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The 12 Days of Xmas Fitness Gifts

Do you know someone who loves exercising often or wants to be exercising more often? Support their interest (and their health) this Xmas Holiday Season with the following list of gift ideas for the fitness freak in your life.

#1. Water Bottles - The better quality the better. Some water bottles break too easily, so finding a really good water bottle is amazing. One of my favourite water bottles is an old fashioned army canteen. It is nothing special to look at (although you can find them now in pink and other colours), but they are amazingly durable and don't break easily.


#2. Bicycle or Bicycle Accessories

If they don't have a bicycle, get them one. Or if they do have a bicycle, get them lots of handy bicycle accessories. eg. Kryptonite bicycle locks are one of the best bicycle locks on the market, so that is certainly a possibility. There are also lights, helmets, seats, bicycle tools, racks, water bottle holders, camel backpacks and more. HOWEVER some people are picky about what bicycle gear they will use so you may need to research what things they want/need first. When in doubt get them a gift card to a bicycle shop.


#3. Yoga Membership Card

Get them a membership card to a local yoga studio that is close to either work or home. Some yoga studios sell cards which are good for 5, 10 or 20 yoga sessions - and have no expiry date. Shop around and find a yoga studio where your loved one can go - and can use whenever they see fit. Do NOT buy them a "one month membership" as most of it will probably go to waste and not be used. Buying a specific number of sessions is more economical.

#4. A really awesome skipping rope...

The trick here is that you should only buy this for a person who is really into cardio exercises, or even better a person who is already into skipping. There are a lot of unusual skipping ropes out there on the market now, which means you can choose from all sorts of materials, colours and functions.

#5. Sports Equipment

If your loved one is into football, get them football equipment. If they are into archery, get them archery equipment. If they are into baseball, get them a baseball bat and balls (baseball players typically only use their favourite glove).

#6. Hockey Equipment

Hockey isn't just a sport in Canada. It is a lifestyle and a national symbol. Even people who aren't hugely into hockey, still enjoy playing road hockey when given the opportunity. This is Canada. We ALL played hockey at some point when we were younger.

#7. Kettlebells

For the weight lifting aficionados. Or get them dumbbells. I love dumbbells. Barbells are also a possibility, but they take up a lot more space and require a bigger investment.

#8. Exercise Clothing

I don't mean Lululemon (in my experience most people who wear Lululemon don't actually exercise, they wear it because they like to pretend that they exercise). No, I mean clothing from a store like SportChek - where they sell exercise clothes that is meant to actually be exercised in and isn't designed to be a fashion statement. If you don't believe me visit the Lululemon at the Eaton's Centre and then visit SportChek and you will see the difference. SportChek sells clothes, running shoes, exercise/sports equipment, etc - for both men and women.

Heck, Golf Town and also Bass Pro has more actual "exercise clothes" than Lululemon does because it is meant to be functional first and isn't about being a fashion statement.

#9. Heart Monitor Watch / Pedometer

Useful for joggers, High Intensity exercises, seeking the Afterburn Effect, Interval Training and more.

#10. Camping / Hiking Gear

You can never have too much camping and hiking equipment. Always useful.

#11. Polarized Sunglasses

If they are going to be exercising outside then a good set of polarized sunglasses are very useful. You can also get them with prescription lenses.

#12. Heated Hoodie

For exercising outdoors during the winter you can't beat having a heated hoodie. Useful for exercising, shoveling snow (that counts as exercise) and many other activities outdoors. Uses a rechargeable battery pack to provide the heat energy.


BONUS GIFT IDEA: Wii Console + Wii Fit and/or Wii Sports

Why? Because if you are exercising and playing a video game, it is still exercising. So Wii Tennis, Wii Golf, Wii Bowling, Wii Boxing, all good fun and good exercise.

Wii Sports for example has been on the market since 2006 and has become very popular with homes for the elderly. I am even thinking of getting a Wii Console / Wii Sports for my mother, because it is something she would actually use.

And who doesn't enjoy Wii Boxing? Watch the video below of ex Canadian Prime Minister Jean Chretien beating Rick Mercer while playing Wii Boxing.



The Dangers of Sugary Drinks - 10 Cans of Coke per Day

Have you ever wondered how much weight you would gain if you drank 10 cans of Coca-Cola (or Pepsi) every day, for 30 days?

L.A. resident George Prior, a Paleo diet aficionado decided to conduct an experiment - in a "Super Size Me" way - by drinking 10 cans of coke every day for 30 days. So 300 cokes overall. He then documented his results on his website 10cokesaday.com.

The trick to this is that Prior made no other changes to his otherwise healthy diet. He had a very healthy diet already (and a pretty lean, muscular body), so he would just be adding sugary drinks to his daily diet. That means he was putting 350 extra grams of sugar into his body every day.

So what difference do you think that would make? After all, not many people actually drink 10 cokes per day, do they?

Actually a lot of people do drink the equivalent of that.

"That’s true, perhaps you’re only drinking four Cokes, but if you add in the two glasses of orange juice, the two sweetened coffee drinks from Starbucks, the 16 ounce Odwalla drink, the two ‘healthy’ brand ice teas, and the $9 fruit smoothie you waited ten minutes in line for, you’ve made my ten Cokes look like child’s play. Maybe it’s not all Coke, but they’re all sugar drinks, and a big percentage of Americans drink at least the sugar equivalent of my ten Cokes," explains Prior.

So yes, sometimes people do drink that much every day. Or eat the equivalent amount of calories in junk food. A single can of Coca-Cola is 139 calories, so 10 cans is 1,390 calories - approx. 70% of your daily energy needs.

3,500 calories = 1 pound of fat. Thus consuming 41,700 calories in 30 days, we would expect Prior to gain 11.914 lbs of fat in 30 days.

So how much did Prior gain?

At the start of his experiment he weighed in at 168 lbs. 30 days later he weighed 191 lbs, an increase of 23 lbs. How is this possible that the amount consumed led to a larger than expected weight gain?

There are several possibilities:

#1. Prior cheated on his experiment, eating more than he claimed he was. But we will assume he was honest in his experimentation and give him the benefit of the doubt.

#2. The sheer amount of sugar caused him to become temporarily diabetic and also slowed his metabolism. A dramatically slower metabolism would cause him to store more sugar as fat, leading to excessive weight gain.

Anyone who has ever gained 20 lbs during the Christmas Holidays know how option #2 happens.

#3, Prior also gained muscle / bone density during that time period. Since the meat and veggies he was eating wasn't being used for energy due to the abundance of sugar in his system, those materials would have then been used for growing extra muscle and increasing his bone density. Increased bone density is normal for anyone putting on extra muscle / weight, as your bones needs to be able to support the extra weight.

#4. Combination of #2. and #3. But how would we know?

Well, fortunately there is a way to check. We compare his body fat percentages and total body fat weight.

At the start of the experiment Prior had 9.4 percent body fat. Or 15.792 lbs of fat.

By the end of the experiment his body fat was 15.3 percent. Or 29.223 lbs of fat.

So in reality he only gained 13.431 lbs of fat.

So that isn't so far off from the 11.914 lbs we would have expected him to gain.

Thus Prior must have also gained 9.569 lbs of muscle and bone density during that period. So we now know #3 - extra muscle / bone density - is the more accurate reason for the extra weight gain. (The increase in muscle / bone density also disproves #1, showing that he didn't cheat on his experimental diet.)

So what about that extra 1.517 lbs of fat?

Well, lets look at Prior's blood pressure. At the beginning of the experiment his blood pressure was 129/77. By the end of the experiment it had increased to 143/96. An increase of 16%.

Blood pressure and metabolism has an inverse effect. The person becomes resistant to insulin (diabetic); Insulin regulates the absorption of sugar, the storing of sugar as fat tissue and plays an important role in weight gain. An increase in blood pressure, a reduction in metabolism and a rise in resistance to insulin would result in extra weight gain.

For Prior this meant only a difference of 1.517 lbs of fat, but it is important we keep track of what was happening in his body.

Note - All the math calculations on this page are done by me, using a calculator and only the raw before and after data. I have not relied on George Prior's website for any of my calculations.

CONCLUSIONS

Yes, eating lots of sugary drinks (or sugary food) will cause you to gain a lot of weight in a hurry. That part is a no brainer. So if you are eating a lot during the upcoming Christmas Holiday Season and then weigh about 20 lbs more than usual by the time January comes around, now you will know why. All those snacks, cookies, wine, beer, chocolate, turkey, stuffing, potatoes, etc went straight to your waistline. The holiday season is amazingly effective at causing people to gain weight in a hurry.

Oddly enough not all of it will be fat. A chunk of it will also be muscle and bone density, but the added fat gain is going to be tricky to get rid of.

So Merry Christmas. You will need to go on a diet / exercise routine come January.

If you need a personal trainer in January, shoot me an email. We can start by measuring your weight, figure out how much you want to lose, and then we can determine what kind of diet and exercise program you will need to reach your desired weight.

In the meantime have a Happy Holidays and try to eat healthier this year!

Gift Vouchers for Archery Lessons and More

November 16th 2014

It is snowing outside which means I am done teaching archery for the season.

Winter for me is time meant more for teaching ice skating, boxing (indoors) and personal training. So if you are looking to learn ice skating, boxing or are looking for a personal trainer feel free to contact me.

Prebooking Archery Lessons

For people who want to get into archery and are looking for archery lessons in Toronto, you can prebook lessons for Spring and Summer 2015 right now.

And by right now, I mean contact me right away because people started prebooking for 2015 back in August 2014 so some of the time slots in April and May are already fully booked.

When Prebooking Archery Lessons I require a 30% deposit for the total sum, payable via Interac Email Transfer from your bank.

Gift Vouchers

If the lessons are not for you but are for your friend, significant other, child, parent, boss, colleague, etc. and you are not sure when to schedule them then I also offer Gift Vouchers. The prices of the Gift Vouchers are the same as my regular rates so browse my Archery Lessons page to see my rates, and learn more about my services.

Payment for the Gift Voucher is done via Interac Email Transfer from your bank.

Please be advised that Gift Vouchers have an expiry of 18 months after the day of purchase. So if you purchase a Gift Voucher in December 2014, it will expire by June 30th 2016 if it is not used during 2015 or Spring 2016. (I figure 18 months is ample enough time for people to use a voucher.)

Lost voucher? Email me with your contact information, who purchased the voucher and the value of the voucher and I can send you the voucher number. All you need is the voucher number to redeem it.

Tip: Aim in the corner if the target butts are damaged.
Winter Archery Lessons

Ideally I would prefer to teach archery lessons indoors during the colder months but we have to make do with what we have. Last year I made an exception in February to teach a single archery lesson to a student who wanted to get into bowhunting. So it is not impossible for me to teach archery lessons during the winter, but it is a case wherein I prefer to wait for the weather to cooperate and I do prefer to teach only those students who are unwilling to wait for Spring because they have a dire urge to learn immediately.

I add an extra $20 surcharge for Winter archery lessons because the probability of lost arrows is much higher and because I want to discourage people who are less than serious. All lessons are dependent upon cooperation from the weather. If the weather is too foul / blizzard-like, we will reschedule for a nicer day using the 14 day forecast and confirm the weather conditions the day before the lesson.

For tips on doing archery during the Winter please read Guide to Winter Archery in Toronto.

Contact

To contact me regarding prebooking archery lessons, purchasing a Gift Voucher, or scheduling a Winter archery lessons you can email cardiotrek@gmail.com.

Enjoy the Winter!

Archery - What to do if you are Cross Dominant

Q

Hello!

I am cross dominant (right handed but left eye dominant). I find it very awkward to pull back and shoot using my left arm. Is there anything to do to rectify this problem? I have tried shooting with my right side instead, but my accuracy that way is horrible / worse. Help?!

- Gerry W.

A

Hey Gerry!

First, for my readers I am going to clarify what it means to have a dominant eye and to be cross dominant. Your dominant eye is the one people aim with. It doesn't necessarily match up with which hand is dominant. Roughly 15% of people are left eye dominant, and while some of them are left handed, quite often there is a percentage of people who are right handed and left eye dominant (or the reverse, left handed and right eye dominant, although that is more rare).

To check which eye is your dominant one please read the Eye Dominance Test page and follow the instructions listed there.

Second, the reason it feels awkward for your left arm is because you are not used to using your left arm for pulling exercises and it is physically weaker than your right arm. There are two ways to rectify this:

#1. Practice, practice, practice. The act of doing archery will make your left arm / left side stronger and you will eventually be able to pull the bow with ease.

#2. Complement your archery practice with weight lifting. Devote 10% to 15% more repetitions to your left side. Over time your left side will become stronger and more used to the act of pulling the bow. Both arms, shoulders and back muscles will get stronger, but your left arm

Third, a common problem with cross dominant people is that their left hand is both weaker and less dextrous because it isn't used for tasks requiring manual dexterity / gripping tasks. Making your hand stronger is relatively easy - buy a pair of hand grips and do hand grip exercises with them. (See Hand Grips for Beginners.)

How you increase the manual dexterity in your off hand is a matter of debate. I recommend juggling with three balls or juggling two balls right-to-left because it forces you to be catching/throwing the balls with your left hand instead of just your right. If you only juggle with two balls then use your right hand to be catching the balls and your left to be throwing them. Usually most right handed people shift the ball left-to-right when juggling two balls because they are catching with their left hand, shifting the ball to the right and then the right hand is throwing the ball up again. By reversing the process, you are forcing your left hand to catch the ball being shifted to the left, and to be tossing the ball accurately in the air. This will take a lot of practice to master. Days, weeks, maybe even months.

It takes time for people to work their way up to juggling three balls (which requires that both hands be equally dexterous), so juggling right-to-left will be a good stepping stone to eventually learning to juggle 3 at once.

However once mastered juggling with your left hand, it should have dramatically more manual dexterity and won't feel so clumsy when you are trying to shoot with it.

Food Deficiences and Mood / Anxiety Disorders

Food can have dramatic side effects on the body. Caffeine, alcohol, chocolate for example each distinct side effects on the human body.

But a lack of certain types of food can also result in metabolic or nutritional deficiencies which can lead to psychological disorders - including side effects like depression, mood disorders and anxiety disorders - to say nothing of eating disorders.

Unfortunately many doctors don't even check for metabolic or nutritional deficiencies that may be the real cause of a person's depression or disorder. Instead they just like to prescribe anti-depressant pills when in reality what a person just needs is a healthy diet and perhaps some vitamin/mineral supplements. (We should also note that regular exercise also boosts self esteem and self-image, so healthy diet combined with regular exercise would garner the best results.)

Patients have no idea why they are feeling so awful or where to start looking for the answer. They expect their doctor to give them real solutions, and doctors end up pushing pills on them as a bandaid solution. Drugs are the easy fix, but they're often not the final solution because there are serious side effects that come with taking powerful anti-depressants.

Doctors prescribe anti-depressants using information they get from drug sales reps and every time they prescribe an anti-depressant they get paid a commission (even though you collect your prescription from the drug store). The side effects and dangers of these drugs are down-played so that patients don't realize all of the pros and cons of the medication. The problem is doctors are prescribing these medications without first ruling out dietary deficiency as a cause. Some doctors have realized that many patients refuse to change their diet and thus go straight to prescribing pills because they think the patient is unwilling to change their diet.

Every winter millions of people get the "Winter Blues", a depressing funk from being inside all the time and not getting enough vitamin D. People can get the "Winter Blues" any time of the year however. All they have to do is avoid sunlight for 2 or 3 months and barely eat any vitamin D, they will get depressed quite easily.

If you suffer from depression or mood/anxiety disorders it is possibly you may simply be deficient in one of the nutrients below. Scientific researchers have determined that many people who suffer from depression and mood disorders are deficient in not just one nutrient but several, all contributing to the symptoms. So pay attention because it is possible you are missing out on several key ingredients for your happiness.

#1: Junk Food Diet = Common Nutritional Deficiency

Does your diet contain too much sugar, junk foods, sodas, or processed foods? Do you often skip meals? If you suffer from depression or mood disorders, one solution is to start a food diary of the foods you eat every day and then compare the results at the end of the week with what you should be eating. Chances are you are not eating enough fresh vegetables or fruit and this is extremely common in North America for people to have a nutritional deficiency from lack of veggies and fruit.

#2: Omega-3 Fatty Acids Deficiency

Omega-3 Fatty Acids are found in foods such as fish, fish oil and Flax Seed Oil. A deficiency of Omega-3 fatty acids or an imbalance of Omega 3 and Omega 6 fatty acids could be the cause of your problems. Omega 3 Fatty acids are important to brain function and your mental outlook on life, a lack thereof results in a feeling of sluggishness and uselessness. Omega-3 Fatty Acids also help people who suffer from inflammation and pain problems. Researchers have found that the vast majority of patients with depression and mood disorders are deficient in Omega 3 Fatty Acids.

Conclusions from #1. and #2: Eat more fish, salad and veggies.

#3: Vitamin D Deficiency

I already mentioned Vitamin D above, but Vitamin D is also important for your immune function, bones, and brain health. Sunlight is the richest source for the human body making its own natural Vitamin D, but during winter months you need to be eating more Vitamin D in order to compensate for the lack of sunlight. A 2013 study determined that Vitamin D deficiencies are present in patients with depression, panic disorders and especially Alzheimer's. So to combat this you can go outside more, take Vitamin D supplements, or eat more foods containing Vitamin D like fish, eggs, milk, and cheese.


#4: B-Vitamins Deficiency:

In recent years Neuropsychiatry has proven the link between B-Vitamin deficiencies and mood disorders including depression. But there is a solution for this. Take a vitamin pill that contains 25 mg of each of the different B-Vitamins included in the pill. Vitamin B rich foods include fish, meat, nuts, dairy products, leafy greens, carrots, tofu, eggs.

#5: Zinc , Folate, Chromium, Iron and Mineral Deficiencies

Patients with depression are often found to be deficient in many minerals. Many modern processed foods contain almost no minerals or only trace minerals. Whenever possible, eat normal non-processed meat, veggies and fruits.

#6: Iodine Deficiency:

Iodine is necessary for your thyroid to work properly. The thyroid is part of the endocrine system and is one of the most important glands in your body. The thyroid gland affects every function of the body including body temperature, immune function, and brain function. Iodine is found in foods such as potatoes, cranberries, Kelp, Arame, Hiziki, Kombu, and Wakame.  Decades ago people used to eat Iodine enriched salt, but these days iodine deficiency is again becoming a problem with salt free diets. So if you're not a fan of the veggies mentioned above, try eating some salty foods instead (eg. salt-water fish).

#7: Amino Acids Deficiency

Amino Acids are used to make neurotransmitters in order speed up brain function and control emotional stability. There are 9 necessary Amino Acids that cannot be manufactured by your body and can only be attained by eating food. The Amino Acids you need are found in meat, eggs, fish, high quality beans, seeds and nuts. You also need to eat a variety of different foods to furnish the body with all the amino acids needed to be healthy - you can't just choose one and eat only that because not all foods contain all nine amino acids. A great source for amino acids is Moringa Oleifera leaves.

Overwhelmed neurotransmitters caused by an Amino Acids deficiency results in an imbalance between emotions, resulting in many different kinds of mental disorders. Dopamine, noradrenaline, and GABA are three important neurotransmitters often deficient in depression. You can test for this deficiency by visiting an Orthomolecular doctor who will test your blood and urine to check your amino acid levels. Unlike regular doctors who just prescribe anti-depressants, Orthomolecular doctors treat the base cause of the deficiency and can tailor make a treatment program for the person. Thus if they notice a deficiency, they will recommend you eat the appropriate foods or take supplements.

CONCLUSIONS AND SOLUTIONS

There are tests that prove nutrient deficiencies. You just have to ask your doctor for a Nutrient Deficiency Test. The problem however is most medical doctors in the USA will not give clearance for the tests, nor will your insurance pay for them - so if you are American and want this test done you have to pay for it yourself. In Ontario (and the rest of Canada) however the test is covered by OHIP (because the Canadian government knows they save money in the long run if people make the choice to safeguard their health and have the test so they know how best to do this).

So huzzah! Isn't Canada awesome?

Archery Woes - Hair and Eye Problems

Q

Hello!

I have two problems when I am doing archery. I cannot close my left eye when I am trying to aim. If I close it I end up closing/squinting my right eye too, so much that I can barely see the target. I find I have problems aiming with both eyes open because it makes double vision.

The second problem is my long hair has a tendency to get in the way. Aside from cutting off my hair or wearing a hat, what can I do to counter my hair getting in the way of my eyes?

Thanks in advance!
Kayla N.

A

Hello Kayla!

Problem 1

I have encountered people with the problem that they cannot close their left eye before and I have a very simple solution: Wear an eye patch. It may feel silly but many archers in your position do it. Some of them even have decorative eye patches made.


Problem 2

Now you know why Katniss in the Hunger Games wears her hair in a braid. This is the quickest, most effective solution to your hair problems. Just braid your hair, tie it back, make a ponytail, pigtails, etc. You could even put your hair up in Princess Leia buns if you wanted to.

If your hair is too short to make a ponytail, braid or tie it back then I have several other suggestions:

1. Bandanna to hold your hair out of your face.

2. Hair barrettes to hold your hair in place.

3. Bows / ribbons holding your hair in place (feel free to make jokes with your fellow archers about how many bows you are using at the same time).

4. Wear a toque or knitted kufi hat.

5. Get a perm. Curly hair is more springy and won't get in your eyes so much when you are shooting.



12 Ways to Get Extra Exercise

Finding ways to exercise when you are so used to taking the lazy way out can be tricky. Here are 12 ways to get extra exercise and to stop using the lazy way of doing things. Getting into the habit of doing these 12 things and you will burn extra calories and become healthier over time.

#1. Instead of chatting or texting with friends on your phone, go meet up in person and go for a walk together.

#2. Fire the dogwalker and/or gardener. Start walking the dog yourself and doing all the gardening yourself.

#3. Walk to the grocery store instead of driving. If the weight is too much to carry, get a little cart.

#4. Walk or bicycle to work if it is within a reasonable distance.

#5. Instead of picking up the kids after school with the car, walk to the school, meet them, and then walk home. Same goes with your morning routine of dropping them off.

#6. Jog to wherever you are going to for your lunch break. You can walk too, but definitely don't take your car.

#7. Don't email someone a memo if they are in same floor of your office building. Deliver the message in person.

#8. Fetch your own drinks or snacks when at work. Don't ask someone else to bring them to you. If someone offers to fetch them for you, ask to go with them. Eat healthy!!!

#9. If you have a gym membership but are feeling too tired after work to go to the gym, go anyway. When you are tired you should still go.

#10. Set your alarm clock so you get up 30 minutes earlier. Use that extra time to exercise.

#11. Want to relax? Turn off the TV and go for a relaxing walk outside instead. Take the camera or the family dog with you.

#12. Do the household chores yourself. Don't hire a maid or a cleaning service.


Exercise Quotes Hall of Fame

You may have noticed that I did not post new exercise quotes for October 2014. The reason why is because I am running out of exercise quotes to post. There is a finite supply of famous people with exercise quotes evidently. (Although I suppose I could always try making them up from scratch.)

"When first you don't like jogging, try again. And when you still don't like jogging, keep trying. Eventually if you keep trying long enough you will love jogging."
- Charles Moffat, Personal Trainer.

But seriously, making up exercise and diet quotes all the time is a bit silly. Let the history buffs quote me later.

So instead what I have opted to do is to create a list of all the exercise quote posts I have done in the past:

2014

September 2014 Exercise Quotes - Robin Williams

12 Archery Quotes to Help Motivate Beginner Archers

July 2014 Motivational Quotes, + World Cup Quotes

June 2014 Weight Loss Quotes

May 2014 Motivational Quotes plus Im Dong-Hyun Quotes

April 2014 Exercise Quotes

Ten Workout Quotes by Women

Exercise Quotes for February 2014

January 2014 Weight Loss Motivational Quotes

2013

December 2013 Exercise Motivational Quotes

November 2013 Motivational Quotes

October 2013 Motivational Quotes

September 2013 Motivational Quotes

August 2013 Exercise Motivation Quotes

July 2013 Exercise Motivation Quotes

June 2013 Exercise Motivation Quotes

May 2013 Exercise Motivation Quotes

April 2013 Exercise Motivational Quotes

March 2013 Exercise Motivation Quotes

Exercise Quotes for February 2013

More January 2013 Exercise Motivational Quotes

Motivational Quotes for January 2013

Exercise Motivational Quotes for the New Years 2013

2012

December 2012 Motivational Quotes

November 2012 Hard Work Motivational Quotes

October 2012 Exercise Motivational Quotes

And I think that is all of them. Two years worth of exercise quotes. I think I will even setup a new Exercise Quotes topic label for people who only want to browse quotes to feel motivated to exercise and eat healthy.

I may add more exercise quotes in the future, but for now I am going to take a break from posting quotes and focus instead on exercise/dietary advice. Don't get me wrong, I find the quotes very useful for people who need motivation (and they're very popular) but I am not trying to win a popularity contest here. I am trying to help people to exercise, eat healthy, live longer and be happier.

And now for two of my favourite quotes by Thomas Jefferson and Bruce Lee. Happy exercising!



Crossfit and Why it is Dangerous to Over Do It

Lets do a little myth busting.

First, yes, it is true that Crossfit exercise routines will help you lose weight.

But it is also true that Crossfit is dangerous, pushes people to extremes and even causing exercise addiction - and the resulting Crossfit devotees (or should we say addicts) get really into all the activities done at crossfit gyms - but the repetitive strain and the injuries pile up, which can lead to extreme injuries.

In fact to outline just how dangerous Crossfit is why not Google the words 'crossfit injuries' and read some of the 1.17 million webpages on the topic.

What is also funny is how many Crossfit enthusiasts (addicts) tell fellow enthusiasts to "suck it up", "no pain no gain", "don't be a wussy", etc whenever the topic of injuries come up.

 And we're not talking mild injuries. We're talking about people who injure themselves so much they can't even walk any more.

That puts it on the same level as people who are so anorexic they cannot walk any more, or people so obese they cannot walk any more... in this case it is people who exercised so much they injured themselves and now they cannot walk any more.

Cannot walk, are in severe debilitating pain, and in some cases will be like this the rest of their lives.

There are Iraq War Veterans out there missing limbs who are in better physical condition than some of the Crossfit devotees who injured themselves because they didn't know when was a good time to rest and recuperate.

So let me break this down for you.

When you exercise, weightlifting for example, you need about 24 to 48 hours (sometimes more depending on your age and how much weightlifting you do) in order to repair all the muscle tissue you ripped during your weightlifting session. With weightlifting you are often only challenging a few parts of your body at a time, which means your body only needs to repair muscle tissue in those areas after the exercise is over.

The purpose of Crossfit however is to rip muscles in almost every muscle in your body by pushing your limits in many different ways. Afterwards your body heals up and you end up being stronger all over (not just in specific muscle groups)... but because Crossfit is addictive you end up with people who are doing it 5 to 7+ times per week, leaving your body almost no time to repair itself.

Lack of repair time leads to repetitive strain injuries - and repetitive strain rip tendons.

Do you know how to fit a tendon?

Surgery.

Lots of surgery. It is painful and truth be told whatever body part you ripped the tendon in may never be the same again. It is a bit like someone who has a heart attack. Once you have your first heart attack it is pretty much all down hill from there.

Below is a photo of a ripped tendon in someone's arm being repaired via surgery. If he is lucky he still has full use of his arm, but the chances are more likely his arm will be in pain and have restricted motion for the rest of his life.


And this is just one of the many injuries people can develop from Crossfit.

As a personal trainer I actively discourage all of my clients from activities that could result in any kind of sports injuries. Yes, I know you want to lose weight and gain muscle - but sports injuries are not worth the risks associated with 'extreme fitness' activities like Crossfit.

In other news, Happy Halloween! I hope the above photo scared you away from Crossfit.

Oh and mountain climbing. That is pretty dangerous too. Trust me, I nearly died twice in South Korea while climbing mountains there. The view up there was nice, but in retrospect I should have taken the safer route to the top.

Olympic Archery and becoming an Olympian

Q

Hello!

I am thinking of getting into Olympic Archery and competing. What steps should I go through in order to compete?

Curious,
Mark G.

A

Hello Mark!

A good question and my apologies if my answer is very long and actively dissuades you from competing. Olympic Archery is not for everyone and you will understand why as I go through the steps.

Step One - Learn how to shoot the old fashioned way using a recurve bow without using sights or gadgets. I think this is a problem for many new archers who want to jump straight into the Olympic style of shooting that they don't first learn how to shoot the old fashioned way. Traditional shooting requires the new archer to rely entirely on form and consistency. No gadgets and no sights. Perfect form. Gadgets are crutches for propping up archers who suffer from weak form.

Step Two - Determine whether you have any natural talent. This will become self evident during Step One. It is my opinion that archers should never go the Olympic route if they are doing it purely out of ego and have no natural talent. Don't judge yourself either, let other more experienced archers be the judge. If they are complimenting you on your skill and asking questions like "Do you compete?", "Have you ever competed?", "You have Robin Hood hidden in the trunk of your car right?" then you know what your next step is.

Step Three - Compete. There are plenty of traditional archery competitions out there. Pick a handful and go to maybe 5 of the competitions to start with.

Step Four - Take your winnings and buy Olympic equipment. Note that if you didn't win that much maybe you should repeat Step Three over again until you have enough winnings to pay for your expenditures plus the cost of buying Olympic equipment. Please note that when buying your equipment you don't need to buy the best. You just need all the basic Olympic gadgets and some cheap Olympic style arrows. The reason is simple - you will only end up losing or breaking a bunch of them anyway.

Step Five - Learn humility, perseverance and understanding. I am putting humility first because this is a big problem with Olympic archers who get into the sport out of ego and often lack skill, break under pressure and are easily distracted / overthink their shots. If you take the top 50 archers in the world and compare them the thing you will notice about the winners is that they are often very humble, came from humble beginnings, and they didn't break under the pressure of competition, media attention, nationalistic pride, etc. In Canada we are very guilty of putting too much pressure on our Olympic athletes and it is often the unknowns who win gold unexpectedly - and never repeat the feat because of all the media attention the 2nd time around. You are also going to need perseverance for all the practices and sacrifices you are going to be making. Practice, exercise, diet, strained or lost relationships, work complications, health complications, repetitive strain/sports injuries (eg. Archer's Elbow), etc. Lastly understanding - this is really about knowing yourself. Knowing when you are too excited to shoot properly, learning to control your emotions/adrenaline, etc. Becoming agitated can take a professional shooter and turn them into someone who starts shooting like a semi-pro.

Step Six - Diet. There is no easy way to say this. If you don't have the willpower to cut out the junk food from your diet then you are going to be at a physical and mental disadvantage when shooting. Think of this as one part mental conditioning and one part perfecting your physical body. You need to eat healthy to have a well oiled machine. This means lots of veggies, lots of protein, some carbs for extra energy since you are training, and vitamins / supplements. If you smoke or drink you also need to quit those cold turkey. You can drink after you win.

Step Seven - Exercise. This will many different exercises including possibly jogging, yoga, yogic breathing, weightlifting, body weight exercises, stretching for flexibility, swimming, cross-training with similar form oriented sports (golf, tennis, javelin, etc).

Step Eight - Expanded Competition. During steps 4, 5, 6 + 7 you should have continued competing in traditional archery competitions. The goal of continuing to compete in those competitions is to prepare yourself mentally for the challenges that await you when you start entering your first Olympic style competitions. Chances are likely you won't win anything during the first 5 competitions you attend. Not to be redundant, but they are very competitive and you are likely facing a mix of people better than you, mediocre, and even egotists who broke under pressure.

Step Nine - Dealing with Failure. How a person deals with their failures is often a sign of their character. Do they give up and sell their equipment, possibly never doing archery ever again? Or do they practice, exercise, diet and keep trying. The road to success if marked by failures, so how you deal with failure is equally as important as how you deal with success (don't let winning go to your head either - winning one competition doesn't make you Robin Hood).

Step Ten - Coaching. At some point you will be approached by a coach asking if you are looking for an archery coach. This is when you know you are ready for the next stage in your training. However a word of caution. Don't sign up with the first coach you meet. Browse around first. Find a coach who fits your needs, is conveniently located and has lots of time to be training / mentoring you. And to follow the theme I have going here, don't choose a coach who is all about winning and ego. Instead consider the person who had an illustrious Olympic career and is now retired and doesn't even coach. If you can coax them out of retirement to take up coaching you won't just be finding an excellent coach, you will be making a lifelong friend you will guide you all the way. Plus having a coach who has zero other students means you will have their undivided attention and a coach who has more time for training you. (Some of the archery coaches out there - including myself I admit - follow the mantra of teaching many students in the hopes of fostering new generations of archers and they don't really have time to be dedicating to coaching one student 3 - 4 times per week. I am not against limiting myself to one student or only a few students, but at present I quite enjoy introducing new people to the sport of archery.)

Note - Some people may follow a different order of events than what I have listed above. The exact order is not too big of an issue (eg. Step Nine might easily come after Step Three), but I do actively discourage people from getting into Olympic archery too quickly. Learn to shoot first, learn the basics of competition, don't rush into a huge time/money investment just because of your ego.

I know it may seem like I am beating a dead horse here, but Olympic archery is rife with egotists who break under pressure - or worse, barely know what they are doing because they never learned the basics or skipped over several steps I outlined above (eg. You can always spot the archers who don't exercise or diet because they get tired easily and botch their shots).

For example South Korean archers going through rigorous mental conditioning to prepare them for the Olympic games - activities like mountain climbing, sitting under a freezing cold waterfalls, etc. The kind of stuff you might imagine heroic warriors doing while training during a quest. The goal of the mental conditioning is to teach the archers humility, concentration skills and to prepare them for the rigors of competition - a place where having an over-inflated ego will be an Achilles Heel.

And their training appears to be working. South Korea currently holds 75% of the world's Olympic archery records for highest scores for men's, women's, men's team and women's team archer.

So my advice is to stay humble. Keep training with both traditional and Olympic. Don't let the gadgets in Olympic archery become the crutch which holds you back. Quality archer form and mental conditioning trumps gadgets.

Looking to sign up for archery lessons, boxing lessons, swimming lessons, ice skating lessons or personal training sessions? Start by emailing cardiotrek@gmail.com and lets talk fitness!

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