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BCRPA Weight Trainer * BCRPA Group Fitness Leader * BCRPA Personal Trainer * Cory Holly Institute Principles of Sports Nutrition Education Program * Body Training System Group Power Instructor *Body Training System Group Centergy Instructor * CORE Conditioning Instructor * TKO Fitness Instructor * Boot Camp Leader

Friday, December 21, 2012

Foody Friday | Salad vs. Salad

I try to avoid eating out as much as I can but when I do, I like to treat myself with slightly not-so-good things (like fries with excessive amounts of cheese curds and gravy, or a big juicy burger with all the fixin's, or a crispy chicken wing...yum). I know that this is something I should not be promoting, but when you work as hard as I do or as often as I do in the gym, I think I have given myself a few free passes each week for something naughty.

It is all about balance my friends, for the 3 not so good treats I give myself, I sweat a good 8-10 hours in the gym, and feed myself nutritious meals in between. Lucky for me, I happen to LOVE the taste of healthy food. Unfortunately, I also have the taste for savory foods and the odd bag of chips (I am a whole bag in one sitting kinda girl).

So what to do when you notice you are too busy to prepare yourself a healthy meal and finding yourself repeatedly eating out? Try to replace a meal/day (if you eat out all day) or 3-4 meals/week (if you eat out once every day for the whole week) with a salad. Before you cringe in horror at giving up a hot, tasty meal for cold, boring rabbit food, I have two delicious options for you. And both are found at 2 very popular restaurant chains in Canada (and maybe some parts of the US).

I've tried many different salads at various restaurants..and these take top two spots for sure. Affordable, very filling, light, nutritious, and TASTY!
You'll see all the nutrition facts and ingredients for each of the salads:

1. Raincoast Greens from Cactus Club.

Ingredients: grilled chicken, avocado, tomatoes, feta, egg, pecans, seasonal berries, lemon-thyme vinaigrette.
Nutritional facts:
Calories 600 Sodium 500 mg
Total Fat 20 g Potassium 0 mg
Saturated 0 g Total Carbs 20 g
Polyunsaturated 0 g Dietary Fiber 5 g
Monounsaturated 0 g Sugars 5 g
Trans 0 g Protein 18 g
Cholesterol 0 mg
Vitamin A 0% Calcium 0%
Vitamin C 0% Iron 0%
*Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.

2. Pecan Chicken Spinach Salad from Earls

Ingredients: warm bacon, brie, dried cherries, baby spinach, julienne apples and carrots, candied pecans, maple pecan vinaigrette, pecan and porcini mushroom crusted chicken.
Nutritional facts:
Calories 869 Sodium 1624 mg
Total Fat 58 g Potassium 0 mg
Saturated 14 g Total Carbs 35 g
Polyunsaturated 0 g Dietary Fiber 6 g
Monounsaturated 0 g Sugars 23 g
Trans 1 g Protein 45 g
Cholesterol 193 mg
Vitamin A 0% Calcium 0%
Vitamin C 0% Iron 0%
*Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.

Until next time Team, try them both--tell me which one is your favorite...I still can't decide myself..
Health respect & happiness

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Theme-less Thursday | New Year, New Body, New aches

Have you ever lost track of time, Team? I sure have. So much so, that my next blog post is nearing the end of 2012!? When I tend to get occupied with more activity from home, life, and business, my attention usually hones in on what is in front of me—my clients. But, it’s never too late to pick up right from where we left off, the beauty behind social media blogging.

You’ll see some updated theme day topics (Theme-less Thursdays & Motivate Monday) as well as the classic favorites (Training Tuesdays, Watch-Out Wednesdays, & Foody Fridays). For all my Mommys who enjoyed my “Mommy Mondays”, don’t fret—the theme is not highlighted, but you will see articles geared towards you on different themed days now.

I know it’s on everybody’s mind right now; it’s the end of the year, the new year is about to start…and it’s time to start taking the bodyfat gain more seriously. (After this last slice of pie…and 2nd helping of turkey dinner of course…) Why is it that more than half of the population fall into this rut every year? It’s not like the end of the year is a new thing that falls upon us without warning. Why can’t we all just be more prepared? Or better yet, why can’t all of us continue to workout and eat the way we want without worrying about the extra fat gain?

There are ways around it, yes there is! Would you like to know? I bet you do…but first..

Many of you will be taking the start of the new year as a momentum push to start up (or Restart..) a workout program at your local gym, in your home, or with a personal trainer. If it has been well over 3 months of being sedentary (or making up excuses to start ‘tomorrow’..), expect a few aches and pains. If you are brand spanking new to exercise, be prepared to feel pains that you never knew could exist. You should be able to do most of your daily activities with painful reminders of what you worked the prior day, but it shouldn’t be so bad that you cannot move at all. Be wary of the difference!
Never push yourself to 100% if you are new to exercise, the first few times you train. It’s a common mistake for over-zealous participants, which usually leaves them with overworked joints/muscles and bad pain that comes down to a negative outlook on exercise and then WHAM—they stop their program after a month or less.
[note: this is relative to each individual. Remember, this is the majority, there will be individuals who will experience the opposite]

Now, what you have been waiting for. How can you avoid the holiday bulge without giving up all the dinner invites and delectable desserts?
Are you ready? Do one…or the other:
(1) Start early. (2) Never stop.
Yup, that’s it.

A mistake most people fall into is starting to train too late. If you begin a training regime in Dec, you are already too late! The holidays have already begun; do you think it’s going to be easier to start a new habit during the busiest time of the year? Nope. Add stress into the mix and you’ll end up with more weight gain! And don’t make the silly mistake of thinking that you will do it in January—if you cannot find the time for it in December, you definitely will not keep it up through January and after. Proven fact. So #1, don’t wait til December or worse, January, to begin your fitness program!

The other mistake is stopping your training for the holidays. Yes, you are busy with shopping and planning and cooking..etc. But that is life, and life will always be like that regardless of the time of year. The excuses have now just been more ‘validated’ due to the holidays---really, are the holidays more important than keeping your health in check? I will NEVER let the holidays get in my way of fitness—even if I can’t get to the gym for whatever reason, I will find 20 minutes, 10 minutes even!…whatever I can handle, out of my day to do something at home. If you are constant with your activity, your body does not have the time to relax and gain body fat—so don’t let it!

Lastly, don’t let this be your reason why you are going to overeat for the remaining of the month. Moderation and balance is still key to a holistic-healthy-lifestyle.
On the days you train very hard, reward yourself with a treat.
On the days you are resting, maybe hold off on the 2nd helping.
Got it?

Until next time Team, don’t let the holidays make a Santa belly outta you!
Health respect & happiness

Friday, June 22, 2012

Foody Friday | Coo-coo for coconut water

Did you know, in many different cultures, the coconut palm is known as the Tree of Life because of it's amazing life enhancing qualities? I think we are onto something here.

Not to be confused with coconut milk (the liquid that comes from the grated meat of a coconut), coconut water is the clear liquid found inside a young coconut fruit.

Coconut water has a high potassium content and contains antioxidants and cytokinins, which promote plant cell division and growth.

This is literally, nature's energy drink! With no added sugars or preservatives, this delicious refreshing drink replenishes the body better than water alone and also has some vital nutrients that water cannot give you.

I was sent a few O.N.E. Coconut Water samples to give a try a little while back. I decided to replace my plain water with O.N.E. Coconut Water while teaching 2 back to back fitness classes to see how I felt.

Here is my verdict:

Taste - Great! I love the taste of clean!

Hydration - I sweat A LOT during my classes and is always reaching for my water bottle, it was nice to see that the desire to drink was less.

Energy - My energy level is normally always great, so I made sure to use it on a day I felt more tired...and it definitely did the trick. No one could tell I was fatigued or noticed a change in the energy in the class.

Do you notice yourself running into this while working out?:
*muscle cramping
*muscle soreness (tingly)
*"losing wind" too fast

Try hydrating with some coconut water during your workouts and see if you feel a difference. It could mean your body is losing electrolytes and need to replenish (which plain water cannot do for you).

I hope this has helped shed some light on why people everywhere is going Coo-Coo for Coconut Water! ;)
Until next time team, grab yourself a O.N.E. Coconut Water and escape into the Tropics!
Health respect & happiness,

Friday, June 1, 2012

Foody Friday - Bacon, love to hate?

What am I doing promoting bacon??! Well, there is no denying that the love or hate for bacon is always a great topic for foodies and health enthusiasts out there.

I always encourage my clients to enjoy all foods they eat, but remind them there are consequences with the choices they make. Healthy foods = healthy results. Fatty foods = fatty results.

Educating yourself about what you are putting into your body is another great way to help you with the choices you make. Although this may not necessarily stop you from eating another delicious bacon strip, it could shed a light on how often you may want to indulge and what you need to do to counteract the negative effects it may bring.

SO! That being said, let me introduce you to...BACON.

Bacon is any type of cured meat. Here is your first warning: anything that is cured/brined/smoked is considered processed meat. And no amount of processed meats are safe to eat, according to the American Institute for Cancer Research. If you are considered high risk for cancer, be cautious. It’s not clear how exactly processed meat raises cancer risks, but it might have to do with:

Nitrates, which are often used as preservatives in processed meat, change into N-nitroso (compounds that promote cancer) in the meat and also in the gut when it is being digested.
Carcinogenic PAH (polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons) compounds can be produced during processing.

Most commonly used is pork or turkey. Canadians tend to love side or back bacon which includes more lean meat than the American loving belly bacon which is mostly fat. Picking the right type of bacon can help shave off a little bit of fat. But considering that bacon is mostly saturated fats, you are only shaving off a little bit! Look at these numbers:
4 (14 grams) bacon slices
= 7.45 grams of fat (half is monounsaturated, a third is saturated and a sixth is polyunsaturated)
= 7.72 grams (0.27 oz) of protein
= contain up to 800 mg of sodium, which is roughly equivalent to 1.92 grams of salt
1 teaspoon of bacon grease = 38 calories
(The fat and protein content varies depending on the cut and cooking method.)

I am not going to lie, I do love me some crispy bacon with my sunny side-up eggs, but I probably let myself enjoy that once or twice a month. If I happen to do more, you can BET your ass I am sweating it up harder in the gym!

Until next time Team, what's your favorite way to cheat with Bacon?

Health respect & happiness

Monday, May 28, 2012

Mommy Monday - Increased calories = Increased nutrition

It's very easy to increase portion sizes or in between meal snacking time to satisfy the surplus of calories that are needed during pregnancy but before you super size your next combo let's take a detailed look at what this means.

Over the course of the pregnancy, you'll need to consume approximately 70,000 extra calories. It doesn't mean you want to hit that quota as fast as you can! Spread that over 9 months, and that is only about 150 extra calories a day during the first trimester, and around 300 extra calories a day during the second and third trimester.

Above is just a few treats for 150 calories or less, click HERE for a list of 20 treats for you to indulge! ;)

So what does 150 or 300 extra calories mean to you?

You'll also need an additional 10 grams of protein within those extra daily calories. The dose goes from 50 to 60 grams, for the development of your precious fetus. Most of you won't have a problem with this since you already overshoot your needs by consuming extra everything and increasing your portion sizes! Maybe take a step back and rethink how much you are putting into your bellies.

Calcium is doubly important during pregnancy. Some experts are recommending up to 1,500 milligrams of calcium (from your daily recommended of 1,000 milligrams). Calcium is responsible for YOUR strong bones, teeth, and the proper function of blood vessels, nerves, and muscles, as well as maintaining healthy connective tissue. So during pregnancy, calcium is now looking after you AND your growing baby's bones, tissues, and teeth. If you decide to skimp out on the calcium-rich foods (and don't take supplementation), the calcium in your bones will be used for the increased demands of the growing fetus. You know what that means? Higher risk of osteoporosis for you, Mamma...not good.

Last mineral I will touch on is Iron. During pregnancy, your body jumps from needing 15 milligrams daily to a whopping 30 milligrams, about doubling your requirement! Here is why: Iron is found in your blood, and is what carries oxygen to every cell in your body. Pregnant women have an expanded blood volume, meaning more blood...which requires more iron. Also, you have to supply oxygen to both your cells and the cells of your baby.

Next time we'll discuss some of the foods rich in nutrients and vitamins to keep your belly growing healthy!

Health respect & happiness,

Friday, May 25, 2012

Foody Friday - Simple garlic herb chicken stir fry with peppers

With my sometimes hectic schedule, cooking up a healthy fast meal can be quite challenging.
This was made with leftover chicken breasts and veggies I had in the fridge....give it a try on those lazy cooking nights.

Remember, I hardly measure my food...so if you are unsure, taste often while you're cooking so it's to your liking!

-2 chicken breasts, cut into chunks
-half red bell pepper, chopped
-half green bell pepper, chopped
-chopped garlic (more if you like it garlicy...like me!)
-your choice of herbs! I used: basil, Rosemary, cumin, garlic powder & a touch of Chipotle chilli. Get creative with the different tastes!
-salt, pepper to taste
-extra virgin olive oil, a tiny bit of water

While you wait for your pan to heat up, begin to coat the chicken with salt, pepper & half of the herbs you are going to use.
Splash a little oil onto the pan, add the chicken. Let one side brown a little before flipping. (about 3-5 mins) Add fresh garlic and continue to cook a bit before adding veggies. (5 mins or so)
We want to steam the veggies a little by adding a little water into the mix. The pan should sizzle! You can taste more to see if you like...if not, continue to add the remainder of the herbs.
Continue to cook until the chicken juices run clear.
I had this with quinoa, but feel free to enjoy this over any bed of rice!

Let me know how it went!

Health respect & happiness

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Warning Wednesday - Is your scale lying to you?

You know that saying, "Age is just a number."? Well, the same almost applies to the number on your scale. "Weight is just a number", unless you understand the difference between just seeing the number and knowing how that number relates to your lean muscle tissue and body fat mass.

Take a look at this picture below:

Can you guess how much they each "weigh" from just looking?

Believe it or not, they both weigh 130lbs. Are the scales lying?

Unfortunately, they are not. The number is just a number.

The public needs to educate themselves to understand that the scale does NOT know the difference between body fat weight and lean muscle mass. They also need to know that 1 lb of muscle is only a fraction in size to 1 lb of fat, which makes muscle weigh more than fat. So having more muscle on your body may appear on your scale like you are heavy but you will look smaller. Is your head running in circles yet? Forget the regular scales..and get measured properly by a digital bodyfat% scale with a fitness professional.

A picture speaks a thousand words...so maybe this will help clear up that headache:

So to conclude and answer this article, YES! Your scale IS lying to you!! 130 lbs is not just 130 lbs....get your smart on and get measured properly.

Until next time Team, have you measured your body fat% lately?

Health respect & happiness,

Friday, May 11, 2012

Foody Friday - Quinoa avocado salad with fresh veggies

My boyfriend is new to the super grain, quinoa. And has been asking for me to make him a dish...and so a few days ago, I whipped this super easy recipe together.

I am one of those who rarely measures her ingredients...so you may have to eye ball your stuff and tastes as you go along so it's to your liking.

I made a huge batch, which lasted 2 days...between 4 people. And they all loved it!

Here's the recipe!

1 1/2 cups of quinoa (rinsed)
3 cups of water
Half each: red bell pepper, green bell pepper, cucumber (I peeled off the skin, it's up to you)
2 avocados
1 tomato (de-seeded)
Garlic powder
Cumin powder
Chipotle chili powder
Extra virgin olive oil
A few fresh basil leaves

Cook the quinoa with the water and a bit of salt by bringing it to a boil, then turning the heat to low for about 15 or so minutes (and all the water is gone). Let it cool to room temperature.
Chop up veggies to your desired sizes. I had them very finely chopped. Throw em all into a bowl with seasoning & oil. Taste to your liking.
If you want your salad to be more avocado-ish, add one more..if you want more veggies, add more..etc.
Add the quinoa to the veggies and mix. Taste, and adjust seasoning if needed. Finely chop the basil and garnish!

Enjoy your delicious, fresh & healthy meal packed full of your daily nutrients!

Until next time Team, don't forget to comment below how the recipe turned out for you & share any modifications you may have done!

Health respect & happiness,

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Therapeutic Thursday - Detoxifying with heat

In the last few years, infrared saunas have been popping up everywhere in health & wellness spas and more recently, in fitness centers as well.

So what is "Infrared Light Therapy"?
Infrared saunas radiate heat (or energy) which mimics the source we receive from the sun with many of the health benefits but without any of the negative effects from solar radiation. The energy travels 2 - 3" deep into the body, increasing blood flow and nourishing damaged tissues. When this happens, cells communicate better with each other, the body functions more harmoniously and the removal of wastes (or toxins) becomes easier. They differ from conventional saunas because of their low temperatures and specific heat distributions.

In fact, because you don't need to take any pills, drastically change your diet or buy special detox products, you can presume infrared sauna therapy is probably one of the most natural ways to let the whole body detoxify: through natural sweat. And don't be fooled by the conventional steam/dry saunas. One liter of sweat from the conventional sauna contains approximately 3% toxins, whereas in an infrared sauna has approximately 20%!
Analysis of sweat from Infrared Sauna:
- 80 to 85% water
- fat
- cholesterol
- acids
- natrium (sodium)
- ammoniac
- heavy metals: lead, cadmium, nickel, copper, sodium

During an infrared therapy session, you will lose a lot of BAD stuff! To help with the expulsion of the body's toxins, you must stay hydrated! Drink plenty of water before and afterwards.

Every person will have individual experiences and options they will choose to fit their body's tolerance level, here are a few things to keep in mind:

- if you are new to infrared, begin with 100 degrees and gently increase the temperature 5-10 degrees until you reach a temperature you are comfortable with

- timing will depend on how your body responds, don't overdo it! Begin with 5-15 minutes. Some people may choose up to 30 minutes, and some, 45 minutes even.

- after your session, take a warm to cool bath to remove sweat and toxins from the skin. Refrain from shower products and lotions since they will only clog up the pores you just opened up and cleansed.

- in some instances, you may feel light headed and tired (or the complete opposite!) which means it may be a great time to get in some relaxation time!

There are many more benefits from infrared sauna therapy beside a natural detoxifier, to name a few: Fat burner, Pain reliever, Skin regeneration, Stress reliever and Boost immune system.

Until next time Team, find some time to 'sweat it out' (comment below & tell me how your experience with infrared sauna therapy has helped you!)

Health happiness & respect,

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Training Tuesday - Wall Sit

It's time to build up our leg muscles, specifically - the quadriceps.

The wall sit (sometimes referred to as the Roman chair) is a great exercise to strengthen the quadriceps and build endurance in the lower body. All done, while not moving!

This is a static exercise (non-moving) with a focus on a isometric contraction (muscle fibers are contracted but not moving). This is important because this is how we increase our strength but mostly, how we begin to build endurance.

For individuals with knee problems, this is a great alternative to a full range squat or lunge. For first timers working out, this is great to get your alignment down properly before doing a squat on your own.

How to do a proper wall sit:

Stand with your feet hip width apart, a few inches in front of you and your back against the wall.
Keep the shoulder blades and hips pressed against the wall as you begin to slide the body down into a squat position.
As you squat down, your feet will move out far enough that the ankles stay just below your knee joint. If your knee is above your toes, you have come too far.
Ideally, you want to come down enough so your hips and your knees form a 90 degree angle. (beginners may want to decrease that a little bit, 45-80 degrees)

Some people prefer to have their hands on the side of their hips. Others press palms against the wall behind them. You can also have them raised in front of you or even above your head. All these variations will increase or decrease the intensity level of the squat by adding more muscle work to other parts of your body which in turn make the whole body work more. Get creative with your wall sit!

How long do you want to hold the position?
If it's your first time EVER doing any exercise, try for 10 - 15 seconds.
If you're not new to exercise but this is your first time doing this, try for 30+ seconds.
As you get stronger, add 5-10 seconds to the hold to keep up with your increasing endurance levels!


For those coming from an injury, especially in the low back, may want to modify this movement. Place an exercise ball between your back and the wall. Use the ball as your wall support instead. This will help position the back in a way so that it is more supported and you should be able to do the wall sit normally.

If you have painful knees, don't sit down as low as 90 degrees. Keep it just under that to keep pressure off the knee joint. If pain persists, stop doing this exercise and consult your physician immediately.

Until next time Team, keep working on those killer legs--shorts season is upon us!
Health respect & happiness,

Monday, March 26, 2012

Mommy Monday: A "Weighty" Issue

As you finish your first plate of food, has this occurred to you: "I'm eating for two, I should go for seconds, or even thirds!"?
I'm sure it has, if not - there will be a friend or family member who will make this claim for you. This statement needs to be carefully looked at.
First, it's true, you are eating for two in that all your food choices with directly affect your growing baby. But, it's false, in that you are eating for two grown adults, so no, you shouldn't be packing it in like it's your last meal. Remember, your baby is barely a quarter of your size.

"How Much Weight Should I Gain?"

You must understand that everybody is different. The rate and speed will vary from person to person so just because you're two best friends gained all their weight at the very end, doesn't necessarily mean you will too. Here is what's recommended for most healthy women:

Underweight (Below 90% of desirable weight)
Suggested Gain: 28-40 lbs
Weekly Gain in 2nd & 3rd trimesters: > 1 lb

Normal weight
Suggested Gain: 25 - 35 lbs
Weekly Gain in 2nd & 3rd trimesters: .8 - 1 lb

Moderately overweight (More than 120-135% of desirable weight)
Suggested Gain: 15 - 25 lbs
Weekly Gain in 2nd & 3rd trimesters: .7 lb

Very overweight (More than 135% of desirable weight)
Suggested Gain: 15 - 20 lbs
Weekly Gain in 2nd & 3rd trimesters: .5 lb

Keep in mind, these are just guidelines. There will be special cases where women will need to gain more, or less for some others. For example, a women carrying twins will need to gain about 35-45 lbs. Your doctor should be able to give you advice on your own weighty issue.

So, Where Does The Extra Weight Go?

Here is a little breakdown:
Baby: 7-8 lbs
Placenta: 1-2 lbs
Amniotic fluid: 1 1/2-2 lbs
Uterine tissue: 2 lbs
Breast tissue: 1-2 lbs
Fluid volume: 6-10 lbs
Fat: 6+ lbs
Total: 25-35 lbs

Next time, we'll look at some nutritional requirements needed to help you stay on top of your game during this journey!

Health respect & happiness,


Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Training Tuesday - Happy Planking!

Want to know one of my most favorite exercises that I use on clients that combine functionality and full body strength?

I will call it The Plank. But it has also been referred to as the hover.

Most commonly used as a core exercise, The Plank goes beyond just your stomach muscles.
Hovering on such small platforms (your limbs), balance comes into play, forcing the stabilizing muscles to hold the body in place.
Upper body strength is key while you focus on placing a majority of the weight above the waistline and keeping the proper alignment of shoulder to elbow joint.
Lower body doesn’t rest either as the thigh muscles are contracted to keep the legs straight behind you and the hips neutral.

There is A LOT going on with just one exercise!

Just a few variations out there:

Elbow Plank/Hover

High Push-up Plank/Hover

(Modified version with knees down)

Side Plank

Key things to remember:
Proper alignment of shoulder to elbow (to wrist) joint.
Keep shoulders relaxed, and away from the ears.
Pull core muscles (bellybutton) in towards the spine to keep muscles contracted and away from pooching.
Neutral hips (parallel to the floor).
Contract leg muscles.

Once you can hold and maintain The Plank for a minimum of 60 seconds, you can start to crank your program up a notch with some different variations like The Plank with Alternate Leg Extensions, Side Plank with Side Crunch, Elbow to Hand Walking Plank…etc. The possibilities are endless!

Until next time Team,
Crank up that Core with Some Plank Exercises!