The Ancestral Case To Being An ACTIVEist Over An Exerciser

April was a “wild” month in more ways than one!

Harbour

 

From the CN tower climb in support of the World Wildlife Fund, to the Total Health Show and Green Living Expo in Toronto, week-long 40th anniversary celebrations for our health food store, formal events in Cambridge, family birthday gatherings in Burlington and everything in between… this past month as accurately summarized by breakfast? :

Blended on turbo and packed with Maca!

Maca smoothies

CN Tower climb time: 23:54!

With the mantra of “slow and steady,” I think WWF could use a new mascot, no?

But while we wait for next year’s ambitious trek, how does one go about raking up the optimal 8-10,000+ steps a day in activities without the boost of 1776 steps up a skyscraper? And in accordance with my book of choice this month: Spencer Wells’ Pandora’s Seed; The Unforeseen Cost Of Civilization, why is daily activity so superior to exercise? Do we really need the long runs and fancy Fitbits?

For this, we take a few steps back to our hunter-gatherer roots!

fresh smoothie

The Daily ACTIVE-ist

Have you ever been guilty of working out for an hour and lounging the remainder of the day?

  As human beings, we are designed for consistent movement as opposed to strenuous exercise followed by a predominantly sedentary lifestyle. Think of our ancestors who were habitually active with intermittent periods of demanding exercise when hunting (or being hunted). In this way, even your highly fit individual may very likely be sitting too much as temporary bouts of vigorous exercise simply cannot make up for a day of prolonged sitting.

The trick?

GET MOVING!

maca

 Movement As An Ancestral Superfood

Movement is most definitely a superfood! It charges our body’s energy, detoxification, metabolism, digestion, lymphatic drainage and stimulates our brain.

But if you asked our hunter-gatherer ancestors about their exercise routine, they would have found this concept downright ludicrous!

In fact, their daily goal was to conserve the energy they expended as every calorie utilized had to be replenished by finding more food. Certainly not as easy an endeavor as it is now with Fresh Restaurants scattered conveniently throughout the city!

fresh bowl

As Katy Bowman put it:

“People have not exercised throughout history. Exercise is the modern man’s equivalent to nutritional supplements. In the same way supplements should not be the bulk of your diet, exercise should not be the bulk of your movement profile.”

When it comes to superfoods, opt for sweet potatoes over the household couch potato. But if you think you need fancy Fitbits, expensive trainers and fully equipped gyms? Think again!

An inexpensive pedometer, a good pair of footwear (this is one to invest in), your own body weight and some local trails to hike are all you’ll need to take your daily ACTIVE-ist by stride!

 

Tomorrow I’ll share with you my 10 favourite ways to effortlessly add more ACTIVE-ity to your day and until then, I’m off to enjoy another day of sunshine on the trails 🙂

Happy SUNday wellness enthusiasts,

Suzanne Eden

 

Listen Up Yogis! The Biggest Workout Mistake I See & the Electrolyte Elixir

Prior to moving away this past year, I worked at our local hot yoga studio. Simply stepping into the room, curtains drawn, windows steaming, hot plates lining the walls, was enough to signal the body to start producing glistening beads of detoxifying sweat across your brows. I saw it all, from your basic sweaters to those whose mats resembled slip N slides by the end of practise. Everyone in that room was sweating and that’s where I started cringing. It wasn’t the sweat that had me in a bind but the fact that I watched copious amounts of people come and go without the understanding of how to properly replenish their bodies after such an intense workout. Truth be told, I didn’t truly understand the magnitude of the situation at the time. Simply drinking water is just not enough, not nearly, and regardless of whether you are sweating it out in a hot yoga studio or out on your bike on a blistering summers day, you need to know how to stay safe and protect your body.

elements

Why electrolytes are your new workout companions:

We lose electrolytes when we sweat. Potentially up to 1.5 liters in an intense workout! With the loss of sweat comes the loss of electrolytes, sending our body’s delicate balance out of whack. Have you ever felt dizzy or nauseous during a workout? This could be the culprit of imbalanced electrolytes.

Right now,  your body is sending an incomprehensible number of electrical impulses through your body. Without this, you wouldn’t be functional.  This process is only made possible by way of your cells, tissues and fluids that work in the proper ratio of salts (electrolytes) in your body. This is why it is so critical to keep this environment as it is or you are sure to feel the side effects.

 
How do we properly replenish?

Let’s begin at the bottom, the sweaty, slip N slide floor so to speak and work our way up. We’ll start with the most common energy drinks: Gatorade and Powerade. These drinks are loaded with unnecessary junk to have it both look, and taste appealing. Here are some of these concoctions biggest flaws:

  • … Buy it in every colour…?
    There is nothing natural about its fluorescent rainbow of electric yellows and manufactured green. You sweat to sweat the toxins out of your body, right? Why would you want to fill yourself back up with toxins again?
  • A spoonful of sugar… or two… or three..
    These drinks are loaded with low quality sugars. It is necessary for sugar to be present in your electrolyte balancer but the quality of sugar is key, not the heavily refined sugars found in these drinks.
  • Quality
    We need salts in our electrolyte balancer, yet what you find in these sports drinks is the low quality salts that work against our target for health.

coconut water
We are sweating to detoxify, there is nothing that makes sense in consuming toxins right after to bring them right back in. Onto the next, the buzz of coconut water.  I am a coconut water fanatic! I adore this stuff, especially with pulp! It’s a refreshing and energizing drink through the day and after a sweaty practise but it has its flaws in adequately replenishing electrolytes. It helps but its benefits are a bit… watered down shall we say?

Here’s the thing…

Coconut water is very high in potassium but low in sodium. We need the proper proportion of electrolytes to adequately restore our bodies post workout. So if we aren’t consuming coconut water with the proper ratios of salt, we’re doing better than no electrolytes at all, but we’re not quite there.

Liquid gold: The electrolyte elixir!

The holy grail of workout replenishment! This recipe was provided by my sports nutrition professor at the Institute of Holistic Nutrition. It offers the proper ratio of post workout components for a quick surge of energy and proper bodily replenishment. Mid workout energy slump? Try a good sip of this and you’ll be good to go. Trust me. When biking in sweet summer’s heat, this was my Savior.

I’ll admit that I was hesitant to try it. Lemon water, salt and maple syrup isn’t as enticing as the water from an exotic coconut but I was encouraged by my courageous peers who tried it first. I have to admit, it’s not bad at all. The maple syrup will tingle on your taste buds with the lemon giving it a tartness that cuts the salt. It’s like a slightly salty lemonade and incredibly refreshing.

RECIPE

500ml Purified water

2 TBSP Maple syrup

1/4-1/2 Tsp Sea salt

1/4C Lemon juice

Simply mix & hydrate!

The coconut oil in my cabinet is a glamorous pool of transparent liquid as we head into a mini heat wave this week to welcome September. Though ACTIVE-ist month is concluding, this step 2 in your holistic journey is one to keep running with. I will be sure to have more posts on this topic at some point as this month whizzed by and I have so much more to share!

Get out there, get sweaty and drink up! I would love for you to leave me a comment letting me know how this drink works for you or how you liked the taste. It’s now my workout staple and a huge impact on my routine. I hope you all have the same results and keep safe during those gloriously sweaty workout sessions!

Bottoms up!
Suzanne Eden

Walk This Way: 14 Reasons to Strut Your Stuff

Another one bites the dust

Thursday morning began with a phone call explaining that my car had bit the dust. By the end of the day, I had bought my first official car and in that spirit, I decided to do a blog post on the power of, well… walking. Fitting, no?

In truth, I’m the first to understand that a car can be extremely useful. Our bus systems here are unreliable and an hour and a half clocked on before and after work just isn’t practical, leaving me incredibly blessed to have my hands on a new steering wheel. That being said, it’s all too easy to become dependent and so I try to get out and walk or bike places as much as possible.

The Sedentary Facts

  • A 2005 Canadian Community Health Survey on Canadian’s activity levels showed, at 48%, that almost half of Canadians twelve or older spent less than half an hour walking a day with 25% admitting to sitting the majority of the day. 41% reported spending less than an hour to walk to work or for errands.

It seems walking is in our nature, but not in our routine.

Alexander bridge

Do you fall under the common misconception that a workout needs to be strenuous to be effective? Think again! We spent all day Wednesday touring the grounds of the Toronto Zoo and by the end, we were all feeling the day’s work and were sprawled out on a picnic blanket with empty water bottles, waiting for refreshments and a wholesome meal. Simple walking is an easy and accessible way to incorporate working out into our daily routine. The goal being to make it less of a workout and more of a lifestyle. We should take a cue from the European lifestyle of walking everywhere and implement this into our daily life for weight loss and general health and wellness. After all, these legs were made for walking and this is what they’ll do:

  1. Walk your way to health
  • Regular movement protects us from disease through many mechanisms including reducing inflammation, regulating blood sugar levels, and reducing obesity rates.

      2.  Steps to an ecological footprint

  • No equipment needs to be manufactured and operated, no facility needed beyond the great outdoors, no gas emissions to get you there, this is the environment’s finest of workouts.

     3. Walk off excess fat

  • Any exercise will assist in weight loss, yet walking may burn a higher percentage of fat than will high intensity exercises. It’s important to note that true weight loss is derived from more than just body fat percentage yet low intensity exercise has also been shown to have higher compliance rates, meaning you’re more likely to stick with it!

     4. Refreshing but not exhausting

  • Walking uses less energy resources than do higher intensity workouts. Even after a long day’s work, a gentle walk is enough to rejuvenate and relax the body.

    5. How we are designed

  • Rule of thumb for your health: live as you were designed to live!

     6. Happiness is just a step away

  • Studies have shown that regular exercise such as a brisk walk may be as effective as antidepressants in cases of mild to moderate depression!

      7. Brain fuel

  • Walking can stimulate the brain, improve memory, increase cognitive performance, and may even boost creativity! All heightened when coupled with the clean oxygen provided by a walk in nature.

     8. Productivity

  • Studies show an increase in workplace productivity when walking was incorporated into the workday routine. Some of these studies used “treadmill desks” as the source of walking. There’s no excuse NOT to walk with that one!

     9. Stress reduction

  • There are many ways this happens but an interesting one: it boosts your feel-good endorphins and kicks your stress hormones to the curb!

    10. Calm mind

  • Many studies show that walking can put us in a meditative state. Om on.

    11. Immunity boosting

  • Studies have shown positive effects on the immune system when walking for 30 minute periods. This is once again strengthened in the outdoors when you reap the benefits of fresh air, vitamin D and the soothing effects of nature.

     12. Digest this

  • Gentle walking 40-60 minutes after a meal is a great way to improve digestion by stimulating the internal organs allowing food to pass through the system faster.

     13. Free to a good roam

  • No equipment, no money needed!

     14. Conveniently located

  • Whenever, wherever, a walk is a step away.

 

Walk this way: guidelines to increase the benefits of your daily walk:

  • Take it outdoors away from big cities for air quality and immerse yourself in as many natural surroundings as possible
  • Aim for 30 mins. or more brisk walking per day and focus on engaging your muscles
  • Make it your top mode of transportation, whether through errands, going to walk, walking at your lunch break, whatever it is,  make it a routine.

“The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step”

– Lao Tzu

Walking the way to health,

Suzanne Eden

The Top 5 Workout Routines that are Meant to be Broken!

Good morning readers!
I’m writing from my rooftop where I’ve taken to listening to the music festival in the park as the sound reverberates off the houses, early morning nutritional reads and now writing to you. It’s an odd obsession I have with doing things that aren’t laid out for me. If this were a balcony which was meant to be sat on, it just wouldn’t have the same allure. Not only that, but this has taken me out of my daily routine where I can now people watch unbenounced upon neighbours passing below and unwittingly attract a few bees in the process (must be the coconut oil moisturizer!). What I didn’t realize about removing the screen was that it was not as easy to put back in place as it was to remove and now with a broken window screen comes the metaphor for today’s ACTIVE-ist blog: that routines are meant to be broken!

Rooftop

Here are the top 5 workout routines you need to start breaking!

  1.  Revamp your moves
  • Do you always do the same routine? The same arm and ab workouts? The same yoga sequences? It’s time to switch it up! It can be all too easy to stay in a workout that is both comfortable and familiar but what worked a month ago may not be working as well for you now.
  • When to change your routine?
    You don’t need to change it all the time, in fact, it’s important to have consistency. The key reason to change:
    Your progress diminishes. Muscles habituate and become used to the workouts after a period of time. Switching up your routine will start to work new muscles and counteract this issue.

2. The same type of workout

  • This is where we exercise mentality. Doing the same type of workout will often lead to boredom and boredom leads to a lack of motivation causing the individual to either become lazy and not exercise at peak level or to fall out of their exercise routine entirely. In either case, this should be avoided. You want to enjoy exercise! Whether it be running, swimming, yoga, biking, you name it! Variety is the spice of life.

3. The space you workout

  • Always go to a studio or a gym? Try home workouts or ones out in nature and vise versa. This is for the same reasons as number 2. However, it is also beneficial as we may find better exercising strategies while doing this.
  • For example: I went from doing yoga in a studio and found that the studio gave more variety (every time we went was something different), caused me to workout harder having people there to take me deeper into my practise, and made me more accountable for my workouts. After about a year, however, I felt the lack of yoga motivation creep in. I stopped yoga for about 2 weeks and resumed my practise in the backyard. When I took my practise on my own outdoors, I felt a deeper connection through grounding, felt energised from the oxygen and was able to move according to what my body needed that day.
  • The point being that both in studio and out of studio offer amazing and different benefits and knowing what they offer, I can now choose what will be right for my exercise any particular day. Get to know your different spaces so that you can give your body what it needs.

4. Working out all at once and lounging the rest of the day

  • This is definitely a rut to break! As humans, this is not our design. We need consistent stimulation for optimal health and wellness. A rest period after an intense workout is a good idea but if you use workouts as an excuse to become a couch potato (or a roof potato) the rest of the day, your body will suffer. We should be getting up and moving at least every 30 minutes. Light exercise eg., walking, some yoga stretches or commercial break jumping jacks, will help prevent lymph stagnation, increase blood flow, enhance mental clarity and help to mobilize toxins in the body. This is how you were designed! Your body and your mind will thank you.

5. Your eating routine

  • Eating the same way for workouts as you would any other time won’t give you the best results. You want to optimize your workout and the repair process that takes place afterward. This means that you should tailor your diet to the type, duration, time of workout etc.

Yesterday my activity went from walking, to biking to swimming (more like running laps in a freezing, cold pool to prevent hypothermia) and today? Who knows! The one thing I do know is that with the heat making a much wanted comeback, it will be entirely different from yesterday’s routine,

Kicking off ACTIVE-ist month,
Suzanne Eden