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No Pain No Gain?

Hi everyone!!

I just finished having a great conversation with one of our trainers this morning.  Our topic of discussion was regarding how fitness trends have changed so dramatically over the past couple of years. Boy, does that make me sound old!

It used to be that just being active was enough to keep people feeling good about their workouts but today many individuals feel like they are not doing well or progressing unless they are in pain during or after their program.  It is great that more and more people are getting active and wanting to workout, however, pushing yourself to the point of pain is not necessary and can be dangerous.

Our conclusion to the conversation was , the term "no pain, no gain" is not a very good way to approach your fitness. 
How do you describe what pain is?  A burning sensation in your muscles during exercise or breathing very rapidly are not dangerous habits or "pain".  This is what we call "discomfort"...totally different than pain.  Pain is pushing through an injury, going so hard you get sick, lifting weight you can not control, pulling or straining a muscle, sharp or shooting sensations, etc.

In order to see results you must put yourself in a little discomfort.  Pain, however is something you want to avoid.  Don't be fooled by TV shows or Infomercials...these tools are simply for entertainment and money making.

Sometimes exercise can be a challenge, and it should be to get you to your goal.  An effective program will feel like this but you will be able to complete the program with a bit of struggle and mental preparation without sharp pains or injury.  This is one of the magic zones for an effective fitness program. 
Have any questions?  Send me an email!



Every Step Counts

Hello everyone!

I recently celebrated my Favorite Dad's birthday, (my only dad...but my favorite...our little inside joke), and got him a cool high tech pedometer.  As we all know, the more you move the more energy or calories you burn in a day.  Of course, the more calories you burn the more weight you can potentially lose.

My Favorite Dad and I chatted today about how it was going with the walking.  He said something to me that really made me laugh...

"I can really tell if I had a good golf game or bad golf game based on the number of steps my pedometer says...about 8000 steps equated to a score of 82 and about 12,000 equated to a score of 102!"

We came to this conclusion:

The worse the golfer you are...the more fit you will become!  There is always a silver lining!!!

The recommendation is to try for 10,000 steps a day for good health.  Most people average between 3000 and 5000/day.  A pedometer is an easy, inexpensive, and fun way to monitor this.  Try it for might be surprised at how much or how little you move during the day!

Ok, enough to workout!  Have a great day!



How To Keep Motivated...Part II

Hi everyone!

Today I chose to complete my fitness appraisal.  The goal was to run 1.5 miles in the shortest amount of time possible.  This information then gives me the opportunity to do some calculations to see what my predicted VO2Max is (the efficiency level of how the body uses oxygen during exercise...the more fit you are, the more efficient your body becomes).

Why on earth would I put myself through this difficult test if I already know I am in good shape?  Motivation.

It does not matter who you are, what level of fitness, what type of fitness program you are doing...everyone needs a little inspiration once in a while.  Of course each of us will be motivated in differnt ways and for different reasons...that is what makes us all unique (right now some of you are thinking I am crazy and others are thinking they want to try what I just did).  The key is to find ways to keep you motivated...for me it is a challenge to beat my original time/VO2max/etc.  I enjoy competing with myself..this is what keeps me going day in and day out..and it feels great!  Here are a few ways my clients stay motivated (thanks so everyone for your permission to blog this!):

1.  Remind yourself how you feel when you are done.  (even record a message to yourself on your iphone and listen to it when you feel like passing your workout by)

2.  Remind yourself why this fitness journey is important to you (again..this could be just a verbal reminder, a mental reminder, or a written reminder)

3.  Focus on what you like about yourself what you are good (not the other way around...this is demotivating).  For example, if you know your arms look great - tell yourself that and wear a short sleaved top to the gym, or if you are reallly good at sprinting...plan a few into your program that day so you feel more excited to go.

4.  Do your favorite exercises first, then you are already committed and can finish off your workout with the ones you are not as accomplished at.

5.  Just plan for a 5 minute workout.  Once you are into the workout it is not so bad and you actually want to do more!  And if you only do do 5 is better than nothing!

6.  Create a new playlist.  Music can really keep you going!

7.  Tape a show you like on your PVR and watch it while you work out.  Of course intensity is key...but in this case anything is better than nothing.

8.  Put up a motivating photo (of you, or of someone you aspire to look like)

9.  Put up a bad photo of you...reminder of why you are doing this.

10.  Tape an inspiring message to your treadmill

11.  Focus on Can vs Can't

12.  A fitness Challenge!  Thanks Ang for all of your tips!

As you can see, there are a lot of ways people stay motivated, and I am sure many many more.  What inspires you?  What do you want to accomplish?  Who do you want to be?  Keep these things in mind when you are trying to find that drive.  It is in us all...we just need to find it sometimes!


How To Keep Motivated During Your Fitness Journey?

The number one question I receive is always "how do you stay motivated?"  I wish this answer was an easy one, or at least one that would help everybody.  The truth is, motivation is not the same for everyone.  We are all driven for different reasons.  Before you can become motivated in doing something you must first do two important things:

1.  Set a Goal (But this goal needs to be specific and measurable so you know that you have reached it.  It is also best to set a time to this goal).  If your goal is to lose 100 lbs in 1 year this may seem it is best to set mini goals leading up to this goal (sort of like how you would create an outline for a storybook).  This way you will see small wins along the way (which can really help with motivation later on).

2.  Consider what has been holding you back (or demotivating you) in the past.  Perhaps your goal is not specific enough, perhaps you goal is too overwhelming...maybe you need to scale it back or break it down into smaller goals, perhaps the goal is not something you really want or is something you want for the wrong reasons, perhaps the goal you set is for someone else and not really for you, perhaps you are unmotivated because you do not know what to do in terms of eating well or exercising...

Once you understand where you are going and what things potentially hold you back you can begin to move forward with a gameplan.  A plan that lays out what you are going to do, for how long and how you are going to handle challenges/barriers such as time, a birthday bash with lots of your favorite foods, a stressful job, holidays, etc. will set you up right from the beginning.  If you start your journey off this way you are already ahead of the game because now you are prepared for what lies ahead.  It does not mean it will be easy...but when the going gets tough at least you will not feel like you are just floating around hoping things will simply work out in the end.  You have a path to follow to the best of your ability...and you will be monitoring your progress along the way to make sure you get there.  Once you have this step in place you will be in good shape to get started.  For motivation tips along the way...stay tuned next week!



The Benefits of Working Out at Home

  1. Time Savings: instead of driving or walking to and from the gym you could have already finished your workout.
  2. Increased Compliance: fewer excuses can be rationalized because the gym is right there! You can’t use the weather, the roads, the time, the parking, or the over population of the gym as an excuse (to list a few).
  3. working out at home
  4. Fun: at home you can listen to the music you want and watch whatever you choose on the television
  5. Private: at home you never have to worry about someone waiting for you to finish with a piece of equipment, and you can challenge yourself in ways you may not be likely to do if you were in public (for fear of looking silly, etc)
  6. Effective: I am not saying that working out at the gym is not effective, I am just saying that you can have just as an effective workout at home with little to no equipment…you really do not need all those fancy machines to get the weight loss results you want.
  7. Inexpensive: no membership fees, less fuel to drive to the gym, no parking fees, often less money is spent on workout gear
  8. Unlimited Hours of Operation: your home gym is open any time you like!
  9. No Dress Code: you can wear whatever you want and not have to worry about what other people think.


How Frequently Should I Exercise?

exercisefrequencyThe Physical Activity Guide (published by the Public Health Agency of Canada) recommends exercise 4-7 times per week for health improvement.

It all depends on what your goals are. If you want to see faster results you will need to increase the number of days and potentially the intensity or duration of your workouts.

If you want to maintain your current fitness level, 3 times per week is great marker to strive for, provided you workout at the same intensity level.

A few of the factors that come into play when creating a fitness program are:

  1. Amount of available time for exercise
  2. Desired amount of time for exercise
  3. Personal goals with time frame
  4. Current fitness level


At Acacia Fitness we take all of these factors into consideration and do the best we can to accommodate your lifestyle. After all, we are in the business of creating healthy habits. If we can come up with a plan that fits into your lifestyle, you will be more likely to keep it up.

If you have any questions about this topic or any other fitness related topic, do not hesitate to contact us. We are here to help!


No Time to Exercise

I like to think that I am a reasonable person…but  I have little tolerance for the "I have no time to exercise" excuse.

There is always time for exercise.

Climbing StairsNow I am not saying that everyone should go the gym for an hour everyday with no questions asked. This would be wonderful, but for many, not reasonable. Exercise can take on many forms. It does not mean having to go to the gym to get fit. If you have read the article “What is Healthy Weight Loss” you will already know that to lose weight there is a simple formula: energy out must exceed energy in. So, to lose weight you need to either consume less calories and do the same amount of activity you are currently doing, or you need to consume the same amount of calories but move more in your day, or you can do both at the same time (consume less calories and move more) for faster results.

For the purpose of this article we will just focus on the approach of moving more and eating the same amount of calories. To increase your activity level for the day you can do many things. Here are a few suggestions:

  1. Park farther away (just by walking an extra block (about 5 minutes in duration) to and from work each week you will burn about 500 calories/week…that is 26000 calories a year (that is almost 8 lbs) for doing very little extra!
  2. Do short burst of exercise throughout the day…jumping jacks during a commercial break, push ups while you wait for your toast to pop up, squats while you brush your teeth…all of these activities burn calories and lead to healthy weight loss!
  3. Shovel your sidewalks. And if you have time, the neighbors too!
  4. Take the stairs. Unless you are in a suit and above the 10th floor, always take the stairs. That is a huge time saver and a big calorie burner!

Yes, there are great benefits to having a regular workout time. But for those that do not have this time to allocate, we can create a program that fits right into your everyday schedule. And yes, you can still lose weight in a healthy fashion!

If you have any questions about this topic or any other fitness related topic, please do not hesitate to call us at Acacia Fitness. We are here to help!


What is the best cardio equipment to use at the gym?

Cardio workout equipmnetWhen we talk about cardio equipment we are referring to treadmills, stationary bikes, elliptical trainers, and stair masters.

The good news is that all the cardio equipment at the gym will help you improve your cardiovascular fitness and also help you burn calories for healthy weight loss.

Each of gym equipment piece has its pros and cons. Here is a breakdown:

Machine Weight Bearing Upper & Lower Variety Life Applicable
Treadmill yes yes yes yes
Elliptical Trainer yes yes
(most cases)
(most cases)
Stationary Bike no no little yes
Stair Master yes no no yes

Weight Bearing:   means you are in a standing position – weight bearing activities are best for preventing osteoporosis and also help with balance and strength in the lower body and help with core stability. Typically, weight bearing activities increase caloric output as well.

Upper & Lower:  simply refers to the use of the upper body and lower body. Some elliptical trainers have moving arms that help increase the intensity of the activity. Provided you do not hold onto the arms of the treadmill, you can incorporate the upper body into this activity as well. By using both the upper and lower body you will increase the caloric output of your activity.

Variety:   every machine will allow you to change the resistance/level and may even have different programs such as a “random” or “hill” programs. However, the treadmill and elliptical take the variety factor to a higher level simply because you can change the incline on these pieces of equipment (in most cases). This feature not only allows for less boredom, but also can take your workout to a whole new level of intensity if you desire.

Life Applicable:  refers to how much the machine applies to every day life. All the machines can help with stamina, however, only the motion of the elliptical is foreign to everyday life. This motion is not a natural one so it would not be as useful for sport performance or helping you with improving an every day task such as walking up a flight of stairs.

There is no right or wrong machine for anyone. However, there are unique differences to these types of equipment that can certainly make your workout more efficient or enjoyable depending on the fitness level you are currently at.

For more information on this topic or any other fitness related topic please feel free to contact Acacia Fitness at any time. We are happy to help!


The Benefits of Personal Training

Personal TrainingMore and more people are working out with personal trainers to achieve the fitness and health levels they desire. It used to be a service that was associated with celebrities and athletes alike. Today that has all changed. Teenagers, busy working men and women, busy stay at home mom and dads, seniors, and even children are working out with trainers to meet their individual goals. So what is all the hype about?

Simply put, personal training is the best option for not only keeping you accountable to your commitment, but it is also custom to your needs so that when you put in the effort you know that you are doing the exercises correctly (proper form to decrease the risk of injury) and that you are working at a level that will provide you with the benefits you desire. By working too hard or not hard enough you are at risk of overtraining or undertraining. A personal trainer will assess your starting level of fitness, develop a program that will help you meet your goal, and then monitor and change the program as you progress so that you do not plateau or overtrain.

If you have any further questions about personal training please feel free to contact Acacia Fitness at any time. We are here to help!


What time of day is the best time for me to exercise to lose weight?

exercisetimeI am asked this question a great deal. In a perfect world it would be best to exercise first thing in the morning before you eat breakfast. Your carbohydrate energy is lower at this time of day because you have not eaten anything in about eight to ten hours (ideally). When performing exercise you first burn off your carbohydrate stores, once those have been burned you then begin to target your fat stores. So, the less carbohydrate stores you have to burn initially, the sooner you can begin to burn the fat. Therefore, a thirty minute workout in the morning without any food in your belly will likely burn more fat than the same exercise for the same duration in the late afternoon.

In addition, after a great workout in the morning, you can refuel with a balanced carbohydrate and protein meal. Due to your exercise efforts in the morning your body will have a residual calorie burning effect…so you will be burning off some of your breakfast as you eat it!

Now, having said all that, this approach is not for everyone. As an alternative, select a time of day that you feel the most motivated, or the most energetic, this is when you should exercise…that way you are more likely to develop a routine and stick with it. And consistency above all else is the best way to lose and then maintain a healthy weight loss.

Remember that not every approach works for everyone. You need to discover what works for you and then go for it! At Acacia Fitness we are here to help. If you have any questions about this article or any other fitness related topics please feel free to call us any time.