Thrive Across America in Canada

So my work is participating in this challenge called Thrive Across America. You make teams with your coworkers and then log exercise minutes; the minutes translate into miles across a virtual path that goes from coast-to-coast and everywhere in between. Needless to say, my team is in the top place and I’m second overall. It’s kind of annoying that the only person who is beating me is my boss and I’m the one who logs his progress–we’re now having a friendly competition of our own.

I’m not really sure if I find the contest more motivating than usual. I don’t like that it only focuses on active minutes, rather than intensity and I don’t like that there are no points deducted for days missed or junk food consumed. I’d probably give people points for making healthy food choices, too. 

Here’s to being in the top spot and perhaps overthrowing my boss sometime in the not-so-distant future.

High Intensity Interval Training: Better than Lipo

It may not seem like a lot, but when your body fat percentage is low to begin with, losing 5 lbs takes a lot of work! I’ve been doing HIIT training and it has been working like a charm. In between each set of weight training, I do one minute of really intense, all-out cardio. 

Some benefits of HIIT are outlined in Shape Magazine, they include: increased metabolism, fat loss and muscle gains, results in less time–just to name a few.

I like doing HIIT because I find that my 50 minute workouts fly by and I actually feel like I challenged my body by the end of the session. 

Try this: include one minute of vigorous jumping jacks or jumping rope in between each set during your next workout. If one minute is too much, start at 30 seconds.

 

Workout #8

Just wanted to report that I’m killing it in the gym at lunch time. I’m feeling amazing and I’m so glad that I have made the effort in the past two weeks to commit to this plan of action. No results on the scale just yet and no results as far as how my clothing is fitting, but BIG results in moods being boosted and stress reduction. 

5 Lunches and Counting

I got really smart last Friday. “Self,” I said, “if you’re too tired to go to the gym by the time you get home, why wait until you get home to go to the gym?”

I joined the 24 hour gym next to my work. Yes, it’s another $40/month, on top of the family gym pass I have at the local rec centre, but I’m thinking of it as more of an investment than another expense.

I have gone 5 lunch hours in a row and I’m feeling great! I take my pre-workout at 11:30, then by 12 I’m out of the office and back by 1. I find I don’t hit the 3pm wall–my afternoons are focused and I’m able to be productive all day. My mood has also lifted significantly, overall. I am eating well–I don’t want to undo all my good work.

The other day, I watched as the girls from another department all went out for lunch…at first I was a bit bummed that I hadn’t gotten an invite (I’m a department of one, so it can be a bit solitary)…but then I was actually and genuinely thankful that I didn’t have to consult with anyone and that my plans weren’t derailed in any way; being a lone wolf has its benefits.

 

 

 

Rise and Shine

I am not really a morning person, but I got out of bed at 6:45 this morning and I feel pretty smug about it. 

I did a conditioning circuit today, each of the following exercises for 2 minutes, with 30 seconds of rest between each exercise, 3 times around:

10 minute warm-up on arc trainer, 15 incline, 20 resistance

1. Body weight squats (feet shoulder-width apart)
2. Resistance band biceps curls (basically to failure in that 2 minute period)
3. Walking lunges with twist (medicine ball, 10lbs)
4. Back extensions
5. Decline sit ups
6. Deadlifts (straight leg, 45lb plate)
7. Push ups

Today’s Special (er…Workout and Food Journal)

Sorry, if you were expecting Jeff the Mannequin or Muffy the Mouse, you’ll be very disappointed by this post.

THE WORKOUT

A1 Sprints (4 sets x 3 minutes x 30 seconds of rest)
A2 Barbell Squats (4 sets x 10 – 12 reps x 30 seconds of rest, 80lbs)
A3 Seated Rows (4 sets x 6 reps x 6 reps x 6 reps x 30 seconds of rest, 115lbs/105lbs/95lbs)
A4 Plank (4 sets x 1 minute x 30 seconds of rest)

B1 Straight Arm Chin Up (2 sets x 12 – 15 reps x 30 seconds of rest)
B2 Leg lifts (2 sets x 12 – 15 reps x 30 seconds of rest)

THE FOOD

Meal 1: Omelette (1 egg, 1/2 cup of egg whites, 1 oz cheese, 2 slices bacon)
Meal 2: Protein shake and a wheatgrass shot (from Booster Juice, I was on-the-go)
Meal 3: 10 almonds and 1/2 grapfruit
Meal 4: 1 serving 1% mf cottage cheese
Meal 5: 3 oz boneless, skinless chicken breast with garden salad ( 2 cups Iceberg lettuce, 1 oz diced tomatoes, 3 slices cucumber), 1 tbsp light Italian dressing

THE DRINKS
3 litres of water
1 cup coffee, 2 tbsp heavy cream

Deadlifts: Do Them.

Strongmen event: the Deadlift (phase 2).

Strongmen event: the Deadlift (phase 2). (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

My favourite exercise is the deadlift. This post is about why you should make this one of your favourite exercises, too.

The deadlift, for all intents and purposes, is a simple exercise: standing with your feet about shoulder width apart, with flat feet, under the barbell, bend your knees and bend at the waist with a straight back; hold the barbel with hands at shoulder-width, mixed or overhand grip; hang onto the barbell as you return to a straight-leg, standing position. Repeat this motion by keeping your knees straight and bending at the hips, lowering the barbel toward the tops of your feet (which always stay about shoulder-width apart and flat on the floor, pushing through the heels).Lift the bar by extending your waist and hip until you are in an upright position, keeping shoulders slightly back (as opposed to rounded forward).

To ensure proper form, keep the bar close to your legs for the entire lift. I don’t worry about lowering the weight all the way to the ground, I ensure I’m pushing through my heels, my shoulders are back, my chest is proud, and I lower until I feel a good stretch in my hamstrings, then I return to standing. Always begin with a warm-up set and adjust your weights accordingly.

The force that this exercise uses is a pull (for those of you that may design your programs based on pushing/pulling motions). The primary muscle groups used to execute a deadlift are the hamstrings; the synergists of this motion are the erector spinae, gluteus maximus, and the adductor magnus; the stabilizing muscle groups include the trapezius (middle), rhomboids, latissimus dorsi, and trapezius (upper), levator scapulae, and the trapezius (lower). Basically, the deadlift hits your posterior chain in a major way, giving you a lifted, round booty, a strong back, and lean upper legs.

There are other types of deadlift, but the straight (or stiff-legged) deadlift is the focus today. I’ve included some links throughout this post that go into greater detail and provide demonstrations.

Thursday Inspiration: Ashley Horner

Yes, originally I was biased toward posting about Ashley Horner because obviously her name is awesome (my last name is Horner, I haven’t met very many Horners), but she does the name proud! She is amazingly fit, inspirational, and a totally dedicated hardbody. I follow her Instagram feed, but you can check out her website here.

Not only does Ashley contribute to MMA Uncaged and Fit & FIrm, but she is busy building a brand that is as stellar as her body; she has training programs, nutrition programs, life coaching services, and cookbooks. What is even more impressive is that Ashley is a single mother of two boys. 

Every moment has a purpose. We are given 1,440 minutes in a day, these minutes can not be put in a savings account and they don’t roll over to the next day, once that moment has passed we cant take it back.

                           –Ashley Horner

Image

I found this image online doing a Google search, it’s not mine, I didn’t take it and I will gladly give credit to the person who took it. I have not altered it in any way–she just looks that good! 🙂