Monday, May 28, 2018

"Life is like a roll of toilet paper...

....the closer you get to the end, the faster it goes".

This may seem like a simplistic way of describing the subjective experience of aging, but it is true!

As I am now in the back half of my life, I am becoming increasingly introspective and am dwelling more on the finite nature of existence.  Some of my friends and clients, not to mention my mother, are well advanced in years.

I don't believe in getting depressed about getting older.  For one thing - you can't do anything about it! My advice for someone in this situation is:  accept it, keep yourself in top shape in every way, and enjoy the benefits of wisdom and experience.  Female colleagues and friends bemoan impending menopause, aging skin, and bodies that don't look and feel the way they used to.  Exercise and a great diet, HRT and a skilled cosmetic surgeon can help with all of that :-)

I see working with older adults as a natural professional segue for the evolution of my training business.  To this end I am acquiring my international certification as a Senior Fitness Specialist this summer.

It's actually quite fun having better judgment and ability to prioritize, and to not give a rat's a** about so much of the stuff that I stressed over in my 20's and 30's.  Detaching from outcomes and the tendency to be governed by the opinions of others - is so liberating!   I'm actually a nicer individual now, because I'm not invested in outcomes and I don't take anything personally.

If I could give myself some advice now, it would be: Do all the cool stuff in the near future that you want to experience in this lifetime;  don't wait until you are 70+ and "retired".  Time to revisit the bucket list - the roll of toilet paper isn't getting any bigger.

Sunday, April 22, 2018

Earth Day = Reality Check: How to Live in a Planet-Friendlier Way

This year's Earth Day highlights the urgency of prioritizing environmental initiatives and living in a more ecologically sustainable way - from individuals to communities to corporations to nations.

My partner has challenged me to come up with 10 ways to improve my "footprint" on Mother Earth.  Getting a grip on global challenges may seem daunting to individuals, but as we all know, many small, grassroots changes add up to a big result.  What if everyone cut their use of plastic bags by 50%, or ate meat one less day per week, or chose an EV car for their next vehicle, or bought some of their grocery items in bulk rather than in single serving plastic wrappings?

Changes need to be significant, but also realistic.  At the very least one has to start somewhere.  Eventually I will own an EV, grow my own vegetables, have a solar-powered home and only buy packaged items with environmentally responsible packaging.  For the time being, we've come up with the following list of what I can realistically implement right away:

1.  No meat (beef, pork, lamb).  If I buy poultry (which I occasionally do) it will be organic, free-range and locally produced.
2.  Everything recyclable gets recycled.  Period.  Laziness is not an excuse (oh, it's just one water bottle....)
3.  Speaking of water bottles - a reusable water bottle.  Other than having a flat of 500 mL bottles for the home emergency kit, there is no reason to buy these every week for the gym, yoga, taking to work...
4.  Reusable bags.  Large carry-all shopping bags, washable produce bags (Whole Foods sells them), and only biodegradable plastic ones (which can be used 2-3 times for food if clean, by the way).
5.  Trip planning to drive less means more efficient errand running and less gas used.  Gas ain't cheap so this will save money.  Oh, and for my weekly corporate meeting in the city which is an easy, direct route - there is a bus that picks up 1 1/2 blocks from my place and gets me into the city to a drop off point which is actually closer to my meeting than parking is.  Not to mention the stress of driving around looking for a parking spot at an overpriced meter and being on high alert to make sure it doesn't run out before a zealous meter maid smugly puts a $40 ticket on the windshield.
6.  Heating and A/C.  Turn the thermostat down 2 degrees in the winter.  For the summer I am getting a screen sliding door for my balcony portal, and I've already made screens to fit the living room and bedroom windows.  Fresh outdoor breeze beats A/C, and the screens mean I get to enjoy my space without sharing it with mosquitoes (ick!) or spiders (OK, spiders are useful but I still don't want them in my home).
7.  Household product choice.  Green products for laundry, dishwashing and cleaning.  100% recycled fiber toilet paper and tissues.
8.  Appliances.  Use the energy saver cycle on the clothes washer and the dishwasher.  Also, laundry doesn't have to be done in hot water - many eco friendly detergents work very well in cold water.
9.  Get bills and receipts via email, rather than printed out on paper.
10.  Food shopping.  Locally grown (organic) produce.  Ugly produce too.  A mostly plant-based diet is healthy!  Buying in bulk and choosing food products in environmentally responsible packaging.
11.  And finally - make a donation to an environmental protection group or charity.  It's tax deductible and shows support for a good cause.  Oh wow - looks like I got an extra one in there :-)

My challenge to you:  what will YOU do to live more respectfully on this planet?

Sunday, March 11, 2018

Self-acceptance is really a lot of fun!

I just hit a milestone birthday recently.  One that normally makes women freak out and start frantically buying tummy-shrinking corsets, dyeing any "grays" that start peeking through, and investing in expensive anti-wrinkle creams or even more expensive fillers and injections.

I must be an oddball because I have not had a mid-life crisis nor invested in any of these time-defying technologies.  I actually feel GOOD about my energy level and body, and think that my face has some character.  I'm as happy now with myself as I was when I was 20. (I think, that was a long time ago!)

Sure, I'd like to still be up for parkouring around the city and trying to decide what bikini to wear on my next sun vacation, but I am content with being where I'm at.  An older friend of mine said "Enjoy today - you'll never be any younger!"  Hmmm, food for thought.

Speaking of food, I will admit to having an insanely clean diet with no deviations or cheat days.  Even if I happen to be grocery shopping on a  growling stomach, I am able to objectively evaluate the nutritional benefit of everything that lands in my basket.  Once in a blue moon I go on a binge with the parameters that I can eat as much as I want from this list:  raw vegetables, green tea, plain skim unsweetened yogurt, canned wild-caught seafood, organic multigrain wafer crackers..... OK, try to hit 600 calories from this list and I promise that you will feel about to burst, which is not a comfortable feeling.

I hope you, my dear readers, are in a place of rational self-acceptance, and you can have some fun with healthy habits!

Saturday, January 27, 2018

Should you train while on vacation?

I get asked this frequently by clients who are about to embark on getaways ranging anywhere from 5 days to 5 weeks:  should the regular workout routine be maintained so as not to become deconditioned?

I fully endorse physically active holidays, but I also laud the value of a break from regular patterns.  The body responds to new stimuli more strongly than familiar ones.  This is why a new workout routine often leaves one sore the next day, whereas doing the program you've done for a month already will not.

Not to mention, a vacation should be a vacation 😎

Most of the time I recommend that my clients engage in physical activity, but to try something fun and/or new, something that one couldn't do elsewhere.  For example, on a trip to Rome*, climb the levels of the Coliseum and walk the uneven cobblestone and brick streets on foot.  Your legs will be begging for a good night's sleep after some fresh, truly authentic pizza (which is nothing like Pizza Hut, let me tell you!).  If your vacation includes a beach, try snorkelling, sea kayaking or wake boarding.  If you are in an urban centre and like the social atmosphere of a gym, drop in on a class you've never tried (Crunch Fitness chain in the US has some interesting group fitness options).

If your vacation is a cycling tour of the French Riviera or a hike through the Grand Canyon, 'nuff said.

* Been there, done that, including the pizza! 🍕

Sunday, December 24, 2017

A new festive season salutation

What's really important over the holidays?  It's not a trick question.  Answer:  the same as what's important the rest of the year.  Health!

Most people take good or reasonable health for granted, and only when illness strikes do they bemoan not feeling up to snuff.  The state of one's health is largely self-determined, which means that being well needs to be everyone's priority project.

How many "Merry Christmas" and "Happy Holidays" greetings have you exchanged so far this season?  I'll suggest an alternative:  wish someone "Healthy Holidays" instead.  Of course there's nothing wrong with the standard, traditional salutations, but why not be a bit different in a good way?

Close on the heels of the Christmas and Boxing Day festivities follows the "back to the grindstone" monolith of New Year's, and the accompanying resolutions.  Take the pressure off expectations and instead reflect on what went well in 2017 and set a few meaningful goals for yourself for 2018.

I invite you to share your goals with me, and if I can help in anyway - especially for those related to health, fitness and nutrition - I look forward to doing so!

Thursday, November 23, 2017

"Those who fail to plan, plan to fail"

Do you agree with this statement?

I agree with it much - but not all - of the time.  Some things work better without planning them!  But for the most part, especially in the realm of fitness and nutrition, a little bit of planning goes a long way.

Most people do not have the luxury of being able to work out whenever they want, at any given time in a day, or to eat whatever they feel like and miraculously have their food choices be stellar in terms of nutrient composition, caloric intake and macronutrient ratio.  Even someone who has been working in this professional field for over two decades needs the structure and validation of a program.  I track every item that passes my lips with an app on a daily basis and analyze the nutritional profile from several viewpoints to identify excesses or deficiencies of micronutrients, identify my consumption ratio of C-F-P, track water intake and compare trends over time.  How else would I know that my average daily protein consumption for the month of September was 5% higher than in July?

Large and complicated life events require more planning.  For example, training for an obstacle-endurance race (Spartan, Tough Mudder) three months out, or one's first triathlon six months out.  You can't cram at the last minute for something like this, although people do try to crash diet when they realize that gosh, they still have 10 lbs to drop and the wedding is in a week and a half....

I am here to help people plan important aspects of their life - what is more important than exercise and nutrition?  It is my job to ensure people have a realistic, safe and hopefully enjoyable roadmap to follow to their desired destination.

If you're planning to commit to some health goals in the New Year, why not start now, and let me know how I can help.  Sorry to disillusion you, but the date January 1st is not imbued with some magical power that will make your wish to "get in shape" transpire when previous attempts have fallen short.  It's not about the date, it's about YOU.  Without you, nothing happens.

Sunday, October 29, 2017

Do you play by the gym rules?

I came across this amusing article on one of the many health and fitness sites I follow.  Having been in the industry for almost three decades, I really have seen it all.  Including all sixteen of these faux pas.  Rather sheepishly I have to admit that I am sometimes guilty of #11 - in fact, I use my cardio time to multitask on my tablet or catch up on my reading.  This works for elliptical or stationary bike, but not so much for treadmill running.

What do you think?