Friday, March 30, 2012

The Original Girl Power

In a frequently quoted incident, the wife of King Leonidas was asked why Spartan women were the only women in Greece who "ruled" their husbands. Gorgo replied, "Because we are the only women who give birth to the men."

I am not a Historian, and cannot verify the accuracy of this quote outside of Google Scholar, however, I love what it represents. During this period of time, although women were not seen as equals they were still valued, and not just for their beauty, but for their education, power, and strength.

The inhabitants of the Greek city-state of Sparta led a way of life that was strikingly different from that of the other classical Greek cities.
While the job of a Spartan man was to become a soldier, the job of a woman was to produce good soldiers. To that end, the semi legendary founder of Sparta's constitution, Lycurgus of Sparta, reputedly broke with traditional Greek practice. He said that for women to bear strong children, they should avoid the secluded life of most Greek women, who stayed inside and wove wool. Women were to be educated and engage in vigorous athletic raining just as men did, and those strong women would then rear strong children. Women raced, wrestled and threw the discus and javelin.

Sparta offered opportunities for women that were unheard of in the rest of the ancient Greek world. Women were educated, physically fit and self-reliant. Their experiences offer rare examples of voices of independent women of the ancient Greek world.

~ Sasha

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Training Systems

There are a lot of myths and theories in the training industry and one of them is that this system or that system is the ‘best’. To me, however, the very premise of a "system" is flawed. Each human body is unique and so is its exercise need. Once you try and fit a specific individual into a "system", you are missing the boat. Just a note here for clarity: there is ‘exercise’ and then there is ‘training’. Exercise comprises of things like walking, running, cycling, weight lifting and workout videos, while training is a specific set of progressions designed to get you to a specific goal. 
P90X, Crossfit, and all of the other ‘exercise’ systems are not training. They are moving the body in order to get in better shape. Where the problem comes in is when we have non-experienced or under-qualified trainers implementing systems that are generic in nature and calling them personal training.  Let's get this straight once and for all. If the program is not customized for the individual, it is guided exercise and nothing more. If your program did not start with a physical assessment and a fitness evaluation and, if it does not follow scheduled progressions according to your individual adaptation to that program, then it is not proper training.
There is no one system that fits everyone. There is no one miracle formula that, when followed, will fix everyone and everything.  I am sure some “Crossfit is Life” people will jump up and down with rage when reading this, but it is what it is. It is a system, and, in my opinion, a very flawed one, but that is another debate.
This post is not designed to bash one or another "system", but instead to demonstrate that there is no one system that works for everyone. There can't be. All systems have their pros and cons. Some are worse than others, but they are all flawed in some way.
The basic principals of exercise are as follows: specificity, frequency, intensity, and duration. All of these principals need to be adjusted based on the individual and cannot be put into a "one system fits all" category. 
If you are interested in exercise, that is fantastic and the best thing you can do for yourself. Be certain, though, to listen to your body and be sure that you are doing things the right way and within your limitations. Above all, if you are going to enlist the help of a fitness professional, then make sure you know their qualifications and ask smart questions. Do some research and go into your consultation with some knowledge of what to expect. In any business there are good and bad eggs. If there is one cure-all miracle system being pitched, then simply thank them for their time and keep shopping!

~ Yoshia

Tuesday, March 27, 2012


As I write this I can see the red light flashing on the top right hand corner of my BlackBerry.

Cue the tense violin music...

If you've ever owned a BlackBerry you probably recognize how that sentence paints a scene filled with tension... Tension that can only be relieved by reading the text message or email waiting on that godforsaken piece of technology.

It's even more depressing to be addicted to something so obviously obsolete as the BlackBerry. I'm sure before too many months go by I will be familiar with the Apple equivalent of that bloody red light. (I'm currently holding out for the Rogers hardware upgrade.)

Btw... Checked it... just an email from priceline... delete, and back to business...

I have been aware of the evils of the "smartphone" for a long time now, but recently found myself on a ski resort patio - had a look around and within seconds noticed that at least 75% of the people in my immediate vicinity were engrossed in the digital world of their smartphone.

Not their pitcher of beer, not their nachos, not the 'ski bunny' at the next table, not the Hair Farmers who were belting out catchy cover tunes... their smartphones.

Is nothing sacred?

I'd like to say I'm better than that, but it was only when I looked up from my own BB that I noticed the plight of one of humanity's last truly pristine moments - après ski.

With a life blessedly untouched by addiction (until now), I've never been a part of an intervention - but suddenly I'm considering it. If après ski can be destroyed by the smartphone what comes next?

In this very space I asked for feedback last week - one commenter wrote that he/she liked posts with solutions. Those words weigh heavily on me now. What the hell can we do about this?

People are crashing their cars (and I still see lots of people driving and texting), people are ignoring their loved ones (my hand is up), and now après ski (too much!)... Something tells me that "turning the notification light off" won't get it done...

Alas, this isn't an article with a solution. In fact it's an article that will need to end soon because that red light just came on again... Yes, I'm in the thick of this addiction, but the difference might be that I now realize it. Is that one of the twelve steps? What's next?

(Please don't say I shouldn't upgrade to the iPhone...)

Monday, March 26, 2012

Fact vs. Opinion

A lot of people don't know this (or maybe more than I think), but I'm a bit of a comic book aficionado ("geek"). As such, I am very much looking forward to seeing The Amazing Spiderman, The Dark Knight Rises and The Avengers.

I also peruse various movie and comic book forums, to pick up on updates, new pictures, sneak peeks, etc. As a result, I read a number of the postings that come up in response to these various items - and one of the things that has jumped out at me are that a lot of people (usually the zealots) have a great deal of trouble telling the difference between fact and opinion.

A fact is something that is quantifiable, provable and can be verified - an opinion is a subjective belief which may or may not be supported by fact. So, as an example from my blog last week: Everyone should stay in shape (opinion) or they run a much higher risk of being the first to fall in the zombie apocalypse (fact). Or, as another example - there are some changes in the upcoming Spiderman movie to his costume (fact) that should not have happened (opinion).

I should also add that the popularity of an opinion in no way makes it more factual...

Fact and opinion are often very intertwined, and it yes, it is important that we, as readers, show the ability to disseminate what we read and recognize the difference. However, what takes it to the next level and allows us a better opportunity to learn is being able to acknowledge that difference in our own writing - which will keep our minds open enough to actually listen to someone when they voice another opinion. Yes, we might not agree - but recognizing when our subjective interpretation is being questioned (rather than a fact) may make us less likely to blindly dismiss the other person's thoughts.

Oh, and for what it's worth - I hate the boots on the new Spiderman costume but couldn't care less about the yellow eyes (check out the trailer here). Other than that, the movie looks downright sick - but that's just my opinion. :)


Sunday, March 25, 2012

Forbes recently posted an article on the five personalities of innovators. I always enjoy reading artciles like this as they highlight the five different types and like it or not everyone will try to figure out which (if any) theya re ain the hopes of it helping to provide some insight into how they could be more successful.
Uponr eading said article I realised that the cheese does not stand alone, meaning yes they did highlight all the different types and if you read through all you may be able to find charactercitics of yourself in all of them but more important to that was that if an organization was going to be successful the point was you would need to recruit a strong team because each of the five personalities ahs a place and an ability to drive the company or product forward.
They authour used a great analogy on it being like a minestrone soup.
With so many of us focused on success and mroe important our pesonal success sometimes I think it's easy to forget the importantce of sharing it with others and understanindg and accepting you're not going to be good at everything but if you can find someone to compliment what you do well, that's great. Now hat's not to foster the idea that you need to be dependant to be successful what I think it means is that the truly successful are those that realise that they don't know everything and to understand that the best don't think they are the best but understand how much more they have to learn.
Five personalities of innovators

Friday, March 23, 2012

A Goal Is A Goal

I have three younger sisters, and one has decided that she would like to start working out (which is awesome!)Something to know, all of my siblings are petite but this one is extra small, and her problem is one that most people claim to want - she has a hard time gaining weight, and keeping it on (which I can honestly say is not for lack of trying, as I've seen her eat!) Bonus, she lives close enough that she was able to come in for an assessment, and I created a training program for her, which she has been following regularly, and seen some success from (yeah!)

So far, so good, right? Kind of. She telephoned me the other day to complain about how she feels she's eating all the time, all the right stuff, working out, but is not feeling any closer to her goal of adding 10 pounds. Now, not many of us can relate to the goal of wanting to gain 10 pounds, but let's say it a different way - 'I'm doing everything right but nothing is changing', does that sound more familiar?

It should, because almost everyone has said something like that at some point or another. What I realised when I was talking to her is that a goal, is a goal, is a goal. Meaning, whether you are trying to gain weight or lose it the way you go about getting what you want is still the same, good ole' fashioned hard work, paired with a dash of patience and time. That's it, the recipe for success.

There's no magic pill or shortcuts. Lots of people think that they would like my sister's problem, having to worry about gaining weight instead of losing it, because it would be easier, but what they don't realise is that they would just be trading one set of problems for another. A different goal doesn't equal less work, it just means what you're working for has changed.

~ Sasha

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Healthy Use of Social Media

Social media has certainly changed the world stage in many ways. The communication and information sharing processes now available are truly amazing. The impact of these new communication modes will probably not be fully realized for a generation or two to come, but it is abundantly clear that it will be nothing short of profound.
Although Twitter and Facebook and the like can do great things, they can also leave lasting negative legacies depending on how they are used. Alright, you might be asking, what am I, a health, exercise, and conditioning professional doing writing about social media. Well, I believe that good health isn't just physical. It also encompasses our psychological and emotional health. When we don't take care of those areas, our physical health will suffer from it.
I am writing about it for the following reasons. Every day I see things online that truly shock me. People (mostly kids but many adults as well) posting pictures of themselves getting drunk, skipping work or school, smoking all kinds of things, slobbering all over other people, and generally acting like morons. Guess what? In our current modern world, kids or not, you won't ever live it down. But, we think to ourselves, we deserve a good time, right? and we were all stupid kids at one point, right? Yes, but now it is all posted online forever in high-resolution picture and video.
Not only will these postings affect you, but your kids and grandkids will one day look at these images.  It'll make it easier to decide that, since mom wore practically nothing and hung out with a bunch of wannabe drug dealers, I can too.  Since dad drank beer everyday and cared about nothing but girls and partying, I will too. Adults participating in this may not live long enough to truly realize the ramifications of their actions, but kids may someday understand the problems created by their postings.  It may be too much to ask that kids actually think about how their actions will affect them in the future as most of them cannot plan for more than next weekend, but I hope not. Kids will always be kids, but the difference is that now they will never be able to get rid of those images or statements that they posted in permanent ink online. That difference is the consciousness that now has to start occupying the decision-making centers in the brains of young people. It's a different world and one that may come back to haunt them.
Good emotional and psychological health demands a self-acknowledgment of our behavior and decisions. Teaching our kids to make smarter decisions will increase the chances of healthy emotional lives. This increased psychological awareness combined with excellent physical conditioning makes the payoff of total good health much more available.
So for the adults and kids out there in the middle of our social media revolution, here is my guide for those of you who care: 
1)   Don’t post pictures of you making out with random people
2)   Don’t post pictures of you smoking pot or anything else in that realm
3)   Don’t post statements about how hammered you were last night
4)   Don’t post statements about how you skip school/work to go party
5)   Don’t post things that will stop you from getting employed
Many of us can look back at our own lives and think 'thank god no one had a digital camera', but times are different now and you aren't so lucky. Good decisions lead to good heath and that's my business. Let's reach for health that encompasses all parts of our lives and not regret social media decisions ten years from now!


Wednesday, March 21, 2012

All or Nothing

On the heels of a series of conversations my colleagues and I have been having, today felt like a great day to blow up a common weight loss/ goal pursuit mentality.

"All or Nothing"

The reasons why people may come to adopt this mentality vary as much as the reasons said people want to lose weight, save money, meet the right guy, etc. Regardless of the cause, here is a litany of reasons why you have more than 2 choices (pass or fail);

1. All or nothing means 'win or lose'. It's very hard to take lessons from adversity if we aren't open to that possibility. If we don't learn to view the odd failure as 'adversity' with valuable lessons to learn, we will lack the requisite knowledge required to truly succeed in our most important pursuits
2. All or nothing is an individuals game. The biggest wins I know require team. If you're not mobilizing others to help you - you're limiting yourself. As importantly- if you're not empowering others along the way - you're walking a lonely path my friend.
3. Specific to weight loss, 'all or nothing' = calorie restriction and sacrifice. Reduction, restriction, sacrifice, and endless discipline are not sustainable ways of life. Sensibility, reason, moderation, enjoyment, solutions, replacement - those sustainable wins come out of a 'third possibility' approach, not 'all or nothing'.
4. Tunnel vision works great for trains, not people. A train must stay on track, or the consequences can be deadly. When it comes to continuing results, you have to switch trains every now and then, or hop on a hot-air balloon to get a different view. A lot of people keep chasing down the same rabbit hole hoping for different results after the same action (the definition of insanity, remember). Again using weight loss - if you keep reducing your caloric intake to lower & lower levels, eventually the results get worse & worse (harder to lose weight, less energy, potentially even irreversible damage to your RNA & DNA- yes, you can screw up your genetics & therefore your off-spring if you choose to be that stubborn, short-sighted & selfish)
5. The world ain't flat my friends. An 'all or nothing' mentality would insist that you are headed west by chasing the sunset. Do that long enough, and you'll end up in the easternmost part of the world. That can only happen in a round, 3 dimensionally world. This may be hard to grasp but if we live and breathe in a (at least) 3-dimensional world; the laws of metaphysics deem that a one- or two-dimensional mindset should be less effective than one catering to the laws of the natural world.
6. As my dietitian friend is fond of saying, "if you don't enjoy the journey, you'll never reach your destination". If putting every available penny in the bank, or cutting every calorie makes you miserable, you'll be prone to eating or spending binges far more damaging than the occasional treat. Not to mention, as point # 5 above speaks to, our very mindset manifests in physical ways. The physical laws of "calories in vs calories out" do not paint a complete picture of weight loss; just like save more than you spend sounds simple but doesn't take into account "tipping point" opportunities that may come into play and only be seized by those enjoying their journey not miserable in their saving process.

If you need more than the above evidence, than you are reading what you want to read, believing what fits your view, and hearing what you want to hear. For you, whatever adversity you've witnessed obviously isn't enough because you haven't hit your rock bottom. For everyone else - consider a 3rd (or 4th or 28th) point of view, because the world is neither black nor white, so neither should be your thinking.

We wouldn't be born with over 2 billion brain cells if all we needed to consider is one choice or the other.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Feedback Time

Conversation levels on swimupstream are extremely low.

Though creating dialogue isn't one of the stated goals of swimupstream - engaging an audience with no-nonsense perspectives and challenging conventional thinking is. On most similar blogs you'll find LOTS of dialogue - 10, 20, 30 comments per post.

We've had 30 comments in the last calendar year. Not even 3 per month. Less than 1 per week.

If we are engaging an audience on a regular basis, we are definitely failing to motivate them to comment.

I haven't consulted the other writers about this (and therefore I have no idea if it troubles them) but it troubles me.

Possible Causes:

1) Nobody likes an opinionated know-it-all. Perhaps, unwittingly, that's what we've created. The social media equivalent of that annoying relative who always tells you how it is.

2) Our posts are so universally agreeable that nobody disagrees enough to write in and tell us we're nuts.

3) Maybe blogs are dying and people just can't be bothered with all the reading, signing in, typing etc.

4) Something else.

The only way to find out is to ask.

Dear Reader,

We'd like to know why you don't ever comment on the things we write.

PLEASE be honest. We can take it.

Click below this post where it says "Post a Comment" and leave us a message.

You will have the option of remaining Anonymous so let us have it! Be critical!

Something we are doing isn't working and I want to know what it is.

Thank you in advance for your input, and thank-you for reading!


Monday, March 19, 2012

Survival of the "Fittest"

There are, generally speaking, four different types of individuals that I work with as a personal trainer and coach.

The first type are those who love to train. They're focused, goal driven and motivated - these are the athletes, whether they're professional or simply recreational, they strive to be their best and I'm there to help guide them. Quite honestly, they're both the easiest and most enjoyable people to work with, because their motivation comes from within.

The next type love exercise, though not necessarily training. These are the folks who enjoy getting out and being a part of an active lifestyle (drop-in basketball, hiking the local mountains, playing hockey with their kids) but don't particularly enjoy structured training. That being said, they recognize it's value and again, are motivated from within to stick to the program - the only "extra" step needed from me that is different from the previous example is I sometimes need to bring them back into focus.

The third type are motivated by some external force - a wedding, high school reunion, a medical condition (ie. Type II Diabetes)... and while they don't particularly enjoy training OR exercise, they have something at stake that keeps them motivated and moving forward. While it's sometimes like pulling teeth keeping these people on track, I'm at least assisted by their own goals.

The final type of person is, quite honestly, the one that I have no way of helping - because they don't want to help themselves. These are the people whom I can sense, at some point (usually sooner, rather than later) are simply going to stop coming to see me - and I can't do anything to prevent that. These people are the ones who don't like training, don't like exercise, don't care about the slow degradation of their bodies and, given the choice, would rather just sit on the couch or sleep than get out into the world - training is a "chore" that they're doing because they've been told they should, not because there's any intrinsic drive. Now, I am not referring to those individuals who suffer from a clinical depression, or are going through some other personal trauma, as these are people who are working on their health in a different way and need a different type of inspiration. No, I'm speaking of the inherently lazy, uninspired and unmotivated folks who just couldn't care less.

Ultimately, though, I make peace with this fact knowing that if/when the Zombie Apocalypse arrives, I have these people to use as a shield while making my escape.

Come to think of it - maybe this is a motivational tactic that I should try...


Friday, March 16, 2012

Your Very Best

To end the week, I'd like to share with you one of my most favourite motivational clips. It's long (about six minutes), and you need to watch it to the very end to get the full impact, but I think it's worth it. I have one request (if you do watch it) and it's simple - when you get to the end of the clip, ask yourself one question, 'are you giving your very best?'

~ Sasha

Thursday, March 15, 2012


The world today is very focused on getting results fast. There are a million tricks that people use to cut corners and attempt to make things happen faster than they naturally should. The main issue with this is that the key to success in anything, except maybe for winning the lottery, is consistency and patience (and, who knows, those might be the keys to the lottery too!).
When it comes to fitness goals achievement, there is probably no more significant single factor than a slow, steady, progressive plan executed over a long period of time; in other words, consistency. So much advertising in this industry is geared towards "30 days" or "90 days" when the goal should be a lifetime. Of course, since most people have a hard time planning more than even a week ahead, let alone a year or a lifetime, the marketing campaigns and fitness packages that are available are almost always geared towards the "90 days" phenomena. The hope, of course, is that the 90 day results will carry forward for the rest of people's lives.  When it works, this is the optimum outcome. Unfortunately, though, when people start to think that they can have a ripped body or lose 50 pounds in 90 days and then it doesn't happen, they start pointing fingers and blaming others for their lack of success.
A lot can be accomplished in 90 days; significant changes can be made. However, if that is where it all stops, nothing is accomplished. In fact, sometimes, all motivation can be lost and the negative results are then compounded. The real question should always be “what kind of sustainable change can I make?” If that change is to exercise 3 days a week for 10 years, great! If that change, though, is to exercise 7 days a week for 90 days and then quit, you have accomplished nothing but a very short-term gain that will soon fade away. Short-term gains work well when they are followed up by additional longer-term goals but not when they are ends in themselves.
In the fitness industry, people constantly want to know how quickly they can get results. What they should be asking is: how long will my results of this intervention last! There is a commercial on satellite radio that I hear constantly praising the “10 minute workout”. Honestly, does anyone really believe this nonsense and think that this is the answer?  Since these types of gimmicks work from a sales perspective, they come and go all the time. I would bet my life, however, that nobody sees success by exercising 10 minutes a day regardless of the magical properties of the program.
So what is the answer? What is the great prophecy that is about to be unveiled? Be CONSISTENT and PATIENT! Not what you wanted to hear? Well tough! That is the only 100% true answer that you can get in almost any field. Basketball players want to know how to become great shooters. The answer is: take a million shots. As Malcolm Gladwell said in his book "The Outliers", it's the 10,000 hours on task that creates the expert. If people want to weigh a healthy amount and be in good physical condition, what should they do? The answer: well, if you can‘t guess it by now, then you should go back to the top of this page and read it all again.  There are no tricks, no corner-cutting dashes. If there was a magic formula, then everyone would have a gorgeous jump shot, everyone would play guitar like Jimi Hendrix, and everyone would be at the top of their game in their field - instantly, magically! I repeat: there are no tricks. There is only a belief in wanting to be healthy and the cultivation of an understanding that consistency and patience are the only "gimmicks" that will take you there. 


Tuesday, March 13, 2012

TSN Turning Point

For people my age the phrase "TSN Turning Point" is a universally understood concept.

It's the moment when momentum swings, when drama occurs, when the game is won (or lost)...

This weekend a good friend of mine had a TSN Turning Point. At the age of 38 he had a heart attack. 3 arteries blocked (100%, 90%, 50%).

I can imagine reading this... it might seem mildly surprising, a bit early in life, a bit sad, but when compared to the daily ticker of ridiculous news stories this barely rates a mention. "Nothing we haven't heard of before."

Fair enough... but imagine if it was your dad or brother - it's a pretty dramatic occurrence.

Adversity. Look it up and this might be what you see. A family guy (wife + 3 kids), 38 years old and lucky to be alive with a heart that barely keeps beating.

The right to comment meaningfully on a TSN Turning Point like this is earned through experience. You can't hope to be profound on the topic if the worst thing you've experienced is an adolescent heartbreak or a university course failure.

Since my friend is a doctor (and therefore more knowledgeable than me about his health issues), I looked to advise him on the mental side of such a great adversity.

Here is what I told him (based on my own experience):

1) Embrace the positives. When the $hit hits the fan, those closest to you will rally. Admire, appreciate and utilize their help as this is a time when you will reap what you have sewn in your life.

2) Be appreciative. You were spared. It could have easily been different and people would be planning your funeral. Also, appreciate those who care for you - let's face it caring for others SUCKS. Don't ever forget that - show how much you appreciate the unpaid work put in by others.

3) Be a ruthless curator. There will be voices, influences, and stimuli that are no help (or worse a detriment) to your recovery and wellbeing. These people need to be eliminated from your consciousness. The only influences allowed into your life are ones that prove themselves to be positive in some way. Now is the time to be SELFISH.

That's it. Simple. It's not a blueprint for everyone but it worked for me.

I wish you all good health - and the brain to make the most of it!

~ Meyrick

Monday, March 12, 2012

Penance and Absolution

I've spoken before about why I try to avoid telling people what I do when I go to a social function - like golf pros, doctors, tennis coaches... people inevitably want to "pick your brain", which is a roundabout way of saying "get your professional consulting services for free". Actually, in all seriousness, I don't imagine people realize this - they simply don't understand the value of our time.

That aside, there's another reaction people have that, I think, is probably unique to personal trainers. Maybe it happens with doctors, but probably only if the individual is really inflicting some damage (ie. smoking).

Let me give you an example. Last summer, I was sitting at dinner with a group whom, for the most part, I didn't know. There was one couple sitting at our end of the table, and after some casual conversation I excused myself to go to the washroom. When I got back, out of nowhere, the guy looks me over and says "So - what do you weigh?". I shot a look right at my wife that said "You told him what we do, didn't you..." and she just shrugged helplessly and said "I panicked... ". And that's when the unique phenomenon that I'm talking about kicked in.

Immediately, he started saying that they don't normally eat meals like we were eating, that they don't drink that much regularly, that they try to exercise 3 times a week... and so on. For the next 30 minutes, I took on the role of a fitness confessional - listening to this guy talk about all of the ways that he doesn't take care of himself, as well as what he does to try and counteract all the abuse.

To anyone who might do this in the future, I have news for you: I don't care.

Now, I don't mean I don't care about your health (I care about everyone's), or that if you were client, I wouldn't happily listen to your efforts at absolution and try to help direct you to a better lifestyle. What I mean is that, sitting there at that dinner table (cocktail party, business lunch - whatever), I am sitting with another adult, capable of making decisions for themselves. I'm not judging you, nor can I tell you that what you're doing is okay - in fact, I'm probably just enjoying my meal and the company, thinking about where I'm going next... your diet and lifestyle is probably the last thing that would cross my mind.

It's probably a reflection of how guilty the person feels, and they place the judgement they're making on themselves to me - hoping that I will say it's alright, and they can continue with their poor choices guilt-free.

Not going to happen. Your body and your health are the reflection of your choices - justifying what you do isn't going to change anything. My suggestion?

If you feel badly because you know the choices you're making are wrong - find a professional and commit to making the change. Stop looking for someone to tell you what you're doing is "alright" when you, and your body, know it's not.


Friday, March 09, 2012

Mums Know Best

Growing up, I can remember my mom saying, "don't look a gift horse in the mouth.' I never understood it at the time, why would you look in a horse's mouth for a gift, but now that I'm a grown up I realise how savvy she really was (especially, now that I know what she meant!)

There is an ebb and flow to the schedule of being a Personal Trainer. There are days when you are so busy, you barely have time to grab a snack between sessions, seasons when everything slows down, and days, when for no particular reason and through no fault of your own, everyone cancels (or, just doesn't show up).

These days are unpredictable, and can often be frustrating. Recently, I had such a day. I was scheduled for a full line up of clients, until about 24 hours prior when the cancellations began. A series of random events whittled my day down to one session. I showed up bright and early ready to train, only to check my e-mail and see that my one client wouldn't be making it in.

My first thought, if they had just e-mailed me 30 minutes sooner, I wouldn't be stuck at work for the day (the downside of being in a one car household), instead I would 'snug as a bug in a rug' in my bed looking forward to a much needed sleep-in. I was bitter, I won't lie. However, after letting go of what I thought I wanted (the sleep-in) I realised just how lucky I was. I now had a full, uninterrupted day to catch up on my work and instead of going home and turning on my computer, I could look forward to enjoying a relaxing evening.

Lesson learned, mums really do know best (as if that was ever in question), and sometimes you just need to let go of what might have been, to appreciate the gift of what is.

~ Sasha

Monday, March 05, 2012

Diligent Patience

There is a difference in types of patience I have found. You see, it's one thing to have "passive" patience... meaning, you sit idly by while waiting for something to happen - and, quite frankly, the results are rather mixed and depend entirely on things outside your control. On the other hand, there is a "diligent" patience, which requires one to actively take part in, and manipulate, whatever they have within their ability, thereby significantly improving the chances for positive results.

For example - when one plants a seed in a garden, they know it will take time for them to see the results. They have a choice at that point, to walk away and come back at a future time, hoping that it has survived the weather, animals or the ground it's in - or they can come back every day and spend time cultivating it, watering it, protecting it and helping ensure that it grows up strong. Which way has the greater chance of success?

The same can be said for training one's self, particularly when rehabilitating an injury - yet most choose to go with the first option, which (as we've seen) has a fairly low chance of succeeding. They go to the physiotherapist or chiropractor once every week or two, but don't bother doing any of the exercises (or other homework) that they've been given. Soon after, they become frustrated at the lack of tangible results, and move on to whatever the next specialist or gimmick might be.

A seed doesn't grow overnight, and an injury rarely heals in a week - and both need active participation from you to work.

Remember - the more you put in, the more you stand to get out.


Friday, March 02, 2012

How to Have Healthy Habits

In the book, The Power of Less, author Leo Babuta shares some interesting data:
  • Adopting one new habit at a time - 85% chance of success
  • Adopting two new habits at once - 35% chance of success
  • Adopting three or more new habits at once - less than 10% chance of success

Now, think of how many habits are required when we decide to 'eat right and exercise regularly.' We need to go grocery shopping, cooking, maybe join a gym, learn new exercises, drink more water, and go to bed earlier ... it is literally hundreds of new habits.

So when trying to develop and establish healthy habits some things we need to keep in mind are: habits should be small and manageable as well as clearly defined and easy to measure.

While 'eat more veggies' is good advice, 'eat two servings of veggies a day' is far better.

Another important key is to assess confidence. If the goal is to eat more veggies, you might ask, 'On a scale of 0-10, how confident are you that you can eat two servings of veggies a day?'

If the answer is 9, we know we're on the right track. If it's 2 or 3, then we scale our recommendations back until the client is more comfortable and can answer 9 or 10 out of 10.

Sure, sometimes you'll have to scale it back until the habit seems ridiculously small - to you. However, this isn't about you. It's about your client and what they can manage in their life at the present time.

Even if the small habit won't change everything starting today, at the very minimum, it builds momentum and gives us something to build on.

In the words of John Beradi, we teach complicated exercises like the squat or snatch by breaking them up into smaller chinks, right? It's called progression. Well, it's important to do the same with habits.

~ Sasha

Thursday, March 01, 2012


Lingerie Football was announced as the fastest growing female sport in North America. Yes, it is true; society has hit an all-time low with this one. In order for people to watch women's sports, the women need to be in lingerie. Way to stay classy North America!
The most popular female sports are beach volleyball, tennis, and, now, lingerie football. What do all of these things have in common? You guessed it: minimal clothing! Yet one more way of society showing females that the best way to get attention is to take off their clothes.
The front cover story of the newspaper yesterday was an interview with a University Basketball player (Tessa) from the UFV Cascades in the Fraser Valley. At first it looked like the newspaper was finally shedding light on women's sports, but, instead, the interview was about this particular athlete's general disdain for the Lingerie Football League (LFL). Why, we'd like to ask, is this first front cover story about female sports that we have seen all year? Of course the answer, again you guessed it, is because, even if we are anti-LFL, we still find ourselves intrigued by sex and sensationalism. And we still don't report women's sports in any significant way. The reporter did not ask about Tessa's team, the UFV Cascades, hosting a playoff game for the first time since they joined Tier 1 Canadian University sports. They did not ask her about being an amazing All-Star during her 5th and final season as a CIS basketball player. Instead all the focus was on the LFL.
This rant does not have an answer. It also does not pretend to delve deeply into the psychology of keeping females “in their place” - that has been going on since time immemorial. The outrage that it expresses, however, is very real. The answer to this problem may seem complex, but it is actually simple. The females in our lives must begin to understand that their value is not their bodies. If we can find the way to do this, we will have more females growing up to be self-confident, self respecting members of society who can then express their sexuality in any way that they want.
The argument made by many is that these women are using their bodies in the way that they want to and that this is a form of empowerment. Well, this might be empowerment if there was also a women’s football league where they wore uniforms and, if those women decided that, clothes be damned, they want to play in lingerie, but, as we know, this is not the case. If you were to put beach volleyball players in snowsuits - heck, if you were to put them in just shorts and t-shirts, would we still watch? Probably not, unfortunately, because that's already out there and not many of us watch indoor volleyball. Put those long, lean, athletic women in bikinis, however, and we are all in. Get them naked and it would be pay per view. (I will add that, not only are young women missing out on real athletics, but the rest of us are missing out as well. When we don't watch women's basketball, indoor volleyball, rugby, softball, soccer, and the like, we miss out on spectacular athletic demonstrations.)
The answer here would be a systematic approach of exposing young women to “real” female sports (and female professionals in any area for that matter), showing them that they can be valued for their skills, their brains, and their personalities. Then, if they decide when they are older that they want to play lingerie football, that would be their decision and we should respect that.  We need, though, to give them a fair chance at a young age, but instead we brainwash them with magazines, television, lingerie football leagues, and a million other instruments that show them that their primary importance is their ability to wear push-up bras, thongs, and heels.
These days we are constantly hearing that strong is the new sexy or that voluptuous, curvy women are what men want and this is certainly a nice change from the bone-rack skinny that has been all the rage for the past couple of decades or so, but what about personality? What about health? The message we are sending is still all about body and, thus, all-wrong from its very core. Let's start telling our daughters, nieces, sisters, friends, and random girls on the street that they are smart, funny, athletic, or any compliment besides pretty and/or sexy. The answer to this problem starts with all of us and it starts slowly but it will leak into society. Will our daughters think that their most important quality is their bodies? I hope not. I hope they know their best qualities are their creativity, their independence, their humor, their kindnesses, their intelligence, and their athleticism.

~ Yoshia