Breakfast. A lot of people say they hate it. I'm not sure why, I get up in the morning, having not had anything to eat for 12+ hours and of course I feel not quite right with low blood sugar, grumbling tummy and all. I am lucky that I have always loved breakfast.
So why don't you take the time for breakfast? Too busy in the morning with kids, getting ready for work? Why not start eating breakfast, I bet it makes a world of difference in the long run. If your excuse is that you don't have any time, well I have a nutritious solution for you that takes 5 minutes the night before and a 2nd option that takes 5 minutes in the morning and doesn't include buying expensive, processed sugar laden commercial cereal. I sometimes eat these for lunch or dinner when I'm feeling lazy.
Since being in Mexico I have been unable to buy low fat dairy of any kind or any frozen berries, so I had to adapt to what was at hand. Here are my two favourite breakfast options, one I eat in Canada with low fat Greek yogurt and one tasty option for when I'm in Mexico! Try them both and see which one you like best!
1/2 cup low fat, plain Greek yogurt
1 tsp. Splenda or other sweetener
1/2 cup frozen raspberries, black berries, sour cherries or strawberries - whatever berry you love
1 tsp. hemp seeds
Optional 1/4 cup quick oats
Mix it all together - enjoy!
1 cup dry oats (whole)
1 1/2 tbsp cocoa powder
1 tsp Splenda or other sweetener
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 cup milk (preferably low fat) or almond, soy milk etc.
1/2 cup water
1/2 tbsp. cocoa nibs
Mix all dry ingredients in a jar or other container with a lid. Add water and milk, shake and put in the fridge over night. In the morning, give it a stir with the cocoa nibs - voila!!! My new fav.
As I sit in the Arizona desert staying away from other people (I hate catch phrases like ‘self isolation) and see people on social media posting they hope they have a family member who knows how to cook because all their favourite restaurants are currently closed, I use my inside voice to ask myself: “when did North Americans lose their ability to cook and why did we lose that ability?”. I don't think the majority of us are lazy, we work hard at our jobs, those with kids are busy with them, we have to clean our houses. So why does the thought of cooking make people roll their eyes? We have to eat, there's no choice. So why don't most of us do it for ourselves anymore?
Convenience? I get it, we are all tired at the end of the day, we are rushed in the morning before school and work. In this day and age (ignoring the current pandemic) it is so easy to get on whatever app du jour and have anything you desire delivered to your door. Technology has made it easy, but has technology actually made your life better in this regard? Do you remember a time when eating out was a treat and a special occasion?
Deliciousness? Does fast food, frozen pizza, restaurant food in general taste more amazing than a home cooked meal. Not always.
Cost? Is it more expensive to cook at home? Nope!
Time? Is delivery faster than cooking something at home? Yes and no.
Healthy? Is delivery/take out healthier? As an ex-chef I have to say nope. Restaurant food is all about flavour, yes even the vegan/vegetarian restaurants use processed plant products which aren't necessarily healthier than whole fruits and veggies with minimal processing.
Family time? Most families eat in front of the almighty television. Is this really family time, why not cook with your spouse and/or kids? Teach the next generation a skill or two.
Before you do the eye roll when I ask you if you like to cook, why not try 2 meals a week? Roast a chicken with all the veg and potatoes in one pan, learn to grill veggies when you grill up a steak. Make some quick oats for tomorrow's breakfast. Get a crockpot, those things are amazing.
Or, if you do cook at home but are bored, try something new! Learn how to make bread (it's quite easy, yes, it's time consuming, but can be made in the time span of a 2-hour movie), learn how to make hollandaise sauce from scratch, it's not magic! Make pancakes or waffles from scratch with blueberry sauce. You don't have to spend your entire day cooking, but you can cut the cord and I promise you will save a ton of money and your waistline may even shrink a little.
Most of the time I go overboard when I get it in my head to do something or get into something new. It is a problem because sometimes I can't tell myself enough is enough. Sound familiar? This week, I screwed up. Super hard dirt biking for 4 or 5 days in a row, plus some mountain biking thrown in, a TRX work out and surprise, now I'm off my dirt bike for a few days resting my worn out arms while my partner is off enjoying some single track with a local.
When is it time to take a break? I think that is up to each individual. Some people train hard for 3 weeks then take a week off, some train every other day, some train 4 days on 3 off. Whichever method you choose, it is important to build in a plan for rest days. I must change my thinking. I know I need to strengthen my upper body for the terrain I'm currently riding, however dirt biking for 4 hours then doing an upper body workout afterwards is dumb - that's just screaming for problems or an injury. My new plan: I'm going to dirt bike for 3 days in a row, one day off and spend that day stretching and a light upper body workout and see how that goes. My nutrition is good, and my sleeping habits are excellent, so I know I just have an overuse injury.
I realize not everyone has the freedom I currently treasure, but we can all think about our current workout routine. Sometimes taking a week off may improve your strength when you get back at it. Maybe just lightening the load for a week or riding a few hours less a day will give you enough rest. Certainly, taking stock of one’s eating and sleep routine and making adjustments will help as well. Remember what you do on rest days are just as important on what you do on workout/riding days
If you find yourself in a plateau, or sore from overtraining, maybe it’s time to try a new approach to your workout. Give it some thought and tell yourself it's OK to take a break. Everyone needs to slow down and smell the roses sometimes.
Flexibility. This is a very important subject. When you think of flexibility do you think of the Olympic gymnasts doing crazy things? If you think of inflexibility, do you picture the super muscly guys who can't bend over to tie their shoes? I listen to a lot of fitness and dirt bike podcasts and read a lot but I don't come across articles about flexibility very often and I'm not sure why.
What is the definition of flexibility? Range of motion as well as the “ability to adapt successfully to challenges to motor control, strength, balance, coordination, endurance, and mental and emotional focus”.* In other words, all the things you need to successfully ride your dirt bike.
Why should flexibility be part of our training? Think about your daily routine, do you sit all day, do you stand all day, do you do repetitive motions all day? I used to sit at a desk all day, that repetitive sitting caused my hip flexor muscles to shorten and become tight and stiff to the point I was having constant knee and groin muscle pain and injuries. Now my gym workouts, dirt bike days and rest days almost always start and end with stretching all the things. Why almost always, well I'm human and sometimes I forget. When muscles are tight, they pull on opposing muscles, weakening them and not allowing for the full use of the muscle. Stretching will allow the full use of the muscles. Think about doing squats, can you flex all the way to ground? Do you regularly stretch your quads, calves, hip flexor and glutes? Adding stretching to all of these muscle groups will allow for a fuller range of motion in a squat. We don't have to do the splits but being able to do a full squat is part of being flexible and an important part of dirt bike riding.
How important is flexibility for dirt bike riders? Think about going around a corner, sitting forward on the seat, leg outstretched, and you catch a stump. If you have loose flexible muscles in your leg, it may just swing back and you continue on your way. If you have tight hip flexors, hamstrings or quads and your leg is snapped back, those inflexible tight muscles are susceptible to injury and your day of riding may be over. I'm 5’2”, while I have had my suspension lowered and tuned for my weight and height, I still need flexibility to get my leg over the seat or be able to touch the ground. I also need to be flexible enough to lift my bike off the ground as I have short arms. Think back to the ability to squat I mentioned earlier. Being able to hold that squat while standing on the pegs of my bike, with my knees bent, while traversing some gnarly terrain, allows me to ride as aggressively as I need to so I can get through those rough spots.
I could write for days about this subject but I'm going to keep it short because I want you to get flexible and discover the benefits of being flexible not just to ride a dirt bike but to build strength, protect joints and make your everyday tasks easier. Don't forget, the FitRiders program focuses on stretching and flexibility, especially when it comes to the muscle groups used most by us riders.
* Foundations of Personal Training, 2nd edition, 2016, p. 126
For most of us, if we are not essential workers, we have been home for a long time. Many of us can feel overwhelmed, particularly if we are spending a lot of time on social media. Either we feel anxiety about getting this disease, or we believe we are being lazy if we haven’t taken the time to declutter the house or learn a new language. The reality is, many of us are stressed out just trying to keep ourselves and our families healthy. Add in the challenge of trying to work from home while homeschooling youngsters, and you may find yourself saying “what free time!”
There is hope and opportunity that can come out of this situation. There are many things we can do now during this time to help our wellness that don’t involve a lot of extra time.
Homeschooling in traditional subjects aren’t the only things our children will learn during this pandemic. COVID-19 and germs have come to the forefront; now is a great time to teach children some habits around cleanliness. Most of them understand why they are at home and can’t socialize with their friends. This may be the only time they will listen to you when you tell them to wash their hands before dinner. Try it, it just might work.
Food and Nutrition
North American self isolation seems to revolve around a lack of toilet paper, flour and canned goods. If you are lucky enough to live somewhere with an abundance of food, and are able to shop or order groceries in, now is a good time to take advantage of the fresh meat, fish, fruits and vegetables available. If some of your favourites are not available, the opportunity exists for the adventurous eater to try something new. If you can’t find beef, try lamb. If you can’t find apples, try mangoes. I just bought a case of mangoes at the grocery store for $8! While it seems crazy, you just may end up eating healthier than you did before.
The abundance of food in North America can also lend the opportunity to explore new types of cuisine. Spices also seem to be plentiful, so try a new ethnic cuisine that you always wanted to try but were afraid to make. Now’s the time to break out either the Instapot or slow cooker, or both. Even though the Instapot and slow cooker cook food differently, using one of these appliances means that you don’t have to spend time in front of the stove. The machine does most of the work, and there is only one pot to clean afterwards.
This is a great time to take care of your bike. Many trails are still closed in some areas due to either weather conditions or self isolation measures. Now is the time to do that maintenance you have been putting off. Some things can be easily done at home, some things may require some skill or the watching of YouTube videos. If you find yourself mechanically inclined, go for it! If not, some bike shops are still open for service (always call ahead first) and would probably be thankful for the business.
With the quarantine, fitness at home programs are booming. Gyms are closed, and community recreation programs have ended. If you are missing your regular gym, fitness class or sport, why not give FitRiders a try. Our program takes only 20 minutes a day and uses no equipment. So, there is no need to rush out an buy any expensive equipment. The program is designed to get you into adventure riding shape when the riding season begins. Right now it feels like it will never come, but it will.
Even with children and spouses trying to get your attention, you can still carve out 20 minutes for yourself. You owe it to yourself. If you’re a morning person, and the family isn’t, try morning workouts. If you’re a night owl, try it after you put the kids to bed. Better yet, get the whole family to join in! They’re missing their recreation programs too! It’s free for 60 days. You have nothing to lose, except maybe a few inches around the waist.
Karl Tettmann, Co-Founder. Avid health and fitness coach who just loves to ride.