Are You Getting the Most Out of Your Ab Crunches?

September 21st, 2015

Dear Sarah,

How do I know if I am doing crunches correctly and are they really effective?


Dear Lori,
An abdominal crunch is a very effective workout for your abs, as it works both your rectus and transversus abdominis.

The transversus abdominis is the deepest core abdominal muscle and greatly affects your torso and spine. This muscle acts like a natural weight belt; it is essential for torso stability.

The rectus abdominis is the most superficial (at the surface) of the six abdominal muscles and is the one we often refer to as the “six pack.” Its function is to flex the spine, bringing the rib cage closer to the pelvis.

Here are a few easy steps that will help you get the most out of your crunches.

Starting position:

  • Lie with your back down on a mat
  • Bend your knees
  • Place feet flat on the floor, about 1 1/2 to 2 feet from your buttocks
  • Place your fingers behind your ears, elbows back
  • Press your lower back into the mat

The Crunch:

  • Contract your abdominal muscles
  • Slowly peel your shoulder blades off the floor as you shift your ribs towards your hips, crunching
  • Pause at the top
  • Slowly lower back down


  • Hold a plate to your forehead
  • Hold a plate across your chest
  • Place only your toes on the floor, creating a deeper contraction in your low abs

Common Faults:

  • Pulling on your head
  • Not controlling your movements
  • Performing your crunch too quickly
  • Lifting too high
  • Holding your breath

Here is another interesting article – Are ab crunches bad

Add ‘Cat-Cow’ Pose to Your Yoga Practice and Improve Your Posture

September 21st, 2015

If you’re not familiar with Cat-Cow Pose, you are definitely missing out. Not only is this pose wonderful for bringing awareness to the spine, but it also helps with stretching and strengthening the back, developing coordination of spinal movement and keeping the spine flexible. Cat-Cow Pose is a regular in my yoga classes. Whether you are new to yoga or an advanced practitioner, once you’ve tried it, you can never get enough of this pose.

Keys to Good Posture
The basis for good posture is maintaining a “neutral spine.” A neutral spine retains three natural curves: a small hollow at the base of the neck, a small roundness at the middle back, and a small hollow in the low back. A neutral spine is neither rounded forward nor arched back too much.

We are a slouching culture; hunched backs, forward-rolled shoulders and protruding bellies. Bad posture is a growing epidemic in our society, as many people spend long hours sitting behind a desk every day. It is estimated that four out of five Canadians will experience back pain at some point in their lives, and it is the top reason for missing work.

Research also suggests that many spine problems are preventable because they result from poor posture and body mechanics, which subject the spine to abnormal stresses. Slouching creates poor posture, which results in imbalances in muscle structures.

How Can Yoga Help?

When we do Cat-Cow Pose, we can begin to improve our posture. As we get onto our hands and our knees, we position our shoulders over our hands, and our hips over our knees. By becoming supported and centered, this allows us to establish spinal alignment and develop postural balance.

Cat-Cow Pose also allows us to feel every part of our spine as we move from Cat to Cow, strengthening and stretching each vertebrae. This pose also strengthens the core by engaging the abdomen and back, stretches our hips and increases coordination.

Other therapeutic benefits of Cat-Cow Pose include massaging and stimulating kidneys and adrenal glands, creating emotional balance, relieving stress, and calming the mind.

Cat-Cow Pose

(See photo above)

1. Come on to all fours and bring your shoulders over your hands and hips over your knees (coming into Table Pose).
2. Make sure your wrists are in line with the front of your mat.
3. Start in Table Pose with your neck long, stabilize your shoulder blades by drawing them down your back.
4. Inhale and move into Cow Pose, send your sitting bones high, arch your back, press your chest forward, roll your shoulders away from your ears, keep neck long and gaze forward.
5. As you exhale, tuck your tailbone under, drawing your pubic bone forward, round your back, and send your upper back towards the ceiling.
7. Try to keep an even distribution of weight between hands and knees.
8. Continue for another 20 breaths.

(*Please note: People with neck injuries should be sure to keep the head in line with the torso.)


A Quick, Full-Body Workout Routine

September 21st, 2015

Dear Sarah,

Lately I have been finding myself working overtime, driving my kids to every corner of the city and trying to keep my house from falling apart. I have not been to the gym in weeks. Can you suggest a quick workout routine that will keep me from falling apart?


Dear Maureen,

When life gets busy going to the gym is often the last thing we want to do. (even though deep down we know it will make us feel better). The best solution to this problem comes from the Nike slogan “just do it”, and by ‘it’ I mean the Sarah Super Set.

The Sarah Super Set is a full body workout that incorporates 30-60 seconds of jumping rope in between exercises that work each muscle group.

This routine can be done in the comfort of your own home. Collecting a few pieces of exercise equipment is as essential to every home as a couch or a blender. One of my favourite places to collect equipment is Play It Again Sports or garage sales.

The Sarah Super Set:

Equipment :
– bar bell, with clips and plates of various sizes
– yoga or gym mat
– skipping rope

– Place as much weight on your bar as you can safely manage for each exercise
– Jump for a minimum of 30 seconds between each exercise with proper technique (For more information on proper rope jumping technique visit this step by step guide )
– If you are really in a time crunch cut down to 2 sets of 20 reps for each exercise ( but maintain the 30 seconds of jumping in between exercises)

1. 30-60 seconds of jumping rope
2. Squats with the bar placed across your shoulder 3 sets of 15 reps
3. 30-60 seconds of jumping rope
4. Deadlifts 3 sets of 15
5. 30-60 seconds of jumping rope
6. Chest press 3 sets of 15
7. 30-60 seconds of jumping rope
8. Dead rows 3 sets of 15
9. 30-60 seconds of jumping rope
10. Biceps curls 3 sets of 15
11. 30-60 seconds of jumping rope
12. Tricep extensions 3 sets of 15
13. 30-60 seconds of jumping rope
14. Abdominal bicycle 3 sets of 15
15. Stretch all muscle groups

Finding time to put your first workout in will be the toughest, but it is the key that will keep you coming back for more. I strongly recommend starting your day with this workout before the day takes control of you.

Sarah Brown is a very healthy woman. She is not only a fitness instructor at Goodlife where she teaches Body Pump, Body Flow and yoga but she is also a registered holistic nutritionist. If you have a question for Sarah, leave a comment below and she will try and help, but note that not all questions will be answered.

10 Habits Hurting Your Hormones and the Fat-Burning Benefits of Sleep

September 21st, 2015

Natasha Turner, N.D. is a Toronto-based naturopathic doctor. She is the founder of the Clear Medicine wellness boutique and author of the bestselling book The Hormone Diet. Each week in her column for That’s, Dr. Turner will illustrate a health issue she commonly sees in her practice, and advise readers on how to remedy the problem as well as improve their overall health.

This week she discusses the top 10 habits that cause hormonal havoc and interfere with the natural fat burning-benefits of sleep.

1. Eating too close to bedtime
Late-night meals and snacks prevent your body from cooling down during sleep and raise your insulin level. As a result, less of the fat- burning and anti-aging hormones, melatonin and growth hormone, are released while you snooze.

2. Sleeping with light exposure
When light hits your skin, it disrupts the production of melatonin. Studies have shown that even a small amount of light anywhere on your skin can cause a decrease in melatonin levels which affects sleep, interferes with weight loss and may raise your cancer risks. This means wearing an eye mask is not enough. You must sleep in total darkness.

3. Too much liquid before bed
Drinking before bedtime can definitely increase your need for late-night trips to the loo. Waking to go to the washroom interrupts your natural sleep patterns. If you turn the light on when you go, you also run the risk of suppressing melatonin production.

4. Exercising late at night
Regular exercise can certainly help you sleep better, as long as you do it early enough in the day. A late-night workout, especially a cardio session, raises body temperature significantly, preventing the release of melatonin. It can also interfere with your ability to fall asleep since it usually increases noradrenalin, dopamine and cortisol, which stimulate your brain activity.

5. Too much TV or computer use before bed
Many of us enjoy watching favourite shows, catching up on emails or surfing the ‘Net in the evenings, but too much time in front of either screen close to bedtime can interfere with a good night’s rest. Both these activities increase the stimulating hormones noradrenalin and dopamine, which can hamper your ability to fall asleep.

6. Keeping your bedroom too warm (higher than 70F).
Plenty of people like to feel cozy at bedtime, but a sleep environment that’s too warm can prevent the natural cooling that should take place in your body while you sleep. Without this cool-down process, melatonin and growth hormone release is disrupted.

7. Sleeping in tight-fitting clothes or heavy blankets
Besides feeling comfy, your favourite PJs and blankets actually help you sleep better – but not if they’re too tight or too heavy. Strange as it may sound, wearing tight-fitting clothing at bedtime – even your bra or underwear — appears to raise your body temperature and has been proven to reduce the secretion of melatonin and growth hormone. Your body should cool while you sleep, therefore, heavy blankets should also be avoided.

8. Failure to open the blinds or go outside in the morning
Remember, melatonin is supposed to be lowest first thing in the morning. If you remain in darkness, your body will not get the signal that the time has come to get up and go. High melatonin during the day leaves you feeling fatigued and unable to wake up properly. It may also lower serotonin leading to more depression, anxiety and cravings.

9. Not getting the right amount of sleep
The American Cancer Association found higher incidences of cancer in individuals who consistently slept 6 hours or less or more than 9 hours nightly. New research recently reported that people who regularly sleep 7.5 hours per night live longer. Most sleep experts agree that 7-8 hours a night is optimal. However, some people may require more or less sleep than others. If you wake without an alarm and feel refreshed when you get up, you’re likely getting the right amount of sleep for you.
When your sleep is insufficient, your cortisol and hunger hormones both surge, causing a corresponding increase in insulin. You also experience decreases in the fat-burning and appetite controlling hormones.

10. Going to bed too late
More than half the respondents to the 2005 National Sleep survey reported they are morning people with higher energy earlier in the day, while 41% considered themselves night owls. Evening people were more likely than morning people to experience symptoms of insomnia, sleep apnea, enjoy less sleep than they felt they needed and take longer to fall asleep.
Staying awake into the wee hours causes hormonal imbalance because it increases cortisol, decreases leptin and depletes growth hormone. This causes us to eat more and messes with our metabolism. Cortisol naturally begins to increase during the second half of your sleep – a small boost at 2 a.m., another at 4 a.m. and the peak at around 6a.m. If you’re just getting to bed immediately beforehand, you’re missing out on your most restful period of sleep. I advocate getting to bed between 10 -11 p.m. for this basic reason.

Dr. Natasha Turner ND is the author of The Hormone Diet and she welcomes your questions or comments. Although you may not receive a response, your submission will certainly be read and may be selected as a topic for a future column.

Exercise to Lose Weight

June 25th, 2015

While most people who are trying to lose weight are going down the diet route, there is a much more effective long term method of achieving the weight loss you desire along with a fitter, slimmer and more toned body. This can really only be achieved by exercise because it is exercise that forces the muscles to do the work that not only burns the calories and excess fat, but strengthens and tones the parts of the body where the exercises are targeting.

For an overall toned body look, it is best to do a selection of different exercises that target different areas of the body. Here is an example of how doing just one form of exercise can help you lose weight but give you unwanted results in body shape. Say for instance you choose to work only on exercising your legs by working out at the gym on a treadmill and then using weights and apparatus that only target the legs. You will end up with great looking legs, but you may not get rid of the fat belly or any areas of fat that have accumulated on your upper body, such as the upper arms, chest and upper back.

Much better is to vary the exercises so that all areas of your body get some of the workout. Better still is to find exercises that target the whole body, such as swimming. In the gym, you would need to do a circuit of apparatus to work all the different muscle groups, although elliptical trainers are very good for targeting several different areas. This can be mixed up with some time on the treadmill, stepper and rowing machine to work legs, torso and upper body.


Of all the exercises you can do, probably the most rewarding, fun and varied has to be swimming. By doing a variety of different strokes and swimming several lengths of the pool at each visit, increasing every time, you will target all muscle groups fairly equally and it won’t feel like a workout. Sure, you will get tired and you can also experience muscle pains especially in the early days, but this is an exercise form that is so easy to do, can be combined with some fun time afterwards and the best part is that you don’t end up sweating like you would in a gym.

Here is another way to do, look at here: How a Hot Bath Can Improve Health and Weight Loss: Bath-Drawing Tips

Cardiovascular Workouts

For fat burning through exercise, the best way of achieving this is by including some cardiovascular exercise in your daily routine. It doesn’t need to be the only thing you do, but on the other hand, if you do nothing else, then make the exercise you do cardiovascular in nature. This is the aerobic type of exercise that raises your heart rate, breathing rate and forces you to sweat and breathe hard. You must sustain this level of exercise for a reasonable amount of time for it to the most good, which is typically 20 minutes or more.

The benefits are that after 20 minutes, your body is forced to start using its store of fat to provide the muscles with the fuel they need. This fuel is initially provided by the sugars in the bloodstream, but over time these sugars become depleted and need to be replaced to enable the muscles to keep on working. The replacement comes from the body’s store of fat, so if you want to burn fat, then keep it going for more than 20 minutes.

Eat a Healthy Diet

Exercise may be the best way to lose weighty, but you still need to eat a healthy diet to complement your efforts and to gain the maximum benefits from what you are doing. Over time, you will get to the stage where you are exercising sufficiently each day to burn so many calories that you will need to eat more to sustain a healthy weight and not become unhealthily underweight. This is why you need to eat a healthy diet, as eating junk food will make it more difficult to maintain the level of exercise you need to do in order to keep burning the calories you are loading in but without the essential nutrients your body needs to sustain its strength and stamina.

So the bottom line is to eat healthy and exercise every day and this will not only lead to the weight loss target you have set for yourself but will help you to maintain a steady and healthy body weight in the long term. In addition to the healthy weight maintenance you will enjoy, you will achieve a great looking body that you will be proud of.

Some Overlooked BENEFITS of Running

May 15th, 2015

Whether you are a very passionate marathon runner or just a guy who likes running once or twice every month, you should most probably already know that the running exercise does bring with it a huge baggage of awesome advantages. It might not be a highly thrilling or captivating sport like football, soccer or basketball but running has a whole set of fantastic benefits that can really set it apart.

  1. Health!

Well, this one is quite self-explanatory really!! There are just so many health benefits that somebody can think of and here are just a few of them:

–          Promote the constant and efficient flow of blood along the blood vessels of your body which can consequently reduce the risk of diseases such as heart attack. Running is good for your heart and lungs.

–          It is a great stress-reliever. There’s a term in the running community called the “runner’s high”. Basically, it is that state of mind which can be described as calm and euphoric especially after somebody has done a long run. This feeling can help release some stress in people and it has been documented that running can also relieve some mild depressions.

–          Your fitness will obviously improve and once you start running more on a regular basis, so will your stamina.

–          There has also been some researches that showed that running can affect one’s mood. Just like many other sports actually, it has been showed that people who exercise regularly are more likely to be happy in general than people who don’t. And obviously, being happy usually brings about more health benefits than those who are not.

  1. Weight loss!

This is without any doubts one of the most popular reasons as to why many people decides to start running. Because they want to lose weight.

Running not only increases one’s overall muscles mass but it will also give a kick to your resting metabolism which means that you will be burning calories even while resting. It will keep your metabolism working for much longer period of time. Also a 160 – 170 pound individual can expect to burn about 100 calories per mile run.

  1. It can be fun!

Well yeah…. It’s just as simple as that. Many people really enjoy running and cannot imagine not having it as part of their lives. It might sound unbelievable to some but it is indeed the case. Running is simply an important part of their lives and it would be very hard to imagine not having it as part of their lifestyle.

And like I’ve mentioned above, there’s also that “runner’s high” that many people like experiencing, especially people who are usually very stressed.

  1. Some social advantages!

This might be an unexpected argument for those promoting the sport of running but it is actually very true. Being a regular runner will eventually get you involve in some running communities and you might even end up joining a club.

This will consequently allow you to meet not only other runners but also other like-minded people. You’ll be meeting more and more people and soon enough, before you know it, you’ll be training with many of them. Many people do not hesitate to travel very long distances with their running friends so as to participate in international competitions or other similar events.

As you can see running has some great advantages that you simply cannot overlook. If you were still hesitant about whether or not to start running on a more regular basis, I hope you have now made up your mind. If you never used to run before, then you should definitely start slowly maybe something like; only once a week and not running for too long as well.

The Female Weight Loss Tips

May 14th, 2015

For the women, having the best and the perfect body shape is dreaming since it can help them in getting the perfect appearances and increasing their self-confidence. There are so many women who are confusing in choosing the best and the perfect weight loss diets since there are so many choices for you. Well, in choosing the weight loss diets of course you should find the best and the healthy one so that you will not get the side effects. In the market, there are so many weight loss pills diets that are formulated from the chemical ingredients and of course this is not good for your body and health. For you who want to have the right and the best result in burning your fat, you can have the female weight loss tips.

You do not need to make hurt yourself in losing your weight since you can easily do the weight loss diets that are healthy and good for you. Well, in the female weight loss tips, it is suggested for you to eat the vegetables and the fruits in your diet program since the vegetables and fruits are the best fiber that your body needs. Furthermore, eating them is good and healthy for your body so that you can get so many benefits of this. Furthermore, if you are afraid and do not want to have the hard exercises then you do not need to do it. You can easily and simply burn your fat by having jogging, walking, riding bikes, hiking, and many other activities that can make your body move so that you do not store your fat in your body. Body needs energy and you can get the energy from the food you are eating, and if you do not have so many activities then the fat will be stored in your body and you will gain the weight.

So, in diet program, you do not need to hurt yourself by letting you starving. You only need to have the healthy food and enough activities so that you can burn your weight.

Besides, in the female weight loss tips, it is suggested for you to walk for several minutes and it will really help you in losing your weight. You can also lower your calories to reduce the fat in your body. You can replace it with the fiber that you can get from the vegetables and the fruits. With the fiber you can feel satisfied longer and it can help you in preventing the hunger. The soft drink or any drink that contains soda is not good for your health since it can make you gain more weight. Therefore, you should also reduce to drink soda and replace it with the drink that less sugar such as the green tea and the water. Water helps you in losing your weight since it can help your metabolism.

Being Short? Learn How to Grow Taller!

May 12th, 2015

So many people think that they are going to be short forever and that there’s nothing they can do to change the height given to them by their genes, but this isn’t true! Believe it or not, you can learn how to grow taller! There are many methods of growing taller that anyone can take advantage of, no matter their current age or height.

An important first question to address is how does a body actually grow to begin with? When it comes to your physical height, bones play the most important role of all. You see, babies actually have more bones in their bodies than adults do! This may sound strange, but when a baby is born a big part of their skeleton is made of cartilage. When the baby grows, this cartilage starts to harden and turn into the bones they will have for the rest of their life! Several of these pieces of cartilage grow together to become a single, strong bone.

Growth spurts tend to happen fairly often through puberty because the cartilage gradually lengthens and hardens into bone. Once you’re an adult, all the cartilage you had when you were young has already hardened into bone, leaving little room for continued growth. After puberty most of your growing is done and, in general, exercises to increase height don’t work very well anymore at this point, though things like yoga have been shown to give you better posture and allow you give the appearance of an increased height by standing taller.

There are also extreme cases where people decide to try bone lengthening surgery in order to become taller. This surgery is extremely risky and it may even be hard to find a doctor who is actually qualified to perform it. On top of that, there are tons of potential complications that can make the recovery time and even your life after the surgery more difficult than it was before.

In bone lengthening surgery, your bones are broken in particular areas and metal plates are added to create gaps between the pieces of broken bone. As the bones heal and grow back together, you become taller when your bones heal around the newly inserted metal plates. The main reason for possible complications is that the bone tends to be weak in the areas where it heals. This means a greater chance of new breaks in these areas, even from things that wouldn’t cause damage to a normal bone. During the surgery you also suffer the risk of potential nerve damage or even various levels paralysis if the surgery isn’t performed correctly.

Luckily there are plenty of ways to increase your height naturally and safely away from a hospital or operating room. A healthy diet with a proper amount of exercise can be a huge help when it comes to growing taller and staying tall. When you are a teenager it’s important to exercise and get plenty of protein, calcium, amino acids, and nutrients in your diet so your body will have the energy to grow. If you don’t, you risk the chance that your growth will be stunted. If you continue to neglect a proper diet, your bones will weaken and you may even find yourself growing shorter as you become older! While most stretching exercises won’t work well for adults, they work well for teenagers and the earlier you start, the more growth you’ll see from them.

So, where do you get started?

I suggest Grow Taller 4 Idiots, which is the ultimate guide to growing taller. It is a digital program created for people just like you who wish to become taller. Not only will you get a step-by-step guide, but it is filled with illustrations to make sure you fully understand everything. Many find they are able to increase their height by a couple of inches in only a few weeks!

People just like you are using Grow Taller 4 Idiots to finally gain the real height they have always wanted.