03/28/2016 11:54 EDT | Updated 03/29/2017 05:12 EDT

A Few Of My Favourite Things -- The March Edition

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Young fitness woman exercicing in the gym.

In February I wrote my first "favourite things" blog; I had such fun compiling the list that I decided I should write a "favourite things" themed blog every four to six weeks.

Really, what is the point of being a trainer and thus constantly discovering new yummy recipes, "fun" workouts, fitness mantras, and motivational tips if I don't share my findings with all of you?

So, here it goes!

Favourite meal: Bean pasta and vegetables!

I joke that I don't cook -- I assemble food. Meaning, I always have food prepped in the

fridge so I can easily assemble a healthy salad or quinoa bowl in minutes. My fridge is filled with Tupperware containers of steamed or roasted vegetables, cooked quinoa or millet, cut up vegetables, salad greens, grilled chicken, and bean pasta.

Bean pasta is a perfect addition to my "assembly line" because it has 25 grams of protein in one serving. I combine it with a ton of vegetables for an easy-to-assemble, healthy meal.

I always tell my clients that adopting a healthier lifestyle is all about preparation! Set yourself up for success by having healthy food prepared; make the healthy option as easy as the unhealthy option. Bean pasta allows you to do exactly that!

2. Favorite method of core training: Functional exercises that train the core while simultaneously improving posture.

Crunches have traditionally been the "go to" abdominal exercise; but I am on a mission to change that! Why? First, crunches round you forward, which promotes a hunched-over posture. So, even if you manage to sculpt your abs, no one will see them because you will be bent over. Plus, we all sit too much anyway, and sitting already rounds us forward. None of us need more time curled forward. Second, crunches are not functional. Other than helping you get strong enough to get out of bed, crunches don't prep your body for real life. Crunches won't help you get ready to run, golf, or play any type of sport. Third, crunches are not a balanced exercise; they don't work your lower back or your small stabilizing muscles of the core.

Ditch crunches and instead do functional exercises that require your body to work as a unit and strengthen your core while simultaneously strengthening your postural muscles.

Basically, multitask -- I love multitasking!

Try exercises such as the "rotational seesaw" or "plank leg lifts."

Plank leg lifts: Start in a plank position. Without arching your lower back use your bum to lift and lower one leg. Alternate legs 20 times.


Rotational seesaw: Start on your hands and knees. Lengthen your right arm out to the side and left leg behind you. First, rotate your torso to the right. Try and initiate the motion from your spine. Then, as your right arm lowers lift your left leg up to hip height. Continue alternating this leg and arm "seesaw" motion. Use your core to control your limbs and think about a string pulling your breast bone forward so you don't round through your spine.


3. Favorite snack food: Seaweed snacks.

Let's be clear: I am not talking about my favorite healthy 3 p.m. snack. I am referring to my favourite "munch while watching TV" snack. There is no competition; hands down my favourite TV snack is SeaSnaxs. The company refers to the product as "strangely addictive"; for once the marketing tagline is absolutely true!

Favourite mantra: "Kathleen, don't be a Negative Nelly; just lean into the experience and enjoy." 

If you decide you dislike something before you have even tried the experience (like a particular workout), you are biasing yourself to have a crappy time. So, "lean in"; you are there so you might as well make the most of the experience. After the fact, if you decide you didn't like the experience, you can always choose never to do it again. If you don't lean in, you might miss out on discovering something you love.

I had this revelation a few weeks ago when I went to a spin class that was billed as a "dance party on a bike." I like road cycling so I don't tend to enjoy indoor cycling, but I vowed to lean into the experience. Every time I caught myself thinking "I wish I was outside," I consciously put a stop to that line of thought and instead made myself sing along to the music and be present in the experience. I can honestly say I didn't love the class, but I enjoyed it way more than if I had allowed myself to be a Negative Nelly.

Favorite training question: "Which muscles are participating and which are just observing?"

Don't just go through the motions when you train. Take the time to consciously think about which muscles are working and -- possibly more important -- which muscles should be working but aren't actually pulling their weight!

Favourite way to enforce portion control: Individual packages of nut butter.

Many healthy foods -- like almond butter, hummus, and unsalted nuts -- are healthy, but become unhealthy when eaten in excess. Portion control is key; it is way too easy to eat five or six servings of something like almond butter. Plus, nut butters can be tricky to transport.

That is why I love pre-portioned nut butters. They are easy to transport so you can munch on them instead of grabbing a candy bar when out and about, plus they take the guess work out of portion control. They ensure I don't simply put a spoon into the almond butter jar and eat my nut butter standing in front of my cupboard.

Make sure to share your favourite things with me. Send me a FB message, leave a comment, or send me a tweet. I love learning about anything health and fitness related! You never know -- what you send me could make it onto my next list!  

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