Body Maintenance

High Performance

Local Fruit and Vegetables

What grade of fuel runs your living machine?

Though I appreciate their aesthetic, sound and performance, I couldn’t write about how high end sports cars or motorcycles run without doing some serious research.  I do understand, however, that these high performance engines require high octane fuel.

As a human machine we perform, function and recover best when we have been fueled with fresh (unprocessed) whole foods. But what if the fresh whole foods we choose are not compatible with our living machine?

I love serendipity. I just happened to flip open Outside Magazine (July 2011) to the article below.  This article could have been written for me. The article is about how gluten sensitivity is becoming more prevalent.  It is a quick read that will provide you with some great information.

I started experimenting with “Eat Right For Your Type” in December 2010, which categorizes certain foods as Beneficial, Neutral or Avoid according to one’s blood type.  I was experiencing on-going joint pain and inflammation for a number of years.  It was not getting better so I decided to experiment with food as medicine.  To my good fortune it is working.  Every once in a while when I let my guard down and reintroduce a “forbidden” grain, I get hit with that familiar joint pain. Read my post on Motivation for the full story.

“Let thy food be thy medicine and thy medicine be thy food.”


I don’t believe that there is one single approach for everyone.  I think we need to experiment and borrow ideas and create our own salad, so to speak.  Since reading the Outside Magazine article I will experiment more with eliminating all gluten.  According to the blood type diet, rye and spelt are neutral and I have been eating small amounts of those grains.  However, what I want to share with you, though it may seem very confusing or complicated and one too many steps ahead for you at this point especially if you are just learning about how food could be a factor in our health.  For the blood type diet there is what’s called a secretor or non-secretor:

“A secretor is defined as a person who secretes their blood type antigens into body fluids and secretions like the saliva in your mouth, the mucus in your digestive tract and respiratory cavities, etc.  A non-secretor puts little to none of their blood type into these same fluids.” From the Official website of Dr. Peter D’Adamo

In his updated Complete Blood Type Encyclopedia, Dr. Peter D’Adamo lists which foods are compatible for secretors and non-secretors.  So once I became familiar with the secretor list, which is what is in his original book, I still felt that I needed to refine things. When I discovered the non-secretor list, I speculated that perhaps I was a non-secretor.  I ordered the saliva test (which I have yet to do and send to the lab).  So here I am bouncing between these two lists.  When I eat Spelt, which is acceptable on the secretor list as neutral and listed as an avoid on the non-secretor list, I experience joint pain in my hands.I’ll keep you posted on my secretor status!  But in the meantime, I’m going to stay away from spelt and rye just to see what might happen.Many will panic at the thought of eliminating grains.  What can I eat?  There’s so much to choose from that we don’t even give ourselves the opportunity to explore because we get stuck in a pattern of convenience. What I love about the blood type diet is that I am filling my refrigerator with more foods from the Beneficial list.  Instead of making salads with Romaine (which is neutral for me) I hunt down Escarole.  I eat more vegetables than ever before.  I consider myself a vegetarian who eats meat.  I am an O type and completely need meat and fish protein. There is so much more to say on this topic but will leave it for another day. Our bodies are constantly changing.  It would be wise for us to adapt and work with these changes as opposed to resisting.
I’m quite happy to leave these gluten guys out of my life if it means less joint pain, better recovery and a body that can play hard.
WEDNESDAY, JUNE 15, 2011 Outside Magazine, July 2011


The gluten-free movement isn’t just a fad. It could be the performance boost you’ve been missing.


IT WASN’T A FREAK STORM or pulmonary edema that nearly derailed Dave Hahn’s attempt to top out on Mount Everest for the second time, in 1999. It was a piece of bread. For two years, the mountaineering legend had battled a host of maladies—upset stomach, diarrhea, and a lingering weakness—but he never suspected the foods he was eating to fuel himself (pasta, cereal, bread) were the root of his problem. Hahn, it turned out, had developed celiac disease, an autoimmune response to gluten, a protein found in wheat, barley, and rye. “It was hell,” says Hahn, recalling the trip. “I was supposed to be the old hand, but because of me we got back down late, after it was already dark.”

Now 49, gluten-free, and trying for his 13th Everest summit, Hahn has never felt better. “I could not have continued climbing had I not been diagnosed,” he says.

Since Hahn’s near disaster at 29,000 feet, celiac disease has reached almost epidemic proportions, afflicting 1 in 133 Americans and creating a $2.6 billion market in gluten-free foods. Now, growing evidence suggests that it’s not just athletes with celiac who may benefit from giving up their pre-race pasta feed. A study published in March by the University of Maryland’s Center for Celiac Research suggests that approximately 20 million people who don’t test positive for celiac or its less potent cousin, wheat allergy (which affects roughly 500,000 people), suffer from gluten sensitivity. Symptoms can range from fatigue to depression to joint and abdominal pain.

Like celiac, gluten sensitivity prompts the immune system to inflame cells throughout
the body. And though the symptoms usually aren’t as severe as with celiac, which causes toxic particles to leak into the body, gluten sensitivity can have a corrosive
impact on athletes trying to stay at the top of their game.

Just ask professional mountain biker Brian Lopes. Though he has never been tested for celiac, Lopes gave up gluten eight months ago and is riding 5 to 10 percent faster. “I stopped eating gluten because my friend said it would make me fart less,” says Lopes, who’s won four world championships. “Now I don’t fart and I’m faster.”

According to Alessio Fasano, M.D., lead author of the Maryland study, Lopes’s bowel distress is a common side effect of gluten intolerance. “And if you do have a sensitivity to gluten,” says Fasano, “exercise may make the problem even worse.”

That’s old news to Robby Ketchell, the director of sports science for the Garmin-Cervélo pro cycling team. Since 2008, riders have experienced improved post-ride recoveries, which Ketchell attributes to the team’s gluten-free diet. “When our guys ride, they’re tearing muscle fibers, and that creates inflammation in their bodies,” says Ketchell. “We need to get rid of that inflammation so they can ride strong the next day. The last thing we want is something that causes more inflammation.”

Scientists aren’t exactly sure why there’s been an increase in gluten intolerance in recent years, but they believe it may have something to do with the proliferation of bread, pasta, and other gluten-laden foods in the American diet. “Gluten is increasingly found in the things we eat,” says Fasano. “It may be that our bodies just aren’t equipped to handle that much of it.”

Currently, there is no test for gluten sensitivity. But Shelley Case, a Canadian dietitian and author of The Gluten-Free Diet, offers this advice to help you determine whether you’re better off without it: Run a mile and time yourself, then go on a gluten-free diet for four weeks. Keep notes on how you’re feeling. Then do another one-mile test. “If you’re feeling better during your training and you perform better, you may very well have gluten sensitivity,” says Case.

The next step is finding enough carbohydrates to substitute in your new diet. A moderately active person requires about four grams of carbohydrates for every 2.2 pounds of body weight per day. For a 150-pound guy, that’s about seven large potatoes. Nancy Clark, a Boston-based sports dietitian and author of nine books on sports nutrition, recommends eating things like bananas, lentils, corn, and quinoa instead of muffins, bread, and pasta. “You can’t just stop for pizza after a race,” she says. “You need to be careful about what you eat.” Really careful. Gluten is found in everything from deli meats—it’s often used as filler—to sauces and salad dressings.

Fasano doesn’t recommend everyone go gluten free—after all, wheat is an effective fuel for athletes who can tolerate it. But since the Garmin-Cervélo team gave it up, Ketchell says that no rider has told him the diet isn’t worthwhile. “Part of that,” he says, “is that eating gluten-free foods forces you to avoid processed foods, and that just makes you healthier.”

Outside Magazine, July 2011

Week #13 (Push Up Level 4)

Here is Week #13 – DAYS 1, 3 & 5.

My nephew Peter is demonstrating.

For this next progression, the Low Incline Push Up (Level 4)  your body is aligned as it was when you learned the Wall Press followed by the Incline Push Up (Level 1).

Remember that the level of intensity increases as the incline decreases.  Notice that Peter is in the Plank position with his hands on a low incline. Find a low bench, use a stair, coffee table, bed frame or other.  Just be sure to find a sturdy surface to work from.  Plan it out the night before so that you’re not scrambling in the morning. Peter’s chest lines up with his hands as before in all the progressions.

DAYS 1, 3 & 5 (week #13)

1. 50 High Knees (pumping arms or forearms parallel to the ground or holding chest)

2. 8 LOW Incline PUSH UP in Plank                                                                                             (Level 4 = hands on a low bench, stair, coffee table, bed frame)

3. Repeat circuit 4 times to equal 4 Rounds.

INSTRUCTIONS: Hinging from your toes, notice how the legs, hips, torso and head are static.  The only movement comes from the wrist, elbow and shoulder joints.  If you are unable to maintain this rigid form, then go back to the modified Push Up Levels 2 or  3. The difference with Level 4 Low Incline Push Up and Level 3, is that you are now in Plank Position hinging from the toes and I have raised your incline to off-set the intensity with the intention to maintain mechanical integrity.

MOST COMMON ERROR: Poking the head forward like a pigeon or collapsing at the lower back.  Imagine a plank of wood fixed to your back, originating from the back of the heels all the way to the back of the head.  Hinge forward as a solid unit.  I would rather see you do a quarter or half push up as a solid unit than bending the elbows all the way with poor technique.  Eventually, attempting to tap the chest to the bench NOT the nose.  If you aim with your nose you will likely poke the head forward like the pigeon.  Think of gently retracting your navel in the direction of your spine, just enough to gently engage your abdominals to support the natural curvature of the spine.  You are NOT trying to flatten your back against this imaginary plank of wood.  Take a good look at Peter’s back and you will notice the natural curves of the spine.


DAYS 2, 4 & 6 = [50 High Knees + 20 Bend Down & Reach Up with Toe Raise] x 4. For reference click on this link:

DAY 7 = [50 High Knees + 10 Half Squat] x 4. For reference click on this link:




It is not uncommon to want to skip ahead to get to the “juicier” exercises.  Have patience. The rewards are in the journey.  At anytime you can repeat the same week until you feel ready to move on to the next progression.  Not everyone will be ready to progress at the same rate.  Do not feel defeated should it take longer to move on to the next week.


The following is an outline of the progressions for the Push Up:   1) Wall Press

2) Incline Push Up (Level 1 = hands on counter top or back of couch etc.)

3) Modified Low Incline Push Up (Level 2 = knees bent on floor with hands on bench, stair or coffee table etc.)

4) Modified Push Up (Level 3= knees bent on floor with hands on floor)

5) Low Incline Push Up (Level 4= hands on bench with body in Plank position)

6) Push Up (Level 5= FULL PUSH UP!  From Plank position) coming soon!

 Self-discipline is born from being Consistent.

Sleep Deficit Anyone?

Main health effects of sleep deprivation (See ...

Image via Wikipedia

There are many topics we need to cover regarding our health, aside from the essential physical activity our body requires to function.

My husband showed this article to me about a month ago, a little nudge to the fact that within our household we are not getting enough sleep. It’s written by Ian Brown from The Globe and Mail. Click on this link to read the article. I encourage you to; it may save your life.

In our house we’re up at 6am weekday mornings with the option to sleep in ‘till 8am on weekends.  Well, I have that option. My husband can’t sleep in past 6am, that’s just how his circadian cycle works. And anyone with kids (not teens) can attest to the fact that as difficult as it is for them to get up early on school days, for the life of them, kids cannot sleep-in on weekends.

For us to get close to eight hours sleep a night we need to be in bed before 10pm.

It’s usually my fault that we get to bed so late. Once the kids go to sleep and I’ve got my chores done I like to work on my blog or research or do something or other, just to have some creative time to myself.  But before I know it it’s half passed ten or eleven – so much for our eight hours sleep.

Actually, you do need eight hours of sleep a night.  This is not about being unique or getting away with less, because in truth you’re not getting away with anything – in the end it may well be that it is your health that is getting away from you.  It has been scientifically proven that by not getting this required sleep we put others and ourselves at risk.  Our reaction time and performance suffers, not to mention our health.

Maybe you have heard this before, I know I have.  But what you will find in this article are new studies that should wake us up to the importance and urgency of getting enough sleep now.  Sleep is not something that we can bank and use up later or catch up on.

Within this article are links to others, for example if you click on “Eight Ways to Get Better Sleep” by Leslie Beck who explains the benefits from moderate caffeine intake to the problems associated with excessive amounts, you will notice a few more links embedded in the article.  Such as a study, which explains why “Sleep-deprived People Eat More Calories” and if you “Want Your Children to Lose Weight? Send Them To Bed”.

Each link will take you to more solid research. It is a very impressive section.  I hope you will take some time to look it over.


When The Honeymoon Is Over

after hot yoga class

Image by alc990 via Flickr

Just about everyone I talk with has the same problem. How to maintain our health and fitness among all the other things that have to be done?

The other day, I ran into an acquaintance that I hadn’t seen in a long time and without any prompting from me, he mentioned that after he put his #!*%! back out again it was recommended he try ‘hot Yoga’.  He did and was disciplined with his practice for six months straight. Then stopped. He stopped going for two reasons: 1) because his back was feeling stronger and so naturally didn’t need it anymore and 2) he just didn’t have two hours a day to devote.  And so the cycle continues.  He’ll do nothing until he puts his back out or some other injury takes hold.  When that happens he’ll find the time to take care of him until he’s fixed, then stop and go on cruise control until the cycle repeats…

That’s when I told him about this blog and the concept of 4 Minute Mornings as Daily Body Maintenance.

We chatted about the fact that when a person starts a diet or exercise program there is this honeymoon period when everything is new and exciting and you want everyone to join you because it is the ‘way’!  And you go hard and strong for three, five or six months. You turn your entire world upside down because you think: “I’m really going to make a change and do it this time”. But like any honeymoon, it too comes to an end; too big of a change, too much too soon.

This is where my daily 4 Minute Mornings come in. The concept is simple.  The exercises are simple. But best of all, you are in control. You learn to help YOURSELF be fit and healthy, using your own bodyweight to develop the functional strength you need from home. The driving, parking or getting a babysitter is eliminated from the equation, which is a lot of time saved right there.

It is not mindless repetition.  It’s not about proving how much endurance you have or how much you can do or how hard you can work.  It’s about consistency;  revisiting functional movements and stretching the body daily.  Yes, it is hard work and takes discipline, but anything worth having is worth working hard for. It is about educating yourself about yourself. Becoming your own expert –no one knows you better.

Self-discipline is born from consistency. And naturally, one thing leads to another. When you do something positive it is more likely other positive choices will follow.

Here’s what to do:  Maintain your body in a compassionate way – daily.  Eat fresh, whole foods that provide nourishment  as opposed to stimulating your body with artificial energy.  Get eight hours of sleep a night.  Hydrate your body with fresh clean water.  Floss your teeth daily…the mouth is the gateway to the body.

These are simple things we can do to improve and maintain our health. Start with baby steps with which you can be consistent.

“For anything worth having one must pay the price; and the price is always work, patience, love, self-sacrifice.”  -John Burroughs

Video.Wk #12 – DAYS 1 & 5

Here is week #12 – DAYS 1 & 5.

My nephew Peter is demonstrating.

This is the third progression for the Burpee.  The Burpee is a series of continuous movements. You have already learned the JUMP BACK into Plank. In this weeks progression you will add a MODIFIED PUSH UP into the mix. Continue alternating the leading leg for each step forward.

INSTRUCTIONS: From the PLANK position gently lower your knees to the floor. Bend the elbows lowering the chest in the direction of the floor.  Even if you only bend your elbows slightly, it is beneficial.  Gradually your strength will increase and so will the bend in your elbows.  I’d rather see you do very small elbow bends with strict form than lowering all the way to the floor with sloppy technique.  If you are unsure how to do a MODIFIED PUSH UP revisit:

DAYS 1 & 5 (week #12)

1. 10 High Knees + Bend Down + Jump Back Into Plank + Lower Knees to Floor + MODIFIED PUSH UP + Raise Knees back to PLANK + Step Forward (one foot at a time) + Reach Up + Toe Raise.

2. Repeat Sequence 10 times to equal 10 Rounds.


DAYS 2, 4 & 6 = [50 High Knees + 20 Bend Down & Reach Up with Toe Raise] x 4.

DAYS 3 & 7 = [50 High Knees + 10 Half Squat] x4.




Check back for the next progression.

Video.Wk# 11 – DAYS 1 & 5

Here is week #11 – DAYS 1 & 5.

My nephew Peter is demonstrating.

This is the second progression for the Burpee.  The Burpee is a series of continuous movements.  Here, I am introducing the JUMP BACK into Plank.  Everything else remains the same as in the first progression.  Alternate the leading leg for each step forward.

INSTRUCTIONS: From the Bend Down position, place both hands flat on the ground. Transfer your weight from your feet onto the hands enabling you to jump your feet back to the plank position.  The word ‘jump’ is almost is a misnomer because your aim is to be in control of your movement, it is more of a ‘lift and place’ your feet in the plank position. However, in the beginning as you are building the upper body strength to do this movement it may feel more like a jump.

TIP:  Try to keep your legs parallel to each other, toes and knees pointing forward.  When you bend down aim to maintain this parallel leg alignment.  If you are too inflexible to bring your hands flat on the ground then you should work on improving your flexibility before you do this progression.  Continue with the step back into plank (Level 1) if that is working for you.  After a few more weeks of repeating the first progression you should start seeing improvements.

DAYS 1 & 5 (week #11)

1. 10 High Knees + Bend Down + Jump Back Into Plank + Pause in Plank for a second + Step Forward (one foot at a time) + Reach Up + Toe Raise.

2. Repeat Sequence 10 times.


DAYS 2, 4 & 6 = [50 High Knees + 20 Bend Down & Reach Up with Toe Raise] x 4.

DAYS 3 & 7 = [50 High Knees + 10 Half Squat] x4.



Below is a video of three hip stretches described and demonstrated by two RMT of whom I have been lucky to be a client. Turn on your volume, Mark and Alison give a brief education on where these muscles are located on your skeleton and how to do them correctly.  Learn these stretches and spend a few minutes practicing them daily.

Stretching makes ALL the difference.

Video.Wk #10 – DAYS 1 & 5

Here is week #10 – DAYS 1 & 5.

My nephew Peter is demonstrating.

This is the first progression for the Burpee.  Up to this point we have established a solid foundation for all the parts that make up the Burpee minus the explosive jump at the end, but we’ll get to that down the road.

The Burpee is a series of continuous movements.  I have broken it down in this progression to allow you to focus on each part.  Each following progression will take you closer to the actual Burpee in its entirety.

I have also added 10 High Knees at the beginning of each baby Burpee to give you a bit of time between each one.

If you don’t spend enough time on stretching, stepping back and forward from the plank will shout out this fact.  Peter has limited range of movement in his ankle in the step back/forward due to an old soccer injury; as a result there is some compensation.

DAYS 1 & 5 (week #10)

1. 10 High Knees + Bend Down + Step Back (one foot at a time) Into Plank + Pause in Plank for a second + Step Forward (one foot at a time) + Reach up with Toe Raise.

2. Repeat sequence 10 times.


DAYS 2, 4 & 6 = [50 High Knees + 20 Bend Down & Reach Up with Toe Raise] x 4

DAYS 3 & 7 = [50 High Knees + 12 Modified Push Up (Level 3)] x4




Repeated 10 times (depending on your speed) this baby Burpee progression takes less than two minutes!  But don’t feel as though you have to finish in under two minutes.  Go at your own pace.  Take four minutes if that feels right.  If doing just one baby Burpee feels like enough of a challenge then go with that and try to add on another each day of the week.

Leave me a comment on how you are fitting your 4 Minute Mornings into your life.
Have Fun!

“Younger Next Year”

Because I was feverish about sharing my experience with Short-Duration High-Intensity Interval Training, my friend Leanne gave me a copy of Younger Next Year for Women.  She had recently read it and thought I would appreciate it too.  Boy did I!  And in the case you haven’t heard about it, I want to share it with you.

Dr. Henry Lodge and Chris Crowley’s first book: “Younger Next Year” written for men was so successful that they came out with a version for women, because wives were swiping their husbands’ copies and let’s face it men and women age differently.

Dr. Henry Lodge, explains the science of ageing.  In his seventies, Chris Crowley, originally a patient or Dr. Lodge’s, explains (often with humour) the ageing process from the front lines.

You can view this three minute YouTube excerpt from the PBS television special that airs this Friday, June 3, 2011! (That’s tomorrow!)

Video.Wk#9 – DAYS 1 & 5

Here is week #9 – DAYS 1 & 5.

My nephew Peter is demonstrating.

The Modified Push Up is the the same as the Level 2 Incline Push Up minus the incline.

INSTRUCTIONS:  Start by lying face down (prone) on the floor.  Position the palm of the hands (fingers pointing forward) directly under the crease of the underarm, next to the chest. Elbows will point up towards the ceiling, causing the forearms and upper arms to pinch tightly to the upper body.

With the imaginary plank still affixed to the back, originating from the back of the knees to the back of the head, extend (straighten) the arms.  Careful NOT to lock out (hyperextend) the elbow at the top of the movement.  With control, return the body to the start position and repeat.  By now your technique should be spot on with the amount of practice you’ve had up to this point.  No pigeons in the house.

Better to do fewer repetitions with excellent form than to do many poorly.  Building on a solid foundation is the key.

DAYS 1 & 5 (week #9)

1. 50 High Knees (pumping arms, forearms parallel to ground or hold chest)

2. 12 Modified Push Up (Level 3) = from knees with hands on floor.

3. Repeat circuit 4 times to equal 4 Rounds.


DAYS 2, 4 & 6 = [50 High Knees + 20 Bend Down & Reach Up with Toe Raise] x 4.

DAYS 3 & 7 = [50 High Knees + 14 Half Squat] x 4.




I swim in a 20 metre pool (25 metres is standard).  I listen to my body, so depending on how I’m feeling, I do six to eight lengths for each stroke; reviewing technique and refining. There is SO much to think about, let alone the breathing!  Here is a training tip that I apply to just about everything.  Let me know if it makes sense to you.

This is a metaphor:
First, imagine a clock with a second hand.  Each sixty seconds represents one repetition (of whatever: push up, squat, front crawl…).  Each second within the minute represents a refinement.  Quite impossible to think of everything all at once.  But you can train your mind to be active and refine a different part of your mechanics each second.  And when you get really good that’s when the nano corrections come into play.  Can’t get bored when you’re interested in what your doing.  You can well imagine I’ve got something to say on that topic too!

Thanks for all your positive comments!  Let me know how your 4 Minute Mornings are coming along.

Video.Wk#8 – DAYS 1 & 5

Here is week #8 – DAYS 1 & 5.

My nephew Peter is demonstrating the Half Squat.

The Half Squat is the same as the Chair Squat minus the chair.  Notice how Peter maintains a static spine throughout.  The joints that are involved: Hips, Knees, Ankles and Shoulders.

For those not quite ready to leave the chair behind, continue to use the chair but place less of your body weight onto the chair each time, eventually hovering over the chair instead of touching it at all.

INSTRUCTIONS:  Point your toes and knees forward, keep your legs parallel to each other.  Your torso remains static.  The only movement occurs at the hips, knees and ankle joints, as well as the shoulder joints as the arms raise forward to support balance.  You will notice that as your knees bend forward and your hips shift backwards, your torso naturally tips forward; hinging from the hip joints NOT rounding from your spine.  It is a very simple and clean movement.  Spend two days this week doing this progression to establish a solid foundation for this movement as we will be adding on. Focus on precision of movement as opposed to completion.
For the rest of the week be aware each and every time you sit in a chair and get up.  See if you can hover for one second before you make contact with the chair.  Allow your muscles to support you. When you get up, shift your weight slightly so that you are hovering again for one second before you get up.  Notice how your legs take on the workload as opposed to feeling it in your lower back.

DAYS 1 & 5 (Week #8)

1. 50 High Knees (pumping arms or forearms parallel to the ground or holding chest)

2. 14 Half Squat

3. Repeat circuit 4 times to equal 4 Rounds.


DAYS 2, 4 & 6 = [50 High Knees + 20 Bend Down & Reach Up with Toe Raise] x 4.

DAYS 3 & 7 = [50 High Knees + 10 Incline Push Up (Level 2) Lower surface] x 4.




Have fun with this one.  We’re really moving along now.  We’re more than half way to the big finale.  Leave me a comment on your progress.  Let me know how you are fitting your 4 Minute Mornings into your life.