For more information about her book Prepare To Push™ – What Your Pelvic Floor andAbdomen Want You to Know about Pregnancy and Birth and her program, go to www.preparetopush.com
Why your next vacation should include a cycling tour
Can you imagine yourself biking along a field of wildflowers, herds of cows, or even up brisk mountains or along the coast of the ocean? The wind is rushing through your hair and the smell of the salty breeze hitting your cheek. Sounds perfect, doesn’t it?
When most people decide to travel as part of a tour, the first thing they search for is the form of transportation — will I be riding on a bus with 40 other people, will I use a cruise ship to get from one destination to another, or will the group be transported by train to each city? What most travellers overlook is the sustainable option of cycling.
I know exactly what you are thinking: that seems like a lot of work for a vacation. I considered a cycling tour a few years ago when I was looking to travel through Europe. I had just started to bike over the summer and thought it would be a great way to see the countryside of Italy — however, the more I read about it, the more the thought of riding 70 to 80 kilometres a day terrified me. I didn’t want to be that person who had to call a cab in the middle of nowhere and spend a mini-fortune getting back to the hotel.
But, there are a variety of cycling tours available for people of different fitness capabilities. After doing more research, I found quite a few tours that range between 30 and 60 kilometres per day, and that as long as you understand the hill gradients involved in the routes, it’s not as physically exhausting as it may seem.
The advantage of going on a cycling tour is the ability to move at your own pace. Most are self-guided, so while you travel with a group of people, what you do and see is entirely up to you. Feel free to stop at a small village for a glass of wine, wonder a few shops, hike through some ruins, or sit by a stream and relax those muscles. It’s a much more natural way of seeing a country. Instead of spending your time lining up for tourist attractions that are more than often overrated, you will actually get the opportunity to experience the culture of a place. A cycling tour is the perfect option for an explorer, someone who has an intense passion to learn and see more than what is often printed in a list of “top must-see places”.
And then there is the fitness aspect. Eat cake, drink wine, and enjoy delicacies from around the world, because you will most likely burn off all those calories when you hop back on that bike! Your bags are typically sent along to each hotel in a support vehicle, which means you don’t have to worry about travelling with all your luggage.
The final benefit is that cycling tours are often well-priced, as the costs only include accommodations (which are usually quite luxurious), and a few meals. The transportation is all up to you!
Here are a four tours to explore:
Cycle through Tuscany: This guided tour is incredibly intimate, which means you are bound to meet some great friends while enjoying the sights of Italy. The daily bike ride is relatively short, with the longest route being 55 kilometres; however, Tuscany is naturally hilly. This tour offers a few meals and complimentary wine after your bike ride. Travellers will be staying at a mix of hotels and apartments.
Cycle through Spain: For those looking to bike a daily 30 to 60 kilometres a day, this tour through Spain is for you. Travellers will spend two days in each city exploring the various cycling routes and getting to know each village. Discover seaside resorts, dormant volcanoes, and fishing villages. All breakfasts and one dinner are included.
Cycle through Peru: This tour is recommended for active travellers who enjoy hiking, cycling, and kayaking. Instead of biking to each destination, this tour is comprised of shorter local bike tours, which means beginners may be more drawn to it. A number of cultural destinations are included, along with guides to explain the history. The accommodations are a mix of hotels and campgrounds, so this tour is for those who truly love the outdoors and aren’t afraid to rough it.
Cycle through Croatia: Vineyards, forests, and the Adriatic Sea — what else would you need for a cycling tour? Explore the coast while cycling through local villages and tasting homemade wines and fresh fruits. Similarly to the tour through Tuscany, the longest ride is about 50 kilometres, but there are a few steep climbs. Most of the villages have deep historical significance, so history buffs rejoice!
When choosing a cycling tour, make sure to note which ones include rented bikes and helmets. Some tours may require you to bring your own bicycles while others will provide them for you.
Should you go running with your dog?
On a typical morning before work, I am out the door by 5:30. The Vancouver streets are quiet and mostly deserted, except for a regular runner ahead of me with a frisky, four legged friend at his side. The pair always look happy, enjoying each other’s company on these cold winter mornings. They were like dance partners in perfect synch, running step for step. It made a delightful picture. A dog may be the most reliable companion to share in your running journey, because they are always ready when you are.
Does this image inspire you to run or walk with your dog?
There are many benefits to running with your dog, including keeping you both fit and enjoying bonding time with your favourite furry friend. They also provide comforting security, especially for women who run by themselves in secluded areas. But, before going for that run or walk with your wiener dog, dachshund, or pug, however, knowing the dos and don’ts of running with your pet could save you both a lot of grief and injury.
According to Vancouver-based veterinarian Dr. Kathy Kramer, you can’t just decide one day to go running with your dog. Owners need to be committed to their pet first. “Running requires training, since most dogs like to sniff along the way and get easily distracted,” she said. “Not every dog is cut out to be a marathoner. Common sense dictates that while you may try to run with your border collie, you would leave your bulldog or Chihuahua at home.”
The best runners are athletic breeds, or dogs over 20 kilograms, Kramer explained. It’s important to do your research. For example, greyhounds are sprinters and not long distance runners while labradors, golden retrievers, border collies, and German shepherds may enjoy the freedom of a marathon. Larger dogs like great danes or mastiffs won’t enjoy running because it will put pressure on their joints.
Training for any distance requires following a proper program, and it is the same principle when running with your dog.
“Dogs also require conditioning like people do,” Kramer said. “A person would be crazy to start out by running 10 kilometres, so don’t expect your dog to do it! The same wear and tear that affects a person’s joints will affect a dog’s as well. Acute injuries, such as soft tissue sprains or ligament tears can happen quickly. As the dog ages, the percussive forces of running can cause arthritis to start at an earlier age.”
When you and your dog encounter someone on the trail, it is best to pull off to the side to let them pass without interacting. A dog might be occasionally spooked and one should not assume others want your dog to greet them. People will feel safer when the lead is shortened.
Some smaller breeds will love running and some larger dogs would rather be couch potatoes. A good running companion depends on personality, stamina, and overall health. Dogs with high stress levels may not be able to run in the city. Dogs that are prone to heart disease should be thoroughly screened for starting a serious exercise program.
It is also important to remember that dogs are stoic creatures who won’t show pain or discomfort until there is real damage. Heat stroke is the biggest risk during the summer. Dogs only sweat through their footpads and can easily overheat, even in normal temperatures. Always have water handy for your dog anytime you run. If your dog is limping, call your veterinarian. Sprains or ligament tears can be very painful even though your dog is not crying out or will let you touch the injured limb.
There is some debate about the best age to start training your dog to run. Most dogs have finished growing by 16-24 months. Kramer says if you start slow and on a soft surface, you can start to train the dog at around 12-18 months.
Will you try running with your dog this spring? Let us know in the comments below!
Why are reporters still describing female athletes as ’emotional’?
Last week, fans were shocked to hear that well-respected coach John Herdman will be leaving the Canadian women’s soccer team and heading up the men’s national team.
Herdman has led the women’s soccer team to two Olympic bronze medals and two CONCACAF champions, as well as numerous other international wins. The Canadian women’s soccer team is a force of nature, and is the only Canadian olympic team to win medals two Games in a row.
But, the article I’m going to write is not about Herdman himself or his move to the men’s team. Instead, it is about an article written in the Toronto Sun by Kurt Larson that diminishes the women’s soccer team’s accomplishments and frames Herdman’s transition as a step up within the industry.
The article itself contains a number of condescending remarks, but the top zingers are these: “Matches aren’t won via athleticism and emotion as they are in the women’s game. Results are secured through tactics and technical ability on the men’s side” and “The source invoked San Pedro Sula, Honduras, the site of Canada’s infamous 8-1 loss, as being far different from playing at BC Place in front of thousands of screaming pre-teens, donning red face paint and Christine Sinclair jerseys. Simply put: The stakes are higher on the men’s side.”
Herdman’s experience with the women’s team far outweighs the capabilities of the former men’s soccer coach over the last few years. The women’s team has gone to the olympics to win medals while the men’s soccer team…well, they haven’t competed on that stage in a while.
My household is full of soccer fans. I often come down in the morning to the sport being played on television on Saturday mornings. I’ve watched the men play and I’ve watched the women play. I can personally tell you the women are stronger players on many levels. Their athleticism, their sportsmanship, and their skill far outweigh what I’ve seen at a men’s soccer game.
I urge you to watch a game for yourself. When the women are knocked to the ground or hurt, they get back up immediately and jump into the game with a level of ferocity unseen on the men’s playing ground. The men? Well, they hang on to their ankle and shed crocodile tears until the referee calls for a free kick. Is that the “tactic and technical skills” this reporter was talking about? If so, I’m not sure that is something to celebrate.
This year, people are celebrating the strength of women — and yet reporters are still using words like “emotion” to describe female athletes. My question is why? What makes a female athlete so damn more emotional than a male athlete? They both put their heart, soul, and body on the line each time they compete. They each try their best to represent their team and country on an international stage. And yet, every year some journalist seems to fit the word “emotion” into a sentence about a female athlete, despite the only difference being reproduction organs. It’s incredibly disappointing.
The Sun even admits their own feelings for female athletes when they explain why Herdman is so respected. “He even showed a bit of fire last year when he took the Toronto Sun to task over not covering his women’s team with the same enthusiasm it covers the men.”
I guess nothing’s changed.
Featured Image taken for Canada Soccer.
Nikki Scott turns to her passion for running to beat major health issues
Nikki Scott’s survival in 2005 was not guaranteed. A car accident resulted in a broken back and ribs, and a dislocated collar bone and sternum. A disc in her neck was herniated and both of her lungs collapsed. A serial marathon runner, doctors told her she would never be able to run again.
But against all odds, in 2008, she completed her first half marathon.
For most people, coming back from a debilitating accident like that in just four years would have been impossible. But Scott had to undergo a second incident in August of this year. The Surrey, B.C. native’s world would change again when she took a serious fall, resulting in a deep cut, a bacterial infection, and a subsequent battle to keep her limbs.
“A few friends and I were out for a run in Golden Ears (Provincial Park),” she said. “We had our route planned – but soon after we got started we came up on a bear so we quickly turned around and headed back to the cars. I turned to say something to my friend and I caught my toe on a rock and wiped out. I landed on my knees and when I flipped over to sit down, both of my friends kind of gasped. Sure enough, I had a huge, bloody gash and a great big skin flap flipped open on my knee.”
“I kind of panicked when I realized that I could actually see my kneecap in the bottom of the wound,” Scott said, adding, “We all took a deep breath and started going through the first aid supplies in our packs. Luckily we had water, gauze and antiseptic wipes so we cleaned it up as best we could, covered it in gauze and wrapped my knee.”
They headed to Peace Arch Hospital in White Rock where she got the wound cleaned up and stitched back together. She was sent home. Everything appeared to be fine.
However, the next morning, her entire leg was burning with pain. She was given some painkillers and antibiotics and sent home yet again. An hour later, she was heading to Langley Memorial Hospital by ambulance.
Scott’s leg was infected and the doctors started her with multiple IV antibiotics.
“Over the next four days, the infection raged and spread from my toes to my ribs. My leg and torso were swollen to twice their size. The pain was unbearable and they had to keep switching the antibiotics, but the infection wasn’t responding. By the end of the week my kidneys had also failed, so they sent me off to Surrey Memorial, labelled ‘loss of life or limb’ and I was admitted into critical care,” Scott said.
She was diagnosed with Cellulitis and spent the next 20 days in hospital before her wound responded to antibiotics. The wound, luckily, healed in about three months. Scott says the infection was “stubborn and resistant”, but she is starting to return to her regular life. A month after coming home she was able to ditch the crutches and start doing physical activity again.
“I started doing very short, 30 second intervals of ‘running’ on the treadmill. Because of the atrophy in my muscles, I have been taking things very slowly so I don’t cause new injuries, but have been working my way up to longer intervals of running and walking.”
Scott found that being fit helped her on her road to recovery. “Having that background of setting goals and devising a strategy and a plan to get there has definitely helped me figure out what I need to do to beat this injury,” she says.
Surviving a major car accident and the slow recovery process taught Scott to listen to her body and following the leg infection she also had to take it slow and let the pain and fatigue levels guide her.
Scott, a mother of two young boys, has completed 20 half marathons, five full marathons, and four ultra-marathons. She is refusing to let physical setbacks keep her from continuing her running.
“I was determined not to let my car accident beat me or define me and it has been kind of similar following this infection,” she said. “My end goal is to get my strength back and be able to run distance again, so I’ve just been setting small, manageable goals.”
Recovery strategies are not one-size-fits-all, so consult your doctor about when you should resume training. Once you do, make sure refuelling, repairing and rehydrating are part of your workout regime to help you reach your goals.
Soccer players and distance runners share similar training
Over 28,000 fans attended the Canada vs. USA Women’s soccer game held at BC Place, Vancouver, BC. It was the largest crowd ever at a national women’s match.
After watching the game, I decided to revisit the similarities between soccer players and runners, specifically the need for athletes in both sports to move for long periods of time without rest. It could be argued that soccer requires more stamina than other team sports because 120 minutes of play, including overtime, is common before a shootout decides the winner. By comparison, a regular season NHL hockey game is 65 minutes, including five minutes of O.T. before the shootout, and NBA basketball games are 48 minutes before unlimited mini-halves of overtime – rare in basketball – decide the outcome. MLB baseball, with its superb athletes, does not operate on the clock at all, though a typical nine-inning game takes about two hours and 30 minutes to play, with mega-stops and delays added in. Even the tiring effects of physical contact from football, hockey and basketball don’t balance because of rest time that’s built into the stoppages. Soccer, which has its own share of contact, rarely stops play.
Runners, like soccer players, are challenged by speed and the need for stamina and endurance. A world class runner can complete a marathon between 125 to 130 minutes — roughly the time it takes to play a soccer match.
Soccer players do a lot of sprinting in addition to their constant running back and forth on the field. Overall, to be competitive and on top of their game, they need both speed and endurance.
Interval training for marathoners and running drills for soccer players helps increases speed and can benefit both athletes. Running downhill is good for developing strong quads. Running uphill will increase lung capacity and stamina. When you add strength, focus, and mental toughness to the mix, you get a clear picture of what soccer players and runners share every day. All athletes need to stretch every muscle group before and after a workout or match.
As for where the similarities end, soccer players explode for bursts of speed, which requires balance, control, and strength. These factors are what separate the soccer platers from runners, who simply have to focus on a singular task. It’s a sport that is up tempo and uses considerable physical and mental reflexes…and lots and lots of running. I was incredibly impressed.
Photo credit: D. Laird Allan
5 benefits of doing yoga in the morning
I’m a big yoga fan. The movement and breathing wakes my body up and forces my mind to start working, without the added stress of work or life’s challenges. Even a short five or 10-minute practice is enough to to wake me up and send positive vibes throughout my day. While many people say doing yoga at night is advantageous, I think doing it in the morning has just as many benefits.
Here are five benefits of doing yoga in the morning:
Peace of mind: People often start their day by thinking about all the tasks they have to complete before 5 p.m. And then we think about what we need to take out for dinner and who is going to be home and who is going to take out the dog. It gets crazy. Instead of starting your day off stressed out, a 10-minute yoga routine can help you slow down and be completely in the present. Whatever you need to do can wait. These 10 minutes are yours alone.
Focus: The peace of mind you get from practicing yoga can help you set an intention for your day. What do you want to accomplish? What do you want to feel? Whether you want to maintain positive thinking, despite a meeting-packed day, or if you want to be confident during a presentation or networking event, an intention will help you create the frame of mind first thing.
Helps digestion: Practicing yoga in the morning can help your body metabolize food throughout the day. By doing gentle stretches, especially twists that massage the internal organs, the body becomes more capable of releasing toxins from the body. It also allows for the body to better absorb nutrients in food.
Better posture: Many yoga poses focus on muscles in your back, forcing you to push your shoulder blades back and breath deep into the stretch. Once you start actively thinking about how your head connects with the rest of your spine, there will be no going back. These type of exercises are ideal for those with a desk job.
Overall fitness: While yoga may not burn as many calories as running a 5k, it can help you strengthen your muscles and tone your body. Through the movement, you are essentially supporting your entire body mass using your own muscles. Whether it’s a simple downward dog or something more challenging like a balancing practice, every movement activates your core. If you are looking for something to supplement your cardio — yoga is the perfect routine.
Do you practice yoga in the morning? Let us know your favourite poses in the comments below!
CONTEST: Barre class with 889Yoga
Women’s Post has partnered with 889Yoga to reward our rewards with some free Barre Class Passes! What is a barre class you ask? It’s a ballet-inspired fitness class that mixes dance with strength training and balance. By the end of the class, not only will you have completed a full-body workout, but you will feel more grounded. After a few classes, you may even see an improvement in your posture and energy!
889 launched their barre classes in June of this year, and are eagerly looking for new recruits. There are eight different class times to choose from, which means they should be able to work with everyone’s schedule! To find out more, go here.
Sign up for our newsletter by Oct. 15 and enter to win a pair of class passes. Women’s Post has three pairs to give away, so make sure to tell your friends!
Sign up here:
Blue Diamond Growers put love into Almond Breeze
“The almond is a very versatile product.”
No one exudes passion for a nut quite like Mel Machado. Machado is the director of members relations at Blue Diamond Growers, and is as invested in the business as any almond grower.
A farmer himself, Machado says you either love it, or you don’t. “Farming is a system and by that, there are no independent actions that don’t have reactions somewhere else,” he said. “It’s definitely not the easiest thing in the world. It takes vision and strength to be a good farmer.”
But the one thing about almond growing in California is that Blue Diamond values the input of every single one of the people working the fields — something that can’t be said about most companies.
Blue Diamond Almond Growers are part of one of the oldest cooperatives in the United States. It was created in 1910 with the intention of giving growers more power in the marketplace and improving the quality of the product. Today, there are over 3,000 growers in the cooperative and every single one of the farmers who market through Blue Diamond is considered an owner.
The important thing to remember about Blue Diamond is that quality is their number one priority. It’s an incredibly family-centric industry, meaning the almonds are grown with love and respect. Some of the growers come from three to four generations of farmers, and each one is invested in the cooperative. In fact, Machado makes a point to introduce the corporate members of Blue Diamond to these farmers so they understand all that goes into making such a delicious product.
In 2013, the cooperative opened the Blue Diamond Almond Innovation Centre, which is the world’s first and only research center dedicated to almond product innovation. It’s through this centre the company comes up with its new ideas. In fact, Almond Breeze, the dairy-free beverage, is a product of the cooperative’s Innovation Centre. It’s there that different flavours and uses for the product are explored and tested. This includes beverages, snacks, crackers, and of course, traditionally flavoured nuts. Some of Machado’s favourite flavours (as well as his dog’s) are sweet thai chilli and wasabi soy.
The most popular products are, of course, the Almond Breeze beverages. Each one is smooth and creamy with a unique flavour that doesn’t overpower the delicious natural taste of almonds. It’s a great option for lactose-intolerant and vegan customers who still require a source of calcium and vitamins.
My personal favourite is the Unsweetened Almond Coconut drink! It has fewer calories than regular milk, contains the healthy fats and nutrients I need for my day, and tastes absolutely divine on my morning oatmeal!
You can find the Original and Vanilla Almond Breeze (sweetened and unsweetened) in the refrigerated section of most grocery stores, but make sure to check the self-stable products on the shelves to find the chocolate and coconut flavours.
Wondering how to use your dairy-free beverages? Try a Key Lime Pie Smoothie:
For more recipes, go here!
Key Lime Pie Smoothie
Prep Time: 10 minutes Cook Time: 0 minutes
Yield: 2 servings
- 1 1/2 cups (375 mL) Almond Breeze® Unsweetened Vanilla
- 1/2 ripe avocado, diced
- 1/2 cup (125 mL) fresh baby spinach
- 3 tbsp (45 mL) maple syrup
- 2 tbsp (30 mL) lime juice
- 1 tsp (5 mL) lime zest
- 5 ice cubes
- Lime wedges (optional)
- 1/2 cup (125 mL) toasted shredded coconut (optional)
In blender, combine Almond Breeze, avocado, spinach, maple syrup, lime juice, lime zest and ice; purée until smooth.
If desired, rim 2 glasses with fresh lime and dip into toasted coconut.
Per 1/2 recipe: Calories 190, Fat 8g, Cholesterol 0mg, Sodium 150mg, Carbohydrate 27g, Fibre 2g, Sugars 20g, Protein 2g
World Sight Day reminder for runners to get proper headgear
To get the most out of your running performance, you need to: wear proper gear, eat healthy, get enough sleep, and follow a proper running program to suit your fitness level. That takes care of the basics. Running and most forms of exercising may help maintain overall good eye health, but like our bodies, our vision is affected as we age. As we approach 40, it may be a challenge to see our fitness tracker or training watch clearly.
No doubt, it can be a frustrating experience.
Wearing reading glasses may help you see clearly, however multifocal contact lenses could be a better option for working out, especially when running outdoors in rain or snow. According to a study in the journal Age of Perception, 30 per cent of aging Canadians would rather wear contact lenses than glasses, 16 per cent would rather squint than wear reading glasses, and about one in five (19 per cent) agree they would or currently avoid wearing reading glasses because they would make them look older.
An eye condition called presbyopia often occurs around the age of 40 due to a gradual loss of the eye’s ability to focus on close objects. This affects nearly 1.7 billion people. The symptoms are eye strain, difficulty seeing in dim light, and problems focusing on small objects and/or print found on items such as fitness trackers and smart phones.
With World Sight Day coming up on Oct. 12, it is a good reminder to get an eye exam, become familiar with presbyopia awareness, and be updated on the latest eye care technology such as Alcon multifocal contact lenses for the aging eye. A new option has opened up for those who run with a smartphone or fitness tracker. Multifocal contact lenses allow Canadians to see everything near, far and in between. Alcon Dailies Total1® Multifocal contact lenses replace the glasses you would need to wear to see what is ahead while on a run or view your fitness device.
Running with a watch to keep track of your times is a good indicator of your overall health, but if you are struggling to see the watch you may have presbyopia. If you have noticed changes in your vision, visit your eye doctor to get a comprehensive eye exam. More information on the Alcon multifocal contact lenses can be found at LoseYourReaders.ca.