Goal Setting 101


Goal setting helps us determine our priorities, make big decisions, and realize our dreams. To achieve what we want in life we have to set our sights on exactly what it is that we want. Determining what we want is the first step on how to get to where you want to go – a definition of what your success looks like. Whether it be a life goal (to be happy and healthy), a career goal (to be rich and successful) or a fitness goal (to be in the best shape of your life) you have to set a concrete definition of what all of this looks like. What is “rich” to you? What is “healthy”? Determine this and then align them with some numbers. This way when you achieve your desired result, it will be easy to measure and pinpoint success.

After determining what the ultimate goal, break down the goal into manageable and realistic steps on how to get there. For example, if your goal is to run a marathon and you haven’t ran more than one mile, set a smaller, more short-term goal – such as running a 5K race. This way you will be more likely to achieve the goal and provide positive reinforcement to help you move forward with success to your next goal – maybe 10K – working towards your end goal of the marathon.

To help you stay on track, it is also advised to set a deadline or time line for your ultimate or “dream” goal and work backwards for your smaller stepping stone goals. Ensure that these are realistic to set yourself up for smalls “wins” working toward the end goal.

Don’t be afraid to adjust your goals periodically. If you are working toward your ultimate goal and it turns out that a stepping stone goal isn’t being completed by the time you had pre-determined, it’s ok. Give yourself the flexibility to adjust as needed. Without flexibility you may set yourself up for frustration or to give up.

Once you have done the work to set your goals, communicate them. Share with others what you want to achieve. Not only will this make you accountable but will also provide you with support and encouragement from others.

Finally remember that no goal is too lofty. Dream BIG. If you believe you can do something, you will. Set plans to take the logical steps to make it happen. Surround yourself with others that believe in you and are positive sources of encouragement.

The great thing about life is we can have every single thing that we can think of and dream of with a positive and welcoming mindset. We can create, be, have and do anything that we set our minds and hearts to. Now go set that dream goal. Do it – now!

Why I FINALLY Threw Away My Scale

Healthy Body Image

We obsess over numbers. How much money do I make? How many square feet is my house? How many pounds do I weigh? We need a SERIOUS shift. We need to shift towards how things make us FEEL. Am I living a lifestyle that I love? Is my home a place of comfort and love? Do I wake up in the morning and feel great about my body? THESE are the questions we should be asking, and in turn, making shifts in our conscious behavior as needed.

I tell my friends and family all the time ‘It doesn’t matter what the scale says it matters about how you feel’. But there I am, day after day obsessively weighing in. I can honestly wake up and look at myself in the mirror and say ‘I look amazing today’ and then quicker than a shake of a lamb’s tale say ‘I wonder how much I weigh today?’. And if that number doesn’t coincide with where I thought I should be, it turns things around just as quickly.

WHO CARES?!?! Does it really matter if I have gone up a pound or two or down a pound or two if when I look in the mirror I am happy with what I see? Does it really matter that I should ‘take 2 pounds off for clothes and one pound off for the coffee and water I had already’ to really get my “true weight” if I love the way I look? Does it really matter what that number is if my body is capable of doing 200 pound squats and 50 pushups and 25 pound bicep curls?

The answer is so obvious right?! Then why do I (and maybe you too) care so much about what that number is? We shouldn’t. It is unhealthy for my physical and mental well being to obsess over that number. It makes you want to eat less, eat different, take pills, binge sweat – whatever the reaction it has on you, it needs to stop.

So I have stopped. I have ridded my home of a scale. Instead, I am going to wake up each morning and ask myself how I physically feel. And then I will look at myself in the mirror while I’m getting ready for my day and ask myself how do I physically look in MY eyes. And when in doubt, I’m going to remind myself of five things I did this week in the gym to prove that the scale doesn’t run me, I do. So the fact that I can throw a mean right cross or killer roundhouse kick, or that I can do upside down pushups until the cows come home, or that I can throw my nieces in the air a hundred times to make them giggle. My body is more physically fit at 37 than I ever have been and I need to celebrate that. Every day. Screw the numbers. F the scale. I am looking at my successes from a different lens.

Meditation 101



I have been hearing more and more lately that people should meditate as a part of their overall health regimen. I have to admit, I am a skeptic. When I think of meditation, I think of hippie yogi types that burn incense and wear only recycled cotton. Considering how much I am hearing about it recently, I thought I would do my own research on why and how this could benefit me. Here is what I have discovered…

1. The US Marines meditate and so do NFL players – gone is my hippies only idea!

2. It increases your immune function.

3. It decreases pain and inflammation at a cellular level.

4. It increases your brain functionality – it increases your brain’s cortical thickness – increasing attention and memory, and the ability to multitask. It also increases brain volume – in areas of emotion regulation, positive emotions and self-control.

5. It allows you to be more creative and “think outside the box.”

6. It has been shown to decrease anxiety, stress and depression.

7. It increases social connection, makes you more compassionate and reduces loneliness.

All of these effects have been scientifically proven. So I am more convinced than before. However, I personally don’t have 2 hours a day to commit to meditation. Even if I would get these benefits.   In my research I discovered that I actually don’t need to meditate for 2 hours a day. You really only need about 20 minutes to meditate. So I could cut down my Facebook or TV time by the amount. This is a bit more realistic.

I know that there are many other myths about what meditation should look like. Most of the myths are just that – myths. There are many different forms – you can Google any of the following if you want to check each out: mindfulness, Transcendental, compassion, mantra, Vipassana, Art of Living breathing practices, yoga nidra, yoga, insight, loving-kindness, tai chi etc…

For me, “mindfulness” sounds like the most basic and welcoming form from this list. I found out that this consists of: “taking a good seat, pay attention to your breath and when your attention wanders, return.”  This, I think I can handle. I will give it a try and report back. If you are looking to have any of the above benefits come into your life, I’d suggest you give it a try too. It doesn’t cost a dime and if anything, it will at least make you stop and relax for 20 minutes in the craziness of your day.

Alzheimer’s or “Forgetfulness”?



Alzheimer’s may be one of the hardest diseases to deal with as a family member. It is a disease that attacks the brain and can change the person you know and love into someone that doesn’t even know you. This must be emotionally draining for family and caregivers of the people with the disease.

So what is Alzheimer’s? It is the most common form of dementia (60-80% of cases) that causes problems with memory, thinking and behavior. Symptoms usually develop slowly and get worse over time, becoming severe enough to interfere with daily tasks.

In Canada, women make up 72% of Alzheimer’s patients.

Alzheimer’s has no cure. However, there are treatments available and support for caregivers. Although Alzheimer’s treatments cannot stop Alzheimer’s from progressing, they can temporarily slow the worsening of dementia symptoms and improve quality of life.

I know many people my age are dealing with parents and some level of forgetfulness. The obvious concern is that this may be the beginning of Alzheimer’s. However, almost 40% of people over the age of 65 experience some form of memory loss. When there is no “underlying medical condition causing this memory loss, it is known as “age-associated memory impairment,” which is considered a part of the normal aging process.”

But how do you know what is normal aging “forgetfulness” and what is dementia? The Alzheimer Society of Canada http://www.alzheimer.ca/ has a list for you to help determine if behaviors are “normal” or if they are a reason for you or your loved one to seek medical advice.

Normal Aging  Dementia
· Not being able to remember details of a conversation or event that took place a year ago · Not being able to recall details of recent events or conversations
· Not being able to remember the name of an acquaintance · Not recognizing or knowing the names of family members
· Forgetting things and events occasionally ·Forgetting things or events more frequently
· Occasionally have difficulty finding words · Frequent pauses and substitutions when finding words
 · You are worried about your memory but your relatives are not · Your relatives are worried about your memory, but you are not aware of any problems


If you are worried about yourself or a loved one, the best advice is to ask your health professional. If you would like more information about support in your area, tips for coping with normal age-related memory difficulties and ongoing research, please visit www.alzheimer.ca.

How To Lose Weight By Loving Yourself


Last night I hung out with a dear old friend who called needing my help and advice as it relates to her health. On January 1 she decided to weigh herself and began to cry. She is at her all time heaviest weight. Our discussion had three main areas of focus that I feel are imperative to a healthy weight and healthy body image that I wanted to share with our Fit Communications community.

1. Fitness

If you want to be healthy, you MUST workout. There are tons of opinions on what type of workout is best, how often you should do it, and for how long. But there is ZERO question or debate that if you want to be healthy, a workout routine is a MUST. As adults we should be working out as much as we can – it leads to a healthy heart, bones, and blood. It keeps disease as bay including heart disease, diabetes, cancer – almost all disease prevention mentions exercise. Your body will be healthier. Your mind will be healthier. YOU will live a longer, healthier, happier life if you exercise frequently. This is not up for debate. Exercise is a must.

2. Nutrition

There is so much information out there to weed through about what it means to have a healthy diet. Each human being requires different supplements and diet requirements. The way you eat has direct correlation to how you look and how you feel. I remember years ago my brother called me and said he had been feeling down for the last few days. I asked him what he had been eating that may have something to do with it. As a high level athlete his concern is not focused on calories to say the least. But he noted he had eaten McDonald’s for three meals in the last three days. He stopped eating McDonald’s that week. You need to shoot for the 80/20 rule when it comes to your nutrition. 80% of the time it should be healthy, nutritious food. 20% of the time you can slack a bit. The way you eat directly relates to how your feel – physically and emotionally. This is so important.

3. Self Love

This is the part that everyone forgets. If you workout consistently and eat a healthy diet, what’s left? There is more to it. You need to start to love the body that is yours. Once you begin to love your body you will only want the very best for it. You won’t want to pack it with cola and potato chips. You won’t want to skip workouts for a week, a month, a year. You will want to feed yourself nutritious food and exercise frequently because that is what is best for your body and you can FEEL the difference. You can feel how much better your body and mind are when you treat your body like a temple rather than like a garbage dump. And you can try every single diet, every single workout fad, every pill, every shake, and every wrap. But until you LOVE YOUR BODY you will never be healthy. Because if you don’t think your body deserves nothing but the best, you are throwing it all away.

It doesn’t take a new year to make new promises to yourself – it takes courage and commitment. When you start to love your body you will start to see the change that you have yearned for. So try to make this year about this your want to DO, rather than things that you want to LOSE. You want to lose belly fat and weight and a few extra pounds. Instead, shift your thinking to bringing things INTO your life like exercise and nutrition and a healthy lifestyle. We need to shift our thinking about healthy lifestyle from being things we want to lose or get rid of into a mindset of things we want to gain like more years, more energy, more health.

Happy 2015!


Food Rules…What’s Your List?

rsz_relationship_with_foodI have been doing a lot of thinking on the concept of one’s relationship with food. I personally think everyone should have the 80/20 Rule when it comes to food – 80% of what you eat and drink should be healthy, while 20% ‘not so much’. I also feel everyone should strive for 85/15 then 90/10 then 95/5. And under the category ‘not so much’ that doesn’t mean absolute horrid junk – a medium place.

Secondly I think that many of us, myself included, think WAY too much about food. What are we going to have for dinner? I shouldn’t have eaten that second cookie. How many calories/grams of fat/carbs have I eaten today? I have a craving for X, Y and Z. And so much of our social world revolves around food – we have celebratory dinners, depression induced binging – all emotional ends of the spectrum. And because food is something that we MUST have to survive, it is impossible to not think about it.

Then there are the ‘food rules’. I think that to best understand your personal relationship with food – is it healthy or a disaster or somewhere in the middle – you must have a clear idea of how many rules you have and perhaps how much you obsess over them. And even though your personal list of rules might be keeping you healthy, the lists can be exhaustive. I personally have food guilt. Something I wish I didn’t, but I do. So in hopes of one day not, I have decided I need to better understand my personal relationship with food in order to think of it always in a positive light. I know WHY I have the guilt – pressure from society, family, the opposite sex, myself – to look a certain way. And eating bonbons and chips doesn’t adhere to that standard. So even if I only indulge in junk food once in a while, I still have a negative space in my head that obsesses over it.

So what are my food rules? My list, although quite healthy ideologies, is exhaustive. And to be quite honest, some are borderline concerning to me once I wrote them out. I won’t get into the ‘why’s’ of each for now, although in the spirit of sharing and becoming a healthier woman every day, here goes:

  1. When it comes to meat, I only eat chicken and fish/seafood. No red meat, pork, game, etc…
  2. I do not eat dairy
  3. I do not eat processed cereal
  4. If I buy anything processed I read labels and ensure there are no more than 10 grams of sugar per serving, no more than 500 mgs of sodium per serving, and pay close attention to the calories per serving
  5. I have a healthy and substantial breakfast every morning that includes a carbohydrate (wrap or toast), protein (usually eggs), vegetables, fruit and coffee
  6. I have a salad every day and make homemade dressing when possible
  7. I pay attention to the ‘dirty dozen’ when it comes to grocery shopping and buying organic when I can
  8. I have turmeric, cayenne pepper and aloe (to eat) every single day one way or another
  9. I take a handful of vitamins and minerals every single day
  10. If I eat ‘too much’ one day, I try to make up for it the next
  11. I weigh myself almost every day
  12. I do not eat white starches
  13. I avoid pop and sugar-filled ‘fruit’ juices as well as alcoholic beverages that are full of sugar (I mostly stick with wine and vodka)
  14. I cook only with raw, organic coconut oil or cold-pressed extra virgin olive oil
  15. If I have a heavier carb in the morning (i.e. bread) I do not eat any other starch-carbs that day (i.e. no more rice, bread, potatoes, etc)
  16. I have flax, chia and/or hemp seeds every single day
  17. I try not to eat three hours before bed

I do feel that the majority of these ‘rules’ I have made for myself are for the most part healthy (with the exception of numbers 10 and 11). That said, having so many rules also has it’s own drawbacks. Does having such a regimented way of eating affect my ability to have a healthy relationship with food? I do feel that food is something that should be consumed to maximize your health and longevity. But am I over thinking it all? Is this list of ‘rules’ contributing to my overall food guilt when I go off the rails? Absolutely it is. But it is also absolutely keeping me healthy. My internal investigation on this subject will continue. I think making this list has helped me understand that even though I have my own fair share number of rules, for the most part they are all centered around healthy habits.

So what about you? What does your list look like?

Eight Things Happy People Do Every Day


I often find people trolling the internet to find the ‘secret to happiness’. While I do think this is something that you create rather than something you find, I also know there are a few things that make us ‘positive and happy’ people different. So this blog is all about what I do in my every day to keep an optimistic outlook no matter what the universe throws my way.

1) Compartmentalize – I think this is integral to not having your world feel like it is crashing in on you. When something is going crappy in your life, you need to understand that is ONE aspect of your life, and to keep it in its own compartment. For example if you hate your job – it is just work and only one aspect of your life. Your life isn’t terrible because work is terrible. There are plenty of other terrific things/people/places in your life, so try to concentrate on those more. Although some crappy life experiences can really overtake your life, like a loss of a loved one for example, it is really important to try to compartmentalize.

2) See the good – once you’ve been able to keep bad experiences separated from ‘my entire life sucks’, you will begin to count your blessings. Your friends. Your family. Your health. How much your love the feeling of the sun on your shoulders. The taste of strawberry ice cream on a hot day. Really start to notice the great things in your life, and if need be, write those things down. I do – and I have about 20,000 things to be happy about in my happiness book.

3) Have close, meaningful relationships – PLURAL. It is too much to put on one person to bring this to your soul. Close, meaningful, trustworthy relationships are very important to being happy and positive. Don’t put this all on your partner. You need other family members and friends in your life. People with different interests and perspectives, experiences and knowledge. Soak it in and have honest relationships.

4) Be healthy – this could be a book in and of itself of course, but proper nutrition and adequate exercise are really important. For one, they release endorphins that physically make you happier. Secondly, when you feel healthy and strong, you are much more capable of being happy and to have a positive outlook. Nobody is overly jolly when sick – take really good care of yourself and your health. This is the only body you have.

5) Have great sex. Let’s be honest – who isn’t happy when that’s happening!

6) Find your happy place. My partner and I love this one! Daydream either on your own or with your partner/friends/family about your dream life. The Law of Attraction has a game to do this called “The What If Up Game”. It feels so wonderful to do, to imagine your future full of fabulous. And really begin to understand how this would FEEL for you to have it all. Because you can. You really CAN have it all. And when you begin to believe that statement, watch how it all comes to you.

7) Be confident – I understand that this is easier said than done of course, so start with small steps. Know what you are great at and do those things more often to start making yourself feel good about YOU. Nobody can make you feel good about the person that you are other than you. You don’t have to be a super model or a brain surgeon or the most popular to be confident. You just need to know yourself and not be afraid to be you.

8) If you don’t like it, change it. Complaining doesn’t fix problems. Change does. If you hate your job, your relationship, the city you live in – leave it. Nobody is holding you against your will to do anything. And after a while your friends and family will dwindle because you are always complaining about something. So be the change that you want to see in your own life. And then start to see the good and the blessings in the newness. Remember – this is YOUR LIFE. YOU own it. YOU create it. YOU get to make it everything and anything you want.

Fat Shaming


I recently read an article suggested to me on ElephantJournal.com about ‘Fat Shaming’. I thought it would be great to go to my ‘Facebook community’ to see what there thoughts were regarding the story. I posted the following statement:

I recently read an article that talked about a woman who was 350 lbs on social assistance, and she said the reason she was obese was because she couldn’t afford to be healthy (i.e. buy nutritious food, gym membership, lacked the knowledge, etc). I’m really curious what my ‘Facebook circle’ has to say about this topic. What are YOUR thoughts?

This resulted in perhaps my post popular posting to date, full of feedback, commentary, suggestions and the like. Many posted they felt this person was ‘lazy’ or ‘it is free to go for a walk’ or perhaps suggestions on how to ‘feed a family healthy on a dime’ (which by the way I blogged about a few months ago for cost savings tips here).

Discussions ensued about socio-economic background and health correlations, home economics and nutritional education in schools. Suggestions for change such as providing free gym memberships to those on social assistance as that would not only help them be healthier, but also lower costs related to hospitalization while allowing them to experience positive and healthy social interaction and lower stress levels.

Suggestions of finding a ‘health buddy’ or mentor to help find your ‘healthy path’, teaching the entire family unit about a healthy lifestyle, overall cultural shifts, psychology and modeling all came into the conversation. It was a thought provoking conversation that has sparked interest and allowed for conversation and opinions to be shared. But I think we are missing a huge piece of the puzzle.

Each situation is as unique as the individual involved. Before we judge the person and her decisions, let’s take a walk in her shoes. She is a single mother of three, on social assistance. We do not know if she has any mental illness, perhaps depression or an eating disorder. When you look in her cupboards that is one thing – but look out her front door. Does she have a car to drive to Safeway to pick up fresh food three times a week? Does the social assistance budget for food, which is $20 per week per adult in the home, allow for fresh food each week? Could YOU live off $20 for food a week and eat healthy?

Is she in a violent neighborhood where ‘just going for a jog’ or walking to the store is even an option? Look at Winnipeg’s North End or Core area! If you live in these regions are you able to do this each day? Is that even your realistic priority as a mother of three on social assistance? God only knows the struggles she is faced with. What about the Northern communities of Manitoba? Where a litre of milk is $12 and a can of coke is $1. Are you telling me that if you were faced with the choice of $12 or $1 and you were on a limited income you would always opt for skim? It is simply not an option.

Moreover, not everyone simply ‘knows how to be healthy’. The average physician takes ONE course on nutrition in his/her entire education. Your doctor is not an expert. If I could tell you how many times I have educated, financially well-off people talk to me about nutrition and have NO clue about what is really good or bad for them, it shocks me every single week. Level of education, the neighborhood you grew up in, and financial status don’t mean squat about your knowledge of nutrition and/or exercise. Be it a parent, coach, yourself, a mentor – someone sparks that interest in you to learn, and you will.

In the words of Margaret Mead, “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful committed citizens can change the world; indeed it’s the only thing that ever has”.

So my challenge to you all is this. Be the change that you feel can make a difference. Be someone’s ‘health buddy’. Share knowledge. Help make communities safer and healthier in any way that you can. And let us know how that goes. Let us know how that feels. We are always here to support your healthy lifestyle and story!

De-stress Advice for Parents


So the kids are back in school. Mothers and fathers are breathing a sigh of relief while at the same time undergoing associated stress. There are a slew of things to take care of during the school year: organizing and packing lunches, driving and picking up, homework monitoring and after-school program maintenance and scheduling.

Part of the stress on parents is spurred by the much-needed, but often busy, after school programs. Not only is it a question of what activities to have your children sign up for but also the cost, the driving, planning dinners around it, carpools, equipment, uniforms etc…

So what do parents do to stay calm and level-headed?

My suggestion is to enroll yourself in an activity. I believe that this is possible for anyone. Although easier for some more than others, it is hugely important for parents to take time for themselves in order to relax and recharge for the following reasons:

1 – Improve or maintain health good health: registering in a leisure activity can include a form of physical fitness – whether it is going to the gym, signing up for a kickboxing class or a masters swim team, they all will benefit you in some way physically – as a part of a healthy lifestyle

2 – Reduce stress: whether it is a spin class, cooking class or a yoga class, there are aspects of any of these activities that help to reduce stress. Even stepping away from the house and the kids and doing something on your own, for YOU, helps to slow your breathing and gain perspective. Yoga has meditative qualities and breathing exercises that make you stop to focus on yourself.

3 – Lead by example: children learn how to relax and spend leisure time by watching their parents. Do you read? Do you have a hobby? Do you exercise? Do you know how to relax? Do you take time for yourself? By doing these things teaches children the importance of balance and making “you” a priority.

4 – Perspective: I know that when I return from a walk or a yoga class, I am much more “level-headed” than before the activity began. These activities force one to step away from the current, sometimes crazy, situation and just breathe. Simply breathing and not “thinking” per se allows you to relax, focus and gain perspective. Is the puzzle spread over the flood a tragedy? Is the sink full of dishes going to be the end of the world? If the floor doesn’t get vacuumed today will anyone be worse off in life?

So my advice to parents during “back to school” time is to get “back to you”. Put yourself on the ever growing “to-do” list. Ask for help when you need it. Make yourself a priority. Do not feel guilty or make excuses why you can’t. You and your family will be better off for it.

Be Yoga – Service Review



Soul Healing. These are two words to describe the Be Yoga – Yoga Studio. It is not only a yoga studio but a place to heal, grow and strengthen. The studio is small – in a room on the second floor in St. Boniface at 130 Marion Street, it has a maximum of about 18 students per session. These 18 are a lucky group. Tiffany, the owner of the studio and sole teacher, knows most everyone by name. She remembers you and things you share with her. It is welcoming, warm, inviting. The studio is dimly lit and filled with soothing music to help you get into the zone of relaxation – combined, it gives an aura of hippy, India, Buddah, happiness and warmth.

It is anything but intimidating. There is an array of people in the class – from “yogis” to grandmas. All participants have many different levels of skill. Tiffany gives many options for these different levels to stay connected to the class. No matter if you are new to yoga, pregnant, or injured she is sensitive to your needs and makes you feel at ease and welcome.   The daily classes are as varied as her clientele. You will never be bored of the same routine. Tiffany also explains what the focus of the class that day is or what parts of the body or systems we will be targeting. It helps to know how the poses are helping your body.

Be Yoga offers many different classes including Flow, Slow Flow, Yin, Yin Glow and Restorative. No hot yoga here (much to my liking!). The variety of classes all retain the same basic principles – balance, belonging and energy. No matter what class you take, you will feel better for being there. It is not out of the norm for Tiffany to read an excerpt from a piece of her favourite literary works. It makes you think beyond yourself, that room, your day.

Be Yoga has many different packages available – truly for something for everyone. Whether you want to go everyday or once a week or once a month. It is all really affordable too. Very reasonable given what I know of most yoga studio pricing.

As Tiffany is usually the only one leading all classes, she can not teach every hour of every day and therefore there are not 80 classes per week like some studios. However, the weekly schedule is consistent, posted on-line and fits in different schedules – lunch hour shortened, after work and weekend classes. She truly brings a piece of her to every class – and that is exactly what you can count on with each and every class. It’s a wonderful place to practice. To be. To open yourself.

So if you are in the market for a warm place to start yoga or looking for a new great place, try Be Yoga. If you need more information, please visit the website:    http://www.beyoga.ca/index.htm