Instagram For Fitness

Because Even Kale Looks Yummy With Filters

Instagram For Fitness

OK, I actually really like kale. If I didn't, though, I could easily be convinced to give it a second try with all the food and fitness bloggers who are making kale, chick peas, brussels sprouts and other nutritional wallflowers look positively delicious on Instagram. In the same way Instagram's filters make your selfies look as if you've slept 14 hours a night since the 90s, the Instagram app paints everything from burgers to... well, vegan burgers (sorry, vegans) in a very yummy light. 

A couple of my recent Instagrams are included in this post and you can follow me on Instagram to see more of my diet and follow me through my days (you have to download the app for Android or iPhone to participate). It's a fun diversion and a novel way to follow your friends in an almost exclusively positive, pretty, and upbeat way! But it's more than that. What websites like SparkPeople, Livestrong and other online fitness communities strive for, Instagram seems to have organically cultured: a genuine community of supportive healthy livers sharing their workouts, meals, goals and even their digressions (or "cheats" if you like that term, which I don't...)

Some of the "fitspo" that is out on the interweb these days is nothing but thinly-veiled anti-fat—or worse, pro-anorexia - propaganda. You can usually spot those accounts on tumblr, twitter or instagram pretty quickly—negative self-talk is your tip off. But there are some great trainers and regular peeps using Instagram to stay ontrack and motivate themselves, and others in the process.

You can share:

  • pictures of your meals and snacks
  • pictures of foods/recipes you love or intend to try
  • motivational quotes
  • images of people who inspire you (athletes, celebs, trainers or just your kid doing a push up!)
  • shots of your post-workout self or your pedometer, watch, etc. detailing your accomplishments
  • pictures of your body as it changes in a healthy way (um, clothed, of course...)
  • landscapes and oddities you notice out on your walks, runs, or rides

Trainers and coaches often suggest to our clients that they commit verbally to their goals: to us, their loved ones and even their co-workers or anyone they might regularly share personal information with. When you share your goal, you make yourself accountable to all the people who you share with and knowing they expect you to be good to your word (whether it's a goal of running your first half-marathon, losing the baby weight or just walking three times per week) can motivate you to stick to your guns. After all, you'll never have to answer, "No, I didn't walk this week" to yourself, but having to say it to your best friend might get you out of bed 20 minutes earlier in the morning to lace up and hit the road. Sharing your highs and lows on Instagram can be just with the people you actually know, or you can embrace the community of health and fitness freaks and let them help to hold you accountable. Post a shot of your healthy breakfast, get a few likes and maybe a new follower... instant gratification. Way more instant than that long-term goal you might be shooting for.

Even if you don't have a fitness goal, Instagram is a great, positive sharing forum that's full of creativity and good vibes. I didn't get on Instagram for business, or to promote myself as a fitness professional. I actually got into it socially, like most of us, but I've realized the marketing potential of Instagram as more and more of my clients—mommies with iPhones who want to share pics of their little ones—get on board. Aside from that, I find Instagram extremely useful as a virtual network of the fitness community. I am linked to Toronto fitness pros, as well as trainers and nutritionists from far and wide. It's like a staff meeting. If you work for yourself, as I do, you know how much you miss having those coworkers around to gel with and feed off of... Instagram gives me that when I can't be with my Belly Bootcamp trainers. If you're a WAHM or a self-employed Yummy Mummy in a field that has even a vague visual component (designers and photographers are prolific on Instagram but lots of other industries can use visual marketing too), Instagram can be a great tool for expression, sharing of ideas and getting feedback. 

If you join, come find me! I instagram as @bellybootcamp and I'd love to see your healthy meals and workout photos!

And I was in no way encouraged by the creators of Instagram to write this post. Although I think they should pay me now, in case any of you knows them personally....  :)





Cardio With Your Baby

Use What You've Got: A Baby & Some Legs!

Cardio With Your Baby

Workouts with your little one are great! They are the ultimate in multitasking—cuddle time and you-time all bundled into one. Hello hamstrings, bye-bye mommy guilt! Here’s a how-to on getting your heart rate up and doing cardio at home with your little one in an infant carrier.

So what can you do with baby to blast pounds and tone those muscles? 

Cardio with the baby in a carrier is a no-brainer: walk! Many baby carriers hold tykes up to 30-40 pounds. The payoff for you? A well-fitted carrier is like a weight vest—it adds extra pounds to make you burn more calories and fat during your usual walks and errands.  Breathe deeply and pick up the pace. With 30 pounds on your back, you’ll feel your heart rate soar within just a few minutes and the average woman can burn an extra 40-50 calories for every 30 minutes of walking!

baby ergo carrier

FYI: This is the carrier I wore with my kids while teaching Belly Bootcamp classes, and which I recommend personally—it's called the Baby Ergo Carrier.

When heading out for a walk is impossible or you have only 5 minutes to burn a few extra calories, strap baby into her carrier and walk up and down your stairs.  Alternate walking up one stair at a time and walking up two stairs at a time.  Always come down one stair at a time, and keep one hand on the handrail—not to press on and make the stair climbing easier, but to keep that precious little person from tumbling down with you if you were to lose your footing.  Moving your own body weight plus that of your tyke's means a big payoff in a short bout of stair climbing.  If your day is very busy, consider aiming for four 5-minute stair workouts with baby. Simply blast a couple of favourite songs on the stereo and climb, climb, climb. Squeeze in 20 minutes of stair climbing over the course of a day with your little one and you've burnt approximately 250 calories, all without one foot on a cardio machine.

Remember, even with a smaller baby you've got a fair number of pounds on your back and shoulders when you strap him into the carrier. So keep your back safe!  Maintain proper posture: Keep your abdominal muscles contracted, your shoulders back and your eyes up. 

Here are a few more tips to help you keep baby comfortable while you exercise together:

  • Use a supportive front- or back-carrier, not a sling, so baby is well supported and her weight is evenly distributed across your torso.
  • Wait until baby is at least 6 weeks of age before doing exercises with her in a carrier, so she can adequately support her head.
  • When holding baby in your arms to perform a move, cross both arms over her body and grip tightly around her waist and under her arms.
  • Younger babies will prefer to face inward with one of your arms supporting the neck/head area, while older babies may enjoy facing outward (or riding in a back carry) and enjoying the chance of scenery as you move.
  • Check in with baby periodically to ensure she seems content; a pause or adjustment here or there will not significantly affect the quality of your workout and will make for a positive experience for both of you.

Turn off the Bowflex infomercial and use whatcha got—a kid and a set of legs. Ready, set, cardio!




The Case Against Resolutions

Think Long Term, Feel Less Like a Failure

The Case Against Resolutions

In my industry, every December/January resolutions come to mind. Resolutions = business when you're in the fitness world. New Year's resolutions are big motivating factors in many people's decisions to eat healthier, exercise more (or at all), and drop the vices that haunt us. Anything that convinces you to quit smoking, eat better, walk more, sleep more, or stress less is okay in my books, but this year I feel more anti-resolution than ever in the past.

Resolutions go back all the way to the ancient Babylonians and Romans, who celebrated the new year and made promises to their Gods that they would live more piously and responsibly in the coming year. Sounds kind of like what we do now, only somehow we've managed to take an intimate experience between a person and her God and turn it into another excuse to go out and buy crapsign up for a diet, commit to a gym membership we probably won't use, buy crazy fitness gadgets from late-night infomercials while simultaneously cramming cheese puffs into our pie-holes.

It's just all so much pressure. We behave like college co-eds for the month of December (maybe minus the anonymous sex, for most of us), and then attempt to turn it all around in the 7-8 hours between going to bed on New Year's Eve and waking up on New Year's Day. Well, after reaching for the Advil. 

No disrespect to the Babylonians and Romans, but I think I've got a better idea.

Instead of planning for January 1st, 2013, let's plan for December 31st, 2013. Instead of heaping pressure on yourself (and your poor husband) to be PERFECT, simply because the calendar has changed, why not look forward and plan for a year of just being BETTER?

Good health is a lifelong journey. Some parts of the path are a little rocky, others are clear and we move swiftly through them.

We have a little saying around my house that translates to all aspects of good healthgood relationships, good finances, good fitness, good anything that matters to you.

"Always forward."

So, take a moment to reflect on all the forward steps you took in 2012, however small. Congratulations! You are one year BETTER than you were in 2011.

Next, imagine yourself one year from nowon New Year's Eve of 2013. How do you want to be better? How will you move forward over the next 12 months?

No matter how slowly, always forward.