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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?

Melissa Leier’s Beyond The Weight Room: Whipping Santa Into Shape

posted by Fitness Focus    |   December 7, 2012 18:47

Mrs. Claus wrote to Saskatoon Well Being Magazine and, much to their surprise, it wasn’t about a lack of a chimney at the publication’s office. Apparently, Mrs. Claus has enjoyed reading the first eleven issues and has especially enjoyed my column on getting in elite physical shape. She said that she and Santa were planning a beach vacation in the spring and thought Santa might better tolerate the heat and humidity if he dropped a few pounds between Christmas deliveries and the trip. So the Well Being honchos called me and said they had an assignment that was big, red and essential. “Santa? That’s a little preposterous,” I said. “Hasn’t he heard of Jillian Michaels?” A week later they called me again. “We need you to whip Santa into shape,” they said. So I said, “Yeah, probably not. You try to get him off milk and cookies without a television audience to hold him accountable!” The owners of Well Being can be rather persuasive though so I finally agreed.   -Melissa Leier-

Wow, this was going to be a challenge! Well, maybe more of an opportunity; an opportunity to tackle supporting a lifestyle change for someone who has been comfortable with a pattern of behaviours for years. Based on the initial inquiry from Mrs. Claus, I had to wonder if Santa himself actually wants to make a lifestyle change and what that might look like in his eyes. I thought that I had better find out.

Starting off with a readiness assessment and to establish a baseline for Santa, I learned that he has been contemplating becoming more active for a while, but hadn’t taken the next step. Recently, his annual physical check-up indicated a good level of overall wellness and, with some recommendations, he was not only medically cleared to become more active, but encouraged to do so.

When I asked what he had in mind for long-term goals, he replied that, yes, he knew he should exercise and eat better. When I asked him what that meant to him, it turned out that he really wasn’t sure.

Rather than just telling him what to do based on my knowledge and expertise in health and fitness, and then hoping he bought into the ideas I suggested, I decided that I would take more of a collaborative approach to help him establish his own plan. Ultimately, as a fitness coach, I need to remember that these are his goals—not mine— and my role is to guide him to where he wants to be. I needed to find out what was important to him and what was going to motivate him toward a positive lifestyle change.

Santa explained that what was really important to him was to be able to be healthy enough to play catch with his grandchildren, go hunting and fishing with his son, to have many years to come of vacationing with Mrs. Claus and to have fun without excessive stress on his body during the busy hectic times of the holiday season.

I asked him what it would look like for him six months down the road if he was achieving his goals and he said that he saw himself sustaining a habit of regular activity three to four times per week in combinations of cardiovascular, strength activities and recreational sports with his family. He also hoped to have developed a better understanding of fuelling the body effectively to feel great and satisfy his taste buds.

We discussed what kind of opportunities might exist to incorporate changes right away and he told me that he has a local community centre with a walking track that he had been curious about trying out, especially when it is too icy outside to risk slips and falls. The facility also has a variety of classes to take part in, from circuit training to swimming and yoga programs that he thought would give him some variety. Mrs. Claus was interested in a couples’ cooking class every Sunday that was focused on recipes for heart health. There was also a Saturday night dancing group and he did like to put on his dancing shoes and hit the town two-stepping!

Getting started with Santa, I asked him to keep a journal of his nutrition intake for a week, including amounts and portion sizes, as well as timing. I encouraged him to balance each meal throughout the day with fairly similar content and volume, rather than one large meal at supper. Another suggestion was to try to balance each meal with a lean protein source, low-sugar carbohydrate source and many fibrous vegetables. I also asked him to track his water intake.

Just starting a journal alone is a great way to bring a new self- awareness of what it is we are putting into our bodies and to recognize patterns. It also helps keep us accountable to fuel our bodies with better nutritional choices.

Melissa Leier SaskatoonPhoto by Tyler Harris
The second step was to examine patterns that his journal revealed and to develop action plans. Some quick fixes we found to help clean up his daily nutrition included:

• No need to add salt to meals. Most of the time, we actually get enough sodium from the salt that occurs naturally in foods such as meat, eggs, milk products, fruit and vegetables. A high salt diet increases the risk of developing high blood pressure. Herbs and spices, blends like Mrs. Dash, lemon juice, onion, garlic, etc. can be used to flavour foods instead of adding salt.

• Drink more water. Skip the pop and fruit juice since they’re empty calories and basically just all sugar.

• Learn to prepare meals by planning time to grocery shop and buy fresh produce and lean cuts of meat, rather than packaged, canned and processed foods.

• Use the right cooking methods. Use non-stick pans and non-stick cooking spray when needed, instead of dumping in oil or margarine.

These changes would help reduce his blood pressure and decrease his risk of diabetes, which would allow him to enjoy the odd cookie or treat once in a while, rather than possibly having to avoid them completely. This was also a chance for Santa to learn to prepare delicious meals with his family, using creativity with spices and flavours. Don’t forget about the cost savings of preparing his own food instead of ordering take-out. More money for that vacation with Mrs. Claus!

Regular activity goes hand in hand with nutrition. The Canadian Society for Exercise Physiology (CSEP) and Health Canada suggest that the minimum guidelines for older adults, age 65+, would be to take part in at least 2.5 hours of moderate to vigorous intensity aerobic activity each week. No, this doesn’t mean once a week Santa should run a marathon and he’s good—that would not be beneficial or safe. This activity is best done spread out into sessions of 10 minutes or more throughout the week. In addition to the cardiovascular activity, it is also imperative to add muscle-strengthening activities using major muscle groups at least twice a week to help support bone health and improve posture and balance.

So, if Santa goes dancing Saturday evenings, walks for 30 minutes every Tuesday and Thursday afternoon after his strength training circuit and then takes a swim or goes to a yoga class on occasion, he’s doing great! With his strength training circuit, he should target the major muscle groups of the legs and gluteal muscles, back and chest. Exercises to start with could be body weight squats and walking lunges, kneeling push-ups and a pull-down or row exercise. To add in some core and shoulder stability, he can include an opposite arm and leg raise from a kneeling and palms-down position on an exercise mat. Strength training can have a profound effect on improved bone health, arthritis relief, increased metabolic rate and reduced risk of heart disease.

I’ll make sure to check in with Santa in a few months. It will be no surprise at all to hear that Santa has experienced a significant improvement in his blood pressure and has lowered his cholesterol levels. He may be down three notches on his belt and he should be able to load up his sleigh full of packages and presents with ease and sleep like a baby at night. Most importantly, he will achieve a new self-awareness and establish enjoyable healthy lifestyle habits that will put him on track to being in great shape for Christmas 2013!

Beyond The Weight Room: Standing Straight With Back Basics

posted by Fitness Focus    |   November 6, 2012 14:21

by Melissa Leier

STRENGTH TRAINING YOUR BACK MUSCLES
can help create a nice, shapely V, but aside from the muscular definition, developing these muscle groups effectively can have a significant impact on your posture.
Melissa Leier Fitness Training SaskatoonWe’re constantly moving in a forward direction or using pushing movements in day-to-day activities and there are rarely any backward or pulling movements to balance it out. Gradually, your upper back posture will suffer as your shoulders become rounded forward, you slouch or develop a head-forward posture. This posture can then lead to tension in the upper spine, shoulders and neck.
A little fun fact for you: every inch of forward head posture can increase the weight of the head on the spine by an additional 10 pounds.

 POSTURE AND SYMMETRY

Frequent forward movements in daily activities or even exercising pushing movements in a strength training program, such as chest presses or push-ups, without the balance of exercising the muscles that create pulling movements, can cause strength development to be disproportional anterior to posterior. In addition, the chest muscles can become very tight and start to pull the shoulders into this rounded forward posture, which not only looks less than aesthetically pleasing, but can also cause discomfort. This can even result from the constant or frequent movements we do day to day, such as pushing doors open, working at a computer, driving a car or relaxing into the couch watching TV.

Slouching and head-forward posture can lead to long-term muscle strain, disc herniation, arthritis and pinched nerves. Long-term sustained posture like this can lead to bones moving position and losing range of motion, creating a more permanent hunchback posture.

So what can you do to improve your posture?

Strength training exercises, such as deadlifts, lat pull-downs, barbell or dumbbell rows, wide pull-ups, rear delt lateral raises; all done properly, of course.

Chest stretches and lots of them! Even doing a ‘chest in the doorway’ stretch every hour would help. Extend your arms out to your sides at a right angle and bend your elbows 90 degrees. Place both of your forearms against a doorjamb and lean forward. You can stagger your stance with one foot forward if it feels more comfortable. Hold the stretch on each side for about 30 seconds.

Exaggerating perfect posture and always being aware of your posture, including trunk alignment and chin position.

 CHECKING MY ASSUMPTIONS

There was a time in my training history when I was boxing competitively. Aside from throwing hundreds of punches, I was doing hundreds of push-ups daily. When I would consider my own posture, I thought, “Of course it’s great. I’m young and I’m an athlete.” But then why was I starting to get a lot of stiffness and feeling the need to be constantly stretching to feel at ease? I looked in the mirror sideways in a standing posture that I had thought was relaxed and neural, and it was not even close. My chin wasn’t tucked back where it should be and my shoulders were quite rounded forward. Not only did the muscular tension cause discomfort, but also my posture was nowhere near looking tall, poised and confident, the way I wanted it to be. I decided it was time to make a change.

 LESSONS LEARNED

1. Mind-Muscle Connection

To balance out my physique, improve strength and correct my posture, I started strength training my back with twice the frequency of my chest workouts, stretching regularly and using frequent postural awareness. I started to increase strength by increasing the weight I was using somewhat, but felt my lower arm and bicep muscles taking over and fatiguing before I felt my back really engage.

Working with my professional coach, I learned to use little grip strength in my hands and to pull from the larger muscle group (lattisimus dorsi) in the back while visualizing the muscle I was actually using through its range of motion. In less than a year, I had made significant progress to balance out my physique and it did wonders to reduce my muscle stiffness.

The concept of the mind-muscle connection means getting to know your own anatomy and connecting the feeling of specific muscle contraction with a visual for yourself. You should be able to know you’ve contracted a certain muscle with your eyes closed without having to look in the mirror. The more in touch you can get with your own body, the better.

 2. Patience And Persistence Pays Off

Progressing from an exercise using the cable lat pull-down machine regularly, I went on to try the body weight wide grip pull-up. I started off barely able to do one body weight wide pull-up and an ugly one at that! It was difficult and frustrating trying to do these, but I stuck with it and over several months worked my way up to more than 20 at a time for several sets. Not only did this feel great as the muscles grew stronger and the exercise became a smoother movement, but what a sense of accomplishment to motivate me to continue!

 3. Practice Perfect Posture

You need to purposefully think about your alignment, not just in back- specific exercises, but all exercises. Don’t let your back or shoulders round forward when sitting in the leg extension machine or doing a bent- over dumbbell rear delt raise. Even at home or when you’re going to be working at a desk, before you even dive into the activity, take the time to set yourself up first. Even small and light activities throughout the day count towards your overall spinal health. Focus on maintaining neutral spinal alignment when bending to pick something up, when setting up your pillow for sleep and while driving, keeping your chin tucked under and shoulder blades tucked back.

 Put Your Excuses Aside

I once heard someone say, “Well, I don’t exercise my back. It’s sore already.” I would challenge anyone to question themselves on the decision to not exercise the back. Often, a sore back is the result of a lack of effective utilization and exercise of the back muscles. As long as you are medically cleared to exercise, the back should be one of the most important muscle groups to work to improve!

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.

 

Beyond The Weight Room With Melissa Leier: Compeition Nutrition

posted by Fitness Focus    |   October 7, 2012 19:50
How Dieting Impacts The Body And Mind

HOW WE FUEL OUR BODIES and our brains has a significant impact on what we can achieve during a major physical transformation as well as how we function day to day. Athletes who train for physique competitions fuel up for a purpose and have specific goals in mind to reach the desired outcomes. Nutritional plans are different for short-term phases, like a leaning-out phase of preparation for a physique contest, also called the “diet down”, and longer terms, such as building lean muscle mass in an off-season. When it comes to the sometimes extreme practices of contest preparation nutrition, there can be negative impacts on an athlete’s body and mind.

What We Do And How We Do It

Competition preparation varies from athlete to athlete, but generally starts 16 to 20 weeks before the contest date. To sculpt that chiselled, competition- ready physique, competitors do more than adhere to a gruelling workout schedule. Following very specific nutrition protocols makes all the difference while preparing for a contest. The goal of competition preparation is to reduce body fat while preserving muscle.

Food selection, meal timing and calorie intake vs. expenditure each play a role in achieving winning physiques for competitions. The right nutrition plan essentially helps eliminate subcutaneous fat, making the skin appear thinner and allowing muscle striations to emerge, showcasing your lean physique. Then competitors can show off the art of a muscular physique resulting from all their hard work in the gym.

Competition nutrition plans aim to trim away fat and this is only done by burning more than you’re consuming to create a calorie deficit. During contest prep, frequent meal times, clean eating and sufficient protein content help preserve lean mass. This allows athletes to reach body fat percentages as lean as six to eight per cent for women or two to four per cent for men without a significant loss of muscle mass.

It Works, But…
Although following an exact and strict plan will achieve the desired physique results for a contest, it should be considered temporary and should change post-contest. A contest prep diet does restrict or limit certain food choices and it may not be wise to eliminate nutrients our bodies may need in the long-term. Some physique athletes go two to three months without fruit or dairy, with limited essential fats/oils, high-sugar foods and starch carbohydrates. All athletes are impacted differently. Some will breeze through a contest preparation and not have anything change with their systems during the different phases of nutrition. However, others may experience dry skin or hair, irregular digestive systems or even emotional ups and downs as a result of a restricted content prep diet.

Carb Depletion And Mental Fog

Reducing certain carbohydrates in the short-term runs the risk of producing a metabolic condition of ketosis, which can potentially cause an athlete to feel lethargic, sluggish and tired. The problem with this is that it can decrease the intensity of training and activity level, which is needed to burn calories. In addition to the physical impact, some athletes report that the lack of carbs creates a “mental fog” or an impact on cognitive performance. The mental fog could result in little things like forgetting where you set your keys down or putting the dry oatmeal back into the refrigerator and the eggs into the cupboard. Therefore, it is important to find a healthy balance of nutrition with sufficient macronutrients to fuel workouts and brain function, while allowing your body to burn more calories than you’re consuming.

Appearance

Some athletes find that having nutrition plans high in protein and low in fat, sugar and carbohydrates, while avoiding excessive sodium and dairy, can lead to the body storing less water. This can reduce the appearance of bloating and help with showing muscularity striation, but sometimes the skin can look less full, showing wrinkles and looking dry. This tends to be even more apparent the day of the competition when water intake is reduced. Often you’ll see athletes with “shrunken in” cheeks or more apparent shadows under their eyes. I find that this look leads to some people’s perception of the bodybuilder athlete as looking “unhealthy,” but this effect usually only lasts a day or two.

Digestion Regularity And The Cheat Meal

The temporary reduction in certain nutritional options can also impact some athletes’ digestive systems—bowel regularity in particular. I recommend staying well hydrated and consuming sufficient fibre from celery, cucumbers, asparagus, spinach and more. I describe it as a reduction rather than an omission because many have found that a strategy that includes a “cheat meal” once in a while can be helpful. This can not only get the digestive system moving again, but can refuel the body full of energy when certain things have been limited. Having one cheat meal every few weeks throughout contest preparation or as needed means you’re not depriving yourself of cravings, making it more do-able to go the distance with super clean eating over the course of several months and not feel like you’re missing out.

The Houdini Abs Effect

The post-contest period can be disappointing to those new to the sport of competition. When an athlete has unrealistic expectations of maintaining the look of the physique they had on stage, it can seem like the weeks of work they put in to lean out can all disappear within one to two weeks. But they are not necessarily “gaining it all back.” It can be the body’s skin cells filling back up with water content from post-contest nutritional and hydration changes, which creates a softer look on top of the muscle. I call this the “Houdini Abs Effect”—there one day, gone the next! For me, it takes several months to shed the body fat to have my abdominal muscles showing, but within three days of re-hydrating they’re gone. Don’t let this play mind games with you. As long as you practice regular exercise, clean eating and healthy lifestyle practices year- round you are doing great, whether you have defined, chiselled abs or not!

Positive vs. Negative

Yes, there are some potentially negative impacts on the body in the short term from the strict dieting necessary for competition. However, more often than not, the positive impacts outweigh some of the negatives. Emotionally, endorphins released from exercise will boost our mood and we will feel great. Regular exercise paired with a clean eating nutrition plan is the key to vitality.

Why We Do It

So, with all of the potential downsides for athletes during contest preparation, why do we do it? Well, it is the personal challenge, experience and sense of achievement that we love. It is the visual confirmation of our hard work. You get to see the curves, cuts, striations and bulk of muscle hypertrophy built up in the gym. It is the sense of accomplishment that we’ve taken our fitness to the next level and the personal motivation that separates us from those who don’t compete. Remember, if it were easy, everyone would be doing it!

 

Photos by Tyler Harris

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 — Melissa Leier At Nationals

posted by Fitness Focus    |   September 17, 2012 00:08

Beyond The Weight Room — Melissa Leier At Nationals

After winning Saskatchewan Figure Provincials (see excerpts from my journal in the May issue of Saskatoon Well Being Magazine), I went right into contest preparation for Canadian Nationals four months later. As I start this journal, it’s two days to show time. During the last few days leading up to the competition, I really have to make the best use of my time, at home, in the gym and in my leisure time. Oh wait! There isn’t any leisure time at this point!

 

This time around I have the opportunity to compete at the same show as my boyfriend, Chris! We’ve each done our share of competitions in the past and supported each other through a few, but this was the first one we both were able to do together. Not only am I lucky to have him along with me to help me out with my suit, competition colour, motivation and support, but I also am extremely excited for him to compete in the Men’s Physique category and I can’t wait to see how he does. There’s no doubt in my mind that he’s going to rock it on stage!

Read more about Melissa at Well Being Magazine

Saskatoon Well Being: Our Favorite Article for September

posted by Fitness Focus    |   September 7, 2012 17:37

Here is our favorite article chosen from the September 2012 issue of Saskatoon Wellbeing Magazine.  This month's article is about sleep.  Most of us take this luxury for granted; we don't realize how important a good night sleep really is to what we do the following day.  It can affect your work, relationships with people and even be the deciding factor of whether to make it to the gym or not.  This article touches base on a side of sleep deprivation we might not be acknowledging.

Sleeping Separately: Why More Couples Are Going To Sleep In Different Beds

by Sarah Stefanson

She needs complete silence to get to sleep. He likes the white noise of a fan in the background. The fan also keeps him cool, but she likes to be nice and warm. She needs darkness and he can fall asleep in a fully lit room. He tends to go to sleep early and wake up early, while she’s just the opposite. He twitches in his sleep. Oh, and he snores.

They have tried different tactics to solve their sleep differences. She sings the praises of her sleep mask. They tried having different blankets for each of them. Schedule adjustments. Earplugs. No matter what they attempted, the glaring truth was staring them in the face: they were not meant to sleep in the same room.

Many couples are experiencing similar dilemmas and most are hesitant to resort to separate bedrooms, but it is a growing trend for partners to split up at bedtime. From 2001 to 2005, the National Sleep Foundation found that the numbers of American married couples that sleep in separate beds rose from 12 per cent to 23 per cent. The Sleep Council of England reports that 1 in 4 Brits habitually spend their nights in spare rooms or on sofas. Want more proof? The National Association of Home Builders says there have been more and more requests for homes built with two master bedrooms. In fact, they estimate that by the year 2015, 60 per cent of all custom-built homes will have his and hers bedrooms.

Proponents of separate bedrooms have several good arguments to back them up and even some scientific evidence.

Sleep specialist Dr. Neil Stanley revealed at the British Science Festival in 2009 that couples that sleep in the same bed may experience 50 per cent more sleep disturbances than those who sleep separately

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/

Here is our favorite article from the July issue of Saskatoon Well Being Magazine.

posted by Fitness Focus    |   July 3, 2012 16:13

Here is our favorite article from the July issue of Saskatoon Well Being Magazine.  This month our favorite article forcuses on infant wellness.

Most experts agree that breastfeeding is the best way to go when it comes to giving your baby the nutrition she needs during those all-important formative years. Breast milk contains over 100 ingredients including antibodies that protect babies from illness and strengthen their immune systems. Plus, your breast milk is specially formulated for your baby and its composition changes as your baby grows.

Sometimes, however, breastfeeding is not an option or a mother may choose to switch from breastfeeding to bottle feeding. A study published in Pediatrics in 2008 showed that “Breast milk alone did not satisfy my baby” was the most frequently cited reason by mothers who decided to stop breastfeeding their babies. Early on, many women have problems with sore, cracked nipples or clogged ducts and infections of the breast tissue (mastitis), which can make breastfeeding an unpleasant or even painful experience. Some babies have trouble latching on in order to feed properly and this can be frustrating to the mother.

Whether it is a medical issue or a lifestyle choice that motivates the decision to bottle feed, Well Being wants you to know the basics of what you’ll need to do it correctly to make sure your baby is getting all the nutrition she requires.

INGREDIENTS

Although they cannot imitate breast milk exactly, commercially manufactured infant formulas contain many of the vitamins and nutrients a baby would get from breast milk as well as others only available in supplements. Infant formulas come in powdered, concentrated and ready-mixed versions and are either cow-milk-based, soy-based or specially formulated for specific conditions. An iron-fortified formula is recommended for babies younger than one year.

Both the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and Health Canada advise against attempting to make your own baby formula at home since it is difficult to make a homemade formula nutritionally complete.

HOW OFTEN AND HOW MUCH

Formula-fed babies generally have to eat less often than breast-fed babies. This is because formula is slower to digest than breast milk. (More complicated digestion is also the reason that formula-fed babies have smellier bowel movements.)

On average, your baby should consume between 150 and 200ml of formula per kilogram of body weight each day (between 2.5 and 2.5 oz per pound).

As your baby grows, feeding habits and amounts will change.

CHOOSING BOTTLES

When it comes to choosing the right bottle for your new little one, the choices can be staggering.

The first decision to make is glass or plastic. Glass is regaining popularity lately due to concerns over harmful chemicals in plastic bottles. There is a risk of breakage with glass, but they are made quite sturdy and you can purchase wraps made of silicone or foam to cushion the glass from falls. Plastic bottles are cheaper, but may not last as long as glass. Always look for BPA-free plastic bottles.

The size and shape of the bottle are the next considerations. Newborns won’t need more than four ounces, but as your baby grows, she will need up to eight or nine ounces in a sitting. You may want to buy bigger bottles from the start and just not fill them up entirely for your newborn. Bottles with air vent systems and ones with an angled shape may help prevent your baby from swallowing too much air along with her food, which can result in gas and digestion issues. If you chose a specially shaped bottle, make sure it is dishwasher safe and that it fits in your bottle warmer (if used). Drop-in plastic bottle liners are another option for reducing your baby’s air intake while feeding and they also cut down on cleaning time since the liners can be thrown away after use. Of course, liners do have a larger environmental impact.

Finally, you’ll want to decide on the type of nipple for the bottle. If your baby is exclusively formula- fed, the shape of the nipple is not as important, but if you plan to go back and forth between breast and formula feeding, it is a good idea to choose a wide-base nipple that resembles the breast so the baby won’t get confused and have latching on problems. Different nipples are designed to allow a faster or slower rate of flow and you may have to experiment with flow rate until you find one your baby likes. Slower is usually better to start out with and you can increase as the baby ages.

PREPARATION

Before using bottles and nipples for the first time, you can sterilize them in a rolling boil for two minutes. It is unnecessary to sterilize bottles before each subsequent use. Proper washing with hot water and soap is sufficient. If you do choose to sterilize, you can boil, steam, microwave or use a sterilizing solution.

Follow the instructions on the package of formula to figure out the proper amounts of powder or concentrate and tepid water you should mix together in the bottle, then screw on the nipple tightly and shake. If your tap water is considered safe for consumption, it is fine to use for formula, but you can boil your water before making formula if you have concerns. Warming is not necessary, but if your baby prefers it, warm the bottle by placing it in a container of hot (not boiling) water or by using a bottle warmer. Don’t use a microwave as it may create hot spots that can burn your baby’s mouth.

The formula is ready to eat immediately, but can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 24 hours. If the bottle is left out for longer than an hour or two, throw the formula out. Discard any remaining formula when your baby is done eating.

COSTS

The costs of using formula can add up. Powdered formula is the least expensive option, followed by concentrated and ready-made formulas being most expensive. Specialty formulas will also cost more than basic ones. You can expect to pay between $1,500 and $2,000 for formula in your baby’s first year.

CONVENIENCE

You can’t beat the convenience of bottle feeding your baby. Being able to prepare bottles ahead of time means that you can enjoy some time away from your baby while your partner or other helpers assist with the feeding process. You may also be able to head back to work sooner since your baby won’t be as dependent on you.

BONDING

Some women worry about missing out on the bonding that happens during breastfeeding between mother and baby. If you spend time with your baby while you feed her, cuddling, making eye contact and placing her bare skin against yours, you should have no trouble creating a connection.

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