Posts Tagged ‘abs’

When I decided to pursue a career in the health and fitness industry my main goal was to help others achieve and maintain optimal well being. I strive to be a role model: living a healthy lifestyle that includes exercise as well as relaxation, and delicious and nutritious foods.

When I started working at Steve Nash I connected with many wonderful clients who had a wide variety of needs and fitness goals. Although several of my clients made huge progress over the past 6 months, one client in particular took the tools presented to her and ran with them! Not only did she start making exercise a priority but she also completely changed her eating habits. I would like to share her story as I hope it inspires people that it’s never too late to make changes. This story is really about Jacqueline’s transformation from an unsatisfied and unfit woman leading an unhealthy lifestyle to the energetic and happy person she is today.

Jacqueline and I embarked upon our journey together in May of 2013. When Jacqueline arrived at the gym for her first session she was unsure about working with a fitness trainer but unhappy with her current level of fitness and in need of some guidance. We had an immediate connection and soon enough we both looked forward to meeting twice a week to train. Slowly she began to embrace exercise in a whole new way. Despite the initial aches and pains that accompany any fitness program, she pushed through and told me she felt amazing after every training session and was delighted to have had no injuries in the process; something she feared.

In the beginning there were many exercises that she struggled with but over time she got stronger. Some of her personal best accomplishments were going from 5 minutes of cardio training to doing over 30 minutes without stopping. She was also able to complete a full hour of circuit training with energy left to spare after just five months of conditioning and hard work.

One of her most important and measurable successes was her ability to performing the plank and abdominal legs lifts without any pain. Jacqueline gave birth by cesarean to her daughter 11 years ago and found that any exercises that put stress on her lower abdomen posed a challenge. In five months she went from 3 leg lifts to 12 and can now hold the plank for 60 seconds (compared to 15 back in May). Jacqueline has since made fitness a part of her life 5-6 days a week. She trains on her own 3-4 days a week in addition to her fitness training sessions twice a week.

Check out Jacqueline’s progress…
May 18, 2013 –
Age 50
Height 5’6
Weight 153 lbs.
BMI 24.8
Body Fat 36.5%

The old Jacqueline.
October 12, 2013 –

Age 50
Height 5’6
Weight 140 lbs.
BMI 22.9
Body Fat 31%

The current Jacqueline.
photo (5)

This is only the beginning for Jacqueline, she is now determined to reduce her body fat to 27% or less thus increasing her lean muscle mass and in turn increasing her total fitness level. It’s been a pleasure working with this amazing, thoughtful, dedicated and inspiring woman. I hope to help Jacqueline continue on her journey to optimal health.

Not only is Jacqueline successful where her health is concerned she also runs a very well known Medi-Spa here in North Vancouver. Please visit her website for further information or to book an appointment.

I wish her the best in everything she does. Miss you Jacqueline. ❤


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If have you never done the plank I hope you will add it to your regime after reading this post!


I was at a BBQ last weekend and a friend shared her story about a back injury she has been suffering with. She explained the treatments she was currently doing (pilates, massage, chiro and using an inversion table) and it was then I realized she was not doing anything to strengthen her body’s core muscles (intercostal) and prevent further injury. The intercostal muscles are deep within the body’s mid-section and are very important as they play a key role in our ability to breathe and maintain postural alignment.

Many of the clients I see with back injuries often have weak core strength and many are scared to do any weight bearing activities from fear of causing more harm. It is very important however, to include exercises that strengthen the core, which will in turn help strengthen the back.

A great exercise to do is the plank. There are several variations of the plank, and I have created a video to demonstrate the basic progression for a beginner to intermediate exercise enthusiast. Enjoy!

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Right to the CORE

A common question from my clients is how they can best build strength in their core.  For some people, it’s about achieving ab definition while for other people it’s simply about building strong core muscles and preventing injury.

Whatever your goal is, there are a few things to keep in mind:

1- “Six-pack abs” does not necessarily mean strong core muscles.  Don’t let someone’s physique fool you into thinking that in order to be strong and fit you need to be ripped.  The layer of muscle that lies deep within the torso plays a key role in injury prevention.  These are muscles that cannot be seen, no matter how many abdominal crunches you do, but are extremely important in maintaining our postural alignment and preventing back injuries.

2- Working your abdominal muscles through a variety of different exercises 3-4 times per week is sufficient to build strength.  There is no need to do crunches every single day.  Like any other muscle you train, the muscle fibers of your abdomen require adequate repair time as well.  Of course, it will always depend on the intensity of the workout and the area you choose to train.  For example, if you train your obliques (muscles running down the sides of your abdomen) on Monday, Wednesday & Friday and on Tuesday & Thursday you train your rectus abdominus (the muscles running down the center of your abdomen) this would allow for sufficient rest time of the muscle group in question.

3- Genetics are only responsible for 30-40% of our overall make-up meaning that 60-70% of how we look is determined by diet and exercise.  Eating a well balanced diet, getting proper exercise each week that includes cardiovascular and strength building exercises is the best way to achieving strong core muscles and preventing injury.  Many people, especially women, accumulate excess fat in the belly region that can be challenging to lose.  Work hard and don’t give up… sometimes the benefits are “more than meets the eye”!

I have included three demonstration videos to help you on your way to achieving a strong core.

The Plank – This is best done by holding the pose for 10 – 20 seconds to start and building up gradually to include the side twist as your strength increases.  Note the body positioning throughout the move.

Oblique crunches – Knees are placed on the exercise ball at a 90 degree angle and the opposite elbow crosses the body towards the opposite knee.  Be sure to hold for 1-2 seconds as you move through each phase of this exercise.

Leg raises – Lying on your back, legs at a 90 degree angle, slowly lower your legs stopping an inch from the floor, hold, and then raise your legs to the starting position.  This is a more advanced exercise therefore perform with caution if you’re a beginner.

I hope these demonstrations are helpful.  There are literally hundreds of exercises that strengthen the core and work those abdominal muscles… what are some of your favourites?

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The Myths…

Myth#1 – “To loose belly fat do more sit-ups”

There’s no such thing as spot training.  Believe it not, in order to achieve successful weight loss in the abdomen you must do cardiovascular activities like jogging, biking, swimming and hiking at least 3-5 days per week, for a minimum of 30-45 minutes each time, along with a strength training regimen including sit-ups.  The human body is made up of many intricate systems that work together to perform daily functions.  By introducing a cardiovascular and weight training program into your daily routine, over time you will decrease your risk for injuries, increase your strength and cardiac abilities as well as experience a sense of overall well being, not to mention improving your overall health and longevity.  Before you know it, that stubborn belly fat may even start to melt away!

Myth #2 – “Fat makes you fat”

Although there is some truth to this expression, overeating in general regardless if it comes from carbohydrates, protein or fat will cause you to gain weight.  The major misconception is that eating “fat-free foods” will help you loose weight.  The truth is that most foods claiming they’re fat-free supplement the fat with extremely harmful chemicals like aspartame or mono sodium glutamate (MSG).  These are two chemicals that our bodies cannot metabolize and are therefore are destructive once ingested.  It’s very important to read the labels on pre-packaged food to decided whether or not there healthy choices.  A good rule of thumb is if it’s processed and pre-packaged it’s not healthy!  In order to function at optimal levels our bodies require 25-30% of our daily food intake from fat, not the deep fried saturated kind either!  Flax, fish, olive, coconut, evening primrose and hemp oils as well as the fat present in nuts, seeds and avocados are all great sources of omega 3,6, and 9.  These oils are very important for cardiovascular health, lubrication of  the joints, skin, hair and nails, as well as helping with brain function and concentration.

Myth #3 – “Skinny = Healthy”

The fact is that just because someone is thin doesn’t make them healthy.  Take models for example, they barely eat, are extremely skinny and give us the misconception that they’re healthy.  Living a healthy lifestyle is more than just what’s visible to the naked eye.  A person who eats a well balanced diet, exercises regularly and does some form of stress reduction like yoga, is still considered healthy even if there 10 lbs overweight, according the standards and norms.  Obviously carrying extra body fat puts unnecessary stress on our joints, heart and body overall, therefore it’s best to maintain a healthy body weight but remember, thin doesn’t always mean healthy.

Remember in order to live a healthy life our bodies need exercise, good meal choices, anti-stress techniques and everything in moderation.  Have a healthy week!

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