The Secret to Success…

Millions & millions of dollars are made every year by weight loss companies/programs who promise to give you the secret to success…

I am going to tell you right now what that secret is…

THE SECRET TO SUCCESS IS : 

GETTING STARTED.

It is the DESIRE to make a change.

The BELIEF you can make that change.

and the COURAGE to take ACTION.

SUCCESS IS ABOUT CHOICES.

We are fooled to think it is all or nothing, that we have to be the perfect picture of health before we can be defined as successful BUT weight loss, fitness and health are a JOURNEY.  Every choice is a step on a path toward a healthier, happier you! Every small action is a success that should be celebrated. Start by making one good choice today, it’s a step in the right direction toward endless possibilities. Now that is secret worth spreading & something worth celebrating!

Get it. Love it. Keep it.

Kara

Tough Breakups (or other tough times): a chance for self-improvement or self-destruction

A tough break up is heart breaking and it can be draining emotionally and physically. During these tough times people often will do one of two things:

 

1. self-destruction: party, excessively drink, over-eat or under-eat, date/spend time with people who have a negative influence and generally make poor decisions which affect mental and physical health. Using all of these bad choices as a way of  trying to forget the hard times they are going through and the heartbreak they feel.

 

2. Self improvement: eating right, exercising, trying new things, working on career advancement or improvement in school and surrounding self with friends and family who will encourage positive choices.

 

If you are  struggling with a break up or another tough time, rather than focusing on what you have lost, focus on what you have gained: an opportunity and motivation to spend time on YOU.  Work on the most important and longest relationship you will have, the one you have with YOU. As we know now more than ever before, our mind and body affect one another in a huge way: engaging in a healthy lifestyle (including  healthy eating, physical activity, stress management and positive support from friends and family) can be the exact ingredient to get over the hard break up (or any other tough time) and lead to a happier, healthier life than before.

 

Regardless of your relationship status, make 2013 about taking care of YOU, so that whatever you encounter in life you will be as mentally and physically prepared as possible to overcome it, enjoy it, and grow from it.

 

Get it. Love it. Keep it.

Kara

Kara Fitness Welcomes 2013 with arms wide open!

I have been missing from my blog for the first two weeks of 2013 because I was hit by the New Year sinus-cold/flu that seemed to be everywhere and left me unable to go anywhere or do anything! Worst! I have to admit, I blame my break from my regular physical activity & healthy eating routine over the holidays. Although I didn’t throw everything out the window this season, I did let a lot slide. Being from Toronto and living in Montreal makes it tough to keep up with routines when visiting friends and family for 10 days- No excuses though, I should have made it a priority! I became tired, run down, and super sick! So I admit to you my bad behaviour over the holidays to once again emphasize that we will all have slip ups and fall off our healthy lifestyle wagon, BUT it is what we do after we fall that really matters. And that is: picking our sad, sick selves up off our butts and working out and eating right one day at a time!

~Welcome back to Kara Fitness & Happy 2013~ 

fit IT in!

Yes it is tough to find the time to fit in your daily physical activity  but it is ALWAYS possible. It is the only barrier (excuse) to exercise that is NOT a real one, no matter how busy your schedule is.

I think the reason many people may not believe that is this “all or nothing” thinking that most of us have toward physical activity. We think that “being active” means exercising for at least an hour each day or lifting weights at the gym otherwise there is just no point and we give up before we even take our first step. BUT WAIT! That is not the case! Whoopee!

There are lots of ways to fit physical activity into your day, in fact living an “active lifestyle” has been found to be a healthier lifestyle than an “exerciser’s lifestyle”. What do I mean by that?

Well who do you think is MORE LIKELY to be healthier?

Person A: I exercise 1 hour per day after work. I do cardio & weight training almost everyday. My friends can’t believe how dedicated to my workout routine I am. I work in an office where I sit in front of a computer for 8 hours of the day, I drive to work, and after my 1 hour workout that takes place after work I usually sit at home watching TV before heading to bed.

Person B: I go for a 20 minute jog 2 days per week and do a full body resistance training routine twice a week. I walk to work each day and walk to wherever I am going whenever possible. I work in an office but I am sure to get up and move around at least once an hour. I suggest active meetings at work meetings where my team and I avoid sitting and take  a little walk rather than sitting in the conference room. I always walk to do my groceries  and I am usually picking up my two young kids (more weight training!). In the evenings I usually have a dance party with my kids and take a walk with my family and the dog. We also limit our screen time at home to no more than 1 hour a day. When I watch TV I take advantage of this time by doing some stretches. Basically I am rarely just sitting around!

If you guessed person B you are correct. Why you ask? Well sedentary behavior (time spent sitting at a desk, in a car or in front of a screen, in other words time spent NOT moving) has been found to be completely separate from the effects of exercise behavior.  Meaning if you are an exerciser (even a “hard core” exerciser) but spend most of your day being sedentary you are at risk for poor health. Although conscious exercise, and setting time apart to focus on physical activity is obviously beneficial and yes necessary,  it is EQUALLY if not even more important to be aware of REDUCING sedentary time. It is also nice to know that you don’t have to be “hardcore” to get enough physical activity to be fit, healthy and look & feel good.

So try to find little ways, regardless of how hectic life gets to FIT IT IN! That means taking a 10 or 2 minute break from your sedentary behavior as much as possible!

Some tips:

1. whatever time you usually wake up at, set your alarm JUST 10 minutes early. Get up and do 1, 10 minute circuit of physical activity.

2. walk to do you errands

3. make time to PLAY! Doing active things with your family instead of sedentary will give your entire family more energy!

4. drink lots of water. Not only is this good for your health, weight, skin and hair, it also makes you pee more which means a sub-conscious reminder to get up and TAKE SOME STEPS!

5. Get up and move as much as possible when at work or spending time in front of a computer. Even if it is just a few minutes of stretching your legs, this is important! Take active lunch breaks and suggest active meetings at work.

6. Work standing up! Many offices are even realizing how important reducing sedentary behavior is and they are purchasing standing work spaces for employees. There are now desks that have the option of increasing and decreasing height to accommodate employees being able to stand OR sit at work. Super cool!

Get it. Love it. Keep it.

Start today!

Kara

Let’s Change the Hot Topic of Conversation from “fat” & “skinny” to “fit” & “healthy”

Lets forget the fat-skinny talk and start a new conversation: the healthy-fit talk!

 

I hear far too often, people commenting on other people’s weight “oh she’s too fat” , “well now she’s too thin”. An even harder habit to break is the internal dialogue that goes on in most women’s, and many men’s heads:  “I’m too fat” or for some “I’m too thin”.

 

Life is hard enough- work, social life, kids, house, car, responsibility! Who has time to spend on body image- yet we all find the time to waste wishing for unrealistic ideals (ultra thin & perfect for women, and perfectly muscular & sculpted for men). Society has put enough pressure on us to achieve unrealistic ideals without us adding to the stress.

As the wife of a photographer, I know how much work goes into making models look “perfectly natural”…it’s called Photoshop. And yet we all strive to achieve this manufactured appearance that maybe 1% of the population can actually achieve, on some days, for a small portion of their life, before age and time kick in.

 

NOW that speech is not to depress BUT it is to MOTIVATE and INSPIRE us to become AWARE of how we think (and how it affects our actions) and then to CHANGE our perspective which will help us CHANGE our actions. If we can all become aware of our body image, we can sit ourselves down for a good reality check (that is- that these goals of being 6’ and 110 lbs are not healthy or realistic). Then we can change our perspective unhealthy and unrealistic to that of HEALTH  & FITNESS . This will lead us to engage in behaviors like healthy eating and physical activity in order to achieve this new and realistic goal that I promise will only make you happier & healthier on the inside & out.

 

If you are a parent, you have a big responsibility to guide your child through the warped body ideals that exist in society today- not an easy task! By modeling your own healthy body image, including a healthy lifestyle, and by spreading the message of health rather than unrealistic ideals, you are perhaps doing the best possible thing for your child’s body image.

 

Enjoy your body and your health. Physical activity & healthy eating are perhaps the greatest ways to enjoy the amazing machine that is our physical body! Respect your body and take care of it. Along with physical activity and healthy eating, a healthy body image will help you to enjoy that body for the rest of your healthy, happy life!

 

Love what you got ladies & gentlemen and take care of it!

Get it. Love it. Keep it.

Kara

Are you uncomfortable exercising in public? Do you like video games?

Are you uncomfortable exercising in public? 

Perhaps exergaming is for you!

This morning a study was published in pediatrics by Erin O’Loughlin and colleagues. Prevalence and Correlates of Exergaming in Youth describes exergaming as an attractive alternative to traditional exercise in a society that is increasingly interested in technology. For those of you who have never heard of exergaming, O’Loughlin explains exergames include “rhythmic dancing games, virtual bicycles, balance board simulators , and virtual sports simulators, all of which require a screen and console such as wii.”

The study found that many adolescents exergame at an intensity that reaches moderate to vigorous physical activity recommendations. Could this be the solution to some individual’s struggle with inactivity, overweight and obesity? According to O’Loughlin et. al, it could very well be the answer to our youths’ inactivity and rising childhood obesity rates. Interestingly, the study also found that exergamers were more likely to be girls. So if you think only boys are interested in video games, think again! This could be the solution to your child’s activity level – regardless of gender.

Many parents have been concerned about their children’s overuse of video games and screen time so perhaps exergaming is a solution for children who love video games and dislike exercise. And why couldn’t it work for adults who have the same interest in video games and dislike for physical activity? If you are an adult who loves video games why not give exergaming a try!

I would  like to congratulate the authors for the first publication of a study of this kind and for spreading the word that exergaming could be used as a possible tool to fight obesity and inactivity in our youth. It is so important to be creative when it comes to physical activity and healthy weight maintenance and I believe this article highlights that fact. We are not all the same and we each need to find that activity, sport or exercise that we enjoy and we can realistically maintain to live a happy, healthy life at every age.

For much more interesting information regarding this study please read this amazing article:

O’Loughlin, E.,  Dugas, E., Sabiston, C., O’Loughlin, L. Prevalence and Correlates of Exergaming in Youth. Pediatrics, October 2012.

Get it. Love it. Keep it.
Kara

Trying to avoid that cold EVERYONE seems to have? Try these quick lifestyle fixes!

As the season’s change we all seem to suffer from the same problem: the dreaded common cold, and worse, the flu. Help protect from illness by living a healthy lifestyle and taking some precautions:

1. Oral hygiene: it sounds funny but did you know that this is one of the number one ways that you can prevent yourself from getting sick? Just like germs thrive in a dirty kitchen, bacteria thrive in our warm mouths- yuck! So keep those pearly whites clean with regular brushing and mouth wash to help prevent unwanted illness.

2. Healthy eating: It is not a surprise that people who tend to eat healthier, tend to get sick less AND recover more quickly. Following Canada’s food guide, getting lots of fruit and veggies and making sure you have all of your nutrients covered can work wonders. Not sure if you are missing any important nutrients or vitamins? Talk to your doctor, fitness professional or nutritionist to see if supplements are appropriate for you.

3. Lower alcohol intake: as most people know, the more often you drink alcohol, the worse you feel, and the more you tend to get sick. If you’re constantly partying, you likely aren’t getting enough sleep, water, exercise or healthy food and therefore your immune system is lowered. Tone it down every once and awhile and have a nice night in to prevent a week in from illness.

4. Sleep: We all need it to function and feel good. Our bodies NEED it! Struggling to get a good night’s sleep? http://karafitness.com/2012/06/05/do-you-have-good-sleep-hygiene/

5. Relaxation & stress management: many of us get sick because we are simply run down and it is our body’s way of forcing us to put on the brakes! It is pretty much a guarantee that if you are constantly stressed you are going to be sick…often. So give your body and your mind regular relaxation so that you can prevent burn out. Anything can count as a relaxation activity if it relaxes YOU! For those in need of some ideas maybe these will help: yoga, Pilates, progressive relaxation, breathing exercises, mediation, music, a quiet night in, a visit to the spa, a visit with a friend, trip to the art gallery, a nice walk to clear your head, a bike ride etc.

6. Physical activity: Of course I have to mention PA! It is the number one preventative method and medicine. I love how magic it is and how any one can do it! Physical activity helps you sleep, lowers stress, gives you energy, and increases your mood so it is no wonder that it helps to prevent illness.

7. Positive thinking and Positive Influences: Staying mentally healthy helps us to stay physically healthy. We are made up of a mind & a body and they interact on all levels. It is difficult to feel physically well when we are emotionally or mentally unwell. So take care of your whole self. Seek professional help and guidance when you are struggling with any part or aspect of your mind or your body. Be kind to yourself, kind to others and surround yourself with people who do the same. Every day is a new opportunity to do so!

 

Stay Healthy & Happy!

Get it. Love it. Keep it.

Kara 

 

The Most Important Factor for your Health and Weightloss may Shock you: It’s not Diet or Exercise

The most important ingredient to your healthy lifestyle journey is not physical activity or healthy eating…it is critical thinking.

What?! You may be thinking that I have gone a little crazy but keep reading.

Wikipedia defines Critical thinking as “a type of reasonable, reflective thinking that is aimed at deciding what to believe or what to do.It is a way of deciding whether a claim is always true, sometimes true, partly true, or false.”  (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Critical_thinking)

Critical thinking is one of the most important factors when working in the fitness industry and for EVERYONE trying to maintain the greatest health possible. This is because all of your choices are made based on how you interpret the evidence. Meaning, you read a fitness article, or watch a fitness peice on the news and decide whether you believe it and whether you will follow it. You base your healthy lifestyle decisions on the health and weight loss information that is available to you and as we all know, not all the suggestions out there are helpful or true. There is an overwhelming amount of false, or misleading information in the media regarding health and fitness. Everywhere you turn there is a new fad diet, trick or regime promising to make you drop the pounds and look and feel great. As most of us have been fooled at least once by these bent truths or misleading tricks you can see why critical thinking is so important when considering your healthy lifestyle program.

Poor critical thinking would be to base your lifestyle choices on  the evidence from ONE research study or resource that provides incomplete information. Many fitness companies use health claims based on poor or weak research to create diet or weightloss programs. Although the research conducted may have found these results, we can’t base a program or our choices on one tiny peice of a massive puzzle. 

Fitness media tends to take a  single research study and then highlites the one finding that will get the most attention from the public. Although the media is so important to our knowledge we need to read these articles with a grain of salt.  The main problem with these articles is that many people are running out thinking, great I can cut down even more on my physical activity and eat whatever I want because it really isn’t that important to my weight loss. And this is wrong because most people don’t even reach the minimum requirements for daily physical activity and are eating the wrong stuff. Become a critical thinker when it comes to your health!

Consider the following the next time you read a fitness article:
1. the source – who published this study? Some journals, magazines, newspapers, bloggers and companies are more credible than others, just as some professionals and consultants are too. Know where your info is coming from before making health decisions.

2. the researcher/author – who conducted the study or wrote the article ? What are their credentials?

3. The statistical significance – this means how strong is their evidence? Something is statistically significant if it is UNLIKELY that it occured by chance. Is the finding a chance or is it likely it will happen each time the study is replicated. For example, A man eats one blade of grass each day for 6 weeks and loses 10 pounds. How likely is it that if I do the same I will also lose 10 pounds- not very. This study would be considered a fluke, a chance result. However fitness media loves to publish these kinds of stories because we love to read them in hopes that losing weight is that easy. Remember, the articles being published by fitness companies are those that grab your attention not those that necessarily are the hard truth which is getting fit and losing weight is tough, but YOU CAN DO IT!

4. How long is the research study that is being discussed? You can’t guarantee the results of a weight loss program that is based on a study of 8 or 12 weeks. Why? because it takes 6 months to claim that a participant has successfully maintained a weight change. Yes of course you will lose weight if you only eat cabbage soup for 8 weeks but will you keep it off? Probably not. This may be one of the most important things to look at when reading an article critically. Afterall what is more imporant to you: losing weight for 8 weeks or losing weight, getting fit and keeping fit for the long term? 

5. Check out a systematic review on the topic.  Is this ONE article with ONE finding OR is it a REVIEW. A review is an article that summarizes the evidence of many research studies for us (these are better to look at than one single research study because they are combining many studies and more clues = a more complete picture).

Get it. Love it. Keep it…by thinking critically about it.

Kara

Dear TV, I love you. Dear Exercise, I hate you.

Love TV too much & Exercise too little?

For those of you who are a couch potato at heart and would love to sit at home, cozy up and watch TV rather than break a sweat, this blog is for you!

As I have mentioned many times before, it is really important for your physical activity routine to be fun or enjoyable. Some people choose sports that they enjoy playing, while others are happy enough to exercise because the physical high they get from it is totally worth the effort (which it is!). However many people struggle to find a type of exercise they actually enjoy and therefore tend to dislike most physical activity. If you are among this group of people and prefer to watch TV you are definitely not alone!

Why not try this simple rule for your fitness friday:

TV watching permitted only when exercising.

I have a friend who swears by this rule. She is able to keep active regularly although she doesn’t love exercise because she follows the rule of TV only when exercising. She plans her workouts around her TV schedule each day. In the way that some people use music to get pumped, she picks shows based on what type of physical activity she is doing that day. Certain shows are reserved to make sure she hits the elliptical and breaks a sweat while others are used for her resistance training with her own body weight (i.e. squats, pushups, planks, abdominal exercises). I think this is great because whatever gets you moving on a regular basis, and preferably everyday ( and as much as possible) is AWESOME! So if you think this could work for you, take a look at your usual week of TV watching and reserve those times for a home workout. Implement the rule of TV watching permitted only when exercising.

Happy Fitness Friday everyone! I hope you all make some sort of physical activity a priority today!

Get it. Love it. Keep it.

Kara

Good News: you DON’T have to say goodbye to your body as you age

 Many people are under the assumption that as we age (and for some women, have children) we lose our beloved bodies and simply have to accept that we will never look good again. We are told by older, more experienced women (and men!) to “enjoy your body while it lasts because as you age (and especially if you have kids) you will have to say goodbye” but this is not true!  As with all changes that come with age, yes we must adapt and often accept changes that we may not be pleased about however you do not have to say goodbye to your healthy, fit body. To me, some of the most inspiring women are those who have it all: career, children, health and a body that puts 20-something year olds to shame! We can do it ladies! We live in a modern world where we can have it all! I am not saying that it is always easy, keeping fit and healthy is challenging but that doesn’t mean you can’t do it! Things that are most important are worth fighting for, and that definitely includes your health and happiness (body image plays a huge role related to those two factors by the way). Life is a Journey not a Destination: As I type this, don’t worry, I feel how cheesy it sounds, but it puts everything into perspective so perfectly. Fear of reaching 30, then 40 and beyond is put into us at a young age. We are basically trained that after our 20s it is a down hill journey for our physical bodies so we just sit back and let it happen. STOP spreading this terrible lie that leads to so much negativity. Embrace aging, and do it in style with a great body and your health!

 So if you have had a bad day, week, month or even year, if you are sedentary, eat badly and by the end of the day/week/month/year you are feeling defeated and ready to give up (or have given up), STOP, breath, and get back in the game. For whatever age or life stage you are in here are some tips to help you get back into the game or to avoid sitting back and watching the rest of us play:

 

1. Remember it is never too late! Start today. You are never too far gone to turn around and change directions in your life. Never.

2. Plan! How do you think those women (and men) have it all? It takes planning and organization to maintain your physical health and appearance or to change it. Plan your grocery shopping, meals and snacks (for at home and work). Keep things ready and prepared for when you come home starving after a long day at work. Schedule your physical activity so that it is a part of your daily routine.

3. Set goals: how can you know what needs changing and when you have achieved a change unless you set a goal? Set realistic goals that you can work towards and actually achieve. Start with smaller short term goals and work toward a larger long term goal.

4.  Make it a priority. Your health is so vital to every part of your life. It gives you energy, allows you to enjoy your family more and for longer, improves mood, and results in a greater quality of life. Isn’t that pretty important? So make it as essential as going to work, taking your kids to school, and putting dinner on the table. Make it something you can’t go without.

5. Find your motivation: Only you can motivate yourself but don’t worry others can inspire you to become motivated! Surround yourself with inspirational things, places and people and keep on, keeping on!

6. Have fun & Eat right! Choose activities you enjoy and try new things. Physical activity is most easily maintained when you do something you enjoy. Healthy eating doesn’t have to be a drag. It can actually be quite delicious and you feel great afterwards instead of tired and uncomfortable. Try new recipes and experiment.

7. Involve your family & friends for support. Make your healthy choices something that you can enjoy and share with others. This makes it a lot easier to stick to and means you are improving the lives of those you care about along the way.

8. Accept yourself. There ARE going to be certain physical changes as you age that you will have to accept. Don’t obsess over what you can’t change. Have a positive outlook and keep health as your main focus. Work on the things that can be improved and maintained like fitness and health.

9. Forgive yourself. This is probably the most important thing to remember. It is a guarantee that you are going to have bad days and that is okay. We are our own harshest critics. Learn to be kind to yourself, forgive, learn from set backs so you can prepare for them the next time and keep going!

10. Lastly never give up. You may fall short of your own expectations today but tomorrow is always a new day full of possibilities at any age or stage of your life. You can do it, you are strong enough!

Get it. Love it. Keep it. & keep on keeping on!

 

Kara