This Not That – For Kids

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

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

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

 

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

2 – Serve veggies with dip

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

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

Cookies, Cakes, Granola Bars,

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

(all packed with sugar and without nutrients)

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

Sport Drinks

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

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

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

If you found this information useful, have a look at some of our other blogs on nutrition and health and subscribe to our newsletter!

Immunity Health – What You Need To Know

Winnipeg is experiencing one of the worst flu seasons in over two decades. A strong immune system can play a detrimental role in keeping the flu at bay. I often make myself a bit of a guinea pig to test the books and articles I read on health, and immunity is no exception.

To begin, why is the immune system is important? In short, it is the key to maintaining overall good health. The healthier your immune system is, the better chance you have at warding off illness and toxins. The immune system is the defense force against invaders from both outside and inside the body that can cause disease or death if not stopped. Personally, I feel that the key to a long, healthy life is a strong and clean digestive system and immune system.

According to the book “The Immune System Cure” by Lorna Vanderhaeghe and Patrick Bouic, (which I would highly recommend reading) there are ten important nutritional supplements to boost your immune system. They are:

  • Vitamin A
  • Vitamin B6
  • Vitamin C
  • Vitamin E
  • Magnesium
  • Selenium
  • Zinc
  • Coenzyme Q10
  • Reduced L-glutathione
  • DHEA

Many of the above should be found in a high quality multi-vitamin. It is really important to choose a multi-vitamin that is absorbed well by your cells. Cheaper multi’s won’t be absorbed and you will just end up peeing out the nutrients.

In my personal regime to keep my immune system strong, I include the above, but have also found a few other really important pieces to the game. First, are phytonutrients and phytosterols. These are basically immune system boosters. You can get these in your food by eating organic vegetables, fruit, seeds and nuts. If your daily nutrition regime isn’t up to par, there are two things I would strongly recommend. First, a supplement called Immuno-First by Health First. You can purchase this online or at most health food stores. The second recommendation I have is to add a greens supplement to your day. I personally take PhD Pharma Greens Whole Food & Cleansing Herb Blend. I mix this with water at the gym, which gives me added energy while working out, is a natural cleanser for your cells, and an immunity booster.

Next, part of my morning ritual is a few spoonfuls of goodness. I take a liquid iron supplement by a brand called Lorna Vanderhaeghe (which by the way, tastes like caramel sauce – it’s delicious!), Lily of the Desert Aloe Vera Gel (antioxidant and overall good health maintenance), Progressive High Potency Fish Oil, and Organic Hemp Oil by Manitoba Harvest. I know this might sound high maintenance, but it takes less than one minute to do and I feel terrific. All in all, worth the 60 seconds.

I would also suggest taking a probiotic. These good bacteria help promote both a healthy digestive system and immune system. It is important to switch up your probiotic though – your body will get used to the good bacteria and it will start to become less effective. So be sure to switch up the brand or particular one you are taking every couple of months. Another great way to add good bacteria to your body is through organic, raw, fermented Kombucha. Kombucha improves alkalinity, digestion and detoxifies and maintains a healthy intestinal tract. There are lots of great options out to there choose from.

When I feel myself coming down with something, the first thing I do is double my dose of my multi-vitamin, vitamin D and vitamin C. This seems to work for me. We have all heard that vitamin C can chase a cold away, but in fact, once you have a cold vitamin C can’t help you. That said there have been many studies surrounding the concept of high-dosing vitamin C. In W. Gifford-Jones MD’s book “90+ How I Got There!” he talks about high dosing vitamin C and lysine, and their potential to prevent and help with various diseases from the common cold to cancer.  Jones takes 10,000 mgs of vitamin C and 5000 mgs of lysine every day. I take about a quarter of that via supplements, plus what I get from my food, which is much higher than most people. The average multi-vitamin only has about 100 mgs of vitamin C. Definitely worth some personal research and speaking with your health practitioner if this is something you are interested in.

Then there is food! I touched briefly on the idea of fruit, vegetables, seeds and nuts earlier, but there are also some great flavors to add to the mix to help with your immune system boost. First is garlic. Garlic has potent healing properties due to its antifungal, antiviral, anti-inflammatory, anti-cancer and anti-bacterial properties. Onions are right behind garlic with their immune system help. Fresh is best when it comes to these two.

Avocado and tomato are also high up on the list of immune system boosting foods. Tomato is absorbed best when eaten with a little bit of oil. Try flaxseed or olive oil with a salad for a great, healthy tasting snack.

Then there is the berry family. Berries, including blueberries, raspberries, cranberries and strawberries are packed with vitamin C and phytonutrients. Grapes are also a great fruit choice as they are full of antioxidants and resveratrol that has shown in some studies to have anti-cancer and anti-aging properties.

Last but not least I have to promote the idea of flushing it out. Clean water and green tea can be your best friend when it comes to immunity health. And do you know what is the worst thing that you can do? Eat sugar! When we eat sugar our immune system becomes upset, which can lead to numerous health issues including diabetes, cancer, obesity, heart disease and many more. Everyone loves a sweet once in a while including me, but try to keep the sugar intake to a minimum, especially when you’re sick.

At Home Workouts For YOU

The recent cold snap hitting Canadians is making it hard for many to get motivated to do much of anything that includes leaving the house. Bundling up, starting the car, and driving to the gym is definitely a hard undertaking when home is so warm and cozy. But as they say, summer bodies are made in the winter, so we don’t want to stop working out every time the temperature drops. As Canadians we are hardy and don’t let a wind chill bring us down. But on those days that you just can’t seem to muster up the love for the gym, there are plenty of exercise options you can do at home with zero equipment.

As with any new workout regime, be sure to consult with your doctor or health care provider before starting out. You don’t need a home gym to get your heart pumping at home. What you will need is some music you love, a bottle of water, workout gear including proper footwear, and a sturdy chair. I would suggest doing the workout on a carpeted space, or have a mat close by for the abdominal portion of the workout. This workout is a full body workout, and should be used on days you don’t feel like your normal routine.

Warm Up:

Before you get started on any exercise routine, it is important to do a 5 – 7 minute warm up to get your blood flowing.

Walking on the spot with your knees up – one minute

Jumping Jacks – one minute

Squats – one minute

Alternating lunges – one minute

Jogging on the spot – one minute

Workout:

Now that you are warmed up, and your music is pumping, you’re ready to workout. Be sure to take water breaks as often as you need them, and listen to your body. If something doesn’t feel right, don’t do it. This is supposed to be fun and good for you!

Because this workout is designed to give you a full body workout, we are going to alternate between upper body and lower body movements.

Squat – Push-up Combo: Do three sets of 20 squats. In between each set of squats, do 10 push-ups. If you cannot do pushups on the ground just yet, head over to the wall and do them there. Lower your body as close to the wall as you feel comfortable. Do not do push-ups with your knees on the ground. This will not help you achieve your goal of doing regular push-ups, but the wall option will.

Lunge – Crunch Combo: Do three sets of alternating forward lunges, for a total of ten each side. In between each set, head to the floor or your mat and do twenty forward crunches. Be sure to keep your elbows to the side each time you do a crunch.

Step-up and Dip Combo: Step up alternating which foot is first to go up onto your chair. This can also be done on a stair if the chair seems too high. Do a total of ten with each foot, for three sets. In between each set head to the edge of your chair or stair, with your hands gripping the front edge. Slowly lower your body down by bending at the elbow, and having your butt get as close to the floor as possible. Your legs should be straight out in front of you. Rise up. Repeat this dip exercise ten times.

Side Lunge – Side Crunch Combo: Do three sets of side lunges, concentrating on putting your butt back and keeping your back straight. Complete ten reps on each side. In between each set lie on your mat like you would for regular crunches. Keeping your elbows to the side, bring your right elbow to your left knee, and repeat 10 times. Then bring your left elbow to your right knee and repeat 10 times.

Wall-sit – Shoulder Pulse Combo: Head to the wall and sit with your back against the wall in an imaginary chair. The goal is to sit for one minute, three times. When first starting out, try for 20 seconds each time and gradually increase your time at the wall.

Shoulder pulses are also a timed exercise. Stand straight with your arms out to the side like the shape of a T, with your palms facing upward. Do slight pulses up, for your palms to go towards the ceiling. This is a slight movement, perhaps half an inch. Move to the beat of the music, for one minute. This is a tough one, even though it sounds so easy! When first starting out, start with 20-second increments each time and gradually make your way up to 60 seconds.

Calf-raises – Plank Combo: With your feet planted on the ground, feel free to hold the wall for balance, rise onto your tippy toes. Slowly lower down, without ever having your heels touch the ground. A slight hover, approximately the size of a grape. Rise up as high as you can for three sets of twenty. In between each set head back to your mat for plank. This exercise can be done with your hands firmly planted on the ground, like you are going to do a push-up, or from your forearms. Simply stay in the position, with your hips level with your body in a straight line for one full minute. You will feel this exercise in your abdominal muscles and shoulders mostly.

Cool Down:

Hopefully you managed to work up a sweat and get your heart pumping. Having an active rest at the end of this routine is important. It is easy to flop onto the couch, but that is not what is best. A gentle walk on the spot while sipping on your water, or perhaps up and down the stairs a few times until your heart beat slows down. Be sure to stretch your muscles at the end of every workout to help avoid stiffness and injury.

Top 14 Foods I Would Never Eat

I am a firm believer in the idea of the 80-20 rule when it comes to your nutritional health. Meaning, 80% of what you put into your body should be nutritionally dense, healthy food, which leaves room for 20% to be ‘other’. The more I learn about nutrition, and how it effects everything from disease prevention, our moods and energy levels, not to mention our waistline, I find myself getting closer to a 90-10 rule. At Fit Communications we have blogged often about super foods, how to have a healthy kitchen, food swaps for a healthy kitchen, and so this week we wanted to take a look at the foods we would never, EVER eat. Everyone has different goals and ways of getting there, so we hope this article is an eye-opener to a healthier direction for you.

1. Fast food burgers – I don’t eat red meat. I personally feel it is bad for your blood. It absolutely slows down my digestive system and makes me feel lethargic. The quality of the meat that is used is often really low and full of fillers when buying it from fast food chains (with the exception of A&W). This is something that tops the list of no go for me.

2. Fake cheese – this would include ‘Cheez Whiz’ or Cheese in a Can. It is a completely processed food with sometimes ZERO actual dairy products within. I try to avoid chemicals in my life – whether it be with food, house hold cleaners, skin care…natural is the way to health for me.

3. Pop – I cut out pop a few years ago. I wasn’t really a heavy pop drinker, but the odd one would ‘pop’ in every once in a while. It has literally zero goodness in it for you. And if you think ‘diet’ drinks are okay, think again. They are made with ingredients that actually have you craving more sugar. Moreover, they rot your teeth and your digestive system. I want no part of that.

4. Sandwich meat – “The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) has classified processed meat as a carcinogen, something that causes cancer. And it has classified red meat as a probable carcinogen, something that probably causes cancer. IARC is the cancer agency of the World Health Organization.” That’s enough for me to say no thanks! Source: Cancer.Org

5. White bread – I honestly don’t like the taste of it. I didn’t eat white bread as a kid, as whole grain bread tasted better to me. And I also feel I have trained by taste buds over the years to enjoy health food over garbage. Traditional white bread (think WonderBread) doesn’t have one ingredient that brings anything good to your body. With so many other healthy options out there, an easy pass for me.

6. Sweetener – A good friend of mine who happens to be an incredible Health Coach, once looked at me as I emptied a sweetener pack into my coffee and said “You would be better off with white sugar. That is white sugar covered in chemicals to get the calories out.” Not exactly a statement with an appetizing vibe! When you start to understand WHAT your food is, and WHERE it comes from, some decisions are easier than others. That was the last coffee with sweetener I ever drank.

7. Pop rockets – What even is this? Let’s think about this – it’s a sugary candy that makes a popping sound and feeling on your tongue when it is mixed with your saliva. What do you think that is does on its way down through your digestive system? Don’t you want your digestive system to be clean and working as efficiently and effectively as possible? If so, this should be on your hit list too.

8. Microwave dinners, including pizza pops – A year ago I decided to try living microwave free for one month. Research has not yet proven that microwaves cause cancer or any other direct issue with the human body, but I personally don’t trust the idea of sending waves into your food and that it wouldn’t cause any change to your food’s make-up, and therefore be an issue within your body. Moreover, the ingredients of many microwaveable foods tend to be highly processed, lots of salt, and words I can barely read let alone understand what they really are. When grocery shopping for packaged goods, if there are ingredients that I don’t know what they are, I put it back on the shelf. I simply want to know exactly what I am eating. If someone offered you a plate of maltrodextrin, disodium inosinate, xantham gum and sunflower oil, would you eat it? Because that is what is in many frozen dinners…check the ingredients!

9. Microwave popcorn – Although popcorn can be a healthy snack, it can also be dangerous to your health, even exposing you to cancer-causing chemicals. For all the nitty gritty details and facts, check out this link.

10. Canned meat, for example spam – I am not a big meat eater. I eat seafood and chicken, and that’s about it. As mentioned above, I don’t personally think it is good for your blood, your digestive system or disease prevention. And really…what IS spam?? The major ingredients are:

• Pork ‘with ham meat added’ (whatever the hell that means)
• Salt
• Water
• Potato starch
• Sugar
• Sodium nitrate

And just so you know, the sodium levels are over half of what your daily intake should be. And if that’s not enough to get you off this can-o-meat, check out this link to see how it’s made. Yuck!

11. Orange ‘drink’ (versus orange juice) – this could easily fall under the category of ‘sugary beverages’…either way, I’m not into any of them. If a beverage is sugar packets, add water, stir and voila…it’s not for me. I’d rather get my calories from something tastier. I would like to point out at this point that I am NOT a calorie counter. The premise for the amount of food I take it is answered by asking myself two questions. First, am I hungry? Second, is this a nutritionally dense food choice? If I say yes to both, I eat it.

12. Mozzarella sticks – The idea of eating a basket of mozza sticks hurts my stomach. I have a sensitive stomach to crap what can I say! I will be either running to the toilet right away or be ‘bunged up’ for a day or two when I eat items on this list. No exception here.

13. Processed baked goods with a long shelf life – eating a fresh piece of pastry, cake or pie is amazing. You should definitely indulge in your favorites. But quality here is key. If you have a home-made torte, it’s not staying good for long. A couple of days in the fridge max until things just aren’t quite looking, or smelling, right. Baked goods such as Twinkies or brownies at your local convenience store, that have a six month or longer shelf life should make you worry. Why is this not going bad? If you made it in your home kitchen it would be bad after 2 – 3 days! It is covered with chemicals to keep it from going bad faster. Is that really something you want to be eating?

14. Convenience Store hot dogs or a hot dog on a stick – My first question is how long have those things been sitting on the warmer? And even if all food safety measures are being fulfilled, what is INSIDE that dog that you’re about to get into? Many are packed with pork and preservatives – and not with the ‘high end’ of the pork. It’s the bottom on the barrel, we were going to throw it out levels of meat that are squished into a casing and served. There are definitely healthier meat options for hot dogs – please choose wisely!

Healthy Lunch Ideas for Kids

It’s back to school time for kids, which means back to schedules for parents. Organizing backpacks, after school activities, school supply shopping and of course – making lunches. With so many allergies in today’s classroom, packing a peanut butter and jelly sandwich or tuna wrap is a definite no go. It can have parents feeling out of ideas quickly. As a parent, you want to ensure you are sending your kids to school with healthy lunches, that are easy to prepare the night before or morning of, and perhaps most importantly – lunches your kids are going to actually eat.

Gone are the days of picking up a ‘ready-to-eat’ package lunch for your kids. They are loaded with sodium, sugar and simply aren’t enough nutrient dense calories to keep them full all day. If you are a working parent, I understand the struggle with time. You just don’t have enough time to cook, make and bake homemade everything. Who does really? But that doesn’t mean your kids nutrition should take the back burner. Here are five ideas on how to make delicious, healthy lunches your kids will be sure to enjoy.

  1. Leftovers – if they liked it at dinner, they’ll like it at lunch. My sister, the super-hero mom of three, ensures that every lunch and dinner meal has vegetables in it. Be it raw veggies and dip, steamed broccoli, honey carrots or roasted vegetables, her kids love them. Finding a vegetable or two that your kids enjoy is the key to this working. Don’t be scared to send them with the same thing every day – if they like it and it’s healthy, that is what counts. I think I ate the same lunch every single day in twelve years of grade school and never got bored. Taking them grocery shopping (which yes I know, can be a nightmare at times) may help them understand the variety of vegetables they can choose from. Making it a game by having them find and pick out veggies for the cart is a great way to make them feel part of the process. And when they feel like part of the process, they are more likely to eat what you are making.
  2. Wraps – there are lots of options with what to put inside these. I would suggest choosing a whole grain wrap that typically comes in smaller sizes for kids. Dice up some chicken, cheese, lettuce, tomatoes, red peppers – whatever they like. Add brown rice or rice noodles from last night’s dinner, and for condiments try mustard or hummus for a healthy dash of extra flavor. Superhealthykids.com has a great article on top ten healthy wrap ideas for kids.
  3. Pita Pockets – the mini-pita pockets are great for kids’ lunches. Use cream cheese as a base, and add fresh cucumber and tomato. This takes less than 60 seconds to prepare and are delicious.
  4. Pita, Hummus and Veggies – kids love to dip – have you seen them eat fries and ketchup? Here’s a healthy spin on it. Pack them a bento box with healthy options like hummus, pita and veggies.
  5. Pasta – assuming your kids classroom has a microwave, send them with whole wheat pasta and marinara sauce. Not only is this healthy, but it’s a cost effective meal that can feed your whole family.

When it comes to snacks, most schools now encourage you to pack healthy snacks – they don’t want to see kids coming with a chocolate bar and a bag of chips to help them get through the day. They too understand the value of nutrition and how it can affect learning and energy levels. Instead, try packing fruit, cheese and crackers or veggies and dip. I loved having something sweet as a kid in my lunch, so if your kids do too, try to provide them with homemade goodies over processed treats.

Lastly, when it comes to packing lunches, be mindful of what you are packing them in. Plastic sandwich bags and brown paper bags that are thrown out every day are terrible for our environment, and the cost adds up quickly. Instead, send lunches in re-usable containers like Tupperware, and pack it all in a re-usable, washable lunch kit.

Top 7 Reasons to Have a Healthy Lifestyle

This past weekend I had the opportunity to attend the CanFitPro World Expo with one of our Fit Communications clients. He was looking to connect with the best of the best in fitness trainers for his business, so what better place than to head to Toronto for the biggest show of its kind in Canada.

We honestly didn’t know what to expect in terms of who was really going to be there, what they would be looking for, and what was going to happen over the course of the six day expo. But I was truly blown away by it all. There were sessions for trainers to learn new classes, new techniques, about new equipment and nutrition. There were classes ran by some of the biggest names in the fitness industry like Tony Horton, The Brutes and Jillian Michaels. Walking the aisles of the expo you would see all shapes and sizes of people, from all walks of life, with all different fitness goals in mind. It got me thinking more and more about what motivates me to live a healthy life. In this week’s blog, I wanted to give my top seven reasons why I live a healthy lifestyle, with hopes that one or two will inspire you to live the same.

  1. There is a saying in yoga, ‘if you can, you must’. While at first I was taken back by this sentiment, I grew to love it. Perhaps I am putting my own spin on things, but my take is that if your body is able – you are able to run, walk, jump, swim, dance, kick – then do it. Do it as well as you can. Do it because your body is able. Do you know how many people wish they could that can’t? Maybe they are in a wheelchair, or perhaps dealing with an injury, or maybe just their age has limited them on what they can do. They WISH they could run, walk, jump, swim, dance and kick. Do it because you CAN.
  2. The healthier I am, the more energy I have. This sounds obvious, but how often do we hear people say the reason they don’t go to the gym is because they don’t have the energy? Or perhaps the reason they eat an unhealthy diet it because they don’t have the energy to cook? The cleaner I eat and the more consistent I am with my workouts, the more energy I have. This past weekend I spent with Sharon Delbridge who is over the age of 50 and has more energy than any human I have ever met. She teaches about five classes a day and is an absolute energizer bunny all the time. Healthy moves energize you!
  3. I set a goal in my twenties to live into my 100’s. I read a lot about centenarians and find their habits to be quite fascinating. Two things they always recommend is a lot of sleep and staying active. Maybe 100 isn’t for you, but I bet you want to live as long as possible in a healthy body. Treat your body right and you will.
  4. It’s fun! Running for an hour on a treadmill is my personal version of hell. Definitely not my thing! Instead, I do activities that I find enjoyable and fun so that it doesn’t seem like work to do it. Whether I am walking my dog, lifting weights, hitting pads at kickboxing or stretching it out at yoga, I truly enjoy it. Many activities I do solo, but I also have a few terrific friends that like to try new activities. Instead of doing the typical hang out sessions of drinks on a patio, we head to a fitness class, get sweaty, have fun and enjoy life. It really is what you make of it.
  5. Physical appearance. I can’t say I mind the benefit of the way it makes my body look. Of course it is more than that, but it sure is a terrific bonus. When you look good, you feel good. I can be proud of my body at the age of 40 in a bathing suit, and am not shy about it. I work hard at the gym and am mindful and consistent with my healthy nutrition. Whether you have a six pack at forty or not, you should be happy with the way you look when you look at yourself in the mirror. And that is different for everyone. Just be happy with where you are. It’s not a competition.
  6. I honestly think the biggest reason for me working out and eating healthy is because of the benefits to my mental health. When my mom was diagnosed with cancer, it was the hardest time of my life. I maintained going to the gym every single day. I had to. It was the only place for 45 minutes that I could feel good. Sometimes I left there and cried my eyes out in the parking lot, but for 45 minutes I was doing something positive. It keeps my stress levels low and my happiness high. No matter what is happening in my life, when I finish a workout I always feel better about things and have a clear sense of the best next steps.
  7. To set a good example for the people in my life. Practice what you preach I suppose. Whether it is the little girls in my family, a close friend or even just a social media friend, I want to help inspire people to live their best lives. Part of that is to exercise, eat nutritionally dense food, sleep lots and laugh more. I love hearing that something I posted on social media or said in a conversation with a girlfriend inspired them to make a healthy life choice. Be the change you want to see – and I want to see everyone living their healthiest self.

What is your favorite reason for living a healthy life? Comment below and help those in your life stay motivated to live their best and healthiest life!

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

How to Eat Healthy During Summer BBQ Season

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

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

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Fitness Journal for Girls SUMMER Challenges!

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

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

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

Here are the weekly challenges:

Week 1 – July 3 – 9:

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

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

Week 2 – July 10 – 16:

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

Week 3 – July 17 – 23:

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

Week 4 – July 24 – 30:

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

Week 5 – July 31 – August 6:

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

Week 6 – August 7 – 13:

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

Week 7 – August 14 – 20:

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

Week 8 – August 21 – 27:

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

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

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

We hope to see you out this summer!

 

 

 

 

 

Top 10 Items for a Healthy Kitchen

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

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

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

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