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How to Reward Yourself and Stay Motivated

You've reached your weight loss goals! Congratulations!

Now how do you stay motivated, reward yourself and keep your lifestyle changes intact without falling back into your old routine?

At this point being overweight may feel like an alternate reality - you probably haven't felt this fit since you were a teenager! But feeling great about yourself doesn't mean you can go back to your old ways. If anything you need to remind yourself so you avoid falling into a rut, and keeping yourself motivated to exercise is a handy part of that.

#1. Make a list of things you wanted to do when you were overweight but were physically unable to do / embarrassed to attempt. eg. Run a marathon, go snorkeling, dancing, etc. Go and do those things and have a fun time!

#2. For holidays and birthdays, ask for sports / exercise equipment or personal training gift cards.

I know what I would ask for - archery equipment. It gets pretty expensive. But you might also ask for a bicycle or things for your bicycle, tennis gear, jogging pants, new running shoes... plenty of things you could use.

Personal training gift cards are another handy thing. If you live in Toronto and want to buy personal training sessions for yourself or a loved one, send me an email and I can help you out.

#3. Charity and Fundraisers.

Volunteering to raise funding for a worthwhile cause can be a great way to stay in shape and have fun. Such events require you to go outside regularly and some of them involve "walks for charity" whereby sponsors donate and you and 500 other people promise to walk, jog or run X miles to raise awareness. eg. The Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation Run for the Cure.

#4. Involve your Friends and Family.

Success is contagious. If your friends and family haven't seen your results, show them what you did and encourage them to start a fitness and nutrition program on their own - and then you can help them with advice and even workout together.

Once people you know are also exercising and eating healthy, having another person to talk to about it, share recipes, and attend events you will have even more fun enjoying your new body.

#5. Sex!

No seriously. You and your lover can enjoy yourselves more often. Nothing wrong with that side benefit!

Sun Salutations in Yoga

During the physical practice of yoga, the session will sometimes begin with an exercise known as sun salutations. This series of twelve moving postures (asanas) are timed with breathing (inhaling and exhaling). The series is repeated anywhere from three times or more. Due to the nature of the sun salutation's constant movement, breath work, stretches and mental concentration, they encompass many common components of fitness, and makes for a challenging and effective total body workout.

Five Benefits of doing Sun Salutations

1. Postures such as chaturanga, (negative tricep push up), the Crescent pose, (lunges) and plank are body weight strength exercises that will burn more fat while at rest, decrease risk of injury and maintain bone density. Sun salutations strengthen the core very well, and yoga is commonly prescribed for low back injury and rehabilitation.

2. Sun Salutations have the potential to be very cardiovascular and burn a lot of calories while exercising your lungs and heart. Consistent movement, inverted poses (head lower than heart) like downward dog, and holding poses will improve heart and lung capacity, increase endurance and aid weight loss.

3. Poses like forward bends and downward dog will increase flexibility when practiced regularly. Sun Salutations are fantastic for releasing tension in the hamstrings and hips.

4. Focusing on timed breathing will increase mental focus and reduce stress. It teaches perseverance, mental toughness gives you a goal and something to think about to clear your mind during practice.

5. Sun Salutations will give you an all-around nice body! Yogis are known for their elongated muscles, lower body fat and over-all athleticism. Many martial artists also do yoga.

How to do a Proper Bicep Curl - and get better results!

Bicep training is handy for people who want to see results. It's one of the muscle groups that everyone can tone and actually see results within a week if they are doing them right. Nice biceps are the hallmark of a fantastic physique, and naturally weight lifting is the cornerstone to achieving chiseled, strong and sexy arms.

It's very common for amateurs to train biceps the most frequently, but then see the fewest gains and results because they aren't doing them properly.

This is mostly due to the natural inclination of amateurs to only perform half the exercise.

Let me explain...

During a bicep curl the weight is lifted from the thigh up to the shoulder. On the way back down (the negative rep) many simply allow the weight to quickly drop back into starting position without any control or form. Thus they are lifting the weight - but they're not lowering it slowly on the way back down.

If you want to do bicep curls it is best to focus on form and do them slowly. It will force you to focus on that negative rep because it is an entirely different bicep exercise than the positive ascent - and it is arguably the most important part of the exercise.

Another thing you might try is to "Hammer Up, Bicep Curl Down", for which the instructions are below.

1. Start either seated or standing (better for the core) with two dumbbells in each hand with enough weight which will fatigue your biceps in the range of your strength training goal, anywhere from 10 to 15 reps. (Don't use dumbbells which are too heavy or too light.)

2. With palms facing each other, curl the weights up to your shoulder. That's the positive hammer curl.

3. Now rotate your wrists so both palms face you and slowly, with complete control, lower the weights all the way back down until arms have only a slight bend in the elbow. That's the negative bicep curl.

Perform a set and then reverse the order, bicep curl up, hammer curl down for a balanced arm workout! This focus on form will help you to get more out of your bicep exercises.

If you want more advice on weight lifting you can always hire me as your personal training here in Toronto. Happy weight lifting!

Hallmarks of the Successful Weight Loss Plan

Losing weight involves lifestyle changes and lots of hard work but planning is also very important. Planning for weight loss will guarantee a focused approach to stay on track and keep progressing / pushing yourself harder.

Planning For Weight Loss in Three Steps

Plan your Meals

Knowing every meal in advance will not only save time and money but is crucial for avoiding overeating and poor food choices. Some people have found that it is easiest to eat similar meals for breakfast and lunch.

For example: If you have different variations of oatmeal 2 days, cottage cheese, dried fruit and flax meal 2 days, and an English muffin with peanut butter one day, you will have enough ingredients to vary these meals based on what you feel like. It's simple enough that it doesn't take much thought or time to prepare. For lunch try sandwiches on whole grain bread and a piece of fruit.

Take extra fruits for snacks if you find yourself feeling hungry during the day!

Plan your Workouts

If you don't know when you will find the time to workout, you won't workout! It's very important to have a set time to exercise. Even better, the same time everyday will quickly accustom you to a routine. It will be amazing how much time you have for exercise when you actually want to exercise!

If you find that time is seriously pressed then do what you can, when you can. Do a set of squats while talking on the phone, or lunge across the house instead of walking. Try running up every flight of stairs you encounter during the day, and do calf raises waiting in line-ups.

Plan for Disaster

Plan for your weight loss program to be blown out of the water once in a while. Especially if the holiday season is approaching it will not be long before someone hands you a box of chocolates and you know you will eat 5 once you've tried one.

Don't be discouraged but do remember to share your holiday treats, eat them in moderation and remember that every new day offers the opportunity to start fresh.

If you live in Toronto and are losing weight or would like to start, feel free to hire me as you personal trainer. Mention this post and get 10% off any purchase of 10 sessions or more. (Limit of 1 per customer.)

Belly Dancing for Exercise

Belly dancing (and any kind of dancing for that matter) is a great way to get extra cardio into your exercise routine. Especially since its fun!

It is really only popular for women (not too many male belly dancers out there...), but it is a really engaging way to exercise and build up your core / abdominal muscles.

Indeed, belly dancing can help you lose weight and burn as many calories as more strenuous exercises like cycling or running, as long as the workouts are consistently challenging and you are moving around a lot. Thus belly dancing can make for a really intense workout if you have the energy to try it and stick with it. Thankfully it is also fun, so your lack of skill at the beginning doesn't really matter as you will quickly get better at it as you progress.

If you think that you would like to try belly dancing as a form of exercise, don't be intimidated. Look for a good instructor who will keep you moving and having a good time.


#1. Dress the Part

The lavish Eastern costumes are part of the authenticity of belly dance classes. You may feel weird wearing them at first, but its part of the fun too if you get a chance to perform. Call the studio or instructor ahead of time to see what patrons usually wear to class. You may just wear regular workout/yoga gear, but some  instructors may ask you to come in costume. A basic costume could include yoga pants, a hip scarf for emphasis, and a midriff-baring choli so that your instructor can see and help you with the movement of your hips and posture.

#2. Get In Character

You'll get more out of your belly dance exercise classes if you release your inhibitions and get in character. The more movement you get through your hips and thighs, the more beneficial the class will be. Think of your class as a performance and just have a good time. Don't worry about how you look or if you're making a fool of yourself - part of the appeal of belly dancing is how exotic it looks anyway, so its bound to look weird. Belly dancing is more beneficial when you are giving it your total effort without being self-conscious.

Side Benefit - Belly Dancing boosts your confidence and decreases shyness.

#3. Loose Joints and Posture

Belly dancing focuses on the abdominal and hip region, so when you begin to learn to belly dance, it may seem strange to you to move those areas so freely. Keep your joints soft so that they can flow freely, while keeping your spine straight and your head up. Keep your shoulders back at all times, with your tailbone dropped to the floor. Over time if you practice proper form this will become easier and second nature for you, but in the beginning you will need to pay attention to your form.
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