Sunday, August 30, 2009

Change Is Good


This summer has been filled will some stress and personal issues but I am back and I have some exciting news:

I am going to be a student again!!

That is right, I am going back to school in just over a week for Corporate Communications. I don't think I have ever been this excited for school. It is a total 180 coming from the world of fitness but I know in my heart that it is time for a change.

Don't get me wrong, I still love fitness and I have every intention of staying active in the field and continuing to write and blog about the importance of health and exercise. However, for many reasons, I just know that it is time for me to shift my career focus and move upward and onward.

This brings me to my topic to today: Making Changes

Most of the time we resist change. We are all creatures of habit and try our hardest to make sure that everything stays the same. Even when we know that things must change, we spend more time thinking and worrying about it than we do actually trying to change. It is much easier to keep doing what we are doing.

There is also the change that it out of our hands. The kind of change is thrust upon us. In my opinion, this is often the best kind as it forces us re-evaluate our lives and explore different options. This creates an opportunity to do things that we never even imagined.

Make a small, positive change in your life. You will be surprised what a big impact it can have.

Stay Healthy,

Monday, June 29, 2009

The "S" Word


I know, I know, it has been a while since my last post but I have to tell you that June was a whirlwind of a month.

I am currently trying to get my act together so I can attend school in the fall (I will fill you in when everything is finalized) and there has been so much to do. Paperwork, traveling, interviews and all of it had to be done in a very short period of time. The entire process has been exhausting. Along with all my other responsibilities, I have been totally stressed out!

There it is. The "S" word.

We know it all to well. Everywhere you turn there is more of it. At work, at home, with our friends, with our families. So what can you do to stop stress from taking over your life? Here are a few things I have learned over the last few years that have really helped me deal with stress and I hope that they can help you too.

Take a Step Back - The next time you find yourself knee deep in projects ready to pull your hair out, take a break. Remove yourself from the area, take a few deep breaths and have a cup of tea. You will be surprised how a few minutes away can give you a fresh outlook. Make sure that you take time for yourself every week. Join a yoga class or spend an hour with a good book.

Talk It Out - If something is bothering you, your silence is only going to make it worse. Confide in a friend or family member. You may even find it helpful to speak with a health professional about your problems. This is not only therapeutic but it may help you to see your issues from a different perspective.

Be Positive - Having a positive attitude is a great asset in any situation. When we we are under a lot of pressure, it is so easy to say, "I give up" or "I can't do it." Focus on what you "can" do and ask for help if you need it. Have a sense of humour if things are not going your way. Laughter is the best medicine.

Keep It Real - Much of the stress that we feel comes from the pressure we put on ourselves. For example, you to do a presentation, run a PTA meeting, take your kids to soccer and make cookies for a bake sale all in one night. Does this sound like you? Be realistic when you are tackling projects and set clear goals. The best thing you can do is learn to say, "no".

Have a great week and Happy Canada Day!


Sunday, May 31, 2009

Vitamins 101, Part 2


Here is part 2 of my quest to take the mystery out of vitamins, why we need them and what they do for our bodies.

And now we move on to the fat-soluble vitamins...

Vitamin D (Calciferol) - The most important role of this vitamin is to maintain calcium levels in the blood. Vitamin D helps increase calcium absorption from food and reduces urinary calcium loss. It is also necessary for healthy bones and teeth. The majority of vitamin D is created by a chemical reaction between the sun and your skin. Other sources include cod liver oil, egg yolks and butter.

Vitamin E (Alpha Tocopherol) - It is an antioxidant that protects cell membranes and other fat soluble parts of the body from damage. Vitamin E promotes a healthy immune system and may help to ease muscle cramps. It can be found in nuts, seeds, and whole grains.

Vitamin K (Phylloquinone) - This vitamin is needed for proper bone formation and blood clotting. It does this by helping the body transport calcium. Sources of vitamin K are leafy greens such as kale and spinach, soybean oil and olive oil.

Keep an eye out for Minerals 101 in future posts!


Source: Truestar Health

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Vitamins 101, Part 1


It seems like we have been waiting a long time for a warm, sunny day like this.

I looked outside and thought, "I need to get out there in the sunshine and get my vitamin D."

That got me thinking about vitamins.

Most of us know that we get vitamin D from the sun, but do we even know what vitamin D does in our bodies? In fact, do we even know what any vitamin does for our bodies?

Well, I thought I would use the next few posts to demystify vitamins starting with the ABC's:
Source: Truestar Health

Vitamin A (Retinol) - A fat soluble vitamin that maintains eye health and helps our cells reproduce normally. It is also vital in embryo and fetus development as well as normal reproductive function. Vitamin A is found in liver, dairy products and cod liver oil.

Vitamin B Complex - This refers to all the water soluble vitamins, except for Vitamin C.
  • B1 (Thiamine) - Required to process fats, carbohydrates and protein. Nerve cells also require vitamin B to function normally. It can be found in whole wheat, beans and peanuts.
  • B2 (Riboflavin) - Needed to process fats and amino acids and also to activate vitamin B6 and folic acid. It helps the body convert carbohydrates to fuel. Good sources of vitamin B2 are dairy products, meats and eggs.
  • B3 (Niacin) - Needed to release energy from and form fat from carbohydrates. It also helps process alcohol. Vitamin B3 is found in meat, peanuts and fish.
  • B5 ( Pantethine) - Essential in producing, releasing and transporting energy from fat. The synthesis of cholesterol depend on vitamin B5 and it also activates the adrenal glands. Good sources of vitamin B5 are liver, yeast and salmon.
  • B6 (Pyridoxine) - Master vitamin for processing amino acids. It is also needed to make hormones, serotonin, melatonin and dopamine. You can find vitamin B6 is bananas, potatoes and lentils.
  • B12 (Cobalamin) - Vital in nerve cell activity and DNA replication. Vitamins B6 & B12 act together to control homocysteine levels. Excess homocysteine is associated with an increased risk of stroke and heart disease. Sources of vitamin B12 are poultry, eggs and dairy products.
Vitamin C (Ascorbic Acid) - A water soluble vitamin that is important for many metabolic reactions in the body. Vitamin C is an antioxidant that promotes a healthy immune system. It can be found in strawberries, citrus fruits and broccoli.

Stay tuned for Part 2!


Monday, April 27, 2009

Get Fit At Home!


Times are tough.

We are all trimming our budgets and trying to save money. Maybe you gave up your weekly trip to the spa or started making meals at home instead of dinners out 3 times a week.

There is one thing I know many of you gave up: Your Gym Membership

You got the membership with every intention of going 4 times a week. You have been paying $75 a month and you haven't been in almost a year. Instead of wasting your money, you cancel your membership and tell yourself you will find ways to stay active at home. Sound familiar?

So you have the will to workout at home but that no idea where to begin.

Fitness DVD's are a great option to get you started and help you out with proper technique. There are some things you need to keep in mind when choosing the right video for you:

First, you need to figure out which kind of exercise(s) you are interested in (pilates, yoga, martial arts, weight training etc). It is a good idea to start with 1 or 2 types of exercise. I think this makes it less overwhelming and you are more likely to stick with it.

Second, you need to assess your fitness level. Are you just starting out or are you an exercise junkie? Many videos are tailored to match your experience.

Next, take inventory of your equipment. Do you have any hand weights or a stability ball? If not, how much would you be willing to spend to invest in some? Having some basic pieces is a great idea for the home exerciser. Some DVD kits even include the equipment you will need to do their program.

Lastly, check out your space. Make sure you are in a open area so you can perform the exercises safely and effectively. Many workouts only require the space of a mat but if you are going to move, make sure you have enough room to do so.

Here are some DVD's and exercise ideas to get you started (many more titles are available at Indigo or Amazon):

Kathy Smith's Fat Burning Pilates - I am a big fan of Kathy's workouts. I like this one because it is 3 workouts in one. Her instruction is clear and easy to follow. A great workout for beginners and intermediate exercises.

Power Yoga with Rodney Yee -This is a challenging Ashtanga yoga workout. Rodney's instruction keeps you at ease as you flow through the movements. Suitable for beginners.

Balance Ball For Weigh Loss with Suzanne Deason - A great way to get started on the ball. Suzanne takes you through a series of exercises to tone the entire body. Great for all fitness levels.

Stay Healthy,

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

5 Healthy Snacks


I love to eat. There, I said it. I love food.

I eat often, about every 3 hours or so and I must admit that it is often tempting to grab a bag of chips or a granola bar.

However, I know if I reach for those snacks I am going to crash and burn. Their high sugar content will temporarily satisfy me but I know an afternoon of fatigue is soon to follow.

A better idea: A snack that has a combination of carbohydrates, fats and protein.

This type of snack will keep your energy up until your next meal. So when it is 2 hours until dinner and your tummy is growling, reach for these before you eat that last Easter Bunny :)

All snacks adapted from recipes at Truestar Health

  1. Yogurt Parfait - 1/2 cup of yogurt, 1/4 cup of blueberries, 1 tbsp of chopped almonds.
  2. Fruit and Cheese - 3/4 cup of strawberries, 3 oz. of nonfat cheddar cheese.
  3. Banana Smoothie - 1/2 of a banana, 6 oz. of water, a scoop of protein powder, 1 tsp of flaxseed oil.
  4. Cottage Cheese & Fruit - 1/2 cup of 2% cottage cheese, 1/2 cup pineapple slices, 10 almonds
  5. BBQ Soynuts - 28 g. serving
Stay Healthy,

Monday, March 30, 2009

Spring Cleaning


Spring has sprung!

The days are a little longer, the nights are a little warmer and when I walk outside, I see more smiles than frowns. Everyone is looking forward to the sunshine and warmer weather.

We all think of spring as a time of rebirth - everything comes out of hiding, so to speak, including us :) It is a time when we want to start anew. This time of year many of us to do some "spring cleaning". We go through our houses and get rid of the things we never use or no longer need.

What about a spring cleaning for our bodies? That's right, a detox!

A detox is a process in which we alter our diets in order to rid the body of toxins. This can include fasting, juicing or supplementation. It can result in more energy, a better complexion and even weight loss!

There is great debate in the health world about the value or even the need to detox. Many professionals feel the the body naturally detoxes itself and that there is no need to alter our lifestyle or use drastic measures to cleanse our bodies. Some even think that detoxing can be dangerous.

Proponents of detoxing feel that many factors such as pollution, stress and contaminated food prevent the body from doing its job. It is no longer able to keep up with the amount of toxins entering the body and this slows down bodily functions such as the lymphatic system. They think that our bodies require a little help from us to get them back into shape.

So the questions remains: To detox or not to detox?

I can't really answer that. However, I will suggest that:
  1. You to do your homework: get online or go to the library and research the different detoxes out there. Find out what is involved and what other people think of the programs.
  2. Consult with your doctor and/or naturopath before you make any changes to your lifestyle or diet. Ask questions and find out the benefits or possible side effects of detoxing.
  3. Take all the information you have gathered from your research and health professionals and figure out the best next steps for you.
Whatever you decide, always remember that a balanced diet works for everyone :)

Stay healthy,

Saturday, February 28, 2009

Winter Activities for Kids


We are smack-dab in the middle of winter.

It is cold. It is dark.

It is very easy for kids to sit in front of the TV where it is comfy and warm instead of venturing outdoors to play.

While there have been some days where it has been much to cold to play safely outside, there are many beautiful winter days that are perfect for activity.

So, how do you pry your children away from the video games?

Here are some fun winter activities that you can do with your kids:
  1. Explore Nature - Winder is a wonderful time to go for a walk and learn about the world around you. Take a trip to you local park and talk to your kids about the birds and the trees.
  2. Sleigh Bells Ring! - Tobogganing is great fun for parents and kids alike. Just grab your sled and head for the nearest hill!
  3. Around the Rink - Whether it is indoors or out, skating is great exercise. You can also sign the kids (and yourself) up for hockey or skating lessons.
  4. Be A Builder - There is great fun right in your own backyard. Help your kids make a snowman or build a snow fort. You can even have a snowball fight :)
  5. Go Cross Country - Snowshoeing and skiing are great for a whole body workout and give your kids the chance to see new places in your city.
What are you waiting for? Just bundle up and go!

Stay healthy,

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

The Winds of Change

I am going to go a little off topic today and talk about the thing that no one really wants to talk about: the recession.

I know it has been tough times for many of us. These economic conditions have been the reality that is affecting our security, jobs and quality of life.

I too have been affected and I am looking at it as a new beginning, a time to re-focus and figure out which direction to take in my life and career.

There is hope. There is always hope. Be thankful for what you have and what new opportunities change may bring.

How about you? How are you dealing with changes? Do you have some words of inspiration for the rest of us?

Stay Healthy,

Sunday, February 08, 2009

Overwelmed Yet?

Well, it has been just over a month since you made your #1 resolution:

To Get in Shape and Lose Weight!

Have you been bombarded with every diet out there?

Most importantly, did you take my advice? I hope you took some time to research different diets and exercise styles and choose one that fits into your hectic lifestyle.

Now is the time to share!

Leave a comment and let everyone know which diets and programs you have tried, what has worked and what hasn't.

I am looking forward to hearing from you.

Stay healthy,

Sunday, January 25, 2009

5 Websites You Need To Visit Today!

Like many of you, I do a lot of web surfing.

Some health and fitness sites are fantastic, some not so much.

To save you from having to weed out the weak, I present my top 5 websites that will not only give you great health tips but they might even leave you inspired :)

  1. Prevention Magazine - A great website with tips about beauty, weight loss and nutrtion with a blog and interactive community.
  2. Natural Health Care - A directory of natural therapies, herbal remedies and natural health care providers in Canada.
  3. Fitness & Kids - Ideas and resources on how to get kids more active.
  4. ivillage - From sex to fitness to money management, this is a great site for advice that will help as aspects of your life.
  5. Low Fat Recipes - Great low fat options for all of your favourite comfort foods.
Happy Surfing,

Sunday, January 04, 2009

Looking Fine in 2009!

Happy New Year!

Did you make any resolutions?

The top 3 new years resolutions are:
  1. To get out of debt
  2. To spend more time with family
  3. To lose weight
Are any or all of these on your list?

I can't really help you with 1. and 2. and I bet you think I am going to give you some advice on how to accomplish 3.

Well, you are wrong (kinda)

You are going to be absolutely bombarded from everyone in the fitness industry with programs and tips to help you lose weight ( I bet your inbox is overflowing already) And there are going to be some great ideas and some not-so great ideas.

My advice there: do your research, find a plan you like, grab a friend and go for it. (Remember simple is usually better and easier to stick with in the long run)

What I am going to do is tell you what works for me. I do H.I.T (High Intensity Training) 4 times a week and follow a diet of whole foods (whole grains, fruits, vegetables, lean meat), drink 2 litres of water a day and take a variety of supplements.

That's it! Very simple and very effective.

All the best in 2009 and stay healthy,


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