Got a bad case of the winter “blahs”? With all the cold weather and grey slush surrounding us, the winter months can seem like a pretty miserable time. For a while, all I wanted to do was stay curled up in a warm bed. But over the past month or so, I’ve been working hard to try and stick to my new year’s resolution and get UP and MOVING.
I’m proud to say I’ve done pretty well so far. I do cardio/weight training twice a week, and quick yoga sessions whenever I can. I’m only working part-time at Toronto General Hospital, but on the days I am working I make every effort to walk to/from Union Station in order to get to the hospital. This takes me about half an hour, each way. Despite the mind-numbing, teeth-chattering cold that hit us last week, I still forced myself to walk to Union. And guess what.. it felt great!
In fact, I’ve been feeling so great that I woke up at 5am yesterday to squeeze in a quick cardio workout before leaving for work. For me, this is pretty impressive since I am FAR from a morning person. I plan on making this a more regular occurrence, because I found I had SO much more energy throughout the day. I didn’t crave coffee once, and I usually drink one cup first thing in the morning on the days I have to wake up early for work. Instead, I spent the day sipping on cups of steaming hot peppermint tea (so delicious – and so many health benefits!).
If the winter months have you feeling like you’re in a bit of a rut, or you’re just having a bad day and need a little pick-me-up, I think it’s time for a pep talk. My mom forwarded me this video earlier today and it brought a smile to my face. I hope it inspires you and makes you smile too!
I am very excited to announce Inspiring Healthy Living’s first giveaway contest! I was recently contacted by a representative from SlimKicker – a healthy living app - and asked if I would be interested in partnering with them. A blog and an app both trying to promote healthy living? Sounds like a good combination to me! Here are the details:
SlimKicker is a calorie-tracking app and game that makes achieving your diet and fitness goals fun and exciting. You can “level-up” by earning points for tracking healthy calories, logging your workouts, and completing healthy challenges. As you level up, you become eligible to participate in giveaway challenges and have the opportunity to win special prizes. Another detail about this app that I particularly like is a “virtual coach” provides you with personalized tips and advice based on your tracking activity. For example, I just logged some exercise minutes (20 minutes of walking) and was provided with this friendly reminder: “Lots of stress can negatively impact our bodies in many ways. Low to moderate exercise is a great way to combat stress. Go on a walk with a friend or hit the pool for a swim. Make time to escape the stress of daily life.” Neat, eh? Another thing I like about this app is it provides a breakdown of your daily food intake. It shows how much carbohydrates, protein, fat, cholesterol, sodium, fibre and sugar you consume each day. Oh, and did I mention the app is FREE? If you don’t have an iPhone to download the app, you also have the option of signing up online and tracking your activity on their website.
Now, onto the contest! SlimKicker would like to hear your suggestions for new health challenges for the app! Here are some examples of the challenges currently available:
Replace Soda Challenge: Replace all soda with tea, water or unsweetened coffee for the next 7 days (worth 500 points)
Move During Commercials: During the commercials, get off your couch and march in place or dance for the next 7 days (worth 500 points)
A Salad A Day: Eat a salad everyday for lunch or dinner for the next 7 days (worth 700 points)
I think you get the idea. To enter this giveaway contest, you simply need to leave a comment on this post containing your idea(s) for a new healthy diet or fitness challenge. The challenge idea should be fun, creative, and no more than 1-2 sentences. The staff from SlimKicker will choose their favourite submission and the winner will receive this prize:
Hmm, the title of this post sounds too good to be true, doesn’t it? If you haven’t heard of Tabata, you’re going to want to read this. Tabata was developed by Dr. Izumi Tabata and a team of researchers from Japan’s National Institute of Fitness and Sports. Although it has traditionally been used with elite athletes, this workout is quickly gaining more popularity – especially with new mothers trying to lose baby weight.
What is Tabata?
Tabata is high-intensity interval training. You do an exercise, such as push-ups, at maximum intensity for 20 seconds, and then get a 10-second break. This is done 8 times for a total of 4 minutes. Sounds pretty easy, right? I did a fitness class last night that incorporated multiple Tabata intervals and I can tell you right now that it was INTENSE. My entire body – particularly my shoulders and arms – is feeling it today. I remember one of the first times I tried a Tabata class the instructor described it as “working your body to complete exhaustion”. Sounds fun, eh??
How is it effective?
High-intensity workouts help burn fat. According to an article in the Globe and Mail, a very recent study found that participants that engaged in high-intensity interval training such as Tabata for 1.5 hours each week enjoyed the exact same physical benefits as participants that did 4.5 hours of endurance training on an exercise bike. Martin Gibala, chair of the kinesiology department at McMaster University, explains that Tabata training is highly effective because your body continues to burn calories during the recovery period.
This is why Tabata is quickly becoming popular - you can exercise for a small amount of time and still reap effective physical health benefits. The fact that a single interval only take 4 minutes to complete means that people can easily incorporate it into their busy schedules. Why not start your day with a couple of Tabata intervals? It literally only takes a few minutes!
How to get started
If you have never tried Tabata or are currently not very active, I strongly urge you to slowly ease into these workouts in order to avoid injury. Take time to warm-up first. It might even help to consult a personal trainer, as they can help ensure that you are demonstrating proper technique. If you do a Tabata interval that involves weights you may be at risk of injuring yourself by not executing the correct form.
Here is a sample Tabata workout I found:
Just a couple of notes:
Tabata is 20 seconds of maximum intensity. This instructor clearly isn’t giving it her all. However, her videos are primarily geared towards beginners, so if you are new to Tabata this might be a good place to start.
Sometimes people like to do multiple exercises within one Tabata interval, as is demonstrated in this video. For a longer workout, you could do 4 minutes for each individual exercise. This is typically how Tabata classes are structured. Sometimes I do a 40-minute Tabata class on Wednesday nights and WOW is it exhausting. Very effective though!
If you’re interested in incorporating Tabata intervals into your exercise routine and happen to have an iPhone, you can download the Tabata Timer app for free!
It took a lot of searching to find out what the best drink is to consume during and after workouts……. but I think I have found out what it is. Are you ready?
SURPRISE! It’s water. I read an article earlier today on healthzone.ca that interviewed Elizabeth Mansfield, a registered dietician and exercise physiologist at a health and sports clinic in Ottawa. She reviewed many different workout drink options:
Water: It’s considered the best bet for any standard fitness routine. It won’t cancel out the energy burned during a workout because it contains no calories or sugar. However, Mansfield warns that workouts lasting longer than 90 minutes may require more than water in order to replenish lost carbohydrates and electrolytes.
Vitamin Water: Vitamins won’t help your body recover from vigorous exercise. Plus it’s much more expensive than water.
Sports Drinks: Not recommended for most people. These drinks contain carbs and electrolytes, and thus are great for individuals engaging in strenuous workouts. If you are working out in an attempt to lose weight, sports drinks may inhibit weight loss due to their extra calorie content.
Fruit Juice: It’s full of vitamins, but the high fructose content means the juice sits longer in your stomach, which can cause stomach discomfort.
Energy Drinks: These beverages may give you a quick energy boost, but they won’t provide any advantage in terms of fitness. Plus they contain high-fructose corn syrup which can upset your stomach while working out.
Coconut Water: Contains electrolytes and about the same number of calories as sports drinks, but with fewer carbs. Again, most people don’t need the extra calories (and the extra co$t) associated with this drink. I have to admit it sounds tasty though.
Milk or Chocolate Milk: I had heard numerous times that chocolate milk was a great post-workout drink. However, according to Mansfield, milk is more appropriate for individuals that train hard more than once a day. For most people, the extra calories (and extra sugar in chocolate milk) aren’t necessary.
So, the next time you workout take a minute to think about what you should be drinking! If you go for water, try to remember to fill up a reusable water bottle instead of bringing plastic bottled water. It’s simple changes like these that can have a big impact on the health of our environment ; )