Wednesday, July 30, 2008

The Perfect Day

We celebrated Rozanne's 30th Birthday last Wednesday. I took the day off to spend with her. My father-in-law came in the morning to pick-up the kids so that we could have the day to ourselves.

A little bit of background on my wife's and my relationship...She's my high school sweetheart. We've been together for a very long time and have pretty much grown up together. I'd like to think that I know her pretty well. So for her birthday, I lined up a list of her favorite things to do around the city (of Toronto)...with a few surprises.

I'm pretty lucky living in one of the most beautiful, culturally diverse and friendliest cities in the world. Anyone that tells you otherwise probably hasn't experienced Toronto like I have (having lived here all my life).

We started off the day with a Yoga Class at the Yoga Sanctuary on College Street. We did some Hatha yoga, mainly because Hatha emphasizes breathing, relaxation and meditation (unlike Ashtanga or "power" yoga which is more intense). Our lives are pretty hectic and very "on-the-go", and my workouts are already pretty intense, so to gain an hour or so to relax and meditate was important to starting our day off on the right foot.

I strongly recommend that anyone who finds that things are just too much sometimes to try some meditation, yoga, tai chi or Qi Gong. All of those arts have been practiced for thousands of years, so I figure if it's been around for that long something's gotta be right about them.

***A word of advice about these arts: Don't approach them as a traditional "workout". You'll get much more out of them if you approach it as an exercise for your mind rather than wanting to burn a few extra calories.

After that it was off to brunch at Brassaii on King Street West. Peter & Gus (the owners) are 2 really down-to-earth guys who run a great place with amazing service, an unbelievable atmosphere and the space itself is beautiful. We especially like to take the kids there for brunch on Sunday mornings every now and then. They always make us feel welcome and when you have 4 kids, finding a nice place for Sunday brunch is hard to come about. I highly recommend Brassaii if you're ever in Toronto or the King West neighborhood.

It was off to the Gardiner Museum after that for an exhibition called Object Factory: The Art Of Industrial Ceramics. A few years ago, I would gone to one of these exhibitions (full of everyday ceramic objects) and not really understood the point. "Oooohh, look a plate. Oh wait, look there's another plate with a tea cup". But because my wife is a creative type, she's taught me how to appreciate the detail of things a lot more. So this exhibition was a lot more than a bunch of flat ware and table settings sitting in glass cases that we couldn't touch.

I guess a girl's day couldn't be complete without a little shopping. Off to the Distillery District we went to a store called Lileo. Luckily everything at Lileo was on sale (Note to self: 50-70% off everything in the store = GOOD) so we bought a few things that we would normally NEVER buy at regular price.

The highlight of shopping (I'm a guy, so I hate shopping), Rozanne fit into a pair of Size 24 jeans...thank you EatStopEat!

We stayed in the area and went to Soma, a chocolate shop where they serve gelato, espresso and various artisan made chocolates (they actually make them on-site). I think she had 4 different truffles and I had my usual double espresso and we enjoyed some nice, lite but meaningful conversation.

To end the day we met up with the kids and my father-in-law Roger at Paul's Spaghetti in East York. This is a "Ma & Pa" place that has the best pasta I have ever tasted! AJ, Frankie and I had the penne a la vodka. Rozanne, Joey & Roger had the spaghetti with meat sauce. Pasta's a once-in-a-while treat for us. Funny, but years ago we used to feel guilty about eating it. Now, because we follow my 8 Simple Rules, it's never a problem.

And that was it. Put the kids to bed. Had some blueberries & walnuts. Brushed and flossed. Hit the sack.

Unbelievable day. The Perfect Day.

Happy 30th Birthday.

Love you.

The FitAndBusyDad

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

FitAndBusyDad Exercise of the Week: Blast Strap Dips

I'm a big fan of bodyweight exercises. As a young trainer I was once told by strength & conditioning pioneer Juan Carlos Santana that he determines the skill level of his trainers based on whether or not they could train him in an empty elevator.

Since that time (way back in 1998, I think), it's been ingrained in my training head to try to learn and incorporate every possible bodyweight exercise in my programming. My philosophy in training has changed over the years, but one thing stays contstant...

You must be able to handle your own bodyweight before we add any significant external resistance.

That said, today's EOW is one of the hardest bodyweight exercises I've done. In fact, when it was introduced to me by my friend Craig Ballantyne back in 2002, I almost fell on my face when I tried it. Things have now changed (let's hope, it's been 6 years!) and I can now do these with a 50lb weighted vest.

To perform BLAST STRAP DIPS, you'll first need a set of Blast Straps (you can pick them up at and something to hang them off - soccer goal post, chin-up bar, DoorGym, etc.

• Grab the Blast Strap handles with your palms facing in (the straps should be a little wider than shoulder width apart)
• Stand between the straps making sure that the straps are perpendicular (at a right angle to the ground)
• Straighten your arms by locking your elbows and pushing your shoulders AWAY from your ears and BRACING YOUR ABS HARD
• Now bend your knees so that you are off the ground and fully suspended by the straps
• Initiate the movement leaning forward slightly and bending at the elbows until your upper arms are parallel to the ground
• Push through the straps and straighten your arms out and push you shoulders away from your ears.

At first, you may find this movement pretty hard. For added stability and control try doing the movement with the tips of your toes on the ground. Just remember that it's an upper body exercise, so don't let your lower body assist you too much.

The FitAndBusyDad

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

World Renowned Strength Coach Supports My Humble Opinion

Recently I wrote an article on running and why I think it's an ineffective method for sedentary people to use to lose weight. You can read that piece HERE.

Well, after my weekly perusal of T-Nation (a site dedicated to guys like me who obsess over the latest research, trends and opinions in strength and conditioning), I came across an article by Eric Cressey called "6 Mistakes: Fitting Round Pegs Into Square Holes".

The take home point in my case on why running is a poor choice for weight loss can be summed up with this quote from the article...

"The overwhelming majority of people move like absolute crap. When you take a body that moves like crap, and move it like crap for an extended period of time with very little range of motion or rest — and add in ground reaction forces — you make a lot of physical therapists and orthopedic surgeons wealthy."
-Eric Cressey, MSc, CSCS

Do yourself and your body a favor and GET FIT TO RUN.


-The FitAndBusyDad

p.s. Hate running? Click HERE to try this program and get fit without having to do ANY boring, monotonous , mind-numbing cardio.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Exercise of The Week

Today I'm starting a new "Exercise Of The Week" series. I'll try to make these as interesting as possible and try to make them as "bang for your buck" as possible giving you a non-traditional spin on some tried and true exercise favorites.

I won't be filming any bench press or dead lift videos because most of us who train at home don't have the luxury of that kind of equipment (and a lot of us already know how to bench or have seen it done before).

So today's exercise is one of my personal favorites, the RENEGADE ROW.

Renegades are just a spin on one of Dr. Stuart McGill's abdominal buttressing exercises where you try to hold your torso as rigid as possible as you take away one of your "pillars" - an arm holding onto a kettlebell/dumbbell in this case.

To perform a Renegade Row, you start on the ground holding a pair of dumbbells or kettlebells. Kettlebells are a lot more challenging for shoulder stability because it's surface area is a lot less than that of a dumbbell.

Next, brace your abs and squeeze your glutes. This is imperative to ensure that your body stays as flat as possible. You need to "zip up" as Pavel, a Russian Kettlebell Expert would say.

Finally, maintaining your brace, you row one arm up really concentrating on not allowing your hips to rotate or your opposite leg to come off the ground.

You'll really feel this in your abs if you do it right. For a real challenge, try adding a push-up to the movement (push-up, row left, row right, repeat). Doing that combo would be a complete upper body workout by itself.

The FitAndBusyDad

p.s. You can find this exercise and many more in the soon-to-be-released FitAndBusyDad Exercise Index. Stay tuned for more details.

p.p.s. Make sure to check out how my friend and nutrition guru Brad Pilon celebrated his 31st birthday over the weekend!

Monday, July 21, 2008

The Big 3-1!!!

No, not me. I turned 31 in January.

But over the weekend, my good friend Brad Pilon, turned 31.

Brad is my Number #1 nutrition go-to guy. He is by far, one of the smartest and most passionate experts in the nutritional field that I've ever met. In fact, I value his opinion and his advice so much that, I interviewed him and recorded the interview as bonus in the FitAndBusyDad program.

For his 31st birthday, Brad not only had some Hagen Daaz Coffee Ice Cream, but he released some TOP SECRET audio files containing the science behind his cutting edge nutrition book EatStopEat.

In his audio files, Brad will give you the lowdown on what he thinks about muscle building nutrition, nutrition for fat loss, the dreaded "starvation mode" and his thoughts on eating for quality.

In audio #5 he also reccomends the FitAndBusyDad Program!

Click HERE to learn more about Brad's Special Birthday Celebration.

It's good to be back,


Friday, July 4, 2008

How To Lose Fat When There's a Flood In Your Basement

I woke up Wednesday to find water in my basement and the smell of water. If you own a home or a business you know how distressing this site is.

We live in a renovated 70-year-old house in an old Toronto neighborhood. When we moved in, we were told that all drainage pipes were replaced. As it turns out, they weren't. So, I had to spend most of the day yesterday in contact with plumbers trying to find a solution to a blocked drainage pipe.

Why am I telling you this? Well, I spent most of the day at home. And even though I was visibly irritated and somewhat stressed out, I found time to be productive.

In these situations, for a lot of us (me being as guilty as any), it's really easy to throw in the towel, open a bag of potato chips, plant your ass on the couch and give up.

Instead, I picked myself up, got some work done (wrote an article, a new series of workouts, a blog post and this newsletter), and got a great workout in.

The workout that I used will be part of a TOP SECRET project I'm working on that'll help Busy Dads get their abs.

Here's a sneak peak of that workout (don't worry, it's one of many)...

1) Bodyweight warm-up (Squats, Push-Ups, Lunges, Stick-ups, Plank & side Planks)

Superset #1 (do as much work as possible in 7mins)
2a) Kettlebell Front Squat x 15
2b) Handstand Push-Ups* x 7

Superset #2 (do as much work as possible in 7 mins)
3a) Neutral Grip chin-ups
3b) 2-arm Kettlebell Swings x 25

*I just started doing hand stand took me a couple of weeks to get used to the blood rushing to my head, but I'm pretty happy with how I've progressed.

It's been a pretty crazy week. We were at a rain plagued soccer tournament for AJ all weekend. Mikey had Roseola for a few days. And of course the plumbing situation.

Through it all, I managed. But I don't think I would have been able to if I didn't keep my training and nutrition in check. So much of how you react to things is dependent on what you do outside of the stresses.

I made it a point to get my workouts in and made sure that I was eating good, nutritious food and I think that helped me become "less stressed" about my surroundings.

Now, I don't know if there's any scientific proof behind that. All I know is that there was one less thing to worry about.

Have a productive week,
Chris Lopez
the FitAndBusyDad

P.S. The solution to the problem ends up being a HEFTY dent in my wallet to get the pipe replaced. Then, we'll probably have to do a rip-up job in the basement to put in some new flooring....BREATHE....JUST BREATHE.