10 Tips To Avoid The Flu

10 Tips To Avoid The Flu

If there is one thing we can all universally agree on, it’s that getting sick bites. (That, and Donald Trump needs to take a long walk off of a very short pier… and soon.)

No one likes getting sick, no one has time to get sick, and no one chooses to be sick.

But, getting sick is like the schoolyard bully. Pretty soon, one day or another, it will pick on you.

Right now we are in the thick of the flu season and if the schoolyard bully has not kicked your butt yet, you probably know someone who has had theirs kicked.

The Stats

In Canada the active influenza season starts in November and ends in March (Public Health Agency of Canada). Flu viruses constantly change, with a new and fresh seasonal flu appearing each and every flu season.

It’s like the latest fall fashion, minus the Instagram account.

The flu seems to be picking up steam too. During the past five years, incidents of people being admitted to the hospital due to influenza-associated problems have increased at a staggering rate.

During the 2011–2012 flu season there were a total of 1,151 adult hospitalizations in Canada (an adult hospitalization is classified as anyone over the age of 20 years).

Flash forward to the last year’s flu season and there were 6,720 adult hospitalizations. (Public Health Agency of Canada).

That’s a 484 percent increase in less than five years. Wow.

To help you avoid the flu, I recruited naturopath Dr. Heli McPhie of The Village Clinic in Tsawwassen to provide us with her best tips to fight back and stay healthy.

10 Tips to Avoid the Flu

1/ Keep yourself fit.

First and foremost flu prevention starts with a healthy body and mind. So exercise regularly (my personal favourite tip), take your supplements, eat well, laugh often (in other words, don’t let stress get the best of you), quit smoking (if you smoke), and rest.

Funny getting sick quote - Fitness with PJ

2/ Keep it clean.

Her next tip is one we hear from all health professionals all the time: wash your hands.

Because we touch our faces an incredible number of times in a day, it is vital to constantly keep our hands clean.

In addition, she also recommends that you teach your children to wash their hands before eating.

HOW TO FIGHT GERMS 

How to wash your hands - fighting the flu Fitness with PJ

3/ Sneeze here please.

If you do happen to catch a cold, or the flu, be sure sneeze into your “sneeze pocket” – that’s your elbow, not your hands. This will reduce the spread of the flu virus, which is an important part of flu prevention.

You can also help reduce the spread of the flu virus by not sharing food or drinks, straws, and utensils. Also, say no to double dippers and remember to toss those tissues.

4/ Oh thank you for coming to work sick today! We appreciate it – said nobody ever.

If you are sick, make sure you stay at home, too. Don’t be a hero and go to work. You are only spreading the virus to those around you, which is not as appreciated as you may think.

I'm sick. Looks like I will be laying in bed all day. Oh wait, I'm a mom. Click To Tweet

5/ All you need is love.

Take the time you need to care for yourself. Being a wee bit selfish is okay because if you aren’t well, you cannot be there for those you care for and who may need you.

6/ MD or ND.

If your symptoms are severe, or you are worried, check in with your doctor or a naturopath and then rest, drink plenty of fluids and eat healthy (such as clear veggie and/or chicken soups).

Also chat with your MD or ND about other ways to prevent the flu, such as the flu vaccine.

7/ Sleep.

Sleep well and rest.Sleep and rest is vital for maintaining good overall health and, in turn, a healthy immune system.

I learned this one the hard way myself. Last Christmas I was not resting properly and was burnt out and stressed out, and by Christmas morning I was sick as a dog.

And, big tip, if sleep is an issue for you, book an appointment with Dr. McPhie; she’s brilliant with sleep problems.

My 3 unconventional tips to sleep better.

8/ Chill out.

The next step to fighting the cold and flu is to simply relax. Reducing stress levels will keep your immune system strong and healthy.

Find time, every day, to relieve and reduce your stress. Your body will reward you and it will be strong enough to fight the cold and flu virus.

The BEST tips to beat stress.

9/ Get a protein fix.

Research shows that diets that are too low in protein can deplete the immune system. Make sure you get protein-rich foods throughout the day, such as fish, eggs, tofu and yogurt.

Click here to discover my top protein powders.

10/ Care is absolute. Prevention is ideal. 

And, Dr. McPhie’s final takeaway: prevent first because it is always easier to prevent than cure.

 

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Insomnia – 3 Unconventional Tips to Sleep Better

Insomnia – 3 Unconventional Tips to Sleep Better

When I was a teenager my father nicknamed me  “mattress back”. It was his subtle way of letting me know that I slept too much.

Being a teenager I didn’t bat an eye at his sarcasm (sarcasm kinda runs in the family), and nor did I fully appreciate my ability to fall asleep and STAY asleep.

Flash forward 30+ years later and oh how I crave to have a bit more of that mattress back teen in me again.

The Science of Sleep & Insomnia

Sleep provides amazing benefits to the body.

It lowers stress and improves mood. It helps maintain and promote a healthy body weight, it improves our athletic performance and coordination, and it increases our ability to pay attention and remember new information (1).

In 2011 researchers from the Université Laval (2) released their data that revealed that 40% of Canadians suffer from a sleep disorder.

Our brothers and sisters south of us aren’t doing any better either. The National Sleep Foundation (along with two government agencies) estimated in 2012 that 40 billion Americans suffer from a chronic sleep disorder (3).

That’s a lot of sleepy, cranky people gripping their Grande cups fairly tightly.

All the beans in Columbia won't make me a morning person. - Bella - Fitness-with-PJ-blog

 

3 Tips to Sleep Better


1/ Get out of bed. 
A couple of years ago I went to the UBC Sleep Disorder Clinic because my sleep is so bad. It was both educational and entertaining.

Educational, because I learned some techniques that have helped me, and entertaining because loving husband fell asleep while in the waiting room when I was getting my assessment done.

He, apparently, has no problems with sleep.

After a 90-minute examination and assessment my doctor (who looked liked he was suffering from his own specialty himself) diagnosed me with insomnia.

To this I thought “no shit”.

He then further identified that I had “poor sleep hygiene”. Right away I got defensive because I thought he was telling me that I wasn’t bathing properly.

But, apparently sleep hygiene is “all the behavioural and environmental factors that precede sleep and may interfere with sleep” (thank-you Wikipedia), and well, my hygiene sucked.

My first sleep hygiene sin was that I lie in bed until I eventually fell asleep (this sometimes taking up to 2-3 hours), and then when I woke up in the middle of the night I lie there again and wait for sleep to take me.

It’s not like I was mulling on my problems while lying there though. I thought I was doing the right thing by practicing deep breathing and meditation.

I wasn’t. Experts do not recommend this.

Instead, they recommend if we can’t fall asleep after 15-20 minutes to get out of bed and go read or watch television, and stay out of bed until we are sleepy again.

The same goes if we wake up in the middle of the night. Get out of bed, do something that is not mentally stimulating and when you are tired go back to bed.

Lying there and trying to fall sleep (willing yourself to fall asleep), is counterproductive and the harder you try the more elusive sleep will become (4).

 

2/ Decrease your sleep window. Another technique the UBC Sleep Clinic taught me is to decrease my sleep window, or how long I am in bed.

I was of the opinion that if I went to bed early I would get a good night’s sleep. My sleep journal suggested otherwise.

Going to bed when we’re not sleepy sends the wrong signal to our brain. It messes with our circadian rhythm (our internal timer that let’s us know when we should be awake and asleep), and this in turn makes it harder for us to fall asleep.

While I thought I was sleepy what I really was was fatigued, tired and exhausted.  Not sleepy though.

So, my thinking of going to bed early was actually diminishing my ability to fall asleep.

Being awake longer will actually lead to a quicker, deeper and more solid sleep. Don’t worry, though. What you aren’t doing is decreasing your time actually sleeping. Instead, you are decreasing the amount of time awake in bed.

Of all the tricks I learned from UBC and other sleep experts that I have interviewed through the years this has by far helped me the most.

 

3/ Go to bed and get up, same time, everyday. No matter what day it is keep your same sleep cycle. I now go to bed between 11-11:30pm every night and wake up around 6:30am every morning.

When I don’t follow this regime I suffer sleeplessness in the evening. You need to keep your biological clock set and maintain that time – even on the weekends and when on holidays.

In addition you cannot store sleep up. Example, sleep longer on the weekend to make up for missed shut-eye during the week. Experts all say that this horse-shit (well, they don’t actually say that word, but I know they are thinking that).

And, finally, contrary to popular belief you don’t need 8 hours of sleep. It differs for everyone. Some need more, some need less. Only a sleep diary will shed the light on how much you need.

Find out how your sleep pattern is with a sleep diary. The Sleep Foundation has this 7-day Sleep Diary PDF online. Click here to access it and try it – it might offer some valuable information to you.

 

References:

(1)    http://sleepfoundation.org/how-sleep-works/how-much-sleep-do-we-really-need

(2)    http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/09/110908104005.htm

(3)    http://www.statisticbrain.com/sleeping-disorder-statistics/

(4)    http://www.webmd.com/sleep-disorders/features/cant-sleep-when-to-get-out-of-bed

(5)   Behavioural treatment for insomnia, Rocky Garrison, PhD, CBSM

 

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Science Says: Best Workout To Lose Belly Fat

Science Says: Best Workout To Lose Belly Fat

Have you noticed, after the age of 40, that things shifted in the body? It is now easier to gain inches around the middle (and elsewhere!) than it is to lose them?

Why is that?

Well, if you are a woman you can thank the decline of the hormone estrogen (read study here).

This is a natural fat-burner for us and it also dictates where our fat is distributed, and now with middle-age upon us the distribution is happening around our mid-section.

And, if you are a man you can thank lower testosterone levels as you get older.

But, there are other factors involved as well and include:

  • Poor sleep
  • Eating crap (scientific term)
  • Eating too much crap or the good stuff
  • Stress (Our stress hormone cortisol loves to pack on the pounds around the mid-section. Now, it’s not being an a-hole, the body is simply doing what it is meant to do – protect us. And in this case protect our internal organs.)
  • Not exercising enough AND not exercising the right way (hence today’s blog)
  • Listening to Donald Trump’s over bloated ego while also watching his equally pretentious hair piece

Funny Donald Trump hair photo - Fitness with PJ blog

What Does Science Say

In a study released by Harvard researchers (Obesity, 2014) they found that men who did 20 minutes of strength training a day had a far less of an increase in abdominal fat than those who spent an equal amount of time doing aerobic activities.

Now, this study wasn’t all bad news for the aerobic group.

The men who performed the daily aerobic activity actually lost more total body weight than the weight training men did, BUT they were unable to stop their waistlines from growing. Their middle-age paunch kept on growing while they keep on running.

That is pretty darn interesting, wouldn’t you say?

Moral of the research: twenty minutes of pumping weights works far better on reducing the ol’ belly fat than twenty minutes of running does.

What About Us Ladies?

If you are a woman, you are probably thinking the same thing I did when I read the study “What about us?”. What about women?

Kathryn Schmitz, a professor at the Perelman School of Medicine of the University of Pennsylvania, performed a similar study with premenopausal women and found the results to be similar in women.

Great news.

More Research To Get You Lifting

Looking beyond losing belly fat the Journal of Diabetes Metabolic Disorder (April 2015) reported that a combination of diet and strength training was far more superior at losing body fat , than aerobic alone, or aerobic with diet.

This study included both men and women, ages 18 years to 69.

Strength training for weight loss just isn’t for us middle-aged folk either.

In a study published in PubMed (JAMA Nov 2014) it was found that a combination of aerobic and strength training was the best tool to fight adolescent obesity.

Why Is Pumping Weights So Good For Weight Loss?

One of the explanations as to why strength training is the best weapon against fat (when we get older), is because we have lost some of our muscle mass.

Losing muscle mass is a natural occurrence with age (as is losing our minds, our ability to read the small print and our inability to tolerate loud music in a restaurant).

Most of us will lose between 5-7 pounds of muscle each and every decade and ladies after the age of 30 we will also see an increase in our intramuscular fat (that nasty and dangerous fat that is located throughout the skeletal muscles and has been associated with conditions such as insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes).

Now, because of this loss of muscle mass our metabolisms decrease (significantly), and with that comes a body not able to burn calories and fat like it used to and followed after that is the middle-aged spread.

But, there is a very easy way to offset this.

How Do I Increase My Muscle Mass & Lose The Belly Fat

Perform a regular strength training program and I’m not talking about a workout par sae.

You want a full strength training program that addresses stability, core, balance and mobility, while also progressed each week so that you continue to see changes in your fitness and your body composition.

Need ideas? Check out my YouTube channel, www.yourtube.com/fitnesswithpj.

Experts recommend 2-3 times a week strength training (I recommend 3 times, especially if you are a woman over the age of 40 who wants to lose weight), accompanied with 2-3 times a week aerobic activity, and HUGE daily doses of daily walking, stretching and basically moving the body as much as you can, as often as you can.

However, if fat loss is your goal (especially belly fat) you want  weight training as your main activity.

 

Click here if you are a woman over the age of 40 and are new to exercise and want to start building a body you love.

 

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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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Muscle Imbalances and How-To Fix

Muscle Imbalances and How-To Fix

Muscle Imbalances & How to Fix

Muscle imbalances are something that I see a lot of in my business. One shoulder sitting higher than the other, one arm stronger than the other, one leg more dominant than its counterpart.

It’s a common occurrence with the human body, and one that does more harm than good.

Gray Cook, a physical therapist and leader in the field of functional movement (www.graycook.com), claims, “left-to-right asymmetries seem to be the most common problem associated with the risk of injury.”

This holds true for the athlete as well as for us mere mortals working out in the gym.

In addition to contributing to injury, muscle imbalances can also cause day-to-day pain.

For instance, weakness in certain muscles of the abdomen can create back pain because the muscles of the stomach need to be strong to help to support the back. The same holds true with the knee.

If the muscles of the front of the thigh (the quadriceps) are more built up than the muscles at the back of the leg (the hamstrings), then you may be making an appointment with your physiotherapist in the near future.

One tip to remember when training at the gym:

  • When you workout one muscle group, be sure to train the opposite muscle group immediately after.
  • For example, a chest exercise in my gym equates to two back exercises (because most people tend to have poor postures related to daily living), a bicep curl is always followed with a tricep extension, an abdomen crunch with a low back extension, and a quadricep driven exercise is always followed with at least two (and sometimes three) hamstring and glute exercises.

Why so many glute and hamstring exercises, you wonder?

The front muscles of the leg, in most people, usually tend to be stronger – while the poor muscles of the posterior are neglected and left out. This leads to everything from back pain, knee pain, and hip pain, to poor core instability and inefficient knee tracking.

All nasty little things that will put an end to your workout.

Another trick I recommend to offset any imbalances is to train each side of your body individually:

  • Perform your chest press one arm at a time.
  • Use a D-handle for your lat pulldown and work each side independently.
  • Instead of a squat, do a one-legged squat.
  • A hamstring curl becomes a one-legged curl.

One Dumbbell Workout

Give this workout a go to work out any muscle imbalances you might have. All you need is one dumbbell and 30-minutes.

 

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Over 40: 4 Tips On What To Do In The Gym

Over 40: 4 Tips On What To Do In The Gym

Over 40: 4 Tips On What To Do In The Gym

So, you’re in your 40’s or 50’s. Congrats, God willing you have reached the midway point of your life.

But, now that you are here does that mean that you need to start training your age, start training with precautions and restrictions because you might break?

First a Funny Story

My loving husband, who is 10 years older than me, gives me a heads up with every passing decade as to what to expect both physically and mentally for the years ahead.

For example, when he turned 30 he enlightened me that my body was going to start to change shape (in case you are doing the math in your head I meet the love of my life when I was 19 years old. 25 years later he’s still with me.).

Sure enough at 30 years my hips grew wider (a lot wider) and things shifted. I was happy though. Prior to that I was kinda built like a boy. Now I had me some curves.

At 40 he then warned me that simple tasks, like getting up and off the floor, was going to start getting harder. As well, things that I completely take for granted now, like reading the small print on food labels, or menus in a dark restaurant, would go the way of the dodo.

On top of that he coached me that I will also experience a big decline in my energy levels and I won’t be able to, nor want to be able to, be in a constant state of motion like I was in my 20’s and 30’s.

Sitting at 44 years now, with 45 staring me in the face, he has been, and is right on target.

About-PJ-Fitness-with-PJ

I’m Old So Therefore I’m Frail

Many people, including loving husband, think that as we age we tend to slow down and do less because of aging. For the most part this is complete and utter BS (sorry loving husband).

Much of the physical frailty attributed to aging is actually the result of inactivity, disease or poor nutrition.

The good news, many of these problems can be helped (or even reversed) by improving lifestyle behaviors, such as exercising on a regular basis and eating a whole food diet.

The Effects of Aging

Aging muscles:

  • Shrink and lose mass with age. This is called sacropenia and it is a natural process, but a sedentary lifestyle will also speed this nasty process up.
  • The number of our muscle fibers decrease as we age, which means that it takes longer to respond in our 40’s and 50’s than it did in our 20’s.
  • The water content of the tendons decrease which makes our tissues stiffer and less able to handle stress.
  • The heart muscle becomes less able to propel large quantities of blood quickly which means that we tire more easily and take longer to recover.
  • Our metabolism slows down (this is how quickly our body converts energy) which means we don’t burn fat like we used to.

Aging bones & joints:

  • The mineral content in our bones decrease (for both men and women) making our bones more fragile.
  • The connective tissue that attaches bones to bones (called ligaments) become less elastic which in turn decreases our flexibility.
  • Cartilage, which provides the cushioning between our bones and in our joints, changes. With these changes comes less water content and a joint more susceptible to wear and tear (ie. arthritis)
  • Our joint motion becomes more restricted due to these changes in our tendons and ligaments making us all around less flexible.

Over 40: 4 Tips On What To Do In The Gym

 

1. Build a fitness base.

If you are just starting a fitness program you need to build a base first. This is extremely important, especially in our later years as it is much easier to get injured and it takes longer to get better when we do injure ourselves.

Why is it easier? You can thank the decreased water in our tendons and ligaments, as well as our restricted range of motion in our joints and our loss of muscles mass and muscle fiber size.

 

My recommendation: perform a strength training workout 3 times a week, 1 set an exercise, and then the next week do 2 sets, the week after add about 10% more weight to what you are lifting and then on the fourth week add another set.

2. Lift heavy.

Once that base is built, or if you are already fit, start lifting heavier but for fewer reps. If your joints and cartilage have already encountered years of wear and tear (which we know that they have by mid-life), and they don’t have the water content that they used to, a weight training program with lots of reps will only inflame the joint further.

Instead, lift a weight that you can maintain good form with, but are starting to crack by the end of your rep range of 12-15.

3. Watch out for long distance, repetitive workouts.

Cross training is your goal in your later years. If you like running, great run but keep the mileage down and perform other activities as well. But, if you run and run and run (or bike and bike and bike, or swim and swim and swim) be prepared to hurt.

Unless you are one of the blessed individuals who can perform repetitive long distance workouts without injury you are going to inflame those joints of yours and send yourself to physio.

In fact, even my younger clients that only ran for their workouts prior to seeing me have a longer history of injuries than those who run as well as lift weights.

And if you are running for weight loss, just stop right now. Cause it ain’t gonna work as well as other forms of exercise will.

4. You ain’t dead yet.

I, personally, know that I could kick my 20-year old’s ass. I am stronger, faster and more focused at 44 than I was at 24.

So, once you have built that fitness base, layered on it for a year I want you to GO FOR IT – cause you ain’t dead yet.

With the advances in nutrition and fitness that we have seen in the last 5 years we can get better and live longer and play just as hard as we did in our 20’s and 30’s.

Keep training everyone.

 

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