Confidence of Girls in Canada Reaching a New Low

How’s your self-esteem? Would you consider yourself super confident? Medium? Or totally not? What do you love about yourself? What do you dislike about yourself?

 

I posed these questions to a group of young girls between the ages of 5 – 17 at our most recent Girls Empowerment Event, and the answers were at times heart-breaking. While some of the younger girls could give me a list of twenty things they loved about themselves, including I’m beautiful, smart, a great runner, I clean my room, I’m a good listener and a good friend, others couldn’t think of one reason they loved themselves. And as the girls got older, the answers took such a negative spin.

“I’m not popular.”

“I’m fat.”

“How do I get better at being less ugly?”

As someone who has always been sure of herself, I try my best to tell those around me how much I love them and WHY. This session brought me to tears. I wanted to run over to these girls and give them a huge hug and tell them that they are perfect. They are beautiful, smart, funny, kind and fun to be around. I wanted to tell them that before puberty their bodies start to change and they start to put on a couple of extra pounds because they are getting ready to grow and become a woman. And that no matter what size they are they are beautiful. It broke my heart to hear these girls think so little of themselves, but the reality of the situation is that most girls’ self-esteem is absolute crap.

According to a recent survey commissioned by the Girls Guides of Canada, 55% of females said the need to look and act a certain way, as reinforced to them by societal expectations, has negatively affected their self-esteem. More than half of girls, 56%, also said that they’re getting mixed messages on the way they are “supposed” to act and dress. One in five girls surveyed said they feel the need to be skinny while also having curves.

The ways in which girls are told to act, and how that influences their behaviour, is just as troubling:

  • 59% of girls feel the need to act in a certain way because society tells them to.
  • 30% of girls didn’t take up a sport because it’s not traditionally associated with women.
  • 24% of girls don’t want to pursue a career of their choice because of unfair pay-differenced between men and women.
  • 16% of girls pretend not to like science and math-related subjects out of fear of being ostracized.

(Source: https://www.mtlblog.com/whats-happening/this-is-why-canadian-girls-have-low-self-esteem)

Does this not sound unreal to you? Pretending to not like science and math because being smart isn’t cool? Or the idea of feeling so conflicted about being both skinny and having a booty – can’t we all relate to that one? Imagine that issue as your 12-year-old self?!?

So what can we do? I wish we could follow young girls around and give them boosts throughout the day on how amazing they are. And when bullies start in we can stand up for them and make them feel loved and so sure of themselves. I wish we could erase any doubt or negative self-talk from their worlds and fill it with confidence. I wish we could start these conversations with them when they are first learning to talk…so we don’t wait until they are 16 to find out how they feel about themselves. And so we don’t have to wait until we are 40 to realize that we should love ourselves – all parts and pieces – that we should do it from day one.

All of these wishes can’t be done overnight, but we DO have a starting block. We have created a tool for parents and teachers to start the conversations with their kids – girls AND boys – about their self-confidence. It is called the Confidence Workbook, and we are so proud of this piece of work.

The Confidence Workbook has ten exercises for kids to do either on their own, with a friend, parent or teacher to start looking at their confidence. We ask questions and relate to the kids with real life examples. We talk about negative self-talk. We play games, we find reasons for them to love themselves, we determine who makes them feel really good and who maybe doesn’t. The Confidence Workbook can be purchased online here for only $16, and we will email you this wonderful e-book within 48 hours.

We have had a terrific response from media with regards to our Workbook. Here are a few links for you to check out:

CTV – https://www.facebook.com/pg/FITWomenandGirls/videos/?ref=page_internal

CBC – http://www.cbc.ca/beta/news/canada/manitoba/confidence-workbook-winnipeg-self-esteem-1.4306771

Winnipeg City News – http://winnipeg.citynews.ca/video/2017/09/26/winnipeg-sisters-hope-workbook-will-inspire-confidence-in-kids/

Metro News – http://www.metronews.ca/news/winnipeg/2017/09/25/new-workbook-aims-to-help-winnipeg-kids-build-self-esteem.html

QX-104 – http://www.qx104fm.com/2017/09/25/a-first-of-its-kind-confidence-workbook-for-kids/

My Toba – https://mytoba.ca/featured/winnipeg-women-launch-kids-confidence-workbook/

 

 

 

Fall Activities for KIDS in Winnipeg

 

Autumn is such a great time for new routines. I love how the leaves are telling us to shed the old and get ready for something new. I always find my body and mind need a change this time of year with my fitness routine. Summer isn’t exactly my strongest season for the gym, but I love switching things up completely in the Fall and doing something new. Last year I did a 30 day Barre Challenge at Moksha Yoga. This year I am doing a 12 week program of kickboxing at Winnipeg Kickboxing and Muay Thai. Feels great to switch things up.

 

Just like adults, kids really change things up in the Fall. They go from staying up later, playing all day and weekends at the lake to school and activities. There are so many terrific options for kids to participate in, so this week’s blog we thought we would give you a few more ideas for kids sport and fitness. Our Fitness Journal for Girls happens to have discounts at all of these incredible places, and can be purchased online for only $10 here.

 

AQUATICA SYNCHRO CLUB

Want to give their amazing sport a try and check #136 off your Participation 150 Playlist? Here is your chance to try Synchronized Swimming FOR FREE with Aquatica Synchro club!

Girls and boys Ages 5+ welcome
Classes in Shallow & Deep End
Bring a suit and be ready to get wet!
Contact info@aquaticasynchro.com to RSVP or check out www.AquaticaSynchro.com for information on their current programs for all ages 5-Adult!

Come for the full hour:

September 12th, 6-7pm EK pool
September 20th, 6-7pm Pan Am pool
September 19th, 6-7pm Steinbach Aquatic Centre

If you have stronger swimmers that are looking for a challenge, their competitive programs are starting with our Kick-off camp September 9th at Kildonan Park. Check out www.aquaticasynchro.com for details or contact info@aquaticasynchro.com.

 

BASKETBALL MANITOBA

The Winnipeg Minor Basketball Association has announced its fall / winter 2017-18 basketball season registration information. Full details can be found here – http://www.wmba.ca
JR NBA 5-7 YEAR OLDS

Introductory program for boys and girls 5-7. Program runs 1 time a week for 1 hour.

STEVE NASH YOUTH BASKETBALL 8/9 YEAR OLDS 
Developmental program for boys and girls 8/9 Practice 1 time a week with 1-2 games per week.

COMMUNITY CLUB BASKETBALL 11-18 YEAR OLDS

Recreation based program for girls and boys 11-18. Practice 1 time a week with 1-2 games per week.

 

PRIDE MUAY THAI

Pride Muay Thai’s Kids Beginner Muay Thai course start September 25th.This 8-week program is divided into two age groups and they will tackle different striking and kicking techniques.

Ages 5 – 9 are Mondays and Thursday from 4:30 – 5:15.

Ages 10 – 15 are Tuesdays and Thursday from 5:15 – 6pm

They also have kids Grappling starting. These classes run Tuesday and Thursday evenings from 7pm – 8pm.

The fee is $160 plus GST and a $50 registration fee.  And don’t forget to use that great promotion located in the Fitness Journal for Girls! More information can be found on their website (www.pridemuaythai.com/kids-classes) or by calling 204-505-4048.

 

SKY ZONE TRAMPOLINE PARK

Sky Zone Winnipeg is incredibly excited to announce the implementation of four new innovations within Sky Zone. This September, they are installing four new attractions guaranteed to bring your Sky Zone experience to the next level. The innovations “Warped Wall”, “Free Climb”, “Jousting” and “Performance Wall” will make up their “Challenge Zone” offering new opportunities for guests to challenge and experience attractions completely unique to Winnipeg.

To enjoy this pass to its full potential, they are offering an unbelievable deal to guests. Each guest can jump an hour a day for every day in September for $49.99 (valued at $496). That’s 90% off! Their innovations should be complete by September 19 but the rest of the park is open to enjoy beforehand! Enjoy Sky Zone for a birthday party, group event or just an amazing time in the Open Jump!

 

WINNIPEG KICKBOXING AND MUAY THAI

I LOVE this place! If you are looking to find a new activity for your kids, Winnipeg Kickboxing and Muay Thai has kids classes running every Wednesday at 5pm and Sundays at noon. All classes are one hour long and take place at 1777 Portage Avenue. It is a great way to learn self-defense, increase self-confidence and have a ton of fun. For more information or to register, contact Trisha at 204.930.6780.

 

WINNIPEG SYNCHRO

Winnipeg Synchro is celebrating its 70th year this year! Join them and see what they are all about. Free Try It Days include:

  • Free Try-it (Pan Am Pool, deep water only) Tuesday, Sep 19, 6:30 – 7:30 pm.
  • Free Try-it (Pan Am Pool, deep water only) Thursday, Sep 21, 6:30 – 7:30 pm.
  • Free Try-it (Pan Am Pool, shallow and deep water) Saturday, Sep 23, noon-1:00 (deep water) AND noon – 12:30 pm or 12:30 – 1:00 pm

Email them for more information (inquiries@winnipegsynchro.ca) or simply drop in for a Free Try it days wearing a bathing suit and a smile!

They also offer programming for ages 5 – 18+ for both recreational and competitive programs. Their pre-competitive program includes the following:

 

ZUMBA WITH YVONNE

Tons happening in the Zumba world at the Lindenwoods Community Centre:

Zumba Kids (ages 6-11 years) Classes starts Wed. Sept. 20 at 5 pm for 10 weeks.

Free Demo Classes for NEW Zumbini (ages 0-4 years). Classes on Tuesday, Sept. 26 at 9:30 am (45 min) and Sun. Oct. 1 at 5 pm

Contact Yvonne at (204) 295-6060 or zumbafunwithyvonne@gmail.com for more information.

 

 

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.

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!

 

 

 

 

 

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.

If you enjoyed this article, please sign up for our newsletter here!

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.