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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Women Muay Thai Trainers in Canada Kicking Butt Through It All

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Coming off big wins for their fighters, Trisha Sammons and Sandra Bastian are two well-known Muay Thai instructors in Canada. Sammons, residing in Winnipeg and Head Coach at Winnipeg Women’s Kickboxing and Sandra residing in Campbell River coaching athletes on the Island. The road they have both taken to get to this point in their career wasn’t easy. Being a female coach in a heavily dominated sport like Muay Thai has had some of the most intense ups and downs, but these two women are absolute warriors and are paving the way for women in this great sport.

Sandra started kickboxing in Calgary, under the coaching of one of her current day mentor’s Mike Myles. She was an active fighter for 16 years and made it to the World Championships three times. She was fortunate enough to win a silver medal in 2004, a gold medal in 2006, along with the best female fighter of the tournament. In 2008 she took home the bronze medal and went on to compete in the King’s Cup in 2009.

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Trisha started kickboxing at the age of 16, after traditional school sports were no longer feeding her hunger for activity. She climbed to the top of her game fairly quickly as she truly showed no fear in the ring. Two-time Canadian kickboxing champion, Trisha had over 45 fights in the ring – a big number for any fighter, especially in women’s kickboxing and Muay Thai. After having three of her four kids, she opened Winnipeg Women’s Kickboxing in Winnipeg. She has since expanded to have men’s, women’s and kids programming.

Kickboxing gyms can be intimidating. As a new person starting out, walking into any gym can be a struggle for many. Often times there is a lot of ego happening, and when starting a new workout routine we all know how debilitating others attitudes this can be. Trisha opened her gym to give women on all shapes, sizes, ages and goals a place to feel comfortable, to train hard, and to have fun.

Over the years both Sandra and Trisha have experienced major sexism when it comes to their coaching. Sandra remembers when first starting out some athletes didn’t want to listen to or be trained by ‘a girl’ coach. “When I first started teaching guys would look at me like I had 3 heads. You could tell they thought I didn’t know what I was doing. I got lots of comments like “ You’re a girl…what do you know “ My first fight some guy told me that I was to pretty to fight. My ex-husband told me that I better not get hit in the face. Sad truth is, sexism will always be around. I now just shake my head at the guys who don’t listen to me and them laugh when the guys that did listen to me kick the crap out of them,” says Bastian.

It hasn’t been an easy road for Trisha either. Other trainers online bullying her and her gym because they ‘are a bunch of girls’, and stating that her male fighters don’t stand a chance because they’re going to fight like a girl. If either of these two women showcase what ‘fight like a girl’ means…I’m on their side. These two women are tough. They are mentally and physically incredibly strong. They don’t take the insults to heart, rather they turn it into fire that keeps them going. Give up? Not an option. These women are fighters, warriors and absolute role models.

I asked Sandra why she does what she does. And her answer was, “Because what else is there? This sport has given me so much in life the least I can do is give back.” And the way that she trains both herself and her athletes, this is no surprise.

Right now Sandra runs a bootcamp four times a week, teaches a fighters class three times a week (which she does with her students), runs twice a week and has a strength program 3 times a week. In addition, she does kickboxing classes four times per week taught by another instructor. And just when you think ‘how does she do all of that’ she adds in that she has recently started a SHEspars group, that we meets once a month and just spar.

Trisha is no stranger to fitness either. Her gym is open seven days a week, and schedules range from 2 – 3 classes per day. The classes she teaches, which she also participates in, include strength and conditioning training, running, core training and Muay Thai kickboxing. She also has a great relationship with many of the gyms in Winnipeg, so they often get together to spar, especially when any of her fighters have a fight coming up. Watching Trisha spar is pretty remarkable – she sees the opening and the opportunity faster than I have ever experienced. Twenty years of training will do that to you I suppose.

What I find remarkable about both of these women is that they don’t allow the negativity of other peoples opinions take any shape into what they are doing. They work HARD. They train HARD. They fight even HARDER. Every time they have a fighter step into the ring they are proud. They stay so humble with everything they have accomplished, but yet are such role models to so many. Their students, their friends, their family – all see them in such a high place. They are highly respected by those that count. And for those who wish to disrespect their talent and experience, they pay no mind. They are so above it they don’t even see it.

I have always said that kickboxing and swimming are the two best workouts as they both use every muscle in the body. These women not only have overcome the physical challenge of getting punched, kicked, kneed and elbowed while competing, but they have grown their minds to be the best they can be. When they are at that space of giving their everything to the sport and to their students, only then does their day feel complete. They practice what they preach. They are sweating beside their students, they are in their corner come fight time not only physically but mentally as well. They want to see their students succeed – and every time they get into the ring, there is success. It takes a ton of guts to get into the ring. Win or lose, Sandra and Trisha are both succeeding in their sport.

With contact sports becoming more popular amongst girls in Canada, these two women are paving the way for not only future athletes, but future female coaches as well. And if I could pick two women to have in my corner in life, these two would be my first picks.

My Top 10 Items for a Healthy Kitchen

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

1. Turmeric – Turmeric has many benefits to your body and brain. It is anti-inflammatory, anti-oxidant, is good for your heart, and has been shown in some studies to prevent and sometimes even treat cancer. It is also great for your brain as it helps with depression, helps prevent Alzheimer’s, and aids in warding off age-related diseases. I find the taste quite mild, so I put it on everything – toast, eggs, chicken, and in health shakes.

2. Raw Organic Coconut Oil – I am mildly obsessed with this one. It has tremendous benefits to your insides and out. I have used it with various skin issues including sunburns, eczema and cradle cap. I put it all over my body once a week for a deep moisturizing effect, and it does wonders for fine lines in your face. I cook with it constantly, or just eat a tablespoon of it. In terms of internal health, coconut oil is good for your brain, can help your body burn fat, can help prevent infections, and can help improve blood cholesterol levels.

3. Ground Flax Seed – With so many seeds out there to choose from, it can be hard to figure out which one is the best for you. As each of us has different needs and goals, I would suggest incorporating flax, hemp and/or chia seeds into your diet. You can sprinkle them on cereal, into a shake or in your eggs. I personally choose ground flax seed because of it is high in anti-oxidants, has cardiovascular and anti-inflammatory benefits, potential cancer prevention and digestive health promotion.

4. Organic Hemp Oil – Years ago I had issues with allergies that had me focus more on my liver health. A few things were suggested, including organic hemp oil. A tablespoon in the morning really seems to make a difference to keep my allergies in check and provide additional support for overall liver health. In addition, hemp oil is great for your brain, heart, hair, skin and nails, all while supporting the immune system and maintaining hormonal balance.

5. Cayenne Pepper – I love spicy food. The hotter the better! So this one is an easy addition for me. I sprinkle cayenne pepper on my eggs, chicken, roasted veggies – everywhere! Spicy food is a great way to boost your metabolism, and in turn lose weight. What else is great about it? It has antibacterial qualities so can help your body avoid infection, is great for your digestive system, and keeps your blood pressure in check. Pretty terrific for a little spice!

6. Beets – definitely one of my favorite foods. Other than the fact that they are a tasty vegetable, they are really great for you too. The have high immune-system boosting qualities due to their high vitamin C and magnesium content. They can boost your stamina in the gym, fight inflammation, are terrific for your digestive health and have anti-cancer properties. They are a high-sugar vegetable so if you are diabetic, definitely talk with your doctor before consuming too many beets.

7. Raw Organic Apple Cider Vinegar – this one can be a hard one to swallow. Similar to coconut oil, this one is great for you inside and out. It can be used to treat sunburns, acne, and other skin conditions. Drinking this every day can help detoxify your liver, help with weight loss, help balance your body’s pH level, and can help keep candida at bay. It is important to use only raw organic versions. My favorite is Bragg’s Raw Unfiltered Apple Cider Vinegar that you can purchase at most major grocery store chains. Two tablespoons with a full glass of water to dilute it is key.

8. Greens – When grocery shopping, my cart can sometimes be mistaken for a leprechaun. Some of my favorite green veggies are spinach, bok choy, avocado, kale, brussels sprouts, and broccoli. I eat them every single day. If you are worried about not getting your greens in every day, but want to ensure you reap the benefits, there are some terrific supplement options you can try. My two favorites are Green Envy, which is a quick shot in the morning, and Magnum Performance Greens that you mix with water and tastes delicious.

9. Garlic – Garlic has been used for centuries to treat colds and infections. Fresh, raw, crushed garlic is the best way for it to be absorbed by your body. Garlic can reduce blood pressure, lower cholesterol, and reduce your risk of heart disease. Studies have shown it to be good for your brain while fighting off dementia and Alzheimer’s. Other health benefits include being good for your overall bone health, help you live longer, and recently studies have shown it can help with erectile dysfunction. Garlic can be used when cooking vegetables or meat, and to pack some extra flavor when making salad dressings and soups. If you’re getting sick, I would suggest taking 1-2 crushed garlic cloves before bed. It really does help!

10. Berries – Blueberries, cranberries, raspberries, strawberries, blackberries – so many to choose from with tremendous health benefits for each. Berries taste great on their own, or adding them to a shake, yogurt or cereal. Berries are high in antioxidants, vitamin C, are great for your skin and can boost your immune system.

Canadian Female Athletes ROCK!

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Like an aftershock from the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio, our Manitoban women rowers are killing it!  

I, like most sport-minded women in this great country, were overwhelmed with pride by the achievements of our Canadian women at the recent Olympic Games.  What made me even more excited was all of the media covered (although sometimes gender-biased) of the female athletes. So now that the flame has gone out in Rio, I’m trying to continue to shed light on some amazing recent success of female athletes in our own backyard.

For the first time in Canadian rowing history, Manitoba athletes won the Canadian Rowing National Champion trophy, which equates to the Manitoba Rowing Association having the highest percentage of athletes to achieve world gold medal standards. The National Rowing Championships took place in Burnaby, British Columbia September 22 – 25, 2016.

What is so incredible is that this success comes from our “female” athletes.  What’s even more amazing is that the two most decorated athletes have been rowing for less than a year! To me, this shows two things: an overall “physically literate” athlete can have success in nearly any sport and the coaching in the Manitoba program is second to none.   

At only 18 years old and rowing less than a year, Emma Gray took home Women’s Open single scull Silver Medal and a Gold medal in the Women’s U23 and Women’s Junior categories. Rianne Boekhorst, 22 years, who has only been rowing for remarkable 7 months, placed 13th!

Placing 7th was the pair of Casie and Kaelyn Gauthier, 23 and 24 years. This placement was higher than two international crews in the Women’s Open pair.

In the National Canadian Cup, Manitoba won the silver medal and was only .50 seconds short of the gold!

All of the above results are the best Manitoba has ever achieved. In such, this shows that the Manitoba Rowing Association program and structure, led by Head Coach Antony Patterson, is the most efficient in the country. 

Patterson is beyond proud and excited about this success. “To shed some light of the greatness of this achievement by Manitoba Rowers… We achieved these incredible results against Olympic and world gold medalists in the most successful summer Olympic Canadian sport in history.  In my 30 years of international coaching I have come to realize the shear gravity of these accomplishments. I am finding it hard to compare this fantastic result to other results. I believe if this isn’t the best result including my 5 Olympics as a coach it would be a very close second.”

Keep up the incredibly inspiring work women!!!

To learn more about these athletes and other Manitoba Rowers and their accomplishments, please read these:

Check out more of the media coverage Fit Communications was able to secure for Manitoba Rowing here!

Best Booty Workouts

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In the 90’s we wanted no butt. In the 2000’s we wanted a bit more shape. In 2016 it seems that people will go to any lengths to increase the size of their booty. But there is more than just having a great butt than simply aesthetics. It’s actually really important for your body’s overall health and injury prevention. Many North Americans sit all day in front of a computer screen, and when doing so, you turn off your butt muscles. These muscles consist of the glute maximum, glute medius, and glute minimus. There are four major benefits to working out these muscles groups:

  1. Reduced back, knee and hip pain
  2. Increases your body’s overall power to jump, lift, sprint and climb
  3. Can increase your ovulation and stabilize your menstrual cycle
  4. Strong glutes can help ensure proper form during weight training

Now that we know why it is important, here are a few great workout routines you can do anywhere to strengthen all three parts to your glutes:

Workout #1:

Try to do the following routine without a break in between exercises. For added difficulty, add weights:

  • 10 alternating front lunges
  • 20 plie squats
  • 30 sumo squats
  • 30 dead lifts
  • 30 donkey-kicks (left leg)
  • 40 donkey-kick pulses (left leg)
  • 50 pelvic raises
  • 60 pulsing squats
  • 50 pelvic raises
  • 40 donkey-kick pulses (right leg)
  • 30 donkey-kicks (right leg)
  • 30 dead lifts
  • 30 sumo squats
  • 20 plie squats
  • 10 alternating lunges

Workout #2:

Repeat the following routine 2 to 3 times, pending your fitness level. Rest for two minutes in between sets. For added difficulty, try adding weights:

  • 40 alternating back lunges
  • 40 pelvic raises
  • 40 donkey kicks
  • 40 squats
  • 40 jumping lunges (or front lunges)
  • 40 step ups onto a bench

*Source: www.expertrain.com

Workout #3:

Repeat the following routine 2 to 3 times, pending your fitness level. Rest for two minutes in between sets. For added difficulty, try adding weights:

  • 60 pelvic raises
  • 50 donkey kicks (25 each leg)
  • 40 squats (or squat jumps)
  • 30 curtsey lunges (15 each side)
  • 20 deadlifts
  • 10 single leg squats (5 each leg)
  • 1 minute wall sit
  • 30 second lunge holds (30 seconds each side)

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The Clean and Dirty

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I am sad to admit that summer is over. We are settling into fall – back to school, cooler nights and leaves falling. Pretty soon the local farmers’ markets will come to a close for another season. I absolutely LOVE the markets – fresh and local produce, baking, eggs, chicken and meat. I won’t be able to buy organic, non-GMO, local produce from the men and women that care for and cultivate these tasty treasures.

So now what? Living in the prairies, if we want to buy organic and non-GMO produce we will be paying a big price. Unless you have won the lottery, you probably can’t fill your fridge with everything that is organic and not covered in pesticides. We have to make choices.

Luckily, the Environmental Working Group (EWG) has made our winter shopping easier. They have compiled the “Dirty Dozen” and “The Clean Fifteen” for 2016.

The Dirty Dozen consists of the top twelve produce with “most” pesticides – i.e.: the produce on this list should be on your “organic” section of your shopping list. This year the list includes…

  1. Strawberries
  2. Apples
  3. Nectarines
  4. Peaches
  5. Celery
  6. Grapes
  7. Cherries
  8. Spinach
  9. Tomatoes
  10. Sweet bell peppers
  11. Cherry tomatoes
  12. Cucumbers

Some of the EWG findings are shocking – including…

  • More than 98 percent of strawberry samples, peaches, nectarines, and apples tested positive for at least one pesticide residue.
  • A single grape sample and a sweet bell pepper sample contained 15 pesticides.
  • Single samples of strawberries showed 17 different pesticides

EWG’s Clean Fifteen is a list of produce least likely to hold pesticide residues. So the following 15 items don’t necessarily need to be “organic” – you can save some money on the produce on this list…:

  1. Avocados
  2. Sweet corn
  3. Pineapples
  4. Cabbage
  5. Frozen sweet peas
  6. Onions
  7. Asparagus
  8. Mangoes
  9. Papayas
  10. Kiwis
  11. Eggplant
  12. Honeydew melon
  13. Grapefruit
  14. Cantaloupe
  15. Cauliflower.

In case you need some evidence that pesticides on your produce are dangerous to your health, the EWG (and so many more organizations and governmental agencies) have found that “pesticides have been linked to a variety of health problems, including: brain and nervous system toxicity, cancer, hormone disruption, skin, eye and lung irritation and impairment of children’s brain development”

So keep these Dirty Dozen and Clean Fifteen lists in your wallet or screenshotted on your smartphone. You can reference the lists when you are contemplating buying those organic or non-organic strawberries! You may find that when you spend a few extra dollars per package, it is balanced out by not only your non-organic onions but the benefit to your long-term health as well. If you found this blog interesting and helpful in making you and yours healthier, you may be interested in reading some of our other blogs on health and nutrition and signing up for our newsletter here. For more information on EWG – what they do, why they do it and how you can help, check out their website!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Basketball, Synchro and More!

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87% of Canadian medal winners from the 2016 Rio Summer Olympics were women. Let’s be honest – our women KILLED it this year! One of the top six reasons for girls in Winnipeg dropping out of sports by the age of 14 is due to a lack of positive female sport role models. Other reasons include issues with safety and transportation, cost, lack of access or options, social stigma attached to being a girl in sport (think ‘tomboy’) and decreased quality experience. By the Rio showcase, it is apparent that this can be fixed if we put the right energy and resources towards sport.

This tremendous showcase by our Olympic team has provided girls and women across Canada numerous role models in sport to look up to and inspire them to achieve their goals. Whether your dreams are to stand tall on an Olympic podium or to simply try a new activity, there are tons of great options for girls in Winnipeg. In this week’s blog we look at three activities and sports for girls in our city to try.

AthELITEs & Beyond Basketball Program:

AthELITEs and Beyond Camps aim to allow young athletes to benefit from the instruction of skilled university and provincial basketball team players. They will be taught the fundamentals of basketball and play games suited to their age and skill level. Whether the athlete is a beginner or advanced player, AthELITEs and Beyond will challenge them to improve their basketball skills in a fun and energetic learning environment. Two Fall camps are available – September 15 – October 6 and September 11 – October 2. For more information or to register your child, contact Taneesha Greaves at 204.583.2697.

Synchronized Swimming:

Winnipeg Synchro (www.WinnipegSynchro.mb.ca) and Aquatica Synchro Club (www.aquaticasynchro.com) have introductory programs for girls ages 5 and up, including programs for teens new to the sport. A fun, fresh learning environment that combines the creativity of dance, the cardio of swimming and develops strength, flexibility and teamwork. Allison Gervais, one of the Founders of Fit Communications, swam nationally and internationally in synchronized swimming. To this day she is still involved from a judging and volunteer perspective. The sport brought so many incredible things to her life that she has managed to take with her into her present day. From time management skills to team work ability to knowing the value of hard work, this sport brought her tremendous learning and experience.

Fitness Journal for Girls

The Fitness Journal for Girls is aimed at girls ages 5 – 15, which provides girls with coupons/offers on 20 different sport and activities in Winnipeg. From kickboxing to gymnastics to synchronized swimming to basketball, there is something for all girls to try. The Journal allows girls to try new sports and activities they perhaps didn’t know where available to them, all at a free or discount price. It allows girls to join a community of healthy activity, have tons of fun and motivate each other through positive action. There are many activities in the Journal that parents can do with their kids, and many moms have found it to be a great source of bonding for mom and daughter time. It is more than just sports, it’s a movement. More information on this city-wide initiative to get girls more active can be found here – www.FitCommunications.ca/FitnessJournalForGirls

We would love to have you as part of our community! Sign up for our newsletter here and find out about more great health and fitness initiatives happening in Winnipeg.

 

 

 

How to Stay Active Going Back to School

School books with apple on desk

School is back in session! Many, ok likely all of us, parents are relieved that the pressure is off to keep our kids entertained and active. Chances are that your kids, as a part of a camp or not, have been pretty active this summer. Whether it was playing at the park, biking, swimming, soccer or canoeing with friends, they’ve been moving lots to stay healthy.

Now that school has started, what’s your plan to keep that activity level up? Did you know that Health Canada recommends that children need to do 60 minutes of activity per day for optimal health? Did you also know that only 2% of girls and 8% of boys are achieving this number?? This is a shocking statistic!

Don’t fool yourself into thinking that your kids are getting the 60 minutes a day at school or daycare. Gym class is likely only twice per six day cycle and when they do have the class, it will at most be 20 minutes of continuous activity. Although recess totals 60 minutes a day, what are the chances that your kids are sweating it out at all recesses? Could they be that kid trying to catch that frog they saw at the end of the yard or hitting a stick against a tree or sitting chatting about Shopkins, YouTube or which Marvel character rules the roost? Or they may be learning the latest hand shake or “stella ola ola.”  Chances are they aren’t running amok for even 20 minutes, let alone 60.

I know that in my house, I have things planned for the kids to stay active. There is, of course, the fear that you are over-scheduling your kids with after-school classes and activities. However, I would argue that if the kids aren’t doing something scheduled that is active, they will be sedentary – vegging out on their iPad, TVs, smartphones or video games. So one hour of activity a day is not going to be interfering with incredibly important intellectual developmental progress! In fact, kids that are involved in sports will gain much more than being fit. They will do better in school, learn time-management, and build confidence.

I am sure by now you are thinking that scheduling all of these activities must cost a fortune. To be honest, yes – some classes and activities do cost a big chunk of change. However, there are so many opportunities for free activities that you can take advantage of. Whether you only do free activities or add them as a compliment to your weekly fitness schedule, there are many quality and fun programs available.  Here are some examples of some good ones:

Free Swims: There are free swims at every City of Winnipeg swimming pool. Have a look online or call 311 to see when your local pool hosts theirs. Take advantage of Tuesday free swim right after school from 3:30-5:00 pm at Pan Am.

Free Skate: There is a free skate every day of the week at various City of Winnipeg facilities. No skates? Buy used skates! Try looking online on a buy and sell website, Play It Again Sports or garage sales!

Go for a walk or a run with your kids. It’s free and there is no scheduling required. Just get up and go! Not only will this be good exercise, but it will be an opportunity for you to connect and actually “talk” with your kids. Just make sure you leave your smart phone at home!

Go for a bike ride – until it snows! Same as the walk – no advanced preparation required! Ensure you are properly equipped with safety gear. i.e.: helmets and reflectors and bright clothing.

Fitness Journal for Girls – The Journal has loads of discounts for year-long or term sessions for new participants. There are also lots of free classes to take advantage of. Try a sport that you or your girl may not have considered. There are free boxing and CrossFit workouts, free basketball sessions, 50% off snow tubing, free teen fitness classes or kickboxing workouts, BOGO diving and many more discounts! You can get your pass here – they are BOGO this week too!

Take advantage of first FREE classes – do a mother/son, father/daughter or cross fit, kickboxing, or yoga! Not only will it be free, but it will be a fabulous way to spend quality time with your kids! If you both love it, you can sign up for a session! Kids see their parents as role models for life. It is a proven fact that if a parent has an active, fit lifestyle then their children are more likely to adopt the same habits for life.

Faith groups are “getting it” too. Youth for Christ on King Street has numerous of Free – $1 and $2 single sessions and $10/year activities for kids including drop in skateboarding, fitness programs and soccer. Amazing value!

School activities – There are a slew of before school, lunch break or after school activities to sign up for. Most are free for the kids that go to the school. Think gymnastics club, Zumba, running club, cross-country skiing, etc…

Finally, there are many associations and gyms that have special pricing for kids and families that want to join but may be in financially difficult positions. Best bet is to simply ask your local facility to see if they have such offers.

So if you haven’t book or scheduled your kids to the max this fall, don’t worry. As you can see, there are so many activities you can take advantage of so that your kids (and you too!) can get fit and make this the best and healthiest school year ever!

 

 

 

 

Top Ten Food Swaps for Healthy Living

Grocery

When we think about eating healthier and more nutritionally dense food, often people think about it being restrictive. They think about all the massive changes they need to make to their current eating habits, and all the things they can no longer enjoy. There needs to be a major shift in mentality if you truly want your food habits to become healthy long-term. You need to think about all of the things you are adding to your body to nourish and care for your cells. You need to think about how great you will feel from eating healthy – increased energy, better mood, and slimmer waistline. I would suggest that for anyone who wants to put their nutrition at the forefront, to do away with the word ‘diet’, as this constitutes a concept of it being temporary and restrictive. Rather, change the wording and mentality to eating healthy – because your body deserves it.

When first starting out, there are some simple changes you can do that can make a huge difference. Here is my list of ten food swaps to get your nutrition working for you today!

  1. Ditch the Soda. Both regular and diet soda can wreak havoc on your health. Soda is loaded with sugar or aspartame, phosphoric acid and caffeine all having various adverse health effects. Drinking soda can lead to obesity, is bad for your teeth, and can lead to dehydration. Swap it for infused water, which is simply water with fruit, lemons and/or herbs such as peppermint or cilantro. There are tons of recipes online for different flavors, or just put your favorite berries or citrus flavors in your water bottle.
  2. Ditch the Flavor Shots in Your Water. Staying hydrated throughout the day is very important, especially in the summer. But adding a quick squeeze of high sugar or aspartame-loaded flavor combats the goodness of the water. Instead, opt for infused fruit water or consider adding a splash of chlorophyll, apple cider vinegar or kombucha. All of these additions have different health benefits and can be purchased at your favorite health food store.
  3. Buy Ready to Eat Veggies. Do you ever throw out vegetables that you haven’t got around to eating? If you’re anything like me, this drives you nuts! It is literally throwing money into the garbage. Although ready to eat veggies (pre-cut, pre-washed) are slightly more expensive, if you eat them instead of tossing them in the trash, it ends up working out. With busy schedules sometimes we don’t have time for a lot of food preparation, so if you can grab some carrots or broccoli that are ready to go, you may tend to eat more of them.
  4. Swap Your Dips. Who doesn’t love a great dip with their snacks? These are often loaded with unwanted calories, sugar and bad fats. But the idea of dry broccoli is definitely not winning me over. Instead, try using salsa or hummus. If you really have a craving for something creamier, swap your sour cream for Greek yogurt.
  5. Swap the Whites for Browns. This one is huge! If you are currently eating white rice, white bread, white pasta, white flour, crackers, cereal…its time has come to an end! Loaded with sugar, these trigger a release of insulin and an hour or two later your hunger returns. This can lead to diabetes, obesity and issues with your heart health. Instead opt for whole grain foods such as whole grain bread, pasta, flour and cereal.
  6. Swap Your Cooking Oils. Sometimes it’s not just about what you’re eating but what you’re cooking it in. If you are currently using margarine or any type of vegetable oil (canola, soybean, corn, sunflower, safflower, peanut oils) it is time for change! Swap any of these out for either raw organic coconut oil or extra virgin olive oil.
  7. Swap Your Flavored Yogurt. Often flavored yogurt is full of sugar in the fruit mixture at the bottom. Instead, opt for plain yogurt and mix in your own fresh fruit. Adding blueberries, raspberries or even banana brings the same amount of delicious flavor and has the nutritional benefits of fresh fruit, without the same sugar content.
  8. Swap Out the Creamy Soup – I love soup! In fact I could probably have it every day and never get bored. Processed soups are often loaded with sodium and items I have never heard of in the ingredient list (I mean really, what is ‘monosodium glutamate’ anyway?). If you are having soup, try swapping out cream-based soups for tomato-based or broth soup. Making soups at home is a great way to bring a healthier soup to the dinner table.
  9. Swap Out Your Sandwich Meat. I gave up processed deli meats a few years ago when learning about the adverse health issues that have been studied on the effects of eating this food long-term. Studies have shows eating deli meats can cause cardiovascular issues and an increase risk for certain types of cancer. Swap out your bologna, pepperoni and turkey breast for pieces of meat from the bone such as chicken or turkey.
  10. Swap Out Regular Ground Beef. An easy switch when strolling through the meat aisle is choosing extra lean ground beef opposed to regular ground beef. If beef is not on your menu, try extra lean ground chicken or turkey.

Remember it is not about denying yourself the things you love, rather making slight adjustments and adding healthy and nutritionally dense food to your plate.