A Few Tips on Your First Canadian Bike Trip

bike-190483_640Canada is one of the most beautiful places in the world to go biking. With majestic mountains, picturesque small towns and an unrivaled nature experience, the whole country is a dream come true for both novice and experienced bikers alike. In fact, Quebec’s Route Verte (Green Road) has been named the best bike trail in the world by National Geographic.

If you want to be blown away by all the stunning sights, grab a complete Topographic map coverage of Canada and start exploring! But before you do that, here are a few newbie tips to get you started.

What to Wear – Safety and Comfort First

  • To protect your backside and minimize pain, get yourself padded bike shorts and compression shorts. Cycling shorts have padding built in, but this type of gear is more suited for road bikes, not mountain biking. Moisture wicking fabric is also recommended so your body can thermoregulate properly. Avoid cotton, because your sweat won’t be able to evaporate and it clings to your skin when wet.
  • In cold weather, don’t forget to wear thermal gear or layered clothing. For shoes, any lightweight athletic shoe with a sole hard enough to hit the pedals is fine, although you have to choose one with a narrow width so you won’t have any issues getting your feet inside the pedal straps. Wear bright colored clothing if you’re expecting to ride until nighttime.
  • A helmet is important and it can prevent nasty head injuries just in case of a spill. It should fit your head just right – leveled all around and covering most of your forehead. The chin strap should be snug at all times, and don’t be afraid to tighten it if the helmet moves an inch in any direction. To avoid shredding your hands and getting blisters, get a pair of biking gloves.

Gearing Up –  Basic Gear to Go the Extra Mile

  • A backpack will only slow you down and wear you out. It’s also a nightmare for your back! Instead of lugging one around, pack your extra gear in a bar bag that you can strap on the handlebars. Old-school saddlebags (strapped to the back of the seat) also work. For smaller stuff or items you need to reach fast, wear a cycling bag.
  • Always carry a multitool, a set of allen wrenches, a small hand pump and a tire patch kit. You don’t want to have to cut your trip short and walk home because of a flat tire. Practice using these tools, especially the patch kit. You never know when you’ll need it.
  • With the majority of biking accidents happening at night (6pm – 9pm), you don’t want to be out riding when the sun goes down. But you have to be prepared for anything, so stick reflective tape on your bike and helmet. Install powerful blinking lights on the front and rear of your bike so motorists will see you from afar.
  • Don’t forget to bring enough water and energy gels to keep you hydrated and fueled properly. You’ll burn a lot of calories when biking, so load up on carbs the night before, but only eat a light meal or drink coffee on the day of your ride.

Going Up and Downhill

  • Steep climbs require patience and pacing. Go too fast, too soon and you’ll lose steam before you reach the top. Go too slow and you won’t have enough momentum to carry you forward. Hit it hard enough and shift your gears until you reach a sustainable speed and reach the apex.
  • For downhill mountain biking, stand on the pedals with your knees slightly bent. You’re weight should be kept on the pedals and not on the handlebars. Minimize braking, because speed will help you take on obstacles and excessive braking will wear you out.

Let’s Ride!

It takes a little prep to start a bike trip, such as knowing where you’re headed, who to ride with and the logistics of transporting your bike and gear to the trail. But once you get going, you’ll never want to stop moving! Look for bike clubs in your town and either join or ask for suggestions on routes and who you can ride with. Have fun, and stay safe!

Trying to Lose Weight? You’ve got it All Wrong!

belly-2473_640How many times have you heard the line that in order to look slimmer, you need to lose weight? A hundred? Four hundred? A thousand times? From the TV to friends and family, the topic of weight loss is either shrugged off as something everyone should know, or mutates into animated conversations about the right way to do it.

It’s not Your Weight

Well, if your idea on how to be healthy and look slim is centered on losing weight, you’ve already lost. That’s because your weight doesn’t make you look fat. It’s your body fat that makes you look fat and unhealthy. Your weight is just the accumulation of all of you – blood, bones, muscle tissue, organs, undigested food, water and everything else in between.

When you keep using the scale to track your progress, what are you really measuring? The small fluctuations of 1 lb. to 5 lbs. is just water/food weight. You may think you “lost: 5 lbs. yesterday, only to gain it all back today and feel depressed about it. In order to look, feel and be healthy, you should stop weighing yourself and attack the real culprit: body fat.

Fat Facts

The human body is extremely efficient in storing energy for those times when you need it the most (famine, insulation for cold weather). This energy comes in the form of fat. Any excess calories you consume gets converted into fat and stored in parts of your body that you’re predisposed to store fat. This is highly dependent on your genetics.

Males tend to store fat in their midsection (beer belly) and lower back. Females tend to store it in their thighs, buttocks and arms. Fat deposits on the face (cheeks, chin) are the same for both sexes. Then you have the lucky bastards, or those who store their fat evenly across their whole body.

They’re lucky because their body fat is distributed evenly, so it’s hard to tell if they’re getting fat or not, unless it’s extreme fat gain. The problem with all this “storage” is that the body is also a miser when it comes to using this precious resource, and it will only use it under extreme circumstances (starvation) or when there’s no more available fuel in the gut (food).

Fasting: Fat’s Worst Nightmare

In order to lose weight, you need to lose body fat first. Exercise alone won’t be able to burn off all the fat. Contrary to what everyone else is saying, you need to go on a diet and combine it with exercise to truly reap the benefits. With the dizzying number of fad diets and “miracle” workouts that crowd the fitness scene, which one should you choose?

  • One very effective tool to shed the fat is fasting and intermittent fasting. Fasting is simply the act of foregoing any meals for 24 hours (or more) while intermittent fasting is simply scheduling your meals to fit in a certain time frame, like scheduling the business hours of your digestive system. During your fast, you can only drink water.
  • A good example of an intermittent fasting routine is to fast for 16 hours and feed for 8, or what is called a 16/8 fast. What this means is that if you had your last meal at 8pm, your next meal should start at 12noon and end at 8pm. You “fasted” for 16 hours (including sleep) and “fed” for 8 hours.

Some even extend this to a 20/4 fast because they only count the start of the fast when all food has been digested, which is anywhere from 3 – 6 hours. Fasting puts your body into a fat burning state because there’s no energy to burn in your gut, which is really what you need.

The Real Deal on Exercise

Light walking or jogging won’t cut it. For maximum fat loss, you should be in the anaerobic zone, which is simply when your heart rate is elevated continuously for at least 12 minutes and you’re out of breath. Sustained, vigorous cardio (running, cycling) can do this, as well as interval training and bodyweight circuits.

Interval training is done by giving an exercise (sprints, cycling) 100% effort for 15 seconds, active rest for 45 seconds and doing it all over again for five rounds or more. You can change the values to 20-40 or 30-30, depending on your fitness level. Intervals will allow your body to burn more calories, even long after your exercise session. This is called the afterburn effect.

For bodyweight circuits, just do one exercise after another with no rest in between for 3 -5 circuits. Do an upper body, a lower body and a core exercise. Focus on push and pull movements that target your chest, back, arms and legs.

Cheers to a Slimmer You!

The beauty of intermittent fasting is that by skipping breakfast and only eating for a set amount of time, your body will always be in a caloric deficit, so you’ll torch the fat, faster. Combine this with intervals or steady state cardio that ups your heart rate and you’re on your way to a slimmer you.

If you need to slip into a dress for a party, but you haven’t lost your ideal weight yet, look at getting women’s shapewear that slims you down instantly. Good luck on your fat fighting journey, and see you on the other side!

Weight Loss Step Three: Eat Healthier


There are several changes we can make in our daily habits if we want to lose weight.  We can control our portions, be more active and cut out sugar.  However there is also one more thing we can do if we want to get fit and lose weight…eat healthier.

It’s been said that food control, portions and choices account for 80% of our weight loss while exercise accounts for the other 20%.  That is not to put down or look over the importance of being active because there are other benefits such as maintaining a healthy heart and other organs.  However changing our food habits and eating healthier can have a major impact on the effectiveness of our weight loss.

Here are four ways you can make better food choices and live a healthier life:

Learn to cook

Eating out is unhealthy for several reasons: the portions are huge and way more than a human needs to eat, often the food is cooked or deep fried in oil and take-out meals can be full of rice, bread and other types of carbohydrates.  If you want to lose weight then stop eating out.

Cooking your meals at home helps control portion size, use fresh ingredients and find healthier substitutes.

Stop eating for convenience

Sleeping in, working more and being busy are all reasons why we tell ourselves it’s O.K. to eat on the go; but the truth is eating for convenience is extremely unhealthy.

It’s a lot easier to sleep in an extra 15 minutes and grab a muffin to go on the way to work, but think about what you’re giving up by eating that muffin to gain some extra sleep: calories, sugar, fat and carbohydrates.  Now ask yourself if eating on the go is really worth it.

Plan ahead of time

Take some time the night before to pack your lunch and prepare your breakfast as well as plan snacks for the next day. This will help you save time in the morning and avoid having to grab food on the go.

When you’re cleaning up after dinner throw some leftovers in a Tupperware container.  Voila!  Just like that you have your lunch for tomorrow.  Add in a granola bar, a piece of fruit and some veggies and your snacks for the next day are also ready to go.

Shop more often and buy fresh

Buying fresh ingredients and less frozen food is definitely a healthier food option. The less preservatives we eat the better.

Shopping weekly is a great way to save money because when you buy smaller quantities you have a less chance to waste food.  It also lets you buy and eat fresh fruits and vegetables which is always a healthy choice.

What’s your best tip for weight loss?

Photo from Pixabay

How to Overcome Another Sleepless Night


This morning I’m exhausted because I didn’t sleep well last night…again.  I laid in bed for a couple of hours before I fell asleep thinking about all the things I needed to get done at work today, making a list of everything I need to pick up at the grocery store tonight.

Let me ask you a question, how well do you sleep at night?

As young professionals we have a lot of stress, at least I do.  Some nights I get into bed at 11 p.m. but I don’t fall asleep until 2 a.m. because my mind won’t – or should I say can’t – shut off.

What keeps you awake at night?

I lay awake at night stressing about work, money and sometimes my future.  Sometimes I lay awake replaying whatever awful fight I just had with my family.  I can be totally exhausted, but can’t fall sleep because I’m worrying about anything and everything from my busy schedule at work to wondering if I locked the front door to thinking of new topics for this blog.  Basically having a full, busy life means having a brain on full throttle.  That equals sleepless nights.

My sleepless nights are both good and bad.  Sometimes I get my best ideas just before I fall asleep, but that means I’m exhausted and not fully functioning the next morning.  If I’m excited I can’t fall asleep, if I’m nervous I can’t fall asleep and if I’m sad I definitely can’t fall asleep.

My lack of a good night’s rest isn’t always emotional or mental, sometimes it’s physical.  There are nights when my mind wants to sleep but I just can’t get comfortable.  You know those nights right, the nights when your back hurts or your neck hurts and you feel like there are creepy crawlers running all over your body.  Do you ever get that or is it just me?

3 ways to put a stop to sleepless nights

Burn off your energy.  Thanks to my doctor’s orders I joined a gym and started working out. Being active is a great way to get a good night’s sleep.  It burns off unused energy so we don’t harbor it inside; at the same time running on the treadmill helps clear my head.  It’s like killing two birds with one stone, I burn calories to lose weight and at the same time I think through all my issues.  I leave the gym cleansed with a strong body and a clear mind.

Taking a hot bath or shower.  Relaxing my body and muscles with a hot shower definitely helps me relax before bed; it also lets me get into bed clean, comfy and cozy.  I like to take a hot shower before bed or if I have the time sit in a bubble bath.  It gives me time before trying to go to sleep to help work through whatever issues are filling up my brain.  I think our minds run wild before bed because it’s our real first down time of the day.  However if I have an hour of me time in the bath before hopping into bed maybe I can go to sleep with a clear mind.

Photo from Pixabay

I bought a new bed.  This was my last resort and not to jinx it or anything but my new bed is working like a charm.  I am definitely sleeping a lot better since buying my new Sealy Posturpedic bed.  It cost $1048 but our old bed was 10 years old and it’s money well spent if it lets me get a solid eight hours of sleep every night.

What helps you fall asleep at night?