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Toronto Archery Lessons as a Xmas Gift

This Christmas a lot of people have pre-ordered archery lessons for Spring 2014 and Summer 2014 for their friends, girlfriends/boyfriends, wives/husbands, children, nieces/nephews.

While the reason for the sudden bump in archery lessons is likely due to the 2nd Hunger Games film I have to also wonder if it is because Canadians are also taking a stronger interest in sports education and health education.

With decades of school cutbacks to physical education programs in schools, reduced numbers of children taking part in team sports like hockey, soccer, baseball - and Canada's dramatically increased obesity rate since the 1990s - it is therefore quite interesting to see the sudden surge of interest in a non-team sport like archery.

Not since the 1950s has archery seen such a surge in popularity - and that was largely the work of great archers like Howard Hill and Fred Bear who made numerous films promoting the sport of archery.

Many of films made by Howard Hill and Fred Bear can still be watched on YouTube. The clip below for example focuses on Fred Bear's career of making hunting films - I know hunting is not for everyone - but it gives you an insight into the type of things Howard Hill and Fred Bear were doing back in the 1950s.


But there are also Hollywood films from the 1950s starring actors like Burt Lancaster in films like "The Flame and the Arrow" and similar films with a heavy theme of archery.

Archery clubs in the 1950s were a big thing - they were social gatherings, places to meet people and hang out while doing an activity that everyone shared. It is much the same now too, as new archery clubs are springing up all over North America - and also locally here in Toronto.

Including the recently created (December 2013) archery group on Facebook, The Canadian Toxophilite Society. A toxophilite is an archery aficionado.

During the 1950s the renewed interest in archery lasted until the 1970s.

So evidently archery is going to be enjoying renewed popularity for decades to come - thus people who are new to the sport of archery will likely be part of the renewed interest in archery until 2030 - or even a lifelong commitment to the sport.

Speaking for myself I first tried archery in 1989 and I have loved it ever since.

Ice Storm Exercises in Toronto

Hello fellow Torontonians!

Wow that was quite the ice storm last night. Here is some exercise and safety tips for things for you to do today!!! Stay safe and don't drive today.

#1. Clear the ice off your car.

#2. Clear the ice off your driveway.

#3. Clear the broken ice covered branches off your lawn and streets near your home.

#4. Avoid downed power lines. Leave those to repair crews.

#5. Watch out for falling ice. Avoid walking under large trees that have lots of ice covered branches on them that are creaking under the weight.

#6. Walk to the local hardware store for supplies. Don't drive! The roads are too icy!

#7. Walk to the homes of elderly neighbours and see if they need anything. Be helpful!

#8. Clear the sidewalk of ice.

#9. Take the dog for a walk and take photos of the ice storm wreckage.

#10. Dress with lots of layers with warm gloves, hats and more!




8 Christmas Day Exercises for the Whole Family

Looking for something fun to do on Christmas Day that is also exercise for the whole family?

#1. Go for a walk in the neighbourhood and go carolling. Find some Christmas songs online, print them out for the kids, take candles with you - and take a walk around your neighbourhood and visit all the neighbours you know and like (and even a few you don't like). With any luck other neighbours might join in!

#2. Take a Winter Hike - If the weather is reasonably tolerable, pack up the whole family, get lots of warm clothes on, and head somewhere hike-able and scenic. It doesn’t have to be a mountain - maybe just a hill or a neighbourhood with lots of pretty Christmas lights on houses. Getting outside and getting some fresh air will feel good. Remember how endorphins make people happy? Go out and get some endorphins!

#3. Ice Skating - Many ice rinks are open to the public on Christmas Eve and / or Christmas Day. You will need your own ice skates (or find a rink that rents ice skates).

#4. Snow Ball Fight - Remember no throwing ice at each other, that could hurt. But throwing packing snow or fluffy snow at each other, perfectly fine. Just don't forget to dodge and run around things to protect yourself from flying snowballs.


#5. Build a Snowman, the BIGGEST one you can! Rolling giant snowballs is hard, but it makes for great exercise.

#6. Skiing / Snowboarding - Whether you go cross country skiing, downhill skiing, or snowboarding you will get a good workout. If you have small kids stick to the smaller hills / easier routes.

#7. Go Sledding - Dragging a sled up a hill again and again is great cardio, and the ride back down is certain to be fun!

#8. Build a Snowfort - Like building a snowman, building a snowfort can be a fun challenge for the whole family. Be certain to build it in a safe manner so if you have small children that there aren't any pieces that could fall on them. You can even decorate your snowfort using food colouring!

15 Health Benefits of Dancing

Dancing encourages freedom of expression and you don't need a lot of motivation to do it.

Dancing is a great cardiovascular activity.

Dancing is fantastic for weight loss.

Dancing is easy on joints and ligaments.

Dancing builds strength.

Dancing improves endurance.

Dancing improves co-ordination and reflexes.

Dancing improves posture.



Dancing supplements other physical activity and is great for cross training.

Dancing is great for social events (parties, weddings).

Dancing improves self esteem and body image.

Dancing helps you get a good night's sleep.

Dancing lowers the amount of toxins in your body.

Dancing helps to bring a shy person "out of his/her shell".

Dancing prevents / reduces Alzheimer's disease.

BONUS!

Dancing is FUN for the whole family!

Understanding Weight Fluctuations

When it comes to dieting and exercising a person's weight is going to fluctuate dramatically from day to day. Weight fluctuations can be frustrating if you don't understand why it is happening, and why you sometimes seem to be going in the opposite direction.

A common myth is that exercise always equals weight loss. Except it is not always true. Often exercise equals muscle gain, which means weight gain. You might also be losing fat too, but it will be confusing as to how much muscle you are gaining and fat you are losing.

During a strict diet where a person is consuming less calories than their needs but still using the same amount of calories for their daily activities you will see constant weight loss as the body consumes fat stores to make up the difference. (During such a diet it is recommended they eat a fair bit of lean protein and supplement their diet with weightlifting in order to maintain muscle tone.)

During a less strict diet wherein a person doesn't know how many calories they are consuming then they might sometimes be eating more than they actually need and see combinations of weight loss on some days and weight gain on other days.

Note - Remember to weigh yourself in the morning before breakfast to get more accurate results. If you eat a meal, especially a large meal, weight measurements will give you an inaccurate glimpse of your true weight.

Large meals, extra water retention, binge eating are some of the biggest contributors to weight fluctuations, but there are other factors as well such as:

#1. Muscle Gain - Muscle weighs more than fat so even a little muscle gain can result in overall weight gain. This frequently happens when people are exercising, as people often gain muscle faster than they lose fat due to a combination of factors. Learn more by reading How Fast Can You Grow Muscle?

#2. Muscle Loss - It is common for people on fad diets to also lose muscle due to a lack of protein, vitamins and minerals in their diet. This can create a false sense of fat loss because your scales don't know whether you are losing muscle or losing fat. Often people gain the weight back after they quit the diet because their muscle weight can regrow at a faster weight due to muscle memory. See also Two Alternative Models for Predicting Muscle Growth.

#3. Inaccurate Scales - We've all done it at some point. We stepped on the scales and got a reading that was hugely inaccurate. To remedy this step off the scales and step on again to see if it gives the same results twice. You may need to double check 3 or 4 times to get a truly accurate reading. Electronic scales often need to recalibrate if they have been stored sideways, haven't been used for a long time, etc. Thus you need to give it some time to recalibrate.

Personal Note: I have to this myself often because I store my electronic scale sideways so whenever I plop it on the floor to check my weight I have to first wait for it to recalibrate by stepping on and off it a couple times and then finally getting an accurate reading.

Another possibility is that you have an old set of scales that uses a tension spring to measure weight, and the spring is old and worn out (and losing tension). Best option is to recycle it and buy a new set of scales.

If you have access to an old fashioned scale like the one below then absolutely use it. That is the kind of scale used by doctors because they are the most accurate.


#4. Too Much Salt / Sodium - Eating too much salt / sodium causes your body to retain more water and also more fat. Simply cutting all your salty foods from your diet can cause a sudden shift towards weight loss and fat loss. Eat more veggies and less salty foods and you can see a dramatic change. A constant over abundance of salty foods will cause your body to store more fat on a daily basis.

#5. Constipation - Nothing a quick laxative wouldn't fix. Otherwise try eating more foods that are high in fibre. Having a good bowel movement on a daily basis is definitely a good thing. Try to weigh yourself AFTER you've had a bowel movement and before you eat breakfast.

#6. Hormonal Changes - Women and men both suffer from monthly hormonal changes that can cause their weight to fluctuate. Hormonal levels can even be effected by your mood, as feelings of depression cause various hormones to be released which causes weight gain. In contrast feelings of happiness and contentment cause hormones which induce weight loss.

HANDY TIPS FOR COUNTERING NEGATIVE WEIGHT FLUCTUATIONS

#1. Don't weigh yourself every day. Instead pick a day (eg. Tuesday) and always weigh yourself on that day after your morning bowel movement and before breakfast.

#2. Keep track of your weight fluctuations from week to week by tracking them on a piece of paper that you keep near your scales.

#3. Avoid large meals, parties where you might overeat, binge eating, etc the day before you weigh yourself. Also avoid salty foods, caffeine, nicotine, alcohol, sugary treats and anything else you know is bad for you.

#4. Drink more water to bring your sodium levels down. Water also helps remove contaminants in your system from toxins, as water acts a natural detoxifier. Other natural detoxifiers include lemon juice, green tea, broccoli (although many other vegetables also work wonders), dandelion tea, fresh cranberry juice. Learn more about lowering your toxin levels.

ALTERNATIVES TO WEIGHING YOURSELF

A better way to judge your true weight is to look at how well your clothes fit. If your clothes feel roomier or baggier, then you've lost weight.

If possible try to also get monthly measurements of your body fat. This will give you a percentage of your total weight which is fat and a better idea of whether you are losing or gaining based on the percentage.

Try using fat calipers.

An old fashioned route is to use a tape measure. The tape measure will be less accurate around your middle (as you might gain muscle there if you are doing abdominal exercises) so I recommend also measuring your hips (as your body often stores fat in your buttocks instead) and keeping track of both your waist and hips measurements.

Free Hand Exercises - No Equipment Necessary

First a bit of myth busting. Free hand exercises and free weight exercises are NOT one and the same thing.

Free weight exercises involve dumbbells and barbells, and free hand exercises involves nothing but the weight of your body.

Thus if you want some frugal exercises that don't cost you anything, free hand exercises are a great way to tone up and lose weight. Plus performing free hand exercises recruit as much muscle as possible while simultaneously increasing your heart rate - meaning you get a better workout because you are pushing your limits with your body weight instead of tiny hand held weights.

Squats, Squat Thrusts or Star Squats

Any kind of squats is a very good exercise for your legs. The squat thrust is demonstrated in the image on the right.

The star squat is a progression and more intense variation of a squat thrust. This exercise works the upper and lower body and core, while burning calories. To do it, stand with your feet together and arms at your sides. Lower yourself into a squat, place your hands on the floor and kick your legs behind you. When your feet touch, maintain a straight line from your shoulders to heels. Quickly kick your feet back to the starting point and explosively jump in the air. While doing this, extend your arms and legs out at angles to form a star shape, land with your feet together and repeat.

To increase the challenge and place more emphasis on your chest, lower yourself into a push-up every time you kick your legs behind your body.

Cross Body or Angled Knee Mountain Climbers

The Cross Body Mountain Climber is demonstrated in the image on the right.

Angled knee mountain climbers work your chest, shoulders, abs, thighs, glutes and cardiovascular system. To do mountain climbers, place your hands on the floor and legs in staggered stance with your right leg forward and knee up by your chest. After lifting your right foot off the floor, shift your leg position so your left leg moves forward and your right leg moves backward. As you do this, keep your left foot off the floor and move your left knee toward your right elbow. Carefully switch your foot position again and bring your right knee toward your left elbow. Alternate back and forth in a fast and steady motion.

Alternating Butt Kick Knee Tucks

Alternating butt kick knee tucks work your legs and abs while increasing your heart rate. To do these knee tucks, stand with your feet hip-width apart and your arms at your sides. Lower yourself into a partial squat and then jump as high in the air as possible. While doing this, tuck your knees into your chest. As soon as you land, jump in the air again. This time, lift your heels in the air behind you and try to get them to touch your butt. Alternate between the two movements every time you land.

Running + Jumping

Running and jumping is one of the cheapest exercises you can do. All you need is running shoes.

Running strengthens the lungs and heart, while simultaneously burning calories and toning leg muscles. To increase the effect with running, perform intervals, add jumps into your running routine, incorporate hills into your workouts or do wind sprints. With intervals, alternate back and forth between high and low intensity. With wind sprints, run as fast as you can and do long jumps when possible to test your limits. Then rest completely before your next sprint + jump. Rest twice as long as you run.

If you are already very fit then for fun you can also get into parkour - which combines running, jumping and tumbling.


Self Discipline Vs Hiring a Personal Trainer

When it comes to both exercising and dieting one of the biggest obstacles for many people is simply to self discipline themselves and find motivations to stick with their exercise / diet regime.

It is very easier to start an exercise or diet regime, but much harder to stick with it when it starts to become a challenge.

Over time people start making exceptions and excuses and it is important to make a distinction between the two.

An exception is when you have no other choice in the circumstances. eg. You get invited to Christmas Dinner at your parents' home and your mother insists you try the new recipe she made using brown sugar, milk chocolate, caramel, maple syrup and other very sugary things. Yes, in theory you could refuse. But it is your mother! You are obligated to try it due to the special circumstances.

An excuse is when you say "I won't exercise today because it is raining."

So let us stop and discuss some Techniques to Strengthen Self-Discipline

#1. Know your goal, know it well and work towards it.

If you want it bad enough, there's no reason why you cannot achieve it! Sure, you may have to wake up early to exercise, or exercise after work when you are already tired. Maybe you even have to give up something for a while (like a favourite TV show you can always watch later) to get it done, but if it's important, you must harden up and face the fact that you won't reach your goal by wishing for it. You have to WORK for it.

This is a good time to practice visualization. Imagine crossing the finish line, buying clothes a couple of sizes smaller, going swimming without feeling embarrassed. Understand your goal and what you have to do to obtain the result. You can even make a before photo and imagine your after photo that you will take when you succeed.

#2. Remember how it feels when you succeed at things.

Think back to other achievements in your life. How did they make you feel? No matter how much you hate exercising, everybody agrees that the feeling afterward is worth the effort. Feeling good for the rest of the day, having more energy, and enjoying the accomplishment is something to remember when you are not feeling motivated. Thinking to yourself "this does feel good to know I am making progress and I'll feel great when it's over," will help to get you started and keep you going.

#3. Some effort is required.

When the going gets tough you need to be even tougher on yourself to make sure you do it.

If you are already working out, you should do a good job. Even if you don't feel 100% full of energy at least try to go a little farther than your mind wants to go. Obviously this does not apply to exercising over injuries or over training - but if you aren't injured then don't be afraid to push yourself further.

People can have trouble pushing themselves on their own, and it causes the workout to become sloppy, and not very effective. If you're already out there, and you're taking the time and energy, make it worth something!

#4. Hire a personal trainer to give you an extra push.

Need help? Time to hire a personal trainer once per month, once per week, once every two weeks. Whatever you need to accomplish your goal. You could hire me if you live in Downtown / Uptown Toronto, but ideally you should hire a personal trainer you feel comfortable with and they work hard to keep you motivated and on track.

If you are looking for a personal trainer in Leaside (where I now live) let me know and I can help you out. I am here to help!

True, hiring a personal trainer is more expensive than self-disciplining yourself, but it also pushes you further and helps to keep you on track for working towards your goals.

5 Healthy Snacks that help you Slim Down

Are you looking for healthy but sweet snacks to satisfy your ravenous sweet tooth?

Deprivation only leads to disaster but on the other hand, who says you can't eat healthy with your snacks???

The snacks below strike the balance between indulgence, portion control, and healthy ingredients. Even better, they're very quick and easy to make!

Five Healthy but Sweet Snacks

1. Peanut Butter and Banana Sandwich

Calories - 350

Great for an energy boost. Use 2 slices of whole grain bread. Slice half a banana (or less), layer on top of 1 tbsp (or less) of natural peanut butter (natural peanut butter contains no hydrogenated oils). Sprinkle with cinnamon or dark chocolate chipits if you want to add something special to it. For people with peanut allergies you can also get almond butter.

2. Yogurt Parfait

Calories - 150

A yogurt parfait can be just as good as ice cream on a summer day. Use 1/2 cup plain non fat yogurt. Slice 1/2 apple, sprinkle raisins, walnuts and a bit of flax meal. Speaking for myself, my favourite thing to sprinkle is granola. Don't have yogurt? Try cottage cheese instead.

3. Fruity Cottage Cheese

Calories - 200

High in protein, low in fat. Makes a good light meal. 1/2 cup 1% cottage cheese, 1/2 sliced mango, raisins. *can also be substituted with yogurt! No mangoes handy? Use bananas, berries or apple slices.

4. Dried Fruit Trail Mix

Calories - 250

Great for energy, healthy fat and fiber. 1/4 cup dried fruit (apricots, strawberry, cherries), 1/4 cup almonds, and a sprinkling of raisins and shelled sunflower seeds.

5. Cereal

Calories - Approx 180 - 250 depending on brand.

A healthy cereal satisfies the craving for food, and is fortified with vitamins, and when served with skim milk adds extra protein and nutrients. My personal favourite is Kellogg's VECTOR cereal because it is chock full of vitamins.

I am also a big fan of VECTOR protein bars, which is a good quick protein snack. Both the bars and the cereal can be found at CostCo and similar bulk stores if you are looking to save a few dollars.

Vegan Smoothies and Rock Climbing

One of my personal hobbies is rock climbing. Thus when I found the video further below about an indoor rock climbing vegan who makes vegan smoothies and enjoys rock climbing, well, I just had to share it.

Now obviously freehand climbing (with no rope) is more dangerous, so I don't recommend it for amateurs. If you are new to rock climbing I suggest sticking to easy to climb areas, indoor rock climbing, or climbing with all the right gear and a friend who is an experienced climber.

As exercises go rock climbing is fairly frugal and isn't going to cost you a lot to get into it. Compared to a 1-year gym membership it is quite cheap.


Wow! That girl drinks a lot of smoothies!

Personally I add skim milk to my smoothies for the added protein and milky goodness. Sometimes I also make high protein smoothies by adding whey protein powder.

My favourite smoothies to make are strawberry / raspberry with vanilla flavoured whey protein.

December Exercise Motivational Quotes

"I hate saying, 'I like exercising.' I want to punch people who say that in the face. But it's nice being in shape for a movie, because they basically do it all for you. It's like, 'Here's your trainer. This is what you can eat. ... I don't diet. I do exercise! But I don't diet. You can't work when you're hungry, you know?"
- Jennifer Lawrence (star of The Hunger Games)

"I don't really diet or anything. I'm miserable when I'm dieting and I like the way I look. I'm really sick of all these actresses looking like birds... I'd rather look a little chubby on camera and look like a person in real life, than look great on screen and look like a scarecrow in real life."
- Jennifer Lawrence

"One time I actually used it for defense. I pulled into my garage and I heard men in my house. And I was like, 'I'm not letting them take my stuff. I had just gotten back from training, so I had the bow and arrows in the back of my car. I went to my car and I put this quiver on me and I had my bow and I loaded it and I'm walking up the stairs. And I look, and my patio doors were open, and there were guys working right there, and I was like, 'Heyyy, how you doin'?' They [her friends] were like, 'We've got to stage someone to break into your house and you can kill them!' That would be the funniest news ever. Katniss Everdeen actually kills someone with a bow and arrow!"
- Jennifer Lawrence

"I eat like a caveman. I'll be the only actress that doesn't have anorexia rumors! I'm never going to starve myself for a part. I'm invincible. I don't want little girls to be like, 'Oh, I want to look like Katniss, so I'm going to skip dinner!'"
- Jennifer Lawrence

"For 'X-Men' I was lifting a lot of weights. I actually lost a lot of mass when I quit 'X-Men' because I was working out so much and very muscular and strong."
- Jennifer Lawrence



"You must begin to think of yourself as becoming the person you want to be."
- David Viscott

"Living a healthy lifestyle will only deprive you of poor health, lethargy, and fat."
- Jill Johnson

"Your goals, minus your doubts, equal your reality."
- Ralph Marston

"You've got to say, I think that if I keep working at this and want it badly enough I can have it. It's called perseverance."
- Lee Iacocca

"You don't drown by falling in the water. You drown by staying there."
- Unknown Author
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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