Tone Up, Toronto!

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Day 231: Slow Mountain Climbers

Mountain climbers don’t have to be done quickly to be effective. Watch this video from Fitness Magazine which will show you how to do Slow Mountain Climbers.

How To Do It:

  1. Stand in plank position.
  2. Bring your right knee forward (option: to tap your right toes on the ground) before extending the leg back out.
  3. Repeat with left leg. This is one rep.
  4. Do 20 reps to start (or more if this is easy for you).

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Day 230: Stability Ball Pike

This exercise tones your shoulders, lower back, and abs.

Required: A well-inflated stability ball.

How To Do It:

  1. Lie facedown on the ball with your thighs atop its centre. Put your palms on the floor so that they are aligned under your shoulders. Extend your arms fully.
  2. Slowly roll the ball forward so it moves under your feet as you lift your hips. Keep your legs straight as you form an inverted V with your body. If this is too difficult then bend your knees in towards your chest and roll the ball towards you.
  3. Hold for 1 count and then slowly roll back to the starting position.
  4. Do 15 reps.

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Day 229: Downward Dog Tuck

This is an easier exercise after yesterday’s challenging core twists. This exercise strengthens your shoulders, back, abs , butt, thighs, and calves.

How To Do It:
1. Start in downward dog (get on all fours on the mat, tuck your toes under and press your hips up to form an inverted V).

2. Shift your hips back slightly and bend your knees towards your chest as you round your back into a tuck. Pull your belly button towards your spine to engage your abs.

3. Return to downward dog to complete 1 rep.

4. Do 2 sets of 10 reps.

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Day 228: Core Twists

This exercise targets your shoulders, back, abs, obliques, and inner thighs.

Stability Ball - no attribution required.jpg

Required: An well-inflated stability ball.

How To Do It:

  1. Lie facedown on the stability ball with your shins on top of the centre of the ball. (Hint: the easiest way to get in position is to lie down with your tummy on the ball and roll forward so that the ball is under your shins.) Place your palms on the food so that they align under your shoulders. Your arms should be extended. Your body should form a straight line from head to heels.
  2. Engage your abs and spread you feet about 1 foot apart on top of the ball.
  3. Keep engaging your abs throughout the exercise. Keep your shoulders squared and slowly roll the ball slightly to the left and to the right so that you twist your core slightly, but be careful not to twist too much. 1 twist to the left and 1 twist to the right is 1 rep.
  4. Try to do 15 reps.

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Day 227: Weighted Swings

This exercise targets your shoulders, back, butt, and legs.

Weights - no attribution neededHow To Do It:

  1. Stand with your feet slightly wider than shoulder-width apart, toes turned slightly outward, holding a single 8- to 10-pound dumbbell in your left hand in front of your hips. Your palm should be facing in towards your body.
  2. Squat, keeping your knees behind your toes (if you cannot see your toes when you look down then you are too far forward), and swing the dumbbell back between your legs.
  3. Quickly stand up, swinging your left arm up in front of you at shoulder level. Immediately return to a squat position.
  4. Do 15 reps or continue for 30 seconds. Switch sides and repeat.

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Day 226: Alternate V-Sit Rolls

This exercise targets your abs, obliques, and lower back. This exercise is a little tricky, especially at first, so be patient with yourself. Concentrate on keeping your abdominal muscles strong throughout the exercise, and stop if anything (especially your back) hurts.

How To Do It:

  1. Sit on your mat with your knees bent, your feet flat on the floor, and your arms by your sides.
  2. Keep your knees bent at you lift your feet off the mat until your skins are nearly parallel to to floor and lean your torso back 45 degrees into a V-Sit. Extend your arms forward.
  3. Here is where it gets tricky: slowly roll down your spine onto you left side, extending your legs and reaching your arms overhead with your palms facing one another.
  4. Slowly reverse the motion to return into a V-Sit. Repeat on the right hand side to complete 1 rep.
  5. Do 2 sets of 10 reps.

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Health Benefits (and Risk) of Ginger

Ginger Zak Greant

[Photo: Ginger grown in Vancouver, Photo Credit: Zak Greant]

Ginger has been used as a traditional remedy in my cultures for thousands of years.

Health Benefits of Ginger

Ginger is wonderful for nausea or an upset stomach. It also aids in digestion. If you suffer from painful period cramps, ginger should be your go-to for lessening them. Ginger can also help reduce the pain of rheumatoid arthritis, muscle and join pain, and even headaches.

More research needs to be done on the following claims, but lab and animal studies have shown that ginger can help reduce swelling, lower cholesterol, lower blood sugar, and prevent blood clotting, but again, more research needs to be done to prove that ginger can have these effects and I cannot stress enough that you should be speaking to your doctor about these health risks rather than trying to cure them exclusively with natural medicine (though your doctor may decide they can play a role in restoring you to health).

Ginger was very helpful for me when I was suffering from irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). It seemed to calm down the cramping and nausea. I would blend a small amount of ginger (skin and all – after washing it thoroughly of course) with half a lemon’s worth of juice and drink it. If that is a little too extreme for you then you can add a little maple syrup or honey to make it more like a spicy lemonade. The unsweetened version is still my favourite drink when I have PMS cramps or an upset stomach. I truthfully have not noticed that it helps relieve any of my fibromyalgia pain, but I’d love to hear feedback about whether it has helped anyone with their arthritis pain.

I’ve also heard of people diluting the juice from ginger root with water and spraying it on their bodies as insect repellent, which I have yet to try. I’d be very interested if this had any effect against the mosquitoes up in cottage country.

Health Risks and Side Effects of Ginger

Pregnant women should be very careful with ginger. There is some evidence that it can raise the risk of miscarriage, especially in high doses.

There are also side effects for non-pregnant women – even in small doses. Ginger can cause heartburn, gas, mouth irritations, and an upset stomach. If you are ingesting a high dose of ginger (more than 5 grams a day) then it increases the chances of side effects.

If you have a bleeding disorder, ginger might raise your risk of excess bleeding so be very careful and talk to a doctor before ingesting ginger. You should also be cautious if you have diabetes or heart problems.
Do not take a ginger supplement if you are pregnant or breastfeeding and it is best not to give it to a child because it is still not known whether it is safe for small children.

Also note that applying ginger to the skin can cause a rash. Some people swear by applying a ginger compress to skin for pain, so if you are going to try this start with a small area and watch it closely to see if a rash develops).

As always, if you are on medication, you should speak to your doctor about any possible interactions with a high dose of ginger or a ginger supplement.

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Celebrity Diet and Exercise Routine: January Jones

January Jones has openly suffered with depression at various times in her life and credits a healthy lifestyle including daily exercise and a clean diet for restoring her to health.

January Jones’ Exercise Routine

January JonesDuring her time on Mad Men January was actually encouraged not to work out too much because women in the 1960s would have had softer bodies so she had to focus on her diet to maintain her figure.

However, right after Mad Men she began training for the X-Men movie where she played the character of Emma Frost. This required her to do some weight training and a lot of bodyweight exercises so she would have muscle tone in her upper body. Some of the exercises she did were push-ups on a stability ball, rowing with exercise bands, and dumbbell curls.

January now goes to the gym three to five days a week. A lot of her focus is on strength training with light weights to create lean muscles. She switches up her workouts to keep her body guessing. Some of her favorite workouts include working out with a stability ball, swimming, hiking, and running.

January Jones’ Diet

January eats a lot of vitamin rich foods that are loaded with minerals and nutrients. When she does eat foods that are less than healthy, she does so in moderation. Some of her favorite cheat meals are burgers, pizza, fries, and strawberry shakes. When she has been criticized for being too thin (as she was in 2009) she has assured people that she eats well saying, “I’m from South Dakota, so meat, potatoes, carbs.”

Unfortunately, January has sometimes taken extreme measures to change her body for a role. This is something many women fall for in the quest to be thin, but when a celebrity does it it gains a lot of publicity and encourages other women to try it to. For January Jones it was a juice diet to lose weight for the role of Emma Frost. It worked short-term (she dropped 2 dress sizes), as those kinds of diets often do, but is extremely unhealthy long-term. January called the process “a challenge” and said “in the comic [the outfit is] pretty much painted on and she has quite an unrealistic body.”

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Day 225: Kneeling Leg Circle

This exercise targets your shoulders, back, abs, butt, inner and out thighs.

How To Do It:

  1. Kneel on your mat and extend your left leg out to the left with you toes on the mat.
  2. Side bend at the waist to the right to place your right palm on the mat near your right knee.
  3. Lift your left foot off the mat with your toes slightly turned out.
  4. Draw 10 large clockwise circles with your leg and then draw 10 counter-clockwise circles with your leg.
  5. Switch sides and repeat.
  6. Do 2 sets.

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Book Review: Tracy Anderson’s “30-Day Method”

tracy andersonIf you’ve seen a recent picture of Gweneth Paltrow then I probably do not need to sell you on Tracy Anderson’s fitness program. In fact, you’ve probably already gone out and bought this book. Gweneth, whatever else you may think of her and her lifestyle blog, looks better than ever and she constantly sings the praises of Tracy Anderson for a reason.

Tracy Anderson grew up with a ballet background before gaining some weight and making it her mission to see if it was possible to truly transform your body shape. She seems to have found the solution to a trim, ballerina-physique. It does involve a lot of crazy looking moves as seen in this workout video, however the results are hard to deny.

This book is part memoir (chapters on her struggle to be slim and how the method was developed) and part instructional manual (step by step instructions for the moves seen in her videos). It is definitely worth a read, but I think watching her videos on youtube (or buying her DVDs) is also worth the time and expense. I’m going to admit that her moves took me out of my fitness comfort zone. I felt completely uncoordinated the first few times I did her videos. She moves incredibly quickly. However, I’m starting to grow to love it. I definitely feel the work after each session and who doesn’t want that perfect, lean ballet-body even if it takes looking goofy to get there.

Grade: A