How do YOU feel about your body?

The majority of my clients are women.  All of them are interesting, incredible people with diverse backgrounds.  But there is a common theme that shows up with all the women I work with.  They are all very hard on themselves and their body image.  When I look at these women I don’t see the flaws that they continue to point out.  I see them for the amazing people that they are.  Their bodies have taken them to incredible places and provided the start of their children’s lives. My mission as a trainer is to provide them with the means to focus on health and fitness. Because that comes in all shapes and sizes.  I find it so hard knowing that our society has turned many women against their bodies.

As a former figure skater, I know what it is like to be judged on how you look.  I used to skate in a touring show where all the skaters were weighed on a weekly basis to make sure everyone looked “good” in their costumes.  We were expected to stay in our particular weight range and if we didn’t we were fined.  Hard to believe this practice existed!!!  This set most of the skaters up for disaster trying to constantly keep weight down when we were on the road all the time with not a lot of healthy food options provided.  This is when I really tuned into lifting weights as a way to keep my metabolism in check and maintain a consistent body weight for me.  As the tour went on I saw my skater friends become increasingly unhappy over what was happening to their body image.

I just wish that women could cut themselves some slack.  Life is busy and it’s not always easy to stay on track with eating right and exercising consistently.  But for goodness sake don’t make it worse by beating yourself up.  I have even heard women who are in top shape put down their body.  Let’s celebrate what our unique bodies are capable of doing instead of pointing out what they can’t.  Health and longevity should be the main priority.



A Few of my Favourite Fit Things

  1. The Core Chair – So many of my clients spend way too many hours sitting at their desks and come away with aches and pains from static sitting.  Sitting is such a necessary evil that if we are going to do it we should at least have the best chair possible for our well being. The Core Chair was inspired by the growing use of exercise balls as office chairs in an attempt to overcome the shortcomings of ergonomic office chairs and create an active, comfortable sitting environment that stimulates the core muscles.  You will want to keep a close eye on this evolving product.  Your whole body will thank you!


2.  Coconut water – Amazing alternative to sugary sports drinks.  Coconut water is low in calories, has loads of potassium and is cholesterol free. It’s a great way to rehydrate your body.  It contains natural sugars, salts and vitamins that our bodies need for post workout recovery.  Make sure to find a brand in it’s purest form to get all the wonderful hydrating benefits from the fresh, young coconuts.  Cheers to natural hydration.

3.  Gym Boss Interval Trainer – This interval timer keeps you on track, motivated and gives you the ability to control the intensity of your workouts. Interval training is an amazingly effective and efficient way to train that can give you great results.

4.  BOSU ball – This fitness product has been around for awhile but I find it to be the most versatile tool on the market for training.  Both sides can be used in various ways to develop balance, stability, strength and can be incorporated into a cardio routine as well.  What I find to be most beneficial about using the BOSU is that you have to be completely focused and in the moment of your workout to keep yourself on the ball whatever position you happen to be in.

5.  Vision boards – Having a visual for what you want out of life and what you want your body to achieve for that matter is incredibly powerful.  It sets up your subconscious to start steering you in the direction of success.  Some people prefer to call these Action boards. By having your goals in front of you in pictures and words sets the wheels in motion.  My advice is to go deeper than just cutting out pictures of material things.  Try to attach the happy, fulfilling feeling to your dreams.  Your health should be front and centre so you can fully enjoy the fruits of your labour.

6.  A dog – I’ve heard it mentioned before that “if your dog is overweight, than you are not getting enough exercise”.  Provided that you are a dog person, owning one can be a great benefit to your health and wellbeing.  A happy dog is a well exercised dog.  Same applies to us humans! 🙂

7.  Other Fit people – There will always be someone in better physical shape than you. When I see someone that has a busy life but still remains in great shape that is someone that I aspire to.  Those fit individuals can be a wealth of information on how to achieve your healthy goals. Enlisting a fit friend to workout with goes a long way to helping you stay on track.

8.  Hungry for Change documentary – This is an eye opening documentary that I wish everyone could see.  It will no doubt change the way you look at the food and diet industry. I watched this with my kids and it was incredible to see how even they responded to the power of food.  It will definitely make you rethink what you put into your body. Here is the link to the trailer for the film


Shape up for your Wedding

I have weddings on my mind lately mostly because I’m getting married in 50 days (us brides know the countdown!)  But I would like to direct this to both brides AND grooms. We all want to look our best on our wedding day. That’s why it’s so important to keep up your exercise routine even though there are many wedding details to attend to.  It’s a wonderful event to look forward to but at the same time there is an element of stress that comes along with the planning process. Not to mention family politics! Hopefully some time out to exercise helps you get rid of that stress.

Starting or maintaining an exercise routine should be on your list of wedding “to dos”. Even better, finding time to work out as a couple helps you both get those feel good endorphins happening. Besides it’s a great habit to have in your relationship with your partner. And hopefully that way there will be less “in sickness” and more “in health” in your lives together. 

I can’t think of a better wedding gift to give the love of your life. I want my husband to stick around in my life for a very long time. So I will always find ways to keep us both healthy so we can enjoy all of life’s adventures together for as long as we can.

Sweat for the wedding for sure but just make sure you maintain that into married life. If you are new to working out then you might want to enlist the help of a trainer to keep you motivated and on track.  And if you are looking to lose some weight prior to your nuptials then consider starting 6 months to a year before your special day. Eat healthy food and cut out alcohol a few months before to really get the results you want. I know it’s always hard to find the time for exercise but if you can incorporate interval training into your routine you will get an effective workout in a shorter amount of time. You will rock your wedding attire AND your bathing suit on your honeymoon! Cheers to healthier ever after 🙂

pat and lisa

Exercise your way into Menopause

Now that I’m in my forties I’m thinking a lot about what effect menopause will have on my body.  I already notice changes happening as I enter into the peri-menopause stage.  This can last from 8 – 10 years prior to actual menopause. So it’s really important to tune into your body during this transition.

Many of my female clients are also in their forties and their main concern is dealing with what is known as the “middle age spread”  What happens is that a lot of women tend to exercise less during this time and therefore the weight creeps on as the hormones change.  But if regular exercise is part of your routine then the symptoms of menopause can be reduced.  Anxiety can become a problem for woman during this time and the best way to combat that is by keeping fit to reduce stress.  The focused breathing techniques used in Yoga have been known to reduce hot flashes.  During peri-menopause bone density decreases so it’s essential to strength train to protect against weakening bones and the threat of osteoporosis.  If we can maintain our muscle mass through regular resistance training then we can keep our metabolism from declining.  Exercise also helps to prevent joint pain, sleep disturbances, irritability and weight gain.  And we all know that it can help protect against high blood pressure, heart attack and strokes.  All of which become more of a concern as we age.

This is a stage in life when many women are dealing with other life changes.  It should be a time when women can focus on themselves more.  Just don’t let yourself slow down too much.

The female body is complex but at the same time pretty darn incredible! So ladies….keep active, eat healthy, tune into your body and enjoy life.

Menopause photo

Stay Fit on your Vacation

It’s so easy to go on vacation and come back a heavier person. The food and drink temptations are hard to resist and it’s definitely a time when you have your nutrition guard down.  But there are ways to stay healthy and fit while away.

If there is a beach, walk it….a lot!!! I really like to run on the beach as it’s easy on my joints and it’s an efficient calorie burning workout.  I can run for lesser time than I would on the treadmill and get a more challenging workout.  The muscles in your legs all need to engage more to compensate for the soft sand surface….hello calves! Try incorporating some jump squats, side shuffles and a few lunges.  It’s amazing after a beach workout to just jump right in the water to cool off.  And while you’re in the water why not do some swimming strokes.

Another good idea is to pack resistance bands and a jump rope in your suitcase just in case the hotel has a less than stellar gym or none at all.  One of my clients was going to a resort she knew didn’t have a gym so we came up with a plan for her vacation workouts.  I took pictures of her doing all the exercises I had shown her with resistance bands and made it into a booklet that she could take with her.  That way she always had something to refer to when it came time to exercise.

Remember that staying hydrated while on holiday is so important.  Especially since eating restaurant can be full of large amounts of sodium.  And since margaritas and mojitos will surely be flowing, keep up with the bottled water.  If you can, find some fresh coconut water to replenish electrolytes.

The great thing about exercising while on vacation is that you should definitely have more time on your hands than you would at home and far fewer excuses!!

So put on that sunscreen, enjoy the beautiful scenery and come back with a healthy, happy glow 🙂

Vacation Joy 🙂

Cardiac Deaths higher over the Holidays

My dad had his massive heart attack on the morning of Christmas Eve.  He was working crazy hours to meet deadlines before taking a break over the holidays.  He also hadn’t done his Christmas shopping.  My mom later found his shopping list. He had planned to do it all that day.  It was the most difficult time I have ever experienced in my life and the fact that it happened at a time of year that’s supposed to be the happiest made it that much more trying for my family.

The main reason I became so passionate about health & fitness is because I lost my father to a disease that can be prevented by following a healthy lifestyle.  It’s always been my mission to help people realize how important it is to reduce stress, exercise and eat right.  These are pretty simple things to do really but it’s amazing how people think that this will never happen to them.  It’s this kind of denial that prevents people from seeking medical help when they are feeling the symptoms of heart attack or stroke.

At this time of year there are so many more stressors that weigh heavily on all of us. Not to mention the overindulging in holiday treats and alcohol.

Studies have shown that the number of cardiac deaths is higher on Dec. 25th than on any other day of the year, second highest is Dec. 26th and third highest is Jan. 1st.  The study also suggests that people may put off getting medical treatment over the holidays because they don’t want to disrupt the festivities.

This is the most important time to stay with your exercise routine, drink in moderation and continue to make healthy eating choices. Listen to your body and get plenty of rest and relaxation during this time of year.  If you feel off it’s better to get checked out than leaving your family to plan your funeral over Christmas.

I wish you all the best for a healthy, happy and fit holiday season and the best of the New Year!  And most of all, give your family the most special gift of all, your presence for many, many more years!

I miss you dad! xo

Me and dad

Embrace change…escape the gym

I don’t mean stop exercising. I mean exercise differently and get off your plateau.  As creatures of habit it is all too easy to get into a routine at the gym and continue to do the same kind of workouts over and over again and still think that because you are making it to the gym then that is enough. I’m guilty of this myself especially since I train other people but no one is there to kick my own butt. So every few weeks I reassess how hard I’m actually working and then kick it up a notch.  But I also pay attention to how my workout makes me feel afterward. If I’m overly sore and my energy level is low than I know it’s time
to give my body more recovery time.

If you find that you are losing interest in your workouts, they are no longer challenging and you are not seeing anymore results than it’s time to change it up.
There are many ways to vary your method of exercising. Try adding a bit more weight and doing less reps. If you are used to using a barbell, try free weights or do an entire workout with a resistance band.  Incorporate declines and inclines. Run up and down a hill instead of always staying on the flat trail. Try some plyometric exercises. Rev up your cardio by doing timed intervals. If you go on vacation try walking, running and doing lunges in the sand. You will have to engage a lot more of your muscles for this kind of workout.  Try exercising on a Bosu, stability ball or balance disc to improve your overall balance and work the stabilizer muscles. Try a class if you are always used to being in the gym.  Consider doing a few sessions with a trainer to learn some new ways of doing things and keep you tuned into your form.

Keep it fun and fresh so you can stay motivated toward your goals.  Just remember to listen to your body and give yourself time for active recovery.  Have a great week of exercise 🙂

Exercise for relief of anxiety

Coming from someone that suffers from anxiety, I can tell you that exercise is one of the greatest, natural ways to relieve those feelings.  Studies have proven that exercise can provide effective relief from anxiety and continue long after a workout is over.

 It doesn’t necessarily have to be strenuous exercise that will help cleanse your mind, but rather something that takes the focus off anxious thoughts.  I tend to be a “catastrophizer” so I require workouts that will allow my brain to drain itself of worry.
Mountain biking on difficult terrain keeps my mind tuned in to every little obstacle and I know if I don’t stay focused I will end up off my bike.  Yoga is another amazing way to become aware of your mind, body connection.  It really is a wonderful cleanse for the mind.  If you are into dancing, you will find so many great benefits there, especially if you have to learn some choreography.  You won’t even notice the workout and the social aspect alone can do wonders for anxiety relief.  The focus required of any workout will decrease overall levels of tension, improve mood, help you sleep better and will no doubt improve your self esteem.
I continually encourage my clients to try to get a workout in when they are really feeling the ill effects of stress. One of my clients just sent me a text to tell me that she just completed an hour long workout and she feels so much better. 🙂  She said she could share this feeling with me because she knows I will get it.   It sounds like she is enjoying a good endorphin high! 🙂
I hope that if there is something weighing heavily on your shoulders you can surely find some relief in moving your body.

Taking the Weight Off Losing Weight

When people come to me for help losing weight I usually tell them not to check the scale too often.  I believe that it is far better to focus on the positive changes that can happen when you get in shape and eat right rather than the negative thinking around losing weight and dieting. If you have an otherwise healthy diet than getting off track once in awhile with a piece of cake or some French fries won’t necessarily reflect itself on the scale as long as you maintain healthy eating the majority of the time.

The focus should be on making sure you get consistent exercise week to week.  Looking good on the outside comes from being determined on the inside.  A really great tool to keep you on track and motivated day to day is to create a vision board.  Find pictures of strong, healthy and happy people (fitness magazines and Pinterest are great for this) Add some motivational quotes that speak to you and make sure to include a picture of yourself when you are feeling at your best.  Put it in a prominent spot where you will see it everyday. Update it whenever you feel the urge.

There will no doubt be times when things will derail your workout plans whether it’s a cold virus knocking you out, spending too many overtime hours at work or overindulging at a party.   The important thing is to not beat yourself up.  Keep your eye on the ultimate goal of being that healthy person you want to be and get at it again when you can.  The healthier you are the better you will be able to handle all the crazy things life throws at you.

So instead of looking to the scale for validation of how your doing, pay attention to how you are feeling mentally and physically.  That is the best indication of whether the changes you are making are working.  Nourish your mind, body and soul and the benefits will become apparent to you and everyone around you.

My Vision Board

How parenthood and fitness can work together

I know many moms can relate to the challenge of finding time to workout amongst all the responsibilities of being a mother. When your kids are young and basically sucking the life force energy out of you, it’s hard enough just to find time to nap let alone get a workout in. And of course in this society we are expected to fit back into our skinny jeans weeks after giving birth. Isn’t that what all the celebrities manage to do?

In the beginning it’s just about going easy on yourself. Some days are down right blissful when your baby decides to take an extra long nap so you actually might have a chance to workout AND get a shower.  Other days just don’t work out as planned and the flow of your day gets completely out of whack.  Just keep in mind that the blissful times will return and you can get back on track with your fitness another day. When my kids were babies I would put them in the swing or exersaucer next to me while I did some  Billy Blanks Tae Bo (at that time he had his own 24 hour channel on satellite) I loved being able to interact with them and still do something healthy for myself and I always felt better afterward. The challenges of the rest of the day would always seem easier to handle after a sweat session.

Now that my kids are older they totally get the reason why mom works out. A happy mom makes for an easy going mom.   The really cool thing is now they want to workout with me. I love having mother and son time together exercising. It makes us all feel better. I love knowing that they are starting to develop the healthy habits that will last their lifetime.  It’s amazing how much they will talk about what is going on with them when the endorphins of exercise kick in.   It’s really important that kids see you doing something for yourself that will keep you in good health. Kids intuitively know that it will benefit them as well to have parents without health problems. Speaking from my own experience, growing up I would see my dad come home late from the office and stressed out most days. I would rarely see him exercise. The odd time I would see him ride his bike around and I spent time with him in a canoe. But I never saw him completely able to cleanse himself of stress.  Looking back I wish he took more time for himself so he could have stuck around to see me grow up and meet his grandchildren. He died of a heart attack when I was 16.

My hope is that we can all carve out time to make health a priority in our lives.
Too many people nowadays are consumed with being busy and wear that as a badge of honour. But there is nothing wrong with saying no to something so you can sweat for a little while, breath deep and get your balance back.