What I've learned from 16 Health, Nutrition, and Fitness Books; 4 Personal Trainers; 3 Boot Camp Instructors; 2 Nutritionists; and my Sister, a Fitness Model- what works, what doesn't, and what you should know.
Ever woken up looking like the girl to the right?
We’ve all been there. Modern life distractions
such as the Internet, e-mail, project deadlines,
and somehow having some social time may
cause you to shift the importance of a good
night’s sleep lower on your list of priorities.
However, little or erratic sleep patterns may be
taking quite the toll on your overall health.
Impacts of Less Sleep
Decreased Energy Levels
Deteriorating Overall Health
Unhealthy weight levels
Increased urges for caffeine and sugary snacks
How can you get more, better quality sleep?
Turn off electronic devices, such as your cell phone, before falling asleep. Ever been on your way to sleep when you get that
midnight Facebook message? Or the 3 a.m. phone call from your best friend after the bar? These are not good reasons to not get the
sleep your body so needs. Turn off your phone (or turn it to silent) before going to bed and you
Do not watch TV before bed! When you fall asleep while watching TV you inevitably have to get up after a couple hours of light
sleep to turn it off. This is bad because you’re not allowing yourself to enter into the deep REM sleep that your body needs to
Stop hitting the snooze button! I used to always fall into the ―Set my alarm 40 minutes earlier so that I’d get to hit the snooze
button several times and feel like I’m getting more sleep in the morning‖ trap. Then one day I had an epiphany – if I just set my
alarm to the time that I want to get up and don’t hit the snooze button I’d be getting 40 minutes more of quality sleep. The snooze
button should never have been invented so don’t use it and you’ll feel so much more rested!
Don’t forget the importance of pillows! Trust me, improve the quality of your pillows and see the quality of your sleep
Are you getting essential nutrients from your diet?
Your body needs a large variety of nutrients to stay healthy. Sometimes it’s easy to get caught up in the details of ―have I eaten
enough of this today‖ or ―if I eat this will it throw my whole diet off balance? The answer is not worry too much about the
details and focus instead on the big picture: eating a balanced diet that contains a variety of colourful fruits and vegetables,
whole grains, beans, nuts, dairy products, seafood, lean meats, and poultry. If you cheat a couple of times with pizza you’ll
survive! Just make sure that in general you’re emphasizing nutrient-dense foods, which are packed with vitamins and minerals
and have relatively few calories.
Some nutrient-dense foods:
Chard, collard greens, kale, mustard greens, spinach
Mushrooms (crimini and shiitake)
Potatoes (white or sweet)
Cantaloupe, papaya, raspberries, strawberries
Seeds (flax, pumpkin, sesame, sunflower)
Beans (garbanzo, kidney, navy, pinto)
Almonds, cashews, peanuts
Barley, oats, quinoa, brown rice
Salmon, halibut, cod, scallops, shrimp, tuna
Lean beef, lamb, venison
4. Making healthful food choices
Fruits and vegetables get boring. We understand. Below are some great tips
for getting in those much needed fruits and vegetables without
compromising on taste:
Set a goal - Start by eating one extra fruit or vegetable a day. When you’re used to that, add
another and keep going.
Be sneaky - Add finely grated carrots or zucchini to pasta sauce, meat loaf, chili, or stew.
Try something new - It’s easy to get tired of apples, bananas, and grapes. Try a kiwi,
mango, fresh pineapple, or some of the more exotic choices now found in many grocery
Start off right – Include vegetables in your morning omelette or have a handful of fruit with
you morning cereal.
Drink Vegetable Juice instead of Soda.
Give them the heat treatment. Roasting vegetables is easy and brings out new flavours.
Grilling is another way to bring out the taste of vegetables. Use roasted or grilled vegetables
as a side dish, put them on sandwiches, or add them to salads.
Let someone else do the work - If peeling, cutting, and chopping aren’t your thing, food
companies and grocers offer an ever-expanding selection of prepared produce, from ready-
made salads to frozen stir-fry mixes and take-along sliced apples and dip.
Jazz up vegetables with spices, chopped nuts, balsamic vinegar or various types of oil.
What are Vitamins? Basically vitamins are essential nutrients which you should be getting from a well-balanced diet.
However, we recognize that with your hectic schedule maybe a few things get missed and need to be supplemented by taking
vitamins in pill form.
If you type the word vitamin into Google you come up with thousands of hits, however after extensive research we’ve found
that a daily multivitamin, and an extra vitamin D supplement, is a great way to make sure you’re getting all the nutrients you
need to be healthy. The biggest caution we can give you is to not go overboard with vitamins. Although supplements can help
you to fill some of the gaps in a less than optimal diet, too much can be harmful.
Do you have a less than optimal immune system? We’ve found that a supplement called Spirulina (pills made of Algae)
significantly help to boost the immune system and fight against common colds and flu’s!
6. Adapted from the Harvard School of Public Health: http://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/what-should-you-
1. Eat a healthy diet. A multivitamin provides some insurance against deficiencies but is far less important for health than the
healthy food patterns. Choose a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts and healthy oils, and low in red meat and
unhealthy fats—let the Healthy Eating Pyramid be your guide.
2. Choose a daily multivitamin. A daily multivitamin is an inexpensive nutrition insurance policy. Try to take one every day.
3. Think about D. In addition to its bone health benefits, there’s growing evidence that getting some extra vitamin D can help
lower the risk of colon and breast cancer. Aim for getting 1,000 to 2,000 IU of vitamin D per day—this likely will require an
extra vitamin D pill, in addition to your multivitamin.
4. Say no to “megas.” In general, avoid mega-dose vitamins and mega-fortified foods. Higher doses of vitamin E may help to
prevent heart disease, but in general, the amount in a standard multivitamin is enough to have health benefits. A standard
multivitamin also has a day's worth of folic acid, so you should avoid foods that have high amounts of folic acid added to them.
Vitamin D is an exception, as many people need more than the RDA.
5. Avoid “super” supplements. Don’t be swayed by the wild health claims of the many health supplements advertised on TV
and the Internet. If they sound too good to be true, you can be sure they are. Save your money for healthy food and a good
If you would like even more information about the various vitamins and their uses please see:
8. Warming Up
Why Warm Up?
Although there are many benefits to warming up, most
recreational athletes spend little or no time getting ready for
exercise. As the name implies, warming up raises body
temperature. This temperature elevation reduces the
potential of muscle and connective tissue injuries.
Light jogging and easy calisthenics reduce muscle tightness
which limits mechanical efficiency and muscle power.
Earlier onset of sweating also promotes evaporative heat
loss and as a result decreases the amount of heat stored by
There is no secret to a good warm-up. Begin by exercising slowly for 3-5 minutes or until a light sweat
9. Stretching Stretching may take a back seat to your exercise
routine. You may think that stretching your
hamstrings and calves is just something to be done if
you have a few extra minutes before or after
pounding out some miles on the treadmill. However,
stretching may help you improve your flexibility,
which in turn may improve your athletic
performance and decrease your risk of injury.
Before you plunge into stretching, make sure you do it safely and effectively. While you can stretch anytime, anywhere —
in your home, at work, in a hotel room or at the park — you want to be sure to use proper technique. Stretching incorrectly
can actually do more harm than good. Use these tips to keep stretching safe:
Don't consider stretching a warm-up - stretch after you exercise when your muscles are warmed up.
Focus on major muscle groups - When you're stretching, focus on your calves, thighs, hips, lower back, neck and
shoulders. Also stretch muscles and joints that you routinely use at work or play. And make sure that you stretch both
sides. For instance, if you stretch your left hamstring, be sure to stretch your right hamstring, too.
Don't bounce - Bouncing as you stretch can cause small tears in the muscle.
Don't aim for pain - Expect to feel tension while you're stretching, not pain. If it hurts, you've pushed too far.
Make stretches sport specific - It's helpful to do stretches tailored for your sport or activity.
Keep up with your stretching - If you don't stretch regularly, you risk losing any benefits that stretching offered.
Bring movement into your stretching - Gentle movement can help you be more flexible in specific movements.
10. Weight Training
Don’t weight train because you’re afraid of looking like Popeye? We promise
that will never happen! In fact, weight training is actually much more beneficial
than cardio for shedding those inches!
What you don't know
When you skip the weight room, you lose out on the ultimate flab melter. Even if you don't cut a single calorie adding
weights to your routine will help you to lose a significant amount of fat. You might begin lifting weight, jump on the scale
and see that you haven’t dropped any pounds, but don’t fret! Because muscle is denser than fat, it squeezes the same amount
of weight into less space so although you’re not shedding pounds, those inches are melting away (and really who cares about
weight when you can fit into a smaller dress size anyway?)
Torch Calories 24/7
There is a longer-term benefit to lifting, too: muscle chews up calories even when you're not in the gym. Replace 10 pounds
of fat with 10 pounds of lean muscle and you'll burn an additional 25 to 50 calories a day without even trying!
Aim for total-body workouts that target your arms, abs, legs, and back, and
go for moves that will zap several different muscle groups at a time.
For each exercise you do, try to perform three sets of 10 to 12 reps with a
weight heavy enough that by your last rep you can't possibly do another
one without compromising your form.
Ready to turn yourself into a lean, mean, calorie-torching machine? Then
go get pumped!
11. Basic Workout Guidelines
How much of, and what kind of exercise do you need?
Basically it comes down to your personal goals. Do you want
to increase muscle mass? Lose or just maintain your weight?
Once you’ve figured those out consider the following tips, and
remember that many of the following exercises can be
performed in the same gym session!
The minimum prescription for cardiovascular exercise is
30-60 minutes, 3-5 times a week. But remember that you
don’t need to be in the gym to get this in! Try walking to
work/school or biking instead of taking public transport
To maintain muscle mass, strength training should be
performed 2-3 non-consecutive days per week with each
session lasting 30-45 minutes.
To maintain flexibility, stretching such as yoga or Pilates
should be performed 2-3 non-consecutive days per week. If
you can't take the time for separate yoga sessions, stretch after cardiovascular activity.
To increase your Balance perform some of your exercises in the gym while standing on one leg. Then
switch to the other leg. Add some yoga positions that require standing on one leg.
12. How to Create Your Routine
So now that we’ve given you all of this information you’re probably wondering how you can change your routine to
incorporate some or all of the things we’ve mentioned. The answer is that this isn’t a quick fix. You need to slowly
incorporate the changes in to your daily life until the point that they become habit and just part of your lifestyle.
So start slowly. We recommend that you break your goal into smaller measurable parts, see below for an example.
We recommend that you put three specific goals
into each of the categories on the left. Like we
said start slowly. Three goals in each will ensure
that they are always on your mind and that
you’re incorporating them into your daily life.
Revise these every so often.
You should aim for specific and measurable
Have goals. They should not, however, be too strict.
Fun Life will inevitably get in the way once or twice,
if you’re too hard on yourself then when you
inevitably cheat a bit at a party you will end up
feeling guilty and de-motivated. If this does
happen, do not give up! Remember to change
Sleep your routines regularly to combat boredom and
More to focus on different muscle groups