Women and Strength Training

Women and Strength Training

Hippocrates once said, “That which is used develops, and that which is not used wastes away”, which translated in today’s 21st century speak means “if you don’t move it, you lose it”.

Both quotes are very relevant and fitting when it comes to the human body or, more specifically, our musculoskeletal system.

How is Muscle Built?

Most people believe that it is when they are exercising that their muscles are building and getting stronger, but technically it is after the workout that the construction party begins at a cellular level.

While you’re performing your favourite squat exercise you are creating small microscopic tears in the tissue.

It is only when we are done with our strength training session, and resting that the cells go about repairing these tears, this time making the damaged fibers stronger. Stronger fibers equates to bigger and more physically powerful muscles.

Can’t I Do the Same Exercise Every Week?

Once you start your strength training routine, it will only take the muscular skeletal system about two months to adapt to that particular training routine. Once that adaptation has occurred (and if you continue with that same exercise program), you will eventually encounter an “exercise plateau”.

You are now maintaining instead of developing.

What’s the answer you ask? Variety! Variety is so important to any fitness program, whether that program is a strength-training program, a running program, a swimming program or an exercise class. You need to keep the muscles confused and the mind stimulated.

Try this awesome ladies-only Abs & Arms Workout.

But, I don’t want big muscles?

The main hormone needed, for these big muscles that a lot of women are fearful of putting on, is testosterone and testosterone is produced in small quantities in us ladies.

The only way to get big muscles like a man is to be, well a man. So, if you have a penis, then yes you will most likely gain muscle. If you don’t, then you won’t. It’s that simple.

Please, do not be afraid to pick up the heavier dumbbells as you get fitter. They won’t turn you into a muscle-bound freak. I promise.

What if I take a break from strength training? Will my muscle turn to fat?

Taking a break will not turn your muscles into fat. Instead, they will turn into a self-ticking bomb ready to detonate at any time.

Just joking. Kinda.

When we stop training the muscles start to atrophy. This refers to the actual loss of muscle mass within your muscle tissue. Our muscles begin to decrease in size and we lose that “toned” look about them.

This is why a lot of people mistakenly believe that muscle turns to fat. Because where there once was a beautiful firm muscle, is now a flabby pile of, well, flab. And, the flab got there by the muscles shrinking and your fat mass invading in on their territory.

This decrease can, surprisingly, start in as little as 72 hours, depending in how often the muscle is used in real life. So, the muscles in your legs will probably atrophy slower than the ones in your back, because we use our legs everyday.

We can dot it!

Some tips to keep your program fresh and interesting:

  • Subscribe to my YouTube channel. I am constantly uploading different workout routines, and as a subscriber you will always have first access 🙂
  • If you are over 40 (and new to exercise) begin my 6-week online fitness course: Over 40 – Becoming a Fat Burning Machine. This will literally build you up from square one and turn you into a workout machine by week 6.
  • Increase the weight that you lift  5-10% every 1-2 weeks. This will constantly stress the muscles and bones, without leaving you sore the next day.
  • Hire a personal trainer. I never give my clients the same workout twice. I am constantly mixing it up so that they can learn new exercises that they can take with them.
  • Workout to music. Studies have proven that music will enhance your exercise performance as well as improve your adherence.
  • Instead of pumping out the same 2 sets of 12-15 repetitions each week, try advanced training techniques such as:
    • Drop sets (note, there many variations of this): as you progress with your sets, add more reps while you “strip” the weight down. Example: shoulder press using 15lb for 10 reps, set #2 use 12lb for 15 reps and set #3 use 10lb for 20 reps.
    • Circuit training: perform each exercise, one after another, with little rest in-between. This is how a lot of my YouTube videos are filmed. I love this technique because I get the best of both worlds, weights and cardio. Try this workout.
    • Super setting: alternate between two different muscle groups for a set. Example: perform a set of squats and then immediately follow that with an upper body exercise, like a chest press. You can also super set opposing muscle groups, such as the biceps and triceps, or the quadriceps and hamstrings, or the pecs and lats. Try this workout.
    • Eccentric training (also called negative sets): on your last set emphasize the lengthening of the muscle, for each rep. Example: take 2 seconds to lower into your squat and then 5-6 seconds to come back up to a standing position.
    • Diminished-rest interval training: time the rest you take between sets in your current workout then in each subsequent session, try to perform the same total number of sets and reps, but reduce your rest periods by five to 10 seconds each time. I do this with my classes a lot – just don’t tell them.
    • Tabata training: perform big muscle moves, like squats and lunges, in 20 seconds intervals of hard work to 10 seconds of rest for 8 sets. Try this workout.
    • Single-sided training: train the left and right sides of your body separately to develop muscle balance and symmetry. Some examples: perform a seated row one arm at a time using a D-handle, chest press a dumbbell one arm at a time or squat one leg at time.
    • Ladder workouts: take two exercises and alternate between the two. Start at 10 (or more reps) and work yourself down, or ladder down, to 1 rep. I love doing this with burpees. Try this lower body ladder workout.

So, if women with muscles look like men, men with no muscles...

Women and Strength Training 

Teens

  • 2-3 times a week working at 50-60% of their repetition maximum (take the amount of weight that they can lift once and multiple that by 50-60%).
  • Begin with easy movement patterns to create body awareness.
  • Areas to target: core, postural muscles
  • Try this workout, No Gym Required

Twenties:

  • 2-4 times a week at 60-75% of their repetition maximum.
  • Begin with a circuit workout to include the cardio in the strength program.
  • Areas to target: glutes, postural muscles and core.
  • Try this workout, Best Butt Workout for Women

Thirties

  • 3-4 times a week at 60-90% of their repetition maximum.
  • Try a split routine, training upper body one day and lower the following.
  • Areas to target: core, upper body (especially the pectoral muscles)
  • Try this workout, Upper Body and Abs for Women

Forties

  • Loss of muscle mass and strength start to occur in our 40’s (Kravitz, 2007) so a strength training regime is a must for this age group m(which is precisely why I developed this!).
  • 2-3 times a week at 60-90% of their repetition maximum.
  • Incorporate balance tools with your strength routine.
  • Areas to target: core, upper body strength
  • Try this workout: Tank Top Arms

Fifties and Beyond

  • 2 times a week at 50-75% of their repetition maximum.
  • Women in this age bracket tend to see more success when working with a trainer or attending group classes geared for their age group.
  • Areas to target: balance, posture, core, shoulders
  • Try this workout, Hamstring and Hip Opener

Looking for some tough love training? I’ve got small group classes, one-on-one appointments, and online personal training. In other words – everything you need to get started! Check out my website here.

For more healthy living tips, recipes and workouts please subscribe above to this blog

You can also find me on Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and Instagram.

If you are really interested in getting started on your own weight loss and fitness journey, shoot me an email!

Don’t forget to sign up for my weekly blog by clicking on the box above. I’ve got lots of awesome workouts, exclusive content, and exciting offers available to subscribers only!

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PJ ox

A Trainer’s Weekly Menu – Week 2

A Trainer’s Weekly Menu – Week 2

Well, this new blog, A Trainer’s Weekly Menu, that I have added seems to be a bit of a hit! Thanks or being so supportive. I appreciate it and want to give back and make sure that you set yourself up for success.

Click the link below and download my weekly meal planner. That, as well as valuable food prepping tips, will be emailed right to you. How cool is that???

Download your free Weekly Meal Planner here.

Notes about last week’s meals

  • I loved the Southwest Kale Power Salad  from Cookie + Kate and it will definitely be a regular thing on my weekly lunch rotation (lunch only though, cause loving husband WOULD never eat any of that)
  • My sister from another mister does have my favourite twice-baked sweet potatoe/yam recipe up on her blog. Check out Risse’s blog and awesome recipe here.
  • Wednesday night leftover night never happened because loving husband pulled a 12 hour day and didn’t get home until 9pm. So, I had the tuna salad from the night before and the leftovers were pushed to Thursday and Thursday’s salmon dinner was pushed to Friday. So, we never had a chance to try Two Peas and their Pod Grilled Steak Fajitas, but I will definitely try it in the future. We only eat red meat, at max, once a week and loving husband MUST eat salmon once a week. That’s our deal, much to his chagrin.
  • And, after 6 days of my Slow Cooker Pumpkin Spice Steel Cut Oats (recipe coming) you would think that I would be pumkin-ed out. But, I ain’t. In fact I really wanted to make it again for this week’s breakfasts, but alas common sense kicked in.

A Trainer’s Weekly Menu – Oct 18- 24, 2015

BREAKFAST

Herby Frittata with Vegetable & Goat's Cheese - Cooking Light
Herby Frittata with Vegetable & Goat’s Cheese – Cooking Light

  • 1/4 C mixed nuts and herb frittata with vegetables and goat’s cheese.
  • I am a huge fan of mixed nuts as a breakfast side dish and as a snack. I find by adding more healthy fats to my diet it helps me feel fuller, for longer, and therefore keeps my waistline in check.
  • I will be changing the frittata recipe somewhat. First, I will use 6 eggs and a cup of egg whites. Second, I will put it all it in a casserole dish and bake it for 40-45 minutes at 350 degrees. And, third, I will probably use dried dill. I love fresh herbs, but I find I throw away more than I use. (Yes, I know about the ice cube tray trick – freeze your fresh herbs in an ice cube tray – but I never seem to get to that.)
  • With these changes to the frittata recipe I will have 6 servings. So, one prep day and I am golden until next weekend for breakfast :).

LUNCH

  • I found this recipe on a new food blog that I am following, Slow Cooker Sweet Potatoe Chicken & Quinoa Soup.
  • How brilliant is that? A slow cooker meal (so nice and easy to prepare), with all my favourite foods.
  • I am on the fence, though, about whether or not I will add the chicken. I usually don’t eat meat during the day. I just never really have the appetite for it. So, if I decide to go sans chicken I will add some more black beans, or quinoa to the recipe to amp up the protein.
  • For dessert, cause lately I have been craving something sweet after lunch, I will buy a big ass bag of grapes. I love grapes when my sweet tooth (teeth!) kick in. They always squash the craving and fill me up. Now, I have been seeing (on my Instagram account) cotton candy grapes and they are apparently awesome. I haven’t seen them make an appearance locally, though. How about you? Have you heard/tried them? Let me know below in the comment section. I’m curious about them.

Sweet Potatoe Chicken Quinoa Soup - Chelsea's Messy Apron
Sweet Potatoe Chicken Quinoa Soup – Chelsea’s Messy Apron

Download your free Weekly Meal Planner here.

DINNER

Sunday

  • We are hoping to hike on Sunday (if the weather cooperates), so if we do I will use a Slow Cooker Beef Roast and Veggies meal that I have in the freezer, ready to go (the recipe in the link uses only carrots, I also added a parsnip, potatoe and a sweet potaote).
  • If we don’t hike, then I will make a double batch of Skillet Enchilada Bake (loving husband requested this), and freeze one batch for future use.

Monday

  • Meatless Monday is a hard one in my house. Loving husband, in case you didn’t know, has the tastebuds of a 10-year old boy. He will not eat:
    • Quinoa
    • Tomatoes, eggplant, cauliflower, brussel sprouts, zucchini, mushrooms, broccoli, most squashes, sweet potatoes (he will eat the odd chunk in a stew, but not a whole one), avocado
    • Black beans, white beans, etc (he will only eat canned beans in tomatoe sauce. However, I do make him eat the others when I add them to a dish. There’s only so much patience I have.)
    • Yogurt & sour cream
    • Salsa – he puts ketchup on his tacos
    • Healthy peanut butter (he will only eat Skippy)
    • Any nut butter
    • Almond milk
    • Berries, pineapple, any citrus fruit
    • Cheese (I can get away with cheese in some dishes, but I always use half of what any recipe calls for)
    • Seafood (he will only eat fish & chips, haha…go figure, and the mandatory salmon I bake every week)
    • Now you know the pain I go through, each and every week, when it comes to meal planning 🙂
  • This meatless Monday we will have the twice-baked potaote again (me sweet potatoe, get the recipe here) and I will bake them with my prep later today so we just have to re-heat the day of.
  • Kale salad, this is my fave and loving husband will eat it to.

Tuesday

Crockpot Split Pea Soup - Family Fresh Meals
Crockpot Split Pea Soup – Family Fresh Meals

Wednesday

  • Leftovers from last night for Larry, a protein bar for me 🙂 I am teaching until 7:10pm and then I am off for a presentation right after. There will be no time for me to eat and I do not want a meal at 9pm at night. So, I will munch on a bar while travelling to the event I am presenting at and then have a mug of Natural Calm when I get home.
  • Natural Calm is awesome. It restores a healthy magnesium level and balances out your calcium intake—the result of which is a natural stress relief. After a speaking event I always find that I am really wound up, so this will help calm me down, fill my belly a little (I won’t lie, I will be going to bed hungry though) and help me fall asleep.

Thursday

  • White Chicken Chili – Once Upon a Chef
  • Recipe adaptations: I will NOT be using a jalapeño or the poblano peppers. Both loving husband and I do not like spicy. We find we are spicy enough.
  • Spinach Salad prepped from Tuesday night

White Chicken Chili - Once Upon a Chef
White Chicken Chili – Once Upon a Chef

Friday

  • Salmon Casear Salad
  • Instead of croutons I use pumpkin seeds – surprisingly loving husband does not complain about this and eats them.
  • I do not make my own dressing, though. I have tried in the past only to have loving husband not like it and barely eat any our supper (he never complains, he just doesn’t eat it). This, in turn, leaves me wanting to stab his eyeballs out with a dull spoon. So, to save our marriage (and keep me out of jail for attempted manslaughter) I use this store bought dressing that we both approve of.

Renee's Half the Fat Caesar Dressing
Renee’s Half the Fat Caesar Dressing

Saturday

  • Eat out or take out 🙂
  • Chocolate Chip Cookies. I am a cookie fiend! I love cookies and will either bake some, or pick one up at our local coffee shop in Beach Grove where they sell Fieldstone Cookies.
  • Fieldstone’s is a bakery in South Surrey (near Crescent Beach) that makes the BEST baked goods, including cookies, in the world. If you are local go check them out. They are awesome.

Don’t forget to click on the link below to download your free Weekly Menu Planner, and share below what you will be prepping for the week ahead.

Download your free Weekly Meal Planner here.

 Looking for some tough love training? I’ve got small group classes, one-on-one appointments, and online personal training. In other words – everything you need to get started! Check out my website here.

For more healthy living tips, recipes and workouts please subscribe above to this blog

You can also find me on Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and Instagram.

If you are really interested in getting started on your own weight loss and fitness journey, shoot me an email!

Don’t forget to sign up for my weekly blog by clicking on the box above. I’ve got lots of awesome workouts, exclusive content, and exciting offers available to subscribers only!

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TIRED OF TRYING TO FIGURE WHAT WORKOUTS YOU
SHOULD BE DOING

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HERE WE COME.

 

PJ ox

The Non-Camper’s Guide to Hiking the West Coast Trail

The Non-Camper’s Guide to Hiking the West Coast Trail

“Next time I’m picking the vacation,” was all loving husband could say to me on day three of our adventure hiking the West Coast Trail.

I am not sure what compelled me to drag him (and I) on the infamous backpacking trail that skirts the southwestern edge of Vancouver Island.

Yet, here we were. On a breathtaking trail, with mud under our feet, thunder and lightning in the sky and rain coming down because Mother Nature decided that today (on our 17-km hike day) was the PERFECT day we needed to experience the real west coast.

West Coast Trail MapNow, don’t get me wrong. I absolutely love hiking and prefer to be outdoors as much as possible. We are both avid hikers and the West Coast Trail hit my radar last year when I was personal training a client for it.

The trail is rated as one of the most beautiful and challenging hikes in the world, and I love a challenge.

But, sadly, there are no cute B&Bs on the trail. You have to camp, and camping is not what I do. In fact, it is an activity that I have successfully avoided my entire life.

I am not a powder puff, though. I am pretty tough, mentally and physically, but I stand firmly in the belief that roughing it is a hotel without a gym.

For thousands of years man and woman have evolved from caves, to tents, to Winnebago’s, to motels, to finally, 5-star hotels.

That is, my friend, vacation evolution.

However, here I was in the pouring rain, hiking six to eight hours a day for seven days, with my life on my back and a tent as my home. To make matters worse for those in my closest circle, I also dragged along a good friend of ours who has since vowed to block me from his email (sorry Brodie).

PJ, Brodie & Loving Husband at entrance of West Coast Trail
Me, Brodie & Loving Husband – Day 1

Preparing for the Hike

Preparing for the West Coast Trail: first, the obvious get your body ready for a 75-kilometer hike. This means hiking prior to, and with weight on your back. Hiking with 42 pounds on your back (which is what I started out with) is a whole new ball game. So start hiking with weight at least three months before you go.

Locally we have a set of stairs that a lot of people head to for a workout. I used this as my training ground and then two months prior, every Sunday, we hiked the local mountains. I began with 20 pounds in my pack and worked myself up to 35 pounds.

When in the gym focus on the most obvious muscles, your lower body and core, with a HUGE emphasis on the glutes. I was amazed at how much my glutes worked during the trip.

BEFORE YOU CONTINUE

Let me send you the leg and glute workout I used to get strong for the trail.

Click Here to gain access to the workout video.

I also recommend balance training.

You’ll need to do a ton of balancing on the trail. Whether it’s on boulders, skinny pieces of wood as you jump from one mud hole to the next, or rickety bridges and logs, you need to be able to balance – and balance with weight on your back. Try this workout.

West Coast Trail Pics #1

Second, pick which end of the trail that you are going to start hiking. We started north (Bamfield) to south (Port Renfrew). This is the recommended route, according to a lot of books, because the first part of the trail is the easiest giving you time to get your hiking legs and lighten your pack as the trail progressively gets harder.

However, on the trail we actually encountered more people doing it the other way around. Their theory is that they get the hard parts done first.

Personally, I am glad that we did it from north to south, easy to hard. However, everyone has an opinion on this, so do your research and then start on the end that you think is best for you.

FYI: be forewarned, some people are very passionate about their opinions on how you should hike the trail. Case in point, I had one hiker email me quite angry when I wrote a piece about my hike in my newspaper column for our local paper. He believes that the trail should only be hiked south to north and was disgusted that I suggested otherwise. Start your adventure where and when YOU want to. Do not let certain jackasses of the world make you feel that their way is the only way.

West Coast Trail Pics #4

Booking the West Coast Trail

Once you figure out your route, you can go online and reserve your place, or head to the Parks Canada headquarters (located at each end of the trail) and enter by standby.

During high season (May 1 – September 30), Parks Canada only allows 50 hikers a day with reservations, and an additional 10 spaces for standby. And, be forewarned, there is a standby list.

When we finished, we chatted with one group of men and they had been waiting two days to get on the trail. So, I suggest reserving your spot online and in advance.

Third, head to the Parks Canada website, check out the recommended gear and follow that checklist. Do not deviate from it. This was complied by pros who have done the trail. So, if it is the middle of August and you are reading “bring a warm hat”, bring one. I wore one most evenings and we were hiking during a heat wave in the middle of August.

The Non-Camper’s Guide to Hiking the West Coast Trail

If you are also like me (and will never camp again), borrow as much as you can from friends, keep an eye on Craigslist, and watch for sales at MEC and Atmosphere (and REI for my American readers) – because hiking the trail can get pretty expensive, awfully quickly.

We were very lucky and borrowed half of the equipment that we needed – again because I knew there would never be a chance in hell that I would camp again.

West Coast Trail Pics #6

Additional Items to Pack

I also suggest some of what I call “PJ-essentials” to make your hike and camping a bit more bearable:

  • Body wipes (there are no showers on the trail)
  • Dry shampoo (I used it more to mask the smell of campfire in my hair than anything else)
  • Comb
  • Deodorant – if not for yourself then for your fellow hikers. I kid you not, we ran into one group of guys and I smelled them well before I could see them.
  • Moisturizer (no one wants dry, tired-looking skin on the trail)
  • Burt’s Bees Tinted Lip Balm – I am addicted to Red Dahlia
  • A portable battery to re-charge your phone. No, there is no WiFi, but if you use your phone for pictures you will need to give it some juice at some point. And trust me, you will take a lot of photos.
  • Twizzlers – you need a treat at the end of the day, because dehydrated food leaves a lot to be desired
  • Glasses –  sun and regular glasses (if you wear them). Tick me off, I lost my sunglasses on the very first day!
  • If you are a woman, and it is even remotely near your menstrual cycle, bring feminine hygiene products. I also suggest a separate bag that is not see-through to pack out what you use if you do get your period. (Yup, it’s gross, but you have to pack out what you pack in baby.)
    • Side note: on the only day it rained for us we also used one of my maxi pads as a fire starter. Sprinkle a little camp stove fuel on a pad and “whoosh” Bob’s your uncle.
  • If you are a woman, pantyliners. You are going to spend 80% of your bathroom time in the bush. Now, I personally do not like to use toilet paper when peeing in the forest because now I have to pack it out. So, I drip dry and wear a pantyliner to… well you get the point.
  • A ball cap to hide the hideous-looking hair you will have by the end of the week
  • More toilet paper than you think you will need
  • Biodegradable soap
  • A micro-fibre towel
  • Two hiking poles (I only took one and wish that I had brought the other one)
  • A bathing suit
  • A spork that has a long handle. This is crucial if you are eating packaged dehydrated food from MEC etc. The bags are deep and if you have a stupid-ass short spork like I did it will not reach the bottom of the bag. Therefore your food will not be fully mixed and your hand will be covered with your dinner. It’s very irritating.
  • Starbucks VIA instant coffee – however, take twice as many packs as the days you are hiking as I found it takes two packs to make one good mug of coffee
  • Bailey’s – to make the mornings, and the instant coffee, more bearable (thank you Brodie)
  • Electrolyte replacement tablets – this will not only replace all the minerals lost from sweating, it will also mask the taste of the water purifying tablets – because guess what? There is no running water on the trail; you have to seek and purify your own.

West Coast Trail Pics #2

In addition, bring cash for the ferry at the Nitinat Narrows and to purchase the amazing and super fresh seafood at the crossing. You will also want to bring big bucks for a cheeseburger at the infamous Chez Monique’s – that was a $70 day for us after burgers, pop, chocolate and rum.

Yes, I bought a bottle of rum, and yes it adds a lot of weight to your pack. At least that’s what my friend Brodie told me because I coaxed him to carry it for me. Brilliant, aren’t I?

Salmon lunch at Nitinat Narrows & burger heaven at Chez Monquie's
Salmon lunch at Nitinat Narrows & burger heaven at Chez Monquie’s

What You Don’t Need

  • An eyelash curler. You know those questions that fashion magazines ask, “if you were stranded on a deserted island and could bring ONE beauty product with you, what would it be?”. My answer, since I was 16 years old, is an eyelash curler. So, there was no way I was hiking without one. Well, guess what? By day two I did get a poop about what my eyelashes looked like.

What Food I Packed

There are a ton of amazing websites and books on eating gourmet while camping. I, however, work 60+ hours a week and did not want to add dehydrating food for a 7 day trip on my list of things to-do.

So, instead, we bought all pre-packaged dehydrated food from MEC for our dinners, and they ranged from not-too-bad to not-so-good.

My favourite (which completely shocked me) was the Mountain House lasagna with meat sauce. I also really liked the brand, Mary Janes Farm. They make all vegetarian meals and the southwest couscous and lentil soup were pretty damn good.

Do not buy Mountain House Shepard’s Pie though. Just walk right on by that display.

West Coast Trail Pics #7
Thrasher Cover & lunchtime at Tsusiat Point

Breakfast:

All 7 days we had the same thing. I made individual oatmeal bags for each day containing:

  • 1/3 cup quick cooking oats
  • 1 tbsp chia seeds
  • Dried apples & strawberries
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 pack stevia for me, 1 HEAPING tbsp brown sugar for loving husband

Coffee (2 Starbucks Via packs for 1 mug)
Coffee Mate – apparently you can buy dried whole milk on Amazon. Do that!
Bailey’s for coffee (again, thank you Brodie)

Mid-morning snack

  • Mixed nuts – I had also brought 7 Kind bars, but I left them in the truck when I started downsizing my pack (which you will do at least two times before you head off)

Lunch

With the exception of the ferry crossing day and Chez Monique’s, we had the same thing every day for lunch too and for this meal (if I were to do it again), I would do differently.

  • Whole grain tortilla shells with almond butter and dried bananas – not banana chips. I found a company that dries long slices of bananas. They are soft and really good.

What I also wished I had brought, for variety, were cheese and pepperoni, and a few of our hiking mates we meet also had crackers and humus for lunch. But, nonetheless, choose a quick-lunch that does not require a lot of prep, or your stove. It’s a total pain in the you-know-what to set it up for lunch.

Mid-afternoon snack

  • Quest bars – I am completely addicted to these protein bars, and even though they weigh heavy I still brought 7 of them and was very happy that I did.

Dinner

  • A pre-packaged dehydrated dinner-delight

After dinner

  • Tea or hot chocolate and Twizzlers

Clothes I Packed

  • Hiking boots
  • Gators
  • 2 sports bras
  • 2 pairs of shorts
  • 4 pairs of underwear
  • 3 pairs of hiking socks
  • 1 pair regular socks – to wear to bed
  • 2 short sleeved dri-fit tops
  • 1 long sleeve dri-fit top
  • 1 merino wool lightweight pullover
  • Rain jacket
  • Rain pants
  • Camp shoes
  • Running tights (these, my camp shoes and my long sleeve dri-fit top were my camp & sleeping attire for the 6 nights)
  • Baseball hat and toque
  • Waterproof gloves (I am always cold)

Yoga at Walbran Campsite
Me teaching a yoga class at Walbran Campsite

What To Expect When Hiking

When hiking, be ready for any weather and condition, and for lots of mud.

In fact, I am considering designing an online fitness program for the trail and one of the workouts would consist of step-ups while standing in three feet of mud, performed for seven hours straight.

What else will you be encountering? Well, ladders for one – over 70 of them, with some of them over 30 feet high. You also have four cable cars and 130 bridges to cross, and a section of bouldering that makes your ankles wish that they stayed back home.

Also expect to meet some very cool people. There are five people, in particular, that I will never forget and I am grateful that I meet.

The first two were a couple of amazing women from our great province of Alberta. They added laughter, humour and wisdom to our nightly campfires.

The other two were a mom and son doing what she thinks will be their last hike together before teenage-hood takes him away from her. Their bond and kindness towards each other really warmed my heart and her son gave me hope for the future (he was such a great kid!).

And, the last person I am grateful I meet was an interesting character from Alberta, where he lives in a small shack with no running water and an outhouse. He was just completing his third trip through the trail in 17 days!

We ran into him a lot during our 7 day hike and finished the last leg with him. He told me that he doesn’t own a cell phone (I doubt he even has a regular phone either), or a vehicle, and he only works enough through the year so that he can head back into the bush. He explained that he didn’t need much in life to make him happy, just a trail and his boots.

I found that inspiring and refreshing, considering everyone else has that gotta-have-the-latest-gadget attitude. In fact, I was a little jealous of him.

Selfie in West Coast Trail
Selfie in the forest with our new buddies.

Getting Back To Your Car

Wow, getting back to Bamfield (and then out of Bamfield!) was an adventure unto itself. By the time we finished the trail and arrived to Port Renfrew the West Coast Trail Bus was gone, which we knew it would be, so we stayed a night in Port Renfrew.

To get into Port Renfrew from the Parks office all you to do is call Evan. Yup, he’s a one-man taxi service, tour guide, and local dump manager. He’s your rural Uber and small town concierge all wrapped up in a pick up truck.

To reach him, just ask the Park ranger or anyone on the street. Yes, Port Renfrew is that small.

To stay in Port Renfrew I recommend the Wild Renfrew Seaside Cottages. They are beautiful, located right on the water and are only a short walk to the pub (which has awesome food!). In the morning you must have breakfast at The Coastal Kitchen. This was one of the best restaurants we have ever been to for breakfast.

To get back to Bamfield you have a couple of choices. First, you can book a ride with the West Coast Trail bus, or you can head back by ferry.

We choose ferry and if I knew how rough the waters were going to be I would have chosen the bus – or walked back.

I was so seasick! For 3 hours I was over the side of the boat throwing up and wishing that I were dead. It was the worst 3 hours of my life.

So, the moral of the story is: if you get even the least amount of seasickness take the damn bus.

West Coast Trail Pics #8
Post-Lunch Yoga at Pachena Point

Once in Bamfield there are always locals available to drive you from the marina to your car for a few dollars. And then the fun drive home on an 82 km gravel logging road begins.

At first, when loving husband told me were going to be on a logging road, I thought he was joking and when he told me he wasn’t I thought, “well, it can’t be that bad”.

It is. Very bad.

The road is dusty, bumpy and long and we also had the misfortune of blowing two tires. The first tire blown was no problem, because we had a spare ready and waiting. The second was a ROYAL pain in the ass and we had to flag a local down to drive loving husband to the tire store in Port Alberni.

FYI: the truckers along this route are not allowed to pull over and help. So, don’t get angry at them and swear and flick them the finger when they barrel right past you as you are standing there exhausted and helpless. You will want to, but it’s not their fault. The companies they work for have this stipulation.

Oh, and then we got the ferry, only to miss that sailing because it was full.

Like I said, it was an adventure just getting out of Bamfield.

What The Trail Gives You In Return

But, what do you get in return, hiking the West Coast Trail?

Some of the most stunning views in the world, a chance to reconnect with yourself, some quality time with a good friend, the opportunity to share an experience of a lifetime with a loved one (thank you loving husband), the satisfaction of completing something both physically and mentally challenging and a whole new appreciation for running water and Wi-Fi.

 

Check this out:

Top 50 Long Distance Hiking Trails in the USA

West Coast Trail Love

 

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What I’m Eating This Week

What I’m Eating This Week

What I’m Eating This Week #1

Week 1

I thought I would try something new. Something to help you out if you are struggling with weight loss, or weight maintenance.

Each week I will be releasing my meal prep guide for the week ahead, including links to the recipes that I plan to use that week (where available).

For decades I have meal planned and prepped every Sunday, and I also coach my clients to do the same. When we are prepared, in the kitchen, we make healthier choices. It’s that simple.

You see, once our week starts the busy-ness and craziness takes over, and if we haven’t set ourselves up with some planning and prepping come 6′ o’clock we will be forced to follow our stomaches instead of our hearts.

And our stomaches, sadly, can get us into trouble (ie. take-out versus garlic chicken kale sauté).

I also love prepping on a Sunday because then I really only have one big mess to clean up, once a week.

In addition, it forces me (and it will force you too) to eat the healthy foods that I bought on Saturday and Sunday at the grocery store – because I have a recipe and a home for them.

What I’m Eating This Week – October 12 – 18, 2015

BREAKFAST

Monday & Tuesday Breakfast

  • Greek yogurt mixed with blueberries (I froze a bunch of boxes from the summer), mixed with Weeds & Seeds Cereal (freaking love this stuff, and locally you can buy it at Meridian Meats.)
  • I prep this the night before by simply mixing in a cup of frozen blueberries in a 3/4 C 0% Greek yogurt with 2Tbsp of Weeds & Seeds Cereal. Cover and put in the fridge. Yes, that was a cup of blueberries. I love blueberries. Don’t judge.

Wednesday – Sunday Breakfast

  • This morning I made a big batch of Slow Cooker Pumpkin Spice Steel Cut Oats and will bowl and re-heat through the week.
  • I also like to add a dollop of Greek yogurt on top of my pumpkin oatmeal. This makes it creamier and ups my protein.
  • Click here for the recipe.

Slow-Cooker-Pumpkin-Spice-Oatmeal

LUNCH

  • Southwest Kale Power Salad – Cookie + Kate
  • I eat the same thing lunch every week Monday – Thursday (Friday’s are my meeting days with peers, business contacts or my business coach, so I usually eat out) and prep it on Saturday or Sunday so it is ready to go for the week.

DINNER

Monday

  • Since this is the Thanksgiving long weekend for us Canadians, and loving husband and I will be eating pizza and pumpkin pie tonight (yup, that’s how we celebrate. – that and sitting on our butts all night and binge-watching StrikeBack. Addicted to that series.), I have a light, meat-free, low sodium dinner planned for us for Monday.
  • Twice-Baked Sweet Potatoes for me, baked potatoe for loving husband (he won’t eat sweet potatoes, sigh), and a kale salad.
  • Recipe for my Twice-Baked Sweet Potatoe is an old Go Fit Gals recipe that my sister from another mister developed, Risse. So, I suggest that you go bug her nicely (click here to find her), and let her know that you would love to see the Twice Baked Sweet Potatoe recipe re-released. Tell her PJ sent ya.

Tuesday

  • Larry has volleyball Tuesday nights so it’s usually an easy grab and go meal.
  • This week he’s making dinner and will be making his favourite (and only) dish, Tuna Salad.
  • All you do is:
    • Mix 6 cans of tuna, 6 chopped hard boiled eggs with some mayo and relish. He LOVES this and eats tuna fish sandwiches, non-stop, for days whenever he makes this. I enjoy mine on Wasa Crisp bread and will have some of the leftover kale salad from the night before. He will have potatoe chips, sigh.

Wednesday

  • I work late on Wednesday nights, so Wednesday’s are all about whatever I have prepped either on the weekend, or made double batches of in the past and froze.
  • This week it’s Asian Peanut Noodles with Chicken, that I found in the freezer. I totally forgot that I had this prepped, so how excited was I to learn that I had one less meal to prepare today? Very. Excited.

Asian Peanut Noodles & Chicken - Skinnytaste
Asian Peanut Noodles & Chicken – Skinnytaste

Thursday

  • Baked salmon, with lemon juice and dill, accompanied with baked sweet potatoes (for me) and baby potatoes (for loving husband) and baked green beans. Wow, that’s a lot of “baked”, isn’t it? Haha.
  • Baked green beans is my newest obsession. They are so easy! Simply toss green beans with some olive oil, minced garlic, salt and pepper and bake for 20 minutes at 425 degree. Yup, they are that easy.
  • Green beans are also one of the few green vegetables loving (picky) husband will eat.

Friday

Grilled Steak Fajitas - Two Peas and their Pod
Grilled Steak Fajitas – Two Peas and their Pod

Saturday

  • Date night! Out for dinner.

Sunday

  • Sunday’s I leave loosey-goosey. You see if it’s not raining (and I can convince loving husband), we go hiking. This means that I need to get a slow cooker meal going because we won’t get home till late.
  • However, if we don’t go hiking then I check the food blogs on the ol’ web and pick a recipe and double batch it so I have a meal in the freezer for the future.
  • Yes, I double batch new recipes. I know this is risky, since I don’t even know if the recipe is good, but I love trying new recipes and I have really had only one dud in all the years that I have been doing this.

 

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How To Bounce Back From Failure

How To Bounce Back From Failure

Stopped Working Out? How To Bounce Back.

Having been a trainer for over two decades now (wow, I’m getting old. When the hell did that happen?!), I know there are a lot of people who have a hard time getting fit and losing weight.

In my 20-plus years of being “in the trenches,” I have found that most people can find the energy and enthusiasm to start a fitness plan, or a new eating plan. We make a commitment to ourselves and we start.

No problem.

Where the challenge lies is in staying committed to those goals on an ongoing basis.

I’m Starting… Next Year

Think about how many times you have triumphantly told yourself that “today is going to be the day!”, only to have that same enthusiasm wane as the days pass.

Or, how many of you have promised yourself, “I will start on Monday,” only to have Friday come and everything we promised ourselves, and were kicking ass doing on Monday and Tuesday, is slowly starting to fall to the “not so important anymore” category in our daily lives.

All these broken promises to ourselves can leave us feeling resentful, frustrated and angry with ourselves.

We wonder, why we can’t do this? What’s wrong with me? Will I ever succeed? Ha, trust me, there nothing is wrong with you.

You are human and we ALL fall and slip with our health goals. I even fall prey to this. There are some weekends where pizza, cookies and rum dominate my Saturday and Sunday nights and then Monday comes for me too.

How To Bounce Back 

Now, first off I want you to know that making poor choices with your health, when you promised yourself that you wouldn’t, is not failure. Failure is9, not even recognizing that you need to change your lifestyle.

Ignorance is the biggest indicator to failure.

Whereas admitting that you need to change some (or a lot) of things in your life to feel better, and then falling on your face every so often, is completely, utterly human.

So, what can you do next time you fall off the wagon? You have three choices. You can:

A) Crawl back into bed and throw the covers over your head,

B) Yell and scream and blame everyone else for your slip up

C) Dust yourself off and bounce back

While A can be tempting, and B we may do at times, it’s C that’s the clear winner – dusting ourselves off and bouncing back is the only way to bounce back from disaster and failure.

5 Steps to Bouncing Back

To successfully pick ourselves up takes:

  • Strength from within
  • Support from those around you
  • Responsibility on your part
  • An ability to embrace challenge and change
  • A never-stop-bouncing back attitude

First, strength within happens through self-love. You have to convince yourself that you are worth it, that even if you are starting over again you are still way farther ahead than you would be if you didn’t.

You need to remind yourself that you are making better choices in your life – for your life.

To help accomplish this new love affair with yourself you may need to reframe your thinking. Instead of thinking of exercise as a form of punishment, think of it as a choice you are making because you love your body. Sounds corny eh? But, it works.

Case in point, would you rather do a workout if someone said to you “This is going to hurt like a motha and leave you crippled for days”.

Or, “You are going to feel amazing after this”. Person A would get a punch in the throat, I am positive.

Yet, this is how we talk to ourselves all the time. We either guilt ourselves into doing something, or we take the most negative aspect of it and focus on that.

Your grey matter can play a huge roll on whether or not you put those runners on.

Bounce-back

Second, lean on those around you. Don’t feel like a burden; get help from your family, your social circle and even social media. The more people that know you need help staying on track, the more people can help. And, who knows, maybe one day they may need your help too.

Third, take responsibility for your actions. This is a tough one. It can be a hard pill to swallow, but recognize that you are completely and utterly in control of your actions.

No one is stopping you from exercise (example, you are the one creating the “I am too busy…too tired… too unmotivated…too sore…too old…” excuses that stop you from getting those runners on), and no one is stuffing bad choices down your throat in the form of burgers and beer.

Take responsibility, learn from your mistakes, bounce back up and move on.

Finally, it’s important to embrace the challenges and the inevitable adjustment that has to happen to change the direction of your health.

Don’t put up stop signs (such as “I’m too busy… too tired… too unmotivated…too sore… too old…”). If you want to make a change, start – and then get the hell out of your way and let the changes happen.

Work on those little grasshopper, and then you will find that you can bounce back, come back and live through anything.

 

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The Beginner’s Guide to Strength Training

The Beginner’s Guide to Strength Training

The Beginner’s Guide to Strength Training

There are many different goals that people tell me they want their fitness programs to achieve. However, the one goal that is most often cited is increased muscle tone and strength.

And, as a strength training coach and trainer I love to hear that, especially from my over-40 crowd.

After the age of 40 our strength begins to decline (they call this atrophy), and continues on that downward spiral to hell 8 to 10 percent, per decade, thereafter (Baltimore Longitudinal Study of Aging).

Now, this decline in strength not only affects our ability to move and our strength in general, it also has serious consequences on our metabolism.

Our metabolisms are what dictates how many calories we burn throughout the day. A higher metabolism, the more calories we will burn. The more calories burned, the better our chances are for a slimmer, trimmer body.

How do you keep your metabolism running as quick and agile as a bunny?

You can start by holding onto those muscles that are slowly disintegrating with each passing year.

The more muscle you have, the more calories your body needs to support that muscle (a pound of muscle at rest burns about 6 calories, while a pound of fat burns about 2).

You see, it requires more calories for the body to keep a pound of muscle warm (because the body loves staying in a homeostasis state of 98.6 degrees Fahrenheit), than it does a pound of fat.

Intense strength training can also increase your BMR (Basal Metabolic Rate) and your EPOC (Exercise Post Oxygen Consumption). Both of which can lead to some serious calorie burning.

In fact, fat loss studies have proven that high intensity strength training can burn fat faster than traditional aerobic exercise. So, say good bye to running and hello to the bench press if you are looking to lose weight.

Beginner's-Guide-Strength-Training

What else can strength training do for me?

Strength training is the only means of fighting that age-related business of muscles wasting away (atrophying).

In addition, strength training: increases bone strength, decreases resting blood pressure and lowers individuals’ risk for type 2 diabetes.

And, as mentioned above it is also a champion when it comes to burning fat.

As a beginner how often should I lift weights?

Every day and twice on Sundays.

Just joking. If you are just starting to lift weights you are in a fantastic place. Beginner’s ALWAYS see gains, and quickly. It’s because the moves and exercises are a new stimulus to you and your body is going to respond in a positive and happy way!

I recommend, to all new exercisers, a twice a week strength training routine, working all the major muscle groups of the body, with at least a day’s rest in-between lift days.

From there, as you get stronger and more accustomed to strength training, progress to 3-4 times a week.

This change in frequency will usually have to happen by month three, as you start to plateau. However, a simple tweak to your intensity and how often you lift will get you over that hump so that you can continue to see change and growth.

Is it safe to strength train at any age?

You betcha! Strength training will help improve balance, (therefore decreasing the risk of falling), sustain a longer independence in life and reduce the risk of osteoporosis.

In a recent study, researchers found that walking by itself was not enough of an overload to stimulate bone-building cells. Weight training and impact-type exercises were found to be more advantageous.

Try this Beginner’s Strength Workout 

Strength-training-older-adults

How many reps should I do?

There are two primary types of muscle fibres: slow twitch and fast twitch.

Slow twitch muscle fibres move more slowly and have more mitochondria (structures located within the muscle cell that contain enzymes needed to metabolize food into energy sources). This means that they have a higher aerobic capacity and are less resistant to fatigue.

On the other hand, fast twitch muscle fibres are characterized by their fast speed of contraction but lower level of aerobic capacity. Since we carry both sets of fibres, I always recommend periodizing a strength program of:

  • 4-8 weeks of high reps (1-3 sets of 13-20 repetitions) at a light load. This should address the slow twitch muscle fibres.
  • Then, for the next 4-8 week period, switch your program to a heavier load of 8-12 reps for 1-4 sets. This type of programming should avoid exercise plateaus and address both types of muscle fibres.

Are machines better than dumbbells?

Machines. Suck. Period. All right, I’ll be a little generous; they are kind of good for beginners and those coming back to the gym after an injury.

This is because they support the individual and help dictate the plane of motion to lift in. However, that’s precisely why I hate them too.

We should be learning to support our own bodies and move through our own range of motion, and not that of a machine. I prefer dumbbells, barbells, kettlebells, tubing, TRX, cable machines, pulley systems, stability balls, the BOSU, the Rip Trainer, medicine balls and wobble boards.

Try this TRX & Dumbbell Workout.

Suggested workouts for beginners:

 

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