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Seven Strange Competitive Sports

Looking for a sport you can have a lot of fun doing?

Well there is a lot of strange sports out there - and some of them are surprisingly fun to do.

#1. Cheese Rolling

The goal? Beat a giant Double Gloucester roll of cheese to the bottom of a hill.

#2. Chess Boxing

Alternating rounds of boxing with chess... Not kidding. There is even a World Chess Boxing Organization.


#3. Underwater Hockey aka Octopush

Yes, it is basically just hockey under water. Sounds easy, right?



#4. Fistball

Basically like soccer... but you use your fists.


#5. Bog Snorkeling

Swim through a thick peat bog using naught but snorkel and flippers.



#6. The Annual Man Vs Horse Marathon

Exactly what it sounds like. The man actually has a fair chance of winning because horses aren't that good over rough terrain or longer distances.



#7. Wife Carrying

Invented in Finland, but also popular in the USA...


Dog Jogging for Beginners

Rule #1. Don't walk your dog - JOG YOUR DOG.

Rule #2. Use a short or medium length leash - this way as your dog jogs, you have to keep up according to their speed. For best results get a leash that goes around your waist.

Rule #3. Stop to drink once in awhile - Give your dog a drink too!

Rule #4. Jog the same speed as your dog is jogging. Not too fast, not too slow.

Rule #5. When your dog is tired it is time for a break!

Rule #6. If your dog is really big or really small you will need to learn to be either faster or slower while jogging.


Rule #7. Avoid areas with high traffic. Less busy streets are best.

Rule #8. Skip your iPod for once. Listen to the sound of your heart and your feet (and your dog's feet) on the pavement.

Rule #9. Eat something after you are done jogging. A protein shake, a boiled egg, chocolate milk - something with protein in it. Feed your dog too!

Rule #10. Remember, DOG JOGGING IS FUN. And the beauty of it is because your dog wants to go jogging it forces you to stick to a schedule.

Note: There is even COMPETITIVE DOG JOGGING. Nothing like a frugal competitive sport to get you in the mood to exercise!



Balancing Your Carb Intake

Many dieters are low carb crazed. While nutritionists will agree that going easy on carbohydrates is a good thing, cutting out carbs entirely is really unhealthy.

What Do Carbohydrates Do For You?

Carbs are your brain food, the fuel that gives energy to your heart and muscles all through the day. Carbs are good for you, but too much of a good thing can also be bad for you.
 
Balancing your carb intake means focusing on whole grains, brown rice and healthier alternatives like whole wheat pasta. Avoid white bread, white rice, pasta. Also try bulgar, quinoa, beans and lentils.

What Will No Carbohydrates Do To You?

A low carb diet will make you lose weight. Unfortunately this will be mostly water weight. This is not a diet that can be sustained. Eventually your body will be unable to resist carbohydrates, and you will gain the water weight back. You will also experience very low energy, headaches, and stomach upset.

Striking The Carbohydrate Balance

Vegetables are a carbohydrate but gluten free and lighter than traditional rice and pasta dishes. Try a vegetable and chicken (or tofu) stir fry, but then the next day, try a bulgar, bean and vegetable stew. There is no harm in trying new foods.

By giving your body different types of meals to process, you will keep the metabolism working hard, and it won't grow accustomed to the same old thing. Some nutritionists believe that support that this "carb cycling" method speeds up the metabolism and aids in weight loss.

5 Tips to Help You Live Longer

#1. Force yourself to eat healthy. Learn what is good and bad for you and start avoiding the bad stuff.

#2. Learn to have fun eating healthy. Learn which healthy foods you enjoy the most and step #1 will be ridiculously easy once you get started.

#3. Be active well into your old age. If your muscles and bones deteriorate due to lack of exercise then you are much more likely to have poor balance... fall and break your hip... become bedridden... your healthy deteriorates further... and kaput, you're done! (Seriously, I've lost track of the number of people I know of who died because of their poor exercise levels resulted in them falling, breaking a hip and then their health falls to pieces within a short time period.)

#4. Start being more active now. Don't wait for later. Being active now will add years to your life and your quality of living.

#5. You only live once, so overcoming your mental laziness is your first step to overcoming physical laziness.

BONUS - Find something energetic that you enjoy doing and keep doing it well into your old age - and you won't just live longer, you will pass on your passion (eg. like your passion for bicycles) to the next generation of your family.


Dominant Eye for Archery and Other Sports

Some sports require good hand eye coordination. This is especially true of archery. (Other sports like baseball, tennis, golf, etc, also require a lot of hand eye coordination so this post will be equally beneficial for people in those sports.)

To check which eye is dominant follow the instructions below.

Form your hands into a small triangle shape and using both eyes line up an object in the distance by looking through the tiny triangle in the middle. Don't move your hands during the next part.

Close one eye and then vice versa close the other eye to see which eye is more accurate and can see the object.

The more accurate one which can see the object is your dominant eye.

This technique is also used by photographers sometimes.

In archery determining this helps to determine whether you should use a right handed bow or a left handed bow. Your eye is more important than the hand coordination in this case. In other sports the hand may be more important, but if a player is ambidextrous but left eye dominant they would probably be better using their left hand. (Although this is a matter of debate for players, depending on the sport.)

Another way to do this test is to hold up a CD or DVD instead of using your hands and go through the steps the same way, but using a CD or DVD is unnecessary since you can easily do it with your hands instead.



Mmm... Chocolate!

On the topic of dieting I will admit I do have several Achilles heels.

#1. Bacon. That is a whole other topic but basically I practice only eating bacon in small portions and as part of a balanced diet.

#2. Chocolate. The topic of this post.

I started limiting my chocolate intake many years ago when I learned that 90% of the world's chocolate is made using child labour in Africa - and if you know anything about that topic then you know child labour is basically child slavery.

Chocolate sold in North America is often very high in sugar. Especially so-called white chocolate and milk chocolate. White chocolate has zero cocoa in it. And milk chocolate often doesn't even have milk in it - and is just very high in sugar.

So when I do buy chocolate I often aim for dark chocolate (preferably over 70% cocoa) because it is healthier - and fair trade chocolate that wasn't made using child labour.

Cocoa in small doses is good for you health wise. It boosts your metabolism, gives you pleasant feelings, encourages weight loss and a host of other health benefits. Dark chocolate is - without a doubt - the healthiest way to consume cocoa.

It is when you start consuming chocolate in overly large doses - especially chocolate which is high in sugar - that it becomes a danger to your waistline.

In the winter I recommend eating a small dose of dark chocolate before going ice skating or doing other outdoor winter activities.

12 Exercises for Building More Sensitive Ears using Hearing Exercises

I have consulted a number of sources, including audiologists, who say it is impossible to regain your ability to hear better. The vast majority of them - well nigh all of them - say that hearing loss is permanent.

However having suffered hearing loss when I was a child, and regaining some of my hearing over the past 22 years, I must affirm that I think the scientific community is WRONG when they say it is impossible to regain some measurement of hearing.

To explain this I will be doing two things: 1. I will be trying to be as scientific as I can when explaining my ideas; 2. Some of my explanations will be based on conjecture and hypothesis, so I saying this now as an informal disclaimer so that people understand that some of my ideas may not scientifically accurate, but are instead based on my first hand experience. I was also be basing some of my exercises further below upon my research into zen and yoga techniques designed to improve hearing.

When I was 12 years old a shotgun shell went by my left ear and was so loud it caused hearing damage. I was temporarily deafened in my left ear. (There is a long story about how this happened, but I will spare you the details.)

I am now 34 and during that the last 22 years I have had my hearing slowly improve over time. Initially it was very quick. I went from being temporarily deafened to simply "severe hearing loss" / almost deaf in my left ear.

By the time I reached university in 1999 my hearing had improved somewhat, to the extent that combined with my perfect hearing in my right ear I was able to function most of the time. I would regularly need to ask people to repeat themselves because of my hearing difficulties, but I was able to cope 99% of the time.

Since graduating in 2003 my hearing has continued to improve over time, to the point that I would now describe myself as having only moderate to light hearing damage in my left ear.

However several questions remain... Did my ears physically heal over the past 22 years, or did my brain simply get better at interpreting the sounds it was receiving? I think it is a bit of both. I believe there was some initial healing process, wherein part of the damage to my ears was permanent - and the other part was simply temporary. It was the temporary aspect which healed up more quickly. After that had healed however I believe my brain has learned to compensate and use what little hearing I have in my left ear and has slowly improved with time.

Which brings me to why I think audiologists are wrong when they say it is impossible to improve your hearing using hearing exercises. They are only thinking in terms of permanent hearing damage - they are completely ignoring temporary hearing damage, and they are completely ignoring the possibility that the brain can learn over time to compensate and "hear better" based on what data it is receiving from the ears.

So yes, based on my personal experience you can improve your hearing over time - the trick is to heal any temporary damage to your ears, and to attune your mind so the hearing ability you do have is used to its full potential.

12 Hearing Exercises for Building More Sensitive Ears

Note: The first three are really more maintenance issues, so you don't cause further damage to your ears over time.

#1. Routinely check for a build-up of earwax.

Some hearing loss can be caused by excess wax in your ear canal. Snap a photo of your ear with a camera, or have a friend look into your ear with a flashlight. If you see impacted wax, do not touch it. Trying to dig it out yourself will only make it worse.

If the blockage isn't severe, try to wash it out yourself. (Note: Only do this if your eardrums don't have tubes or holes in them.) Use an eyedropper to put a few drops of baby oil, mineral oil or hydrogen peroxide in your ear to "soften" the wax. After a day or two, use a rubber-bulb syringe to gently put warm water into your ear. Tip your head to the other side to let the water (and wax) drain out.

If the blockage is severe, call your doctor or audiologist and make an appointment to have it removed.

#2. Make sure you don't have an ear infection.

If your ears are in extreme pain, see a doctor immediately to make sure you don't have an ear infection or ruptured ear drum. If these conditions are left untreated, they can permanently damage the hearing in your inner ear.

#3. Take measures to stop any further hearing deterioration.

Reduce your exposure to loud, sustained noises. If noisiness like this is part of your job try wearing specialty ear plugs or changing jobs. If you wear earbuds or headphones to listen to music, keep the volume low or moderately low. When encountering loud sustained noises protect your ears with your hands and move further away from the source of the noise. Try to reduce your exposure to high volumes overall, and you'll reduce future hearing loss.

#4. Don't talk so loudly.

If you have lost a significant portion of your hearing, speak in a slightly softer tone than you think you need to. It's common to overcompensate and talk loudly if you can't hear your own voice very well, but if other people can't hear you, they'll tell you to speak up.

#5. Use your hearing more.

Your brain's pathways are like rocky trails, gravel roads and highways. If you use part of your brain more often the extra activity (traffic) on those mental pathways will strengthen and expand. This is why blind people often have very acute hearing and sense of touch - they have been forced to use their hearing more and thus their mental pathways controlling the interpretation of sound has been rapidly expanded.

This is not going to turn you into some kind of superhuman listener (like the blind comic book hero Daredevil), but it will allow you to improve your ability to hear things - even despite minor or moderate hearing damage.

#6. Learn to identify sounds / Auditory Indexing.

According to Zen monks learning to identify sounds is one of the first steps in learning to better control your sense of hearing. The practice is known as "Auditory Indexing". Without identification a person can become confused, overwhelmed or frightened by the sounds they are hearing. By learning to identify which sounds are which they can hear the sounds, but tune out those sounds they recognize as being too far away, not a threat, of little interest, etc.

An hearing exercise you can do at home is to listen for sounds you cannot identify, and once you find a sound that you don't recognize go and see what it is. Memorize that sound. Start over again and listen for other sounds you don't recognize.

#7. Learn to control your mind and avoid distractions.

A person who is distracted by random thoughts will not notice sounds that are nearby them. Learning to control distracting thoughts is a complex process and first requires a person to let go of their mind before they can learn to control it. I strongly recommend reading the book "The Unfettered Mind", which is a small collection of essays / letters by the Zen monk Takuan Soho and deals directly and indirectly with the topic of how to control your mind. In the book Takuan Soho references Japanese swordplay (kendo), but that can be used as a metaphor for any task.

#8. Listen for your own heartbeat.

This is difficult for even people with perfect hearing to do, but it can be done. The sound of heartbeat is there, but it is being muffled by numerous other sounds. Late at night, in a quiet room it is a much easier task to hear your own heartbeat - but with practice a person can listen for their heartbeat even in a crowded room.

If you get bored of listening to your heartbeat you can also listen to your breathing, your stomach/digestive organs, and even the sound of yourself blinking. If that seems like too much of a challenge try making very quiet sounds with your feet or fingers - such as rubbing your fingers together - and listening / concentrating on that sound.

#9. Extended Hearing Exercise.

This exercise has its source in tantric yoga. To do this sit comfortably with your eyes closed. Imagine a series of circular ring emanating around you at fixed distances.

First listen to all sound coming from within a 3 feet radius of you. Identify each sound that is closest to you. Ignore sounds that are further away, even if they are louder, so that they become background noises. Each time you concentrate on a new sound briefly identify what it is. Footsteps, conversations, mechanical noises, the rustle of leaves, the buzz of insects, the sound of running water, the distant roar of the city.

Next expand your hearing range to 10 feet and concentrate on the sounds found within this range. Continue expanding in circles around you to include the surrounding room, the building, your neighbourhood and the distant sounds of the world beyond.

#10. Listen to music.

When listening to music - such as an orchestra - identify which musical instruments are making what sounds. Learn to tune out the sounds of the other instruments and only listen to the one instrument. Challenge yourself to try and listen to only one of the musicians at a time.

#11. Test your limits.

The human eardrum can hear sounds anywhere between 16 Hz and 20,000 Hz. Extremely low (bass) sounds or extremely high pitched sounds cannot be heard by the human ear.  High pitched sounds like a dog whistle can only be heard by a variety of animals because the frequency is so high its beyond the range of human hearing - but that doesn't mean you cannot attempt to hear similar high pitched sounds.

Testing the limits of your hearing may require the help of an audiologist doctor, in which case I can recommend an audiologist in Vaughan who gives free hearing tests.

#12. Hypnosis.

According to a variety of researchers people in a state hypnosis can hear sounds from extreme distances, such as the case wherein a hypnotized person could hear a constant hissing sound at 230 yards (0.21 km), whereas a non-hypnotized people typically could not detect the same hissing sound until they were within 30 yards of the source.

This suggests that experimentation with hypnosis and hearing could prove to be highly beneficial for someone who wants to retrain their brain to hear noises more acutely.

BONUS: Audio Calibration!

During this exercise the listening person stands in the middle of a room and imagines him or herself to be at the centre of a clock face: directly to the front would be Twelve O'clock, directly behind is Six O'clock, ninety degrees to the right is Three O'clock and so on.

A second person moves about stopping at random and calling out “Now”. The listener must then guess the direction and distance. So for example, if the second person is standing six feet directly behind them the correct answer would be; “Six O'clock/six feet”. When a correct answer is a point is scored, if incorrect, the second person says the correct answer so that the listener can associate the correct answer with the immediate auditory experience.

Once the listener can get 9 points out of 10 then they go to the next level of difficulty, for which the listener and second person come up with a slightly more difficult task - possibly by changing the volume of the sound, the distance to the speaker, the preciseness of the distance, adding extra background noises, etc.

CONCLUSIONS

Don't listen to what the audiologists are saying that you cannot improve your hearing. If you have only minor or moderate damage to your ears then there are plenty of ways to rewire your brain so you can function without full hearing capabilities. I managed to do it and my hearing only seems to be getting better the older I get.

Bored of exercising indoors? Time to find a friend and try something new!

Q

"Hello!

I am bored of exercising indoors. I have been stuck inside most of the winter and Spring doesn't seem to be coming fast enough. However I hate exercising outside when its so cold outside. What can I be doing instead?


I’m an avid runner/cyclist – anything outdoors - but only when it is warm enough to be doing so. How do I stay motivated to train despite the cold?

- Angela W."

A

Hello Angela!

I empathize with you. I don't even bother to bicycle during the winter and I do cycling outdoors (those people who take spin classes and cycle at gyms are crazy in my opinion). However never fear! I have a couple of tricks that I use to motivate myself to train during the winter. You are welcome to use these ideas to help you train during the winter.

#1. It is always more fun to train with a friend, regardless of the season. It will help keep you motivated even when it is freezing cold outside. Try enlisting an exercise buddy or hiring a personal trainer here in Toronto (hint hint). If you can find a friend the two of you can motivate each other - plus twice the brain power means you will come with extra exercise ideas together - like going dancing or taking dance lessons together. It gets you out of the house, it is still technically indoors, but at least you are out trying something new as a cardio exercise.

Even if you don't have a friend to go with you dance classes can be a great way to exercise as a group and meet new friends.

#2. I like to remind myself of how great I feel after a workout. I know that any workout, even an indoor workout, will make me feel better than no workout. Relish in that feeling. It doesn't matter whether the workout is cardio, yoga, weightlifting or even a series of stretches. The more wonderful I feel after I have a workout the more likely I am to stick with it and keep exercising.

#3. Schedule it. I find this helps regardless of what the weather is doing. By having a specific spot in my schedule where I know I have to do something - even if its laundry or washing the dishes - any kind of chore, exercise, task, etc should be scheduled to make sure you do it. I personally have multiple alarms during the day reminding me to do every thing from get up, go jogging, do my daily exercise routine, go to events with friends. Each alarm on my phone has a different song that plays for each task. That way I know what it is and it reminds that it is time to do that task.

#4. I also like to remind myself that having a break between my work periods is beneficial. Sometimes I even have afternoon naps (siestas) to replenish my energy.

#5. Next I challenge myself to do activities that I am not as familiar with - such as trying new exercises that I find online. YouTube is a great source for new exercises, but I also have a lot listed here on CardioTrek for you to browse.

#6. Set a goal. It will help motivate you to stay active so make it a good goal worth aiming for - and make it realistic over the long term so you know you have to stick with it to achieve it. It might be as simple as a big number like aiming to do 10,000 push-ups in 3 months (roughly 112 push-ups per day). That is a completely realistic goal - but imagine how much more fit you will be after completing 10,000 pushups over a 3 month period. Other goals might include 100 yoga classes, running in a marathon, competing in a bicycle race (you don't need to win, you just need to show up and complete the race), trying a new sport like speed skating. Lots of options out there.

Speaking for myself my current goal is to strengthen all the muscles I need for my new 45 lb recurve bow for archery. It is 11 lbs harder to pull than my old 34 lb recurve bow.

If you can't stay away from cycling and running completely, then go ahead and do indoor versions of each. Run on a treadmill, take spin classes or use a bike trainer. I may personally think those things are ridiculous, but for the people who can't stand the cold weather they are certainly an option.

The bike trainer is a fantastic route, because it allows you to put your actual road bike on a stand and cycle. Whenever we get nice weather then you can cycle and run outside when possible (March is sketchy at times that you will sometimes have a hot day when you can do that.

So far the weather in Toronto has been pretty horrible, but cheer up. I am sure the weather will start to get better soon!

Working Out Despite the Winter Blues

Not everyone wants to run outside, wearing 4 or 6 layers, a face mask and boots in the winter.

To be fair I hate running in the winter. I stick to the indoors, doing jumping jacks, yoga, weightlifting and other activities to stay active in the winter. Jogging can wait til Spring arrives.

Being a fair weather runner is nothing to be ashamed of. Some people just don't like the cold, but that doesn't Winter should spell the end of your exercise activities.

Yes, you could go brave it in the chilly and freezing Winter mornings, pounding the pavement... But there is nothing wrong with choosing a treadmill instead.

Many fitness enthusiasts dread the cold weather because their exercise options become limited, and let's face it, jogging on a treadmill can be really boring!
 

Four Winter Workout Suggestions
 

#1. Step up the weight routine
Winter is a great time to focus on weight lifting - That was my big thing this winter, I did a lot of weightlifting at home this winter. Strength training has so many benefits, and it's an exercise that can be done alone, in a class or with a friend. It's also a great perk that it shows results relatively quickly in terms of muscle growth!

#2. DVDs / YouTube
There are plenty of yoga, strength and cardio DVDs out there - many of them are dirt cheap, because who uses DVDs these days when YouTube offers the same stuff for free? You can find lots of exercise videos to help keep you occupied during the winter on YouTube alone, so you don't really need to invest in DVDs at all.


#3. Wii Fit

Exercise oriented video games (especially the high cardio ones) are a great way to get yourself moving a lot more in the winter. Avoid the more lazy games that don't actually get you moving. Stick to the games that actually cause you to lose your breath, sweat and become tired. That way you know you are getting a workout instead of just moving your arm around a little bit.

#4. Hire a Personal Trainer/Build a Home Gym
 

One way to never feel the dread of the upcoming cold months is to build your own gym at home. Even a small set up consisting of free weights and a stationary bike will go a long way toward keeping/getting you in shape. Make better use of your equipment by hiring a personal trainer (like me if you live in Toronto) to show you fun exercises, and to develop a plan to follow on your own.

How to Make Lifestyle Changes More Flexible

It happens to lots of people.

All of a sudden a moment of motivation, determination and genuine desire to change your lifestyle will hit you and you become motivated to eat healthier food, exercise more, go jogging more often, hang out with other people who are into exercising...

And then you fall off the wagon and go back to your old routine because it becomes so difficult you lose your will power to keep doing it.

For most people this feeling has to come and go many times before actually succeeding with the goal. It happens again and again because somewhere along the way, from all-consuming ambition, to actual results, the plan falls off track because you were too ambitious, too inconsistent and you weren't seeing the results you wanted to see.

1. Too Ambitious

If you have never exercised much and have been eating poorly, and then all of a sudden you vow to work out six times a week and eat nothing but chicken breast and vegetables, you will have a hard time sticking to such a difficult plan. You will feel very tired, sore and the sudden caloric decrease will make you cranky.

Instead of jumping into your ideal fitness lifestyle, try taking your time to get there. It's more beneficial to ease the body into exercise by giving the muscles a chance to "wake up" first and screen yourself for injuries or limitations. Start by changing your diet first and then ease into exercising. Walking, jogging, running, sprinting... You have to learn to walk first.

2. No Consistency

Just saying that you'll exercise six times a week but not dedicate a time and days to do that workout, it won't take long before a week goes by and then, oh yeah right, I forgot to exercise! SCHEDULE A TIME TO EXERCISE!

Scheduling and Consistency develops habits. As human beings, we live around habits, rituals and routine. Developing a positive routine is challenging at first, but once you get into it, you'll wonder how you ever lived without an exercise schedule. Pick specific days, times and duration to guarantee a regular schedule.

3. No Results

Nothing is more demotivating than working your butt off and receiving no results. Sometimes you will even see weight gain first because you put on extra muscle during your exercising instead of shedding fat.
Don't give up immediately. The extra muscle just means it will be easier for you to perform exercises longer and harder.
Anyone exercising will achieve quick benefits such as improved well being, lower stress and better sleep. Those are the benefits many people overlook.
If you are working towards a specific goal (losing 20 pounds in 1 month) then you might be being unrealistic and even endangering your health by trying to lose too much quickly.
There are also many factors that could be stunting your results: Not working out hard enough, long enough, and eating too much or not the right foods. It could also be a simple matter of body composition of muscle and fat changing and you are not seeing results on the scale because muscle weighs more than fat. So even though change is indeed happening within the body, sometimes you just can't see it.

A fitness program also has an element of trial and error. It's important to try different things to figure out what works best for your body - and also for you mentally. Take measurements instead of judging progress on weight alone. If you still don't see the results you are looking for, hire a personal trainer and/or nutritionist to guide and advise along the way to your fitness success.
CONCLUSIONS
So how do you change your lifestyle?

#1. Be patient and take baby steps. Start with your diet and then introduce new exercises slowly.

#2. Make a schedule and plan ahead. Knowing when you are exercising increases your chances of actually doing so.

#3. Don't quit if you don't see immediate results. Keep going!

Three Inspirational Videos for Weightlifters

Sometimes weightlifting is more about mental endurance than it is about physical strength. If you stop after only lifting something 3 times, how are you ever going to gain muscle?

Learning how to motivate yourself - and push yourself mentally - becomes an integral part of weight training. Check out the three inspirational videos below focused on weight lifting.








March Exercise Motivation Quotes

"The only person stopping you from achieving your personal best is you."
 -Charles Moffat

"We are not now that strength which in old days
Moved earth and heaven; that which we are, we are; One equal temper of heroic hearts,
Made weak by time and fate, but strong in will
To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield."

- Lord Alfred Tennyson

 "Action and reaction, ebb and flow, trial and error, change - this is the rhythm of living. Out of our over-confidence, fear; out of our fear, clearer vision, fresh hope. And out of hope, progress."
-Bruce Barton

"Always remember that the future comes one day at a time."
- Dean Acheson

"All changes, even the most longed for, have their melancholy; for what we leave behind us is a part of ourselves; we must die to one life before we can enter another."
- Anatole France

"Change before you have to."
- Jack Welch

"If there is no struggle, there is no progress."
- Frederick Douglass


"Money is the most envied, but the least enjoyed. Health is the most enjoyed, but the least envied."
- Charles Caleb Colton

"Our food should be our medicine and our medicine should be our food."
- Hippocrates

"Physical fitness is not only one of the most important keys to a healthy body, it is the basis of dynamic and creative intellectual activity."
- John Fitzgerald Kennedy

"Breathing correctly is the key to better fitness, muscle strength, stamina and athletic endurance."
- Dr. Michael Yessis

"Learn to relax. Your body is precious, as it houses your mind and spirit. Inner peace begins with a relaxed body."
- Norman Vincent Peale

"To eat is a necessity, but to eat intelligently is an art."
- La Rochefoucauld


"A person who aims at nothing is sure to hit it."
- Unknown Author
 

"Aim at the sun and you may not reach it; but your arrow will fly far higher than if you had aimed at an object on a level with yourself."
- F. Hawes
 

"Concentration is the secret of strength."
- Ralph Waldo Emerson 


"One reason so few of us achieve what we truly want is that we never direct our focus; we never concentrate our power. Most people dabble their way through life, never deciding to master anything in particular."
- Tony Robbins
 

"We can always choose to perceive things differently. You can focus on what's wrong in your life, or you can focus on what's right."
- Marianne Williamson 

100 Healthy Snacks

Want to have a snack, but don't want to gorge yourself on junk food? Here is 100 healthy alternatives.

Instead of Potato Chips

Those crispy taters are delicious, but these snacks are healthier and pack more of a nutritional punch. Plus, they’ll still give you that crunch you’re looking for.

  1. Popcorn. As long as you don’t go for the super buttery version, popcorn can be a delicious and incredibly satisfying alternative to chips.
  2. Kale Chips. They might not sound appealing, but give these crisps a try. They not only taste good, but are loaded with nutrients.
  3. Veggies. Baby carrots, sugar snap peas, celery and bell peppers offer up a crisp, crunchy snack that’s full of the stuff your body needs.
  4. Pita Chips. You can make or buy whole grain pita chips that are healthier than potato chips, but still pretty delicious.
  5. Salted Cucumber Slices. Cucumbers are an excellent choice for giving you that crunch you crave. Add a little salt (maybe some spice) and you get a great study snack.
  6. Ants on a Log. Bring back your childhood with this snack that offers up a serious crunch and some protein to power your brain.
  7. Whole Wheat Pretzels. Whether you go for the soft version or the crunchy, these snacks are better for you than chips, in moderation of course.
  8. Almonds. Roasted almonds are an excellent source of protein and fiber, making them perfect for study snacking.
  9. Cashews. Go for the unsalted version and you can enjoy all the healthful benefits of this nut without any of the drawbacks.
  10. Trail Mix. If you don’t want to eat plain nuts, mix them up with dried fruits and pretzels to make your own healthy trail mix.
  11. Whole Grain Crackers. Skip those weak crackers and go for the whole grain, fibrous ones instead. They’ll do a better job filling you up and they’re better for you to boot.
  12. Sunflower Seeds. If you want to mindlessly chew on something while you study, these small seeds are a great choice.
  13. Peanuts. Grab a handful of peanuts while you’re studying to get a quick energy boost from this protein-loaded nut.
  14. Fruit Chips. There’s more than one way to eat fruit; in this chip form they may make you not even miss the potato kind.
  15. Veggie Chips. If you just really need to eat some kind of chip, choose a healthier alternative. Veggie chips have more nutrients and can be even better for you if they’re baked.
  16. Pickles. Pickles are loaded with sodium, it’s true, but if you only have a couple they’re a healthier, lower calorie snack than chips by far.
Instead of Unhealthy Dips and Spreads

Just because you’re not loading stuff up with heaps of Cheese Whiz and ranch dressing doesn’t mean you have to go without. Try these healthier options instead.
  1. Salsa. Whether you buy it at the store or make up your own, this sassy sauce offers up vitamins without being short on taste.
  2. Hummus. Made with chickpeas, this Middle Eastern treat is the perfect accompaniment to some pita chips or veggies.
  3. Guacamole. Avocados do have a lot of fat, but it’s the good kind. Whip up some guac to get your study party started.
  4. Bean Dip. Beans are a rich source of protein, and can be fun to eat in dip form.
  5. Low-Cal Spinach Dip. Spinach dip isn’t known for being particularly healthy, but this recipe isn’t too bad. Plus, it’s full of nutrient-rich spinach.
  6. Mustard. Dip pretzels and other snacks in this vinegary and salty condiment for a tasty treat.
  7. Greek Yogurt. Never thought of using yogurt as a dip? Well it’s never too late to start. Put it on cucumber for a cool late-night treat.
  8. Fruit Salsa. Salsa doesn’t have to be spicy and savory. Try out a fruit salsa for a sweeter alternative.
  9. Low Fat Dressing. If you just can’t go without dressing, choose a low-fat or low-cal version of your favorite.
  10. Neufatel Cheese. Instead of loading up your bagel with cream cheese, choose this healthier, but just as tasty, alternative instead.
Instead of Pre-Packaged, Processed Snacks

These snacks may be convenient, but they’re often packed with sodium, sugar and a wide range of chemicals. Opt for something a little more natural instead.
  1. Cheese. Whether you go for the string cheese or the simple cheese wedges, low-fat cheese, especially the natural kind, is a great snack offering up a host of vitamins and some great protein.
  2. Broccoli. Dipped in a tasty sauce, this green veggie packs a powerful nutritional punch.
  3. Cantaloupe. This melon not only tastes great, but is a much healthier alternative to those fruit snacks.
  4. Olives. Need something salty? Try olives instead of chips or crackers.
  5. Tomato Slices and Olive Oil. Tomatoes are packed with lycopene and a wealth of other vitamins -and can be pretty darn satisfying with a little olive oil on top.
  6. Grapefruit. This pucker-inducing fruit may not be the easiest to eat, but it’s a great super food to enjoy any time of the day.
  7. Sugar Snap Peas. These sweet peas are easy to store and provide a delicious crunch, not to mention some serious nutrition to fuel your brain.
  8. Edamame. These soybeans are a great source of protein, low in calories and just plain tasty– a perfect trio.
  9. Cottage Cheese and Pineapple. Get the benefits of protein-filled cheese with the zing of a citrusy fruit in this snack.
  10. Kiwis. Sliced in half and taken in with a spoon, these fun green fruits are not only, healthy but fun to eat too.
  11. Melon Balls. Watermelon, cantaloupe, honeydew and other melons are sweet and delicious and can be perfect snack foods in this simple spherical form.
Instead of Candy

If you’ve got a sweet tooth, there are healthier places to turn than an economy sized bag of gummy bears. Beat the sweet with these healthy choices.
  1. Fruit Salad. A mix of fruits like strawberries, raspberries, grapes, bananas and other great healthy snacks can be a great way to meet the needs of your sweet tooth without going overboard on sugar and calories.
  2. Dark Chocolate. Provided you have just a small amount, dark chocolate has healthy antioxidants that make it better for you than its more sugary cousin, milk chocolate.
  3. Granola Bar. With tasty morsels of fruits inside, these treats are salty and sweet in one.
  4. Dried Apricots. Dried fruits like apricots are a great way to feel like you’re eating candy while still getting the vitamins from fruits.
  5. Strawberries. They may not always be in season, but when they are these small fruits are the perfect alternatives to unhealthy candies.
  6. Orange Slices. Next time you’re craving fruity candy, pick up an orange instead. It’s full of vitamin C which can help ensure you stay healthy enough to make it through your semester.
  7. Fresh Raspberries. They’re easy to eat, tasty and pretty good for you too, so don’t pass up these awesome berries.
  8. Raisins. Dried fruits like raisins are perfect to keep on hand in your dorm room, as they’ll stay fresh for months and are a great, easy snack.
  9. Blueberries. Blueberries aren’t called a super food for nothing. They’re full of antioxidants and vitamins that will make your body happy.
  10. Cherries. Cherries are easy to eat, delicious and they taste like a whole host of candies so you won’t even miss those sugary treats.
  11. Pomegranates. Think of pomegranates as candy that grows on trees, as their tiny, gem-like seeds provide the perfect healthy and sweet snack.
  12. Fruit Leather. Instead of a fruit roll-up, opt for this healthier flattened fruit.
Instead of Soda Pop

You’ve got to wash all those tasty study snacks down with something, right? Instead of a sugary soda, try these options for healthier refreshment.
  1. Water. Water has no calories, and it provides the hydration your body needs to give you better concentration and memory. What drink could be better than that? The answer? Ice water is basically negative calories.
  2. Cranberry Juice. Go for real cranberry juice, not cocktail, for a full-on antioxidant beverage.
  3. Skim Milk. Unless you’re lactose intolerant, milk can provide your body with protein, calcium and other vitamins it needs.
  4. Orange Juice. A glass of OJ is a great way to boost your vitamin C levels and stave off illness.
  5. Soy Milk. If you can’t drink milk, soy milk is a great, healthy alternative.
  6. Tea. Need to stay awake? Try out some tea. Green and black varieties are said to be extremely beneficial to your health.
  7. Coffee. Coffee, when had in moderation, is a better way to get a caffeine fix than soda.
Instead of Ice Cream

These healthy alternatives to ice cream will see you through your studies without all the fat and calories.
  1. Fat Free Yogurt. Yogurt comes in a wide variety of flavors, even chocolate and cheesecake, and is a much healthier alternative to ice cream. Toss in some berries and you've got a very healthy snack.
  2. Fruit Smoothie. Blend up fruit, milk and yogurt to make one of these tasty treats.
  3. Frozen Grapes. Frozen grapes will give you the chill you’re looking for with very few calories and no fat.
  4. Fruit Popsicles. If you need a sweet frozen treat, one of your best bets is a whole fruit frozen popsicle.
  5. Parfait. Top yogurt with fresh berries and some granola and you’ve got yourself a healthy alternative to an ice cream sundae.
  6. Frozen Banana with Nuts. Dip a banana in honey, roll it in nuts and stick it in the freezer for an amazing treat that’s good for you too.
  7. Applesauce. Applesauce, especially the unsweetened kind, is pretty good for you, containing plenty of vitamin C, fiber, and potassium.
  8. Frozen Yogurt. If you are looking for something healthier that’s as close to ice cream as possible, seek out frozen yogurt. While it’s not perfectly healthy, it’s definitely better for you than ice cream.
  9. Chocolate Mousse. Chocolate mousse does contain a fair amount of sugar, but it’s also considerably lower in calories and fat than ice cream.
Instead of Cookies and Cakes

Replace those Oreos and Chips Ahoy with these delicious and health-friendly alternatives.
  1. Rice Cakes with Peanut Butter. Rice cakes alone might be a bit bland, but dress them up with a nut butter to make them super delicious.
  2. Graham Crackers. A few graham crackers are a much better choice than most cookies, especially if you eat the whole grain kind.
  3. Bran Muffin. If you need a quick pick-me-up, a bran muffin is the perfect choice. It will keep you full and give you the energy to keep studying.
  4. Fig Newtons. If you simply must have a cookie, choose one like Fig Newtons. While these cookies contain some not-so-good things, they also have real fruit that offers more vitamins than their chocolate chip counterparts.
  5. Apples and Almond Butter. Apples on their own are good for you, but paired with a great protein source like almond butter, they’re even better. Plus, both the apple and the almond butter will help you wake up and stay alert to study.
  6. Fruit Cup. Look for fruit cups that are in water, not syrup, for a tasty, healthy and easy treat.
  7. Banana Bread. If baked goods are what you crave while studying, consider picking up some banana bread instead of cookies.
  8. Carrot Bars. Made with real shredded carrots, these bars can be a great source of vitamins and fiber.
  9. Cereal Bar. Cereal bars made with whole grain cereals are your best healthy bet if you’re looking for a convenient snack.
  10. Sugar Free Jello. Does it contain a wealth of vitamins and minerals? Nope. But it does have no sugar and few calories, and that’s more than you can say for cookies or cakes.
  11. Kashi Cookies. If you simply must have a cookie, go for one that attempts to be a little healthier. The Kashi brand contains flaxseed and other whole grains to give this junk food a boost.
Instead of Frozen Foods

While there are some healthy frozen foods out there, the kinds you likely have in your freezer (frozen pizzas, chicken nuggets) aren’t the best for you. Try these snacks instead.
  1. English Muffin Pizzas. Don’t heat up a whole frozen pizza if you’re hungry. Make a smaller, healthier English muffin version instead.
  2. Pita Pizza. Don’t have English muffins? Whole grain pitas work just as well for constructing a more nutritious pizza in minutes.
  3. Tuna. Put some tuna on top of whole grain crackers to get loads of protein.
  4. Hard Boiled Egg. A hard-boiled egg with salt and pepper is good for you, offering protein you need to keep going.
  5. Side Salad. Instead of snacking on unhealthy foods, why not whip up a salad? It’s easy and can be tasty too.
  6. Seaweed Salad. Pick up some seaweed salad at the store for a study snack. It might be a funny color, but it’s full of great nutrients. Just watch out for the sodium– it contains a good amount.
  7. Oatmeal. Instant oatmeal is easy to make, fills you up and keeps you healthy.
  8. Lettuce Wraps. Use lettuce to wrap up other veggies, low-fat meats and other healthy treats.
  9. Corn on the Cob. Eat it fresh if it’s in season or find it frozen if it’s not.
  10. Whole Grain Toast. Toast, topped with a whole fruit jam or peanut butter, can be a great snack that only takes minutes to make.
Instead of Fast Food

Seeking out a mini-meal to keep you going strong through your studies? Well, skip the fast food fare and make these healthier options at home.
  1. Whole Grain Cereal. Pair a healthy cereal with some skim milk for a meal that will fill you up without filling you out.
  2. Whole Wheat Bagel. A bagel can be an easy way to get in some whole grains– just make sure you don’t go overboard with toppings.
  3. Turkey Wrap. Turkey is one of the healthiest lunch meats out there, so combining it with a whole wheat tortilla, veggies and some mustard is an excellent way to snack smart.
  4. Baked Potato. A baked potato topped with salsa will meet all your study snacking needs. Eat the skin for an extra vitamin-laden boost.
  5. Black Beans and Salsa. This snack is simple to make at home. Rinse off a can of black beans, heat them and top with salsa and guac for a healthy treat.
  6. Sweet Potato Fries. When baked, you can get your fries fix with far better health with sweet potato fries.
  7. Whole Wheat Pasta. A small bowl of whole wheat pasta with marinara sauce makes for a balanced and healthy snack or meal.
  8. Veggie Pocket. Load up a pita with all kinds of veggies, from cucumbers to sprouts, top with mustard or a vinaigrette, and you’ve got yourself a killer snack.
  9. Low-Fat Quesadilla. Low-fat cheese and veggies help make this snack one that’s healthy and craveable.
  10. Low Sodium Soup. Heat up a small bowl of soup to get some veggies, protein and other healthy stuff to keep you going.
  11. Soft Taco. Using whole grain tortillas, turkey instead of beef and topping with extra veggies makes this snack a winner in the health department.
  12. Multigrain Waffle. Pop a whole grain waffle into the toaster, top it with fruit and you’ve got an enviable study snack on your hands.
  13. Sandwich on Whole Wheat. Instead of getting a burger, make yourself a healthy, old-fashioned sandwich instead.
  14. Omelet. If you’ve got your own place, practice your cooking skills by making a healthy omelet for a snack.

Three Inspirational Videos

Inspirational videos are proof that people can do amazing things when they put their minds into it. What are you waiting for?

The Bar Brothers



Arthur's Transformation



Danny MacAskill on a Bicycle




Need more inspiration or motivation? Hire me as your personal trainer in Toronto.

Cycling Season 2013

Well it is March 1st and that means Cycling Season is practically here!

If you are really looking forward to the summer months so you can go cycling, don't delay, today is the day! It's a fun and active way to burn calories and you can spend a day exploring the city and keeping fit. When it gets warmer you may even go on day trips outside of Toronto.

For myself cycling is my preferred method of transportation. I only take other forms of transportation when cycling is too impractical.

If you live in Toronto check the local bicycle trails online or get a cycling map from Toronto City Hall. The Toronto Public Library, community and civic centers also have hard copies of these maps in their locations.

Before going for a Cycling Adventure remember to do the following:

#1. Take your bike to a Toronto bicycle mechanic for a tune up and possibly get new brakes fitted. Or fix the bicycle yourself if you know how and burn some calories because fixing bicycles counts as exercise. :)

#2. Consider replacing the helmet (especially if it is getting old) or other safety equipment.

#3. Find your lock or buy a new bicycle lock. The heavier duty the better.

#4. If you have battery lights replace the batteries or lightbulbs.

#5. If you have mirrrors adjust the mirrors as they may have been bumped/moved over the winter, or purchase mirrors if you are the type of cyclist who likes having mirrors.

Have fun hitting the trails!
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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