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.

If you enjoyed this article, let us know! Sign up for our newsletter for one step closer to a healthier you HERE!

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.

If you enjoyed this article, please sign up for our newsletter here!

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?

Sharon Delbridge – My 2017 Inspiration

In January of 2017 I was lucky enough to head to the Mayan Riviera to work with LATravel Group on their 6th annual Health and Wellness retreat, lead by fitness fanatic and all around incredible human, Sharon Delbridge. It may have honestly been one of the very best ways I have ever started out a new year. Sharon was accompanied by Heather Sanderewich (owner of The Yoga Barre – one of the BEST new fitness spots in Winnipeg located at 6640 Roblin Blvd) for the week that I was there. In addition, the LATravel Fitness Hero Contest winner from 2016, Jody McIntyre, came down to teach piloxing on the beach. There was Zumba, Aqua Zumba, Cycling classes, piloxing and sunset yoga on the beach every day. You could do as many or as few classes as you wish. There was a group of approximately 40 all-star women who came down, all of different ages, fitness levels and life experience. I truly felt surrounded by positive vibes and great energy. I sat down with Sharon to chat with her about fitness, food and life for our Fit Communications blog.

Sharon is so inspiring. Spending five minutes with her you will feel amazing – she is so full of energy I seriously have no idea how she does it. I guess when you’re living your true dream life, the energy comes easy. “I get to live half a year in Winnipeg spring and summer and teach at my fave studios and inspire people everyday and see how their lives change through fitness. As well, since my husband retired, we are now living in Puerto Vallarta for half the year and continue to do this going forward. I get to teach here daily my favorite classes at the best studio in PV and meet another phenomenal group of people that are loving my classes. This is truly living the dream.”

Sharon started teaching aerobics in the 80’s and after taking a few years off for family and business, returned to the scene in 2005. She constantly keeps things new and fresh because this isn’t just a job to her, it’s a lifestyle. At Fit Communications we often talk about this concept – it’s not a diet or a fad rather health and fitness are a way of life. Sharon beyond ‘get’s it’. And she comes by it honestly. Both her parents, at age 90 and 92, still work out every single day. If that’s not inspirational, I don’t know what is.

Sharon finds such a thrill in seeing the people who take her classes reach their goals. Be it to lose weight, recover from illness, get stronger, or increase their confidence, Sharon is by their side every step of the way. So when LATravel Group owner Chris Lucas approached her to do a Zumba trip in Mexico, she jumped at the chance. This was totally up her alley – fun and fitness combined. Again…she’s living the dream.

In 2018, Sharon will be coming into her 8th year doing this retreat. The awesome thing about it is the repeat attendees. You know an event is good when it’s sold out and it has the same people coming back for more. When chatting with the women you feel the admiration they have for the entire situation – for Sharon, for the trip, and for the chance to connect with their friends, old and new, for the week. I honestly can’t begin to describe how inspiring it is to surround yourself with women for the first week of a new year who are on a mission to make themselves the best version of themselves they can be.

“In 2018, we are switching to a new city and taking the trip to Puerto Vallarta, Mexico (previously in the Mayan Riviera). This is where I have been living with my husband for the winter and it has become our home. This city has a passion and a pulse like no other. In 2018 the resort is right in the town. You can walk out of the resort and be in the most beautiful city with ocean and mountains and the most incredible weather. It’s the safest area and has the best sunsets in the world. We will be taking people on walking tours and showing everyone around. As well, we’ll be having a get together in our home for everyone to come and see where we live,” says Delbridge.

Sharon will be back in Winnipeg teaching her energizing classes around the city in April. Until then, Sharon has a few words of advice on how we can all find a little more balance in life:

  1. Find a way to disconnect from your everyday crazy life: find quiet time, where you recharge your batteries. Spending quality quiet time with family and watching a movie or a show. Disconnect from your phone, computer and social media. Quiet time is the best!
  2. Take care of your health. No matter what is going on in your life, find the time to do something for yourself that is active. Walking, cycling, dancing whatever it is. When you have crisis in your life or even if you don’t, we all need to get the blood flowing and moving to feel better.
  3. Avoid toxic people. We all need to remove the negative people in our lives that bring us under. Surround yourself with people that make you feel good.
  4. Treat yourself to a treat – spa and yummy lunch, mani or pedi!
  5. Laugh everyday. Life is about attitude. No matter what, try and see the humor in everything that goes on in life.
  6. Positive attitude. Life has a way of pulling us under. We can’t let it. We must fight it and move forward. It’s all about moving forward and looking ahead. Send out positive vibes and you will get it all back.

Follow Sharon on Instagram @FreshSoulFitness or on Facebook Fresh Soul Fitness with Sharon for added inspiration, health and fitness tips. She is truly one of a kind and I feel honored to call her my friend. Or for more information about the 2018 Health and Wellness Retreat, contact LATravel Group at 204.988.8441

Do you know a woman who should be featured in our Fit Communications blog? Email us at Info@FitCommunications.ca today!

Let’s Talk About Menopause!

They say there are two things you can be sure of in life – death and taxes. However as women, we get a bonus third thing we can be sure of – menopause. Yay! Lucky us! Menopause is defined as “occurring 12 months after your last menstrual period and marks the end of menstrual cycles.”

Such a simple definition obviously doesn’t capture the scope of this “change” women endure. Menopause can happen in your 40s or 50s and even into your 60s and beyond.

Some women are thrilled about the idea of no more monthly periods including cramping, headaches and inconvenience. They can also have copious amounts of sex without having to worry about pregnancy. It is a time where we have earned our womanly stripes and are more proud, confident and sure of ourselves than ever before. However some women are saddened by the idea of going through menopause because they feel like they may no longer be vital, fertile and sexual. I would argue this with the fact that Christie Brinkley is 61, Elle Macpherson is 51, Sofia Vergara is 44 and Jennifer Lopez is 48 this year! This is a sexy group of potentially menopausal women!

Besides having to come to grips with the idea of menopause, there is also the “in your face” physical symptoms that can sometimes be nearly unbearable. The physical symptoms include the infamous hot flashes, irregular periods, vaginal dryness, night sweats, difficulty sleeping, mood changes, weight gain and slowed metabolism, thinning hair, dry skin and loss of breast fullness. Sounds fun right?! OMG!

Here are some symptoms (listed below) that you may experience in the thick of menopause and some ideas for relief. The reliefs listed are ones outside of menopausal hormone therapy (MHT). MHT is an option that may alieve many symptoms of menopause. Be sure to discuss any of these options with your doctor prior to implementing them.

Hot flashes – Be cognizant of what trigger these – spicy food, alcohol, caffeine or stress – and avoid them if possible. Also do whatever else you would do in the middle of a heat wave of summer – fans, relaxing and “breathing”, dressing in layers etc… Consider taking black cohosh. It is said to be beneficial in easing feelings of depression as well as regulating body temperature.

Vaginal dryness – As mentioned above, just because you are menopausal, doesn’t mean you can’t or don’t want to get it on! So if you do experience dryness, there are lots of great lubes out there. I would suggest buying one at a sex toy store rather than the pharmacy – they have way more options there for you to use. Using a water based one is also where it’s at. If the over the counter variety don’t do the trick, talk to your doctor.

Problems sleeping – Everything’s better with a good night’s sleep. One of the best ways to get a good night’s sleep is to be physically active. But don’t do this close to bedtime as it might make you more awake. Also, avoid working or “screen time” right before bedtime, caffeine after noon, and avoid alcohol close to bedtime.

Mood swings – Great! So as if we weren’t hormonal enough before menopause!?! If you are experiencing mood swings, getting enough sleep, reducing your stress and staying physically active will help ease your stress. Depression is another common side effect of menopause. If this is a new condition for you or is exasperated by menopause, talk to your doctor.

Here are a few other ideas that could help…

Healthy lifestyle – Menopause is another instance when proper nutrition and exercise are paramount in achieving benefits to your body and relief of symptoms.

Support – Consider joining an “in person” or online support group for women who are going through the same things as you.

Yoga – Continual evidence supports the notion that yoga can help relieve irritability and depression brought on by menopause. Women report that yoga relaxation and stretching techniques help stabilize their moods while improving their overall well-being.

Mindful Breathing – Another great idea to incorporate into your life is meditation (menopausal or not!). Meditation and “mindful breathing” can help calm your mind and any anxiety you feel including during times of hot flashes. It will also allow you time to decompress, destress and relax.

Acupuncture – Some women swear by acupuncture as a great treatment and alternative to hormone therapy for menopausal depression and hot flashes.

Supplements and Herbs – In addition to Black Cohosh, you may want to incorporate St. John’s Wort and Ginseng into your regimen. St. John’s wort is said to be an effective treatment for menopausal mood swings, improved sleep, relaxation, and reducing mild depression and anxiety. Ask your doctor before you begin taking St. John’s wort, as it might interact with other medications. Ginseng may be used to treat menopausal symptoms of fatigue, anxiety, and stress.

Luckily we are in the best time in history to go through menopause. We know more about menopause now than ever – including best ways to relieve symptoms!

Everyone’s journey through the “change” (for the better) is different. For some, it’s hell and for others it’s a cake walk. Hopefully yours is the latter. If not, hopefully this blog will help you find some relief or at least have some solid options to consider and talk about – with your circle of “people” and with your doctor. I also hope you to consider the notion that menopause isn’t a curse, but rather it’s an end to cramps, bloating, tampons and headaches! That it is a path to freedom! Let’s all see this as a graduation – you made it through the trenches and now you can soar.

Mommy Shaming

I am a perfect Mom. I have developed the most ideal way to raise children to be brilliant, talented, athletic and well-adjusted. These are two sentences that no Mom will ever speak.  Many Moms think that they are fabulous and actually are quite incredible. However, no Mom in her right mind would ever claim to be perfect, know it all, or have all the answers.

So the question becomes, why do Moms so harshly criticize other Moms? If we are being truthful, we are all guilty of this.  I have found myself thinking that Mom A should be more affectionate or Mom B should have her kids eat more healthy foods or Mom C should have more discipline. But why do I do this? Why do any of us?

I know that I have been the subject of “mom shaming” and it’s ridiculously annoying! A few months after my son was born, a little girl saw my son with a soother in his mouth. She quickly notified her Mom about the soother and pointed it out to her. This girl’s Mom said “oh yes, that is a soother. We don’t believe in those for XX (her son).” Are you kidding me!?  I was so pissed off that I wanted to slug her! Who did she think she was passing judgement on me and my decision to give my son a soother? Just because you don’t give your kids a soother, doesn’t mean that I’m a bad Mom for giving one to mine!

I am sure every mother has been a victim of, and guilty of, Mommy shaming. Perhaps not as openly or vocal as this example, but still shaming, none the less.

As Moms we make decisions each and every day about how to raise our kids. Unless we are doing physical or emotional harm to our children, it is really only our decision as to how to raise them. There are so many things that come into each and every decision regarding how to raise our kids. Some of which include how we were raised ourselves, our social circle, our religious beliefs and our morals.

The great thing about the world though is that there are so many different ways to do things and we are free to make decisions as we see fit. My hope is that we are all doing our best with the hand we’ve been given. That said, here are a few topics that I think we need to be more open-minded about when it comes to our children:

  • To breastfeed or not to breastfeed.  – News flash!! Not every woman is ABLE to breastfeed so don’t be so quick to judge someone that doesn’t. There is a reason why there used to be “wet nurses” – this is not because someone today doesn’t want to do it.
  • “We don’t believe in TV” – This is another gem statement. I’m thrilled for you if you don’t have your children watch TV. But don’t judge me because mine do.
  • Stay at Home vs. Working Moms. – This one’s a doozy! I see the benefits to kids on both sides. But regardless, chances are if moms are working or if they are staying home, it is a choice based on their family’s needs or beliefs and what is best for everyone involved.
  • Disciplining in public – we have all seen that kid that is losing her mind in the middle of the aisle in the grocery store. Chances are you may have thought – what a spoiled brat! Or…why are you taking your kid out if she’s tired and cranky? Or… judging based on what discipline method is used or if none is being done by the parent. However, next time, take a minute to think about it – you have no clue what this situation is. Perhaps the child is throwing a tantrum because her Mom won’t get her a new toy. But what if it is a behavioral condition or problem? What if this is the only time this Mom can go shopping because she works two jobs and has to drag her tired kid with her? No matter what the reason, it sucks. Having a child have a tantrum in public is the WORST! No matter what you do, chances are you’ll look like a brutal mid-evil demon witch lady or you’ll look like a lackadaisical nit wit. Either way, take pity on this poor mother. Because even if she brought this on herself, she’s dying of embarrassment so cut her some slack.

The list of topics to debate is endless. Unfortunately, so is the list of people willing to criticize – from older generations that did things differently to young kids that think they know it all and everyone in between. We only have control over our own individual reality. Hopefully we all make choices and parent or plan to parent based on what we think is best for our children. Let’s all recognize this and stop shaming and celebrate our right to choose to do things our own special way.