Tag Archives: fitness

Winter Lifestyle Practices

Winter is the season with the least amount of light, coldest temperatures and very skin drying conditions indoors with furnace heaters etc. Your skin might need more moisture and your body might crave more sleep to keep a healthy glow. Waking up in the dark to go to work and then not having time in the sun after work can create a natural tendency to feel introverted and can trigger feelings of depression or you might naturally want to eat warm, hearty comfort foods. To prevent hibernation pounds from creeping on this winter season here are some Winter Lifestyle Practices to help your health radiate!

  • Stay hydrated and add warming spices such as ginger, cloves and cinnamon to your herbal teas and recipes rather than sugary lattes or dehydrating caffeinated beverages.
  • Increase your fat intake slightly with healthy essential fatty acids found in avocado, raw nuts, fish or chia seeds to nourish supple skin and provide a grounding feeling during the dark cold months.
  • Incorporate more root vegetables such as, yams, pumpkin, squash or sweet potato rich in beta-carotene that will keep skin nourished and bright from the vitamin A conversion.
  • It’s tempting to curl up and not want to move when it’s cold outside, but the combination of dark days, cold temperatures and non-activity is the perfect combo to weaken immune function and contribute to depression. You must stay active! There are thousands of great DVD’s, online programs and apps that you can do at home to avoid the cold and still honor your workout time.
  • If you are limited to the amount of sunlight exposure I suggest taking a high quality Vitamin D3 vitamin, such as the Vegan D3 gummies by PURICA to help keep immune function string, balance moods and maintain healthy bones.
  • Honor your body’s natural tendency to want to stay in and sleep more. A nice relaxing evening in, sipping on some warm Effervescent Magnesium while enjoying a hot bath will help support muscle relaxation, improve your quality of sleep and increase your overall level of wellbeing.

Prime Time IT (Internal Talk)

When you want to achieve optimal fitness success, you need some daily Prime Time to condition your Internal Talk.  What I mean by “prime time” is you need mental preparation time to set your intention for the day and insure your internal talk supports your set goals.

The first thing to do during prime time is identify any self-defeating words or labels you use to describe yourself. These can be words like lazy, fat, or weak. Or they can be limiting belief statements like, “I’m never going to get fit” or “I won’t ever be able to keep up with these healthy habits”, or a very common one, “ I hate my body. “ Dig deep and be honest to discover what self-prophesying internal talk you’ve been trapping yourself with. This step still applies to you even if you’re already fit because we all can create imaginary ceilings that can leave us with “trouble spots” or unconsciously stuck.

Step two is; identify and derail the scenarios that trigger the negative internal talk. For example, if you go to bed saying “ I can’t be a morning person” and you set your workout time to be a six am sweat session, the chances of you fulfilling the self-defeating statement, “I’m never going to get fit” is pretty high. Your subconscious mind is working 24/7, which is why you need some prime time to recondition your intention.

Step three of Prime Time is where you change IT! Changing your internal talk from the thoughts that have been keeping you stuck to ones that perpetuate positive change is how you convince your body to do a workout, even when you don’t “feel” like it.  This can be as simple as replacing the word can’t with can the moment it’s trying to leave your lips. This little swap transforms the statement “ I can’t be a morning person” to “I can be a morning person.” After a couple weeks of Prime Timing your IT, you will build the new positive belief  “I am a morning person.”

If you don’t think such a simple change can create the change you crave, I challenge you to fully commit to applying your new positive self-talk to your daily walk. That’s right walk the talk and refuse to let a bad day change your prime time perspective. Take control of your subconscious and deliberately choose your thoughts. Be intentional with your words and relentless with your actions. Refuse to let your potential life be buried and let your optimized self shine!

Workouts you can do from home

This is a workout you can do from home designed to build muscle and burn fat.

The only equipment you’ll need is one pair of dumbbells so you won’t even have to change the amount of weight you use as you move from one exercise to the next. As you get stronger week-by-week you can increase the weight of the dumbbells used for the entire workout routine. This routine is designed to take a rest day following the session.

The Workout:  Do 4 sets of 10 reps. Take 60 seconds rest between sets.

Dumbbell Step up: Holding dumbbells at arms length at your side. Stand in front of a step or bench that is high enough that when your foot is on top your knee is bent 90 degrees. Pressing the heel of your foot into the step, push up until your leg is straight and you are standing on one leg at the top of the bench. Lower your body back down to the floor. That’s one rep. Complete 10 reps per leg.

Neutral Grip Dumbbell Row: Grab your dumbbells, bend at the knees and hips, and lower your torso until it’s almost parallel to the floor. Keeping your core abdominals tight and spine neutral, let the dumbbells hang at arm’s length from your shoulders, palms facing behind you. Bend your elbows and pull the dumbbells to the sides of your torso, pause at the top of the range of motion, then slowly lower the dumbbells.

Offset Thumb Grip Dumbbell Curl: Stand with your feet shoulder width apart, engage your core, grab a pair of dumbbells and let them hang at your sides. With your palms facing forward, extended each thumb to touch the outside head of the dumbbell. This forces the biceps brachia to work harder to keep your forearm rotated outward as you curl the weight. Without moving your upper arms, bend your elbows, and curl the dumbbells as close to your shoulder as you can. Pause, then slowly lower the weights back to the starting position.

Alternating Shoulder Press and Twist:  Hold dumbbells next to your shoulders with your elbows bent and palms facing each other. Rotate your torso to the right as you press the dumbbell in your left hand up diagonally, straightening it above your right shoulder. Pivot the left foot and keep your abs braced as you rotate your torso to prevent injury to your lower back. Reverse the movements back to starting position then repeat sequence in the other direction to target your right shoulder.

How to Master Your Weight and Build Health…

…Without Feeling Overwhelmed.

When you think about getting fit, eating healthy or how to find time to work out in your already over stressed day it’s easy to quickly feel overwhelmed.

This is when many people default to fad diets and quick fix promises. Having a perfect exercise and diet plan without applying the principles leaves you full of frustrated wishes.  Having a perfect exercise and diet plan and following it for thirty days, two months or twelve weeks will work until it doesn’t. Then you’re left feeling more frustrated and probably a little heavier than when you started.

You might ask yourself; where do I start? How do I begin? What’s my first step?

You start and finish with your habits.

“First we form habits, then they form us!” Rob Gilbert, Australian chemist

The key to effectively managing your weight is repeating the right things in the right way to achieve the right results. The most effective approach to building the body you desire is to build healthy habits that will equip you with a system to grow above and beyond what you set out to achieve.

The conscious mind gets you started. However it’s the unconscious mind that makes you successful long term. Building healthy routine behaviors that are so natural you don’t need to give them much thought is how to transform your mind and body.

“Weight isn’t the problem it’s a symptom. Weight loss isn’t the solution it’s the outcome of having healthy habits.” MT

We all know fad diets and quick fix promises don’t lead to lasting results. It’s not about changing your whole life overnight. Small changes build big results when you consistently commit to practicing them. Habits are built one thought, decision, and action at a time.

Here is a checklist to help you make a new healthy habit:

  1. Decide on a goal that you would like to achieve for your health.
  2. Choose a simple action that will get you towards your goal, which you can do, on a daily basis.
  3. Plan when and where you will do your chosen action. Be consistent: choose a time and place that you encounter every day of the week.
  4. Every time you encounter that time and place, do the action.
  5. The more you do it, the easier it will be.  Within 10 weeks you should find you are doing it automatically without even having to think about it.
  6. Congratulations, you’ve made a healthy habit!

“Rise and grind?” or “Sleep in and win!”

If you are a motivated person, especially when it comes to exercise then your choice expression from the title is likely quite obvious.  I am an early bird by nature and I love being out in the early morning for my training sessions.  And for many years (10+) I have always prioritized my workouts over that extra 30-120 minutes of sleep.  But recently I listened to an episode from my favourite podcast – Sigma Nutrition Podcast – and it really struck a chord with me…… sometimes we need a reminder to put us back in check with things we know we should be doing.

I know that sleep it important for overall health and athletic performance so I have always tried to prioritize sleep, but often life gets in the way and so I rise and grind at the crack of dawn (or before) to get my workouts in.  I have a passion and hunger that almost can’t be satisfied when it comes to training hard, so it is never a question of whether or not I get up to do the workout, it’s just a question of how much less than 9 hours of sleep I get before I rise.  I say 9 hours because I know for me that that 9 hours is a golden number, if I can hit that I feel fantastic (relatively speaking) even in the heaviest training periods.

What does the science say?  Let’s start with a biggie – “the major metabolic perturbations accompanying sleep deprivation in humans are an increase in insulin resistance and a decrease in glucose tolerance.” (VanHelder T, 1989 Apr).  When carbohydrate metabolism is interfered with the negative effects abound for both high end athletes and the general public, some issues that can result are weight gain, decreased energy and lower power output.  Oxygen consumption, heart contractility and cardiac output can also be affected by the effect that sleep deprivation has on our thyroid – TSH is increased and if this becomes chronic it is problematic (Mullington MJ, 2009).  Furthermore, notes from one study conclude that response to muscle strength, aerobic and anaerobic performance capability were not affected with 30-60 hours of sleep deprivation, but time to exhaustion and rate of perceived exertion were both negatively affected (VanHelder T, 1989 Apr).

One of the next systems in line to get negatively affected would be the immune system.  And being sick can further inhibit sleep quality and quantity.  It quickly becomes clear that not getting enough sleep can have a snowball effect leading to issues that decrease the quality of our day to day lives.  Now, if we circle back to the title of this article we can start to see how anyone with athletic goals needs to prioritize their sleep.  For me this has meant actually planning in days where I can get 9-9.5 hours of sleep.  By planning it in I mentally accept it ahead of time, so when I wake up at 5:15am on my sleep in days I can silence the devil on my shoulder and go back to sleep.

I am not advocating people sleep in to the point where it affects other aspects of their lives.  But I am very much in favour of going to bed early enough that 8-9 hours is realistic and practical.  As an elite level, working athlete with a family I can’t always get 9+ hours of sleep, that is the reality.  But here are some things that I recommend to help you get enough high quality sleep on a regular basis:

  • Change your schedule (and frame of mind perhaps) so that you are actually in bed and ready to fall asleep at a decent time.
  • Take a magnesium glycine (aka bisglycinate) supplement 20 minutes before bed in a dose large enough (200-500mg) to calm your neuromuscular and musculoskeletal systems
  • Keep your cortisol in check by:
    • striving to minimize the life stressors that are out of your control
    • looking for supplements such as ashwagandha that help regulate cortisol production
  • Practice good sleep hygiene:
    • make sure your room is as dark as possible
    • lower your thermostat to as cool as possible while still feeling comfortable
    • avoid caffeine later in the day (subjective)
    • avoid watching tv or looking at your computer screen in the 60-90 minutes before bed*
    • consider favouring complex carbohydrates (over fat) at dinner time if you have trouble falling asleep
    • don’t perform intense exercise in the hours leading up to bed time
  • Keep your immune system strong with a very healthy diet and the strategic use of whole food supplements such as medicinal mushrooms

Consistency is the key with any physical pursuit and/or with achieving great health and longevity, and this includes getting enough quality sleep on a regular basis.  If you think you aren’t getting enough sleep and/or your quality of sleep may be poor than do your best to make it a priority to fix it!  I assure you it will be an eye opener 😉 when you start to feel the benefits of meeting your body’s sleep needs.

In good health,

Adam

*If you must use your electronics before bed then it is a good idea to install a program such as f.lux (PC) or Twilight (androids) that will block out the spectrums of light that interfere with your brains ability to produce serotonin.

Your Legs: From Good to Great

Legs are obviously an important body part. First of all, they help us move around and make the most of the life around us. Secondly, they’re prominent features of our overall physique.

With both in mind, walk these four steps to great legs:

Warm it up

Make sure you warm up before doing weighted leg exercises. Getting the blood flowing with a brisk walk or jog on the treadmill for 5-10 minutes with some fascial mobility stretching will get the range of motion primed before your first working set. This approach will help to prevent injury.

Variety Show

There are various muscle groups in the lower body. This means it’s important to vary the type of exercises, foot positioning, reps and sets that you do to stimulate all the muscle fibers and keep your body guessing. For example, when doing squats, place your toes parallel on your first set and then toes out in a plié position to target the hamstrings, glutes, adductors and quads on a different plain for your second set. Muscle development happens by having to adapt to a stimulus so mix it up and you’ll stimulate greater shape to legs.

Recovery

If you want to have nice strong, lean legs, you’ve got to lift heavy and support muscle growth to smooth out and burn access body fat. To do this, you’ve got to have a good nutrition plan to help optimize recovery and shape your results.  A simple 300-400 calorie cutback per day, if needed, can help burn off an extra five pounds in a month and reveal some great leg lines.

HIT the Cardio

When you hit the treadmill, intensify your results by jumping off every 3-5 minutes and do 30-60 seconds of pop squats, scissor lunges or deadlifts for your 3-5 rounds.

When you increase the strength and endurance of your legs, it makes it easier to live a more physically active lifestyle and you burn more calories overall and may indeed be a secret to staying trim.

Decide. Do. Delete.

In your life, it’s up to you to decide what you want to happen. You have that power.

If you want to make things different, you have to make different decisions, do different things and delete old habits.  Just because you are where you are now doesn’t mean that you can’t make changes. Your current situation is the result of choices made up until this point. If you are unhappy with your current weight, fitness level or energy level, you are fully capable of making better choices from this moment onward.  These new choices will lead you toward your optimal weight, health and fitness level.  In fact, you are the only person capable of making the decision to change your ways.

If you take the time to specify what you want to achieve and why, you can then make a plan of attack and apply successful strategies from other areas of your life to strengthen the area in which you want to improve. You can strengthen your willpower through visualization and by reminding yourself regularly of why your goals are important to you.

Changing behavior isn’t easy and positive change rarely happens on a whim. You already know what giving up feels like. I want you to see what happens if you don’t.

The importance of planning your own development will be the key over the coming weeks, months and years. Success will require saying “yes” to any external influences that move you forward in your aims and saying “no” to anyone and anything that will slow you down or lead you off track.

This is where moderation comes into play, not! Moderation might be the most overused word in the entire nutrition and fitness universe because people like the idea of not restricting themself and being able to eat anything they want so long as it’s not “too much.” The problem with moderation is that it’s a fantasy, not a strategy. Without clear boundaries, old habits will always win.

Behavioral research shows that the more specific an action is, the more likely you are to actually do it. So decide what you need to change and be single minded. Focus fully on the chosen behavior and tune into all the opportunities that will take you there quickly. Be consistent with the little things and the big change will happen. Nobody can talk you into your future but you. Don’t let fear talk yourself out of your full potential. If you can talk yourself out of going to the gym or making healthy food choices, you can talk yourself into it. Delete old unhealthy habits by building new healthy ones.

Words only work when you work them. A plan only works when you work it!

How Synergy Works for Me

Adam O’Meara has a unique perspective on natural supplements. He is not only a professional triathlete, but part of the PURICA team. The PURICA Ambassador explains why PURICA Recovery®, Provascin® and Cordyceps – our PURICA Sport Synergy Line – serve as the foundation of his regime of nutritional supplements.

BY ADAM O’MEARA

Our bodies respond well to new stimuli.  That’s why, when it comes to fitness and exercise, it is imperative to increase the workload (stimulus) in order to see improvements.  General fitness is best achieved by combining two or more modalities and a combination of strength and aerobic work.  Even a properly-structured program for a single sport focus — such as training for a 10k road race — will incorporate various types of workouts including recovery, interval and long runs.

Whatever the fitness goal, it is best to approach it by providing a variety of stimuli.  This is also true when it comes to dietary supplements.  As a professional level triathlete, I perform swim, bike and run training, plus I include core strength work.  When it comes to food, I choose a well-balanced diet that favours vegetables and other whole foods. I am also sure to include good variety in all three macro-nutrient categories.  Furthermore, I top off my diet with a targeted supplement regime that has the PURICA Sport Synergy Line as the foundation.

Soft tissue and cartilage healing

PURICA Recovery® was one of the products that perked my interest in PURICA many years ago.  After much research and hearing countless anecdotal success stories, I was certain Recovery® would help me as a high level endurance athlete.  Its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects combined with its ability to encourage soft tissue and cartilage healing and rebuilding make it a primary supplement for me.

Improving my exercise performance

Many athletes are familiar with the benefits of the medicinal mushroom Cordyceps sinensis (CS). CS is one of the most widely-examined medicinal mushrooms and has shown promising results in many double-blind and placebo-controlled studies; including a 10.5% and 8.5% increase in metabolic and ventilatory thresholds, respectively, which equals an improvement in exercise performance (Chen S. Z., 2010).  Studies showing those types of improvements coupled with countless anecdotal accounts from athletes and my own experience is why I continue to take PURICA Cordyceps almost daily.

Supporting my cardiovascular system to perform at its fullest potential

As a high level endurance athlete, my primary goal is to train my cardiovascular system to perform at its fullest potential.  When we exercise we increase oxidative (a.k.a. free radical) stress through the production of damaging ROS (Reactive Oxygen Species) molecules.  ROS are unstable molecules that have potential to do damage to our bodies.  Even the most sedentary person is producing ROS as the body continues its perpetual cycles of cell turnover, but as activity levels increase the body may struggle to provide enough anti-oxidants to neutralize the free radicals being produced.  So it is then our job to provide our bodies with ample amounts of anti-oxidants which we do by eating healthy whole foods and taking high quality supplements.  My food choices are primarily based on nutrient density and anti-oxidant potency, and this is quite simple since the healthiest foods usually contain high levels of nutrients and anti-oxidants.  And my preferred supplement for combating free radical damage to my cardiovascular system is Provascin.

Provascin® is one of the broadest spectrum cardiovascular products available.  The combination of ingredients offers a multi-faceted approach to protecting the entire cardiovascular system, including the heart.  One of my favourite ingredients in the formula is Chaga (Inonotus obliquus). It is a powerful medicinal mushroom that offers very impressive ORAC (Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity) levels and SODs (Superoxide dismutase) values.  With an ORAC score of ~50 times greater than that of blueberries, Chaga is an incredible free radical scavenger.  SODs serve as the front-line defense against ROS in living cells (Fukai, 2011).  Furthermore, mitochondrial function is regulated by SOD (Fukai, 2011) and our overall health and performance is only as good as how healthy and efficient our mitochondria are.  My reasons for using Provascin® extend beyond its fantastic day to day support, I also rely on it as a preventative measure for avoiding cardiovascular disease later in life – I have a family and I want to do all I can to maintain great health through my senior years.

I am perhaps the number one fan of the PURICA Sport Synergy line and use PURICA Recovery®, Cordyceps and Provascin® on an almost daily basis.

Suggested dosing for athletic performance

I typically take 2-3 caps of Cordyceps upon rising and another 2-3 in the afternoon.  Recovery is taken in 5 cap or 1 teaspoon doses 2-3 times per day, 20 minutes prior to a meal or as part of a post workout smoothie or snack. When it comes to Provascin®, I simply take it three times daily with food.  In order to make the most of my supplement regime, I treat it just like training and ensure consistency, but I don’t fret if I miss a dose or two.

Remember, supplementation is just like exercise and training – it is best to support your well-being with a good variety of healthy and smart choices.


References

Chen, S. Z. (2010, May 16). Effect of Cs-4® (Cordyceps sinensis) on Exercise Performance in Healthy Older Subjects: A Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled Trial. Retrieved from Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3110835/

Fukai, T. a.-F. (2011, September 15). Superoxide Dismutases: Role in Redox Signaling, Vascular Function, and Diseases. Retrieved from Antioxidants & Redox Signaling: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3151424/

Break of Dawn: Calisthenics before Breakfast

Have you ever intended to work out in the afternoon or evening but wound up getting bummed out because you didn’t get the chance to exercise?

Or do you have a tough time getting started in the morning and feel sluggish throughout your day?

If the answer is yes and you want to promote brain function, improve focus, creativity and, above all, boost energy and your metabolism to help you burn more body fat throughout the rest of your day, I highly recommend you make time for a quick 15-30 minute calisthenic session first thing every morning.

If you already do your main workout in the morning, substitute this series of calisthenics on days when you don’t have time to go to the gym or boost your fitness by simply adding it in after work or while you’re on the road and in a hotel.

Making a short bodyweight workout part of your morning routine will have you feeling great. Moreover, it guarantees that you’ve done something active to build your health each day.

One of the greatest advantages of body-weight training is that you can do it anywhere, anytime, and there are a lot of exercises you can choose from to strengthen your entire body.

The three most essential movements for building strength and muscle with bodyweight training are push-ups, pull-ups, and squats.

Here are some basic calisthenics exercises to start with 3 to 5 rounds of 5-10 reps:

  • Negative Chins / Pull-ups –essential to strengthen your back and arms.
  • Pushups /Bar Push-ups – to build strong chest and triceps muscles and condition your core and shoulders.
  • Deep Squats & Lunges – to strengthen your legs and glutes.
  • Various dips – slow negatives will strengthen your whole upper-body.
  • Tucked L-sit & Leg raises will strengthen essential core muscles.
  • Rest: Plank 30-60 seconds between rounds.

Perform the workout upon rising, before you have anything solid to eat. Without a food energy source your body will look to your stored body fat for energy. If you are already quite lean, you can add a coffee and pre-workout BCAA’s with some lemon water to support lean muscle. After your morning workout, be sure to refuel with a healthy breakfast!

Get Fit for Less

Three Budget-friendly Home Fitness Tools!

It doesn’t take much to get in shape; as long as you commit to doing it.

It also doesn’t have to cost too much to make a positive contribution to your fitness routine.

Here are three pieces of equipment that you can find at most hardware stores across the country for less than $40 to get you started on your own home workout plan (for illustrative purposes, I’m using examples and pricing from items available at Home Depot).

Dowel
$2 to $7

dowelA 4-ft (122 cm) long, 1-in (2.5 cm) diameter wooden or PVC dowel.*A broomstick without the brush will also work. You can use a dowel for:

Overhead squats: hold the dowel overhead as you squat to work legs and buttocks, and scapular and core stabilization.

For standing twists: hold the dowel behind your head below your neck on your trapezius muscle with arms extended holding wider than shoulder width and twist your waist side to side to work obliques.

For side bends: hold it overhead and bend at the sides to work oblique.

You can also use it vertically for balance when doing lunges, dead lifts and squats.

Gliding disks
$11.95 each

gliderFour-inch gliders allow a homeowner to slide furniture and objects around with ease. Gliders can be used under household furniture, book cases, sofas, appliances, large beds, and cabinets. For your fitness program these are seriously fun and seriously heart pumping, gliding disks can really make you sweat. With these round plastic discs that slide easily on a smooth floor surface, you can do:

Lunges: including side and reverse lunges, allowing your feet to glide as you bring your body up and down which really isolates your front leg glute and hamstring.

Speed-skaters: Bend over like a speed skater and propel your body from side to side with your arms and legs to get a totally body cardio burn.

Core pushups:  Slide your hands together and apart, using your abs to keep you up.

Hip Thruster Ab Tucks: Place your feet on the discs while in a high plank position, use your core to tuck your knees toward your elbows and back out to starting position to strengthen your entire core strength.

Bungee Cord with Super Duty Carabiner
$6

carabinerAny exercise you can do with free weights you can do with tubing. A bungee cord is lightweight and perfect to take when traveling since it won’t weigh down your suitcase. The carabiner ends allow you to attach handles for $7 to triple its versatility.

How to use it:

Tubing squats: Stand on the tubing with feet shoulder width apart, while holding the handles. Keep your back straight, look forward, and lower your body as if you’re about to sit into a chair. Once your thighs are parallel to the floor, squeeze your glutes to stand back up.  The tubing will add resistance to target the legs and glutes.

handleRows: wrap the tubing around a pillar or banister or another fixed object. Stand facing the tubing and grip the handles so your palms face in. Keep your back straight and retract your shoulder blades as you pull the tubing to your hips. This will target your back, shoulders and arms. You can intensify this exercise by sitting in a squatted position to target quads, glutes and core to the upper body burn.

Presses: Attach two handles to the end carabiners and wrap the tubing around a pillar or banister or another fixed object. With your back to the tubing, palms facing down, have your elbows out and press the tubing forward like a chest press. You can parallel the palms for an open armed chest fly variation.

As you can see, it doesn’t take much to get in shape, as long as you commit to doing it. So head to your local hardware store and get started today!

 

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