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Great Tips for Maintaining Motivation

#1. Hire a personal trainer.

Why? Because nothing is more motivating than knowing you are spending $300 amount for 10 sessions with a trainer, and their sole job is to challenge you and keep you motivated.

#2. Cultivate a winning attitude by focusing on the times you've been successful.

A lot of people don't think they can change. They blame their genetics, fate, god, etc.

These people often believe / say things like "I can't" or "I'm not good enough" and think them being overweight is just reality and they need to accept it. It isn't. They're negativity is a handicap which causes them to give up easily every time they try. A negative person will look at others who are successful and happy and say, "They're just lucky." They're not just lucky. They've worked diligently for a long time to get where they are. They had a certain mentality that drove them to do what they did. You, too, can call upon that drive and you can change.

Learning to be positive and stay motivated is tricky. One way is to focus on times when you've been really successful at something. Recall the specific thoughts, feelings and images you had surrounding that success. Remember and use those sensory factors to drive yourself toward other successes. If you had a great time jogging, picture the route and other factors that made up your visual field. Take the time to visualize the route and the feeling of pride when you finished it.

Draw on any success in your life and remember those feelings of satisfaction, pride and self-worth. Think about how good it felt to succeed and use that feeling as a catalyst to stimulate the behaviour that brought you that success.

When people fail they end up getting negative feelings. They come back as memories and make it more difficult to find the COURAGE to do those same activities again. But if you focus on positive memories you will find it easier to find that necessary courage and determination.

#3. Replace unrealistic images with achievable goals.

Patience is a virtue. But it is also more realistic to be patient when seeking to succeed at goals.

If you're looking at an advertisement featuring a young, hard-bodied fitness model smiling and enjoying her workout and you're thinking, I'm going to do that and it will QUICKLY be the same for me, banish that notion. It isn't going to happen overnight. You have to be realistic about what it takes to get in shape. Working out is, well, work. And you have to do it over many months and sometimes years, not weeks.

Lets say for example someone weighs 300 lbs and they want to lose 120 lbs. If they lose 2 lbs per week it will take them 60 weeks - Approx 14 months to accomplish that goal.

But to do so this means healthy eating (1800 to 2000 calories per day), daily exercise, and they will want to be burning an extra 7,000 calories per week (3,500 calories = 1 lb of fat) in order to burn 2 lbs of fat per week. So 1,000 calories worth of exercise per day.

And to burn 1,000 calories in one hour you need to be doing some kind of really intense workout like swimming laps - But most people who weigh 300 lbs simply don't have the endurance to be doing that for an hour. So instead its more realistic to be doing a 2 hour workout of an activity that is less intense (500 calories per hour).

However that kind of heavy duty routine isn't for everyone. So if 2 lbs per week is too much set the more realistic goal of 1 lb per week (burning 500 calories per day). It will take twice as long to achieve your goal, but if you're patient then you will succeed.

Learning patience and self-control is tricky. But once you realize it is the realistic approach then you know you can do it.

#4. Determine and choose the workout that is best for you.

First decide what your goals are: Do you want to lose weight or tone and build muscle? Or both?

Once you know that then you can pick your workout(s) accordingly. Lose weight? Do cardio workouts. Add muscle? Weightlifting with targeted strength training.

If you want to become both stronger and trimmer, you should combine a cardiovascular routine, such as jogging, cycling or swimming, with targeted weight training.

Also you will need to pick workouts which are more FUN so you can stay motivated. My suggestion is that either find ways to make your workouts fun, or pick activities that are naturally fun (ie. archery, boxing, rock-climbing, sports, etc).

#5. Find a workout environment you like that caters to your needs.

Sometimes gyms aren't the best place for people. Busy gyms can be intimidating to people who lack confidence about their appearance. Thus if you can find a gym that isn't busy, or you go at a time of day when it isn't crowded, then maybe that will help deal with your confidence issues.

Or maybe you just don't like gyms. In which case find a place, outdoors or indoors, that suits your needs.

#6. Slip into a workout mentality before you get to the gym.

Think about all the bonuses of working out: how great you'll feel afterward, your increased self-respect and energy and your decreased tension. Before you walk into the gym, visualize the gym ambiance and feel yourself begin to go through the paces and engage in the workout, enjoying the surroundings, the sounds, the people, the exertion and feeling good about yourself. The purpose: To mentally get yourself into the mood.

#7. If you need someone to push you, look for a workout partner.

With a partner you'll have two people's motivation to get you going. Look for a workout partner who has goals that are similar to yours and similarly motivated.

Or if you have difficulty finding a workout partner who has the same availability then you can hire a personal trainer.

#8. Schedule regular workout times and treat them as you would any other important commitment.

If you can't find 60 minutes for yourself a few times a week, you're either over-scheduled or you don't value yourself enough. Get your kids and wife/husband to help keep you on track. Tell them that staying in shape mentally and physically helps you be the best parent/spouse you can be.

Treat each workout like you're meeting a doctor for a very important meeting concerning your health. Because your health is important to you, isn't it?

Working out will also help you release stress and work through problems. How? Your negative energy is consumed during physical activity and, as you get fit, your body works more efficiently and you feel more positive about yourself. As well, working out releases endorphins, peptides that react with the brain's opiate receptors to make you feel better.
Don't beat yourself up if you miss the occasional workout or if you fall short of your goals. Give yourself some respect and understanding when you slip up. Just decide to make it up to yourself by getting back on track and continuing with your motivated, determined workouts.

Mid Workout Stretching

Out of breath during your cardio or weightlifting workout?

Pause and do some stretches.


#1. Regular Stretching increases and maintains flexibility.

#2. It gives you a moment to catch your breath and recharge available energy in your blood.

#3. Stretching exercises smaller muscles that most people forget about, like your obliques (side muscles).

#4. Stretching reduces muscle tension. Ergo, less pain in your muscles and joints.

#5. It also improves your muscular coordination.

#6. Improves balance.

#7. Exercises core muscles.

#8. Increases circulation and energy levels.

#9. Prevents sports injuries if done properly and regularly.

#10. Decreases the likelihood of injuries as you get older (eg. falls and breaking your hip).

#11. Mid exercise and post exercise Stretching helps with muscle recovery and helps condition your tendons/muscles.

#12. Because sometimes it just feels really good to have a good stretch!

Kicking and Kickboxing as Exercise

Not all exercises have to be cardio or weightlifting or yoga / stretching (which reminds me, I need to write more posts about proper stretching)... Sometimes activities can just be fun.

#1. Dancing - Yes, technically its a cardio, but you forget that it is and just have fun exercising without realizing it.

#2. Sex - Again, its a cardio... and it can also be weightlifting, depending on what you are doing. *wink*

#3. Martial Arts...

The simple act of kicking as high as you can kick does two things:

#1. Its cardio. So you can get a decent workout by doing 100 high kicks with each leg per day.

Note: If you have a sedentary lifestyle don't start with 100 per day because you could injure yourself since your legs aren't used to it. Start with 20 per day and work your way up gradually. (See the comments near the bottom about patience.)

#2. Its stretching. You feel it especially in the back of your leg, where your muscles aren't used to being stretched like that. Stretching helps to increase and maintain flexibility.

So if you're exercising at home and you want to add some flexibility exercises to your routine, kicking is a good place to start. Just make sure you have plenty of room to practice your kicks.

If you get really into it you may be tempted to get into Kickboxing, which as the name implies, combines boxing with various kicks into a martial arts-based sport.

Note: I did kickboxing back when I was in high school and later I did Taekwondo when I was living in South Korea (Taekwondo is focused on kicking and tripping opponents), so I feel confident speaking on the topic of kickboxing and Taekwondo even though I don't formally teach either of them. And frankly I prefer traditional boxing.

Kickboxing, is also sometimes referred to as "cardio kickboxing" or "boxing aerobics", because it is often employed as an exercise routine combining a mix of boxing, martial arts and aerobics that really packs a workout wallop.

Because Kickboxing uses both the muscles of the upper and lower body, as well as the core muscles, you get a great all-around workout in a short amount of time. You may discover that many sports have a tendency to do provide a full body workout, with several exceptions (eg. golf is a lazy man's game).

A typical martial arts class begins with some stretches and a light cardiovascular warm-up including push-ups and jumping jacks. The remainder of the class is usually comprised of a series of repetitive punches, alternating hand-strikes and kicks - typically switching between all three -- followed at the end by some kind of cool down/floor work/stretching combo.

Unlike other cardio exercises like running, cycling, etc which focus on only your legs, martial arts training (boxing, kickboxing, judo, karate, etc) requires a full body workout and also fuels an adrenaline rush, making it an adrenaline high workout too - which burns added calories in a hurry and helps tone muscles. And its good for developing functional strength, balance and coordination.

According to the American Council on Exercise, a kickboxing workout will burn about 350 to 450 calories/hour. That is a huge number when you consider its recommended that you only eat approx. 2,000 calories per day.


Because kickboxing is such a strenuous exercise the risks for beginners are also higher. People with back or joint problems (eg. arthritis) should avoid this kind of workout. Beginners are always wanting to learn something in a hurry. They have no patience and no commitment.

Kickboxing is very strenuous and the problem with a sedentary person trying to get into a kickboxing program is that they end up in over their heads very quickly. They're trying to do something that's too hard for them and they don't have the patience to practice just a little bit daily and instead they are trying to do a lot daily, which results in muscle fatigue and injury.

An hour of kickboxing for someone new to the sport is too much. 30 to 45 minutes is more recommended and then after 10 or 20 lessons they can work up to an hour. They have to build up gradually and be patient about it otherwise they will either injure themselves or give up due to lack of patience.

This perhaps explains why so few people get into any of the martial arts. They simply lack the patience and determination to keep at it and learn gradually. Learning patience and humility are arguably the two biggest steps.


If you live in Toronto you can hire me as your personal trainer and we can add kickboxing lessons to the list of things to do if you are interested. Kickboxing (and boxing in general) is a lot of fun and makes a great cardio exercise.

All About Vitamins - What do they do?

Vitamins are important to your healthy diet, but what do they actually do?

Here is a handy chart which not only shows why various vitamins are useful, but also where you can find them.

When looking to buy a multivitamin its recommended that you find one that pick one that has all the vitamins in it, and if you have a very active lifestyle pick one with higher dosages. So remember to read the label instead of just buying the one which is on sale.

Although if its on sale AND turns out to have all the vitamins you are looking for, absolutely, buy it.

Vitamin What the vitamin does Significant food sources
B1 (thiamin) Supports energy metabolism and nerve function spinach, green peas, tomato juice, watermelon, sunflower seeds, lean ham, lean pork chops, soy milk
B2 (riboflavin) Supports energy metabolism, normal vision and skin health spinach, broccoli, mushrooms, eggs, milk, liver, oysters, clams
B3 (niacin) Supports energy metabolism, skin health, nervous system and digestive system spinach, potatoes, tomato juice, lean ground beef, chicken breast, tuna (canned in water), liver, shrimp
Biotin Energy metabolism, fat synthesis, amino acid metabolism, glycogen synthesis widespread in foods
Pantothenic Acid Supports energy metabolism widespread in foods
B6 (pyridoxine) Amino acid and fatty acid metabolism, red blood cell production bananas, watermelon, tomato juice, broccoli, spinach, acorn squash, potatoes, white rice, chicken breast
Folate Supports DNA synthesis and new cell formation tomato juice, green beans, broccoli, spinach, asparagus, okra, black-eyed peas, lentils, navy, pinto and garbanzo beans
B12 Used in new cell synthesis, helps break down fatty acids and amino acids, supports nerve cell maintenance meats, poultry, fish, shellfish, milk, eggs
C (ascorbic acid) Collagen synthesis, amino acid metabolism, helps iron absorption, immunity, antioxidant spinach, broccoli, red bell peppers, snow peas, tomato juice, kiwi, mango, orange, grapefruit juice, strawberries
A (retinol) Supports vision, skin, bone and tooth growth, immunity and reproduction mango, broccoli, butternut squash, carrots, tomato juice, sweet potatoes, pumpkin, beef liver
D Promotes bone mineralization self-synthesis via sunlight, fortified milk, egg yolk, liver, fatty fish
E Antioxidant, regulation of oxidation reactions, supports cell membrane stabilization polyunsaturated plant oils (soybean, corn and canola oils), wheat germ, sunflower seeds, tofu, avocado, sweet potatoes, shrimp, cod
K Synthesis of blood-clotting proteins, regulates blood calcium Brussels sprouts, leafy green vegetables, spinach, broccoli, cabbage, liver

All About Minerals - What do they do?

Earlier today I was in a Shoppers Drug Mart on Yonge Street in Toronto and I was buying vitamin pills because I was starting to run low.

The pills I purchased had higher dosages of various vitamins, which is a good thing because I lead a pretty active lifestyle. But it also had a long list of minerals in it too.

Now most people know what calcium does (stronger bones) and perhaps also knows what iron does (increases cardiovascular circulation), but a lot of the other minerals I can bet most people don't know what they do.

So as you can see below I've gone ahead and added little explanations for what the various minerals actually do for your body.

Calcium - Strong bones and teeth, nerve function, muscle contraction, blood clotting.

Chromium - Associated with insulin and is required for the release of energy from glucose (converting sugar into energy).

Copper - Necessary for the absorption and utilization of iron, supports formation of hemoglobin and several enzymes.

Iodine - Helps regulate growth, development and metabolic rate.

Iron - Red blood cells and muscle function, white blood cells and the immune system.

Magnesium - Converting energy from food, cell repair, building strong bones, teeth and muscles and regulating body temperature.

Manganese - Facilitates many cell processes.

Molybdenum - Facilitates many cell processes.

Potassium - Maintains fluid and electrolyte balance, cell integrity, muscle contractions and nerve impulse transmission

Selenium - Antioxidant. Works with vitamin E to protect body from oxidation

Sodium - Maintains fluid and electrolyte balance, supports muscle contraction and nerve impulse transmissions

Vanadium - Used for treating diabetes and anemia and is great for improving performance in weight training; and helps prevent cancer.

Zinc - Immune system, the breakdown of protein, fat and carbohydrate, important part of enzymes.

So as you can see they're all pretty important. Thus having a shortage of several minerals in your diet can be a problem for your health and will harm your efforts to lose fat / gain muscle. When in doubt, best to make sure you have enough of everything you need.
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