Turn Autumn Rain Into Gorgeous Legs

A Rainy Day Workout for Killer Legs

Turn Autumn Rain Into Gorgeous Legs

It was cold here in Toronto today.  I know some of you from other, more northerly climates are rolling your eyes right now.  But it was really only a few degrees above zero and I was teaching a Belly Bootcamp class, in the wind, on wet and muddy grass, to 5 die-hard mommies who chose to get their asses kicked over curling up on their couches with a cup of tea.

Have I ever mentioned how much a personal trainer is actually inspired by... her clients?

So what does a trainer do on a rainy, muddy, cold day? When the grass is too wet for push ups, kneeling work, and definitely, definitely, anything that involves lying on one's back?

Simple. You do legs. Throw on a warm jacket and maybe a light toque and gloves.  Pull out last season's sneakers... you won't care if they get a little muddy.

Give yourself 4-6 weeks to really tone up your legs while you enjoy the last half of fall.  This kick-ass (kick-leg, kick-hip, kick-calf, kick-abs) workout can be done 2-4 times per week, with or without a stroller. Leave a day in between these leg workouts for just walking, running, yoga, etc. Adjust the length by adding more cardio and save time by restricting the cardio to just warm-up and cool-down.

Warm up: 5-10 minutes brisk walking or light jogging

Pause your walk or jog in a safe spot and perform each of the following for 30 seconds:

Squat & Front Kick: if you've got a bench available, face away from the bench and tap your butt on each squat. Squat, pushing butt behind you and keeping weight in heels, until thighs are parallel with ground or you tap the bench, then stand and kick high with right leg. Repeat on left and continue alternating for 30 seconds.

Walking Lunge: with or without stroller, step forward into lunge position so back heel is lifted and weight is on front leg.  Lower until front thigh is parallel with ground (push butt back so front knee doesn't push beyond front toes) then press up to standing. Swing rear leg forward into front position and repeat. Continue alternating for 30 seconds.

Jump Squat: squat, pushing butt behind you and keeping weight in heels, until thighs are roughly parallel with ground, then explode upward and jump up (use arms if needed, to propel you). Land softly and return down to squat position to repeat immediately. Continue for 30 seconds as quickly as possible while still squatting low between each jump.

Butt Kicks: jog forward, with or without stroller, keeping good posture while you kick your heels up.  Take lots of small steps and focus kicking all the way up to tap your butt with each kick. Continue for 30 seconds.

Cardio: 5-10 minutes brisk walking or jogging.

Repeat the leg circuit & cardio intervals as many times as you have time for.  One circuit alone will give your legs a good jolt; 3-5 circuits will give your lower body an amazing endurance workout.

Cool down: 5 minutes easy walking.


By focusing on your lower body and cardiovascular endurance for a few weeks, you can extend your outdoor workout season.  Take advantage of the cooler temperatures, which not only force your body to burn more calories while you exercise than you would indoors, but keep you from overheating and actually help you last longer!

Besides, winter only feels longer when you start hibernating this early! Get outside!



Ten Ways To Fit More Exercise Into Your Life

Fitting Fitness Into Your Schedule

Ten Ways To Fit More Exercise Into Your Life

Ten Ways To Fit More Exercise Into Your Life

If you’ve ever lost weight (and most of us mommies have!) you know that finding the balance to keep that new, leaner weight is like starring in your own private Indiana Jones sequel, full of all the running, jumping, heavy lifting, sweating, and panic of the original.  In fact, current research shows that the average person must exercise vigorously for one hour each day to maintain a healthy weight. This is especially important if you’ve lost weight and want to keep it off. 

So how can you get that hour of daily exercise when kids, work, dog, sisters, housekeeping, shopping, friends and the fall TV line-up are all beckoning?

You CAN get more exercise. So you’re already working out a few times per week? You can get more exercise. You run every morning? You can get more exercise. You don’t have to train for a marathon. You don’t have to suffer through 3-hour gym sessions (unless you like that sort of thing). You don’t even have to get the entire hour all at once. 

Here are 10 ways to get MORE exercise into your day, your life & your family’s life:

1. Begin your morning with a quick workout

You may grimace at the sight of morning joggers, especially as temperatures are dropping, but that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy a 10-minute sun salutation or spend 15 minutes doing some strength training to wake up your muscles and rev your metabolism.

2. Walk your errands

Everyday activities like walking, housework and gardening can really add up to burn more calories than the average workout. Walk to mail your letters, pick up coffee or grab a few groceries. Try designating errands to certain days to ensure you get out and walk daily!

3. Encourage active play

This one is great for you and the kids! Little babies can be pressed in the air, swung or rocked. Older babies and young kids can bounce on your legs, ride on your back or simply wrestle! Older kids love practising sports skills and gymnastics. If your heart rate is up and you’re having fun, you’re exercising!

4. Sign up for a class

Boot camp and kickboxing are great, challenging options and can really kick your morning off – often they are offered as early as 6:00 a.m. so you can work out and still get the kids off to school. Or try a yoga or pilates class in the evening – much more fun than primetime TV and good for you, too!

5. Take the stairs

You’ve heard it before, right? Especially if you live in a high rise or work in a tower, taking the stairs instead of the elevator each day amounts to a serious calorie burn and some great toning for the lower body, without hitting the gym! When you’re at home, take a break a few times each day to run your own stairs for a minute or two and get your blood flowing and your heart pumping.

6. Play video games

So an hour of computer solitaire won’t  cut it, but why not invest in a Nintendo Wii, Xbox Kinect or Playstation Move and have a fun rainy day option for family exercise and entertainment? When you’re playing virtual tennis or jumping over virtual waterfalls, you won’t even notice the time pass and, before you know it, you’ve been moving for an hour... or maybe two or three on a weekend!

7. Schedule a daily playground trip

Kids need daily exercise, too! Try to visit the playground for 20-30 minutes each day before or after dinner. Stay off the bench and climb, slide and swing with your kids. Or perform step ups, push ups and squats on the bench when they don’t need your supervision.

8. Dust off the DVDs

There are plenty of home exercise videos – whether DVD, on cable TV or live streamed off the internet. Being able to pause allows you to break the workout into manageable chunks. Look for videos that offer shorter workouts of 5, 10, or 20 minutes in addition to longer videos so you’ve got lots of options & no excuses to skip a workout.

9. Get a dog

If you’ve been thinking about it, if your kids are asking for it, if you’re a dog person at all, get a dog. Dog owners are far more active than those who own smaller pets, and research shows that kids who have dogs are more active as well! Adopt a dog or buy a puppy and clip on your pedometer – watch your steps skyrocket!

10. Plan a family outing

Each weekend, try to plan a hike, swim, bike ride, ski trip or even tobogganing date! You’ll definitely get more than your required hour of exercise & build great traditions for your little ones at the same time.

When it comes to your health, some things are best in moderation... like cupcakes. And Shiraz. Not so for exercise. If you want to be fit, exercise is definitely best in high doses.





Your Post-Workout Meal Might Make You Fat

Knowing When & When Not To Fuel

Your Post-Workout Meal Might Make You Fat

I get all kinds of questions from clients, Belly Bootcampers and readers, but my favourite questions of all are from my family and friends. I’ve learned from experience that no one wants the personal trainer in the family to “suggest” diet and exercise improvements they might make... So, when a relative or friend asks my advice I’m always stoked.

Do You Need Protein Powder? The Truth About Protein In Your Diet

My cousins, R & W, are re-vamping their lifestyle, cutting out processed and greasy foods and starting a jogging program every morning. Amazing!  So R & W were researching smoothie recipes for after their morning jogs and wondering if they should have a post-workout snack later in the day when they do a little pilates.

In my last blog, I discussed the post-workout nutrition that is appropriate for someone training for a competitive event or training very hard and/or long, most days of the week.

If you are not training heavily more than one hour, 5-7 days per week, this blog is for you. 

For example, maybe you...
jog a few miles every morning
do some strength training 5 days per week for about 30-60 minutes (if you’re chatting, resting, drinking coffee, waiting for equipment or talking on your phone between sets, you might spend 90 minutes in the gym but actually only spend half that time actively exercising...)
do some cardio and/or light strength training/yoga//pilates a few times per week

If this sounds relatively similar to your exercise routine, particularly in that your primary focus is general fitness, you are not training for a specific event, and the intensity of your workouts is challenging but not uncomfortable, then here is what I suggest:

1. After a cardio workout of roughly an hour or less, you do not need a post-workout meal. You have burned a few hundred calories, perhaps, which the body is apt to handle and which will be completely negated as easily as 1 piece of bread with 2 tablespoons of peanut butter. Drink some water and eat according to your hunger and/or next planned meal.

The Perfect Post Run Recovery Shake

2. If you've exercised on an empty stomach (usually this is first thing in the morning), do follow your workout with a balanced breakfast of protein, carbohydrate and fat.  Time this meal within 45 minutes of your workout and you'll absorb the most possible carbohydrate into your muscles so you are better fuelled for the next time you exercise.

3. Attempt to schedule your workouts so they fall before a regular meal time so you can enjoy the benefits of a post-workout meal without adding an additional meal (and those additonal calories) to your day.  This is especially important if you are trying to lose body fat.

4. Here's when you do want to eat. After a strength training workout or intense and/or long cardio session, your muscles are damaged and depleted by the work they have done and require the amino acids of protein to recover, plus the sugar of carbohydrate to have energy for your next session.

Focus on protein after your workout.  A 1:1 or 2:1 carbohydrate to protein (in grams of carbohydrate versus grams of protein) ratio is good following an intense strength training session or circuit training, interval training or other challenging cardiovascular workout.

Generally, at least 10-20 grams of protein is recommended (1/2 cup of cottage cheese, a few ounces of lean meat, a couple of eggs, etc.). If you can stomach more than this, go for it.

Carbohydrate consumed after a workout helps to utilize the post-workout protein and will be much less likely to be converted to fat, so this is one time not to go all Atkins.

Have your post-workout snack ready to go and make it something easy to eat quickly.  If you shower, drive home, check your email, scramble some eggs and sit down to eat 90 minutes after your workout, you've missed the window to fuel optimally.

Be honest with yourself.  Don't eat like a bodybuilder if you exercise like a bunny rabbit.  If you exercise mostly in fits and starts, for short periods of time or primarily do cardio, focus on eating 3-4 good meals each day and drink to thirst. 

'Cause you know what happens to bodybuilders when they stop training heavily and keep eating like Olympians?

Of course, these are general guidelines.  If you've got a specific question about your own workouts and post-workout nutrition, please ask below or email dara[at]fitfamily[dot]ca.