Tracking Food To Reach Goals

While tracking food seems boring and redundant, it is a very beneficial practice to improve your fitness and reach your goals. The old saying of “you can’t out-train a bad diet” is absolutely true. Why only take your fitness and health halfway to its potential? You can improve your fitness game by improving your nutrition and tracking your food! Here are some tips below to do so:

1) MyFitnessPal: A great tool to track your food. It has an easy to use interface, barcode scanner for any labelled food, it can save previous meals and you can create your favourite meals. It cuts down the time of tracking food and use very easy to use.

2) Make Adjustments Every Week: If you want to start slow and make some improvements, do small little things every week to challenge yourself to change. Start small and keep up the small changes until they become long term sustainable habits.

3) Weigh the Food: By weighing food, you would be surprised at how much one cup of rice actually is. It will be more accurate and give you a better idea of what actually is your calorie consumption.

4) Short-Term Tracking: Just know that this tracking does not have to be a lifetime thing. You can use it for 2-4 weeks to get a better understanding of your nutrition. Once you know how much your body needs to reach its goals, you can slowly taper off. While it seems like a big task now, it will only be time consuming for the first few weeks.

Good luck tracking!


Take Little Wins

My advice for exercise is to think of it as a marathon, not a sprint. The task takes dedication, patience and a lot of time. As another analogy, exercise is like a lease. However, with fitness the rent is due everyday. Since it requires so much dedication and commitment, it is necessary to look at small improvements.

1) Improves Motivation: Looking at small improvements will help you continually push in the gym. If you look at improving your strength movements by 5 pounds a week, that is a 260lbs increase over the span of a year. While a 5 pound increase every week may not be achievable, this is just to demonstrate perspective. That why you may not be at the level you are at, that does not mean you won’t get there. Don’t compare yourself to other people and see their highlights. Look at your improvements which will keep you motivated.

2) The Bad Days: Everyone is going to have bad days during their training. Days where the weights feel heavy or movements feel foreign. That is completely understandable. For this reason you have to be grateful and appreciative of the effort and work you put in on the good days.

3) Training Waves: Your workouts will most likely look like the graph below. Some days are great and some are bad. But the key is that the wave is gradually increasing and you are getting better. So be happy with those good training days and shake off the bad ones. Take a look at the big picture but don’t let it scare you to the point of discouragement.


How To Set Long Term Goals

How To Set Long Term Goals

Last week, the blog post consisted of how to set goals in general that ranged from 1 month to 12 months. This week, we will discuss how to set longer goals such as 1-3 year goals for your health and fitness. Here are the steps that you need to take:

1) Set Your Vision. Setting a vision for who you are in the future is a great place to start. Think about what you are able to do, how you look, how you feel, and what your body is capable of. By knowing where you want your future self to be, you can start working backwards from this. This can be a description of yourself, a mission statement or some way to picture your future self.

2) Organize the vision into 3 long term goals. These goals can range anywhere from 1 to 3 years. Make these goals big so that they do seem a bit intimidating, but achievable. Make them measurable and set a time to complete them by.

3) Mix your long term goals with your short term goals. From the sheet last week, weave the two together to make the big goals into smaller ones. Break it down so that every step and action you take will eventually lead you to those bigger goals.

How To Recover Faster From Training

After a tough workout, you need to be able to provide your body with the right nutrients and tools to repair itself. Here are some of those tools below.

1) Nutrients and Food

- Water: Rehydrating yourself after exercise is necessary for two reasons. First, if you are too dehydrated, this can decrease your performance. Secondly, water helps balance your electrolytes so that you can perform sustained exercise. If you don’t hydrate yourself after the workout, the next workout can suffer in performance.

- Protein & Carbohydrate: After exercising, two things happen. First, your muscles need to repair. This is where protein is beneficial. Protein contains amino acids which is used by the muscle to repair itself. Secondly, the muscle glycogen level are low. These levels give you energy to perform exercise. Some form of carbohydrate can also help restore this and help you recover faster as you replinish the energy your body needs.

2) Stretching & Massage

- Soft tissue massage such as foam rolling, trigger pointing, using a lacrosse ball or manual massage are all effective ways to reduce the soreness in muscles.

- Depp stretches held for 1-2 minutes also reduce the soreness feeling called Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness.

3) Rest

- If the muscle soreness is significant, athletes may need to rest 48 to 36 hours for a full recovery of the muscles. For athletes who have a higher tolerance, rest can be between 24-48 hours. Timing depends on level and tolerance. More advanced athletes can have shorter rest times between workouts. Greater rest periods may be necessary if there has been significant time off from weight training.


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MyFitnessPal - A Tool for Success

MyFitnessPal is a FREE app that everyone can use to be able to help them dial in their nutrition. Here is a guide on getting started and how you can use it to reach your fitness goals.

1) Setup: After downloading the app and signing in, the interface will prompt you to enter information including weight, height, age and level of activity. All of these are used to then calculate how many calories you need. My biggest recommendation at this part is to not underestimate your weight. Even though you may not want to, using a scale is going to be more accurate than just estimating your weight. If you want to be real about your goals, you need to not shy away from the truth.

2) Calculate Macronutrients: Under the settings, you are able to adjust the percentages and intake of protein, fats and carbohydrates. The default settings are not bad but they can adjusted accordingly. Macronutrients also depend on the level of endurance training. Endurance training consumes and burns up energy so you will need to increase carbohydrates.

For Weight Loss & Maintenance: 35% Protein / 25% Fats / 40% Carbohydrates

For Weight Gain: 40% Protein / 20% Fats / 45% Carbohydrates

3) Start Tracking: If possible, weigh your food and scale the barcode of the labels to get the most accurate measurements and tracking to ensure that your calculations are correct. Once you start entering your food, it will save it and make the inputting much easier!


The Stretch Segment - Week 3

Mobilize Your Hips

The last part of the stretch segment are the hips. For someone who is sitting down all day, your hips can get very tight. Here are some stretches to help improve this area.

1) Deep Lunge: Start by taking one long stride forward. Drop the back knee to the floor. Bring your hands on the inside of your knee. If you brought your right foot forward, squeeze your left glute muscle. Try to push the hip forward. To add to this stretch you can also reach back or look up to the sky.

2) Pigeon Pose: Start on all fours. Cross one leg in front of the other. Push the back leg as far back as you can until it is straight. Push into the glute muscle of the front leg.


The Stretch Segment - Week 2

Fix Your Shoulders

Shoulders play a huge role in not only upper body strength, but posture. Shoulders rounded forward will lead to pain as well as affecting your back muscles.

1) Banded Shoulder Stretch: Take a band and anchor it to the top. Grab it with one hand and walk forward to get tension in the band. Turn your hand face up and bring your chest up. Not only will you feel this in your shoulder but your bicep are well.

2) Box Stretch: Drop down on both knees. Place your wrists on the box or elevated surface. Let the box pull your arms overhead. If this is too challenging, reduce the height of the box or the elevated surface. Push your chest to the floor. To make this stretch more difficult, you can completely lie on the floor, having the box pull your arms up.

Both these stretches will help improve your overhead positions!


The Stretch Segment - Week 1

Over the course of 4 weeks, our blog posts will be centred around mobility and flexibility. Each week we will focus on a different problem area and the best ways to prehab these areas. This week we will focus on the lats (back muscles). Here are 3 ways to improve these areas:

1) Foam roll: Place the foam roller close to your armpit just on the side. Slowly roll up and down getting all the way into your armpit. This may hurt, but that means that area is very tight.

2) Banded Lat Stretch: Anchor the band up high on a bar. If you have your right hand in the band, swing your right leg back and drop the knee to the floor. Push your weight into the right side. Repeat on the left as well.

3) Box Lat Stretch: Place your elbows on the bench holding a light PVC or stick. Put your knees on the floor. Now that your elbows are elevated, arch your back as much as possible. This will get the same area that you were focused on before during the foam rolling.


Mobilize Your Back

Your T Spine is very important when it comes to being in any upright position while lifting weights. Whether it is the front squat, clean, snatch, or even the strict press, having good mobility in your upper back will help you be in better positions for these movements. Below are two mobilizations you can do to help improve these areas.

1) Foam Roller Extension: Lie down on the foam roller with it resting horizontally across your back. Just below your shoulders. You will want to keep your feet and butt on the ground as your extend back. Try to wrap the foam roller with your back. The key is to not let your neck hang back because you will not be targeting your back at this point.

2) Back Rotation: In a seated position, cross your arms on your shoulders and point your elbows forward. Without moving your head, try and twist to each side as far as possible. Repeat for 10 repetitions per side.


Learning the Clean Pt. 3

Welcome to part 3 of learning the clean! This is the last instalment to the 3 part series going over the olympic lifting movement of the clean. To recap, last time we went over the knee position and the catch. The last portion is down to the floor and going back up.

1) Floor Position - Descent: Once the bar is at the knee, the last portion is to lower it to the middle of your shines which is called the floor. From the top of the knee, we transition the dominant muscle group from the hamstrings to the quads. From the knee you bent your leg to lower the weight to the floor. You want your shoulders to stay over the bar but have an upright position. Arms are straight and shoulder blades are pinched together.

2) Knee Position - Ascent: From the floor position, we bring the weight back up to your leg to the same knee position. To do this, you push the knees out to get them out of the way. The knees will go slightly back to transition the dominant muscle group back to the hamstring. From this knee position, you continue up your leg to the first hip position followed by extension.

A couple pointers as you go from the shin to the knee. First you want to maintain the same back angle as you raise the weight. Secondly, you want to push the knees back but not completely straighten the legs fully. This will help you maintain a good position.

Learning the Clean Pt. 2

Learning the Clean Pt. 2

Welcome to part 2 of learning the clean! This is the second instalment to the 3 part series going over the olympic lifting movement of the clean. To recap, last time we went over the hip position and extension. Next we will go over the catch and the knee position.

1) The Catch: After extending upward, you will receive the bar in the front rack. The front rack is a shelf that is created by bringing your elbows through and high. The bar will rest on your shoulders but not choke you.

2) Knee Position - Descent: Now that we have the catch position, we will go down further towards the floor. The next position is on top of the knee. Keep the bar riding along the leg as you bring your torso down. You should feel your hamstrings working at this point. Keep your shoulders over the bar and your legs slightly bent. your legs should not move, the upper body should only hinge at the hips.

3) Knee Position - Ascent: As you bring the bar up, you should be using your glutes, hamstrings and back muscles to ride the bar back up your leg to the hip position. Three major keys while performing this movement. First, don’t move your legs, only hinge at the hips. Secondly, do not let your knees shoot forward. Last point is make sure you bring it back to the hip position before extending.


Fitness Resolutions - How to Stick

With the new year approaching, many people will be starting resolutions which is great, but many times they don’t stick. Sometimes you need some help making the change, so here are some tips that will help

1) Make it a Habit: Exercises consistently, at the same and make working out and eating properly a habit. If it is something that you only do once in a while or inconsistently, changing your lifestyle will never work. It is something you have

2) Not a Short-Term Fix: As mentioned above, this is a lifestyle change. Make sure that you are not just trying to get in shape for the summer or for a wedding, but this is something you are looking forward to improving. If you ask anyone who has been in fitness and exercising for a long time, they will say the same thing. It is hard work, there are no shortcuts and there is nothing you can do to bypass consistency.

3) Enjoy the Process: Don’t forget to have fun while exercising. Try new things, learn different exercises/activities/methods. Remember since this is a lifelong change, it should be enjoyable and learning new things is the best way to have fun and get better!

Learning the Clean Pt. 1

The clean is a very complicated olympic lifting movement that uses a lot of body parts. What’s great about this movement is that it reinforces itself, meaning you know when you do it properly and when you don’t. Today we are going to review the first position in a 3 part series.

1) Hip Position: We will be starting the bar at the hip and making our way down. However, the first step is to start the bar at your high with shoulders back and legs slightly bent.

2) Hip Extension: The first motion is to extend the hips, coming up on the toes and shrugging at the same time. Try to create as much upward momentum and force as you can.

3) Full Extension: The next step is to combine the legs and arms. As you extend your hips, pull on the bar getting your elbows up as high as you can. Again trying to create as much momentum upward as you can.

All of these steps combined is called the “3rd Pull” - there are 3 phases and this is the last set. As mentioned in the beginning, we will be working top down so next week we will cover the next portion!


Alternative Ways to Improve Strength

Wait, there is more that you can do to improve your training besides just training? Yes! There are many other ways you are able to improve. Here are some unconventional ways to improve:

1) Film Yourself: A lot of gyms will have mirrors, but I like to preach not using mirrors so that you can learn how to use your body and feel the weight instead of just watching yourself in the mirror. But on top of this, you should film yourself from different angles. You may notice things that your body is doing without even knowing it. You can also detect imbalances and improper movement that a mirror won’t show you.

2) Continue Learning: Watch videos, take courses, whatever you can to help you improve. You may learn techniques that you did not know of. Information can be passed along and there may have been a warm up or exercise or stretch you didn’t know of that could benefit you.

3) Have Someone Watch You: Having another set of eyes is great to pick up on things that you may not notice while lifting. They may provide different cues or comments than you are used to that can help you improve.

Lower the Weight

“One step back, three forward” is a common saying. This saying can be equally applied to fitness and lifting weights. Here are some reasons why slowing down, lowering weights and taking scheduled breaks can benefit your fitness:

1) Improve Form: After lifting heavy weights consistently for a long time, your form might break down to try and lift heavier weights than you are accustomed to. Taking a step back and decreasing the weights to reinforce good form can be beneficial. If you continue to lift heavy weights and not take time to review proper form, that improper form can become a bad habit that is engrained in your technique.

2) Gives The Body a Rest: If you are training consistently and trying to push your boundaries, your body is accumulating fatigue over time. Lowering the weights for a week or two to reset your body is beneficial for long-term improvement.

3) Change Stimulus: Lowering the weights but adding variation to your exercise (repetitions, tempo, etc.) will help you change up your routine. If you are looking to get stronger, constantly testing your strength is not the best way to improve. Doing lower weights will help you increase volume and still build strength without constantly pushing your 100% capacity. This is also called percentage work, doing repetitions at a lower percentage of your 1 rep max.