Making exercise automatic can reap benefits, says study.
If you’re having trouble jumping into a new exercise routine and sticking with it, you may need to take a step back and consider exactly how best to form a healthy new habit.
The trick is to focus on cues that make hitting the gym or going for a run automatic, according to a new study out of Iowa State University. Lead researcher Alison Phillips, an assistant professor of psychology, uses the term "instigation habit" in her paper, which appears in a recent issue of the journal Health Psychology. It’s all about getting out the door so that “you’ll start exercising without having to think a lot about it or consider the pros and cons,” she says in a press release.
Whether it’s leaving work at the end of the workday or an alarm in the morning that signals to you it’s time to sweat, it appears that meaningful cues are the key to staying on track with fitness. For instance, if you're just starting an exercise routine, it may be more effective to work out at the same time every day than trying to squeeze in workouts at various times.
Phillips and her colleagues asked 118 healthy adults about their exercise routines and found that nearly 50 percent said they had regularly worked out longer than 12 months. Phillips found that the stronger the instigation habit in those people, the more frequently they exercised—regardless of what regimen they were following. She suggests that forming the habit is independent from what that habit is. In other words, you can "try new types of exercise without worrying about losing the habit," Phillips says.
Phillips cites other research indicating that it may take a month of repeat behaviour before your new habit sticks.
More research needed
Phillips says more research is required to determine what kind of cues work best. If you’re starting a new routine, though, it can’t hurt to focus on the timing more than the particular sport or fitness class you choose for the first month or so. If the habit sticks, you can always switch from spin to zumba, after all.
Keeping warm doesn't mean sacrificing style—even when it's just your winter hat.
Much like our other winter wear (boots, scarves, jackets), we really need our hats to keep us warm. That's priority number one. But, it helps when our head-topper picks are also stylish. Because when the weather gets cold—we're talking really, really, cold—you can't get away with ditching your tuque to save a good hair day. So you may as well find a tuque you love. One that's cute, trendy and reflects your personal sartorial tastes—and one that also happens to keep you warm.
Here are some of our favourite tuques of the season. Make sure to click through, because a lot of these styles are now on sale!
On those cold, wintry days when you need somethingwarm around your face, grab your knitting needles, hibernate for a weekend and knit up The Stone and Arrow Winter Set. Designed in bulky yarn, The Arrow Headband and The Stone Scarf come together in a snap. And with simple repeating patterns, they're perfect for confident beginners looking to expand their knitting skills.
The Stone Scarf got its name from its 3D texture, created by alternating knits and purls, that resembles a stonewall. The quirky stone-like bumps are tempered by a garter-stitch border and a slipped selvedge for a tidy edge.
• 2 balls (each 150 g/225 m) Schachenmayr SMC Tweed Montage* in Dusty Ranch (actual amount used for scarf: approx. 322 m)
• A 7-mm knitting needle
*If you are having difficulty finding the Schachenmayr SMC Tweed yarn, try Noro Obi or Noro Kama. Both are available online and can be shipped to Canada. Both give very similar stitch gauge and have a nice gradual colour change.
Lana Gross Medio is also very close in colour. This yarn can also be purchased online, but be advised that the shipping costs may be hefty. Lana Gross Medio is thinner than what the pattern calls for, so if you decide to use this yarn you should cast on 34 sts instead of 24, and follow the pattern exactly as it’s written. The width will be roughly the same.
14 sts/25 rows = 10 cm/4 inches in Basket Welt Stitch
Basket Welt Stitch:
Rows 1 and 2: Sl1, k1 *p5, k5* repeat to last 2 sts, k2.
Row 3: Sl1, knit all stitches to end of row.
Rows 4 and 5: Sl1, k1 *k5, p5* repeat to last 2 sts, k2.
Row 6: Sl1, k1, purl to last 2 sts, k2.
Repeat Rows 1 to 6 for pattern stitch.
When it comes to women and our money, most of the surveys and reports we’ve read sum up our financial situation like this: we simply aren’t on a level playing field with men. It turns out women aren’t, for example, as confident in managing financial services, we’re often reluctant to talk about cash (it’s still considered taboo) and, no surprise here, we generally don’t earn as much as our male counterparts.
All of this got us thinking—is the relationship between Canadian women and our money as dire as it seems? To find out, we've created a survey that goes deep into the minds (and pocketbooks) of women across the country specifically to find out how you feel about all-things financial. Who pays the bills in your household? Have you ever asked for a raise at work? Do you know how much is currently in your savings account?
Take our survey and find out the results in an upcoming issue. Plus, one reader will win a $250 Visa gift card just for participating.
No one wants to feel hangry or get hit with a midday crash—but that doesn't mean you have to visit the office vending machine. Instead, curb hunger pangs with these healthier, expert-approved alternatives.
1. Swap: Microwave popcorn for cauliflower popcorn
Even light microwave popcorn can be loaded with sodium, trans fats (which raise bad cholesterol and lower good cholesterol) and artificial colours and flavours, says Kelowna, B.C.–based registered dietitian Tristaca Curley. Instead, cut a head of cauliflower into bite-size pieces, then roast in the oven with some olive or coconut oil and sprinkle with sea salt flakes. This low-calorie, folate- and potassium-rich sub is a satisfying twist on that movie-night favourite.
Photography by Angus Fergusson
2. Swap: Store-bought gorp for DIY trail mix
Ready-made trail mixes can be full of sugar and salt, so create your own snack of walnuts (the nut with the highest levels of omega-3 fatty acids), unsalted sunflower seeds, dried apple bits and unsweetened shredded coconut. Add chocolate chips for an extra hit of sweetness. "For a tart superfood top-up, add golden berries, which resemble golden raisins," says Toronto-based registered nutritionist Joey Shulman. "They're lower in sugar versus other small berries, and they contain linoleic and oleic acids, which help with fat oxidation." Or add resveratrol-rich mulberries for their antioxidant punch.
3. Swap: Potato Chips for kale chips
"Regular chips contain trans fatty acids, the bad fat that can lead to heart disease and elevated cholesterol," says Shulman. "This superfood alternative is loaded with vitamins A, C and K." Tear kale leaves into bite-size pieces (discard thick stems), toss with olive oil and salt, then roast until crisp.
4. Swap: Salted pretzels for roasted chickpeas
Sure, pretzels may be low in fat, but they're loaded with salt and have no real nutritional value, says Curley. For a crunchy alternative, try oven-roasted chickpeas. These legumes are high in fibre, protein and iron, making them an ideal "fill me up" snack. Toss together chickpeas, olive oil, sea salt and your favourite spice (think smoked paprika, ground cumin, cayenne pepper or garlic powder), then roast until golden brown and crunchy.
5. Swap: Cheese crackers for a seaweed snack
Most crackers are processed carbs laden with artificial colours, preservatives and other additives. "In their place, top a sheet of nori with some canned tuna, smoked salmon or a meat alternative, like grilled tofu," says Curley. The seaweed is super satisfying and guilt-free: There are only five calories per sheet. Plus, sea vegetables are full of vitamins A and C, calcium, iodine (essential for metabolism) and iron.
6. Swap: Chocolate pudding for avocado and cocoa pudding
Chocolate puddings can be drowning in high-fructose corn syrup. For a healthier treat, mash an avocado, then stir in two tablespoons each of cocoa powder and hemp seeds and a quarter cup of honey, says Curley. This pudding is low in sugar and a great source of monounsaturated fats, vitamin C and fibre.
7. Swap: Granola bars for energy balls
Granola bars can contain as much sugar, fat and refined carbs as a chocolate bar. "Instead, stir together a cup of oatmeal with half a cup each of nut butter, hemp seeds and dried fruit," says Curley. Maple syrup or honey will help it stick together. This homemade option is high in fibre and protein, low in sugar and free of additives.
8. Swap: Chips and dip for hummus and carrot or zucchini coins
Processed foods like chips can raise blood sugar, triggering a release in insulin, which then lowers blood sugar. In the short term, these highs and lows actually increase cravings; in the long run, they can lead to weight gain. Try this clever swap from Curley. Using a mandoline or a sharp knife, slice carrots or zucchini into coins. Toss with olive oil, salt and pepper, then bake until golden brown and crisp. Serve with a side of hummus. (Brownie points if it's homemade!)
9. Swap: Banana chips for a loaded banana
This snack is often coated in sugar and deep-fried to give it crunch, so choose a fresh banana, which is glycemic index–friendly, suggests Curley. (Foods with a low-GI value are digested more slowly, so they won't cause a spike in blood sugar.) Top the banana with two tablespoons of your favourite nut butter, then roll it in hemp seeds. "You'll get a slow, steady rise in your blood sugar, so you'll feel full for longer," says Curley. Plus, this satisfying switch-up delivers potassium, protein, iron and omega-3s.
10. Swap: Chocolate-covered almonds for apple rings with nut butter
Almonds are a great snack, but when they're coated with chocolate, they turn into a treat. For a healthier option, slice a cored apple into rings. Top each slice with natural peanut, cashew or almond butter and sprinkle with hemp seeds, which are a great source of protein and omega-3 fatty acids. "Apples are loaded with fibre and vitamin C," says Shulman. "Look for unprocessed nut butters; they're rich in good fats, which contain essential fatty acids such as omega-3s and monounsaturated fats."