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Saskatchewan’s Best Figure — Melissa Leier

posted by Fitness Focus    |   May 13, 2012 18:41
Beyond The Weight Room
From Contest Prep To First Place

 Melissa Leier, Saskatoon-based Figure Competitor and cover model for Saskatoon Well Being Magazine’s debut January 2012 issue, takes us through three weeks of contest prep and her experiences at this year’s Saskatchewan Amateur Bodybuilding Association (SABBA) Provincials in Regina through excerpts from her journal.  

March 17, 2012

3 Weeks To Go

After a solid off-season of trying to make gains in muscle symmetry—especially to fill up my legs and glutes to balance with my wide upper body—it is now time to lean out to see what lies underneath.

As of this week, there are no more supersets and high reps. Down to 6-8 reps of heavy training, with 45 minutes of cardio in the morning and 20 minutes after weights.

I have regular check-ins with my coaches now (almost daily) for them to track my progress and adjust as needed to dial my body in to exactly where it needs to be.

I have consistently gotten up at 4:30 a.m. to start morning cardio at 5 a.m. The key is routine. Same every day. Just get up and go and make the time in the gym as effective as possible. I don’t get up at 4:30 a.m. for nothing!

Hitting the shower after and having some oatmeal and egg whites is always THE BEST feeling. And then I’m refreshed, wide awake and ready to take on my day.

I notice that I am feeling wiped out by 8 p.m. now. Ideally, I try to do my round two training either over my lunch break or right after work at 4 p.m. Earlier the better. Need to keep workouts effective and intense.

My routine is pretty much the same every week day: gym, work, gym, home to pack up for next day and get in bed as soon as I can to do it all over again next day. Doesn’t really leave room for much else!

All cooking, cleaning and family time happens on the weekends when I have a few extra hours.

I have cut out all social events or commitments to focus just on this last few weeks getting ready for showtime. I’m way too busy right now for anything else to be on the mind.

I’ve started to surround myself with motivation wherever I can. Posting motivational posters and quotes on my Facebook, looking at my role model’s achievements and even looking back to previous years’ progress and seeing how I’ve grown. I try to avoid looking at other competitors’ photos that they share on social media. Some people peak early and look stage ready right now and it can make you think OMG, she’s in better shape than me. Stay away from playing that head game.

Tanning seems to take up a lot of time. I’m going about four times a week. This is something I know isn’t great for skin (exposure to UV), but it is relaxing. Makes me feel like I’m lying on a beach. I always save it for the end of the day.

Posing practice daily now. Going through quarter turns (the four mandatory poses that figure athletes do on stage), ensuring posture, turning on the right muscles, angling your body just right to showcase or highlight your best and hide or cover areas you don’t want the focus to be on. In addition, having smooth transitions, confidence, demonstrating attitude, building up endurance to last while holding these poses for extended durations that happen on stage and smiling while doing it! Posing can be really exhausting.

 

March 24, 2012

2 Weeks To Go

 No change to the training program this week, except I have now progressed to 30 minutes of cardio after weights. I’m still feeling good. Haven’t lost any strength.

I have been working on altering my posing suit, making adjustments as my body changes. The fit, style and cut can make quite a difference in a competitor’s appearance. You want to use your suit to your advantage as much as possible to shape your physique. I’ve had to learn to be a little “artsy and craftsy” with my sewing kit.

Yesterday I made a trip to Swift Current to meet with my coaches for body measurements (I’m at 8.3% body fat at 128 lbs. with another four lbs. to go), posing practice and a team get- together to discuss the next few weeks’ preparation.

I woke up to find that my boyfriend, Chris, had cut up, weighed, measured and packaged up all my chicken and veggies. WOW, this was an awesome surprise! I am so thankful to have this support at home!

It is amazing what a good supportive environment can do to enhance sustainability of a commitment to this exact science of fitness for competition. The first year I competed, I remember my family wondering why I was doing this. They had the perception of the old school women’s bodybuilder look— unfeminine and all muscle and huge, unnatural looking. But, after I did it the first time, my family realized that figure athletes have an athletic look while showing muscular definition, poise and the beauty of the human body in exceptional health and fitness condition.

Last time I went home my mom had stocked a fridge full of at least 10 kinds of veggies, washed, cut up, put in Ziploc bags and ready for me. And my dad had cooked a full BBQ of plain chicken breasts for me to eat over the weekend. WOW, how’s that for support? I couldn’t ask for more!

 

 
March 31, 2012

7 Days To Go

I’m looking forward to some extra time on the weekend to get some final details into my posing suit (fitting and adjustments, adding more “bling”) and get my nails and toes done.

My water-load plan starts this Sunday with up to eight litres of water and increasing one litre per day to a maximum of 10 litres of water a day up until before the show. I normally drink four to five litres per day all year round, but once you get up past the eight litre mark, you better try your best to get most of it in earlier in the day so that you can sleep at night! I always map out washrooms no matter where I am. If I walk by one, I take the chance to stop whether or not I feel I need to, because guaranteed once I get five minutes past it, I’m gonna wish I had!

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Staying Fit Before And After Baby

posted by Fitness Focus    |   May 3, 2012 18:10
Saskatoon Well Being Magazine article of the month.  This is something we see around the gym far too often; a mother-to-be giving up on her workout due to pregnancy.  True, under some circumstances it is not safe for an expecting mother to put the extra demand on her body.  The bottom line is that the rules don't change; to maintain optimal health, positive mental state and desired physical appearance, exercise is your best bet.  To take better care of your family, you need to take care of yourself first.
 
Staying Fit Before and After Baby
By Andrea Deopker-Gavidia  

 

Exercise will give you a sense of control of your changing body throughout pregnancy and boost your energy levels by releasing endorphins, which increases your feelings of well being. Establishing a regular fitness routine before becoming pregnant may help you maintain a consistent plan once you become pregnant, as well as when you return to exercise after having your baby. However, if you have not been active in the past, there are still many physical activities that you can safely begin now that will help you stay fit and healthy throughout your pregnancy. When you become pregnant, your exercise priorities will change to adjust to the emotional, physical and hormonal changes that occur in your body.

The Prenatal Mother

Exercising while pregnant can be beneficial to improve your posture, strength and endurance, as well as help to relieve stress and prevent excessive weight gain. Consult your doctor throughout your pregnancy regarding your physical activity level and discuss any concerns should any complications arise. If you were active before becoming pregnant, continue with your program and listen to your body by making modifications as you need them. If you were not active before becoming pregnant, begin slowly and build gradually as you become more fit.

Use the “talk test” to determine your level of intensity while performing aerobic activities; if you cannot talk during your exercise, you are working too strenuously. Pay attention to your temperature, since overheating can cause problems for your developing baby. Use fans or air conditioning while exercising and avoid over exertion on hot days outside in the sun.

To help strengthen your pelvic floor muscles, Kegel exercises can be performed throughout your pregnancy, which will help with bladder control. During your second and third trimester try core-strengthening exercises on all fours, by simply contracting and relaxing your abdominal muscles and avoid lying on your back, which decreases blood flow to your baby. Avoid rapid changes in direction and bouncing, as your joints are more lax with an increase of hormones during pregnancy. A focus on balance exercises is important as your center of gravity changes, especially during your last trimester.

During pregnancy, some effective forms of exercise include yoga stretches and Pilates movements, which use your own body weight, as well as resistance training using dumb bells and resistance bands. Using a body weight suspension training system, such as TRX, may also be useful since you can adjust the intensity of your strength training as your body and center of gravity changes. Using a TRX Suspension Trainer may also help you maintain balance for exercises such as squats.

Take action! Create a list of five positive affirmations such as “My core strength is helping me to maintain great posture and a healthy back throughout my pregnancy.”

The Postnatal Mother

If you had a Caesarean delivery, begin with light exercises, such as walking and stretching, slowly based on your comfort level. Your 6-week postpartum evaluation is an opportunity to discuss with your healthcare provider a safe reintroduction of exercise into your lifestyle. If you were active during your pregnancy and had an uncomplicated vaginal delivery, you may typically begin walking and stretching within days after giving birth. You may have a gap in your abdominals and exercises like crunches should be avoided until this gap closes, usually 4-8 weeks postpartum. You may then begin strengthening exercises such as plank, side bridge and leg lowers lying on your back, which will help you regain posture and develop core strength.

Listen to your body and slowly introduce aerobic and strength training activities that you enjoy and are familiar with. Develop a realistic plan of incorporating 30 minutes of activity three days per week. Remain flexible so you can adjust your workout intensity or length of exercise sessions with your unpredictable schedule and the added fatigue of caring for your newborn. If you are uncertain where to begin and would enjoy the company of other new parents, search for postnatal fitness classes that are led by a qualified exercise instructor.

Take action! Write down any barriers to performing your workout and make a list of how you are going to overcome these barriers.

Naturally, your main focus is going to be caring for your baby, but it is also important to look after yourself. As you remain fit, healthy and relaxed, you will be better able to care for your baby. Continuing to exercise after your baby’s birth will also help you regain your pre-pregnancy shape and fitness level more quickly. Having a focus on core exercises both during pregnancy and after birth will assist you in staying strong while giving birth and then carrying your baby afterward. The key is to listen to your body and increase your exercise intensity gradually to return to your pre-pregnancy exercise routine.

How To Be A Healthy Vegetarian

posted by Fitness Focus    |   April 6, 2012 15:41
It's time again for our favorite article from Saskatoon Well Being Magazine.  Our Favorites usually revolve around diet and
nutrition; and here is another great write up about healthy eating for those who are on a vegetarian diet, or wanting to incorporate a vegetarian aspect to their diet.

Vegetarians often return to meat after months or years because their lack of knowledge on how to be a healthy vegetarian catches up with them. To be successful at vegetarianism, you must understand what your body needs and where to find it. We have compiled a list of food alternatives and supplement suggestions so you can be a thriving vegetarian just like some of the staff of Saskatoon Well Being Magazine.

 Meat Alternatives
The ever-growing popularity of vegetarianism has necessitated the appearance of companies that create meat substitutes that look, smell, feel and taste like real meat products. Some companies that produce realistic vegetarian meats include Yves, Amy’s Kitchen and Gardenburger. Non-meat versions of hamburgers, hot dogs, ground beef, beef and chicken strips, sandwich meats, sausages, roast beef, meatloaf, chicken burgers, chicken nuggets and even turkey are available. Many of these products can be used directly as substitutes for real meat. For example, instead of using ground beef on nachos, one could use the vegetarian version, ground soy.
 
Seitan
This substance is made by rinsing wheat flour with water until the starch dissolves, leaving the gluten behind. The resulting gluten is a spongy mass with a similar texture to meat and can be used as a non-soy- based meat alternative. Seitan can be fried, steamed, baked or eaten raw. In North American grocery stores it can most commonly be found flavoured with shiitake or Portobello mushrooms, coriander, onion or barbecue and other sauces.
 
Tofu
Tofu is made by coagulating soy milk and pressing the curds into blocks. Tofu has very little smell or taste on its own and picks up flavours from other foods easily. It is low in calories and fat and high in iron and protein. It can be used in a variety of both sweet and savoury applications and is featured prominently in many Asian cuisines. It can be used in soups and desserts and can easily replace animal proteins in many recipes, including stir fries and salads.
 
TVP
TVP stands for textured vegetable protein. This is an animal protein substitute made from defatted soy flour, which is a by-product created from the process of making soybean oil. It is fibrous and spongy in texture and comes in granules, chunks or flakes. It has little flavour of its own, but easily absorbs the flavour of whatever it is cooked with. It can be used to replace animal proteins from ground beef, lamb or even fish in dishes such as chili, spaghetti sauce, tacos and burritos.
 
Tempeh
Like tofu, tempeh is made from soybeans, but has a different taste and texture. Tempeh is shaped into patties or cakes and has a slightly nutty flavour. Tempeh also contains more protein, dietary fibre and vitamins than tofu. It can be used in chili, stir-fries, sandwiches, stews and soup recipes. You can even buy tempeh bacon!
 
Legumes
Using legumes such as lentils, chickpeas, kidney beans, peanuts, soybeans and bean sprouts as an alternative to animal proteins found in meat is a great way to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease and diabetes, since these foods are significantly lower in saturated fats. Legumes are valuable sources of protein, iron and fibre.
Keep in mind that while beans are good sources of protein, they are not complete proteins, which means they don’t carry the entire spectrum of amino acids that your muscles need. Be sure to eat beans with rice or another carb source like cornbread to complete the proteins you’re ingesting.

Much more to read, go to How To Be A Healthy Vegetarian 

By Tyler Kalmakoff & Sarah Stefanson

Fitness Focus Saskatoon

Nutrition Information on the Web

posted by Fitness Focus    |   April 4, 2012 14:00
On the topic of nutrition, as far as informational websites go, there are thousands everywhere you turn on the net. Much of the information you do find is often contradictory to what you have read elsewhere.  You may find it also tries to give you conclusive information without providing the raw data and tools for you to learn and improve your knowledge and understanding of proper nutrition.
Nutritiondata.self.com is one of the best websites we have found for this very purpose.  On Nutrition Data, you can learn the meaning and use of food nutrtion labels.  You'll also find detailed nutrition labels with detailed food property information and different portion sizes for nearly any food that comes to mind. There are also unique analysis tools that tell you more about how foods affect your health and make it easier to choose healthy foods, as well as nutrition

Check out http://nutritiondata.self.com/   This is a great site if you are just starting a diet plan or to find quick answers to questions about your diet.

Fitness Focus Saskatoon

Outdoor Boot Camps are Starting for Spring

posted by Fitness Focus    |   April 1, 2012 16:27
Spring is upon us, Saskatoon! Time to get outside and enjoy the weather after the dark winter months; and our Outdoor Boot Camps are starting May 14th for Members and Non-Members.  This year we'll be offering early morning and evening workouts to suit everybody's schedule.

Evening Outdoor Boot Camps with Robin run May 14th - June 25th, Mondays at 6:30pm
Morning Outdoor Boot Camps with Jenn run June 5th - July 12th, Tuesdays & Thursdays at 6:00am

Spots are limited, so come down to the gym to reserve your spot with the Desk Staff today.
If you have any questions about availability or prices contact us at (306) 244-6413 or info@fitnessfocus.ca

6 Days Until SABBA Super Weekend

posted by Fitness Focus    |   March 31, 2012 19:02

It's been a long journey to next weekend's SABBA Novice and Provicial championships (April 6th 7th and 8th), now only 6 days away.  Competitors from around Saskatchewan have been training, dieting and pretty much living Fitness and Bodybuilding 24/7 for 12, 16 and even up to 20 weeks.  They have reached levels of dedication and discipline that few of us can only imagine.  For most, it will all be over this weekend; so we want to wish all our friends good luck on Friday at the Novice Classic and Saturday at the Provincial Finals.  

Also, many thanks on behalf of all your competitors throughout Saskatoon to the Personal Trainers of Team Wawryk Training from here at the gym; Vince Wawryk, Jamie Polson and Chris Pylypchuk.  Your knowledge and support has been invaluable.  As for all the athletes, we have seen all the progress everyone has made in the last year, it has especially come through over last several weeks.

Fitness Focus Saskatoon

Follow Fitness Focus Today

posted by Fitness Focus    |   March 29, 2012 23:33

Stay in touch with us on your social media network!  Fitness Focus is your gym, so follow us on Facebook, watch us on Youtube and join us @fitnessfocusgym on Twitter!  There are so many reasons why; keep in touch with the Fitness Focus community, stay up to date with upcoming events from in and around the gym, read our health and wellness informational links, all kinds of events thoughout Saskatoon and even upcoming contests.

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Nutrient Timing - Part II

posted by Fitness Focus    |   March 22, 2012 17:40

Muscle Breakdown and Muscle Building

Nutrient timing capitalizes on minimizing muscle tissue breakdown that occurs during and after training and maximizing the muscle repair and building process that occurs afterwards. Carbohydrate stored in muscles fuels weight training and protects against excessive tissue breakdown and soreness. Following training, during recovery, carbohydrate helps initiate hormonal changes that assist muscle building. Consuming protein and carbohydrate after training has been shown to help hypertrophy (adding size to your muscle). The proper amount and mix of nutrients taken at specific times enables your body to utilize them most efficiently—that’s one of the Nutrient Timing Principles.

Immunity

Nutrient timing can have a significant impact on immunity for athletes. Strenuous bouts of prolonged exercise have been shown to decrease immune function in athletes. Furthermore, it has been shown that exercising when muscles are depleted or low in carbohydrate stores (glycogen) diminishes the blood levels of many immune cells, allowing for invasion of viruses. In addition, exercising in a carbohydrate-depleted state causes a rise in stress hormones and other inflammatory molecules. The muscles, in need of fuel, also may compete with the immune system for amino acids. When carbohydrate is taken, particularly during longer-duration endurance training (two to three hours), the drop in immune cells is lessened, and the stress hormone and inflammatory markers are suppressed. Carbohydrate intake frees amino acids, allowing their use by the immune system. Carbohydrate intake during endurance training helps preserve immune function and prevent inflammation.

Certain vitamins and minerals also play a role in immunity: iron, zinc, and vitamins A, C, E, B6, and B12. However, excess intake of iron, zinc, and vitamins A, C, and E can have the opposite effect and in some cases impair the body’s adaptation to training. An eating plan incorporating all of these nutrients in reasonable quantities, such as amounts found in food, can help athletes maintain immunity. The quality of the foods selected is very important and needs to be just as much of a priority as the focus on carbohydrate or protein, for example. For instance, eating a bagel for the carbohydrate but also including an orange for the vitamin C is important; drinking a protein shake can be helpful at the right time, but including some lean steak or shellfish for the iron and zinc is also essential.

Injury Prevention

Did you know that dehydration and low blood sugar can actually increase your risk of injury? Avoiding injury due to poor nutrition is absolutely within your control. Inadequate hydration results in fatigue and lack of concentration. Low blood sugar results in inadequate fueling to the brain and central nervous system. This leads to poor reaction time and slowness. Poor coordination as a result can lead to missteps, inattention, and injury.

Additionally, chronic energy drain (taking in fewer calories and nutrients than needed) will increase your risk of overuse injuries over time. Stress fractures are one example; poor tissue integrity can happen when athletes think solely about calories taken in but not the quality of the calories consumed. This is what is behind the phrase “overfed but undernourished.” Eating lots of nutrient-poor foods will not provide your body with the building blocks for healthy tissues and overall repair. Inadequate protein will also hinder the rebuilding of damaged muscles during training. If muscles are not completely repaired, they will not be as strong as they could be and will not function optimally. The damaged muscle fibers can lead to soft-tissue injuries. Both protein and carbohydrate along with certain nutrients are needed to help with this repair. For instance, gummy bears may provide carbohydrate, but they don’t contain any vitamin E, which is helpful in repairing soft-tissue damage that occurs daily during training. Therefore, the goal is both an appropriate quantity and an appropriate quality in food selection.

This article was taken from http://www.humankinetics.com/excerpts/excerpts/learn-the-advantages-of-nutrient-timing

Fitness Focus Saskatoon

The Importance of Nutrient Timing - Part I

posted by Fitness Focus    |   March 20, 2012 17:05
Here is a great read we found in a recent Canadian Fitness Professionals Magazine.  http://www.humankinetics.com/excerpts/excerpts/learn-the-advantages-of-nutrient-timing

What Are the Benefits of Nutrient Timing?

There are several benefits of nutrient timing. These involve maximizing your body’s response to exercise and use of nutrients. The Nutrient Timing Principles (NTP) help you do the following:

  • Optimize fuel use so that you remain energized throughout your training
  • Ensure that you repair and strengthen your muscles to the best of your genetic potential
  • Ingest sufficient nutrients to keep you healthy and able to fight off infection, limiting the suppression of the immune system often experienced with intense training
  • Recover from your training so that you are ready for your next practice, event, or training session with well-fueled muscles

Energy

When sports nutritionists talk about energy, we are referring to the potential energy food contains. Calories are potential energy to be used by muscles, tissues, and organs to fuel the task at hand. Much of the food we eat is not burned immediately for energy the minute it’s consumed. Rather, our bodies digest, absorb, and prepare it so that it can give us the kind of energy we need, when we need it. We transform this potential energy differently for different tasks. How we convert potential energy into usable energy is based on what needs to get done and how well prepared our bodies are; how we fuel endurance work is different from how we fuel a short, intense run. It is helpful to understand that you must get the food off your plate and into the right places in your body at the right time.

Clients consistently ask us, “What can I eat to give me energy?” For you, “energy” may have different meanings, depending on what you’re referring to and how you’re feeling. If you’re talking about vitality, liveliness, get-up-and-go, then a number of things effect this: amount of sleep, hydration, medical conditions, medications, attitude, type of foods eaten, conditioning and appropriate rest days, and timing of meals and snacks. Food will help a lack of energy only if the problem is food related. You may think that’s obvious, but it’s not to some. If you’re tired because you haven’t slept enough, for instance, eating isn’t going to give you energy. However, if your lack of energy is because you’ve eaten too little, your foods don’t have “staying power,” you go for too long without eating, or you don’t time your meals and snacks ideally around practice or conditioning, then being strategic with food intake can help you feel more energetic. What, how much, and when you eat will affect your energy.

Nutrient timing combined with appropriate training maximizes the availability of the energy source you need to get the job done, helps ensure that you have fuel ready and available when you need it, and improves your energy-burning systems. You may believe that just eating when you are hungry is enough, and in some cases this may be true. But, many times, demands on time interfere with fueling or refueling, and it takes conscious thought and action to make it happen. Additionally, appetites are thrown off by training, so you may not be hungry right after practice, but by not eating, you are starving while sitting at your desk in class or at work. Many athletes just don’t know when and what to eat to optimize their energy stores.

By creating and following your own Nutrition Blueprint and incorporating the NTP, your energy and hunger will be more manageable and consistent, whether you are training several times a week, daily, participating in two-a-days, or are in the midst of the competitive season.

Recovery

During the minutes and hours after exercise, your muscles are recovering from the work you just performed. The energy used and damage that occurred during exercise needs to be restored and repaired so that you are able to function at a high level at your next workout. Some of this damage is actually necessary to signal repair and growth, and it is this repair and growth that results in gained strength. However, some of the damage is purely negative and needs to be minimized or it will eventually impair health and performance. Providing the right nutrients, in the right amounts, at the right time can minimize this damage and restore energy in time for the next training session or competition.

The enzymes and hormones that help move nutrients into your muscles are most active right after exercise. Providing the appropriate nutrients at this crucial time helps to start the repair process. However, this is only one of the crucial times to help repair. Because of limitations in digestion, some nutrients, such as protein, need to be taken over time rather than only right after training, so ingesting protein throughout the day at regular intervals is a much better strategy for the body than ingesting a lot at one meal. Additionally, stored carbohydrate energy (glycogen and glucose) and lost fluids may take time to replace.

By replacing fuel that was burned and providing nutrients to muscle tissue, you can ensure that your body will repair muscle fibers and restore your energy reserves. If you train hard on a daily basis or train more than once a day, good recovery nutrition is absolutely vital so that your muscles are well stocked with energy. Most people think of recovery as the time right after exercise, which is partially correct, but how much you take in at subsequent intervals over 24 hours will ultimately determine your body’s readiness to train or compete again.

More to come........

Fitness Focus Saskatoon

2012 SABBA Super Weekend

posted by Fitness Focus    |   March 19, 2012 17:34

The SABBA Novice Classic and Provincial Championship Weekend is on April 6-8; thats just over 2 weeks away.  Make sure you get your tickets early as it's sure to be a packed house at the Conexus Arts Centre in Regina.  This year, Guest Speaker with be 6-Time Mr. Olympia Dorian Yates!  Visit the Official SABBA Website for more details on tickets and times.  Competitors, don't forget to get registered for your SABBA membership and division.  Good luck to all our competitors!

 

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