Don’t Let the Door Hit You on Your Way Out!

Before I had my third child, I admittedly used to (quietly) mommy shame a few moms out there that were super excited about the first day back to school. I wondered why they didn’t want to spend as much time with their kids as possible. Because before you know it, they’ll be too cool for you and busy with friends, school, sport and everything but you. 

Didn’t they enjoy making all of those special summer memories with their kids? Ice cream runs, trips to the beach, water balloon fights, lazy days, camping, picnics, movie nights? I secretly thought that maybe they shouldn’t have had kids if they didn’t want to spend time with them.  

Well that was then.  My opinion on this topic has since changed – drastically!  After having my third child things have changed in my mindset on it all.  I am now on the other side of the fence. I understand why businesses market to parents with the comparison of back to school with the joy of Christmas – “it’s the most wonderful time of the year.”  I now get it.  It really IS wonderful.  Don’t get me wrong – I love my kids more than I could have ever imagined AND I love spending quality time with them. It’s wonderful because at the end of the nine weeks (but who’s counting?!) of summer break, I’m totally exhausted and dreaming of getting back into a normal schedule and routine.  

Summer break is amazing because we get to do all of those super fun things with our kids that we can’t normally do throughout the cold depressing winter. But the fun times are in between days of anxiety, stress and exhaustion.  It’s a job in and of itself juggling what the plan is for childcare while you work or finding things to keep them busy and entertained so they don’t and spend 12 hours a day on their electronic devices. 

Whether you are working full time and have your kids in daycare or sport and activity camps, or you’re a stay at home parent who now needs to be a nine-week full time entertainer, the struggle is real. Sunday Mimosas seem to be a bit of a need to help you from going bonkers – and don’t worry, there is no judgement on that or on the parents who sneak in a cooler to the splash pad. I get it. Big time. 

Even for those parents with teenagers – they are still having to drive here and there and make sure that they’re not either burning the house down, having people over or spending 25 hours a day on their phones or gaming device.

Then there’s the whole food thing. I remember being so excited at the end of the school year about not having to make lunches for July and August. This was an illusion because since the first day off, I started to wish I had to make ONLY one lunch and two snacks for school.  This summer felt like I was making morning snack, breakfast, brunch, snack, lunch, snack, another snack and then dinner – and then two more snacks!!  Seriously?! Where do you put all this food?! You’re 50 pounds…do you have a hollow leg? 

So this September, I joined the moms I secretly shamed and honestly didn’t even care that it was the end of summer.  I was just so excited to be able to get us all into a normal routine. I’m now singing the praises of Back to School!

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Shannon Jones – Our Summer Inspiration

Do you ever meet someone and right away want to learn so much about them and from them? This is was the case for me with Shannon Jones. I first met Shannon at a fundraiser for Winnipeg youth from the inner city about five years ago via her husband Miles, and a long-time friend from the University of Manitoba ‘Arts’ degree days. She just had a vibe about her that resonated with me. We became friends on social media soon thereafter and that vibe has rung so true. Shannon is a strong, kind, loving soul of a human being doing an exceptional job raising her three young girls. In this week’s blog we wanted to feature Shannon to spread the word about her incredible story.

Shannon grew up as a competitive gymnast, and it gave her the very happiest moments of her childhood. The gym was her second home, providing a source of stability that was lacking at home. After retiring from gymnastics she missed the exercise, building a strong body and mind, and as she says, “burning off the crazy!”. As past national and international level athletes, we absolutely positively can relate!

Shannon tried a few things to invigorate her fitness love again, but it took some time. At the age of 38 she tried CrossFit for the first time and has never looked back. It’s proven to be exactly what she needs as both a physical and emotional outlet for this mom of three.

Keeping up with the Jones’ is no easy task. Their three girls, London (11 years), Hartley (9) and Parker (4) are all super busy and beyond motivated. London is often reluctant to try new things, but with a little prodding she always finds something to love in every activity! She plays hockey and trains CrossFit, loves going to camp, and wants to study to be an Architect.

Hartley is a force to be reckoned with! She is strong, intense, self-motivated, and fiercely determined in all that she does. She is a competitive gymnast, has been selected for the High Performance training path, and confidently tells them to start saving our money for the LA 2028 Olympics, “because you definitely have to come watch my first Olympics!!”

Parker is 4 affectionately nicknamed BammBamm. She is ridiculously strong, and not at all concerned with being delicate! Parker loves to swim, and bounce on the trampoline, and do just about anything active! Last year, Parker was diagnosed with Autism with Language Impairment, which clarified a lot of issues, but also made clear that structured sport is likely not in the cards for her. However, through the amazing people and programs at the Canucks Autism Network, she has since started to learn to participate in swimming and skating, albeit on her own terms.

As both former athletes themselves, Shannon and Miles were very clear on wanting to have their girls experience as many sports as possible growing up. They felt so many tremendous benefits from a life with sport, and wanted to ensure they gave their girls the same opportunities for growth, strength and confidence they received. With London playing hockey, it has at times been a struggle playing on co-ed teams, not because of unfair treatment more so regarding an unfair culture. Girls being ‘tolerated’ rather than accepted, in turn making it difficult to develop a sense of a sport community for the young girls.

“We believe that sport participation is just as important for kids as school. Through training and competition they learn so much more than just a game; they learn to set short- and long-term goals; to be a great teammate; to manage their feelings in the face of both success and defeat; to be proud of their effort first, results second; to develop a healthy relationship with their Coaches; and most importantly, that at all stages success is earned, never an entitlement,” says Jones.

It hasn’t been an easy road for the family. Together they have faced a housing disaster, multiple life-threatening illnesses, uprooting to move across the country, Shannon’s medical retirement, and now trying to help their littlest to develop. Building resilience was the only response to it all while remaining honest about life. That it is not easy, it is not fair, and it is not predictable, but they can lean into each other and rise above it. Shannon often says ‘life is hard, love it easy’ and that rings in my ear every time I personally face any challenge.

The strength of their family runs deep in their veins. Hartley was diagnosed with Epilepsy as a baby, and has been through hell and back…and back again. From the endless medical procedures to the mind-numbing medications, this nine-year old is a pint-size super hero. But that along with her fierce love for gymnastics has made her set goals, crush them and set new ones often. Couldn’t we all just put her in our pockets as a reminder to be such a badass?

The Jones family moved from Winnipeg to Kelowna for a host of reasons two years ago. While they miss so much about Winnipeg, it has been a great move. When they arrived 2 years ago, Hartley required so much medication that she was unable to complete a full day of school, and was not developing academically. By changing their lifestyle, her treatments, and their surroundings, this child is now thriving academically, is medication-free, and is training in a national gymnastics development program. I’m sure they would have moved to Mars for results like this if they had to! Because THAT is what love and family are all about. Sticking together, rising above, and doing it with endless love and dedication in your heart.

I asked Shannon what her biggest dream for her girls is. It’s a tough question to pose to any parent, but she nailed it. “Honestly, that they truly know that they are loved. If we get that right, the rest will be easy.”

Let’s Hear It For the Boys!

From day one, our focus for our FIT Women and Girls initiatives has, of course, been centred around female empowerment, nutrition, health and sport. It’s not that we don’t love the boys, of course we do! But we are two women who have experienced life in sport from only our perspective. The struggles that face girls and women in sport and fitness are not the same as they are for boys. We know that boys and men also struggle with body image, sport participation, bullying and more. And that is why we are super excited to introduce you to Sean Kingswell, and Rising Sons Coaching.

In June, Sean approached us after seeing our work with our FITGirls Directory and Events in the media. Based in Toronto, he could see the obvious passion similarities in the work that we do. Rising Sons Coaching is an online comprehensive wellness program that teaches confidence, mental health (stigma reduction, awareness and skills), fitness, wellness, mindset, character development and life skills to teen and preteen boys.  It is also an initiative to create a community for boys to develop and grow their mind, body and spirit.

Sean’s background is truly in helping others. As a wellness coach and personal trainer he has gained coaching certifications in working with adolescents on confidence and self-esteem coaching, lifestyle coaching, personal training, nutrition, and stress management coaching. And with all of his spare time (yikes!) he is a professional firefighter, and has 3 sons.

The Rising Sons Coaching program is geared for boys in that it is based on the learning style of teen boys. For parents who are looking to build good building blocks for their sons and ensuring that these topics are effectively understood is vital for long term health, success and happiness.

The program is completely online and can start anytime. Their goal is simple – to help build boys who are resilient, capable, strong and kind.  They want to reduce mental health stigma and coach stress management, teach long term fitness, and enact our G.R.E.A.T man principle (Gratitude, Respect, Empathy, Altruism and Tolerance).  Rising Sons Coaching facilitates components of wellness including sleep, nutrition, injury prevention and more, as well as life skills such as responsibility, risk management, attitude, goal setting, and problem solving.

For us to truly build up the next generation, we need to ensure that boys have a solid understanding of these subject areas, and are learning from mentors in the community. Boys face numerous challenges in this day and age including issues with motivation, resiliency, self-care, poor mental health consequences, antiquated or confused outlooks on confidence or masculinity, drug use, goal orientation, risky behaviours, poor body image, obesity and more. Programs like Rising Sons is helping put a positive light in some dark arenas.

Boys and girls do not learn the same. They are faced with different challenges and have different strengths. If you have ever taught in a classroom or on a playing field, you know this first hand. We can’t teach them the same way, but we can have the same goals in mind. To help the next generation of young people to be strong, confident, kind, intelligent amazing humans.

For more information on Sean or to register for the Rising Sons Coaching program, follow this link.

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Girls Participation in Sport

Last week we put out a media release surrounding girls in sport in Canada. According to the Canadian Association for the Advancement of Women in Sport and Physical Activity (CAAWS), 41% of girls between the ages of 3 – 17 do NOT participate in sport. More startling is that by the age of 10, if a girl has yet to participate in sports, there is only a 10% chance that she will be physically active as an adult.

We at FIT Communications are looking to change this by providing more options to parents for their girls to participate in sport and activities in Winnipeg this summer. Our FITGirls programming has created a free online list for parents to find these opportunities which also provides discounts to activities. The FITGirls Directory consists of organizations that believe in our city’s girls and the benefits of sport and fitness in their lives. They are diverse in their programs but consistent in their delivery of quality programs for those looking for a unique and super experience.

In addition, we have put together a listing of summer camps for parents to choose from – encompassing a wide rand of activities – from synchronized swimming to Skyzone trampoline camp.

We know that participating in sports improves girls’ confidence and self-esteem, while providing them with the lifelong skills of healthy living, team work, time management and so much more. We want to provide as many opportunities for girls in our city as possible with our FITGirls programming.

We are beyond grateful for the local and national media coverage we received, including Winnipeg, Toronto, Calgary and Edmonton. Here are a few of the media spots for you to see:

Global News – Winnipeg Team Promoting Ways to Get More Girls Active In Sports

CTV News – FITGirls Directory & Summer Activities in Winnipeg

CityNews TV – Encouraging Young Girls to Be Physically Active

CHVN – Young Girls Lacking Physical Activity

CJOB Radio 

If you are passionate about health and the future of the girls in our country, please sign up for our newsletter here today!

5 Motivational Tips for a Healthy Lifestyle

Like any journey in life, the first step can often be the hardest. Perhaps a friend or loved one has recently put on weight – it happens. Babies, stress, falling off the wagon, too much time at work – there are lots of reasons that we let our healthy lifestyle take the back burner. Helping your loved ones get back on track is one of the best gifts you can give, but it can be tricky. Here is a list of do’s and don’ts when it comes to motivating your friends and partners to start eating right, working out and putting their healthy lifestyle back as a priority.

  1. DON’T try to shame them into working out! Telling someone they have ‘really let themselves go’ or they would‘look a lot better if they lost 20 pounds’is not only mean, but it is counter productive. This is way more common that you may realize. A spouse gains weight and it is causing an issue in the marriage. Or your golfing buddy packed on a few extra pounds over the winter. Telling someone they are fat is not helping – in fact, it will most likely hinder their progress because their self-esteem will be lower, and they won’t think they are worth it. STOP the shaming!

DO talk honestly about your feelings regarding their health. Your concern for the ones you love should not be about how much they weigh or their waistline measurement. Rather it should be about how healthy they are, and how you want them to be the healthiest and best version of themselves. Remind them of how much more energy they will have, how they will sleep better, how they truly will feel better in their own skin. Ensure the focus is on their HEALTH and not their appearance.

  1. DON’T nag. Having someone nagging in your ear ‘you really should go for a run’or ‘are you sure you should be eating that’is rude, annoying and counter productive to their healthy lifestyle motivation. Even if your intentions are really good, teasing someone doesn’t work.

DO give positive feedback when they make a healthy choice. If they reach for a bottle of water instead of pop, they start eating a salad with chicken for lunch instead of a burger and fries, they hit the gym after work three times this week. Praise them for it in an honest and real way, and avoid sounding condescending or preachy. Tell them you are proud of them and notice when they have more energy or have lost a few pounds. Positive feedback is something we all crave.

  1. DON’T compare your loved ones to others. ‘Your sister doesn’t have a weight problem’ or‘your friends all go to the gym’are definitely ones to avoid. It may seem innocent enough – you are trying to show that people in their circle are living a healthy lifestyle, but believe me, this will not work. The focus needs to be on this person – their needs, their wants, and their desires. Comparing them to others will simply not work.

DO give positive reinforcement when they do healthy things with their friends or family. If your husband typically goes for pizza and beers on the weekend with his friends, and instead this weekend they go hiking – praise this! Healthy habits with the people in your life really make a huge difference. On a personal note, a huge part as to why I have such a healthy lifestyle is due to those I surround myself with. My family and best friends are all very health conscious, and it motivates me to continue to be so, and to constantly learn more on my healthy journey.

  1. DON’T preach ‘do as I say, don’t do as I do’. ‘Hey sweetie – you should really go work out. I’m going to sit here and scarf down a bag of chips and binge watch some TV’. So not fair! Be the example that you want to see and walk the talk. Who wants to be barked at on any level, moreover by someone who isn’t living it himself or herself. Don’t tell someone to do something that you yourself wouldn’t do. It’s like the dad telling their son to quit smoking while he lights another cigarette. It just doesn’t work.

DO be on this journey with them. Get a membership at the same gym, go grocery shopping together, take them around to a few classes or facilities you think they may like. They need to find their own spark for a healthy lifestyle. That is not something you can ignite, but you can show them options to hopefully spark their health passion. Two huge suggestions I would have on this would be to first, go grocery shopping together and teach them what to look for and why. My second suggestion would be to do drop-in classes together to find what he or she enjoys most. Most Winnipeg fitness facilities have either a drop-in rate or will let you try the gym for free your first time. Try kickboxing, cross fit, yoga, and weights together. This way it will be less intimidating, and feeling like they have a partner in this healthy journey is really helpful.

  1. DON’T give up. I know this can be a struggle. The person you love most isn’t putting their health as a priority. You feel you’ve tried everything. Don’t give up on that person – you might just be one motivating day away from helping them bounce back.

DO congratulate yourself when you hear that you inspire someone to live a healthy lifestyle. To be inspired is one thing, but to be the inspiration to others is another. Feel good about your successes and celebrate them. If you are the reason someone is eating healthier, working out again, or putting their health to the forefront – you have given them the best gift imaginable. Well done!

It is really important to note that before any of these do’s and don’ts begin, your loved ones need to come to you first. Allow them to start the conversation. Perhaps they are complaining about how their summer clothes don’t quite fit anymore, or their energy is constantly feeling depleted, or maybe they ask you for help. Wait for them to come to you to start this journey of health with them.

Baru Rubs & Sauces

With Barbeque Season officially here, the timing could not have been better to try what is now my new favourite seasonings! I had been so bored with my regular “go-to” menu and was looking for something to “spice things up” without going completely off what I know how to cook. 

Here’s where Baru Rubs and Sauces steps in! Baru is a Vancouver-based company started three years ago by two BFFs – Zeta Newis and Nina Lafleur – as a spin off of the successful Kitsilano restaurant – Baru Latino.   Part of what makes their products so unique is that they are a small batch, handmade producer based out of an award winning restaurant.  Who wouldn’t want to bring this deliciousness home for their own daily consumption?

I think I may personally love the business for the fact that the co-owners are women, BFFs, foodies and Canadian.  Nina Lafleur attributes their success to their belief in  “fresh, healthy, tasty ingredients and a commitment to our customers”

The friends’ love for food and cooking is evident in their products.  They want to make healthy, fresh and delicious food for friends and family. This is something I completely relate to. “Food is family, friends, and community. It is something that unites us all. With our products, you are able to sample foods which are inspired from different areas of the world, take them home and try new things.”

Having tried all of the rubs and hot sauces, I have to say that they are as unique and diverse as my own family.  Their “Hot’R Sauce – Even Hotter” is, by far, my husband’s favourite he’s ever tried.  Having spent 6 years in the Caribbean, the flavour takes him back.  He LOVES hot sauces – but this one isn’t just hot, it’s packed with flavour.  He said “it’s the habenero…I can taste it in the sauce”.  When I asked him more about what he thought, he said “it’s all gone. We NEED to get more!” For this discerning hot sauce fan, this is the greatest compliment.

Now for the rubs… I have a mixed crew of test subjects and palets … I like spice and flavour, my husband likes HOT and flavour and my daughters like flavour packed spices without the HOT.  The girls favourite was the Chimichurri Rub.  I marinated chicken in the recommended mix of (olive oil) and rub before cooking.  They actually fought over the last piece and asked to have it for lunch!  Success!

I love the fact that these rubs are packed with flavour, not just sauce or salt. I also love that they give suggestions to how to use them – I didn’t even think of using it as a marinade! Baru hit the nail on the head with their focus on putting ethnicity and global tastes into a product.  It goes outside my own personal usual “go-to’s” – which I love!  I can’t wait to try these rubs on fish!  And steak is a “no-brainer”.    

Currently their products are only sold in retail stores in BC but they are wanting to expand outside of the province. Luckily for me, five of their products (including the coveted Hot’R Sauce!) are available online and can be shipped anywhere in the world. Currently their offering free shipping in Canada for orders over $30. Yippee!

I’m happy that I was able to try Baru’s products – not only to have a future Father’s Day gift idea, but also to help me break out of my usual fare of seasoning-free kid cooking to a kid and adult-approved cooking environment!

If you are interested learning more about or trying the Baru Rubs & Sauces yourself this BBQ season (or anytime really!), please visit their website: https://www.barurubsandsauces.com.

Posturing Up

 

I remember being a teenage girl and always hearing ‘Andrea! Stand up straight!’ from my parents, teachers and coaches. To say I had poor posture was an understatement. I think young girls are shy about getting taller, so in turn do everything they can to appear shorter. Now as an adult I pride myself on standing strong – both physically and figuratively. But that’s not to say every so often I don’t find myself hunched over in front of my computer. I try to do ‘posture checks’ to make sure my shoulders are back, my chest is out and my backbone is straight. Believe me – it’s rare that I am sitting straight these days.

I recently received an email from a 55-year old woman who has been reading our blog and let me know that as she has grown older and had a few health challenges along her journey, she has found her posture to be suffering. As our muscle mass decreases as we age, our posture tends to decline which can cause chronic pain. According to Dr. Michael Gleiber, MD, there are three major reasons why people start to hunch over as they age. These reasons are osteoporosis, wedge compression fractures, and spinal stenosis. But poor posture doesn’t mean you have one of these three issues. In fact, posture can be improved by a few simple exercises and stretches throughout the day, and strengthening you core.

1. Shoulder Rolls –Bringing your shoulders up to your ears and slowly rolling them back while you push your chest forward. Repeat ten times, three times per day.

2. Chest Stretch – my massage therapist always recommends this one to be done at least five times per day. Simply raise your arms to your sides, palms facing forward, keeping your elbows straight and your arms completely level at shoulder height. Next, bring your arms backwards so that you are bringing your shoulder blades together. It will be a very slight change but you should feel a stretch across your chest muscles and through your upper back.

3. Wall Sits – this is a great reminder on how to keep our spine straight. Sit with your backbone against the wall, your knees at a 90-degree angle, and your feet shoulder width apart. Try to hold this for thirty seconds, three times a day. Be mindful of how your body feels when your spine is straight.

4. Standing Side Bends – this one is great with or without weights. Remember when you were a kid and used to sing the song “I’m a little teacup”? It is the same movement! Simply keep your feet shoulder width apart and your hips squared. Bend 10 times to your right, squeezing your oblique muscles each time. Repeat on the left side.

5. Kneeling Quad and Hip Stretch – for this one, I would suggest putting a mat under your knee that is on the ground, and doing it beside a wall for balance. Put your right leg in front with your knee bent and your foot flat on the ground. Your left leg behind with your knee on the ground and your left toes pointed. Next, ever so slightly push your left hip flexor forward. This will give you a stretching feeling throughout your hip. Hold for 15 seconds and repeat three times on each side.

The other major piece to bettering your posture is strengthening your core. Taking yoga or Pilate’s class at one of Winnipeg’s exceptional studios is a great way to help with all of this. But if going to the gym or workouts at home is more your style, here are a few sample core workouts you can add to your regime.

Workout #1:

20 Criss Crosses (each leg for a total of 50)
20 Cross Over Crunches (each side)
20 Crunches
20 Flutter Kicks
20 Heel Touches (each side)

Workout #2:

20 Bicycle Crunches
30 Second Plank
20 Windshield Wipers
20 Full Sit Ups
20 Russian Twists

Workout #3:

20 Leg Raises
20 Crunches
20 Oblique Crunches (each side)
20 Pelvic Thrusts
20 Bicycle Crunches

With all of the above routines, repeat 2 to 3 times if your fitness level allows it. And with all of the above recommendations, consult with your healthcare practitioner before starting on any new exercise routines to ensure your health and safety is always top of mind.

Cacao Now – My New Favourite Nutrition Secret

 

 

 

 

On the advice of my brilliant nutritionist, I started to add more raw cacao to my health regime earlier this year. I purchased raw cacao powder and planned to put it in my morning concoction, which is a mixture of a green supplement, maca powder and now this. I found the combination worked really well to get me through my workouts, as I do intermittent fasting and need a boost. But the mixture was far from tasty. I could get it down, but figured there must be another, tastier option for the cacao. I wanted to find something that was raw, real, organic, and tasted awesome. Sounds impossible right? Wrong.

I stumbled across a company called Cacao Now founded by Tove Redeby and found a plethora of options to try. As I read more about the products and business, I found myself pretty fascinated with the woman behind the company and thought she would be a perfect person to interview and highlight in our FIT Women & Girls blog and social media. A super strong, healthy, environmentally-conscious woman…just our type!

“I have been interested in optimal eating and whole foods, as well as organic living and the environment for as long as I can remember. I have a diploma in nutrition, and I have always been fascinated by the power of food, REAL food. I believe that the foundation of most of our modern health issues are connected to what and how we eat, and that we can ultimately heal ourselves through our eating choices. As an avid all-around athlete, the connection between great food and great performance has also always interested me. My most important education has taken place in the mountains and in the kitchen, and my work is in service to both,” says Tove.

Let’s take a look at the health benefits of cacao:

  1. Cacao contains the highest concentration of ANTIOXIDANTS of any food in the world!
  2. Cacao seems to be the number one source of Magnesium.
  3. Cacao contains enough CHROMIUM to help reverse deficiencies in this mineral.
  4. Cacao is an excellent source of MANGANESE and ZINC.
  5. Cacao has an very high value of Vitamin C.
  6. Cacao is high in FIBER.
  7. Cacao contains essential omega-6 fatty acids. Once the cacao bean is cooked, the chocolate product automatically contains rancid omega-6 fatty acids (trans fat).
  8. Cacao contains Phenylethylamine (PEA). PEAs are a major class of chemicals that our body produces when we fall in love. This is one of the main reasons why love and chocolate have such a deep relation (this relation is not merely a myth). But, as PEAs are heat sensitive, they are not as present in cacao that has been heated.
  9. Cacao is rich in serotonin.
  10. Contrary to popular belief, Cacao is a poor source of Caffeine. Cacao contains Theobromine, a close relative to Caffeine.

Starting to sound like gold isn’t it? But how does it taste?

I have tried three of Tove’s Buddha Bars – Raw Chocolate Vanilla Bean, Raw Chocolate Peppermint and Raw Chocolate Orange Zest. The orange zest reminded me of the Christmas orange chocolate you get at the holidays. If that flavour is your jam, you’ll love this one. The vanilla bean is a subtle hint of vanilla, and if you are a big dark chocolate fan this one is for you. But that peppermint option – whoa! It’s delicious.

So here’s the cool part. I honestly felt the effects from eating this bar almost immediately. It gave me an energy boost, but not a jittery shakey boost. It seemed to just uplift me. This might be the most perfect pre-workout snack I can imagine. I at times workout twice a day with how my schedule is, and find that I need something to give me that extra umph! I completely avoid any sort of pre-workout supplements as I find them often riddled with chemicals and make me feel jittery and gross. I don’t like to eat too much before a workout as I find it makes me nauseous. Behold the solution! And here’s why this particular brand company is where it’s at:

There are absolutely zero refined sugars in Cacao Now products. Everything is sweetened with dates and/or raisins. Sugar is seriously the devil – avoid it as best you can. The cacao comes from raw cacao nibs, not a processed cacao mass, and therefore no fillers or ingredients we can’t pronounce are included. And Tove genuinely cares about what she is making and who she is making it for. She “deeply believes in the energetic connection between human and food” and in such energetically cleans her space before making her products.

Made in Squamish,BC, much of her product line is only available to the rest of Canada on her website. But don’t think for a minute that this woman plans on stopping there. With an upcoming expansion of her product line, she hopes to be in health food stores across the country soon. She is on a mission that I feel many of our readers can relate to. “My mission is just as much to share my knowledge and my passion for conscious living; to share the wisdom and healing powers of food and specifically of cacao; to spread good vibrations and LOVE; and ultimately to do my little part in making this world a “better” more loving place,” says Tove.

We love supporting strong, entrepreneurial women doing great things across our country. Eating real food, listening to your body, and eating mindfully are the words of wisdom Tove and Cacao Now want to share with you.

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My Love Affair with Broccoli

I literally eat broccoli every single day. It’s to the point that I crave it around 3pm. I love it raw with hummus – it’s my absolute go to afternoon snack. I love the taste, love how it fills me up just at the right time and is loaded with tons of nutritional benefits. I strive for my nutrition to be at the 90-10 rule. 90% of what I eat to be healthy, nutrient dense food, and the remaining 10% I give myself some slack. And the addition of a daily dose of broccoli allows me to get there. Here are the best nine reasons why broccoli should be in your every day routine:

  1. Broccoli is loaded with vitamin C, which is a powerful antioxidant and protects the body from free radicals. This has been shown to be a solid defense against cancer.
  2. Broccoli has sulforaphane, which researchers believe gives broccoli a particularly strong ability to fight cancer properties. This sulforaphane switches on the genes that prevents cancer development and switches off those that help it spread. WOW!
  3. Broccoli also has the ability to help restore your immune system as you age, and in turn helps your liver detoxify. Your liver plays a huge role in how clean you entire system truly is, and ensuring it is pumped full of detoxifying agents is key.
  4. Broccoli has loads of omega-3 fatty acids that are known to be anti-inflammatory. We have all heard that we want to have an ‘anti-inflammatory diet’ but what does that really mean? Chronic inflammation can cause numerous issues including mood disorders like depression and anxiety, issues with your cardiovascular system such as heart disease, swelling and pain in your joints, issues with your digestive system. Personally, all things I would like to avoid.
  5. It is good for your heart. Broccoli has been shown to reduce and even reverse damage to blood vessels. It has tons of soluble fiber that helps cholesterol leave your body.
  6. That soluble fiber? That helps you feel full longer. I love it at 3pm because when I’m hungry I need to eat! I can’t wait until dinner time for my next meal, but don’t want a full meal at that time either. Broccoli and hummus fills me up just enough to make me feel satisfied until dinner time. If you’re trying to lose weight, eating foods high in soluble fiber is key to reduce your appetite.
  7. It keeps you super regular! Did you know a healthy digestive system has you going poop at least once if not twice a day? If you aren’t, try adding broccoli to your day to keep things moving quickly.
  8. Broccoli is great for your bones and skin. It is a solid source of folic acid and potassium which help build collagen, and keep your tissue and bones strong. This can also help you avoid osteoporosis as you get older.
  9. You want to try to keep your body alkalized, meaning less acidic. Broccoli is great for that. It can get a bit complicated on how to, so if you are interested, we would suggest you reading this terrific article from Real Food For Life.

Are you sold on broccoli? There are tons of options in the grocery store for ready-cut broccoli to take the chore out of food prep on this one. If when you first try it hurts your stomach, lightly steam it. Adding real butter or honey is a great trick too to help you enjoy the taste. It’s so great when the planet gives us such a remarkable food…enjoy it!

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This Not That – For Kids

I’m a working Mom of three kids. I know first hand how hard it is to always make the healthiest choices for our kids. Life is busy.  Between work, school, activities, driving, cooking, cleaning and volunteering, there needs to be about 5 more hours each day to fit it all in.

The choice of foods we make for our children not only affect their health now, but also for their future.  Their little bodies are in a constant state of building and their future health depends on what we put in those bodies while growing. Providing good nutrition is also the way to set them on a path of healthy eating for their adulthood.  We know that kids learn their eating habits and views about food from their homes.  Let’s teach our kids to not only enjoy nutritious food, but also to view food as fuel that can help make them make their bodies do great things.

All this said, I know how hard it is to raise a healthy eater. Every kid loves French fries, pizza, candy and ice cream. I admit that my kids eat these things too!  However, when they do have them, it’s infrequently and a treat – not a regular occurrence.  I’d like to share a few ways you can make simple changes to provide better (not perfect) nutrition for your kids.  It’s basically about swapping one thing for another.

 

FOOD BETTER BEST
White Bread Rye Bread Whole Grain Bread
McDonald’s (Fast Food) A&W (no antibiotics) Freshii, Jugo Juice
White Pasta “Smart” Pasta (tastes exactly like white but added veggies or fibre Whole Grain Pasta
No veggies 1 – At least once per day of any vegetable – their favourite

2 – Serve veggies with dip

3 – Cooked with butter and honey (my secret weapon)

A variety of vegetables with lots of different colours –  maximize nutrition intake.
Margarine Butter Ghee
Store Bought:

Cookies, Cakes, Granola Bars,

Store Bought but “all natural ingredients/no artificial ingredients or preservatives” Homemade or other healthy snacks – fruit, vegetables…
Pop or Fruit “drinks”, Slurpees

(all packed with sugar and without nutrients)

Real Fruit Juice ½ water, ½ juice OR
Water
Gatorade/Powerade/

Sport Drinks

Chocolate Milk Water
Processed Chicken Fingers or Nuggets or Fish Sticks Homemade Chicken fingers or Fish Sticks – Baked Grilled or Baked Boneless Skinless Chicken or Fish
French Fries – Deep Fried ½ size Fries and salad/veggies or fruit, mashed potatoes Baked potato, sweet potato
White Rice Basmati or Jasmine Rice Brown Rice, Quinoa
Candy, Chocolate Bars Snack Size/Halloween Size Fruit
Potato Chips Veggie Chips, Baked Chips, Pretzels, Popcorn Nuts, Fruit, Raw Veggies
Waffles, Pop Tarts, High Sugar Cereal (all processed) Homemade pancakes, waffles, oatmeal, whole grain cereal, whole grain toast Add fruit and protein…

Eggs, peanut butter, orange juice, yogurt, bowl of berries

To summarize, stay away from processed foods, deep fried foods, sugar (except that naturally found in fruit), white starches/carbs.  There is always a substitute.  Don’t worry if you’re entire menu is currently on the “stay away from” list.  The good news is that you can only improve from here.  Start today with things you think will work for your kids and then slowly incorporate more.

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