Starting Out: Jogging

So you’ve decided to start jogging for the first time – congratulations! Jogging is an excellent way of boosting your mood, increasing your movement and keeping your weight under control.

But before you load up a running playlist on your phone and bolt out the door, first take some advice gleaned from jogging experts that may help you start on the right foot.

Here’s how to avoid the common rookie mistakes people make when picking up jogging for the first time.

Let out the doubt
“New joggers usually worry about how they compare to other people, and how they might look and be perceived,” says Heather Gardner, founder of Toronto’s Tribe Fitness. She advises to come to the experience of jogging “from a place that is personal versus worrying about others and what others think.”

Remember, feeling self-conscious is normal when starting a new activity, but it shouldn’t hold you back from becoming the best person you can be.

“Once upon a time, if someone would have said: ‘Luis you will be a runner in the future’, I would have literally laughed in their face.  I never pictured myself to be a runner,” says Luis Cabrera, a runner of 10 years, who is now a Nike Ambassador. “I always had this idea in my head that runners were these fit people that had been running all their life. I was wrong! Runners come in all shapes and sizes.  I’ve seen older people come out for the first time and seeing that motivates me.”

Don’t over-do it
New joggers tend to go all out, too soon. But pushing past the point of exhaustion and racking up too many kilometres can lead to injury and setbacks.

“By jumping into it without stretching and warming up properly, joggers risk injury or they can be very sore afterwards and so they won’t be able to run again for that week,” says Colin Matchim, head coach of Ajax Boxing Club, which will hinder their progress. Adopting a pre-workout warmup and stretch, followed by a post-workout stretch, is a good way to combat injuries from occurring.

Fuel your body
Also dangerous to a new jogger? Not eating or drinking enough. “A lot of people don’t realize the importance of proper nourishment and hydration before the start of run and quickly find out why it’s a bad idea not to be prepared,” says Matchim. “Stay hydrated throughout the day before you run and make sure you eat properly — but not within 45 minutes of your jog.”

Use the right shoes
New joggers can also suffer from repeat use injury, like shin splints, if they are not wearing the appropriate gear. “Many people are worried about sore knees and hips when jogging,” says Garner. “But with the proper program and attire, like running shoes, those injuries don’t generally happen.” So, go ahead and splurge on those new sneakers – it will be well worth it!

Have a plan and stick to it
Without a plan in place, many new joggers might begin to feel overwhelmed. Whether you are starting on a treadmill, a trail, or on the road, it’s important to find a route that feels comfortable for you, and to stick with it.

Gardner recommends finding a plan online from a reliable resource, or joining a class like the Learn to Run program at Tribe Fitness, a run/walk progression that requires no past running experience. “It is all about breaking it down into small accessible pieces,” she says. “So the program is broken down into small jog and walk chunks. You jog for one minute and walk for two minutes. The time slowly changes and the increments slowly morph throughout the program between jogging and walking. It is finding a program for the beginner jogger and giving them something that they can follow along.”

For those who are going it alone, Matchim suggests picking a route and timing yourself. “Setting goals within the route is always a good idea,” he says. “Jog to a pre-set landmark before you stop, and then on the day, you jog to another landmark.  Improving your time is another measurable method of tracking your improvement.” For example, see how it long it takes you to jog around the block one week, and compare it to your time for the next week.

Don’t go it alone
A great way to keep motivated with your new routine is finding a jogging buddy.

“When you know your friend is waiting for you in the park or on the corner, you won’t stand them up. You are going to go,” says Gardner, who recommends finding friends who have similar fitness goals. “The people who you are surrounded with impact what you do, including fitness and hobbies. I think finding like-minded people in your community who want to do what you want to do is key.” She suggests beginner joggers connect with others by joining a running program or finding a coach. Gardner also says that posting your fitness goals on social media, like Facebook or Connect is another way to stay accountable. “Post something like, ‘Hey, I just started this new jogging program. Ask me how it is going!’ Because people will ask you how it is going. Enrolling people will keep you accountable to your goals.”

Jogging can be a great addition to your fitness routine, or a terrific start of your new healthier you. Like everything else in life, you need to commit to it in order to be successful,” says Cabrera. “Jogging is one of those things that takes work and dedication.”

Read the original article on the Weight Watchers Canada website.

Boxing classes taught me so much more than a right jab

Last January, I became one of those people — one of the many people who join a gym as soon as the remnants of the holidays have been devoured and digested, and almost instantly regretted. Because I work from home and despise the winter, I decided I needed to leave the house. And because I had indulged in a number of regretted but enjoyed proseccos and tiny quiches basically every day for a month, I decided I also wanted Gigi Hadid’s abs.

Boxing was something that had interested me on and off throughout the years because I knew it would be unlike any of my Tracy Anderson or Ballet Beautiful DVDs. It would be demanding and essentially kick my derriere — something I knew I needed on both a fitness and a personal level. So I decided to join a boxing gym.

A year later, and I’m still working out at the same boxing gym. Not only did I stick with my New Year’s fitness intentions (I’m all about setting intentions rather than making resolutions), but I also learned a lot about myself throughout the process.

If you’re considering taking on a new activity or sport in 2017 as part of your New Year’s fitness intentions, here are some words of wisdom I can pass on that I learned from my year of taking boxing classes.

You are stronger (physically, mentally, emotionally) than you think

I’m gonna be real: Boxing is hard work. Learning combinations and throwing punches is challenging — especially when you have as little upper-body strength as I do. I mean, prior to boxing, I found opening a jar of pickles sweat-inducing.

Suffice it to say it didn’t come easily to me, and I hated that. I like things that come easily because I also hate doing things “wrong.” There were so many times when my inner perfectionist wanted to quit, but I knew on a very visceral, life-changing level that I couldn’t bob and weave myself out of this test. I would have to, literally, muscle through it.

More: Women’s fitness: Get lean, mean results with boxing

That’s not to say I loved every minute of boxing. I most definitely didn’t. But I soon learned to love the challenge of it, and soon I was finding success in the smallest of victories, whether it was successfully memorizing a combo or doing 15 push-ups without stopping. I discovered that I was a lot stronger — physically, mentally and emotionally — than I had given myself credit for.

Lesson learned: Keep pushing through because the reward of conquering old fears, thinking and patterns is priceless.

You are more than an outdated label for yourself

I can’t remember a time when I didn’t identify myself as an artist. In high school, I lived in my bedroom, writing stories. Throughout my 20s, I was a struggling actor, putting on plays in black box theatres (read: fancy basements). Now, I make my living from freelance writing, while I dabble in screenwriting on the side.

Despite being an avid exerciser for most of my life, I never thought of myself as a “jock.” To me, jocks were greased-up bodybuilders or those show-offs who always placed first at high school track and field while I was rewarded with a participation ribbon. Even bendy yogis who thrived on green juice and macrobiotic diets were more athletic than little ol’ me.

But by pushing and persevering through boxing class — by being able to both keep up and compete with some of the top athletes in class — I realized that I was actually athletic.

Boxing forced me to admit — to give — to myself this vital side of me that I had denied and suppressed due to an old (and, let’s be honest, probably toxic) belief that I was only “artsy” and not ever a “jock.” Embracing this new me has pushed me to finishing my first-ever 10K race, as well as pursuing an entirely different career path as a personal trainer.

Lesson learned: Don’t restrict yourself from evolving and growing into your true potential based on who you thought you were or what you believed about yourself so many years ago. Believe that you can be this and that and so much more — and you will be!

You are a kickass woman, inside and out

Like many women, I have struggled with my fair share of self-esteem issues. Boxing forced me out of my physical comfort zone, which in turn, helped me to love and appreciate my body more. Now I see my thighs and butt as something awesome because of their powerful abilities rather than something to be so critical and judgmental of whilst in a poorly lit changing room.

Lesson learned: Be a body-appreciative person rather than a body-cognizant person, and remember you are not alone in your journey.

Oh, and one more thing: I did end up getting those Gigi abs, after all.

 

To read the entire article, go to SheKnows.com where it was originally published.

Starting Out: Swimming

Swimming is an excellent form of exercise, especially in the summertime. It’s one of those sneaky fitness regimes that burn just as many calories as it provides many hours of enjoyment.

“Swimming isn’t just great for weight loss, but it’s also great for the mind and spirit, too,” says Mindy Barfield, the office manager of AquaMobile Swim School, which offers private swimming lessons across Canada and the U.S.

But if you’ve never swam before, or are re-entering the water after a long absence, swimming can seem daunting, particularly for adults.

Here’s what you need to keep in mind before starting your swimming program.

You’re never too old to learn
Generally, when we think of swimming lessons, we tend to think of them as something that only children do. We often assume – wrongly – that swimming is a skill that every adult already possesses, or, at least, should know. It’s usually this negative thought pattern that will deter adults from learning how to swim in the first place.

“When I talk to fearful swimmers who are adults, a lot of that fear comes from a childhood event,” says Barfield. “The lack of learning as a child makes them embarrassed. They think they shouldn’t talk about it because they believe they should have learned it when they were young, but that’s not the case.”

As Barfield succinctly points out, “You’re never too old to learn anything, ever.”

Wear the right gear
With any sport, it’s important to ensure that you’re wearing the right gear in order to get the most out of your time and body.

“You don’t want what you wear to impact you negatively,” says Shelley Dalke, Director of the Swimming and Water Safety Program for the Canadian Red Cross. “For example: men wearing big, baggy shorts or women who are wearing bathing suits with excessive material that floats up. You want to wear something that you’re comfortable in, and that you’re not adjusting all the time.”

Finding the right goggles is also crucial. “I recommend investing in a good quality pair of goggles,” says Barfield. “Then that is one last thing that adult swimmers don’t need to worry about and then they can open up their eyes comfortably in the water. [Opening eyes underwater] tends to be a large concern for adults, especially those who wear contact lenses.” Barfield recommends consulting with your instructor on what type of goggles you should invest in, and ensuring they are fitted correctly.

Fuel your body
Even though we’ve all heard the “wait an hour after eating before swimming” idiom, both Barfield and Dalke suggest that fueling your body before swimming is a good idea.

“You have to ensure that your stomach isn’t working on digesting a heavy meal,” says Dalke, which probably explains the intention behind the common phrase. “But you want to ensure that you’ve eaten sufficiently to keep up your energy.”

Barfield recommends eating a high protein snack, as well as listening to your body. “If you’re the type who needs to eat before your workout, then do so. If not, don’t worry about it,” she says. “Just like any activity, you need to have endurance and you don’t want to lose your lunch, so to speak.”

 

Read the original article that I wrote for Weight Watchers Canada, here.

Outdoor Workouts You Need to Do This Summer

 

With the super nice weather outside, it’s perfectly normal to feel uninspired about hitting the gym. So step off the boring treadmill, and take your workout outdoors!

Below are some awesome outdoor fitness ideas that are sure-fire ways to torch calories and have fun!

1. Head to the Park

Your closest public park can be the next best thing to a gym. Take a friend for an easy jog around the park. Use the park benches for step-ups or standing push-ups and tricep dips, while the various ladders are great for legs. And don’t forget the monkey bars for a serious arm workout!

2. Jump on Your Bike

Cycling is not only an amazing way to burn calories, but it’s also a really fun workout to do with a group of friends. Zip around the neighborhood, or head to a nearby biking trail for challenging terrain and a change of scenery. Your newly toned butt and legs will thank you!

3. Try Inline Skating

This is the best workout for you adrenaline junkies, or for the adventurous types who are looking for a new cardio challenge. Skating sculpts your butt and thighs, and also provides an awesome release from mental baggage, like dudes and school, since it demands total concentration. The best thing? You can skate just about anywhere.

4. Get Hiking

Going for a hike not only gets you in touch with nature, but it’s also one heck of a sweat session. It keeps your cardiovascular system in fighting shape, while giving the you stronger, leaner thighs and firm butt that you crave. Plus, it’s super meditative.

5. Hit the Water

Kayaking, or canoeing, is an excellent way of making the most of your summer, while getting your fitness on. Pulling the paddle against the water is great resistance, which is an intense workout for your shoulders, biceps, triceps and core. Bonus? Being on the water is sooooo peaceful.

Read the entire article over at Awesomeness TV!