The Big “C” – What to Do When Your Friend or Family Member has Cancer

I’m fortunate enough to write this blog as someone who has not been diagnosed with “the Big C” so far in my life. I do, however, know too many people that I love who have been diagnosed. From my experiences with them and from what they have spoken to me about, I have come up with my own “do’s and don’ts list” when it comes dealing with someone that has cancer.

Do – know your relationship level with the person and act accordingly. If this person is a colleague at work and you are not very close, don’t sob on her lap about how awful this is and how bad you feel. Judge your relationship and act accordingly – even if it’s to just say how sorry you are to hear.

Don’t – just offer. DO! Don’t leave it up in the air or dependant on your friend to call if they want to talk. Call her. Text her. Email her – whatever. Just check in. And don’t offer to make a meal. Instead tell her you will make X and just to let her know when is a good night to drop it off. When you do drop it off, don’t stay. The reason most people turn down a meal is because they are in no mood to see people. Chances are they aren’t feeling well and the house is a mess. Don’t come in – even for a short visit. You could even just leave it on the front step with a note and leave after you ring the doorbell.

Don’t – take it personally. If she wants to open up and talk, great. If not, don’t get upset or hurt. You have no idea what she’s going through – even though you could imagine, you don’t know really know. Remember, this isn’t about you.

DO – Let her be sad, mad, angry, frustrated, regretful, blaming etc… This is her life. Getting this news changes everything. She’s allowed to feel all of these feelings.

Don’t – tell her it’s going to be fine. You have no grounds to say something like this. You don’t know. Hell, even the doctors sometimes don’t know.

Don’t – be a selfish asshole. A friend of mine told me about a time, when she had breast cancer, that her friend was over for dinner and kept whining about having to go on blood pressure or thyroid pills! She wouldn’t stop complaining about the fact that she would have to be on them for the rest of her life. OMG! It’s a PILL! My friend didn’t even know what her treatment or odds were like to live, and this twit is talking about her thyroid issue? Get a clue!

DO – be there. Whether it’s a phone call or to go for a spa day or to listen to her cry for 3 hours, just be there.

DO – learn about the disease. Each type of cancer is different and so are treatments. Take time to learn about the type of cancer so that you can be educated if and when you speak to her about it.

DO – share information. If you hear about a new treatment, drug, research or vitamins etc… let her know. Although it’s likely she knows all there is to know from googling the hell out of cancer, she may not have heard of your information. At the very least, she knows you care and are thinking of her.

DO – offer to help. Again depending on the relationship, offer to help drive to treatments or pick up kids from school, or make a meal or clean her bathroom. I find that offering this help to the spouse (if applicable) is most useful. This person is having to pick up the slack on top of having to deal with the illness as well. This person would be more likely to accept help than your friend – or at least that has been my experience.

DO – be positive and supportive. Don’t go overboard and be annoyingly positive – like everything is sunshine and lollipops. But do try to be a source of positivity and support. It has been proven that thinking positive and sending positive energy to injured body parts speeds healing. So try to encourage that.

DO – continue your normal relationship. Continue to celebrate birthdays, have girls’ night, watch The Bachelor, gossip about celebrities and more. Although having cancer has changed her life, it hasn’t ended it! She will likely want or need some sense of normalcy and distraction and a chance to just laugh and smile.

I know that some people may read this and agree or disagree. This is just what I, personally think is appropriate from my own experiences with family and friends. I’m hoping that you will never have to use this list because no one you know will ever get cancer. But if you do, this could be a good starting point on what to do next for your loved one.

How to Eat Healthy During Summer BBQ Season

We are well underway with summer in Winnipeg – the weekend getaways to the lake, the countless festivals in the Exchange District, enjoying the incredible patios our city has to offer, and spending time with friends and family at the ever-popular BBQ. But summer indulging can take its toll on our health and on our waistlines. I think most of us drink a little more and eat a little more that is outside of our regular regime in the summer. It’s time for enjoying the weather, getting outside, and in turn, indulging. But we don’t have to go overboard. Here are a few tips on how to eat healthy next time you’re out and about in barbeque season:

  1. Reach for whole-wheat buns rather than white buns. Personally, I like the taste of whole wheat much better, and feel that everyone can acquire the taste buds to enjoy this option. Whole wheat is rich in fiber, is a plant-based protein, and is higher in phytochemicals, vitamins and minerals than is white bread.
  2. Stick to veggie or turkey burgers or boneless skinless chicken breasts instead of hot dogs or hamburgers. The World Health Organization last year linked processed meats (i.e. hot dogs and sandwich meat) and red meat to cancer. “A risk of several cancers may be associated with high consumption of red meat or processed meat. Although these risks are small, they could be important for public health because many people worldwide eat meat and meat consumption is increasing in low- and middle-income countries.” (Source: World Health Organization). So if an increased risk of cancer isn’t enough of a reason to reach for a secondary option, I don’t know what is. Boon Burger makes amazing vegetarian options that are sold both in their restaurant (79 Sherbrook Street) and at the grocery store.
  3. Go easy on the sauces. Everyone loves the toppings that come with burgers. Pile them on veggie style. Add tomato, onion, hot peppers, pickles and lettuce. With regards to condiments, try to stay away from high-sugar ketchup or mayo. Mustard and hummus are great substitutions.
  4. Don’t drink your calories. When it’s hot outside it’s important to stay hydrated. Whether you are drinking alcohol or non-alcoholic beverages, try to cut out high sugar options like pop or fruit juices. Try infusing your water with oranges, raspberries or mint for a fresh summer flavor without all the calories.
  5. If it’s a potluck, bring a healthy dish like a spinach salad or fresh or roasted vegetables. Summer is a great time in Winnipeg for fresh fruit and veggies, purchased locally at many of our Farmer’s Markets around the city. Adding berries to a spinach salad is a terrific way to increase the vitamin C while having a delicious summer salad.
  6. Don’t over indulge. The best way to do this is simple – get a plate, put your food on it and stick to eating just that. Try to avoid grazing all night over the finger food and snacks.
  7. If there are lots of starchy side dishes like pierogies, potato salad or pasta salad, try to pick just one. Think of it as prioritizing your food and pick just your favorite. Try to fill up on the healthier options around you.
  8. Stay active. The great thing about BBQ season is that is it so nice outside. When you’re done eating go for a walk, toss a football around or play a round of tag with the kids. This avoids the heavy feeling after you eat.

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Fitness Journal for Girls SUMMER Challenges!

It’s officially summer and your kids are off school for the next eight weeks. You have a few things scheduled, the odd camp, family time, maybe some travels. But week to week you’re thinking – what the heck are they going to do?!? No need to stress – we have a plan! As the Founders of the Fitness Journal for Girls, we created eight weekly challenges for your girls to do. If you haven’t purchased your Journal yet…get on it! It’s only $10 including shipping and taxes and can be purchased right now here!

Now that you have it in front of you or on its way in the mail, you’re ready to hear about all the fun we’re about to have this summer starting this week. On pages four and five of your Journal, you will see eight weeks worth of challenges. We have had a couple minor changes so it’s awesome that you’re reading this and getting the skinny on what’s up. But first, here’s how it works:

Girls with a Journal complete the weekly challenge. Next, they let us know they have completed it by either sending us an email to fjgirls@fitcommunications.ca, posting a photo or video on our Facebook page or tagging us on Instagram with a pic of video (@fjgirls). At the end of each week we will choose one random winner who will win the weekly prize. Each prize has a value of a minimum of $50!! Everything from SKYZONE and sporting good store gift cards, to 8-week tennis camps including racquets and balls to get your game on with! Tons of fun AND prizes?! It’s a WIN-WIN!

Here are the weekly challenges:

Week 1 – July 3 – 9:

Head into SKY ZONE Trampoline Park (200-400 Fort Whyte Way) on July 7, anytime between 4 and 8PM, and two people can jump for 90 minutes for only $24!

*please note: due to internal issues with Fearless Football, they had to cancel their Come Try It Day this week.

Week 2 – July 10 – 16:

Join us at Top Notch CrossFit (81 Plymouth Street) to try crossfit for free! July 13, from 7 – 8PM all girls can come try new activities and test their skills. Moms & Dads are welcome to join in on the FUN!

Week 3 – July 17 – 23:

Aqua Essence Swim Academy is in charge of this week’s challenge, and they want you to get out and SWIM! Anywhere, anytime this week, send us a VIDEO of you doing your favorite thing in the water and you are entered to win!

Week 4 – July 24 – 30:

Want to have a go at tennis? Come try tennis for FREE this week! Join us on July 26 from 6 – 7PM at Sir John Franklin Tennis Courts (#1 Sir John Franklin Road) where we’ll hook up with the pros from Tennis Manitoba to hit the ball around and enjoy some sunshine.

Week 5 – July 31 – August 6:

Natalie Reimer Anderson is getting you cooking up a storm this week! Anytime this week choose a healthy recipe, shop for the ingredients, prepare it and share it with your family at the dinner table. This one tastes too good not to share! Remember to let us know once you’ve completed this healthy challenge.

Week 6 – August 7 – 13:

Triathlon Manitoba has you moving anywhere, anytime this week. You can do this challenge all at once or break it up throughout the week. You need to swim 100 metres, bike 3 kms, and run/walk 1 km. Parents this is definitely one you two can do together!

Week 7 – August 14 – 20:

This challenge is from us at Fit Communications! You can do this one at the park, in your living room or in your back yard. We want you to do 10 jumping jacks, 10 sit-ups and 10 push-ups. Enjoy!

Week 8 – August 21 – 27:

Winnipeg Kickboxing & Muay Thai is ready to get you testing your skills. This super fun and friendly environment has girls coming out to kids classes this week to complete the weekly challenge. Come to either class – Friday, August 25 from 5 – 6pm and/or Sunday, August 27 from 11am – 12pm. Class is free and tons of fun!

So there you have it. Eight weeks of fun new activities for girls to try. Trying new physical fitness activities is about more than just exercise. It’s a way to meet new friends. It’s a way to gain self-confidence from seeing all the cool things that your mind and body can accomplish. It’s about having fun, winning prizes and seeing what your kids like, or don’t like, when it comes to sports. And the awesome thing about all of the places in the Journal is that they give you amazing discounts for Summer camps and Fall programming too, so if your daughter, niece or granddaughter really likes something, it allows for sports to be cost effective to you.

Any questions? We’re all ears! Feel free to comment below, join our chats on Facebook or send us an email to fjgirls@fitcommunications.ca

We hope to see you out this summer!

 

 

 

 

 

Top 10 Items for a Healthy Kitchen

When first starting out on your healthy journey, your kitchen cupboards and fridge might need a makeover. Taking out the high-sugar, high sodium and processed foods is a great start, but there are some really healthy additions to make as well. Here is my list of top 10 favorite staple items that every healthy kitchen should have.

  1. Turmeric – Turmeric has many benefits to your body and brain. It is anti-inflammatory, anti-oxidant, is good for your heart, and has been shown in some studies to prevent and sometimes even treat cancer. It is also great for your brain as it helps with depression, helps prevent Alzheimer’s, and aids in warding off age-related diseases. I find the taste quite mild, so I put it on everything – toast, eggs, chicken, and in health shakes.
  2. Raw Organic Coconut Oil – I am mildly obsessed with this one. It has tremendous benefits to your insides and out. I have used it with various skin issues including sunburns, eczema and cradle cap. I put it all over my body once a week for a deep moisturizing effect, and it does wonders for fine lines in your face. I cook with it constantly, or just eat a tablespoon of it. In terms of internal health, coconut oil is good for your brain, can help your body burn fat, can help prevent infections, and can help improve blood cholesterol levels.
  3. Ground Flax Seed – With so many seeds out there to choose from, it can be hard to figure out which one is the best for you. As each of us has different needs and goals, I would suggest incorporating flax, hemp and/or chia seeds into your diet. You can sprinkle them on cereal, into a shake or in your eggs. I personally choose ground flax seed because of it is high in anti-oxidants, has cardiovascular and anti-inflammatory benefits, potential cancer prevention and digestive health promotion.
  4. Organic Hemp Oil – Years ago I had issues with allergies that had me focus more on my liver health. A few things were suggested, including organic hemp oil. A tablespoon in the morning really seems to make a difference to keep my allergies in check and provide additional support for overall liver health. In addition, hemp oil is great for your brain, heart, hair, skin and nails, all while supporting the immune system and maintaining hormonal balance.
  5. Cayenne Pepper – I love spicy food. The hotter the better! So this one is an easy addition for me. I sprinkle cayenne pepper on my eggs, chicken, roasted veggies – everywhere! Spicy food is a great way to boost your metabolism, and in turn lose weight. What else is great about it? It has antibacterial qualities so can help your body avoid infection, is great for your digestive system, and keeps your blood pressure in check. Pretty terrific for a little spice!
  6. Beets – definitely one of my favorite summer time foods. I grow beets in my garden, and purchase them at the farmers markets throughout the summer until it is time for my garden to harvest. Other than the fact that they are a tasty vegetable, they are really great for you too. The have high immune-system boosting qualities due to their high vitamin C and magnesium content. They can boost your stamina in the gym, fight inflammation, are terrific for your digestive health and have anti-cancer properties. They are a high-sugar vegetable so if you are diabetic, definitely talk with your doctor before consuming too many beets.
  7. Raw Organic Apple Cider Vinegar – this one can be a hard one to swallow. Similar to coconut oil, this one is great for you inside and out. It can be used to treat sunburns, acne, and other skin conditions. Drinking this every day can help detoxify your liver, help with weight loss, help balance your body’s pH level, and can help keep candida at bay. It is important to use only raw organic versions. My favorite is Bragg’s Raw Unfiltered Apple Cider Vinegar that you can purchase at most major grocery store chains. Two tablespoons with a full glass of water to dilute it is key.
  8. Greens – oh how I love my greens! When grocery shopping, my cart can sometimes be mistaken for a leprechaun. Some of my favorite green veggies are spinach, bok choy, avocado, kale, brussels sprouts, and broccoli. I eat them every single day. If you are worried about not getting your greens in every day, but want to ensure you reap the benefits, there are some terrific supplement options you can try. My two favorites are Green Envy, which is a quick shot in the morning, and Magnum Performance Greens that you mix with water and tastes delicious.
  9. Garlic – Garlic has been used for centuries to treat colds and infections. Fresh, raw, crushed garlic is the best way for it to be absorbed by your body. Garlic can reduce blood pressure, lower cholesterol, and reduce your risk of heart disease. Studies have shown it to be good for your brain while fighting off dementia and Alzheimer’s. Other health benefits include being good for your overall bone health, help you live longer, and recently studies have shown it can help with erectile dysfunction. Garlic can be used when cooking vegetables or meat, and to pack some extra flavor when making salad dressings and soups. If you’re getting sick, I would suggest taking 1-2 crushed garlic cloves before bed. It really does help!
  10. Berries – Summer is definitely the season of berries. Blueberries, cranberries, raspberries, strawberries, blackberries – so many to choose from with tremendous health benefits for each. Berries taste great on their own, or adding them to a shake, yogurt or cereal. I like to freeze them in the summer months so I can have delicious flavorful ones all winter long for snacks or shakes. Berries are high in antioxidants, vitamin C, are great for your skin and can boost your immune system.

We are always on the hunt for great resources, so wanted to share one of our new faves with you! Check out Positive Health Wellness for great info to help you stay on a positive healthy track!

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Ladies – Are We Hurting Our Girls?

Ladies. We have a problem. A BIG problem. We are unhappy with our bodies. And not just a little bit. And not just a few of us. 91% of women have an ‘I hate my body’ moment every single day. And if we hate our bodies that much, how dare we tell the little girls in our lives to love their bodies if we can’t do it ourselves. And could you imagine hearing an eight year old say ‘I hate my body’? Neither can I. But it’s happening. Every day. In every city. In almost every home.

Let’s be honest. Are you dieting right now? Have you put yourself on a ‘diet’ at all in 2017? If you are trying to lose weight to be a healthier version of you, good for you. That’s awesome. But the reality of it is that most women are dieting to achieve their ‘ideal body shape’. However unfortunately, only 5% of women naturally possess the body types we see in the media. So if that’s your goal, let’s start over.

You’re eating healthy and exercising often as part of a healthy lifestyle, NOT a diet. Now here’s my next question. Who knows that you’re on this kick? If you phrase it in ways such as ‘I’m eating healthier for more energy’ or ‘I’m heading to the gym for my heart health’, you’re doing terrific. But if you’re using phrases like ‘no cake for me…it’s bathing suit season!’ or ‘I’m taking my fat ass to the gym so I can fit into my clothes again’, then you are not only doing it for the wrong reasons, but you are bound to fail. The number one reason you should be living a healthy lifestyle over being on a diet is because you LOVE your body not because you HATE it.

So who’s hearing you? I have three little nieces who I would walk on fire for just for a hug. I feel I play a very important role in all of their lives for a host of different reasons. Do I think my body is perfect? Nope. But I sure wouldn’t dare talk about my imperfections or my desire to change anything about my body around them. They look up to me. If they hear me say ‘I feel fat’ or ‘I wish I could have a more toned ______’ they would then start to look at their own bodies as anything but perfect. They mirror what they see and what they hear. I would die if I heard any of them say they feel fat.

Here’s the thing about body image. It’s all in your head. It’s the way we perceive our own bodies and the way we ASSUME others perceive us. It has to do with our emotions, perception, imagination, and it is ever-changing. Where you are in your menstrual cycle, what you have been eating, what your mood is like, are all factors that relate to our body image.

Have you ever woken up in the morning and looked in the mirror and thought, ‘UGH!’? But then two days later you look in the mirror and think you look super good? Well your body didn’t body swap in 48 hours. One day you love it, one day you don’t. Unfortunately you’re not alone in this thinking. Almost ALL of us do it. And I bet that there is someone out there that thinks your body is a ten out of ten. Or there’s a woman out there that would give her left arm for a butt like yours.

How do we make it better?

I think the first step is being conscious of the fact that body image is not the reality of how your body looks. We need to start to love our bodies – the rolls, the scars, the stretch marks, the short legs, the small boobs – all of it. And really love it. Know that what makes your body unique is sexy AF. It’s not about perfection. There’s no such thing. I bet you Victoria Secret models have days that they wake up and wish they didn’t have the thighs they do too and as crazy as that sounds, it’s true.

Second, know the signs of having an eating disorder. “Eating disorders are not just about food. They are often a way to cope with difficult problems or regain a sense of control. They are complicated illnesses that affect a person’s sense of identity, worth, and self-esteem.” (Source: Canadian Mental Health Association).

This is a SERIOUS problem for women in our country. We need to help each other and support one another when it comes to eating disorders. When you see a woman who is obsessively working out or dieting to an unhealthy level, or simply not having a positive relationship with food, exercise and her body, don’t shame her. ‘She’s sooo skinny’ isn’t a helpful statement. It’s body shaming. Instead, reach out and provide assistance. The Canadian Mental Health Association is a great starting point for more information here.

Next, and a bit lighter…find that picture that you look amazing in. Put it in your bathroom, on your fridge, as your screen saver or on your mirror. Remember every time you look at it that THAT is how you look all the time! Even on the days you haven’t had time to have a shower, get out of your sweats or even brush your hair, that woman is still the same woman! And don’t be ashamed to say ‘Daaaaaaamn I look good’ way more often! It’s infectious. There will be haters out there who say you are cocky or full of yourself or whatever else they can come up with. But who cares? Let them think that you loving yourself is cocky. In fact, give it a little giggle. Because YOU need to be with YOU every single second of every single day.

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Sources: www.DoSomething.org and www.about-face.org

 

Girls Empowerment Event

On June 4, 2017 we are putting on the Girls Empowerment Event, the first of its kind in Winnipeg. We have partnered with Paige Zaporzan, Holistic Health Coach who specializes in working with female athletes. To say that the three of us are a match made in heaven is an understatement! Our philosophies on girls in sport, healthy lifestyle and empowering young girls are all the exact same. So what better way to scream it from the rooftops than an event for young girls to get them feeling like rock stars.

The Girls Empowerment Event is aimed at girls ages 5 – 15 years old. Girls will be broken up into age categories so that everyone gets age specific benefits from each of the sessions. We are kicking the event off with a talk by Janine Stephens, silver medalist from the 2012 Summer Olympics in rowing. Over the last year I have had the privilege to really get to know Janine, and couldn’t think of a better woman to start this inspirational day. She has this incredible mentality about ‘what if’. What if you do this and you have huge success. What if you don’t try and it could have been an incredible experience. She encourages everyone to be the best version of themselves, and I can’t wait to hear her chat with this group of young girls.

Girls will then participate in three sessions. First, there is a yoga class where they will learn how to appreciate all of the amazing things their bodies can do. Yoga is great for the mind, body and soul connection. It teaches how to relax, be “present” and body awareness. Next is the nutrition session where the girls will learn why it is important to fuel their bodies with healthy food and drinks, and have the chance to do some healthy snack preparation/baking. Lastly, we are doing a goal setting session complete with a fun activity of dream boards, to really showcase to the girls why goals are important and that making a plan for success is key. All three sessions really focus on the girls as a whole being – how their body, mind and soul and all interconnected and need to be nurtured, loved and respected.

As girls move from session to session there will be impromptu dance parties, photo shoots with Ivivva by Lululemon and complimentary snacks and drinks. Our sponsors are going to make this event be even more fun. A huge shout out goes to Ivivva, Manitoba Harvest, Green Carrot, Tiber River and the Fitness Journal for Girls. In fact, it’s going to be so much fun I wish I was 12 again! Luckily, I will be there to take it all in!

And you know what else is so awesome about it? We are giving back to the community too! There is a new program in Winnipeg that is providing free fitness programs for newcomers to our great city. A portion of all tickets sold will go to help bring more programs and equipment to children and women participating in sport. Sport really does unite us regardless of nationality, age, gender, or the color of your skin.

This event is really about building a community of girls who are powerful. We tell young girls all the time that they can do anything, and this event is going to show them that they can. Whether their big dream is to be on an Olympic podium, be a doctor, or own their own clothing brand, girls can be, do, create and achieve everything. It is our generation’s job to help them along the path to success.

Event Details:

Sunday, June 4, 2017, 12 – 3pm

The Yoga Barre, #200, 6640 Roblin Blvd

GIRLS ages 5 – 15

Tickets for this event are $18 and can be purchased at Eventbrite. 

Marketing to Women

It’s been four years since we started Fit Communications. After working our tails off for other people for decades and we were finally both living in the same city, we decided to create something that we loved. We’re health nuts. We go to the gym religiously, we eat healthy all the time, we sleep as much as we can and we laugh more than any two humans possible. As we both were formerly high performance athletes, we thought why not combine our marketing and communications experience and education with sport and health to create Fit Communications. So that’s what we did…and loved it.

In our third year of business, we really started honing in on this whole ‘girls and women in sport’ thing. I got the privilege to blog for the Female Coaching Network out of the UK representing female coaches heading to the 2016 Olympics. We created the Fitness Journal for Girls. We started creating events for girls to participate in sport in Winnipeg. We started inspiring women across the country to strive to make each day a little bit more positive and healthy. All of this was so inspiring and rewarding.

In 2017, we decided to expand our reach. We LOVE sport and health, and we are not ditching on it one bit, but we are wanting to reach more women with our knowledge and positive messaging. We both have degrees in psychology and sociology, we both love inspiring girls and women, and we both love marketing and business. So, we decided to expand our reach to really help businesses market to women. Marketing to women. For women. By women.

Let me share a few quick stats with you:

  • 85% of all consumer purchases are made by women
  • Women purchase over 50% of traditional male products, including automobiles, home improvement products and consumer electronics
  • Women influence up to 80% of all car purchases
  • Moms represent a $2.4 trillion market
  • 35% of mothers feel ‘pigeonholed’ by brands
  • 38% of women ages 20-40 don’t have children by choice or by chance
  • 59% of women feel misunderstood by food marketers
  • Roughly 75% of women identified themselves as the primary shoppers for their households
  • Women make 70% of all travel decisions
  • 91% of women said that advertisers don’t understand them

With such a huge amount of consumer power, we want to help businesses speak to women in a way that they feel understood. Women – when was the last time you saw a commercial for a vehicle that made you feel like they were speaking to you? How often do you go to a website and they bombard you with ads to the point that you shut it down? And why is it that if we’re the ones doing over half the buying of men’s products, that they don’t ever speak to us? We’re confused too. So, we want to help businesses get through the clutter. Advertise and market to women in a way that makes them connect to their business’s brand and increase the bottom line.

So as much as we love sport and health, you will start to see new stuff from us. We’ll still give you great info to make you and the people in your life achieve their healthiest self. But now we will also start inspiring you more with women in business, women that are “killing it” and brands that are “getting it”. We hope you love this new side of us as much as we do.

If you are a woman who owns her own business and wants to be featured in our Fit Communications blog, email us at info@fitcommunications.ca. If there is a business that you think is either knocking it out of the park or totally clueless on how to market to women, let us know! We’d love to help them or sing their praises.

2017 Fitness Journal for Girls

The 2017 Fitness Journal for Girls launched on March 15, 2017, and the response has been really exciting. We have been featured in the Winnipeg Free Press, the Winnipeg Sun, on Global Morning Show, and countless radio shows around Winnipeg. Our social media campaign was a huge success on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. After our first month of sales, we are about half way through our goal of getting 1000 into the hands of girls in Winnipeg. So why purchase a Fitness Journal for Girls for the girls in your life? Here are the top 10 reasons this is the best $10 you’ll spend this year:

  1. For only $10, you will get well over $1500 in offers and discounts at over 30 Winnipeg health and fitness businesses and organizations. Some examples include free classes at boxing, kickboxing, CrossFit, triathlon races, Pilates, Tai Chi, acrobatics, Zumba and rowing. Buy one Get one or 50% off on summer camps for girls including synchronized swimming, diving, ultimate, basketball and gymnastics. Or incredible discounts on other sports and activities that happen year-round including synchronized swimming, gymnastics, kickboxing, SkyZone, tennis, diving, boxing, water polo, football and swimming lessons. If you use the Journal only one time you will be guaranteed to make your money back and then some!
  2. This year we have a few new services that are giving super fun deals on their offerings. Take Aevi Spa Salon Boutique for example. Every month from now until November you can get discounts on waxing, manis and pedis! What a great mom or auntie day with the girls! Or perhaps you need some new gear for the summer. IceTime Sports gives you 15% off your purchase of $50 or more! They will also give you a free skate sharpening when the weather gets a little colder out.
  3. This year we also have two incredible women who we love to work with in the Journal for their respective businesses. Natalie Reimer Anderson is a self-love and health coach. I have personally used Natalie’s nutrition services for the last few years, and attribute much of my knowledge and healthy ways to her advice. She is offering 50% off her family nutrition package! How awesome is that? And another total all-star is Paige Zaporzan, who is a holistic wellness coach who specializes in working with female athletes. She is giving Journal holders 50% off one on one sessions, and 40% off group sessions! So, for all the coaches out there who need to bring in someone to your team this year – these women are your ticket!
  4. Free summer challenges. Every week Allison and Andrea are putting on free summer challenges for the girls to have fun, try new things and enter to win awesome prizes. Each week is sponsored by a different business within the Journal. We have come try it days for Fearless Football, TopNotch CrossFit, tennis and kickboxing. We have challenges you can do at home or at the lake like healthy cooking challenges, swimming challenge from Aqua Essence Swim Academy, and fun ones to get your heart pumping with the kids. And one I might be the most excited about is the SkyZone Trampoline Park challenge, where two people can jump for 90 minutes for only $24! Sooo excited!
  5. Support local. For anyone who in an entrepreneur in Winnipeg, we know it can be tough. We are heavily taxed, work our fingers to the bone, feel like we put in 25 hour days every day all so we don’t have to work a 9 to 5 for someone else. But we also know that it’s so worth it when things go well. Not only do you support Allison and Andrea on their entrepreneurial path, but you also support all the businesses that are in the Journal. And in case I haven’t mentioned it yet, there are over THIRTY businesses in this year’s Journal.
  6. It is SO fun! As aunties and mom’s, we are always looking for fun new activities for the kids to do. The summer weekly challenges are great for something to do. But there’s so much more. I can take the kids to try CrossFit, boxing, kickboxing, football – so many cool sports that expose them to something new and different all for FREE. And it’s really great when you can get in there with them and try the activities too. Leave your ego at the door and get down and dirty!
  7. Goal setting exercises. As adults, we are (hopefully!) all setting goals and smashing them. Whether it be for business, in the gym, with your relationships, setting clear goals and a path to reach them is imperative to success. The same goes for kids. It this year’s Journal we explain to kids what goal setting is all about, and ask them to create a few for themselves. Maybe it’s to get an A in math, or to be able to get on their bike with no training wheels this summer. No matter what the goal, the Journal has you excited about it.
  8. Self-esteem boosting exercises. We want to ensure this is a super positive experience for everyone involved. We have put together a few self-esteem exercises in the Journal that are really fun for the girls to do. It makes them appreciate all the amazing things about themselves.
  9. One of the biggest reasons cited for girls dropping out of sports is due to a lack of positive female role models. It is not that they don’t exist, rather the issue is that media only spends 4% of its time on female sports and athletes. No don’t get me wrong – I don’t think it will ever be 50/50. We don’t have huge leagues like the NFL and NHL, and that is what a lot of people are interested in reading about and watching. But we sure would like to see that number closer to 10%. In the meantime, this year’s Journal features two exceptional Winnipeg athlete role models, who have had huge success on the Olympic podium. Janine Stephens, silver medalist in rowing at the 2012 Summer Olympics, and Desiree Scott, two-time Olympic bronze medalist and professional soccer player.
  10. You are supporting girls in sport and helping us on our mission to make Winnipeg girls the most active in the country. Currently, only 2% of girls are getting enough physical activity to be healthy, and we are doing something about it. But without the community’s help and support of the Fitness Journal for Girls, we can’t do it. So, whether you are a mom, dad, auntie, uncle or just someone who wants to showcase your support for us, we would love for you to join us.

You can purchase you 2017 Fitness Journal for Girls for only $10, including GST, shipping and handling here!  

Valerie Champagne – Inspiring CrossFit Athletes In & Out of the Box

Valerie Champagne exemplifies why I love sport. Her own personal history and experiences, views as a coach and motivating attitude are nothing short of inspiring. Interviewing her is like asking for a list of amazing mantras. I really feel like everyone should carry around Valerie in their back pocket!

Valerie is the coach and owner of Top Notch CrossFit located at 81 Plymouth Street in Winnipeg. Having started as a CrossFit athlete herself seven years ago, she began coaching the sport three years ago. For someone that has such a short coaching career, she is extremely knowledgeable and has a true talent for motivating her athletes.

Valerie herself did not grow up in a sports driven household. She was “the kid on the sidelines with the low confidence to even try out”. This personal experience growing up is why she loves working with kids – especially the kids who themselves, are on those sidelines hoping to be brought in. She knows first-hand how intimidating it is to start when you aren’t an “athlete”. She started CrossFit without a sports background, and became an exceptional athlete.

Coaching those like her – having never equated themselves to being athletes – is what she loves. “What excites me most about coaching is watching an adult or child walk into our box feeling a little overwhelmed and a little bit nervous. They are often doubtful of their abilities and hesitant. What transforms weeks and months later is a confidence. They are doing things they never thought possible. They feel better, they move better, and they hesitate a lot less. All they have to do is just start! Just start!! No matter where you are at…..just start. Believe in yourself…you are capable of so many things you never thought possible. Embrace the journey… it will have its highs and lows but it will be all worth it,” says Valerie.

Valerie is quite unique in that she coaches everyone from kids to adults. She is able to tailor training and motivation to each person, regardless of age or fitness ability. “We have people who are happy to come in and get a good sweat going, and hang out with some great people. There are others who want to take it to another level and test themselves in a competition environment. We support them and prepare them to do so,” says Champagne.

She knows that success is measured differently by each individual – whether someone has been able to stop certain medications, finally get into their favorite pair of shorts or a reach a specific fitness goal. She develops personal relationships and friendships with each individual and respects each of their own personal journeys and takes time to celebrate their successes.

Valerie recognizes that sometimes people have bad days and can get down on themselves and may want to give up. “As a coach you do what it takes to keep them there. It may take some adjustments of the workout itself, revaluating goals, or just a reminder of how far they have come,” Valerie says.

CrossFit is a community. As such, she has been fortunate to have many coaching mentors. It is no surprise that the ones that stand out most to her are “the ones that are able to make a personal connection, root you on every step of the way, challenge you and who keep you interested in the sport.” It is no surprise as this is what Valerie does with her own athletes.

Unlike most sports, CrossFit is a unique sport in that there are quite a large number of female coaches. Valerie equates these numbers to the fact that the sport itself respects women as equals. Even at the last CrossFit Games, the prizes for podium winners were the same for men and women – something relatively unheard of in sport. Valerie trains females and males in the exact same movements and progressions and they are all treated as equals.

She is confident in her own coaching and feels that because this has been proven, she has gained the deserved respect. She believes however, that sport in general needs to recognize the expertise that women bring to the table and recognize it and respect it equally.

Valerie’s desire for her athletes goes beyond how many deadlifts, pullups or squats they can do. She wants them to be happy in their own skin and have the best quality of life for a long time… no matter how old or young. This is also her personal view on life and her hope for her two girls. She also stresses that all bodies come in all sizes and shapes but that the most important thing is that it is a healthy and strong body. Our bodies are capable of different things and we must embrace that.

Her biggest successes as a coach are the moments when a member has thanked her for supporting them. “It may have been a little tip I gave them to reach a goal or encouraging word to get them through the process. As a CrossFit kids’ coach the moments that stand out are when they come to me in class and tell me how they did their own workout at home or had family members do one with them. I know I have had an impact,” says Champagne.

It is obvious that Valerie gets out just as much as she gives from coaching. “I do this to give back what this sport has done for me. The level of confidence I have, the way I feel, the role model I am for my girls. I want to inspire those 9 year old girls sitting on the side lines and those 30 year old ladies that never played a sport in their life and now can call themselves athletes. Everyone has it in them, they just need someone to grab their hand and take them for the ride. It is quite the ride!”

Want to read about more inspiring sport women who are killing it? Click here.

7 Biggest Excuses For Not Working Out…and the Solutions For Each

We’ve all heard them…and in fact we’ve all made them. Great excuses for why we can’t work out. It’s costly and time consuming and energy draining. Sound familiar? Well I am here to combat the seven biggest excuses for not working out by giving you tactical solutions for each.

Excuse #1 – No Time.

I get this. You have kids, a full-time job, a relationship, a social life, and family commitments. Sometimes you wonder how you get it all done in a 24-hour day. But working out for one hour each day is only 4% of your day! It takes me one hour, from start to finish, to get in and out of the gym. I stay focused and come with a written out plan for each of my workouts so I don’t waste time chit chatting or wondering what to do next while I am there. There are numerous classes at gyms across Winnipeg where you can be in and out in 45 minutes, or even 30 minutes if need be. And if you concern is when in the day are you going to make this happen? If you are working full-time – your lunch hour. If you are at home with kids – when you partner comes home or when the kids are napping or at school. If your social life is too busy – make time. This is your health and eventually your life at stake. Working out for 60 minutes five times a week is imperative to a healthy lifestyle, and in turn a long-term healthy life.

Excuse #2 – I Don’t Know How to Workout

Everyone has to start somewhere. If the idea of lifting weights and hitting up cardio machines is what you are interested in, most gyms in Winnipeg will offer your first personal training session for free. From there, if you want to continue with a trainer and can afford this luxury, terrific. But that is not the case for everyone. The Internet is full of amazing FREE workout videos, circuits and tips. I have been working out for over twenty years and I still go to the Internet for ideas on how to keep my workouts fresh. Expertrain.com, OxygenMag.com, Bodyrock.tv and FitFabCities.com are all great online resources.

If that sounds like a lot of work, and if time is not on your side, join a circuit gym or a gym that has classes. Impact Fitness on Waverley has terrific options for circuit training, or try one of the exceptional cross fit, yoga, kickboxing or spin facilities. Finding something that you love is key to ensuring you stick with it.

Excuse #3 – The Gym is Expensive

As mentioned above, finding something that you love is key to ensure you stick with a solid exercise program. If you aren’t using your gym membership, then it is throwing money to the wind. It is important that you give the facility a try before you sign up. Most gyms in Winnipeg will offer a free day or even a week to see if you like the facility. Once you have determined a cost, make sure you don’t pay their ‘enrollment fee’. I honestly don’t think these are fair for gyms to ask for, and it is easy to simply ask them to waive it. You can purchase a monthly membership in Winnipeg for as little as $40/month. That’s the cost of about seven Starbuck’s coffees. Also, look into if your workplace offers a fitness program cost break – many offices are splitting the costs of their employees fitness programs as they see the benefits of their staff being active. If that still seems like a stretch, luckily it is summer time and you can do activities for free. Going outside for a brisk walk or a jog every day or perhaps doing some of the workouts you find online in your home or at the park. If this is the case, search ‘workouts at home’ when looking for workout routines. There are plenty to choose from to get your heart pumping.

Excuse #4 – Gyms Are Too Intimidating – I need to be in better shape before I get started.

I definitely understand this one. If you are new to working out, or it has been a long time, walking into a gym with buff guys lifting big weight, or seeing shredded girls wearing short shorts and sports bras can be intimidating. In fact, it can be down right scary. In this case, I would suggest bringing a friend. Anytime to have your friends by your side, the world seems a bit nicer. And honestly, of course there are some jerks out there that might be judging, but I can confidently say that the majority of people who are in shape in the gym are proud of you for being there. Remember – everyone has to start somewhere, and your ‘somewhere’ is today. And for those of you who are in great shape at the gym, let’s do our best to make new people feel welcome.

Excuse #5 – I Don’t Have the Energy

Of course you don’t – you’re not working out! Your energy levels are low because you’re not working out. Exercise is proven to improve energy levels by strengthening your circulation and heart muscle, and increasing your metabolism. Scientists have proven the best way to combat fatigue and boost your energy levels is to in fact exercise more not less. I can truthfully say there is not one workout I have ever completed and regretted. Sometimes you need to make yourself get up and get moving. Your body and mind will thank you for it.

Excuse #6 – Injury

Injuries are going to happen – it’s called getting older! Your body isn’t going to be necessarily as capable to do certain activities as it was 20 years ago. But if you don’t workout at all, it is going to be even worse. Injuries are a setback – they aren’t game over. I am not suggesting by any means to work ‘through’ an injury or to ignore pain. The concept of ‘pain is only weakness leaving the body’ is a complete farce in my mind. When you have pain, stop. When you have injury, work around it. Work with your athletic or physiotherapist on ways to strengthen that injury, but work around that injury. For example, two years ago my sister had a stress fracture in her femur. Many people would have sat around for six months while it was healing. Not her. She was still in the gym five times per week but doing different exercises. She was concentrating on her upper body muscles and core. The strength she gained over the six-month period, and the overall blood flow to her injury helped with her healing. With proper counsel from a doctor or therapist, you are still able. As they say in yoga, ‘if you can, you must.’

Excuse #7 – I’m Already Thin

Well good for you! Perhaps weight loss is not your goal in the gym. But what about improving your strength, balance, cardiovascular, body shape or your overall health? I workout to be strong not skinny. I workout to be healthy not skinny. I workout so that I can have the energy to do things that most of our population does not have the energy to do. I workout so I can have a long, healthy life. And most of all, I workout because I love it. And when you find the right kickboxing class or swimming instructor or yoga studio, you’ll get the fitness bite too. I promise your body and your mind will thank you for it.

Are you ready to get started?