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Extreme Heat effects your Workout and Diet

When it gets super hot and humid in Toronto you're going to be sweaty, cranky and tired. So how do you beat the heat and still manage to eat properly and get a good workout?

Today we are going to do some ol' fashioned myth busting when it comes to exercise and eating healthy in the heat. And give you some healthy tips along the way!

#1. Is it really hot enough to fry an egg? No, not really. And seriously, would you even want to eat the egg? Stick to frying your eggs in a pan instead.

#2. Does the heat actually make you more tired? Yes. Heat is very draining on your body and it uses a lot of your active energy just to try and cool your body down. Which means if you have air conditioning you will be able to sleep better at night.

It isn't just the heat however - it is also the humidity. Which means a dehumidifier in your bedroom can also help you to sleep better. And better sleep = more energy the next day and less likely to binge on sugary foods to boost your energy levels.

#3. If you feel so tired that you are nauseous and dizzy (or suffering memory problems) you may have heat exhaustion or heat stroke, and you should get to some place cool immediately and drink some cool water. When in doubt call 911.

#4. However, heat exhaustion doesn't mean you should jump in a cold shower or a pool. The shock could knock you unconscious. Your goal should be to SLOOOOOOWLY lower your body temperature back to normal. So a dip in a cool pool - not a cold one - will help. A cool / luke warm shower is also good. Drinking lots of water (not too much all at once) will also help. Avoid alcohol and caffeine, they will just dehydrate you further.

#5. Avoid very large meals on a hot day. Binging on food will just make you more tired. Your body is already working hard to maintain your body temperature, so digesting a big meal will just put more stress on it. Aim for smaller, lighter meals - and eat snacks in-between meals.

#6. When running / jogging don't drink ice cold water. Instead drink cool water that is only moderately cold. The reason is because your body has to expend energy to warm that water up. The lost energy then makes you feel more tired than you would normally be. By drinking only moderately cool water you don't feel the energy drain as much but are still getting the cooling effect. Some marathon runners prefer to drink water which is luke warm / room temperature that way they are minimizing their energy drain as much as possible and only want the water for hydration, not for cooling them down.

#7. The more fit you are the less effect the heat will have on your body, this is true - but that doesn't make you immune to heat exhaustion, dehydration or heat stroke. If you start to notice symptoms of any of these three seek shade, a cool place and water.

#8. A handy trick is to exercise AFTER the sun goes down. You can download a smartphone app that will tell you when sunrise and sunset is in your area or check it online. (I personally use one which tells me sunrise, sunset, a detailed hourly weather forecast and the weather forecast for the coming week.)

#9. If doing any kind of weight training outside on a hot day it is best to have a partner if possible. Long list of variety of safety reasons. And the list grows longer if you are older and / or unfit. Exercise caution.

#10. Sweating a lot doesn't burn more calories. It just means your body is overheating and trying to cool down. If you feel too hot you won't be able to exercise as hard. You can exercise much harder in cooler conditions because your body doesn't have to expend so much water, sodium and energy trying to cool you down.

#11. Sports drinks like Powerade and Gatorade help. Why? Because in addition to the water they also replenish sodium and calories. Gives you more energy, and the sodium means you can sweat more - which in turn cools you down physically - which in turn allows you to exercise harder because you don't feel as hot.

#12. If you're tempted for a beer on a patio, try to stick to just one beer. None is better, but if you fall to temptation try to limit yourself to one and then have a glass of water with it. Same goes with coffee and other caffeine drinks. Alcohol and caffeine dehydrates you because you end up using more water from your body just trying to flush the toxins from your system. (Which is why you will feel the need to urinate later after drinking alcohol or caffeine.) Exercising immediately after having alcohol is not recommended, but if you do try to rehydrate yourself by drinking a fair amount of water before, during and after the exercise.

#13. Your body adapts over time to hot weather. It is why we get sunburns on our arms for example and later our arms become more resistant to sunburns. It is in our genetics that we adapt to summer by getting sunburns a couple times and by the time we have a good tan going we don't burn as easily - but you can still get a painful sunburn if you aren't careful! So use sunscreen, wear a hat and avoid long exposure to the sun.

#14. Your blood vessels and sweat levels also adjust to the weather. You will start craving more salty foods and this is normal - the sodium in the salt replenishes your ability to sweat and keep yourself cool.

#15. A health tip for women and men. Antiperspirants contain aluminum in the form of toxic chemicals like aluminum zirconium tetrachlorohydrex gly - a chemical proven to cause lymph node and breast cancer in both women and men. If you are going to use an antiperspirant try not to use so much - or switch to deodorant instead.

Women who wear antiperspirant regularly have significantly higher chances of developing lymph node and breast cancer. In contrast most men use deodorant instead, which doesn't prevent sweating and instead just masks the smell - and thus men have significantly lower chances of lymph node and breast cancer because they aren't using antiperspirants as much as women do. This doesn't mean men cannot get cancer in those body parts, it just means that most men don't use antiperspirant and thus have lower chances. A man who does use antiperspirant regularly will have the same chance of developing lymph node and breast cancer as a woman who uses antiperspirant regularly.

Also your body is going to sweat anyway. Swiping some toxic chemicals on your armpits isn't going to stop you from sweating from head, neck, chest, arms, belly, back, legs and so forth. In its efforts to cool your body down your body will simply sweat from all available pores anyway.

How to do the Splits

Flexibility training isn't something that most people do. But it is something I would personally would like to do more.

Keeping in mind that I have no background in dancing, gymnastics or acrobatics. I am more or less just an average guy who is into exercising a lot. (Although I do admit I sit cross-legged quite a bit so I might have a slight advantage.)

Thus learning how to do the splits is a technical challenge for anyone who wants to practice stretching and flexibility exercises.


#1. The first thing I want to do is point out that ANYONE can do the splits if they practice flexibility exercises - even men and overweight people. Flexibility has very little to do with what sex you are or what size you are. It has nothing to do with age either. For this reason I have chosen a variety of images which disprove any myths you might have about flexibility. Sex, age, size, race, etc have nothing to do with your ability to be flexible. It is purely a matter of stretching exercises.

93-year-old woman doing the splits.
#2. Learning to do the splits doesn't take as long as you think. It should take roughly one to three months to reach the point where YOU can do the splits. But you will need to be diligent about doing your stretching exercises every day and I do mean EVERY DAY.

#3. You might think "Oh yes, men can do the splits, but they'd have to be a martial artists already or a really good athlete who is already super flexible to do the splits." Yes, it is true, many martial artists and athletes can do the splits - but only because they have trained themselves to do them. You have to get away from that way of thinking where you think A (natural ability) causes B (flexibility), when in reality it is C (practice, practice, practice) that is responsible for improved flexibility. You might also think that men with lots of muscle and / or fat cannot do the splits. In which case I invite you to browse the various photos on this page.

Man doing the splits
Overweight Older Man doing the Splits
Now that I have proven how it can actually be done lets get down to what exactly is the splits.


A split is a stretch that completely extends the legs so that they and the base of the torso are flat on the ground. There are TWO kinds of splits. You can do a split with your torso facing over one leg - known as a Side Split - or with your torso facing forward - a Front Split.

Usually people start by learning front splits because it is slightly easier and takes less time to learn how to do them. The amount of time it takes you to learn to do a split depends upon your physical fitness, diet, metabolism, coordination, age and flexibility - but it is not impossible for you to learn regardless of any of those factors. Most people can build up to doing a front split in a month. If you have any injuries that effect your flexibility, consult your doctor before beginning training.



Perform daily butterfly stretches. These stretches increase flexibility in your inner and outer thighs, making the splits easier.

To perform a butterfly split, sit with your knees bent and tilted out so that each knee forms a "V" to the side. Touch your feet together and place your hands on your feet to remain balanced. Pull your feet in toward your groin and hold the stretch. To deepen the stretch, extend your knees toward the ground slowly and hold the stretch for 5 to 10 seconds. Repeat 10 times daily. As the exercise becomes easier, pull your feet in closer to your groin. Your back should remain straight during this stretch.

Remember to repeat daily! I know I am beating an old drum here, but remembering to do these stretches daily is a huge benefit to your ability to improve your flexibility.


Stretch your knees and legs daily. While kneeling, put one foot in front of you on a mat, stool or other sturdy item elevated a foot off the ground. Your knee should be bent at 90 degrees. Extend your other leg back behind you. Then push your hips forward until you feel your muscles stretching. Hold for 30 to 60 seconds. Repeat 5 times daily.


Stretch your legs while standing. This helps improve balance and flexibility. While standing place one foot in front of you on a mat or other sturdy item about a foot off of the floor. Keep your back foot flat on the ground. Then extend your arms forward to touch the toes of the front foot and hold for 10 seconds. Repeat the stretch on the other side. Repeat 10 times each side every day. However many flexibility experts say that the more frequently you perform this stretch, the better your balance and flexibility will become - so in theory you could do a lot more than 10 per day. However if you start to feel any extreme pain I recommend stopping immediately.


Don't expect to do the splits the first time or even the 20th day or the 30th day. Many people can do them by day 30, but lets pretend for a moment that you skipped doing your stretching exercises for a few days then you will have slower results.

Other factors such as diet, metabolism, etc will slow you down a bit, but basically anyone should be able to do the splits by day 90 of doing the stretches.

During your attempt stand up and spread your legs slowly to the ground into a split while supporting yourself using a stable chair or ballet barre. Go down as far as you can without experiencing pain or shaking legs. Hold the position for three to five seconds and repeat the stretch five times daily. This stretch (even if you fail) helps you improve muscle memory, flexibility and balance, all of which are important for splits. You will gradually be able to lower yourself closer and closer to a split.

It just takes time and daily practice.


If you were paying attention and doing some math you may have noticed it only requires 5 + 10 + (10 x 2) + 5 stretches each day to do the splits. It is a total of 40 stretches per day. Takes you about 5 to 10 minutes per day.

But the results are amazing regardless of what size or shape you are.

With time you could even do super flexible things you normally expect of dancers and gymnasts.

Don't think that just because they are young and skinny that you can't do it. You can. It just takes time, practice, diligence, a little willpower and 40 stretches per day.

Just 40 stretches per day.

Overweight Man doing the Splits
Elderly Woman doing the Splits
Bodybuilder doing the Splits

Exercising while Sick - Pros and Cons


"Hello! What are the pros and cons of exercising while sick?

- Brenda J."


Hello Brenda!

Exercising while sick is inherently risky. But there are several benefits if your illness isn't too serious. Eg. The common cold.

If you can muster the strength and motivation to exercise while sick I first have several pieces of advice.

#1. Take it slow. Take your time. Your endurance will be lower.

#2. Use smaller weights if weightlifting.

#3. Don't ignore proper nutrition.

#4. Focus on form. Don't injure yourself.

#5. Expect to do half of what you normally do.

The Benefits of Exercising while Sick

Heightened metabolism. You will get better faster.

Maintains your muscle tone and endurance more so once you are recuperated you won't have to catch up on any losses.

The Negatives

Low energy, so don't expect to do a lot.

You really should not be exercising if seriously ill. It is one thing to exercise while you have the common cold and another thing entirely if you are dying from pneumonia.

Weather conditions are a factor. If you like jogging outside doing that while sick and it is raining outside, big no no. But if it was warm and sunny and you stay hydrated a short jog wouldn't hurt.

In Toronto (since we get winter 4 months of the year) I don't recommend any kind of outdoor exercise while sick during the December to March period.

How fast / slow should I lift weights?


"Hello! I have read that there is advantages and disadvantages to going faster or slower while lifting weights. What are the pros and cons?

- K. Duncan"



Yes, you are correct there are pros and cons.

The best thing to do is to go slowly and keep your form correct. Correct form while weightlifting reduces injuries. Going slowly builds more muscle and brute strength.

Fast Weightlifting will feel a bit like a cardio. It still builds strength, but it builds muscle speed and endurance more. 'Muscle Speed' is more desirable for people into martial arts. But it increases your chances of injury so it is better to stick to lighter weights.

It really depends on your goals. Strength = go slowly. Endurance = quickly, but pay attention and try not to hurt yourself.

If you get into the whole muscle speed topic then what you will be doing is aiming to activate "fast twitch muscle fibres", muscles that are responsible for explosive speed and strength. Unlike brute strength (which can live large amounts), fast twitch muscle fibres work on a different principle whereby they utilize energy differently.

Here are some tips when trying to build those fast twitch muscles...

#1. Do Jump Squats, Jumping Jacks and Push Presses and similar exercises - they require your muscles to fire quickly.

#2. Practice Reflex Exercises - such as catching a ball or juggling.

#3. Take up a sport that requires fast reflexes - like tennis or table tennis or even boxing / martial arts.

#4. Smaller Reps when Weightlifting - Only do 3 to 5 reps with a weight, focus on form, but try to do it really quickly. Don't over do it, rest a lot between reps.

#5. Rest a lot in-between sets / exercises. Anywhere from 90 seconds to 2 minutes. For example if you were practicing sprinting you would want to sprint for 10 seconds, then rest for 2 minutes, then sprint for 10 seconds, rest for 2 minutes, repeat.

#6. Speed Boxing or Kicking - Punching or kicking really fast, but do short reps and take lots of breaks.

The photo below of the cat amused me so I have included it just for fun.

Although to be fair the one below is even funnier.

Proper Archery Form

Notice her finger positions on her drawing hand,
this woman is using a Mongolian style thumb ring.
Archery is one of those sports where proper form matters a lot - especially if you are a beginner.

To an experienced archer - one with years of experience - they can attempt to make a shot despite unstable footing, a weird angle, moving target, or even being on horseback in the case of equestrian archery. But for the beginner form is exceptionally important.

It is a case where you need to learn how to shoot under ideal conditions with perfect form, and then as you progress as years go by the archer will have learned enough that they can perform more difficult shots despite adverse conditions - because their experience has reached the point where they know how to compensate.

In the photo below you see a traditional archer leaning forward into the shot. This is something an archer would only do after years of experience.

Proper Archery Form

#1. Stand with both feet apart, roughly shoulder distance apart. Both feet should be pointed roughly 90 degrees away from the target.

#2. Your hips and shoulders should be lined up towards the target.

#3. Your bow arm (left arm if you are right eye dominant) should be facing towards the target. When extended do NOT lock your elbow. Instead try to relax your arm.

#4. Having nocked an arrow to the bowstring place three fingers on the bowstring, one above and two below, using a tab or finger gloves. (Some archers like to use all three fingers below. Personal preference.) Leave a bit of space, 1 or 2 mm, around the arrow so you don't squeeze the arrow by accident.

(An alternative to using finger gloves or a tab you can also use a Mongolian Draw / Mongolian Release, which requires a special archery thumb ring. More about that to come in a future post.)

Mongolian Style Thumb Ring
#5. Don't touch the arrow with your thumb. There is no need to use your thumb on the arrow or the bowstring. Same thing goes with your pinky finger.

#6a. The Predraw - Predraw refers to pulling the bowstring part way and then checking to see if everything feels okay. If something feels wrong just start over. If your body tells you something isn't right don't ignore it, start over. You could be gripping the bow wrong, your stance might be wrong, your grip on the bowstring could be twisting the bowstring more than usual - any number of things could feel wrong on a subconscious level and warrant starting over. This is referred to as "checking your predraw".

#6b. Pull the bowstring (not the arrow) back towards your face so it is under your right eye (or your left eye if you are left eye dominant). Don't pull it back to your ear. Pull back so it is near the corner of your mouth or your chin. This is so you can see clearly down the shaft of the arrow and now which direction it is going to go. Remember the spot where you pulled back to and continue pulling back to that point during each shot. That spot is referred to as your Anchor Point.

#7. Your forearm on your pulling arm should be aligned straight with the arrow. It should make a nice straight line with the arrow. If your elbow is too high or low your arm will shake more and your shots will be more errant. This is a common beginners mistake and it needs to be rectified so the archer can progress. The mistake is most common with archers who have never studied proper archery form.

#8. While pulling the bowstring back keep your back / spine nice and straight. Curving the spine is a common beginners mistake. See photo of Marilyn Monroe below making this common mistake.

 #9. While aiming try to keep perfectly still. This is a difficult skill to master. An advanced skill is to learn to breathe into your belly so your chest doesn't go up and down.

#10. During your release try not to jerk your bow arm up / down or left / right. During the milliseconds during which your arrow is released any slight jerking motion in the bow can cause the arrow to go in a different direction.

#11. The Follow Through - After your release maintain the same position for a few seconds and follow your shot. This is more a mental practice than a physical one. Use the moment to try and learn from any mistakes you may have made.

#12. Draw another arrow and repeat, paying attention to your form. When in doubt have an archery instructor or a friend point out errors you are making in your form.

There is a lot more a person can learn on the topic of Proper Archery Form - I have touched only the bare essentials here. There is a lot more to learn if you are interested in having archery lessons.
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