Posturing Up

 

I remember being a teenage girl and always hearing ‘Andrea! Stand up straight!’ from my parents, teachers and coaches. To say I had poor posture was an understatement. I think young girls are shy about getting taller, so in turn do everything they can to appear shorter. Now as an adult I pride myself on standing strong – both physically and figuratively. But that’s not to say every so often I don’t find myself hunched over in front of my computer. I try to do ‘posture checks’ to make sure my shoulders are back, my chest is out and my backbone is straight. Believe me – it’s rare that I am sitting straight these days.

I recently received an email from a 55-year old woman who has been reading our blog and let me know that as she has grown older and had a few health challenges along her journey, she has found her posture to be suffering. As our muscle mass decreases as we age, our posture tends to decline which can cause chronic pain. According to Dr. Michael Gleiber, MD, there are three major reasons why people start to hunch over as they age. These reasons are osteoporosis, wedge compression fractures, and spinal stenosis. But poor posture doesn’t mean you have one of these three issues. In fact, posture can be improved by a few simple exercises and stretches throughout the day, and strengthening you core.

1. Shoulder Rolls –Bringing your shoulders up to your ears and slowly rolling them back while you push your chest forward. Repeat ten times, three times per day.

2. Chest Stretch – my massage therapist always recommends this one to be done at least five times per day. Simply raise your arms to your sides, palms facing forward, keeping your elbows straight and your arms completely level at shoulder height. Next, bring your arms backwards so that you are bringing your shoulder blades together. It will be a very slight change but you should feel a stretch across your chest muscles and through your upper back.

3. Wall Sits – this is a great reminder on how to keep our spine straight. Sit with your backbone against the wall, your knees at a 90-degree angle, and your feet shoulder width apart. Try to hold this for thirty seconds, three times a day. Be mindful of how your body feels when your spine is straight.

4. Standing Side Bends – this one is great with or without weights. Remember when you were a kid and used to sing the song “I’m a little teacup”? It is the same movement! Simply keep your feet shoulder width apart and your hips squared. Bend 10 times to your right, squeezing your oblique muscles each time. Repeat on the left side.

5. Kneeling Quad and Hip Stretch – for this one, I would suggest putting a mat under your knee that is on the ground, and doing it beside a wall for balance. Put your right leg in front with your knee bent and your foot flat on the ground. Your left leg behind with your knee on the ground and your left toes pointed. Next, ever so slightly push your left hip flexor forward. This will give you a stretching feeling throughout your hip. Hold for 15 seconds and repeat three times on each side.

The other major piece to bettering your posture is strengthening your core. Taking yoga or Pilate’s class at one of Winnipeg’s exceptional studios is a great way to help with all of this. But if going to the gym or workouts at home is more your style, here are a few sample core workouts you can add to your regime.

Workout #1:

20 Criss Crosses (each leg for a total of 50)
20 Cross Over Crunches (each side)
20 Crunches
20 Flutter Kicks
20 Heel Touches (each side)

Workout #2:

20 Bicycle Crunches
30 Second Plank
20 Windshield Wipers
20 Full Sit Ups
20 Russian Twists

Workout #3:

20 Leg Raises
20 Crunches
20 Oblique Crunches (each side)
20 Pelvic Thrusts
20 Bicycle Crunches

With all of the above routines, repeat 2 to 3 times if your fitness level allows it. And with all of the above recommendations, consult with your healthcare practitioner before starting on any new exercise routines to ensure your health and safety is always top of mind.

At Home Workouts For YOU

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

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

Warm Up:

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

Walking on the spot with your knees up – one minute

Jumping Jacks – one minute

Squats – one minute

Alternating lunges – one minute

Jogging on the spot – one minute

Workout:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Cool Down:

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

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.

 

 

Women Muay Thai Trainers in Canada Kicking Butt Through It All

sandrabastian

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

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

trishasammons

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Team Canada’s Archery Coach – Joan McDonald

JoanMcDonald-1

With less than seventy days until the 2016 Summer Olympic Games, I had the absolute pleasure to interview Joan McDonald – Team Canada’s National Recurve Coach for the sport of Archery. At the age of 73 Joan will be attending her 6th Olympic Games as a Coach, and honestly has me more enlightened about sport for women in Canada than ever before.

Joan started her coaching career when she was still a competitive international athlete in the sport. Helping the younger or less experienced athletes she trained with on a daily basis. In 1985 she officially retired from competition, and in 1991 began to think of herself as a coach. Until 2015 when Joan was appointed, there was not a national coach for archery. Throughout her time as an athlete she had numerous mentors to look up to and learn from including Ken Archer Brown, Clarence Shred and Dick Tone. In fact, today she works along side Dick Tone coaching the female archery athlete heading to Rio in August.

Joan really opened my eyes to how one can learn, and in turn, become a better coach when she spoke about her current mentors in sport. Often coaches look to those with more experience or perhaps to coaches who have produced exceptional athletes. But when asked about her mentors today, Joan said ‘I learn most from the experiences with other sports high performance coaches, such as Andy Higgins from track and field or my learning opportunities at the National Coaching Institute or seminars run by Own The Podium coaches and High Performance Directors.” While Joan notes she takes every chance to attend such opportunities, in Canada there are far from enough.

At the 2012 Olympics, only 11% of coaches were female. Joan attributes much of this issue in Canada to a lack of a set path shown or provided to up and coming female coaches. Moreover, Joan notes, “No matter how much we improve for worldwide women’s rights, there are still some things that don’t change. We are still raising the families of the world and most having to work full time on top of it”.

Not identifying a clear path for coaching combined with a lack of female mentors or role models in coaching is making this career a difficult one to choose. Moreover, Joan says, “If Canada puts a pile of money into one athlete, we get one athlete. If we put a pile of money into one coach, we get unlimited athletes.” The combination of increased salaries and coach development opportunities are a must for Canada to continue to develop strong athletes who are successful internationally and at the Olympic Games.

The Olympic Games is a fairly small tournament for the sport of archery in terms of athlete participation. Sixty-four men and sixty-four women compete. In fact, Canada has not sent a full team to compete, rather single athletes only, since 1996. Joan is quite confident these Games might be different. For the first time in 20 years, Team Canada might send a men’s team to shoot as well as one-woman shooter.

The training regime for Canada’s archery team is different than any other sport I know. The team trains five to six days per week, twice a day. Their morning routine consists of the physical training including cardiovascular and weight training, as well as sport psychology, nutrition and other non-sport specific training. The afternoon session is on the range where they are often hoping for bad weather. A windy or rainy day is excellent training conditions. In fact, the only weather condition that will ever stop a tournament is lightening, otherwise, the competition will always go on. For Joan’s team, it is imperative to be able to shoot with immense accuracy no matter the weather conditions.

Leading up to the Games Joan is really excited! When asked what excites her most about the Olympic Games she answered, “Everything! It is the greatest show on earth! I get to work with the best people on the planet!” Staying focused and having a day-to-day itemized plan while in Rio will be a key point to her team’s success.

This excitement carries over to her love for the sport. Joan finds herself inspired every day by her team. Seeing people improving, getting people out of their comfort zones and seeing them feel excited about their achievements is what she lives for. In fact, her greatest successes as a coach have had nothing to do with high performance. Joan sometimes works with athletes who have mental disabilities. “To see them do things they never thought they could do and be called successful, then to see their parents see this too…this is success as a coach for me.”

Joan is the type of coach I want to have around me and the young girls in my family. Although I only had the chance to talk with her for one hour, I could sense her ability to help girls feel confident in their own skin and in their abilities as both an athlete and as a human being. Her grace and wisdom as a coach was a true honor to listen to and learn from. I want to wish Joan and the entire Team Canada Archery Team the very best of luck on the 2016 Summer Olympics!

If you enjoyed this blog, read more from Fit Communications on sport here.

Wanted: Female Athlete Role Models

Sports-Girls-09

Sadly, girls are six times more likely to drop out of sport than are their male counterparts. We need to change these statistics as there are so many benefits to participation in sports. According to the Women’s Sport Foundation, girls who are in sport do better in school, learn life skills such as teamwork and goal setting, build self-confidence and have lower levels of stress.

Part of what we, at Fit Communications, think needs to change in order to change these statistics are more positive female role models in sport. Our girls need women to look up to, to strive to be like in order to motivate them to work harder, go faster and be better. Not only in sport, but in life.

So what is a role model? Wikipedia defines a role model as “a person whose behavior, example, or success is or can be emulated by others, especially by younger people.”  There are so many positive effects a role model can have on a young girl including body image, self-esteem and participation. According to SIRC (Sport Research Intelligence sportive) “studies have shown that girls as young as 9 can develop a self-consciousness about their bodies that can contribute to them dropping out of sport. Exposing girls to successful, confident, strong athletic female role models with a healthy body shapes helps to create a positive image for young girls to look up to and can also drive young women to want to participate in their respective sports.”

Unfortunately, when you search Google for images of “female athletes” a slew of images of nearly naked women pop up. It looks more like photos taken out of Playboy rather than Sports Illustrated (and I don’t mean the swimsuit edition!) Within these photos are some legitimate athletes but unfortunately they have chosen to strip down to skimpy bikinis or even naked to pose with their sporting equipment. Is this the role model I want for my daughter or I would want as an athlete myself years ago? No! I want to see real girls and women training. Show me the real sweat and angst of hard work painted on their faces. Show me muscles. Show me real bodies of real athletes – not a photo-shopped spray tanned pose.

It’s not that there is a lack of female athlete role models. Quite the contrary. There are many athletes – both professional and amateur that are doing amazing things both on and off the field.

The issue isn’t that they don’t exist. The issue is that we don’t know about them. The reason for this is two-fold. First, they don’t get enough media attention. The media, generally speaking, cover female sports and athletes staggeringly less than their male counterparts. Part of the reason, arguable is that other than in Europe and the WNBA, there are no professional sports leagues for women. The sports that are the exception to this are tennis and golf. But other than Eugenie Bouchard, do you know any of these athletes by name? Even when Bouchard is covered by the media, they ask her about her outfit or if she has a celebrity crush! Do they ask the same questions to Dustin Byfuglien or Tom Brady? So then if we don’t have professional females, then why not cover more amateur female sports? When was the last time you saw women’s sports – professional or amateur – covered by TSN or CBC?

Secondly is sponsorship – or more specifically, a lack thereof. Again, there are countless number of men and men’s professional athletes and teams sponsored by businesses. What about women’s? What about amateur female athletes? Is it because businesses think that sponsoring female athletes won’t be seen as high profile or as popular as the men? (this can be linked back to the lack of coverage by the media). I would argue that a business would get a bigger “bang for their buck” by sponsoring a female athlete over a male. Young women NEED more role models – more heroes of sport and life. Parents know this. Any parent of a young girl knows how important it is for our daughters (or nieces or granddaughters) to have strong, positive, inspiring, athletic women to look up to.  I would truly respect and support a company that chose a strong female athlete as their spokesperson or person to sponsor. And I do the shopping in my household.

In addition, choosing a female athlete stands out. I hear countless radio ads of different hockey players promoting everything from car dealerships to insurance sales. Hearing from a successful local female athlete would get attention. It’s not status quo.

So if you are a business, rather than spending $230,000 on a rink board panel ad of the Jets that I’m betting no one even notices is there, why not spend that money on making a real difference in some of our female athletes. They need help with training. They train 30-40 hours per week and have part time jobs to make ends meet. At the moment they are sweating it out or giving back to their community and their sports. They go to schools to talk to kids about their experiences and provide inspiration. They will be fantastic ambassadors for your business. You will not be disappointed if you get behind them. Impress those of us that are waiting for a hero.

The Key to a Healthy Gut

 healthy-gut2

Your digestive system. It can be the essence of your health. Almost everything (with the exception of breathing and skin soaking it all in) comes in and out through your digestive system. It keeps us nourished, it feeds all of our organs and muscles, can lead to being healthy or being a mess. So ensuring your gut is healthy is imperative. In this week’s blog I brought together some key information on what to do to ensure you keep your digestive system in optimal health.

Issues most often arise with your digestive system due to poor food choices, viruses, parasites, too much caffeine and alcohol, antibiotics, NSAIDs and bad bacteria. These can all damage your gastrointestinal tract, which can in turn lead to a “leaky gut”.

“Leaky gut” means “that instead of foods being broken down, absorbed, and eliminated, partially digested foods can now cross through the damaged area of the intestinal lining and enter the blood stream directly. This leak can cause intolerance that then initiate an inflammatory response in the body and the release of stress hormones. One of these stress hormones is cortisol, which further taxes the body and starts to impair the body’s immune system. This can then lead to a host of issues that may not seem related to the impaired gastrointestinal tract, like allergies, skin conditions, impaired performance, and stubborn weight gain to name but a few.” (Source: http://breakingmuscle.com/nutrition/the-four-rs-how-to-restore-optimal-gut-health)

So now that we have the basic issue understood, what can you do about it? The great news is that there is tons of ways to make your body work better for you. Here’s how to start!

Step One – Remove the foods and toxins from your diet that can be causing the issue. Processed foods, bad fats, alcohol and caffeine to start, and see what else is causing your stomach to ache. Often dairy and gluten cause upset stomachs – listen to your body. Personally if I eat read meat I have a real tough time digesting it – I think of it as a food hangover. So I simply avoid it – including whey protein.  If it just doesn’t feel right, it probably isn’t.

Step Two – Add things that are GOOD for your gut. Probiotics are key. Probiotics help fight illness by keeping the good bacteria in your system.   Omega 3s, Zinc, antioxidants, aloe vera and turmeric are all terrific. And if you read the Fit Communications blog often, you know that we are HUGE fans of these for various reasons. Add them to your day every day, and you may truly feel a difference.

Step Three – Add items such as digestive enzymes or organic salt to keep your bile salts, hydrochloric acid and digestive enzymes in check. You can buy all of these items at your local health food store. Personally I take digestive enzymes before a meal such as steak that I know will be hard for me to digest. Also before a big meal such as Thanksgiving dinner, I take my enzymes to help my body digest the foods I am not used to easier.

Step Four – A few extra nutritional tips.

  • Cinnamon – its great for keeping your blood pressure in check, but also can help improve digestion. Sprinkle some of your morning coffee or oats
  • Mint, Ginger, Cumin, Nutmeg – all terrific at aiding with digestion and settling your stomach on an off day
  • Fiber is your friend! Add fiber-rich foods to your day along with leafy greens
  • Give the good bacteria a boost with fermented foods such as yogurt, sauerkraut, miso soup, bananas, garlic, asparagus and onions
  • Dark chocolate – another great treat! Turns our good microbes feast on dark chocolate. So go ahead and break off another square

Last but not least…chill out! That’s right – your stomach will love you for it. Stress is a key issue when it comes to your overall health, your stomach included. So try and relax…your tummy will love you for it!