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We turn the tables on some of the Health Advisors who coach readers. Here are goals they have set for themselves this summer.
With the popularity of stand-up paddleboarding over the past couple of years, I have made it a goal to learn and practise the sport this summer.
I’m a big believer in a “move more, sit less” lifestyle. Stand-up paddleboarding fits that bill perfectly. It is a fantastic activity that challenges your balance, your core – really your entire body – while you enjoy the outdoors.
Living in B.C., I am fortunate to have access to plenty of water around me – both ocean and lake. A company in my neighbourhood will be my first stop for a lesson. (I might have to drag my husband along with me, too – date night!) My goal is to stand up and stay standing for the first lesson, then gradually venture out farther from the dock each time – once a week will be my target. Thankfully, the locations I will be travelling to this summer are also by the water, so I don’t anticipate any setbacks unless, of course, there are no boards available.
- Kim Vopni, pre/post-natal fitness consultant
When I was training full-time as a triathlete, I got so focused on a single outcome that I didn’t allow for new ideas to enter the picture. I did what I thought would help me win. I don’t regret it, but I do wonder sometimes what might have happened had I been more open.
While I was training, any time anyone mentioned yoga, I would brush it off and say I didn’t need to be flexible to win. But after finally taking a chance on it, I’ve learned yoga is so much more than stretching. It’s about finding balance, not just on my feet but also in my life and in my mind.
After I retired, I was like a whirlwind stepping back into a “normal” life. Call it jock brain or whatever, but not having an outlet for my energy really did a number on me. I couldn’t focus. I was stressed. I was grumpy. I tried a host of different activities to help me cope, but I really think yoga might be the one.
My goal is to find ways to integrate its balance teachings into my life (I’ve never thought about breathing as a way to find focus while relaxing, but it works). There’s a great studio near my house where I can train and bring my girls to practise alongside, and I have set time aside to practise alone. Sometimes I still want to burst out of the house and run up a mountain, so I play soccer or run along the beach or whatever. Yoga is teaching me that I can do more than one thing for my health and well-being.
– Simon Whitfield, Olympic athlete
Every year on the first sunny spring day, I take a long, fast walk downtown and decide who I want to become. I turn up the volume on my favourite playlist, find the intensity within myself and visualize the powerful movements of the athlete that I will transform into over the summer.
I try to create the most vivid images possible in my mind – including the physical shape of the body I will need to build in order to reach my goals. When I return from the walk, I start to formulate a specific action plan of how to get there and of who will be involved in the process. Once the blueprint has been designed, I attach realistic goals to ensure accountability.
This year, my goal is to fully enjoy the sport of beach volleyball. To accomplish this, I need to start by bulletproofing my 40-year-old body to avoid injury. That means stretching and exercising key muscle groups to avoid back, shoulder and knee pain. Next, I’ll need to work on my vertical jump, speed, energy and overall power. To help with this, I plan to drop eight to 10 pounds of body fat through proper nutrition and workouts, and to practise beach volleyball two to three times a week with a focus on technical improvement.
Possible setbacks include limited time because of work demands, a trip to Europe in July and patio season. I intend to make sure my most intense training is completed the week before I go away. This will give me a light recovery week of walking while enjoying the sights (and food) in Europe. As for patio season, I’ll occasionally indulge in drinks with friends after playing volleyball or completing a hard workout.
– Alex Allan, kinesiologist
I have been a runner for 15 years; it is my bliss. When I am cranky, my friends and family often suggest that I go for a run.
The problem is that running is hard on the body. My long-term goal is to run for the rest of my life, so every February I take a month off running to give my body a much-needed break, and instead try to have as many fitness adventures as possible.
This February, I discovered that I love to row. I tried fitness classes where you alternate work on a rowing machine with strength training. These classes inspired my summer goal to learn to row in an actual boat.
My goal for this summer is to join an adult learn-to-row program.
This is kind of a big deal. I am a creature of habit and change is stressful for me. I am not good at fitting sports other than running and triathlon into my life. When I tried to join a softball team, I lasted all of two games.
Fitting the classes in will be tricky. Rowers often meet at 6 a.m., which is when I train clients. Nevertheless, I am publicly declaring (gulp – that is scary) that this summer I will prioritize rowing, and apply the same discipline to it as I do to my running and work. Scheduling is an issue for everyone, and I am not going to let myself use that as an excuse.
– Kathleen Trotter, personal trainer
This summer, my fitness goal is to become a stronger swimmer. While I enjoy the water, swimming has always been more of a fun recreational activity than a regular part of my fitness routine.
Running has been my thing. I love the way my body feels after a 10-kilometre run. I love the sweet reward of crossing the finish line of a challenging race. I love the mental agility that follows the release of endorphins after pushing my physical limit on a trail.
And the sport of running has been good to me. With a healthy dose of respect and discipline, I’ve managed to stay injury-free.
In an effort to keep it that way, this summer I am going to trade my running shoes in for a bathing suit. Now in my 40s, I have noticed a need to spend more time working on my flexibility than I did in my mid-30s. Swimming is kind on the joints and provides an efficient way to build endurance, core strength and cardiovascular fitness.
My goal is to build up to a swimming workout of 500 metres three times a week, and I’ll have a swim coach to help me along at the start. Who knows – maybe during my summer hiatus from running, I’ll find a similar connection to swimming.
– Dr. Dwight Chapin, chiropractor
I injured my sacroiliac (SI) joint for the first time in 2012, when I was playing squash at the University of Western Ontario during grad school. At the time, I was able to rehabilitate effectively with the help of my physiotherapy colleagues and I returned to competition within a couple of weeks. But I’ve had recurrent difficulties, as is often the case when athletes try to play through their injuries.
This past year, I was sidelined repeatedly as I got in the habit of returning to competition too soon to help my club team. The result was an increasingly irritable joint, weakened muscles around my back and hip, and loss of overall fitness. Finally, I’ve committed to dealing with the issue properly, taking the time I need to heal and get back in shape. To avoid reinjury, I’m going to steer clear of squash competition and focus on my rehabilitation exercises and fitness activities that aren’t aggravating, such as yoga, running, cycling and swimming. I’m going to train for a couple of triathlons and road races as part of my general conditioning, and include some functional conditioning and power lifting in my rehab plan. Throughout the summer, I’ll progress through a series of harder squash drills that I can perform without risk of injury.
As with any successful rehabilitation plan, I’m setting goals and have enlisted the help of colleagues across multiple disciplines, including physiotherapy, chiropractic and massage therapy, to help me stay focused and perform manual therapies that I can’t on myself. With this multidisciplinary approach, I plan to start the 2015-16 squash season healthy, at my optimal weight and full strength, so I can compete at my best without injuring my SI joint again.
– Justin Vanderleest, physiotherapist
Two summers ago, I completed Ironman Canada. I spent the last couple hours of that race wishing I had trained harder in the months leading into the event. It was a tough, long race. But when I finished I felt amazing, and after the muscle soreness had dissipated, I was already thinking about registering for another. In the subsequent years, work and family demands meant Ironman training was not happening. But at the start of this year, I got the urge to get back to training again, and my wonderful wife was supportive. The key this time has been priority management versus time management. As life gets busier and I have more on the go, there just isn’t enough time in the day to get everything done. That’s where priority management comes in. I keep front of mind the most important things that need to get done, and schedule those first, early in the day. I’ve assigned a high priority to health and fitness, so other items have to get managed around training. So far it’s going great – dare I say even fun.
- Dr. Greg Wells, scientist at Hospital for Sick Children
My wife and I have long been in the habit of going for a walk after dinner. Unfortunately, the cold and snowy winter made that a challenge. Now that spring has sprung and the sidewalks are wide open, we’re looking forward to resuming our evening walks.
There is a traditional saying in Chinese culture: “One hundred steps after dinner can make you live up to 99 years old.” A short stroll after supper is good for your health, though our goal is to aim for more than 100 steps.
Sitting or lying down after eating may slow digestion. Plus, I feel so much better when I take my 30-minute walk instead of just sitting on the couch. And my sleep is improved since I’m not staring at a source of light such as a television, tablet or computer screen.
We all occasionally fall off the fitness wagon. And it may seem like a monumental task to get back on it. My solution is to start small. When you want to start or resume a habit, baby steps are usually the way to go. Make your short-term objective easy to achieve. Start with a 10-15 minute walk twice a week. After you get the ball rolling, it’s easier to make changes and increase your time and distance.
– Gilles Beaudin, clinical exercise physiologist