would be even better. An added bonus is that you will be less likely to mindlessly munch the night away.

In the dark, cold days of autumn, it seems that we are constantly seeking comfort in terms of shelter and food. This may, in fact, be a reaction to erratic blood sugar levels and diminished light levels. Comfort foods tend to be high in simple carbohydrates that elevate mood, along with blood sugar, and lead to enhanced fat storage.

An effective way to combat this is to make sure that you are getting enough protein in your diet. Eat something that includes lean protein (low-fat cottage cheese, turkey breast, almonds, whey protein or tuna, for instance) every three to three and a half hours — and your blood sugar and metabolism will be stable, helping to offset cravings for less- supportive foods.

Finally, even the best plans can go off the rails so it is critical that you have a Plan A, a Plan B and even a Plan C when it comes to your exercise. You know that your life will be interrupted, so you need at least one backup plan in place for the times where you can’t get to your regular workout and have only 10 to 15 minutes to get your body in gear.

Here is a great Plan C workout that can be completed in 10 to 15 minutes and requires absolutely no equipment. Perform this routine as a circuit, according to your fitness level and experience. Beginners (challenging) can perform each movement for 30 seconds and rest for 30 seconds. Intermediate (hard) can perform each movement for 45 seconds and rest for 20 seconds. Advanced (killer) can perform each movement for 60 seconds and rest for 15 seconds.

Jumping Jacks or Rope Skipping… complete 100 repetitions


Bodyweight Squats

Abdominal Crunches

Modified Abdominal Plank–  Lower your forearms to the floor and balance on your toes and arms. Beginners start with the knees on the ground.

rabbit 2

“Chase the Rabbit”…  (from the pushup position pictured above, run in place by alternating bringing your feet forward and back)

Before you begin, DECIDE, how long you will work for and get to it.