Are you making these 3 common training mistakes?

August 23, 2015

As the summer months come to a close, you may be feeling like it's time to get back into a regular routine. If you’ve let some of your weekly sweat habits slide or if you’re looking to up the ante this September, I encourage you to take part in all the fun things I’ve got planned for us this fall. Hint, hint, I’ve got a big announcement coming next week for my free September challenge! 

Today’s post is all about identifying some of the most common training mistakes we make, and you’ll find that these are super innocent mis-steps too. We often think more exercise is better, or that we just need to push harder in order to see the results we crave and that is simply not the truth. Let’s jump in and get you equipped so you can avoid the following three common training mistakes that will mess with your goals and halt your results. 

Stop confusing exercise with movement.

You can think of exercise as a targeted stress on your body designed to create a specific response. A workout in which we challenge our muscles to lift more weight, or to complete more volume via increased sets and reps is a good example of exercise.

Movement on the other hand does not supply as much stimulus for our body to respond. Things like going for a walk, taking a restorative yoga class and even leisurely riding our bikes are examples of movement, not exercise.

It is important to make a distinction between these two activities because many of you who get frustrated from not seeing the results you crave are likely falling into one of two traps: you are not getting enough exercise or are doing too much exercise. I know, you’re perplexed, there is such a thing as too much exercise?! Yes, there is. We must complete total body strength training at least three times each week to see changes in body composition, but over-exercising can cause compensatory hunger, lack of recovery and actually prevent muscle growth. 

“We need lots of movement and just the right amount of exercise.”  - Dr. Jade Teta

In order to stay healthy we need to move a lot each day. Walking, doing mobility exercises and leading an active lifestyle including taking the stairs and moving regularly helps to reduce stress hormones, maintain good muscle function and essentially combats the negative effects of a sedentary life. BUT this does not change our body composition.

Exercise needs to be intense, challenging, breathless and progressive in order to see physical change. Our body adapts to the demands we place on it, so there has got to be significant enough stimulus to elicit change. But how much intensity do we need, and how often?

This depends greatly on our starting point and goals. I am currently lifting weights three times a week completing total body workouts, but there have been training blocks in my life that I have lifted six days a week, splitting up body parts each session. And when it comes to intensity…

Do not go to complete muscular fatigue. 

Ahh! This is a tough one to grasp. When it comes to exercise, quality really matters. Remember, we are in this for years, not weeks or months so we’ve got to take the time to build a strong foundation for effective movement patterns. 

I often cue my clients to lift ‘to muscular fatigue’ but this is quite different from physically not being able to lift a certain load anymore (this could also include bodyweight!). We want our muscles to experience a significant training stimulus called failure, but if our entire kinetic chain is breaking down at the end of our set of squats we are not getting stronger, we are practicing bad movement patterns. 

 

This is an example of what ideal squat form looks like. We want our shin angle to be similar to our spine angle. This often breaks down as we become fatigued or the load we are lifting gets too heavy.

Our ability to control our body, respond to load and adapt properly all depend on how we stress our muscles. I want you to get picky with your reps and stop before your knees are dumping in, upper back is rounding or shoulders are hunching up towards your ears. If you think you need more breathless activity, throw in a few sprint intervals at the beginning or end of your workout, but do not compromise your resistance training form to get sweaty.

Take adequate rest. 

Listening to your body is certainly an art that gets easier with much practice. This is super tough when you’re motivated to get to the gym, but remember we make gains when we rest! Sure training is essential, but resting is required too.

This is where movement comes in. A slow outdoor walk for at least 30 minutes can be a great afternoon activity when you’ve already got your strength workout in for the day. A restorative yoga class is an excellent option on a Sunday before you sweat it out all week. I always take at least one day away from training and moving each week. In the past year, I have upped this to two days and have found much more results during my workouts.

The bottom line is that we need to be dynamic and progressive with our intensity and frequency of exercise. Being dynamic means that we are capable of listening to our body and knowing when we need a day off or more sleep. Progressive means that we are sequentially taking on more challenging tasks to allow our body to adapt and get stronger.

As you can see, finding our stress sweet spot via enough exercise with enough intensity and enough recovery is the only way to see great results. Let’s call it the goldilocks principle. We do not want too much stress or our bodies do not respond well. We also do not want too little stress or our bodies lose muscle, strength and calorie burning capacity.

The biggest challenge we will face when following the goldilocks principle is that it will test our patience. Body composition change and strength gain take time, so let’s jump in for the long haul!

Xox Lana

Wild Salmon & Veggie Nori Wraps

August 19, 2015

I love sushi. In fact, going for Japanese food is a weekly occurrence for me. I like going out, not doing the dishes and being able to still get great lean proteins (hello, sashimi?!) and lots of greens. This is my take on a healthy, easy to make 'sushi' roll you can do at home. 

Ingredients:

2 fillets wild salmon (I like coho, but sockeye is a crowd fave for sure)

black pepper and rock salt

1 package nori sheets

1/2 cucumber julienned

1 carrot julienned

1 red pepper julienned

1/4 cup cilantro finely chopped 

4 tbsp creamy avocado dressing

Preheat oven to 400F. My Dad taught me to cook salmon 'without any crap on top of it' because he likes tasting the flavour of the fish, not anything else. I still cook my fish this way, which means I usually put rock salt and freshly cracked black pepper on top and nothing else.

Once oven is preheated, cook fish on tin foil on a baking sheet for 10-12 minutes. Salmon cooks quite quickly and will continue to cook when you pull it out of the oven, so you do not want to overcook it or you lose that perfect, melt in your mouth taste. You'll want to let the fish cool for a few minutes. 

Julienne the carrots, cucumber and red pepper into thin slices. You can choose to assemble all the wraps and serve them or serve all the fixings and let your guests assemble their own. To assemble, you'll need to place a nori sheet on a flat surface, spread the creamy avocado dressing down one edge of the wrap. Place small chunks of salmon on top of the dressing, then follow with veggies and cilantro. Wet your fingers and begin to roll the wrap tightly. You can wet your fingers again to 'close' the nori so it does not unravel. I like to cut my roll into two halves and eat with my hands. If you want more of a 'sushi' experience, you can dip your roll into some gluten free tamari, a great soy sauce substitute.

Creamy Avocado Dressing

August 18, 2015

My everyday go-to dressing for a salad is olive oil, freshly squeezed lemon and balsamic reduction. I literally use this 9 times out of 10 when I am crafting up a big bowl filled with greens, crunchy veggies and my favourite lean protein. While I like changing up what is in my salad, my dressing game was pretty stale....until this:

While strolling through the grocery store this past weekend the avocados were looking mighty fine and I picked up four of them thinking, I'll put some in my shake, a little in my salad, make guacamole, and craft up this dressing I had been wanting to try for awhile. It's the perfect blend of garlic, creamy avocado, spice and salt. 

Ingredients:

1 large ripe avocado

1/2 garlic clove, minced

2 tbsp fresh squeezed lime 

3 tbsp water

1 tbsp rice wine vinegar

1 tsp hot sauce or 1/2 tsp jalapeño, minced

6 tablespoons avocado oil or olive oil

1/4 cup cilantro

 Place all ingredients except oil into a high-powered blender or food processor and blend. When ingredients are fully blended, add oil and slowly blend. 

You'll want to use up all the dressing within one day as it doesn't keep well for much longer than that. It is great as a dip for veggies! 

How To Stop Comparing Yourself To Everyone Else

August 07, 2015

I posted a photo of myself on my instagram feed a few days ago and shared that I used to hate my hair. Growing up I spent hours trying to tame it, manage the frizz and basically let it not be so...big.

When I look back now I can see that the main reason I hated my hair was due to the fact that it was different. All my girlfriends had straight hair that they could do up with cute barrettes, braids or even crimping (yep, I'm a child of the 80's). By constantly comparing my hair to my compadres, I took from myself the ability to be grateful or even enjoy what I had that made me unique and, well, ME. 

I'm happy to report now, that at 30 years old I actually love my hair. It's taken awhile, and learning that the first rule of curly hair is that you do not brush it was a big step, but that didn't come with my operating manual. While I've given up comparing my hair to the shiny, tame, neat and tidy looks on my social media feeds, there are still about one hundred other areas that have me falling into the comparison trap from time to time. 

Today we're going to talk about something we all do. We compare. We see how we stack up against the next girl, the person we work along side with, or the latest pic that pops up on our instagram feed. I'm sure we come by this habit innocently, perhaps it even stems back to when we needed to assess if we could take on a predator, say 1000 years ago. There is even a fair amount of scientific support for social comparison theory. But comparison isn't always motivating. It doesn't warm our hearts or help us lift others up, and it's a lonely, judgemental road. 

We know comparison is the thief of joy.

So let's dig a little deeper. Why do we do this? And what is our end game when it comes to comparison? 

When I think back to the times I've compared myself to other women on the topic of body composition or business prowess, I don't remember feeling empowered or excited. If I was somehow doing better or seemed fitter than the person I was comparing myself against, I didn't get a jolt of positive energy. I felt lonely, like I was judging someone for exactly what I didn't want others judging me about. Even winning the comparison game doesn't feel great, does it?

There is a lesson here about judgement in general. When we fear the judgement of others, we need to know that is a reflection of ourselves. We likely fear judgement when we are judgemental ourselves. 

And then there is the other side of the coin. When we compare ourselves to someone else and deem that we are 'less than' or 'not as fit as' so and so. How does that feel? Hah - not motivating, that's for sure, and therefore 'losing' the comparison game feels really crappy too.

So what is the point of this incessant comparing? Perhaps I see it more often as a professional in the fitness industry. There are half-naked photos of women advertising the latest fitness craze all over the place. Even I post photos of myself showing skin and I know that comparison happens. 

As women, I think this comparison game keeps us separate rather than unified. Even when we bring up the topic of comparison between each other, we are more likely to downplay a compliment than accept it. We are less likely to say 'thanks! I think I have dynamite legs too' and more apt to say 'well my stomach is covered with stretch marks and yours isn't'

The first way to change this reality of constant comparison is to alter our thought process when we go about falling into the comparison trap in the first place. We call ourselves on it and choose to think about each other differently. It doesn't always have to be about comparison.

Start by standing for something more. 

This is only one of the reasons why I choose to write about more than just exercise plans and the caloric content in a certain food. WE ARE MORE THAN THAT. Plus, when we only talk about calories and exercises to tone our arms, we lose engagement and motivation because that is just the tip of the iceberg. 

We start standing for something more than comparing ourselves on the level of body composition and aesthetic values when we start talking, buying and supporting brands and leaders that preach about our unique beauty and our physical differences. For me, this looks like not buying trashy magazines or following 'tear down' social media that blasts negativity about women's bodies. 

As a trainer this has been a journey for me. I entered the fitness industry because I loved movement and learning about the human body. Over the years I learned that talking about body composition got attention (and sometimes body change is what I want to talk about!) but I would be lying if I said it is the be all, end all. And this brought me back to my roots, that fitness is about mind, body and soul, not just the physical side of things. 

Stop exercising for aesthetic reasons only

Not going to lie, I like feeling strong and putting on a dress to see my back muscles ripple or my glutes fill out my favourite jeans BUT those things don't get me to the gym. They are nice to have, but not need to have things in my life. And this took practice. 

When I worked at facilities that focused on aesthetics I focused more on aesthetics. When I talked more about aesthetics, I attracted more people that were all about the look. I am glad I went through this phase because it is still part of how I train and coach people.

Now, one of my favourite parts of training women is when their goals start to shift from training solely for body composition changes to moving towards empowerment, self care and belief. Remember it doesn't have to be one or the other. I told you I love feeling strong and seeing my arm muscles when I do a push-up, but I also know I have kept moving so much over the years because this is how I take care of myself and the best way I have to inspire others. 

Use others for inspiration, not comparison. 

Because here's the thing, when you see someone else being unapologetically themselves, when they aren't trying to follow the crowd and compare their legs and hair and business and closet to the next girl, isn't THAT inspiring? It sure is to me. Just like the famous Marianne Williamson quote, 'as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same'. 

I want women to look at my instagram posts and think, if she can do this, so can I. If she can get out of bed, get a short, intense strength training workout in and let that be good enough, so can I. If she can work to love all parts of herself and be grateful, so can I. If she can write a blog post about her beliefs and goals and dreams, so can I. 

The bottom line is this: Strong women don't tear each other down. They build each other up. 

So get out there, accept some compliments and start shining that light of yours, 

Catch you next time, 

Lana :) 

 

 

 

Tuna Niçoise Salad

August 05, 2015

The traditional tuna niçoise salad is combination of tomatoes, french beans, niçoise olives and tuna served with a light vinaigrette. While the original recipe does not contain any cooked veggies, even the great Jaime Oliver includes potatoes in his variety. And hey, I found myself with an excess of roasted potatoes on my hands and wanted a way to eat them in a salad so this was what I came up with - a surprisingly lean way to eat all my favourite foods in one bowl!

Ingredients: 

1 can tuna (drained)

2 cups spinach

2 cups mixed greens

1 cup shredded purple cabbage

1 cup roasted baby potatoes

1/2 cup cherry tomatoes

1/4 cup white onion

1 avocado

Dressing: 

Juice of 1/2 lemon

2 tbsp olive oil

Drizzle balsamic reduction

Finely chop greens, cabbage, white onion and avocado and arrange in a large salad bowl. Top with cherry tomatoes, sliced in half, tuna, and roasted potatoes. As the potatoes need to be cold for this dish, I like to make this salad as a 'day after' recipe when I've got extra roasted potatoes in my fridge. To roast potatoes, toss in olive or coconut oil, top with salt and pepper and place in a 375 oven for 40 minutes, being sure to toss a few times. You could even make this recipe without potatoes for a less starchy carbohydrate option. 

I top this salad with my go to dressing of olive oil, lemon juice and balsamic reduction. Healthy, tasty and so quick to make! 

This recipe makes two large salads, ideal for two people as lunch or dinner or for an easy pack ahead lunch.