Holiday Health Tips

It’s that time of year again – the holiday season! There is a festive feeling in the air, the lights make everything look so alive, and parties are well underway. With all of the chocolates, sweets, dinners, parties and drinking going on, it’s really easy to pack on a few extra pounds over the holidays. Now I am one to indulge and enjoy too, but have a few handy tricks of the trade to make sure I stay on track with my health goals throughout this time of year.

 

At the Office

I have worked in office spaces before where all of your clients want to send a sweet something to the team to say happy holidays. Next thing you know there are twenty different boxes of chocolates, candy canes galore, and enough shortbread cookies to feed an army. The temptations are endless. A chocolate here and a cookie there can really add up throughout the day. I find the easiest way to avoid this is to not see it. If your work area is close to the ‘snack table’ see if anyone minds if you move it. That way every time you get up you don’t grab a treat. Not possible? Give yourself a daily maximum. That might be three treats a day, and you can have them all together or throughout, but make sure you’re not grabbing for a goodie every time you leave your desk.

Potlucks at this time of year are also a big office favorite. Everyone likes to bring their favorite holiday dish which usually consists of something sweet, something rich, or something fattening. Make your dish something healthy. And if that turns you off, make one healthy and one not-so-much. I always like bringing a great vegetable dish. You might be surprised by how many others also crave something with some nutrition to add to the table. Pick and choose between the unhealthy items – try to pick only your favorites rather than one of everything.

 

At Home

Our family has always been one to get together around the holidays and enjoy each other’s company surrounded by delicious food and drinks. It is a time that everyone tends to have a bit of a break from work, school and life. Similar rules from the office potluck would apply to eating at your favorite cousin’s house. Yes – the food is delicious. But you don’t have to walk out of there feeling like you’re going to explode. Be mindful of your choices and be mindful of your eating. Eat until you are no longer hungry rather than until you are stuffed. Choose two types of desserts rather than one of each. And get up and move around. I find right after a big meal playing with the kids or dogs around the house takes your mind off of having another plate, and helps your body digest your food better rather than sitting motionless.

Around your own house, try to best maintain your nutritional routine. If this time of year brings more guests around, and perhaps in turn a few more alcoholic beverages, choose wisely. Try to keep it to a realistic number and don’t drink high calorie drinks. Everyone loves a Bailey’s and coffee or a Rum and Eggnog on Christmas morning but those are loaded with calories. One or two might be a great festive move, but drinking them like they are water will have your caloric intake through the roof.

 

Holiday Parties

Work holiday parties are always fun. It gives the team a chance to get together outside of the office and connect on things other than work. Whether you are a team of ten or 500, the camaraderie that can develop at these events is terrific. I always find that there is so much food to be had. Finger foods and appetizers while people are first arriving, followed by a soup and or salad, followed by the main course and then dessert. I definitely encourage everyone to indulge once in a while, but remember you are eating for one. The appetizers can really put things over the top. Eat the same amount of food that you would normally eat. At home, I don’t have six or seven appys before dinner. Try to make smart choices about the options you choose and the number of them that you choose.

Another great tip is that if you know you are going to be eating a large meal that night, be mindful of your meals throughout the day. Perhaps have a salad for lunch, and stick to fruit and eggs for the morning. Try your best to keep your caloric intake as it normally is.

 

The Gym

No, there are no holiday parties happening here but that doesn’t mean forget about your workouts for a couple of weeks. This time of year can be really busy with events, shopping and having fun. And because we are all eating a bit off of our usual program, sticking to your gym routine is really important. Find the time. Make it a priority throughout the holidays. It is as important in December as it is when you are making your New Years’ resolutions in January. Remember – summer bodies are made in the winter!

 

I hope this gives you a few things to consider when you are out and about this holiday season. I encourage you to eat well, be merry and enjoy your time with your family and friends.

 

 

Rishona Hyman – Making a Splash in Winnipeg

 

What would you say if your son or daughter wanted to make a career out of teaching swimming lessons?
Would you be excited or disappointed? Now what would you say if your son or daughter wanted to be an entrepreneur, and be a leader and role model to hundreds of staff and students? What if he or she wanted to teach people how to save lives? What about teaching people a life-skill? Well, Rishona Hyman is that daughter and she’s doing it all and killing it!

Rishona Hyman has always loved teaching swimming lessons. It is her passion. She started teaching swimming lessons twenty-one years ago and started Aqua Essence Swim Academy fifteen years ago. This was during a time when “private swimming lessons” were really few and far between and were really flying under the radar. Rishona has changed the way people view private lessons and swimming. Rishona prides herself on providing positive and quality programs to her students. She has small teacher/student ratios and tailors to individual learning styles so that each student is “seen” and given the attention they deserve.

“I truly believe that swimming lessons should be a priority. It is a life skill and more than that there is so much goodness that can come from a swimming lesson. I am motivated to change the way we, as a society, view swimming and first aid/CPR. The benefits on poverty, injury prevention, fitness and overall health are incredible.”

Aqua Essence Swim Academy has evolved from swimming lessons to now include triathlon training, a swim club, CPR, first aid and even babysitting courses. This is a far cry from the start of Rishona’s business – her self-created part-time job. Becoming an entrepreneur and making a business out of her passion was a bit of a “learn as you go” process. She is a self-taught entrepreneur who has had to figure it along the way. “I am a leap of faith person” – she believed in herself and her goals and just knew it would have a way of working itself out.

As a female entrepreneur, Rishona admits that sometimes people don’t take her seriously – maybe because she’s a woman, maybe it’s because of her business’s industry – maybe a bit of both. She says that people tend to think that this is just a “hobby” for her. That is so far from the truth. Although she loves it, it’s beyond a full-time gig. Imagine running swimming lessons, CPR, first aid and babysitting courses (planning, programming, hiring, registration, finances, website maintenance, marketing) for hundreds of students across ten City of Winnipeg swimming pools, multiple private pools and even a hotel! Not to mention managing and inspiring a staff of 40 plus (many of whom are students!!). They run courses seven days a week and twelve hours a day! This doesn’t sound like a very relaxing “hobby!”

With a mostly young staff, Rishona has proven to be a great employer by taking time to know each individual and motivate each one. “I really try to have an open-door policy and really want to get to know them as people. I feel that once you know someone and know what makes them tick and share stories you can then motivate them. It is definitely getting harder to motivate but I just keep trying. I also believe that motivation comes from within and that we can try to motivate people but you need to know what does it for them. One way, I try to motivate them is by continuously adding a growing what we do and giving them opportunities to try new things and have a new experience. For example, we teach babysitting courses, so anyone that wants to do this needs to take some additional training adding to their skills and abilities, they also get a compensation increase for having more certifications. Teaching courses like babysitting, first aid or CPR gives my staff a great opportunity to go out into the community, teach out of the water and share their leadership skills while passing on valuable knowledge.”

On top of it all, Rishona is a wife and mother of 2 young children. So how does she do it? She admits to being very fortunate to have a great husband. Like every working mother, Rishona struggles to find balance. With her family, she has made a pact to not be on her phone in the evening until her children are in bed. She wants to be present with her kids and “devote my attention to them.” This isn’t always the easiest especially when she is potentially “on call” until lessons end at 9pm. In addition to making quality time for her family, she also sees the benefit to taking time for herself. She realizes that is a role model to her children, staff and students. As a result, she does much to stay in shape and live a healthy lifestyle. In addition to swimming (not shocking!), Rishona also goes to 9-Round boxing and kickboxing five times a week, “Saikels” and rides her bike often. Like most female entrepreneurs with families, the question is when does she sleep?

With such a busy schedule why does she do it ALL? “I am inspired by my staff and our families and students. I love the connections and relationships to people throughout the city. I love peoples’ stories. I still get excited knowing we have made a difference in someone’s life. I love hearing how happy people are. These stories and the people inspire me to keep growing and adapting. Swimming has so many lifelong benefits that I just get excited when I see it working and benefiting someone.”

“I love what I do so much! I love that I have been able to continue to do what I love the most, teaching people to swim and be safe in and around water including first aid.”

So what are Rishona’s words of wisdom for female entrepreneurs? “”I can do hard things!” I would tell someone to make sure that they really passionate about what they want to do. You don’t have to think of everything right away but you need to be an excellent problem solver as inevitably problems will arise. And to always like to treat people as you would like be treated.”

If you are interested in learning more about Aqua Essence Swim Academy and the terrific programming they offer, please visit them online at https://www.aquaessence.ca.

 

 

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.

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. 

 

 

 

Basketball, Synchro and More!

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

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

AthELITEs & Beyond Basketball Program:

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

Synchronized Swimming:

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

Fitness Journal for Girls

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

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

 

 

 

How to Stay Active Going Back to School

School books with apple on desk

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

 

 

Protein My Way

PWM-logo

 

Three things I love: Winnipeg, Family and Health! Apparently I am in good company.  I am so excited to hear that a local Winnipeg family – Bryce, Graham and Erin Folster, along with Derek Penner – have created something truly unique and needed in the Canadian – and world-wide market. They have created Protein My Way – a protein shake vending machine company to bring healthy and nutritious beverages to the masses. I think that this is exactly what is missing in so many places – schools, hospitals, community centers, and anywhere you have vending machines.

So, of course when I hear about a new company or product, my question is always “Why”? Why this idea? Why now? How did this idea come about? The answer starts from a simple car ride. These hockey playing Charleswood brothers were driving home from the gym one day when they wanted to get a protein shake. There was nothing convenient that was not only packed with protein but also low in sugar. This discussion inspired the future and development of Protein My Way.

What fueled the inspiration was that both Bryce and Graham noticed a lack of healthy and convenient food items in many of Winnipeg’s local fitness facilities. “The frustration I came across was the lack of nutrition in facilities that promoted healthy living.” So instead of sitting around and wishing for change, they sprung into action.

The Folster family is not alone in wanting change. Although vending machines are synonymous with offering products such as cookies, candy, chips and sugary beverages, the last ten years has seen a shift. Vending machines have been diversifying their offerings following a change in consumer snacking preferences coupled with technology advancements in the vending industry. More consumers are wanting healthier alternatives more readily available and are willing to pay more for those alternatives.

The family has poured their blood, sweat, tears and funding into Protein My Way (“PMW”). They must be on the right track with something unique and innovative because the Canadian National Research Council has also supported the funding to make this product a reality. It has brought together two mega industries, health and wellness and vending machines. There is no other like PMW on the market – providing a convenient, healthy, high protein drink 24/7 in any location.

In keeping with their commitment to health, Protein My Way has gone one step further. They have created their own protein powder used in all machines, which is one of the healthiest on the market. It is no wonder with all of this uniqueness coupled with consumer trends, that machines have already began selling in Canada, the United States and the Middle East in gyms, hotels, airports, offices and schools.

Not only do I love this company for its innovation and its strong family base but also their values when it comes to sport and fitness. “We truly believe any child in sport has a way better chance in growing up to be a more confident, and healthier-minded individual.  This is where my brother and I knew we could make a difference,” says Bryce.  So cool.

I am so excited about this technology and extremely proud that these are Winnipeggers and Canadians that are making strides in the area of healthy living. I can’t wait to try my own PMW at my gym! If this is something you’d like to see in your kids’ school or your gym, contact them at www.proteinmyway.com or let us know in the comments below and we’ll help start the conversation.

Check out the article about Protein My Way in the Winnipeg Free Press.

 

Making Changes for “Girls”

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At Fit Communications, we are on a mission to make Canadians healthier. In addition, we are super passionate about getting and keeping girls in sport and fitness to not only make them fit and healthy but for all of the other amazing benefits that come along with sport. This includes building confidence and self-esteem and empowering them to know that they can do anything they set their minds to do.

We are happy to see that we are not alone in this passion. Many groups including CAAWS share this belief and are motivated to develop strong, confident women. Lately I have also discovered that there are some product companies jumping on board the “girl power” train.

A recent announcement was made by the Dairy Farmers of Canada that their dairy farmers across Canada are coming together to establish the Fueling Women Champions program and movement.  They discovered and wanted to do something about the fact that women’s sports are overshadowed by media coverage and funding of men’s sports.  They are “committed to helping women succeed and advance in sport, while encouraging a healthy and active lifestyle in which dairy products play a role.”  The program (Womenchampions.ca and #championher) goal is to help women’s sports become more watched, more appreciated and more financially stable. Fueling Women Champions is working with several of Canada’s top athletes, supporting them in their competitive efforts and also facilitating mentorship opportunities for them with young girls and women across the country.

Even cosmetic companies are starting to “get it”.  Let’s face it – most cosmetic companies want you to buy their products. They appeal to our desire to be not only beautiful but strong, smart etc. But some companies go beyond just saying “you’re worth it”. They put their money where their mouths are. They don’t just throw a supermodel in front of us and tell us that we can look the same as she does if we buy their products. In fact they don’t even mention products at all. For years now, Dove has been breaking down standard definitions and stereotypes of what it means to be beautiful and instead, promoting confidence and self-love. A fabulous example of this is the Dove video #MyBeautyMySay  of all different types of women telling their stories of how they were told they couldn’t or shouldn’t do something based on their looks. I love this!

Always, the feminine product, is promoting the “like a girl” campaign and wanting to change what it means to run, throw and fight like a girl. They know that when girls hit puberty, their confidence plummets and half quit sports. Always points out that sadly, somehow the phrase “like a girl” has become an insult. Always wants to change this and is actively taking steps to change our idea of what it’s like to do anything “like a girl”. The commercial/video “Let’s make #likeagirl mean amazing things”, which I ended up crying watching, is one of the ways they are showing us their important messaging.

Covergirl is another cosmetic company that wants to empower girls and women. They realize that too many times girls are told they can’t do certain things like be funny, own their own business or rock. But the Procter & Gambles cosmetic maker’s commercials focus on saying that “girls can.” Their ads feature different celebrities showing the way “girls can succeed, even after being told they “can’t.” This video shows “Ellen Degeneres saying that girls can be funny, Queen Latifah saying that girls can own their own business and P!nk saying that girls can rock.”

So as you can see, things are changing or at least trying to change.  Some companies are finally realizing that women don’t want to see unrealistic images of women to sell products. They want to see real women inspiring confidence and unlimited success in any area they choose.  I believe that most women today want change – for themselves and for our upcoming generation of young women. Hurray to those companies working hard to make the world better for our girls!

If you know of any companies that are doing great things to inspire, support and empower women, please let us know! The more companies we know of, the more we can support their movements and products.

 

Healthy Meals Under $20

HEALTHY (1)I heard an ad on the radio the other day from a grocery chain advertising that they have family meals for under $40 – hence “affordable”. I am not sure who is doing the grocery shopping for these families but I am pretty sure that most people would agree that a meal at home should not cost $40. In addition, I highly doubt that these meals are nutritious. I decided to challenge this $40 meal with making my meals for my family for under $20. This, of course, requires me to do all of the planning, preparation and cooking. However, I would argue that most of us have to do some level of planning, preparation and cooking when eating at home.

I have come up with my week-long “healthy under $20” meals that I am sure will meet the nutritional needs and taste buds of even the most picky of family members. I have tried to keep the meals fun and interesting and sight a bit of what makes each meal healthy.

Monday – Chicken Dinner:

  • Boneless skinless chicken breasts – chicken is packed with protein, phosphorus to keep bones healthy, niacin to help lower cholesterol and amino acids to help kids grow stronger and taller.
  • Steamed broccoli/brussel sprouts/cauliflower – anti-aging and cancer fighting superheroes! They are packed with antioxidants and selenium, immune boosting phytonutrients, vitamins C and K, potassium, calcium, iron and folic acid
  • Baked potatoes – Potatoes, if cooked healthily, are good for you! They are packed with nutrients and antioxidants. Potatoes and sweet potatoes fight cancer, control diabetes and help you maintain bone health.

Tuesday – Taco Tuesday:

  • Ground turkey or chicken – choose one of these two options instead of the traditional beef variety. Add low sodium taco season and it will be just a yummy as beef and a lot better for you.
  • Shredded choice of dark leafy green lettuce (instead of iceberg) as these high in iron, potassium, calcium, magnesium, carotenoids and B, C, E and K.
  • Diced red or orange peppers – great sources of potassium, manganese (collagen production, blood sugar control, and bone production supporter), fiber and vitamins A, B, C and K. They also happen to have twice the vitamin C content of oranges and are packed with antioxidants.
  • Tomatoes and salsa – tomatoes are a great source of lycopene, a potent antioxidant that may reduce cholesterol and protect against advanced-stage prostate cancer.
  • Whole grain wraps or hard shell tacos and shredded cheddar cheese.

Wednesday – Spaghetti Dinner:

Whole grain spaghetti or spaghettini with tomato sauce – choose a tomato based pasta sauce instead of cream-based. Not only will this be better for your waste-line but also for your health. When tomatoes are cooked, their antioxidant power is increased as it increases the amount of phytochemicals they contain. Add a side salad with choice of colourful toppings.

Thursday – Breakfast for dinner:

Eggs and ancient grain toast, grilled tomatoes and orange juice or a veggie packed omelet.

Eggs have been given a bad rap but they are really an amazing food – they are loaded with nutrients – you can even get omega enriched eggs now. They contain vitamin A, folate, vitamin B5, B12, B2, D, E, K, calcium, phosphorus and selenium.

Ancient grain breads have more protein, folate, magnesium, selenium, B vitamins, iron, phosphorus, fibre, and calcium than wheat.

Friday – Fish & Chips:

Your choice of fish and preparation – you can even do homemade and healthy “battered” fish. Fish is loaded with important nutrients such as omegas, protein, vitamin D and iodine.

Serve with baked yam fries. – very rich in carotenoids, vitamins A, B6, C (helps heal wounds, cancer prevention, prevent cataracts, reduce blood pressure, regulate blood sugar and even treat Parkinson’s disease!), potassium, iron and fiber.

Saturday – Pita Pizzas:

  • Start with whole wheat pita bread – The “whole wheat” label means the wheat in that product hasn’t been refined so healthy components like endosperm and bran are left intact. Unrefined products also have many more nutrients like B vitamins and trace metals like iron, zinc, and copper.
  • Top with tomato/pasta sauce, mushrooms (contain selenium, potassium, riboflavin, niacin, vitamin D and more), chicken, peppers, tomatoes, pineapple (contains a natural enzyme called bromelain, which helps digestion and may also help prevent blood clots, inhibit growth of cancer cells and speed wound healing), ham etc…and top with your favorite cheese.

Sunday – Stir fry:

Boneless skinless chicken breasts, frozen stir fry veggies – frozen veggies are just as healthy as the fresh variety as they are flash frozen and all of the nutrients are preserved. Serve over and rice noodles or brown rice

 

Other ideas include roast chicken dinners, homemade soups, salads topped with chicken and baked whole wheat garlic toast. There are so many options. You are only limited by your imagination and, of course your family’s preferences.

So this week, challenge yourself to take the time to prepare some or all of these healthy meals for your family. You will be giving so much more than your gift of time, but the gift of health.

If you enjoyed this blog, you may be interested in reading some of our other blogs focusing on nutrition or sign up for our newsletter!

Canada Rocks!

Canada Flag

With Canada Day just around the corner, like many Canadians I am thinking about what it means to be Canadian. To me, being Canadian means being AWESOME in so many ways!  Here are a few of the things of which I am most proud and grateful.

  • Personal freedom – to travel, freedom of expression, freedom to marry who you want, how to dress, what religion to follow and what political party to support
  • Laws to protect our citizens – Privacy laws; laws against theft, white collar crime, rape, domestic violence, child pornography
  • “Progressive” and continually progressing rights and equality of all peoples – acknowledgment and fair treatment to people of all ethnicities, religions, gender, age, sexual orientation, social economic status
  • Education – everyone in Canada has the opportunity to receive a free education to grade 12
  • Health care –   If you are bleeding, you can get free stiches; if you break your leg, you receive a free exam, x-ray and cast.  In even the worst cases, that require an overnight or multiple overnight stays, it is of no “cash out of pocket” to you
  • No matter who you are, you are able to access to food, clean drinking water, electricity, heat and air conditioning
  • Nature! Thousands of miles of natural forest, prairies and habitat
  • More Nature! Lakes, rivers, streams and falls
  • Social media – we are allowed to conduct and participate in this technology in Canada
  • Media – freedom to report, watch, read
  • Great beer, better wine, maple syrup, BC salmon, Maritime lobster
  • Timmies!
  • Canadian Whisky
  • Qualities we are known for as a country: Polite, Respectful, Thoughtful, Generous, Smart, Funny
  • Stable government and voting rights
  • Armed forces – to protect us at home and those that need our help
  • Our incredible natural resources and products
  • Newfie accents
  • Canadian girls
  • Intense seasons that build our character
  • Incredible musicians – Leonard Cohen, Celine Dion, Neil Young, B.T.O., The Watchmen, The Hip, David Foster and a vast array of talent in every musical domain
  • CBC and Don Cherry
  • Hockey
  • Amateur sports and super athletes
  • Terry Fox, Dan Akroyd, David Suzuki, Jim Carrey, Mike Meyers, Michael J. Fox, Rick Hansen
  • B.C.’s beauty, Alberta mountains, Saskatoon’s bridges
  • Toronto Blue Jays and Raptors
  • The Kids in the Hall
  • Winnipegger’s humour

I am most proud to be a Canadian because most of us are immigrants from somewhere, yet we can all call Canada home. I am Canadian because of a smart decision my great-grandfather D.L. made.  He decided to leave Russia to bring his family to Canada for a better life.  Thank you D.L.!  I know how fortunate my entire family and extended family are because of this courageous and selfless move that he made so many years ago.

Happy Canada Day!