Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Comfort Zone

I recently read a post written by Alwyn Cosgrove about an 'aha moment' he'd had while attending a Perform Better Summit (a fitness conference) in the States. Below, in his words, is the explanation for the moment. For all the fitness professionals reading this, what have you done today to step outside your comfort zone?

He asked the audience "Do you practice what you preach?"

We all thought he meant "do you go to the gym, train, eat well, etc." but he didn't. He said "Going to the gym comes easy to you, it's well within your comfort zone - do you take yourself out of your comfort zone - do you work on what is hard for you - e.g. your finances or relationships. Maybe you're judging people for being out of shape and asking them to take themselves out of their comfort zone and start exercising and changing their diet but those people have everything else in their life in great shape ..."

We as an industry tend to ignore what we're NOT good at and immerse ourselves in what we're good at. I spoke to a trainer just last week who quite honestly knows more about the thoracic spine than he does about his finances. I think that's almost irresponsible in a way.

There's a difference between working hard and working smart - and working right. You have to understand business because you're in business. Otherwise you're just running a hobby and there are lots of trainers out there trying to make money by running a hobby ...

~ Sasha

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Want to know what causes the dreaded side stich?

I am sure almost ever single one of us has experienced the discomfort of a side stitch during physical activity (usually running), at one time or another.

While running, a sudden pain develops in the right upper part of the belly, just underneath the ribs in the front. With each step, the pain worsens

The reason for this occurrence has been elusive for sure, and up until now there has been no conclusive explanation for the phenomena.

A few of the more traditional explanations doctors put proposed included:
  • Gas in the colon
  • A liver swollen with excessive blood
  • A cramp of the abdominal muscle
  • Lack of O2 to the diaphragm
  • Trapped gases in the lungs
Enter Dr Tim Noakes, working out of the Sport Science Institute in Cape Town, South Africa.

He proposed that the side stitch or cramp was a result of a stretching of the ligament that extends down from the diaphragm and attaches to the liver, keeping it place.

During running, the liver drops down at the exact same time that our diaphragm elevates, causing a stretching of the ligament and causing the side pain.

Here is what happens: as we run, we select a respiration cadence that fits in with our stride rate - generally we have a fixed pattern of breathing when we run. We have a two to one breathing ratio, breathing once for each two strides.

In most circumstance, exhalation occurs with right foot ground strike. With this exhalation, the diaphragm moves up and the force of the foot strike with the ground causes the liver to move down.

The result is a stretching of the ligaments attaching to your liver from your diaphragm and voula - PAIN!

The solution is simple (Thank you Dr. Mirkin for the guidelines):
He recommends:, "When you get a stitch, stop running and press your hand deep into your liver to raise it up against your diaphragm. At the same time, purse your lips and blow out against the tightly held lips as hard as you can."

The explanation is that pushing the liver up stops stretching the ligament and breathing out hard empties your lungs, relieving the pain.

Now get back to your run!

Monday, August 29, 2011

The Missing Link in Training

Most people don't realize it, but even for those who are committed to a lifestyle of health and activity - they are lacking a significant component to their program.


Our culture seems to have developed an attitude that sleeping somehow shows weakness - it's a badge of honor to get by on 3-4hrs sleep. Unfortunately, our performance lags significantly the more sleep we miss. This can have immediate and deadly repercussions (truck drivers, or medical residents working 36hrs on call in the emergency room) or smaller, yet still harmful results on each of us as individuals.

I think in many ways it's a matter of redefining our attitude - I know that this is something I still continue to work on. Sleep is not "optional", any more than eating and training - it's a critical component to our overall health. Not only does being properly rested allow us greater mental acuity and improved performance in training - this is also when we actually make our gains. Many people believe that the workout is the key part - but if you're not recovering properly then, in fact, all you're doing is tearing yourself down without the reciprocal rebuilding that is necessary for improvement.

So the next time you look at the clock and realize that if you get to bed in the next 30mins you'll be able to sleep for 7-8hrs, don't try to fit in "one last task". Put what you're doing away - get a good book and a hot (non-caffeinated) tea and allow your mind some time to unwind before crawling into bed.

Sleep tight.


Sunday, August 28, 2011


I’m constantly fascinated by the amount of people who believe their food, whereabouts, notes and thoughts are important enough to be posted for public consumption. It’s not good, bad or indifferent, I’m simply fascinated by it.

Yes I recognize the hypocrisy of posting this topic on our own blogsite. After all blogging is the application that gave everyone the opportunity to publish their opinions for dispute or validation. I write to find clarity for myself mostly.

At any rate and more importantly, I wonder where this is all going to end up and just how much more painful is this going to get.

Some of my personal favorites:

1. the tracker that enables others to know where you are. Arriving at a destination, pulling out my mobile device and checking in? No one cares. I know that.

2. birthday messages to children under 5. Put the device down and give them a hug. I hope to god they are not online.

3. pictures of food and drinks. I remember my grandmother staring at a 20 something taking a picture of their food and uploading, looking at me and asking ‘what is the matter with you people?’

4. the continued use of other people’s quotes. Are we hoping something resonates with us or is this our own online therapy.

5. the drama. Open ended statements / questions BEGGING for accolade, attention and the ever important... often coveted ‘like’.

In the land of ‘me’, these tools have been brilliant because they cater to the one thing people like doing more than anything else in the world.

Talking about themselves.

But are we all really that interesting? Stat’s confirm... we are. Yet stats also confirm (despite all of our self reporting ability) even our fantasy lives are not yielding the authentic love & attention we desire, seek and frankly need. That’s the one thing technology will always struggle to recreate. Authenticity. No matter who realistic we make the technology, it’s contrived, staged, edited and in many cases phony.

We can’t replace 1 true friendship with 100 ‘friends’. We wont’ find the answers we’re looking for by polling our ‘friends’ and when the chips are down, the most important person we NEED TO CARE about us.

Is us.

Our authentic life isn't virtual. It's real and meant to be lived in real time, off line.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Let It Flow

Water always finds the path of least resistance. It flows. You never see square turns on a river. There's always curvature. I think life's like that too. It has a natural curve, an arc. I think it's our job to trust in that. As long as you think you're somehow in control of everything, you're always going to be struggling and striving and that's the opposite of letting things flow. ~ Laird Hamilton

I suck at going with the flow. I want to know why things happen the way they do and I'll analyse a situation to the lowest common denominator to try to figure it out. Sometimes at the expense of the situation because not everything has a logical explanation (nor should it), some things just are.

I think that's why we never see square turns on a river, because some things just are, and that's the natural curve or arc of life. That's a difficult concept for some of us (especially those who like answers) to grasp. The problem is that no matter how impatient we are, life won't be rushed, and sometimes the best we can do is do our best in the moment and go with flow.

~ Sasha

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Specificity and enhanced performance

When we talk about about improved athletic performance, there is a single word which should always lead the conversation: specificity.

"Why specificity?"

The answer is in fact very simple: if you are training for a running event, running should be your primary mode of activity. If training to participate in a bike race, then the bike should be your primary mode of training.

The reason for this is there is little to no transfer of conditioning between different modalities of exercise. This means that riding a bike will never replace running training.

This is unfortunate because it would make our life much simpler if we could ride a bike and, as a result, be sufficiently conditioned to run a half marathon.

The truth is, to run this half marathon, we need to spend a number of weeks conditioning various anatomical structures and physiological systems utilized during running. These same systems are affected in a different way during cycling training, hence, little or no transfer.

Specificity - an extremely simple concept, but an extremely important one.

Monday, August 22, 2011

What Are We Teaching Them?

I think it is a sad and disappointing fact, that if you were to randomly ask Canadians under the age of 30 (and you might even find it's older than that) who Mike "The Situation" Sorentino is that the vast majority could tell you - but if you were to ask them who Jack Layton was, they'd stare at you blankly.

We need to re-examine the values we are teaching our children - and yes, it starts with the parents and teachers but the onus falls on everyone else as well. We have to stop holding up individuals with no apparent talent, with nothing to contribute to this world other than vapid, self-obsessed exploitaion as role models and learn to pay attention to things that matter. And we have to start with ourselves.

I may not have supported his political views, but I couldn't help but respect and admire Jack Layton as a person - I was truly saddened at his passing. The passion with which he fought and the commitment to his beliefs was not only evident - it was compelling. It will be interesting to see how successfully his party can carry on without his charisma and strength leading them.

Rest in peace, Mr. Layton. Job well done.


Monday, August 15, 2011

Op Ed: Capri Pants

To start off, let me be clear - this does not refer to the running capris that you being worn during a run or a workout. This is referring to the short pants that women wear casually around town.

They're awful.

What I find interesting, is that almost every woman who wears them says it's because she's not comfortable with how her legs look and therefore doesn't want to wear shorts... which is almost ironic, because then instead of wearing shorts,she chooses to put on a pair of pants that cut her legs off mid-calf, and make even the longest legs look like blunt stubs.

This is a metaphor, really, for what happens when you try to walk down the middle of the road and don't fully commit one way or another... you wind up worse off than if you'd just made a decision. To translate this into a literal sense in regards to capris: toss 'em. Wear pants, or wear shorts.

Oh, and one more side note - no male should ever wear capri pants. Seriously. Never. I thought I was the only one who felt this way, until I heard on the news yesterday that this is currently the number one fashion faux pas for men.


Wednesday, August 10, 2011


Good morning Innovative Thinkers...
if you've been shopping lately, you can't help but notice all the 'back to school' displays, and as upsetting as the notion of summer ending may be to some - it should more importantly bear warning that this is a critical time of year to be prepared.

With September comes
- kids back in school
- customers back in their routine discretionary spending habits (ie work gets busier)
- quarterly meetings (thus deadlines on old and gaining traction on new strategies) for executives
- the equilibrium of summer life balance is shifted if not violently rocked

With this as our inevitable reality, we can either lay in the hammock and be surprised by the tidal wave (for the 8th year in a row), or we can be proactive and head to higher ground (strategically speaking) ahead of time and enjoy the view from the hill while others struggle at the foot of the waves of oncoming demands.

A few extra tools in your toolbox for the savvy and prepared, as well as supplementary reading and important info are below...

enjoy the rest of your summer folks. In my opinion, the best way to do so is to plan what you must (and what you'd like to) so that you can maximize your relaxation time all the while avoiding any procrastination.

Tuesday, August 09, 2011

Chocolate can enhance endurance performance!?

As a lover of all types of chocolate, I was very excited to read an article published in the July edition of the Journal of Physiology, that chocolate improved endurance performance in humans (and mice).

We all know that chocolate milk as regarded as quality post exercise recoery drink (watch out for all that sugar chocolate milk contains), bu researchers have now discovered that by eating small amounts of dark chocolate on a daily basis, during periods of hard training, assists with not only recovery, but acts as an ergogenic aid (enhances athletic performance) too.

It is all thanks to the Cocoa bean and a chemical called epicatechins.

Cocoa beans contain a chemical called epicatechins which stimulate the growth of mitochondria in the muscles. Remember the mitochondria are the energy producers of the body, so more mitochondria mean more energy produced and available for activity.

As with all things that seem to good to be true, there are a few "guidelines" which need to be adhered to:
  • Consume only Small amounts of dark, chocolate should be consumed (5 grams per day). It can be eaten every day.
  • Avoid eating excessively sweetened chocolate
  • Use chocolate as an "ergogenic aid" only while training and especially during periods of intense activity.
Bring on the Lindt baby!

Monday, August 08, 2011


To every person who has used kids, work, or some other VERY IMPORTANT commitment as reasons for not getting in shape, I have news for you...

Somewhere out there, someone who is busier than you is training harder than you ever have.

Stop making excuses, and start making things happen.


Saturday, August 06, 2011

How bad do you want it?

How bad you want it transcends beyond 'talk', which is where the bulk of the people are eliminated. How bad you want it requires tangible actions.
To reiterate, the gap between talk and action is expansive.

How bad you want it is like a test. Shortly after you get started, you'll be introduced to your first barrier. Its the outcome's way of saying 'are you sure you want to pursue this?'. If you're tenacious enough to clear the first barrier, the outcome will have 3-4-5-6-10-20 more barriers to work though, around, over and under. All at different heights, depths, weights and magnitudes. Once you venture down the how bad you want it highway, the outcome must make sure you're serious. After all, ANYTHING great requires a great deal of work and there are not that many outcomes reached on a Global basis.

The outcome needs to know you're vested. Not just along for the up side, but truly vested. This is the outcomes way of differentiating you... from all the wannabes out there who are not willing to SACRIFICE anything to get to it. Those who want to join AFTER the trail has been blazed. Those who quit when the going gets tough and those who try to take the path of least resistance.

THE OUTCOME ISN'T COMING TO YOU - YOU MUST MAKE YOUR WAY TO THE OUTCOME. There are millions waiting for that free ride... that's not coming.

The outcome is all about RESULTS. Not would, could, should, maybe, kind of, sort of but did, finished, stats and done.

So the next time you think of something you would like to have, experience, or take part in ask yourself one question; how bad do you want it. Unless it's REALLY BAD, don't waste the outcomes time.

Friday, August 05, 2011

A Step in the Right Direction

I would get lost trying to find my way out of a paper bag. Faced with a crossroad, and forced to choose between left or right, majority of the time I would pick wrong. As a result, there have been times when on the trails of the North Shore I have been forced to yell my husband's name aloud and tell passersby that I am searching for my dog, Guy.

All kidding aside, as I was running this morning I was thinking about my talent of always going the wrong way, and I realised, I only end up going the wrong way when I think about which way I should go, rather than following my gut. When I listen to myself, I usually find my way home.

It's the same in life, when faced with a crossroad and forced to make a decision, I will analyse the situation to death before taking a step in either direction, and when I finally start moving it's onto the most logical path. But, the most logical path is not always the right one, and you may end up more lost than found because you neglected a key part in the decision making process, listening. Sometimes we get so caught up in the details of a decision, that we don't listen to ourselves and even though logic tells us to go left, we should listen to our gut and veer right.

~ Sasha

Monday, August 01, 2011

There Will Always Be a Reason

It's pretty easy to find a justification to delay a task, whether it's getting in shape, quitting smoking, calling your grandmother, or cleaning your garage - but I'm going to let you in on a little secret.

They're all crap.

Stop putting off till tomorrow what you can do today - because believe me, there's nothing more satisfying than looking back on a day fully taken advantage of.

"Nothing is so fatiguing as the eternal hanging on of an uncompleted task." ~William James