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. 

 

 

 

15 Super Foods

We have all heard the term ‘super food’. Every time you read something about nutrition you are told to increase the number of super foods in your diet. Many restaurants now use it as a catch phrase for their salads and healthy meals. But what does it really mean? By definition, a super food is “a food (such as salmon, broccoli, or blueberries) that is rich in compounds (such as antioxidants, fiber, or fatty acids) considered beneficial to a person’s health. Super foods increase energy and vitality, regulate cholesterol and blood pressure and may help to prevent or fight cancer and other diseases.” (Source: Marriam-Webster Dictionary).

The issue then becomes what ARE the actual super foods? Depending on whom you ask, there can be up to 100 different foods on a super foods list. I find that almost impossible to remember, let alone work into your daily nutrition routine. The idea of eating nutrient dense food, and the ones that are the absolute best for your health is what I find super intriguing. So I have compiled a list of fifteen super foods below that I feel are easy to incorporate into your day, taste delicious, and bring tons of benefits to your overall health.

  1. Berries – berries are on every super food list I have read. This includes acai, goji, cranberries, blueberries and strawberries. Each one of these berries brings different vitamins and minerals, but all are high in antioxidants, polyphenols and vitamin C. These sweet bundles of goodness help fight chronic disease and cancer.
  2. Cacao – you may have seen cacao nibs or powder at your favorite health food store. I find the powder terrific to add to a shake. Cacao is high in antioxidants that helps slow down the aging process. It is also high in magnesium and iron, which can be beneficial especially for women.
  3. Chia Seeds – chia pudding might be one of the easiest and healthiest snacks to make. A few major benefits of chia seeds include diabetes prevention, increased fiber and omega-3’s, strengthens your teeth and bones, high in protein, fights belly fat and has been known to improve heart health. A spoonful into a shake, on top of your oatmeal, or in a salad are all easy ways to incorporate chia into your day.
  4. Hemp Seeds – Hemp seeds contain high amounts of protein, which helps in strengthening the immune system. This reduces the instances of disease and helps excrete toxins from the body. Hemp also produces phytosterols, which helps reduce cholesterol. Lastly, these super seed contains all 20 amino acids, including the 9 essential amino acids (EAAs) our bodies cannot produce.
  5. Turmeric –Turmeric is a natural anti-inflammatory and will do wonders for your joints. An anti-inflammatory diet is suggested for almost every ailment today from cancer to high blood pressure to Alzheimer’s to heart disease. Turmeric has been shown to not only help prevent these diseases but also help treat them once they attack. Turmeric is also great as an antioxidant, and has been suggested to be an anti-cancer agent. It has been shown to lower risk of brain disease and boosts brain function in the meantime. It has been shown to lower depression, help delay aging and fight age-related diseases.
  6. Cayenne Pepper – hot peppers have been known to boost metabolism and in turn, help you lose weight. It also helps to boost circulation and neutralize acidity. It’s great for keeping a cold or fungus at bay, on headaches, allergies, for joint pain and inflammation, good for digestion and heart health, and some studies have shown it to be anti-cancer.
  7. Garlic – nicknamed the ‘world’s healthiest food’, this one packs a punch! Garlic has been used for centuries to treat colds and infections. Raw, crushed garlic is the best way for it to be absorbed by your body. Garlic helps reduce blood pressure and lower cholesterol, and reduces your risk of heart disease. It is also said to be good for your brain while warding off dementia and Alzheimer’s. It has been found to be good for your overall bone health and help you live longer, and recently studies have shown it can help with erectile dysfunction.
  8. Broccoli – this is one of my favorite foods. Broccoli has been shown in studies to prevent cancer, reduce cholesterol, is high in antioxidants, reduces inflammation, is great for your bones and heart and helps detoxify and alkalize your body.
  9. Beets – another one of my absolute favorite vegetables. According to OrganicFacts.net, the health benefits of beets include “treatment of anemia, indigestion, constipation, piles, kidney disorders, dandruff, gall bladder disorders, cancer, and heart disease. It also helps to prevent macular degeneration, improve blood circulation, aid in skin care, prevent cataracts and mediate respiratory” They are nutrient dense and filled with vitamins and minerals.
  10. Spinach – spinach salad or popping some into a green smoothie is how I best incorporate this vegetable into my day. Spinach is full of vitamins and minerals – everything from A, C, E and K, to protein and flavonoids to calcium, iron and magnesium. In turn being great for your heart, brain, skin, hair and bones. For an added healthy bonus eat spinach with a high vitamin C fruit such as berries.
  11. Avocado – loaded with nutrients, this healthy fat is great for your heart, kidneys and overall cell function. Its ability to reduce inflammation has shown links to cancer reduction and help with arthritis. It is also high in fiber, which can help with weight loss and keep your digestive system on track. Avocados also help your body absorb nutrients from other vegetables, meaning it works for you! I put avocado with my eggs every day. It’s also a great topper on salads, chicken, toast, or salmon.
  12. Kale – with three grams of protein per serving, this high antioxidant super food is making its way to my fridge every week. It is said to be one of the most nutrient dense foods on the planet. Studies have shown links to cancer fighting properties, cardiovascular strengthening and can help you lose weight. I find it a harder one to digest so a light steam or baking them in raw organic coconut oil in the oven is a great way to add this one to your day.
  13. Eggs – eggs have received a bad rap over the years. We were once told to ease up on our egg consumption due to its ability to increase your cholesterol. That is no longer the case. It is recommended to eat up to 12 eggs per week. That said, if you have high cholesterol you should speak with your doctor or health practitioner first. The yolk of an egg is loaded with nutrients. Eggs contain all 9 essential amino acids, are highly concentrated with vitamins and minerals, and are rich in Omega-3s.
  14. Salmon – it is important here for me to note that I would only recommend wild caught salmon, not farmed salmon for consumption. Salmon is high in Omega 3s, is great for your brain and heart health, is anti-inflammatory and is an excellent source of vitamin D. So get fishing – and bring me some back too!
  15. Sweet Potatoes – this delicious, good carbohydrate is loaded with vitamin A, fiber and potassium. Studies have shown sweet potatoes decrease the risk for diabetes, heart disease and obesity while increasing your energy, are good for your skin and can help lower your weight.

Dallas Ludwick – A Strong Female Coach that “Gets It”!

I had the privilege to interview Dallas Ludwick, head coach of Revolution Diving in Winnipeg.  After interviewing Dallas, I think that any athlete would be lucky to be coached by her for more than just her technical coaching skill and knowledge.  She is so positive and she inspires me and I’m sure many others out there – coaches or not.

Ludwick says she learns from and is inspired herself by all kinds of coaches as she feels that there is something to learn from all of them. Having been a diver herself, she was also inspired by athletes including Annie Pelletier.  Pelletier’s incredible comeback from 17th position in the prelims to win a Bronze medal at the 1996 Olympic Games is what Ludwick sees as the perfect example of “never giving up!”

Ludwick has been coaching for over 25 years and 20 of these in the competitive level.  She is now one of only two female coaches coaching at the Senior International level in Canada. Her accomplishments include medal placements of her divers at international competitions such as the Pan Am Games in 2011 and Junior Pan Am Championships.

It is easy to see why Ludwick has had great success as a coach. I know next to nothing about the sport of diving but as a coach myself, I know what I think greatness looks like and she exemplifies this in so many ways.  She totally “gets it”!

She is athlete focused. It’s not about her. It’s about the athlete. Her goals for her divers are for them to achieve theirs. “Whatever their dream is… that is my dream for them.  I just want them to be ambitious and happy at the same time.  Set their sets high, and enjoy the ride (appreciating the ups and downs and everyone that helps them along the way) in the process.”

She is inspired by seeing the constant improvement of her athletes and helping them set and achieve their goals.  “It is very rewarding when a diver attains something that they have been striving for for a long time, no matter what the level.  The look of joy and pride on the athlete’s face in those moments is priceless.”

She knows that there is more to life than diving. She equates many of the skills it takes to be a great diver as life skills that will allow the individuals to achieve success outside of and after their diving career. Divers face fear on a daily basis. Learning to face and conquer fears is just one of the skills she hones. Her motto is ““Don’t dive to avoid mistakes, dive to go for it!”  She wants her divers to live life and dive without regrets.

She loves her job and is so much more than just a coach of diving. “The thrill and adrenaline of high level competition is exciting, but overall I think the biggest motivation is knowing that the athletes that you are working with appreciate the role you play in their lives as a coach [and mentor] who helps them to get where they want to go, and also as a person who helps them through all kinds of challenges in life.” To this day, she has former athletes call her up for advice and to discuss current challenges they face either within their new teams or life in general.  She even had athletes put together frame boxes with all of the sentimental items that remind them of exciting/pivotal moments they’ve shared. You can tell by these examples that Dallas goes above and beyond her technical coaching duties. She gives all of herself to not only make great divers but great people.

She’s no push over.  Don’t let her sentimental side and reflection fool you. You don’t get to the level of coaching she is and results achieved without being tough. She has high expectations. She recruits and trains only athletes that have demonstrated and proven strong work ethic and internal motivation.

She is a female coach in a male-dominated coaching world. As amazing as it is to travel and get the incredible rush of adrenaline of big competitions, it does come with a price. Early morning practices and evening practices along with the administrative tasks that go into coaching high performance athletes make it challenging to “have a life”. Ludwick sites these as reasons more women don’t stay in coaching or coach at the highest levels. The travel and before and after school hours make it difficult for women to have a family and be around for children.  That said, she sees that it could improve if there was more support given to coaches on an administrative level.  Female coaches are expected to “do it all.” It is a full time job to plan all-encompassing training programs, travel and be hands-on coaching athletes. Add to this the club registration, board meeting, competition planning, finances, website maintenance, social media maintenance, advertising, fundraising etc.… and it’s simply too much. Something will have to give. At this point Ludwick doesn’t have children. However, I have a feeling that because she knows the challenges and has a probable solution, if she does decide to have a family, she will make it work – for her family while continuing to be successful at her coaching career.

Many career coaches don’t choose this career for the hefty paycheque. So you have to ask…why do it? Why work what can sometimes be eighty hours a week, at a job that takes you away from for weeks at a time, working ridiculous shift hours, with high stress and high demands? Ludwick, like many athletes, does it for the addiction and satisfaction of the emotions. “The thrill of having all the adrenaline in your body pulsing through your veins in stressful competitions, where everything is on the line at a very high level (making international teams, winning national and international medals, as examples) is an amazing sensation that I don’t think many people get to experience very often.  In my job I get to feel that sometimes several times a year!  I’m sure some people would rather do anything than feel that amount of adrenaline and stress… but I love it!”

When asked what words of wisdom she can give all of us, she replied…”Just be you.  There isn’t one way to do it.  No matter how awesome your mentors are, you aren’t them.  Take good ideas from them, but be you.  Only you can be the best version of you.”

If you want to read more about inspiring coaches, click here!

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