Ladies – Are We Hurting Our Girls?

Ladies. We have a problem. A BIG problem. We are unhappy with our bodies. And not just a little bit. And not just a few of us. 91% of women have an ‘I hate my body’ moment every single day. And if we hate our bodies that much, how dare we tell the little girls in our lives to love their bodies if we can’t do it ourselves. And could you imagine hearing an eight year old say ‘I hate my body’? Neither can I. But it’s happening. Every day. In every city. In almost every home.

Let’s be honest. Are you dieting right now? Have you put yourself on a ‘diet’ at all in 2017? If you are trying to lose weight to be a healthier version of you, good for you. That’s awesome. But the reality of it is that most women are dieting to achieve their ‘ideal body shape’. However unfortunately, only 5% of women naturally possess the body types we see in the media. So if that’s your goal, let’s start over.

You’re eating healthy and exercising often as part of a healthy lifestyle, NOT a diet. Now here’s my next question. Who knows that you’re on this kick? If you phrase it in ways such as ‘I’m eating healthier for more energy’ or ‘I’m heading to the gym for my heart health’, you’re doing terrific. But if you’re using phrases like ‘no cake for me…it’s bathing suit season!’ or ‘I’m taking my fat ass to the gym so I can fit into my clothes again’, then you are not only doing it for the wrong reasons, but you are bound to fail. The number one reason you should be living a healthy lifestyle over being on a diet is because you LOVE your body not because you HATE it.

So who’s hearing you? I have three little nieces who I would walk on fire for just for a hug. I feel I play a very important role in all of their lives for a host of different reasons. Do I think my body is perfect? Nope. But I sure wouldn’t dare talk about my imperfections or my desire to change anything about my body around them. They look up to me. If they hear me say ‘I feel fat’ or ‘I wish I could have a more toned ______’ they would then start to look at their own bodies as anything but perfect. They mirror what they see and what they hear. I would die if I heard any of them say they feel fat.

Here’s the thing about body image. It’s all in your head. It’s the way we perceive our own bodies and the way we ASSUME others perceive us. It has to do with our emotions, perception, imagination, and it is ever-changing. Where you are in your menstrual cycle, what you have been eating, what your mood is like, are all factors that relate to our body image.

Have you ever woken up in the morning and looked in the mirror and thought, ‘UGH!’? But then two days later you look in the mirror and think you look super good? Well your body didn’t body swap in 48 hours. One day you love it, one day you don’t. Unfortunately you’re not alone in this thinking. Almost ALL of us do it. And I bet that there is someone out there that thinks your body is a ten out of ten. Or there’s a woman out there that would give her left arm for a butt like yours.

How do we make it better?

I think the first step is being conscious of the fact that body image is not the reality of how your body looks. We need to start to love our bodies – the rolls, the scars, the stretch marks, the short legs, the small boobs – all of it. And really love it. Know that what makes your body unique is sexy AF. It’s not about perfection. There’s no such thing. I bet you Victoria Secret models have days that they wake up and wish they didn’t have the thighs they do too and as crazy as that sounds, it’s true.

Second, know the signs of having an eating disorder. “Eating disorders are not just about food. They are often a way to cope with difficult problems or regain a sense of control. They are complicated illnesses that affect a person’s sense of identity, worth, and self-esteem.” (Source: Canadian Mental Health Association).

This is a SERIOUS problem for women in our country. We need to help each other and support one another when it comes to eating disorders. When you see a woman who is obsessively working out or dieting to an unhealthy level, or simply not having a positive relationship with food, exercise and her body, don’t shame her. ‘She’s sooo skinny’ isn’t a helpful statement. It’s body shaming. Instead, reach out and provide assistance. The Canadian Mental Health Association is a great starting point for more information here.

Next, and a bit lighter…find that picture that you look amazing in. Put it in your bathroom, on your fridge, as your screen saver or on your mirror. Remember every time you look at it that THAT is how you look all the time! Even on the days you haven’t had time to have a shower, get out of your sweats or even brush your hair, that woman is still the same woman! And don’t be ashamed to say ‘Daaaaaaamn I look good’ way more often! It’s infectious. There will be haters out there who say you are cocky or full of yourself or whatever else they can come up with. But who cares? Let them think that you loving yourself is cocky. In fact, give it a little giggle. Because YOU need to be with YOU every single second of every single day.

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Sources: www.DoSomething.org and www.about-face.org

 

Girls Empowerment Event

On June 4, 2017 we are putting on the Girls Empowerment Event, the first of its kind in Winnipeg. We have partnered with Paige Zaporzan, Holistic Health Coach who specializes in working with female athletes. To say that the three of us are a match made in heaven is an understatement! Our philosophies on girls in sport, healthy lifestyle and empowering young girls are all the exact same. So what better way to scream it from the rooftops than an event for young girls to get them feeling like rock stars.

The Girls Empowerment Event is aimed at girls ages 5 – 15 years old. Girls will be broken up into age categories so that everyone gets age specific benefits from each of the sessions. We are kicking the event off with a talk by Janine Stephens, silver medalist from the 2012 Summer Olympics in rowing. Over the last year I have had the privilege to really get to know Janine, and couldn’t think of a better woman to start this inspirational day. She has this incredible mentality about ‘what if’. What if you do this and you have huge success. What if you don’t try and it could have been an incredible experience. She encourages everyone to be the best version of themselves, and I can’t wait to hear her chat with this group of young girls.

Girls will then participate in three sessions. First, there is a yoga class where they will learn how to appreciate all of the amazing things their bodies can do. Yoga is great for the mind, body and soul connection. It teaches how to relax, be “present” and body awareness. Next is the nutrition session where the girls will learn why it is important to fuel their bodies with healthy food and drinks, and have the chance to do some healthy snack preparation/baking. Lastly, we are doing a goal setting session complete with a fun activity of dream boards, to really showcase to the girls why goals are important and that making a plan for success is key. All three sessions really focus on the girls as a whole being – how their body, mind and soul and all interconnected and need to be nurtured, loved and respected.

As girls move from session to session there will be impromptu dance parties, photo shoots with Ivivva by Lululemon and complimentary snacks and drinks. Our sponsors are going to make this event be even more fun. A huge shout out goes to Ivivva, Manitoba Harvest, Green Carrot, Tiber River and the Fitness Journal for Girls. In fact, it’s going to be so much fun I wish I was 12 again! Luckily, I will be there to take it all in!

And you know what else is so awesome about it? We are giving back to the community too! There is a new program in Winnipeg that is providing free fitness programs for newcomers to our great city. A portion of all tickets sold will go to help bring more programs and equipment to children and women participating in sport. Sport really does unite us regardless of nationality, age, gender, or the color of your skin.

This event is really about building a community of girls who are powerful. We tell young girls all the time that they can do anything, and this event is going to show them that they can. Whether their big dream is to be on an Olympic podium, be a doctor, or own their own clothing brand, girls can be, do, create and achieve everything. It is our generation’s job to help them along the path to success.

Event Details:

Sunday, June 4, 2017, 12 – 3pm

The Yoga Barre, #200, 6640 Roblin Blvd

GIRLS ages 5 – 15

Tickets for this event are $18 and can be purchased at Eventbrite. 

2017 Fitness Journal for Girls

The 2017 Fitness Journal for Girls launched on March 15, 2017, and the response has been really exciting. We have been featured in the Winnipeg Free Press, the Winnipeg Sun, on Global Morning Show, and countless radio shows around Winnipeg. Our social media campaign was a huge success on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. After our first month of sales, we are about half way through our goal of getting 1000 into the hands of girls in Winnipeg. So why purchase a Fitness Journal for Girls for the girls in your life? Here are the top 10 reasons this is the best $10 you’ll spend this year:

  1. For only $10, you will get well over $1500 in offers and discounts at over 30 Winnipeg health and fitness businesses and organizations. Some examples include free classes at boxing, kickboxing, CrossFit, triathlon races, Pilates, Tai Chi, acrobatics, Zumba and rowing. Buy one Get one or 50% off on summer camps for girls including synchronized swimming, diving, ultimate, basketball and gymnastics. Or incredible discounts on other sports and activities that happen year-round including synchronized swimming, gymnastics, kickboxing, SkyZone, tennis, diving, boxing, water polo, football and swimming lessons. If you use the Journal only one time you will be guaranteed to make your money back and then some!
  2. This year we have a few new services that are giving super fun deals on their offerings. Take Aevi Spa Salon Boutique for example. Every month from now until November you can get discounts on waxing, manis and pedis! What a great mom or auntie day with the girls! Or perhaps you need some new gear for the summer. IceTime Sports gives you 15% off your purchase of $50 or more! They will also give you a free skate sharpening when the weather gets a little colder out.
  3. This year we also have two incredible women who we love to work with in the Journal for their respective businesses. Natalie Reimer Anderson is a self-love and health coach. I have personally used Natalie’s nutrition services for the last few years, and attribute much of my knowledge and healthy ways to her advice. She is offering 50% off her family nutrition package! How awesome is that? And another total all-star is Paige Zaporzan, who is a holistic wellness coach who specializes in working with female athletes. She is giving Journal holders 50% off one on one sessions, and 40% off group sessions! So, for all the coaches out there who need to bring in someone to your team this year – these women are your ticket!
  4. Free summer challenges. Every week Allison and Andrea are putting on free summer challenges for the girls to have fun, try new things and enter to win awesome prizes. Each week is sponsored by a different business within the Journal. We have come try it days for Fearless Football, TopNotch CrossFit, tennis and kickboxing. We have challenges you can do at home or at the lake like healthy cooking challenges, swimming challenge from Aqua Essence Swim Academy, and fun ones to get your heart pumping with the kids. And one I might be the most excited about is the SkyZone Trampoline Park challenge, where two people can jump for 90 minutes for only $24! Sooo excited!
  5. Support local. For anyone who in an entrepreneur in Winnipeg, we know it can be tough. We are heavily taxed, work our fingers to the bone, feel like we put in 25 hour days every day all so we don’t have to work a 9 to 5 for someone else. But we also know that it’s so worth it when things go well. Not only do you support Allison and Andrea on their entrepreneurial path, but you also support all the businesses that are in the Journal. And in case I haven’t mentioned it yet, there are over THIRTY businesses in this year’s Journal.
  6. It is SO fun! As aunties and mom’s, we are always looking for fun new activities for the kids to do. The summer weekly challenges are great for something to do. But there’s so much more. I can take the kids to try CrossFit, boxing, kickboxing, football – so many cool sports that expose them to something new and different all for FREE. And it’s really great when you can get in there with them and try the activities too. Leave your ego at the door and get down and dirty!
  7. Goal setting exercises. As adults, we are (hopefully!) all setting goals and smashing them. Whether it be for business, in the gym, with your relationships, setting clear goals and a path to reach them is imperative to success. The same goes for kids. It this year’s Journal we explain to kids what goal setting is all about, and ask them to create a few for themselves. Maybe it’s to get an A in math, or to be able to get on their bike with no training wheels this summer. No matter what the goal, the Journal has you excited about it.
  8. Self-esteem boosting exercises. We want to ensure this is a super positive experience for everyone involved. We have put together a few self-esteem exercises in the Journal that are really fun for the girls to do. It makes them appreciate all the amazing things about themselves.
  9. One of the biggest reasons cited for girls dropping out of sports is due to a lack of positive female role models. It is not that they don’t exist, rather the issue is that media only spends 4% of its time on female sports and athletes. No don’t get me wrong – I don’t think it will ever be 50/50. We don’t have huge leagues like the NFL and NHL, and that is what a lot of people are interested in reading about and watching. But we sure would like to see that number closer to 10%. In the meantime, this year’s Journal features two exceptional Winnipeg athlete role models, who have had huge success on the Olympic podium. Janine Stephens, silver medalist in rowing at the 2012 Summer Olympics, and Desiree Scott, two-time Olympic bronze medalist and professional soccer player.
  10. You are supporting girls in sport and helping us on our mission to make Winnipeg girls the most active in the country. Currently, only 2% of girls are getting enough physical activity to be healthy, and we are doing something about it. But without the community’s help and support of the Fitness Journal for Girls, we can’t do it. So, whether you are a mom, dad, auntie, uncle or just someone who wants to showcase your support for us, we would love for you to join us.

You can purchase you 2017 Fitness Journal for Girls for only $10, including GST, shipping and handling here!  

Valerie Champagne – Inspiring CrossFit Athletes In & Out of the Box

Valerie Champagne exemplifies why I love sport. Her own personal history and experiences, views as a coach and motivating attitude are nothing short of inspiring. Interviewing her is like asking for a list of amazing mantras. I really feel like everyone should carry around Valerie in their back pocket!

Valerie is the coach and owner of Top Notch CrossFit located at 81 Plymouth Street in Winnipeg. Having started as a CrossFit athlete herself seven years ago, she began coaching the sport three years ago. For someone that has such a short coaching career, she is extremely knowledgeable and has a true talent for motivating her athletes.

Valerie herself did not grow up in a sports driven household. She was “the kid on the sidelines with the low confidence to even try out”. This personal experience growing up is why she loves working with kids – especially the kids who themselves, are on those sidelines hoping to be brought in. She knows first-hand how intimidating it is to start when you aren’t an “athlete”. She started CrossFit without a sports background, and became an exceptional athlete.

Coaching those like her – having never equated themselves to being athletes – is what she loves. “What excites me most about coaching is watching an adult or child walk into our box feeling a little overwhelmed and a little bit nervous. They are often doubtful of their abilities and hesitant. What transforms weeks and months later is a confidence. They are doing things they never thought possible. They feel better, they move better, and they hesitate a lot less. All they have to do is just start! Just start!! No matter where you are at…..just start. Believe in yourself…you are capable of so many things you never thought possible. Embrace the journey… it will have its highs and lows but it will be all worth it,” says Valerie.

Valerie is quite unique in that she coaches everyone from kids to adults. She is able to tailor training and motivation to each person, regardless of age or fitness ability. “We have people who are happy to come in and get a good sweat going, and hang out with some great people. There are others who want to take it to another level and test themselves in a competition environment. We support them and prepare them to do so,” says Champagne.

She knows that success is measured differently by each individual – whether someone has been able to stop certain medications, finally get into their favorite pair of shorts or a reach a specific fitness goal. She develops personal relationships and friendships with each individual and respects each of their own personal journeys and takes time to celebrate their successes.

Valerie recognizes that sometimes people have bad days and can get down on themselves and may want to give up. “As a coach you do what it takes to keep them there. It may take some adjustments of the workout itself, revaluating goals, or just a reminder of how far they have come,” Valerie says.

CrossFit is a community. As such, she has been fortunate to have many coaching mentors. It is no surprise that the ones that stand out most to her are “the ones that are able to make a personal connection, root you on every step of the way, challenge you and who keep you interested in the sport.” It is no surprise as this is what Valerie does with her own athletes.

Unlike most sports, CrossFit is a unique sport in that there are quite a large number of female coaches. Valerie equates these numbers to the fact that the sport itself respects women as equals. Even at the last CrossFit Games, the prizes for podium winners were the same for men and women – something relatively unheard of in sport. Valerie trains females and males in the exact same movements and progressions and they are all treated as equals.

She is confident in her own coaching and feels that because this has been proven, she has gained the deserved respect. She believes however, that sport in general needs to recognize the expertise that women bring to the table and recognize it and respect it equally.

Valerie’s desire for her athletes goes beyond how many deadlifts, pullups or squats they can do. She wants them to be happy in their own skin and have the best quality of life for a long time… no matter how old or young. This is also her personal view on life and her hope for her two girls. She also stresses that all bodies come in all sizes and shapes but that the most important thing is that it is a healthy and strong body. Our bodies are capable of different things and we must embrace that.

Her biggest successes as a coach are the moments when a member has thanked her for supporting them. “It may have been a little tip I gave them to reach a goal or encouraging word to get them through the process. As a CrossFit kids’ coach the moments that stand out are when they come to me in class and tell me how they did their own workout at home or had family members do one with them. I know I have had an impact,” says Champagne.

It is obvious that Valerie gets out just as much as she gives from coaching. “I do this to give back what this sport has done for me. The level of confidence I have, the way I feel, the role model I am for my girls. I want to inspire those 9 year old girls sitting on the side lines and those 30 year old ladies that never played a sport in their life and now can call themselves athletes. Everyone has it in them, they just need someone to grab their hand and take them for the ride. It is quite the ride!”

Want to read about more inspiring sport women who are killing it? Click here.

Mommy Shaming

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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