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Beyond The Weight Room With Melissa Leier: Find Your Fitness Personality

posted by Fitness Focus    |   May 6, 2013 16:40

Now that we’re a few months into the New Year, if you have committed to new fitness practices, you’re likely either enjoying new activities while planning to keep on going with what you’ve started or you are struggling to keep doing what you committed to and wondering where that crazy idea came from in the first place! For many, that’s often the case after trying something new. If it’s not the right fit for you, you may give up due to frustration, boredom, difficulty or lack of enjoyment.

The American College of Sports Medicine suggests that both exercisers and trainers can align fitness regimens with personality types to best structure a lasting routine and recognize pitfalls. Figure out what drives you and use that knowledge to help you stick to it and enjoy it. The key to thriving in those fitness challenges you set for yourself toward long-term goals is to find your fit and work with your personality, rather than against it. For example, consider if you like consistency in your day to day or prefer an ever-changing environment? Do you work best with specific goals set or do you like to go with the flow? Are you an early riser getting your obligations out of the way first thing or are you more spontaneous, taking opportunities to be active as they arise or at random times during the day? First things first, what is your personality?

Warning Signs Of Primary Immunodeficiency

posted by Fitness Focus    |   October 13, 2012 22:14

Approximately 13,000 Canadians suffer from Primary Immunodeficiency.

Your Immune System is a vast internal network of cells, tissues and organs whose job it is to protect your body from harmful invasion by foreign bodies such as viruses, bacteria and toxins. Primary immunodeficiency (PI) refers to an immune system that is either broken or completely missing from birth. It is not acquired after birth from infection or accident. It is a genetic malfunction, unique to an individual. Early diagnosis is crucial. Untreated PI can lead to serious damage to organs, physical disabilities and, in the most severe cases, death.

There are warning signs of PI, like recurrent infections of the ears and skin, pneumonia, bronchitis and sinusitis. For some, the first infection will be serious and life- threatening—a definite red flag that there may be a problem with their immune system. Some will suffer recurrent infections from infancy. However, some infants with PI will not show symptoms early on due to Immunoglobulin A (IgA), an antibody that plays a critical role in mucosal immunity. Babies receive IgA through breast milk from the mother or from antibodies that cross the placenta in the womb and remain in the infant’s body until four to six months of age when normal infants start to make their own antibodies. In some cases, warning symptoms will not show up until later in life, sometimes as far along as middle age.

Diagnosis begins with the understanding and recognition of the warning signs. Are there more infections than normal? Do infections recur after treatment with medications? Do infections not respond to usual medications? The infections involved differ for adults and children. Please see the charts to the right. All too often the significance of the warning signs is overlooked, sometimes because they may seem quite mild.

 

Sweat The Technique: A Few Words On Weight Training

posted by Fitness Focus    |   October 6, 2012 12:41

Here is Our Favorite Article from the October Issue of Saskatoon Wellbeing Magazine.

Saskatoon Wellbeing’s debut issue back in January featured professional bodybuilder Kai Greene, a noted positive thinker, in a piece we called Kai Greene and The Power Of Mind. As an inspiration to the magazine, we thought it was time to revisit the man, who, aside from being the master of his thoughts is also the master of his physical movement inside the gym. As he likes to say, “The physical you is a walking manifestation of your mind.” So it’s time to focus, all of you men and women who lift weights.

Proper form is essential. It allows you to load and maintain the stress of the weight on the muscle you are attempting to build. Instead of perfecting their form on each exercise, many people add more weight as soon as their strength progresses and then their form begins to fail. That’s assuming they had any to begin with. When the stress is diverted from the targeted muscle area to the joints and the joints start to assist that muscle group, muscle becomes stubborn to grow, even if you are still taking sets to failure and staying within the correct rep range. You may get a bit stronger. You may even see positive changes at first. But, over time, you will not see the gains in the mirror that you could be seeing.

As much as anyone in the world, Kai Greene has made the most out of his physique through an intense and focused connection between his mind and his body. The biomechanics, form and almost three decades of increasing poundage has allowed Greene to generate complete fibre recruitment of every muscle in every workout. No action goes to waste. Every contraction of the muscle is deliberate and a by-product of intense visualization. It is a fluid orchestra of movement.

 > When Greene is doing t-bar rows or seated pulley rows he visualizes not just on the pull toward his chest, but on meeting his hands with his chest halfway through the movement. The result is more lat recruitment and space for contraction. If you can imagine pulling your elbows with your back instead of pulling the weight with your elbows you will begin to understand his visual process.

> When Greene is doing lat pulldowns, he is not just going through the motions of keeping his elbows forward and pulling the bar down to his chest with his lats. He is subtly rolling his scapula back at the same time and rolling it forward on the way up. This creates maximum recruitment and full range of motion, also helping him stay loose and impingement free.

> When Greene is doing a bench press or narrow grip press he is pressing the weight with an arc, driving it back and slightly over his eyes, while maintaining a slight arch between his shoulder blades and glutes. All of these actions contribute to taking the stress out of his front delts and moving it into his pecs.

> When Greene is performing straight-legged deadlifts he is focusing the tension on his glutes and away from his lower back, something that is very difficult to accomplish. He pushes the outsides of his feet laterally into the floor, flexing his entire lower body, then commences with the stiff-legged movement.

> When Greene is walking on the treadmill during his daily warm-up, he is flexing his glutes and hamstrings on the back end of each step. This consistent, detailed focus enhances his mind to muscle connection, creating pathways that allow him to more efficiently stress his muscles with the resistance to come.

        Read more of this article from Kai Greene at http://www.saskatoonwellbeing.com

Beyond The Weight Room: What It Takes

posted by Fitness Focus    |   August 7, 2012 19:44

The August issue of Well Being Magazine is now available at the gym and many other locations around the city.  Here, for you is our favorite article from the August issue, Beyond the Weight Room is another section from Melissa Leier.

Beyond The Weight Room: What It Takes

Curiosity

You start off by wondering if you can do it. Perfect. You’re in the right mindset. Now give it your best shot and surprise yourself at what you can achieve!

A Powerful Coach

To get to your goals, to challenge yourself and stretch beyond what you thought you were capable of, researching and finding a coach who is a good fit for you is a great way to start. Without coaching we can do well, but often can’t get pushed above and beyond what we think we can achieve. Even as a personal trainer and exercise physiologist myself, I need coaching to drive me forward.

Accountability

You must be accountable to both yourself and your coach. Make a commitment to yourself to work your hardest. By slacking off in the gym or fuelling your body with poor nutrition you’re ultimately only cheating yourself. You’ve likely invested a lot of time and money into training, so keep in mind that you want to get the most out of it. I thrive off of positive reinforcement and recognition of hard work and I never like to be in a position to disappoint. This is why having a coach works wonders for me.

Being An Early Riser

Get used to it, there will be morning cardio. No matter how tired or sore you are, you have to get yourself out of bed and go as hard as you can. I find that if I pack my meals and my workout bags and lay out all my clothes the night before it is a lot easier to just get up and go. It is surprising what just washing your face in cold water or having a quick, cool shower can do to wake you right up with some energy.

Dedication To Diet

You must make a commitment to stick to the plan regardless of what is going on in your life. This means packing your own meals along with you to social events, family get-togethers, work functions, etc. that are going to last more than three hours. You may feel like a weirdo with your container of chicken and broccoli at these things, but get used to it.

Doing Your Homework

Since the sport is judged subjectively and can change from year to year, you have to do your homework and find out what the judges are after. You are judged on the full package that you present, so make sure you cover all your bases. Your physique is just one piece of the puzzle. Everybody’s body type is unique, so you may need to find out which division is right for you. Overall presentation can also include stage presence: posing, confidence, elegance, poise. Your movements and transitions in posing need to flow. Watch videos online of the pros and then take pictures and videotape yourself often.

Internal Drive

Go beyond your comfort zone and push past the point you thought you could. Since I most often train on my own, I create my own motivation by giving myself challenges in my workouts. For example, when I’m doing cardio daily, I’ll set a goal to have covered x number of miles in a certain time. The next day I’ll have to make sure I do no less than that to keep building on the intensity each day. Another trick I use is to challenge myself to my own “wet t-shirt contest,” where I don’t let my workout end without having sweated up a storm from working hard with high intensity. If the t-shirt’s still dry at the end of the workout, I’m not done yet!

Cuts, Scrapes, Bruises & Calluses

Sure, we try to look our best on stage, but leading up to that point it’s not all pretty. Year-round I have hands that are callused from gripping barbells and dumbbells. I wear gel nails, but often I have corners chipped off after a week or two of wear and tear. I’ve had the bottom of my shins scraped off from rubbing on the leg extension padding (or lack of padding!) and usually I have big bruises on my hips or thighs from banging them on random gym machines.

Read this entire artice and many more great ones like it at http://www.saskatoonwellbeing.com/

Beyond The Weight Room: Myths Busted

posted by Fitness Focus    |   June 7, 2012 11:52

Bodybuilding and training as a figure athlete is definitely a sport of its own. Many people who have not competed or gone through this type of training regime may not quite understand the concepts or principles of the lifestyle. I am often asked questions by people who are trying to understand the rationale behind the science of contest preparation. Here are some of the most common ones and my responses for those who would like to know more about what physique competition is really all about.

 

“Don’t competitors go without water for like 10 days? That’s so unhealthy!”

No, absolutely not! The truth is, every time I compete I feel I am in the best health ever. Think about it—you’re in a regular routine of daily exercise of both cardiovascular and strength training, hitting all major muscle groups. You are eating balanced, frequent meals with a combination of protein, fibre, carbohydrate and healthy fats. You get so into a routine that you also develop regular sleep patterns and let me tell you, I sleep like a baby! You stay hydrated very well with at least three to four litres of water per day throughout the five or six months of contest preparation. The only time your hydration is limited is the day of the show. I have never gone without any water at all. On the day of competition, I will likely have about 500 ml to sip on throughout the day.

“How do I get rid of this right here?” (pointing at a particular body part)

Overall physique transformation to a leaner body happens through burning more calories than consumed. You’re not going to get rid of one spot and not anything else. Also, genetics, not exercise, determines how the fat in our bodies is distributed and stored. You can’t spot reduce. You can’t change your structural genetic build. You can’t turn fat into muscle. You need to commit to a lifestyle change of nutrition and exercise for a physique transformation to a leaner you.

“You only walk on the treadmill? I thought you had to run to burn enough calories?”

My cardiovascular training is in a specific heart rate range and a specific time duration to burn fuel from stored fat sources. I also incorporate interval training to keep my heart rate up to where it needs to be to get the most out of incline walking or stair climber training.

 

“I have been exercising for weeks (or months) and haven’t changed my physique or become leaner, what am I doing wrong?”

Exercise is a great way to improve muscle size and strength, endurance, power, cardiovascular conditioning and other aspects of physical and mental well being, but if what you’re after is a leaner physique, you need to dial in on your nutritional needs and intake. One of my favourite quotes is “Abs are made in the kitchen.” It all comes down to calorie intake versus calorie expenditure. You can train all you want—spending hours in the gym—and, sure, you’ll get stronger or run faster or run longer, but you won’t see physique changes unless you match your nutrition appropriately to accomplish your goals. Don’t get frustrated. Get yourself a great trainer who can individualize your training and nutrition plan to your goals and give you the tools you need for success.

 

“You must be starving!”

No, I have never really gone hungry throughout the whole contest prep. I am eating so frequently and having so many fibrous vegetables. You get lean from making the right choices to fuel your body to train hard and stay healthy, but it all comes down to burning more calories than consumed—certainly not from starving yourself!

 

“Don’t all bodybuilders only eat meat?”

I eat more fibre and green veggies than anything! Yes, each meal is balanced with a small to moderate protein source and some with starch carbohydrate or fat sources, but the majority of my plate is filled with vegetables.

Protein is important for growth, repair and maintenance of tissue. There are sources of protein other than meat. I like to explore my options to keep it interesting and include egg whites or whole eggs, whey protein isolate, yogurt, milk, cottage cheese, lentils and beans in my diet.

 

“What do you mean you can’t have fruit? I thought fruit was good for you?”

Yes, fruit contains many vitamins, minerals and antioxidants, as well as providing plenty of soluble dietary fibre. However, it does have fairly high sugar from fructose content. For me, my body responds best to get in peak conditioning by omitting fruit from my diet several weeks away from a contest. Even in the off-season, I try to keep fruit as a nutritional choice limited and then choose mostly veggies for my fibre source. Or I consider fruit a dessert or a “once in a while” treat.

 

“You eat 6 times a day!jQuery15207231824212989975_1391728630636! How are you not 500lbs?”

Yep, six meals a day, which means I’m eating about every three hours. The key is what and how much that makes it an effective nutrition plan for a lean physique. I am certainly not eating a heaping plateful of calories each time. I eat just enough so that I am starting to get hungry before the next meal within a few hours. Each meal can range from 250 to 400 calories, depending on my activity level that day and what my needs are. I like to think of eating not to feel “full” after each meal, but to be “just barely satisfied.” Usually, half the plate is fibre (vegetables) and the rest is a small portion of a lean protein and maybe a bit of starch carbohydrate. This keeps me full of energy, fuelling my body and my brain. My metabolism is revved to keep burning and not storing!

 

Written by Melissa Leier

 

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

Saskatoon Well Being: Our Favorite for March

posted by Fitness Focus    |   March 6, 2012 23:23
The third issue of Saskatoon Well Being Magazine is available right now, and each month we like to share with you, our favorite article from the current issue.  This month features articles from mental health and positivity at work to childhood nutrition.  We chose the article captioned on the cover: Why Your Diet Isn't Working (page 22), because this is a subject that we can all relate to.  No matter what you think you know about diet and weight management, remember to always read and expect to learn something you didn't know before.  When it comes to diet and nutrition, information is infinite, there is always something new to be learned.

Diet Fail: 6 Ways To Derail Your Weight Loss Plan

 1 – Impatience

By Tyler Kalmakoff

Well Being Magazine Saskatoon's First Issue

posted by Fitness Focus    |   January 2, 2012 23:34

Well Being Magazine's first issue hits Saskatoon for January.   Pick up your copy of Well Being Magazine today! The magazine is full of health, wellness, nutrition tips, training tips, gym tips and even pet health.  The magazine is available at many businesses around the city including here at Fitness Focus.

Let us know what you think of the content and articles!  Happy Reading!

Fitness Focus Health & Athletic Centre

Fine Lifestyles Magazine Saskatoon

posted by Fitness Focus    |   December 13, 2011 13:54

Thanks again to everybody at Saskatoon's Fine Lifestyles for their terrific job on the Winter issue of the magazine.  It's great to see such familiar faces from local Saskatoon businesses.  If you haven't had a chance to see it for yourself, you can check it out online:

http://www.finelifestyles.ca/magazineissue31

Keep you eyes peeled for the Spring issue in the months to come.

Fitness Focus Health & Athletic Centre

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