It’s Party Time!

I’m talking about deep Summer; a time of year where schedules are all over the place and there are no ‘school nights’. The patio opens at 3pm and the weekend starts on Thursday.

This is totally you right now:

partygirl

And guess what?

That’s ok!

I’m not even going to preach at you today to stay on track with all your fitness goals.

Yup, you read that right. You know why?

Because I actually think one of the most dangerous fitness myths is ‘Go Hard or Go Home’.

Have you ever heard that:

  • You must sweat at least three times a week to see any benefit
  • You really shouldn’t eat any sugar
  • You must meditate for 20 mins every day or there’s no point.

The Go Hard or Go Home mentality is dangerous because when people can’t meet those expectations (for example, when it’s Summer time/Party time), they DO NOTHING.

 

lazy

 

Or –  they oscillate between extremes that wreak havoc on the body and the spirit.

Does any of this sound familiar?

“I’m too tired to do a full workout so I’m going to skip it”

“I blew it this weekend. I’m starting a cleanse/detox/food challenge on Monday”

“I broke my no drinking streak so might as well have another beer”

“I can’t make it to every Bootcamp class in August so I’m not going to bother to sign up”

eatrightandexercise

 

^^^Guys, this doesn’t have to be your August. ^^^

Party away, my friends, seize your summer and if you have to abandon your regular fitness routine, that’s ok – but:

Instead of trying to repair massive damage in September,

give yourself some small wins every day.

 

Studies have consistently shown that even small amounts of exercise are better than no exercise.

The classic example is that if you can’t go for a run, at least go for a walk around the block.

If you missed the first half of Bootcamp, come to the last half.

If you can’t leave your desk until the project is done, at least take three deep breaths.

When you keep track and celebrate small wins, you will enjoy your Summer more  – and build towards your larger goals.

This is why those baby steps are so important:

  • You break a pattern of inertia

 

  • You start a snowball effect. That walk around the block may turn into two blocks. Or even a jog.

 

  • You are reinforce a habit of health-positive behaviours, and more importantly, your self perception as someone who cares about their health.

 

But here’s the important thing

instead of thinking of that walk around the block as a failure to go for a run,

think of it as a success in getting off the couch.

 

lappingcouch

So I get it. It’s Summer.

Your relatives are in town and you have to pack for your vacation and anyway, it’s sweaty enough without getting on a spin bike.

But can you give me a few small wins?  Stuff like this:

I don’t have time to make a week’s worth of healthy meals in advance

Could you boil a few eggs to have on hand?

Or maybe check out my 5 Minute Healthy Meals?

My kids won’t eat vegetables and I’m not the kind of mother that has time to make happy faces out of everything and then post it on Pinterest.

Could you throw a few leaves of spinach into a blueberry smoothie?

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I slept through my Bootcamp class

Could you do the 7 min Workout at home? (do each exercise for 30 secs, with 10 secs rest in between)

I can’t commit to going for a run every day.

Could you walk around the block tonight?

I’m going away for a few weeks in August so I don’t want to commit to a program now.

No program needed. Just commit to doing SOMETHING every day that makes you feel good.

If you need some ideas for stuff to do on the road, check out my curated list of the Best Free Fitness On The Internet.

I didn’t sleep last night and I can’t handle doing a hard core workout right now

Could you do 20 mins of stretching and deep breathing?

Cool down 1

I said that one of the most dangerous myth of fitness is ‘Go Hard or Go Home’.

The other one is:  ‘I’ll be Happy When…”

I’ll be happy when I lose 10lbs

I’ll be happy when I can run as fast as I used to

I’ll be happy when I can feel confident in a sleeveless dress

I’ll be happy when I complete my marathon.

All those milestones are awesome and worth celebrating… But what if you celebrated your small wins every day?

When you choose the salad instead of the fries,

When you go for a summer evening bike ride instead of logging another hour in front of Netflix

When you remember to pack healthy snacks for your road trip and fly past the drive through line up at Tim Horton’s

How would that change how you feel TODAY?

And, just a reminder, it’s all about feeling good. NOW.

 

Happy Partying!

 

PS-

Leave a comment below and let me know about your small wins. And please share this post with any friends that could use a mid-Summer fitness boost!

Exercises for Better Sex

Most of you know that I have the very fun job of being a Fitness Expert on the Steven and Chris show. As you will see in the video below, I absolutely love it. The silliness of the show is totally my vibe and Steven and Chris are just as hilarious to work with as you’d imagine.

So the way it works is that the producer will call me and say “Oonagh, we’re doing on show on stress reduction. Can you do a segment on exercises that help with stress?” And I’ll say sure and send the producer a few ideas. We’ll work together to come up with content that is entertaining enough for viewers to sit and watch on their couch but also gives them very practical and usable fitness tips.  I’ll memorize a loose script, get my hair and makeup done and then then a couple of months later, my aunts who live in the prairies will be excited because they saw me on TV and I pretend to be all cool about it.

But I’ll be honest; when the producer called me and asked me to do an segment on exercises for better sex, I was immediately struck by a horrific premonition of  me doing Happy Baby Pose on international TV.

happy baby

Not to diss the producer’s idea; exercise in general is actually awesome for your sex life. Like, for example, committing to one of my awesome programs.Check it out:

  • Regular exercise creates lean muscle, increasing your testosterone and therefore your libido
  • Exercise can help prep you for the physical demands of sex. For 180lb man, 1 hour of sex is equal energy expenditure to 21 mins of boxing

lover fighter

  • Activity improves blood circulation to ALL areas of the body

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  • Exercise reduces your ‘sexual age’. Sixty-year-olds who exercise frequently report having the same amount of sex and sexual pleasure as people decades younger.

60 year olds

 

  • Being fit increases confidence

wink

 

  • Exercise itself can be very sexy. It’s thought that 5% of women orgasm during exercise. Sometimes called ‘coregasms’ (clever), most of these women report it happening during abdominal exercises. Like this:

coregasm

 

I wasn’t super keen on demonstrating the coregasm on Steven and Chris.  Instead, we went for an approach of specific exercises that would train the muscles primarily working during sex. Obviously, it got goofy…

(Let me know what you think in the comments below and feel free to share with all your sexy friends!)

 

The Cottage Workout

So now we are deep into the summer and many of my Bootcampers and clients are off the cottage. So because I love you guys, I’ve designed a wicked full body strength training circuit here for you so you can stay fit and feeling good while you aren’t under my watchful eye. And the only equipment you’ll need is stuff you will find around most cottages:

  • A Muskoka chair (or an Adirondack chair, for my American friends 🙂
  • A strong paddle
  • A hammock
  • Something heavy (rock, a stump, a cooler full of beer, etc)
  • A lifejacket

Download your PDF here and take it with you before your next weekend at the lake!

Instructions:

Make sure you warm up first – a 5-10 swim or a jog would do the trick. Alternatively, do 20 jumping jacks and 20 alternating lunges four times each to lubricate the joints and get the muscles warm and ready for action. Do 20 reps of each exercise in a circuit, keeping the transitions between the exercises quick so your heart rate stays elevated. The whole thing should feel like cardio. If you can repeat the whole circuit four times, you have definitely earned your cocktails on the dock! homerbeer Check the videos for tips on form and proper execution and click here to download a PDF that you can tape up at your cottage for a summer of keeping fit and feeling good!

Station 1: Push- Ups:

 

Station 2: Paddle Pull – Ups

 

Station 3: One Legged Get Ups

 

Station 4: Jump Squats

 

 

Station 5: Hammock Abs

 

Station 6: Weighted Squats

 

Bonus Cottage Abs:

What do you think of the Cottage Workout? Leave a comment below! Don’t forget to download your PDF and make sure to share with any friends you think would like to stay fit and feeling good at the Cottage this summer!

PS- If you conquer the Cottage Workout,  post a picture to and tag me on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram!

 

How to not exercise

Now, don’t get me wrong. Most people are really good at not exercising. The most recent Statscan report found that only about 15% of Canadians are getting enough exercise, that most people spend about 9.5 hours a day sitting. I’m sure I don’t have to tell you that this is bad. Like, global pandemic causing 57 million annual deaths bad.

So why on earth would I write a post about NOT EXERCISING?!

Because it is possible to over do it. Did you hear that doctors are starting to perscribe exercise as medicine? (check my FB for a recent article about this happening in BC). This is awesome. Not only because it gets people moving but because it recognizes that exercise is powerful medicine.

And like any powerful drug, it can be overused and abused.

 

Let’s go over the basics of how exericse works. When we do a tough workout – like, let’s say one of my killer bootcamp classes– we are creating tiny micro tears in the muscles and putting stress on our heart and respiratory system. I know that sounds bad but it’s not. Because our amazing bodies take this as a signal that our muscles are needed and therefore we better adapt and get stronger. Which is exactly what happens – on our recovery days.

If we don’t allow adequate time for recovery –  when we overtrain – there are consequences that are going to move you further away from your goals. Here are a few signs that it might be time to back off:

  • You are hungry as hell
  • You are always sore/achy in your muscles or joints
  • You get colds often or it takes forever to recover
  • You often have insomnia
  • You haven’t seen any improvement in your physical condition in a while
  • You have trouble losing weight
  • You are emotional/irritable/depressed

So is it as simple as exercising one day and then chilling the next?

Not necessarily. Like all medicine, the dosage will depend on the individual. A day on/day off schedule would probably bore Anna Kournikova to tears but send Al Bundy to the hospital.

So, unfortunately, you are going to have to listen to your body (I know – most unwelcome advice ever.)

Here’s a few rules I suggest:

1. The 15 minute rule.

It’s really common to feel like you are too tired to exercise. Very few poeople spring out of bed looking for a burpee TABATA. However, a well designed warm up will increase circulation through the body and start sending those feel-good chemicals to the brain. Within 15 minutes, you will probably be feeling more awake and glad that you didn’t hit snooze. If, after 15 minutes of exercise, you still feel completely wiped, this is a sign that it should be a recovery day. My suggestion is to maintain your intention for an hour of self-care and transition your workout to focus on restorative flexibility.

2. You should feel fully recovered from your last workout before you workout again.

If your quads are killing you from the wall sit enurance test you did yesterday it’s not necessarily a bad idea to go for a jog. In fact, moving some oxygenated blood around will probably relieve the soreness. But save the front squat 1 rep max for another day when your quads are feeling spring loaded and ready for action.

squats2

3. Your workout should leave you feeling energized, not exhausted.

When you are done your workout, you should feel like a champ.

champion

 

If you feel like roadkill, you probably overdid it.

Now here’s the tricky part: Some people don’t know how to chill (hi, Mum!).

If you are in that very small minority that could benefit from less exercise,  you might be reading this and experiencing some anxiety. Because for you, my one-percent warriors, it’s more than a workout, right? It’s your ‘me’ time, it’s your stress-relief, it’s your happy place. These are some of the awesome effects of exercise, which is why it can be so addictive. So how are you going to get your hit when you are giving the body a break? Here are some ideas:

I need the workout to de-stress and get mental clarity:

Try yoga and meditation, or going for a walk in nature. All of those are trite. All of them totally work.

naturewalk

I need the workout to feel happy and energized.

Three words: Dance. Mix. ’96.

Or whatever makes you feel like doing the Humpty Hump. And then call up a friend who is smart and hilarious (Hi, Meg!) and get them to meet you for that walk in nature. (check this post for a list of Toronto’s best hikes)

My workout is the only thing I do for myself.

I get it. You have so many demands on your time that the only time you insist for yourself is for something virtuous and dutiful like exercise. And you would feel like a jerk if you left the dishes in the sink and let the kids watch TV while you did something indulgent like…read a book. Don’t. Everyone was fine while you went for an hour long run. They will be fine if you go for an hour long pedi. If judgers gotta judge that’s their problem.

serve our community

It makes me feel productive… like I’m doing something GOOD for my health.

Then spend that hour doing something else that’s going to move you towards your goals. Like batch cooking some healthy new recipes (subscribe at the top of the page to get our Meal Planning Made Easy Guide to get started) or download the best apps for workouts you can do from your phone while you are at the cottage this summer.

And to deal with the elephant in the room…

I’m worried I will get fat if I take days off:

If you are overtraining and not allowing your body to recover,  your body is under some serious stress. When your body is stressed, it thinks you need lots of energy to fight off sabre toothed tigers. When you are not in a state of elevated stress, you will not need as much food to feel satiated and your stress hormone levels will balance out. I promise you it will be alright. Your body won’t eat more calories than it needs if you listen to it. And, seriously – get into that meditation. It will help you tune in to what the body needs and calm alot of the fat anxiety chatter.

If you need some other ideas about how to not exercise, you can always ask the other 85% of Canadians who are already experts at that.

But if you need some next-level inspiration, I’ve have scoured the internet for recovery-day heros for you. You’re welcome.

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chair

 

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Meet your Glutes!

Meet your Glutes!

Welcome to our first post in the ‘Meet a Muscle’ series! In this series, you can expect to be introduced to one of your muscle groups. You will learn:

  • Where the muscle is
  • What it does
  • Why you should CARE
  • How to train it

Why? Because knowledge is POWER.

power3

And studies show that:

the more educated you are about exercise,

the more likely you are to adhere to exercise throughout your life.

 

So we are starting with that most trendy of muscle groups, our glutes!

glutes

What is it?

Your ‘glutes’ are actually a group of muscles; gluteus maximus, gluteus medius, and the gluteus minimus. The glute maximus is the largest muscle in your body and the primary player here.

 

Here’s the anatomy:

glutes 3

And here’s the porn fitspo:

fitspo

 

What do the the glutes actually do?

Your glutes are responsible for hip extension (ie. standing up, deadlifts), hyperextension (ie. kick your leg backwards, supermans) and abduction (ie. kicking out to the side, clamshells).

Why you should care

Many people don’t realize it but your glutes are considered part of your ‘core’ (pretty much anything that isn’t an appendage is part of your core). As such, they help balance and stabilize the body during almost every activity you do. At least, they should….

….But alot of people are suffering from ‘gluteal amnesia’

gluteal amnesia

Wait…WHAT!?!

The term gluteal amnesia was coined by my favourite core training expert, Dr. Stuart McGill (he’s the reason we don’t bother with sit ups at our Bootcamps). It basically means your glutes have forgotten how to activate due to lack of use. Because we spend so much time sitting on our bums and not enough time walking and climbing stairs,  our brains –  those amazing computers of efficiency – decide to let those huge glute muscles go dormant.  Which means that our hamstrings and lower back take over the job of extending the hip and stabilizing the pelvis.  Which can lead to:

  •  lower back issues, ( including Disc Herniation)
  • knee issues (including Patellofemoral pain Syndrome, IT Band Syndrome)
  • hip pain (including Piriformis Syndrome)
  • a challenge in pulling off the short shorts trend with dignity and grace:

short shorts

vagina

I think I have gluteal amnesia! What do I do?

To address gluteal amnesia, we want to wake that lazy ass UP.

We do that through isolated glute activation exercises. These will remind our brains to fire off those awesome powerful muscles and reinforce the neuromuscular pathways that activate the glutes.  The idea is to do these exercises before you train and really focus on how it feels to actively engage through the glutes. This way they get ‘switched on’ for the remainder of your workout. Here are a few exercises that will do the trick. Try 20 reps on each side for 2-3 sets as part of your warm up routine.

 

 

 

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Then once you’ve activated the glutes, you can move on to more compound lower body movements (like squats and lunges and deadlifts, oh my!) and your glutes will be firing off like the fourth of July.

You’ll be all like

glutes on fire

 

And if you really want to work your butt off (or, um, on) check out my signature GLUTE CHALLENGE. It’s a Fit Feels Good Bootcamp favourite!