Weight training improves Cardio Fitness

I had read about it.  My clients told me it worked.  I’d heard it from my colleagues.  But I had not tested it or experienced it for myself.  (bad bio-hacker)
Last two weekends that changed.  I hiked (briskly, read Go Marine Go!) up and down Johnston Canyon to the Inkpots (12 Km /215 M elevation gain) and Nahahhi Ridge (12 Km /415 M elevation gain).
I was never sucking wind!  It was easy!  I had so much energy.  I literally hopped and skipped down Johnston Canyon.  I was passing everyone on both hikes! (me, age 52!)
I have done absolutely NO cardio in at least two years.  The only exercise I have done is 15 minutes once per week since November 2013.  My heart and lungs felt in top form, literally as fit as any time in my whole athletic career.  My muscles felt strong – no back ache, no knee pain.  My quadriceps were stiff for 2 days after Nahahhi ridge due to the killer descent of 415 M over a relatively short distance.  That’s it.  
Slow motion, high intensity strength training improves cardiovascular conditioning!   It does so by improving stroke volume (the amount of blood moving through your system) Also, when you have more muscle and motor units, your heart and lungs do not have to work as hard.
There is no need to do extra cardio to condition heart and lungs unless it is something that brings you great enjoyment and stress relief.  (however, remember, that excess steady state conditioning (like running) will cause joint and heart damage.  Weigh carefully if you truly derive pleasure from these activities or are you simply conditioned with a should do it mentality)

Sleep Challenge

How is the Sleep challenge? Which changes are you making to improve your quality and quantity of sleep?
Let us know how it is going when you come in for training. We love to support your steady, small changes that ultimately keep you wholistically healthy, strong and trim.

Here is a link to an article on how sleep deprivation is keeping you fat.

Is Sleep Deprivation Making You Fat?

It emphasizes going to bed and rising at the same time every day. This sets up your body to release cortisol in the morning so that you wake feeling rested and energetic. If you stay up past 10 or 11 pm, you will “get a second wind”. This is a cortisol spike at the wrong time of day and repeating the stay up late cycle results in a poor night’s sleep and waking feeling groggy.
Ideally, you will feel yourself wake up naturally, just before your alarm, at the same time every morning.
It emphasizes going to bed and rising at the same time every day. This sets up your body to release cortisol in the morning so that you wake feeling rested and energetic. Ideally, you will feel yourself wake up naturally, just before your alarm, at the same time every morning. If you stay up past 10 or 11 pm, you will “get a second wind”. This is a cortisol spike at the wrong time of day and repeating this cycle results in a poor sleep quality and waking unrested and groggy.

The Dalai Lama says that sleep is the best meditation. So get your sleep and your meditation in and feel like a rock star bio hacker!


Adequate replenishing rest is essential for optimum health and weight management.
This month at Evolved Health our theme is sleep.

Sleep determines how much you eat, what foods you crave and if your body stores or burns the calories.

Sufficient, restorative sleep is the best way to metabolize stress hormones like cortisol. It is the time when the strength and muscle is built and human growth hormone secreted.

Insufficient quality and quantity of sleep impairs mood, concentration, memory and decision-making due to the frontal cortex being compromised.
Aging is accelerated as human growth hormone production falls and cortisol levels increase.
Hunger signals rise (ghrelin), satiety decreases (leptin). Insulin de-sensitivity occurs causing weight gain.
Depression is more likely and exacerbated when underslept.

You can acclimate to inadequate sleep levels but your performance, health and weight management will all suffer.

Challenge of the month:
Implement at least 2 of the following to improve sleep.
1. Go to bed 15 minutes earlier every week for the whole month.
2. Stay off devices one hour before bed to wind down your brain acivity.
3. Turn thermostat down to 15C for night time.
4. Install black out curtains and replace or cover any light sources in your bedroom. (even clock radio)
5. Be out in the sun during the day for 30 minutes minimum to increase serotonin (the happy energy hormone)
6. Turn your lights lower at night and install a blue light filter app on your devices to increase melatonin.(the sleepy relaxation hormone)
7. Eat a small healthy carbohydrate snack an hour before bed. (soothes your nervous system system) My personal favorite is hot lemon with local raw honey.
8. Consider a new bed made by client/friend and awesome bed builder, Christian at:

Spiral your health upwards with easy, small steps that add up.

Elevate your health! (one small step at a time)
Evolve your life! (in leaps and bounds)

Sleep and Posture Part 2

Have you taken up the January Evolved Health challenge to observe your posture and breathing? Have you been noticing how often you hold your breath or breathe only into your chest?

Breath is one of the easiest gateways to controlling something that you can control – your mental state, energy level and ultimately, your health.

Breathing Tips to relax or ramp up:
If you want to have higher energy, take longer inhales and shorter exhales. You can also take some fast, deep breaths to quickly ramp up energy. Back in Karate days, I used to do this before entering into a sparring match. Then I would calm myself with deep belly breathing while dropping into centre. It is combination that produces high energy with relaxed alertness, the greatest performance state.

If you need to relax, simply take longer exhales through your nose.
If you would like to cool down from anger or anxiety, slowly draw 5-6 long breaths in through your mouth as if you were sucking it through a straw. Exhale out your nostrils.

In all of these breathing practices, feel your belly rise and fall with your breathing and relax any body tension on the exhalation.

Using ways to naturally control your energy levels will help you avoid the sugar/caffeine/alcohol path to energy management that ultimately dis-regulates cortisol, insulin, and other hormones that influence your health and weight management.

It’s a small step. Its easy. Just do it. The small steps add up.

Posture and Breathing

January’s Evolved Health theme is posture and breathing.
Why focus on posture and breathing in the month when everyone is in a frenzy to lose that 10 pounds gained over the last year?
Because we are seeking to gradually add the inputs that over time will lead to health and ideal weight.
At Evolved Health, we want to continually support you to implement and keep the small changes that are sustainable so that health and ideal weight are the natural by-products of your increasingly healthy lifestyle that is easily incorporated and maintained. It becomes a natural default.
It’s a place to start that is doable (all day long) and we will reinforce it every week during your workout.

Improving posture and breathing can have incredible impacts on health:
Improve one and the other will naturally improve the other.
You will feel better, look better and perform better in every sense of the word.
Good posture facilitates breathing.
Your focus and ability to get things done will improve. (more O2 in your brain)
Your confidence will increase. Your cortisol levels will actually decrease with better posture. (see Amy Cuddy TEdx talk)
You will increase assimilation of nutrients and elimination of toxins through a healthier digestive and respiratory system.
Your stress levels and stress hormones will decrease.
All of these changes are essential to move into your healthy weight.

Evolved Health Challenge for the month:
1. Notice when you are holding your breath or shallow breathing.
Take a deep belly breath (yes, feel your belly expand!) As you exhale, relax your shoulders and any other part of your body that is holding tension. Lift your chest and widen across your collarbones. If you are sitting, shift yourself forward on to your sitting bones instead of slumping and having the C-shaped lower back.
Simple. Life changing. Just do it.
If you are really keen, set your timer for a once per hour reminder!

2. Watch or read one or more of the following to learn more:
(great, simple instructions on how to belly breathe)
(in person posture training available in Calgary)

Let us know how it goes!!
We are cheering you on to great health, energy and happiness!

Mindful Exercise

As a martial artist I learned to pay attention to small details in my body. Mindful exercise is the art of noticing. As you lift the weights in slow motion, notice sensations in your body – tension, pain, shaking, vibration, relaxation, pleasure, your body alignment. The next step is discerning which sensations require action and which can simply be observed. This is the beginning of creating a powerful positive relationship with your body.

The tip this week for your workout is:

Make your start as slow as possible. This “orderly recruitment” of the slow, medium and fast twitch muscles will ultimately affect the quality of your muscular fatigue and failure. The slower the start, the higher the quality muscular stimulation and exhaustion. Also, it is safer to begin very slowly. The first rep is your warm up.

Take your mindfulness outside the workout. Keep noticing your body – the fatigue, the feelings of muscle that have worked hard for you, the mild pain, the pleasure of tiredness, the buzz of energy moving in you and through you. Ask what requires your action. A nap perhaps? Or are you really wanting to go for a walk in the sunshine? Or can you just observe without doing anything or judging.

Notice your body. Thank your body. Love your body. 😉

Remembrance Day Reflection – Too Much Food and Detox

I hope you had time this day to reflect on our immense good fortune to live in a free society.  Past sacrifices made for the sake of this freedom allow us unprecedented liberty.  We are a blessed and privileged citizenry for sure.

In fact, we live in so much food abundance that I now find myself with the privilege of part taking in a 21 day sugar detox with the super fantastic people at Intrinsi Osteopath clinic.  I will keep you posted on the progress; we are on day 4 and I do not feel too much detox as I am not terribly sugar addicted.  My hope is to become more clearly “fat-adapted”, ie. my body uses fat efficiently as fuel and does not rely on sugar hits for energy.  
I’d like to keep sustained high energy, alertness and “happier” moods throughout my days.  That is an indicator of a fat-adapted body, as is, of course, lower body fat!  

The workout radically modifies our body’s metabolic wellness.  It is not something you see right away but your muscles being drained regularly of glycogen through the intense workout means that the blood sugar that is in your system goes to replenish that fuel and not to body fat!  This is hugely important for the healing of the metabolism.  This is why clients who come in with metabolic issues such as pre-diabetes, diabetes, insulin resistance and glucose intolerance heal or significantly improve their conditions after training for 12 months.  

Metabolic disorders are a leading cause of excess body weight.  
Healing the metabolism in this way is the first step towards creating a high level of health and excellent body composition (ie. the right amount of body fat).

Keep draining your muscles of glycogen regularly.  (no other exercise can do this as safely and effectively)

Stay strong!

Thanksgiving Greetings

Belated Thanksgiving gratitude and acknowledgement to you as a treasured client at Evolved Health.  It is an honour and distinct privilege to work with the rare breed of person who is dedicated to his/her health enough to undergo the weekly discomfort of muscular failure x 4 or 5.  We trainers hope you know, even if we use our stern voice sometimes and push you hard, that we LOVE Y’ALL to pieces and feel deep appreciation for your commitment and trust!
Hearing your testimonials as we gather our Client success stories this month has been a great pleasure; thank you for sharing them.   
And meeting some of your out of town family at the studio this past week has been very enjoyable as well. (Thank you for sharing them too!)

One of my Thanksgiving highlights was my daughter, trainer Alanna, coaching my mom (chronological age 85) through the workout.  It was Mom’s first visit to the studio and a very joyful moment for me. (she rocked the workout!)

Next weekend I’ll be at the Anti-aging, Wellness and Beauty Expo.  I am speaking on the Power triad of nutrition, exercise and stress management for avoiding “middle age frumpiness” Given the theme of the expo, anti aging, I will focus on how 15ME (and the power triad) stops aging and begins to reverse it through healing metabolic function and hormone regulation.
This is the underlying issue that most of us in this culture must address first before the slower, body composition shift occurs. (Ie.  healing metabolism and regulating hormones will result in fat burning!) When we do this through whole/real food diet, HIT strength training and adopting ways to lessen the effects of stress, we move toward living our potential with a body that feels and looks fantastic, is sustainable for the long term and will actually begin to reverse the aging process.  (or, as I like to say – Be strong, be sexy and be happy!)

Invisible Benefits Happening Behind the Scenes

Happy September!  We hope you felt the positive effects of weight training while enjoying summer’s pleasures like golfing, hiking, biking and water sports.
Many of you have told us that you felt much stronger and healthier this summer with better cardio vascular conditioning, more confident in your summer clothes and proud of your body.
Hearing these comments sends us over the moon happy to serve you.
Don’t forget the invisible part of your body’s transformation through high intensity weight training that includes the following:
       Increased bone density
       Improved glucose metabolism and insulin sensitivity (regulating this is essential to ward off diabetes and excess weight)
       Reduced systemic inflammation (say no to future arthritis and relieve overall pain throughout body)
       Reduced blood pressure and cholesterol
       Greater levels of dhea (precursor to all hormone regulation) and human growth hormone (keeps you looking and feeling younger)
Higher confidence and energy (attracts great things to your life and keeps you motivated to take exceptional care of YOU) 

You may have noticed some other changes over the summer as we moved through our branding project.  Da da-da!  We are now Evolved Health Personal Training Studio.  Check out the new website with photo and video gallery at
And please take a few of our new brochures to leave at your workplace or with your friends.  We appreciate your help to rave about our unique and functional approach to working out.  Your referrals are genuinely appreciated.

Nutrition and detoxing are also key for all levels of health.  Check out our friends who can help you in both these areas:
Lymphatic massage and Infrared Wraps will help you release and sweat out toxins that are causing you to feel sluggish and retain excess weight.  (toxins hang out in our fat cells therefore detox is paramount to fat loss)
And…. it feels great!  We LOVE our Rejuve days!  The Rejuve gals really pamper you.  
Tell them Evolved Health sent you and get 10% off massages and a FREE infrared sauna with your lymphatic massage/heat wrap treatment!

Healthy Chef Delivery.
This is dream life!   Healthy Chef cooks this amazing, healthy, organic, delicious food and delivers it to your door!
It just does not get any better than this!  (well, except if George Cluny was waiting in the bin for dinner) 

Thank you all for trusting Evolved Health to provide a safe, effective and efficient workout for your busy schedule.  We love to serve your health needs and will never waste your precious time with exercise that does not work.  

Have summer fun being strong!

Happy mid-late Summer!  I enjoy hearing how your strength gains are enhancing summer fun.  Better golf drives (haven’t heard anything on putting yet;-), miraculous gardening feats (moved 6 metric tons of dirt and supplies), cycling victories, running personal bests, and feeling super human hiking the big mountains.  We’ve had a couple people move over the summer and comment on how easy it was to pick up heavy boxes.  Yes, lifting heavy honkin’ weights every 7 days makes you strong and fit!  Congrats all for taking care of your most important asset by adding 15 minutes of slow motion torture to your week.  
(Also, your muscles look awesome peaking and bulging out from under summer sleeveless shirts and shorts as you do your workouts!)
Here’s a link to a great interview with my two favorite health heroes. Dr. Mercola is medical doctor and osteopath turned uber-awesome alternate health information disseminator, his website is the most visited alternate health site in the world. Dr. Doug McGuff is the author of Body By Science, an emergency room doctor and owns a high intensity strength training studio like ours called Ultimate Exercise. We are fortunate to have Dr. McGuff as a staff/studio advisor who meets with EH staff over Skype to keep us on the cutting edge.

Here Dr McGuff explains “Why High Intensity (strength) Training Is So Beneficial for Health—It May Even Help Prevent Cancer.”
(sorry for the long link – Mercola likes to track his readers so makes it challenging to share without going through his system)

Coles notes of the interview for the time-starved:
Recent research reveals that myokines—a class of cell-signaling proteins produced by muscle fibers—can combat cancer and metabolic syndrome
 High intensity training effectively stimulates your muscles to release anti-inflammatory myokines
 Myokines increase your insulin sensitivity and glucose use inside your muscles. They also increase liberation of fat from adipose cells and the burning of the fat within the skeletal muscle
 Acting as chemical messengers, myokines inhibit the release and the effect of the inflammatory cytokines produced by body fat. They also significantly reduce body fat irrespective of calorie intake
“As a result, it increases your insulin sensitivity and basically starts to reverse or tilt all the effects of the metabolic syndrome,” Dr. McGuff explains. “You get that with high-intensity interval training and you get that with high-intensity strength training, which is something that I advocate.
The primary difference between HIIT and high-intensity strength training is the degree of muscular fatigue. In evolutionary terms, high-intensity interval training is like being on the hunt and intermittently sprinting for your life for a short span of time, whereas high-intensity strength training would be like getting in a life-and-death wrestling match with someone almost perfectly matched to your capabilities. It would be a massive struggle with great fatigue.”
So basically, high intensity strength training gives you all the benefits that HIIT provides—including all the cardiovascular benefits—but in addition to that, it also induces a rapid and deep level of muscle fatigue. This triggers the synthesis of more contractile tissue, and all the metabolic components to support it—including more myokines.
“Skeletal muscle is one of the largest glucose reservoirs in your body. It’s going to improve your glycogen storage and utilization capabilities, which improves your insulin sensitivity and does everything to kind of flip the metabolic syndrome on its head. In addition to that, it triggers the release of a lot of myokines.
These myokines have very specific effects on body composition, systemic inflammation, and risk for chronic disease that are outside anything to do with energy balance itself. When we really ramp up the intensity so that the muscle is truly challenged and fatigued, we get a lot of extra benefit out of that.”

So keep lifting heavy weights in slow motion.  High intensity weight training and a diet based on whole foods is the antidote to the metabolic syndrome that is causing high levels of weight gain, loss of function and disease