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8 Reasons Why You Should Be Weight Training

I have changed up my training significantly lately, which many of you have probably noticed from my stories on Instagram. These changes, specifically in regards to my weight training, has sparked some conversations amongst some of my followers. My goals for the remainder of the year is to reduce my body fat, increase muscle and to get leaner, so my trainer Kyle Ardill from SWAT Health has me lifting some heavy freaking weights plus has introduced some explosive workouts into my weekly routine.

It has been interesting to see the number of women who not only don’t do any form of weight training, but believe that it is bad for them or make them “bulky”. There are not many things I can make a definitive statement about, but I can say with absolute conviction that LIFTING WEIGHTS WILL NOT MAKE YOU BULKY. Actually, you may be surprised by this, but it actually does the complete opposite. Yup, weight training will make you leaner because it helps you build muscle and shed fat at the same time. But more on that later.

There is endless amounts of research that proves that there are benefits to strength training and other forms of resistance training, however women are spending most of their gym time doing cardio and it breaks my heart simply because I know how beneficial it is for us. If your reason for avoiding hitting weights during your workouts is because you hate going to the gym or feel overwhelmed by the equipment – trust me I can totally appreciate that, you can still get in a work lift at home with some basic equipment like dumbbells or kettle bells. Ladies, whatever reason you’re avoiding weights, here’s 10 reasons why you should be taking strength training seriously.

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  1. YOU WILL LOSE BODY FAT QUICKER: Women on average store about 10% more body fat than our male counterparts. This makes complete sense based on the fact that we are made to give birth to little humans. That being said, it can be frustrating finding ways to lower your body mass index. But here’s the truth, muscle mass burns fat. This is a scientific fact. The more time you take to develop that muscle, the quicker you’ll see the fat shedding off your body. And, the beautiful thing about muscle is that there’s no “spot treatment” necessary. If you want to lose fat in your arms, you don’t have to do one thousand bicep curls. Instead, you should build muscle all over your body, including legs, butt, core, arms, and upper body. The more muscle mass you have, the more fat it will burn—regardless of where that fat is stored.
  2. BURN CALORIES, ALL DAY LONG: Ladies listen up…Strength training helps you burn more calories and helps to speed up your metabolism, which means you can lose more weight. Your metabolism is the rate at which your body processes food for energy. When you strength train, your metabolism goes through the roof! In fact, studies have shown that regular strength training can increase your RMR (Resting Metabolic Rate) by about 5%. What does this mean exactly? Well, it means that your body burns more calories throughout the day – even while you’re not working out.
  3. GET STRONGER WITHOUT GETTING BULKY: I know this should have been listed as the first benefit, but I wanted to make sure you kept reading this post 😉 Becoming bulky through lifting weights is a common misconception and let me just be clear – 100% a myth. The heavier I lift, the leaner and smaller I look – hence the recent pivot in my training. Women who weight train, myself included obviously, tend to lose inches and lean out as a result of this kind of training, not gain in size. Here is the magical thing about strength training…you can shed inches where you don’t want them but it also allows you to build in places where you do. I SWEAR IT IS MAGIC. You can literally control your appearance through consistent weight training. You name it…it is possible doing this just 3x’s a week. It can tone you up, slim you down, and even give you curves in places you never thought imaginable.
  4. MAKES YOU FEEL BETTER ABOUT YOURSELF: When I say this, trust me it is coming from a non superficial way. By getting stronger and noticing changes to your body over time – like being able to lift heavier and/or do more complex exercises, it helps build confidence and improve body image. And wait for it, it can also help manage symptoms of anxiety and depression and overall a great way to help deal with stress in a natural way. I am currently going through a challenging time and when I am lifting in the gym, I am totally focused on the weights I am lifting and no energy is being given to all the other crap that I have been dealing with. That hour of training acts as an escape for my mind and body.
  5. IT INCREASES BALANCE, STABILITY AND FLEXIBILITY: By not preserving our muscles mass we end up losing it when we get older resulting in weight gain, no to mention loss of flexibility and balance. It’s not a good look. Lifting can help you work your joints through a full range of motion, keeping them flexible and strong helping keep you steady on your feet as you get older.
  6. REDUCES THE RISK OF BACK PAIN, INJURIES AND ARTHRITIS: Call me crazy but as mindful and present as I should be, I am constantly obsessing about how my body will be feeling and looking as I get older. I turn the big 4-0 next year and the next decade I know is going to go by in the blink of an eye, so I am already thinking ahead and so should you. Weight training can help build connective tissue that acts as reinforcement for the joints and helps prevent injury. Strengthening the low-back muscles helps in eliminating or alleviating low-back pain. It’s super debilitating and trust me, none of you want to have to deal with that as you get older. Weight training can also ease the pain of osteoarthritis and strengthen joints.​ Oh isn’t it so fun to think about our golden years?! LOL
  7. IT WILL CHALLENGE YOU KEEPING YOU INTERESTED AND MOTIVATED: Guys, doing the same damn cardio workouts week after week is bound to get boring. For anyone. Not to mention, you may seem some changes to your body at first but there is a high probability you will plateau, which can be super discouraging. Weight training is the perfect way to challenge your body and mind (yes, I think of this as a mental workout too because I have to get my head in the game when I am lifting heavy in the gym!). One of the things I love about strength training is that is always offers something new.
  8. REDUCE THE RISK OF HEART DISEASE: Weight training can improve cardiovascular health in several ways, including lowering LDL (“bad”) cholesterol, increasing HDL (“good”) cholesterol and lowering blood pressure. When cardiovascular exercise is added (and I mean added to supplement not the main form of daily exercise), these benefits are maximized.

If you made it to the end of this post, you deserve a medal because 1) it was lengthy and 2) it means you’re actually open to learning how you can be better.  I’ve never been one for progress pictures and these images were actually taken a few weeks before our big switch in my training, but continue to follow along in the coming two months for more glimpses into my workouts on Instagram, my progress and how we are modifying my training week by week.

This post is in partnership with Joe Fresh,  however all views and opinions are my own

Test Driving the ASICS Metaride Running Shoe

It’s been almost six months of running in the Metaride shoe, ASICS newest innovation in running footwear and it’s become one of the three shoes that are in my shoe rotation each week for my runs. I get loads of questions about the Metaride when I post in them on Instagram or when other runners see me in them during my runs, so I’m going to share a few facts about the shoe here. Keep in mind though, no matter how well I explain the shoe’s technology or describe how it feels to run in them, the Metaride is just something you have to experience for yourself firsthand.

ASICS Metaride Running Shoe

Asics Metaride Running Shoe

ASICS Metaride Running Shoe

Every runner, whether you’re a jogger, age group competitor or elite runner, the goal is to always run faster and more efficient and ASICS made a strong claim about this shoe helping runners do exactly that. How? The new innovation they call Guidesole technology. The design teamed figured if they found a way to stabilize the ankle at a certain angle with the shoe’s design, it would be able to reduce energy usage and that would allow for more efficient running. The result, a shoe that has given me, and countless other runners, a completely new running experience, where it feel as if my legs are legit rolling automatically with little to no effort.

ASICS Metaride Running Shoe

How It Works

The Metaride shoe works, and works well, because it optimizes all three phases of the gait cycle when you run: footstrike, toe-off and the flight phase…this is when your foot is off the ground. Here’s the trifecta that makes this shoe so unique and a dream to run in:

  1. The improved cushioning helps to reduce muscle fatigue when the foot hits the ground.
  2. The stiff foot and unique curved sole, increases running efficiency by reducing the movement of the ankle joint because guess what? Too much ankle mobility at higher speeds actually wastes energy.
  3. The shoes center of mass is closer to the heel, making it super easy to swing the foot forward

My thoughts when I first saw the shoe wasn’t so positive. I wasn’t sure how I felt about the design and it was slightly bulky, so naturally I thought the shoe was going to be heavy. However I did like the circular upper knit of the shoe. It’s super breathable and helps the shoe fit true to size. On the downside, is the shoe’s weight. It’s heavier than what I am accustomed to wearing and comes in around 10.4oz, significantly heavier than the other two shoes I currently run in, but the additional size and weight is worth the feeling of a more efficient stride.

Photos by David Pike

The MetaRide basically forces you to land mid-foot and then has an extreme toe spring. The landing feels really springy and then launches you forward in your stride. There is a bounding sensation almost when you first put them on, but that settles down as you get into your mileage. After 5-6 km’s on my first run in them, I totally forgot about the sensation of feeling like my feet were in a rocking chair.

Is the Metaride shoe perfect? Nope…but will I continue to run in them throughout the fall/winter season? Absolutely. My only wish is that they develop a lighter version of the shoe or a racing version, as this design is made specifically to be a trainer. The Metaride is available both in store and online for $300.

10 Ways To A Healthier You in 2019

February is a tough month. For one, it’s freezing cold, unless you live on the west coast. It also seems to be the month that people start to find it hard to keep up with their new year’s resolutions, especially when it comes to health and wellness. Why? Well, most make the mistake of setting one huge goal that is difficult to attain, instead of one more smaller goals that when achieved, can give them the confidence to set more larger goals. However, when someone falls off track towards this one big goal, it becomes harder to stay motivated to stay the course.

Full transparency here, I’m not into New Year wellness resolutions. Come to think about, I am not into resolutions at all. I do however love to find ways to incorporate more healthy habits into my daily routine that help keep me happy, healthy, focused and closer to my goals. Luckily for you, I’ve collaborated with long time partner, Joe Fresh, to dish on some of these things that you can start integrating into your life right away. I’ve linked some of my favourite pieces from the current collection as well and stay tuned for next week but there will be a giveaway announcement here and you won’t want to miss it!

TREAT YOUR WORKOUTS LIKE AN APPOINTMENT IN YOUR CALENDAR

I know, sounds a bit dramatic, but implementing this has significantly changed my life once I started working out again post baby. Blocking time out in your calendar pretty much ensures that you’re not going to miss that workout, run or class, even if you’re schedule get super hectic because guess what? – You’ve already accounted for that time off work or mom duties.

IMPLEMENT ACTIVE RECOVERY

Our bodies are designed to move every day and suffer when we don’t. Some form of activity, even if it’s not intense, is beneficial. It also keeps the momentum going. Have you ever had a lazy weekend or came back from the holiday break and struggled to get back into your workout routine? One missed workout can easily turn into two and from there; it can be a slippery slope. Momentum actually works both ways, so keeping up a habit of doing some sort of movement even on off days from workouts, means you’re more likely to stick to it. Plus guys, it’s important to mix things up, it can’t be hardcore workouts all the time. An active recovery session like Yoga can reduce soreness and speed up the muscle building process.

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DRINK LEMON WATER (THE RIGHT WAY) TO IMPROVE DIGESTION

Indigestion issues are so common today. The foods we eat are usually the main cause but there are a few simple things that can make a world of a difference like; not having your morning coffee on an empty stomach, taking a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar and starting the day with lemon water before you do anything.

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I do ALL of these things before my morning workout and noticed BIG changes. Everyone at some point has done this little trick, but did you know lemon water is most effective when it’s warm and not cold or hot? It’s important that warm water is used because the temperature is what extracts the Vitamin C from both the lemon and it’s peel. Besides aiding in digestion, it helps to balance pH levels, hydrates your lymph system and promotes healing in your connective tissues and cartilage.

GET AN ACCOUNTABILITY PARTNER

Not new news by any means, but it’s one of the best ways to keep you on track and motivated. This doesn’t necessarily mean that you need to do all your workouts with your accountability buddy, but at least having someone to check in with or to push you even via a text when you feel the least bit motivated helps. I have a few accountability partners. Réjean, a small group of equally obsessed fitness fanatics who I share Apple Watch metrics with and of course Maxie because she watches my every move and is my biggest cheerleader.

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THINK OUTSIDE THE (WORKOUT) BOX

Not every single workout needs to be intense and sometimes I find choosing to walk instead of driving, taking the stairs over escalators and running after my kid all day can yield more steps and calories burned than some low impact workouts. Now that Max isn’t always in her stroller, I take full advantage when we don’t have the stroller with us during outings and we take the stairs.

On Me: Sherpa Sweater $29 // On Maxie: Long Sleeve Graphic Tee $8 // Essential Leggings $8

Strappy Sports Bra $19 // Active Short $19

With her in my arms, it’s an unbelievable workout. Some days, I even bypass the elevator and climb or go down 12 flights of stairs in our condo building. Moms don’t be afraid to incorporate your kiddo into your workouts either. Babies are the perfect size to add weight to lunge, squat overhead movements, and you know what…? It’s so much fun and a great way to bond with your baby.

PRACTICE MINDFULNESS OR MEDITATION

We live in a busy world and if you’re not multitasking and doing four things at once, society views that as being lazy. We do the laundry, cook dinner and keep one eye on our kid. We plough through our food during meals and even spend what should be restful time like getting a manicure or massage, brainstorming for meetings, creating to-do lists and responding to emails. We all need to slow down, just a little bit anyway.

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Introduce mindfulness into your daily routine. Mindfulness is the practice of purposely focusing your attention on the present moment and accepting what comes your way. Introducing mindfulness techniques or meditation can help relieve stress, reduce chronic pain and play an important role in the treatment of anxiety and depression. There is more than one way to practice.

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I started by just sitting quietly for 10-20 minutes focusing solely on my breathing or on a mantra that I would repeat silently. Then worked my way up to doing this for longer periods of time, practicing mindfulness during other times in the day; while I was eating, while out on a walk, even while I was in labour. This practice will allow your mind to focus more on the present moment in times during the day when you need it the most.

KEEP A JOURNAL

This is a new-ish habit I’ve introduced into my own life and now that I am doing it, I could go on and on about the benefits of writing in a journal.

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It’s effective for many different reasons and can help you reach your goals sooner. My old coach used to say that the goals you have for yourself are not real until they are written down. Writing things down somehow just makes you more accountable. are only real until they are written down. The process of writing can also help you clear your head, make an important connection between thoughts, feelings and even reduce the effects of mental illness.

INCREASE YOUR FRUIT & VEGGIE INTAKE BY JUICING

More and more folks are juicing these days after either discovering or re-discovering the New York Times Best Selling book, The Medical Medium. This is great, however people seem to be hung up on this celery juice fad that the author pushes in his book.

While it definitely has some benefits, you can get way more out of juicing than sticking to just celery juice. Our consumption of fruits and veggies is far below the suggestion consumption, so juicing is a great way to consume not only a large number of them but also a variety. I’ve done it for years and have found that consuming fresh juice super charges the body with phytonutrients, which has helped me with my illnesses and with liver detoxification. The time spent in the kitchen also allows me to introduce these veggies and fruits to Maxie in a fun way. It’s never too early to start introducing healthy eating habits and she gets to discover all the different textures, colours and sometimes tastes while I press the juice.

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How Can Maximize the Benefits of Juicing

  1. Buy only organic fruits and vegetables, this should be a no brainer, and buy in small amounts. The best juice is made from fresh produce so buy only what you need and use within a week.
  2. Wash your veggies thoroughly and with citrus fruits, you may want to remove the peel because they can leave a bitter taste in the juice. However, make sure to keep the white portion of the rind because it’s super high in antioxidants.
  3. Make sure not to load your juice with fruits and veggies that are high in natural sugars like carrots, apples and oranges. It will make it your juice taste great no doubt but just winds up being counter productive.
  4. Chew your juice. Sounds odd but this is one of the first things I learned when I started. Our mouths produce an enzyme when you chew that is necessary to initiate the digestion of carbs and makes them readily available for energy. Chewing while you’re drinking your juice also matches the temperature of what you’re consuming to the temperature inside your body so the nutrients are best assimilated and bioavailable.

GET THE BEST SLEEP OF YOUR LIFE

Yes, keeping your bedroom dark, cool and quiet are obvious ways to help induce sleep, but there are some other tips that I’ve found helpful over the last couple years that have dramatically made a difference in my quality sleep. To be honest, quality sleep is often compromised with a baby in the house, which is to be expected, but for the most part, I have developed some really good habits in the bedroom that set me up for sound sleep and here’s some of them:

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Set a schedule and stick to it. Go to sleep and wake up at the same time every single day, even on weekends. If you have a baby this can a bit difficult unless he or she is sleep trained. But here’s the deal with consistency, your body cannot establish a normal rhythm, if you don’t allow it to get into a pattern. If you stay up late, don’t sleep in.

Establishing a sleep ritual that you start an hour before bed works wonders. Mine now includes 15 minutes of reading or writing in my journal. NO SCREEN TIME.

Ditch Your Cell Phone. Did you know radiation emitted from your cell or iPad can increase the amount of time your body requires to reach deep sleep cycles and also decreases the time in those cycles?

Improve The Cortisol Awakening Response (CAR) The more awake you feel in the morning, the more tired you will feel in the evening. The best way to do this is to expose your body to natural sunlight shortly after waking up so draw those blinds open as soon as your alarm goes off.

SWEAT IT OUT

Never underestimate the powers of sweat therapy. For me, infrared saunas are like a cure all for everything. It aids in detoxification, relaxation, provides relief from sore muscles and joints, clears skin, improves circulation and more.

Photography by Bettina Bogar and David Pike for Joe Fresh

I swear by it and lucky enough to have a sauna at home but for those who don’t, using one at your gym or hitting up spots like Dew Sweat House for a 55-minute session works wonders. I just had my first Dew experience and can’t wait to tell you all about it.

Now I want to hear from YOU so let’s make this a giveaway. What are the healthy habits you incorporate into your daily routine? Mainly because I am always looking for ways to improve my health and life and I think others would benefit from learning new things too. Post your favourite healthy habit on this IG post for a chance to win a Joe Fresh gift card valued at $250. To be eligible you must 1) Like the photo, 2) follow me and @Joe Fresh and 3) comment with your healthy habit. For bonus entries you can leave more than one habit or tag friends, but sure be sure you tag each one in a separate comment. Contest is open to Canadian residents only and closes on Friday morning at 10am. You can enter as many times as you want until then. The winner will be DM’d directly on Saturday March 2nd.

This post is in partnership with Joe Fresh however all views and opinions are my own

My Go-To Cold Weather Running Gear

Well winter has arrived, which means we can pretty much expect single digit temperatures for the next several months. If you’re anything like me, your runs and workouts don’t stop because of a little snow or cold weather, so the only way to feel comfortable and avoid skipping them is to have the right winter gear that can handle the elements. I have certainly worn my fair share of technical winter running clothes over the years in the worst elements imaginable  – rain, hail, sleet and tons of snow so I am pretty particular with the pieces that I wear. They must have breathable fabrics, allow me to move freely, keep me warm of course, plus also be wind and waterproof. That is pretty much a non-negotiable. A combination many brands can’t seem to execute successfully across the board.

Asics Canada + Sasha Exeter

Asics Canada + So Sasha

The  ASICS Lite-Show collection and you can find pieces from it on their website under “Cold Weather Running“. It’s all I’ve been running in over the last two months and so far…so freaking good. I’ve actually found myself wearing less layers than I usually do for this time of the year and have persuaded so many of my my friends to grab pieces from the collection too. I know so many of you also follow my homegirl Ana of BlueBirdKisses.com and she’s been raving about her pieces on her IG stories lately.

Asics Canada + Sasha Exeter

ASICS Canada + Sasha Exeter

ASICS Canada + Sasha Exeter

ASICS Canada + Sasha Exeter

ASICS Canada + Sasha Exeter

So yay, no more double layers of tights and four layers up top that used to make me feel like the abominable snowman moving as slow as a tortoise. Now on the bottom, it’s just the one pair of the Lite-Show winter tights.  They are extremely thick with an ultra warm lining that make them a little more stiff than regular running tights. Right now, I have three in rotation; two pairs of black (one 7/8 length and one full) and the deep blue. All black is usually my favourite for running and workouts, but for some reason I’m really into the blue. For my easy runs, I’ve only needed to wear one of my Thermopolis Plus LS long sleeves and my jacket but for faster runs or doing hills, where the jacket is just simply too warm for right now, I opt for all season long sleeve as a base layer with the Lite-Show Winter 1/2 Zip over top (also comes in Performance Black and Red Alerte in case you’re not into the Mid Grey/Ironclad colourway I’m wearing above). On the days that it’s colder, I sometimes wear the jacket until I’ve done a 2k warmup and then drop it back off at my concierge before back outside. 

ASICS Canada + So Sasha

ASICS Canada + Sasha Exeter
I am literally obsessed with these Dynaflyte 3 running shoes from the Lite-Show collection

But guys, it’s the Lite-Show jacket that’s really going to be the hero of the collection once the deep chill arrives. I literally have no idea how it’s only priced at $100 CDN. I swear, if it was a product from a competitor, you would 100% be sold in stores and online for over $350. And please don’t let the affordable price point fool you. It’s still one of the best winter outerwear pieces I’ve ever worn. It comes in black and the colour I’m wearing here is called Cordvan. It’s lightweight but still SO thermal and moisture wicking – the number one combination you need to be looking for when it comes to winter running gear! If you’re new to running in the cold, then my suggestion is to invest in the jacket, a thermal plus a regular long sleeve for layering. Those should be top priority but if you can, go the extra mile (no pun intended), and grab a pair of the Lite-Show tights too.

Accessories. Can’t forget those because they are obviously super important this time of year. I know a lot of you had questions about the gloves, ear warmers, hats I wear. You can find all the winter appropriate accessories you’ll need this season at the Toronto flagship location at 364 Queen St West but my Lite-Show headband and beanie you can find right now online. For my American friends though, you can shop all the winter accessories online on the US site. My Lite-Show gloves were great for the fall but as the temperature drops I have had to layer an extra pair overtop so I will probably be upgrading to a new thermal pair shortly to make sure my little fingies are warm during rain and wet snow. The socks will also get an upgrade too. I love the look of no-show socks but once December rolls around they won’t be very practical. I usually switch up to a single tab or quarter sock to protect the ankles more.

Y’all seem to love all the new training and running gear you’ve been seeing on IG and my stories so I will be sure to post and link the items here too as new collections drop.

SHOP ALL MY COLD WEATHER RUNNING PIECES

CliniqueFit High Performance Beauty + Skincare Essentials

Wearing a full face of make-up to the gym just really isn’t my jam but I would be lying if I said I was always 100% make-up free during my workouts. I usually don’t get a chance to re-do my makeup throughout the work week and so whatever products I put on my face when I leave in the morning, is pretty what stays on until the end of the day. This means, I need high performing products that can keep up with my active lifestyle.

 

Videography by Shawn Pinnock of Cultivate

You know that go-to ice breaker question people love to ask, “What are 5 things you can’t live without?” My answer always includes a long wear mascara and tinted moisturizer. I can’t leave home without them. Most seem to work fine for me when my makeup is done for evening events or for daytime meetings but trouble arises when it’s time for a midday workout or run.  I’ve wondered for years why no beauty brands had thought to create a makeup collection for women with active lifestyles, designed to withstand sweat and humidity. I mean, I couldn’t possibly be the only woman out there craving lightweight, long wearing makeup that allows her to look flawless for anything the day happens to throw at them..

Clearly not, which is why Clinique stepped up to the plate and recently launched CliniqueFit; a collection of high performance makeup and skincare essentials for women with a highly active life. YAS! What you’ll find in the range is 7 phenomenal products that every fitness obsessed girl should have in both their makeup and gym bags to help them look more alive after that 6am Barry’s Bootcamp class before work. Post workout cleansing wipes, a mattifying moisturizer, a light-weight foundation, a hydrating face spray, a lip + cheek flush that I love to apply post workout, plus their hero product; the Workout 24 hour Mascara. The line is super affordable – thank goodness because I don’t think I could live without it and available for sale now in Canada at Shopper’s Drug Mart locations nationwide and Clinique.com in the U.S.

6 Ways To Improve Back Pain Post Pregnancy

I could talk (write) for hours about all the different things women experience postpartum but back pain seems to rank high on the list for new moms. Not really surprising at all when you think about all the demanding tasks in a mama’s day that requires bending, carrying, lifting and feeding; usually with a baby in hand, causing back muscles to work in overtime.  I experienced some back pain towards the end of my pregnancy that made sleeping at night damn near impossible by the time I reached 34 weeks. Carrying around that amount of weight for 9 months can take a toll on the body, especially the abdominal muscles, which need to stretch to make room for the delivery.

Thankfully, there are things you can do to help with postpartum back pain. As soon as I was cleared by my healthcare practitioners , I made chiropractic care and functional training a priority to help with my postnatal recovery. With the help of my chiro Darcy Worthylake, I have recently introduced these 6 spine exercises to improve my back health.

I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that you could actually make working on back health a fun activity at home with you and your bub. Even though she’s only 7 months, I integrate Maxwell into some of my exercises at home and not only does it make it more fun for me, but it’s also a great way for us to bond. In her mind, she’s having the time of her life playing with mama while I’m benefiting by improving my core and back health.

Ontario Chiropractic Association - So Sasha

It is surprising how by just adding a few exercises to your day can make a world of a difference giving you more support while carrying, lifting and holding your baby; whom only gets heavier as each week passes. If you’re a new mom and experiencing some discomfort due to your day-to-day tasks for your baby, there are four simple exercises you can do at home to help for post partum back pain:

Tips On How Improve Your New Mom Back Pain With Your Bub

Pelvic Bridges

  • Lie on your back, bend your knees and put your feet flat on the ground.
  • Place your baby on your pelvis with their back against your thighs.
  • While holding your baby in place, slowly push your hips up towards the ceiling.
  • Hold this position for 3 to 5 seconds.
  • Keep your abdominals tight to avoid sagging your lower back. Inhale as you slowly lower your body back to the starting position.
  • Repeat 8 to 12 times.

Ontario Chiropractic Association - So Sasha

Plank

  • Lay your baby on the ground; face up, while kneeling in front of them.
  • Place your forearms on either side of your baby and lift your body off the ground.
  • Keep your back in neutral spine position and engage your core by contracting your abdominal muscles. Avoid letting your hips fall or stick up in the air.
  • Hold for 10 seconds, working your way up to 30 seconds.
  • Repeat 3 to 5 times.

Ontario Chiropractic Association - So Sasha

Stabilizer

  • Lying on your back, bend your knees at a 90-degree angle with your feet in the air.
  • Stabilize your baby so they are resting on your shins and hold onto their hands.
  • Engage your core and hold this position for 10 seconds, working your way up to 30 seconds.
  • Repeat 8 to 12 times.

Arm & Leg Extensions

  • Get down on all fours with your baby lying on their back and parallel to your chest.
  • Engage your core and slowly lift and extend your left arm and right leg at the same time while maintaining a neutral spine position.
  • Hold this position for 3 seconds, then lower your limbs and give your baby’s belly a tickle as you return to starting position.
  • Repeat on the opposite side, lifting right arm and left leg.
  • Repeat 8 to 12 times.

Ontario Chiropractic Association - So Sasha

Before you begin working on back mobility or any kind of exercise, consult your postnatal practitioner and get cleared to return to exercise. For the safety of your little one, you will want to make sure that your newborn can hold their head up on their own if you’re going to include them in any of these exercises. If you experience any discomfort or pain in your back while performing any of these exercises or persist after trying them, visit your chiropractor to develop a treatment plan for your recovery.

This post is in partnership with the Ontario Chiropractic Association but all views and opinions are my own.

5 Things You Should Consider When Looking To Hire A Trainer

I am working with a trainer for the second time in my life. The first time was while I was pregnant with Max (because I needed someone to force me to dial down and modify my workouts) and now postpartum. For years my workouts have always been with my team, a personal strength coach during my years playing tennis or workouts I created for myself. Getting back into a groove in the gym post pregnancy has been tough. Well, at least for me it has been. My body just wouldn’t move the way it used to and I was SO DAMN WEAK. I could have easily used my pelvic floor and wrist issues as an excuse to delay the hard work that was waiting for me because I was getting so discouraged but I figured if not now then when? And let’s be honest, when you’ve just had a baby people give you a free pass and tell you that you look great no matter how washed you look. If you’ve had a baby you know what I’m talking about, “Oh girl please, you JUST had a baby like yesterday and you look amazing!” But for my mental health and self confidence I had to get moving again and enlisted the help of a trainer.

There’s been so many of you sliding into my DM’s lately asking for advice on trainers like; how to find one, who is reputable in the city and why I’ve made SWAT my home for training and workouts? For me, the choosing SWAT Health was an easy decision. I needed someone who understood my limitations that came with postpartum fitness. That means, having the knowledge to put me through a Functional Movement Screen before taking a couple weeks to focus solely on creating a solid foundation again. With the plan of eventually progressing to a more intense program. A trainer who could be creative enough to come up with challenging workouts with the proper modifications for my wrist injuries. Not an easy task when it’s impossible to load any weight onto your hands. Most importantly, even though I am retired, I want to still train like an athlete. This meant the person chosen for the task probably needed to have been an athlete at some point too or experience training them, in order to come up dynamic workouts I would enjoy. I couldn’t think of anyone better than SWAT Health’s Co-Founder Kyle Ardill. The SWAT concept is based on a 360 approach to health and wellness incorporating chiropractic, physiotherapy, and massage into their offering. Since my body needs serious rebuilding right now, I am taking advantage of ALL of it. It’s been a crucial component to my journey because Kyle, Darcy (Chiro) and Phil (RMT) can all communicate to ensure they are providing me with the right rehab program within their respective disciplines to get me results. The education of the PT staff at SWAT is so diverse, the team has you covered whether you’re looking to do power lifting, HIIT/cross training, athletic based training, or group class workouts.

Kicked off my training program on January 8th with an FMS – Functional Movement Screen

So how do you find the right personal trainer? Things have gotten a little interesting in the fitness industry because of social media and it has certainly turned into a hot topic. With so much information at people’s fingertips thanks to the   internet and weekend fitness certification courses, becoming a personal trainer has replaced “handbag designer”, and “DJ” as the new fallback career in 2018. But here’s the thing folks, knowledge in personal training is not measured in a  CanFit Pro certification or having a big social media following. I think it’s also important to point out, a person’s physical appearance on Instagram doesn’t necessarily tell the whole picture. Looking fit doesn’t always mean someone has the knowledge base to train clients. There are loads of folks on the internet sharing their transformation before and after photos and using this as marketing tool to get clients and actually charge them money, which is appalling. More often than not, these transformation trainers as I like to call them, usually have leaned out because they stop putting garbage in their mouths, stopped binge drinking and started working out a bit. Not because of any well thought out training program they expertly developed for themselves. Yet, they are selling training to uneducated consumers who think they are getting a deal because their prices are competitive. And nobody should just assume that someone is a fitness expert because they have the word “fit” in their IG handle. I could go on and on but I think the point here is that people need to be informed, know what to look for and expect when hiring a professional in the field of fitness. If you’re thinking about a finding a personal trainer to help you achieve your fitness goals, I applaud you for making this first and very important step in your fitness journey.

Here’s 5 things you should consider when looking to hire a personal trainer:

  1. Certification vs. Experience. This is usually the first mistake many people make when they begin their search for a trainer. Instead of doing their due diligence and finding out how what a trainer’s experience is in terms of diversity in disciplines, they feel satisfied knowing that the person they have chosen to train them is certified. If you’re pregnant or a new mom, the goal should be to find someone who has worked with prenatal and/or postpartum clients. You may want to know if that person has experience training an athlete, has worked with a rehab client, who has the knowledge base to change up a client’s programming on training day if they are stressed or walk into a session injured.  Someone who is passionate about fitness and continues to educate themselves through courses and programs. A trainer who reads and does research, always wanting to learn because things are always evolving. Anyone can get a certification in personal training in 48 hours but not just anyone has the extensive knowledge base to tackle a wide range of training scenarios. You want a trainer that can provide a wide range of results for a wide range of the population.
  2. Authenticity. Yes folks, your trainer should be authentic…in other words living the lifestyle. And guess what? Your trainer should also be fitter than you, not the other way around. Ever. I never could understand how people would spend their hard earned money on a trainer that looks like a bag of milk. Your trainer shouldn’t be eating their weight in chicken wings or drinking energy drinks/soda. You wouldn’t hire a dentist with bad teeth, a lawyer that has never won a case or an accountant that doesn’t have their books straight. You need someone that has some credibility. Someone who is not a contradiction to the system. Someone who not only talks the talk but walks the walk.
  3. Results. What is a coach/trainer without results? Results are everything. Take the time and do your research. Ask your potential trainer for “receipts” aka show you results they helped their clients achieved. If they can’t show you results you can applaud and admire, then how can they help you reach your goals?
  4. Good Communication. This person should be an excellent listener and communicator. They have to hear what you’re saying. They can’t simply force you to do what they think you should be doing. It has to be a two way street; where they are providing you information and recommendations based on their experience in similar types of situations and the information you have given them. You both should be working together as a team. Your PT should be open and available to answer your questions and concerns outside of training via phone, email or in person. Last but not least, an excellent trainer will be able to fully explain why they are having you do the exercises in each of your workouts.
  5. Personalized Programming. There are a lot of IG famous people, Insta coaches and a plethora of template programs that people are purchasing online. You cannot pay money for a program that is not personalized. I repeat, you cannot pay for a training program that is not personalized. If that is the route you choose to go, there are tons of free options available online. Your program should be created specifically just for you based on where you are and what you want your end result to be.

The Power of Protein and How It Can Fuel Your Day

Protein is something we are all aware needs to exist in our diets. Most of us think of meat, poultry, fish, eggs or tofu. If working out is apart of your lifestyle or you’re an athlete, you may have protein powder or bars as part of your daily routine as well. But you guys, how many of you use milk and milk products as a form of protein in your diet? I am going to guess not many think of them immediately as a protein go-to but rather think of them as a complement like milk for cereal for example or cheese on…well let’s just say cheese on any and everything because it makes everything taste better.

But before I talk about why milk and milk products are great sources of protein, let me first start with what protein is exactly and why it’s important. No matter what your dietary preferences are, protein is an essential macronutrient we all need to help maintain our overall health. Protein contributes to developing antibodies to boost out immune system. For those of you working hard in the gym these days – getting a jump on your 2018 fitness goals, we need protein to help build  and repair our muscles. Especially after a hardcore workout or training.

The Power of Protein - Dairy Farmers of Canada

The Power of Protein - Dairy Farmers of Canada

Now here’s the deal with how to best optimize your protein intake. A good rule of thumb is to distribute your protein evenly over your meals, so 30 grams during breakfast, lunch and dinner. Also, referred to as the 30-30-30 Rule. Utilizing milk products as an extra source of protein is often overlooked but I have made a conscious effort to integrate it into my day because the high quality proteins found in them help satisfy my hunger throughout my busy days.  With an increase in frequency and intensity with my workouts now that my body is a much better place post baby, I find that adding more protein from milk, yogurt bowls and even cheese into my diet gives me the strength and stamina I need to make it through the day with work, workouts and Maxwell.

The Power of Protein - Dairy Farmers of Canada

I am not sure if any of you out there track your intake of protein but to help you get an idea of the amount of protein you can expect to see from consuming milk products in your day-to-day life here’s some numbers to help put things into perspective for you:

  • A glass of milk (250 ml) contains 8 grams of protein
  • 3/4 cup of greek yogurt (175 ml) contains 17 grams of protein
  • 1/2 cup of cottage cheese (125 ml) contains 15 grams of protein
  • 50 grams of cheddar cheese (1 1/2 Oz) contains 12 grams of protein

Yogurt bowls are an easy way to start incorporating more milk products into your diet. I love added fresh fruit, chia and hemp seeds to mine for a bit of sweetness and crunch. It’s shocking how filling this snack really is. And whenever I need a bit of inspiration on new ways to add milk proteins to my existing meals, I check out DairyGoodness.ca for some recipe inspo. Below you will find the recipe details to a Bean and Barley salad that I discovered recently on the website. I made some slight modifications to it just for taste (removed the olives and used TK peppers) so it still packs all the same nutritional goodness.

The Power of Protein - Dairy Farmers of Canada

The Power of Protein - Dairy Farmers of Canada

Ingredients

1/2 of pearl barley and couscous

1 can (540 ml) of black, red, white or lima beans (no salt added)

1 cup (250 ml) of cucumber, cut in half lengthwise and sliced in half

1 cup (250 ml) of bell pepper, your choice, diced

1/2 cup (125 ml) of red onion, diced

1/4 cup (60 ml) of fresh lemon juice

1/4 cup (60 ml) of fresh parsley

1 tbsp of dried oregano

3 1/2 Oz (100 grams) of Canadian Feta Cheese, coarsely crumbled

Freshly ground pepper and sea salt to taste

Preparation

In a saucepan, bring 6 cups (1.5 L) of water to a boil and cook barley for approximately 20 minutes or until tender. Drain, cool under cold water, then drain again.

In a large bowl, mix barley, beans, and vegetables.

In another bowl, whisk reserved oil with lemon juice. Add herbs, Feta and pepper and pour over salad. Mix well and serve.

This post has been sponsored by Dairy Farmers of Canada however all views and opinions are my own

Why You Should Start Your Day With A Little OJ!

Remember that old saying, “an apple a day keeps the doctor away”? Well for years apples got all the spotlight but it turns out, oranges are really the stand-out star or at least they should be. And when I’m on the go, sometimes a glass of Florida Orange Juice is the easiest and quickest way to get my daily dose of vitamin C. What many don’t realize, it’s also jam packed with tons of other beneficial nutrients.

Sasha Exeter - Florida Department of Orange Juice

Sasha Exeter - FDOJ

I’ve always been a fan of good ole’ OJ…it’s long been my juice of choice because of it’s naturally refreshing and sweet taste obvi and truth be told, mixed with some champers it quickly becomes my fave brunch bevy on the weekends – pre pregnancy of course! When I started taking prenatal vitamins before I got pregnant, my doctor advised me to take my daily pill with a glass of Florida Orange Juice. Why? Prenatal vitamins can sometimes irritate and be tough on some women’s stomach due to the iron content and vitamin C helps aid in the digestion of the mineral. But that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Orange Juice, although an insanely amazing source of vitamins for all, is a very important part of a pregnant woman’s arsenal. I still find it a bit crazy how this change in my lifestyle has made me realize that my life is no longer about me anymore. The way I workout, how I eat, sleep and even my working hours now all revolve around what’s best for my little bean – who I haven’t even had the pleasure of meeting just yet. Funny enough,  even the most simple things like adding a glass of Florida Orange Juice in the morning and another post workout can make a huge difference, ensuring that we both get other essential nutrients like folate – a vitamin essential to prevent neural tube defects in babies in the womb that is also important for the formation of collagen (an important component of gums, bones, and cartilage). But for those of you out there that are fitness enthusiasts giving cold press juice and protein shakes all the praises, Florida Orange Juice, similar to bananas, is also a great source of potassium, super important for muscle function and plays a role in helping the body maintain it’s pH balance and electrolytes, making it a great alternative to your go-to post workout hydration.

Don’t feel like you’re ever limited to just drinking OJ on it’s own. Because of it’s sweet taste, it can be the perfect addition to your favourite smoothies or cold pressed juices, adding just the right sweetness. Also, if you head to FloridaJuice.com, you will find a treasure trove of healthy snack and meal recipes that include Florida Orange Juice you can make at home – I’m going to be trying out these Oatmeal Orange Pancakes this weekend!

 Sasha Exeter - Florida Department of Orange Juice

Photography by JessBaumung.com

I created this blog post as a paid collaborator for Florida Department of Orange Juice. All opinions and advise are my own and I only work with companies I genuinely love and/or have used prior to being contacted. 

Train Hard, Snack Smart with Wonderful Pistachios

The two most important factors that play a role in your overall fitness are 1) how you train/workout and 2) how you eat and snack. Everyday I see an alarming amount of people on social media posting their workouts and sharing their runs but no real progress. Most often than not, the reason behind this is poor diet or them not doing the amount of training they claim to be doing on social media. For me, it’s always been simple. I like to stick to functional workouts based on basic training fundamentals, keep my body guessing by frequently mixing up my works and ALWAYS snack smart. And I love the idea of athlete inspired workouts. Why? Because I know they are effective and how could it not be cool to train like some of the best athletes in the world?

For the next year, I’m teaming up with the Wonderful Pistachios brand and will be sharing different ways for you to enjoy them on-to-the go and how they can be incorporated into your favourite dishes at home. Both nutrient dense and delicious, pistachios have long been my nut of choice, mainly because of their monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats, fibre, protein and antioxidant content. I know for some there is a concern regarding the calorie count with pistachios but the good news is, researchers say sticking to in-shell pistachios can significantly slow down consumption because the empty shells offer a visual cue of how much you’ve eaten. Actually, preliminary behavioural studies have proven that in-shell snackers ate 41% fewer calories than those who snacked on shelled nuts, which is commonly known as the “Pistachio Principle“.

Thanks to the Wonderful Pistachios team, an exclusive group of us were lucky enough to participate in an intimate workout based on Toronto Maple Leaf’s Left Winger, James van Riemsdyk’s off-ice training at SWAT Health – a high performance training studio for elite and professional athletes. The workout, led by SWAT Founder and former football player Kyle Ardill, was no joke. We kicked it off with some dynamic movements and stretches to get are bodies warm and loosened up, followed by speed and agility work. All elite athletes train hard during their season, which are reflected in their physiques, however hockey players are notorious for the strength of their lower bodies. Specifically, quads and glutes. That means, we were getting ourselves into a 40 minute session focusing on the targeted muscles that allow hockey players to be quick and strong on the ice like; skater lunges, weighted side and reverse lunges, one legged dead lifts, a series of glute activations with resistance bands and a killer core workout circuit. If that wasn’t enough, Kyle had me end the session with some sled work (with him on it of course!) with the weight totalling over 300 lbs.

What many people often forget, what you eat post workout can be just as important as the workout itself. Usually we find it difficult enough to squeeze in a workout throughout the day, let alone take time to prepare a meal post workout, but nobody can ever be too busy for a smoothie. They are quick to prep, tasty AF and when you pack them with the right ingredients, they can actually be rather filling, helping you stay full until your next meal. On hand that morning was Registered Dietician and Abbey’s Kitchen founder Abbey Sharp, who helped create our post workout treat, a Pistachio & Tahini Protein Smoothie that you can easily make at home by using the following:

  • 1/3 cup Wonderful Pistachios, unsalted and shelled
  • 1 cup 2% Plain Greek Yogurt
  • 4 ripe figs, stems removed and quartered
  • 2 dates, pitted and diced
  • 2 tsp, tahini
  • 1 cup 1% milk (or you can substitute for Almond milk if you’re lactose intolerant or prefer the taste

Photography by Charlie Lindsay @DonCharleone

OPTIONAL GARNISH:

  • 1/3 cup Wonderful Pistachios, unsalted and shelled
  • 1 cup 2% Plain Greet Yogurt
  • 4 ripe figs, stems removed and quartered

INSTRUCTIONS:

In a blender, pulse the pistachios until they reach a ground up consistency. Add in the yogurt, figs, dates, tahini and milk. Puree until smooth. To serve, pour into two glasses. Top with sliced fig, crushed pistachios and pomegranate arils.

Stay tuned fin 2017 for more of my snack and meal ideas with Wonderful Pistachios #GetSnackin

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