Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Raspberry Orange Smoothie

Alter Ego Fitness Experience - Raspberry Smoothie

For Christmas, Santa brought us a Blendtec blender and we’ve been having a lot of fun trying out different uses.  It’s fabulous!  We used to have an old (about 20 years old) Osterizer.  So, this fancy, new and far more powerful machine is certainly a change.

We’ve done some blending of various things (flax seeds to make flour/powder and almonds to make almond butter) but, so far, we’ve mostly used it for making great tasting vegetable and fruit smoothies.  For healthy veggie smoothies, you just through in the chunks (and I do mean chunks) of veggies, select the right setting, push the button and walk away.It speeds up and slows down, then shuts off by itself.  The finished smoothie is just that – smooth!  No lumps, no chunky pulp, no small pieces of spinach to get stuck in your teeth.  Even the hemp hearts, that we’ve sometimes added for some protein content, are completely blended.

Here’s a fruit smoothie that’s fast becoming one of our favourites.

Raspberry-Orange Smoothie
1 cup non-fat or low-fat soy milk (or almond milk)
1 cup of frozen raspberries
1 medium banana
½ cup of orange juice

It’s quick and easy.  Simply add everything to the blender, cover and blend until smooth.
It’s SO good, and good for you!  It will alleviate your “sweet” craving and can also be used as a pre-workout snack/meal.  For more of a “full-meal deal”, as mentioned above, we’ve occasionally added in some hemp hearts for protein.

We’re real keen to try out more stuff, so please leave us a comment and/or share YOUR favourite blender recipe.

Recipe: Yam Crackers

This recipe is from the “Blissful Raw Food Recipes” cookbook from the Cafe Bliss in Victoria.
They wanted to create something similar to a corn chip but were discouraged from using corn due to the poor quality of product and the lack of year-round availability.  Organic yams, on the other hand, are easy to find year round and, because yams are sweet, delicious and starchy, they make a beautiful orange cracker.

We made these for our recent “Love Yourself” event and they were definitely a hit!  Everyone loved them and asked for the recipe.  Tastes good + good for you = win / win!
So, here’s the recipe.

7 cups         Chopped/cubed raw yam
1                 Medium onion, chopped
2 cups         Raw sunflower seeds, soaked
1 cup           Almond pulp (see below)
1 cup           Ground flax seeds (see below)
2 tbsp          Olive oil
2 tbsp          Lime juice
2 tsp            Sea salt
1 tsp            Ground cumin
2 tsp            Mexican chili powder (see comment below)

Place yam, onion, olive oil, lime juice and spices in a food processor and process until smooth.  Add soaked sunflower seeds and continue to process until smooth.  Depending on the size of food processor, this may have to be done in batches.  (I had to do 2 batches).

I wasn’t sure what “Mexican chili powder” was so I used “normal” chili powder and I also cut a half a jalapeno pepper into very small pieces and added that with the spices in the food processor.  Actually, you can use any kind of spice in this recipe.  If you want more heat, add a whole jalapeno pepper or curry.  For a smoky flavour, add smoked paprika to your recipe.  The possibilities are endless.  Experiment until you find your favourite flavour.

Place the above mixture in a mixing bowl and stir in almond pulp  and ground flax seed until well combined.

Using a rubber spatula, scoop some of the dough onto a dehydrator tray and spread mix to edges.  Spread thinly so that the crackers get good and crisp.  Repeat until all the mixture is used.
Score the sheets of spread mix to form individual crackers in desired size.  Place trays in dehydrator (NOTE:  If you don’t own a dehydrator, you can use your oven – simply set the temperature to the lowest setting).  Using a dehydrator set the temperature at 115 degrees for 12 hours.  Flip the crackers and dehydrate for another 12 – 24 hours.  If doing this recipe in the oven at your lowest temperature (my oven’s lowest is 170 degrees) the crackers may get crisp much sooner.  So, check them after 8 to 10 hours when in the oven. The longer you can wait, the crunchier the cracker should be.
Allow the dried mixture to cool and then break, along the scored lines, into crackers.  Place the cooled crackers in an airtight container and store at room temperature.  They should keep up to 1 month, but may lose some crunch after time.

Making Almond Mylk / Pulp
Place 4 cups of water, 1 cup of soaked RAW almonds, (almonds need to soak in water overnight), 2 pitted dates, a pinch of sea salt, and a dash of vanilla extract (or use vanilla powder) in a blender and blend on high until smooth.  Line mixing bowl with double layer of cheesecloth and pour in mix.  Gather edges of cheesecloth together and twist to gently squeeze until all the mylk is in the bowl and only pulp remains in the cheesecloth.  Store the mylk in the fridge, in an airtight glass container, and it will keep up to 2 days.  The pulp can keep for a week in the fridge but can also be kept in the freezer longer to use in other recipes.  The almond pulp is a “binder and filler” that will create thickness to your doughs.  After making this Almond Mylk, my husband even commented that it was tastier than the “store bought” Almond Milk.

Grinding Flax
Flax seeds are more nutritious when ground as they otherwise pass through our digestive systems whole, leaving the nutrients inside unavailable to us.  Ground flax is the equivalent to flour in raw food preparation.  It soaks up liquids and will easily thicken and bind any substance.
Most people use a coffee grinder for grinding flax. I have always found this frustrating as the ground flax sticks and clumps.  I use a hand held immersion blender (Cuisinart) and narrow, tall shaped bowl.  Be sure to cover the top (I use a towel). Only add 1 or 2 cups of flax seeds to the blender at a time.  Flax seeds increase in volume when ground.  For example, 3/4 cup of seeds will become 1 cup.

Recipe: Chocolate Recovery Pudding

Here’s a recipe for a great tasting, and good for you, “pudding” that’s a good addition to your post-workout dietary plans.

¼ cup soaked almonds
2 bananas
1 cup of blueberries
1 tbsp coconut oil
2 tbsp roasted carob powder
2 tbsp chia seeds (I use black)
1 tsp fresh lemon juice
¼ tsp sea salt

Place the soaked and rinsed almonds in a food processor or blender (or use a hand held mixer) and grind/blend until smooth.  The smoother the almonds the less gritty or lumpy is the ‘pudding’.

Add the rest of the ingredients in order as listed above and process after each addition.

Put in small bowls or glass containers (makes about 4 servings), cover them and place in the refrigerator.  Can be eaten in just 20 minutes!  All the flavours blend best if left for at least one hour.

I make enough to have some pudding for a few days.

This is a great ‘recovery’ pudding to eat after a tough workout or an endurance event/run that may last an hour or more.  You have the electrolytes, potassium, sodium, antioxidants, fibre, protein and carbs in a ratio that helps optimize your recovery.

It's best eaten within 20 minutes of your workout, but this is a tasty and very healthy ‘dessert’ too!

Nutrition Info – Soaking (Activating) Nuts and Seeds

There’s been quite a bit of talk (and some confusion) around an easy, ready to go snack idea – nuts and seeds.

Many clients groan when I tell them that after purchasing their RAW nuts and seeds, to fully utilize the nutrition they offer, you must soak them.  I stress RAW as “roasted” nuts and seeds aren’t as easy to digest and the benefits derived from soaking is null and void if they’ve already been roasted.
Soaking your nuts and seeds begins the process of sprouting, which “wakes” the seeds into a living state, making their nutrients more available to digest.  Some refer to this as “activating” the seeds, I like and use that term.

Some types of dried nuts and seeds, such as almonds, contain enzyme inhibitors which can be removed through the process of soaking.  And, if they soak long enough to begin sprouting, don’t worry.  The sprouts are also very easy to digest and, as well, they’re considered alkaline – optimal in keeping the body healthy.

Without soaking your nuts and seeds, your digestive system takes several hours to digest them.  The longer a food sits in your digestive system, the more chance you have of unbalancing the body and creating fermentation in your digestive tract.  This, in turn, creates too much yeast (candida).  As well, the body is spending far too much energy digesting your food.  So, as a result, you’ll feel less energized during the day, for your workouts or just to keep up with everything else going on.
When soaking, place the nuts and seeds in a glass jar or container with a lid.  The unsoaked seeds should take up no more than half the space in the container as they expand in size when wet.  Fill the container with at least double the ratio of water to seeds/nuts, leaving extra water.  If the soaking seeds/nuts swell above the water line, add more water to the container.

All nuts and seeds should be soaked at room temperature for at least 2 hours and up to 8 hours or longer.  After 8 hours they should be placed in the fridge where they can remain soaking for a number of days before being used.  Drain the soaked nuts and seeds by pouring them into a colander and rinsing them thoroughly with fresh water before drying or for use in a recipe.

If you like them crunchy, you can then dehydrate the activated nuts and seeds at a low temperature (115 degrees) for around 12 hours (depending on how crunchy you want them).  If you don’t have a dehydrator, use your oven at its lowest setting.  Roasting the nuts/seeds will give you the same flavour as buying them that way.  Except, now they’ve been “awakened” and soaked to rid them of the enzyme inhibitors.  To add variety, you can toss them with your favourite spice.

Activated nuts and seeds can be kept in the fridge for up to a week.  I try to plan to soak over the weekend and have them ready to consume all week long.  I’ll also put some of my soaked nuts and seeds in small serving size glass containers and freeze them for future use.

Recommended Soaking Times
Chia Seeds – soak at least 2 hours
Buckwheat groats and sesame seeds – soak at least 4 hours
Pumpkin, sunflower, cashews and flax seeds – soak at least 8 hours
ALL other nuts (almonds, hazelnuts, etc.) – soak at least 12 hours

Friday, February 8, 2013

Recipe: Sports Drink (without the sugar)

This sports drink is, by far, the best you can drink when you’re overheated OR when you’re participating in a long workout or endurance event (i.e.  ½ marathon race or training that goes over 90 minutes).  It’s also good for you to consume this drink when the weather is warm and you’re sweating a lot or feel more fatigued than normal.

I’ve used this drink the day before my event/race/training as well as during and for the day after as well.

Juice of ½ lemon
Juice of ¼ lime
3 dates (fresh or soak dried for 4 hours) *
1 cup of water
1 cup of coconut water
1 tbsp agave nectar
1 tsp coconut oil
Blend all ingredients in a blender.  Strain if you don’t want the pulp.

* You can pre-soak the dates to rehydrate, but I usually make my batch ahead of time and therefore I pre-soak the dates in the mixture.  Then I blend it all together just before putting in my drink bottle.  Or, you can also cut down on the dates.  I usually use 2, and sometimes I don’t use the agave nectar.

If you’re not using this drink as an endurance drink you can also eliminate the conconut oil.
The glucose from the dates enters your blood stream quickly and the sugar from the coconut water enters slowly spreading the energy over a longer period making this a great drink while exercising too!

Feel free to add a small amount of sea salt too, ¼ teaspoon, if your workout had you perspiring more than usual or if it was hotter out then you’re used to.

And, it’s okay to store for a few days in the refrigerator too.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Trends in Fitness (Weight Loss) and the Health Industry

I was asked, just the other day, “What do you see as the coming trends in your type of business?”

I sighed and went on to explain:  In my industry – to do with fitness, nutrition, overall health and, of course, the illusive weight loss – I’m dismayed and troubled by all the "quick and fast" approaches that so many organizations/corporations and, unfortunately, even those once considered "health gurus" are promoting.

If it were all that easy – no one would be overweight.  No one would have health issues around a sedentary lifestyle.  Heart disease would not be as prevalent as it is today.  We would just pop that "magic" pill, eliminate that food group, do that detox, eat that “super” food or whatever else is touted as the "latest", so that, before we know it, – we're healthy, fit, and slim!

Alas, you may be slim but you aren't necessarily healthy!  Beware of ALL the quick fixes.  They don’t exist!  Hard work, discipline, healthy eating (which is very different for every body and requires journaling and monitoring to be truly effective), along with adequate hydration and a consistent level of activity is what creates, and keeps, a healthy body.

Every BODY is different and for sure, not every BODY fits the societal "norm" for what is considered healthy and fit.  If you are slim, then you must be healthy, right?  Far from the truth!  And, to take it one step further, if you have no pain or symptoms of injury or sickness, then you must be healthy, right?  Wrong again!

What's usually the first sign of heart disease?  Pain, discomfort, arm tingling, heart burn?  Nope!  The most prevalent first "sign" that you have heart disease is DEATH!

Now, if you asked that person prior to their heart attack, how they feel on any given day – they probably would have told you – GREAT!  Even though they didn’t eat so well, or didn't exercise on a consistent basis (two ways in which one can prevent – yes, PREVENT heart disease!).

Forget the quick fixes – they do not work!  Get out there and get regular, consistent exercise and really take a long hard look at your nutrition.  Seek professional help with your nutrition and your exercise regime.  There are plenty of us out there passionate about helping you change your lifestyle so you can really be fit, healthy and ultimately happy!  We want you to, as the Heart & Stroke Foundation's latest ad campaign encourages, "Make Death Wait!".

Enough said for now.  Until next time, I remain . . . Yours in Fitness!

Thursday, November 24, 2011

A Long Muscle is a Strong Muscle – Stretch It!

I want to discuss one of the components, of an overall effective exercise program, that too many of my clients and friends tend to overlook or believe it’s not that important.

Stretching - properly and effectively, will help you increase your muscular strength!

Have you ever noticed how a cat or a dog, or even a baby, stretches their whole body when they wake up?  But not us, we have way too busy a schedule to take time to stretch.  And, when we do exercise – whether it be paddling, going for a run or strength training – well, we barely squeezed in the workout, we just don’t have the time to stretch.  Besides, stretching is boring and really, how can it help me get stronger, leaner or faster?

When we use our muscles they contract to effectively do what we want our body to do.  They contract daily, all the time.  When we exercise we are adding weight to that contraction to give us a more effective workout whether we use free weights, machines or our own bodies.  But we don’t want our muscles to always be in a contracted mode.  They then become too tight, potentially setting us up for serious injury.  A tight muscle cannot strengthen anymore, no matter what you do.

Stretching elongates the muscle.  Effective stretching relaxes and elongates the muscle even more.  But we usually stretch for 30 seconds.  That should be good enough, right?  No!

Every body is different in how effectively we strengthen or train and it is also true for how effective our stretches can be.  For me, I must be able to totally relax – totally!  That means for me, I must lay on a mat on the floor so I don’t have to think or so my body doesn’t have to feel that it must balance or hold me up while I go through my stretches.

No matter what way you find you can effectively stretch your muscles – a good stretch takes time to relax and stretch that muscle.  In class, and with my personal training clients, I first recommend that a stretch is to be done 3 times.  The stretch is to be held for 30 seconds the first time, then release, hold the stretch for 45 seconds the second time and the third time the stretch is to be held for a minute.  All the same stretch, stretching the same muscle before moving on to the next muscle.  Breathing into each stretch is also important.  Long, slow, deep breathing encourages relaxation. 

And, to stretch effectively and to avoid injury, there are a few basic principles you need to follow.

Avoid Pain – A light ‘sting’ or tug of the muscle is what you want to feel, not pain that the body feels it must protect itself from.  When the body senses pain, it feels the need to protect itself – the muscles contract – resulting in ineffective stretching!

Stretch slowly – moving quickly from one stretch to another can result in the body feeling the need to protect and, again, contracting the very muscle you wish to elongate!

Avoid affecting the joints or other muscles - focus on moving the joint as little as possible and not allowing other muscles to contract or work against your stretch.  As with exercising, you need to remember that the body takes the path of least resistance.  It's the same with a stretch, if the body believes bending a joint will alleviate the energy of the stretch, it will try to do so.

Maximizing the effect of your stretches should be part of your daily habits, just like brushing your teeth or showering.

Enough said for now. Until next time, I remain . . . Yours in Fitness!

Sunday, September 18, 2011

The Book of Awesome!

A friend recently suggested that I buy "The Book of Awesome".  So, I went out and got a book by that name (the one pictured above).  Turns out, it was the wrong book.  The one that she was talking about is actually a children's book (I'm still going to get that one too) and the one I got is a compilation of anecdotes and short stories that the author says have caused him to think "Awesome!" when they happened.  Some examples include "when you push the button for the elevator and it's already there", or "finally remembering a word that's been on the tip of your tongue for a long time", or "hitting a bunch of green lights in a row".  It's a "Chicken Soup" kind of book that suggests that "sometimes it's easy to forget the things that make us smile and it's tempting to think the world is falling apart.  But, awesome things are all around us".  And, it got me thinking. What are some of the things that might cause me to think "Awesome!" when they happen?

Certainly, some of them are already listed in the book (for example "coming home after a long day to the smell of someone cooking dinner" or "snow falling on Christmas Eve"- those ARE awesome!).  With very little thought, I came up with some of my own that relate directly to my passion for health and fitness, and my desire to help others reach their goals.

Day after day, being able to experience the joy of sharing the benefits of consistent exercise and healthy eating with others - Awesome!

Watching a client, that perhaps has been struggling with their nutrition, finally having that "aha" moment when they realize the correlation between clean, healthy eating and their ability to perform their workouts at a higher level - Awesome!

Watching as a whole class does an exercise together and they ALL execute it correctly without any cues - Awesome!

Feeling the struggle, and then seeing the determined look on their face, as they realize that YES, they CAN do it! - Awesome!

Having a client tell me that they have followed the clean eating principles for 6 weeks and they have never felt better, emotionally as well as physically - Awesome!

Noticing the new found confidence, the inner strength and the happiness of a client who has overcome their perceived limitations - Awesome! 

Knowing, and witnessing, how all the trainers I work with really are passionate and do care, as much as I do, about our clients. - Awesome! 

Watching as a client picks up a heavier weight than they did at their last workout, without being told that they should - Awesome!

Being at the finish line to cheer on a client who started out only being able to speed walk a short distance before feeling winded and is now finishing a 5K or 10K running event - Awesome!

Watching a client's face light up with joy and a smile when they realize, at their "end of training" measuring, just how many inches they've actually lost - Awesome!

I know, it's a fairly short list.  But, it's a start and I'm definitely going to continue to see the "awesome" in as many things and situations as I can.  And, I challenge you to think of your own list.  What causes you to react with an "Awesome!" response?

Saturday, August 20, 2011

The Fitness Industry’s Dirty Little Secrets

In an industry that is so important to our culture, and our well-being, the fact is that we have some unethical and uneducated people in the field of Health and Fitness.  It saddens me.  I am SO passionate about overall health and fitness, I become very frustrated, and even somewhat angry, when I see and/or directly feel some of the side effects of our industry’s "Dirty Little Secrets".  Because of that, I want to share with you some of these "secrets".  Hopefully, this will help you to avoid them.  You have to prepare yourself and be knowledgeable about what can happen, what does happen and how to avoid them.  Knowledge is definitely power and, with the information I can share with you, you are less likely to fall prey or become injured.  If you aren’t aware of these "Dirty Little Secrets", you may be affected and you won’t know until it’s too late!
Below are some of these "Secrets":
  • The fitness industry is highly unregulated.  Anyone, without any qualifications or certifications, can print up a business card and call themselves a Personal Trainer;
  • Some exercise facilities, or fitness companies (boot camps), employ people who are NOT qualified;
  • Some personal trainer certification programs take only a few days to complete and, in fact, some can even be taken on-line without any experience working with clients;
  • Some Trainers let their credentials lapse and may even use these expired degrees, certifications, education as their "credentials".  They do not keep up to date with current and relevant information;
  • There are those who are "flash in the pan" Trainers, recouping what they can for a short period of time.  They'll have no qualms whatsoever in taking your money now;
  • “Part time” Trainers tend to not have a vested interest in you, or their business, for the duration; and,
  • Remember, just because someone looks fit – it doesn’t mean they know how to teach proper, appropriate, safe techniques and execution of exercises.
Some of these Trainers, that lack credentials or operate with expired credentials and/or do not keep up to date on the latest research, can result in participants in a program having a higher risk of injury.  On numerous occasions I've witnessed several outdoor group classes having far too many clients with only one Trainer.  How can that one Trainer possibly watch everyone and check for proper form and technique?  I've watched how too many of these clients performed an exercise in a way that would result in serious injury.  If not in that class, then will for sure later on.  Some of our current clients have come from such classes and most of them come with horror stories and/or injuries.  One client I have even told me that when she questioned a "trainer" about a way in which an exercise was executed and the latest research around that exercise, she was told – “It all changes so much, all the time, so I don’t bother listening.  Trust me, do it this way.”  If a Trainer can't, or won't, explain their methods to your satisfaction, perhaps they don't understand themselves.

To assist you in determining if a Trainer is right for you, I've compiled a list of some questions that will help you avoid those "trainers" out there who may only be interested in the almighty dollar and not have your best interests at heart:
  • What are your qualifications?  - Ask for expiry dates and what recertification requirements there are to stay qualified.
  • What organization(s) are you a member of?  - You can call, or check on line, for most fitness organizations and research their certification requirements and up to date membership.
  • What workshops/seminars/conferences have you attended, over and above what's required to maintain your certification/qualifications?  What were some of your courses?  - this helps you in determining their commitment, passion, expertise and current knowledge.
  • Do you have liability insurance?  - This is VERY important for anyone in the industry.
  • How long have you been in the industry?  - This will help with determining their level of commitment.
  • What are the different jobs you have held?  - perhaps they started out as a front desk person in a gym and worked their way up from there.  Again, this info can help with determining their level of commitment and even their length of time in the industry.
  • Why are you doing this?  - helps with determining the "fit" for you as well as seeking info on their passion and/or commitment.
I am in this for the long haul!  I'm passionate about what I do and want to provide the best of the best for my clients.  I do this by combining fact-based information while helping them incorporate correct muscle memory in the execution of exercises.  I have attended numerous BCRPA and/or Can-Fit Pro workshops, seminars and conferences to ensure I have the most up-to-date information and credentials that I can have.  And, I believe in sharing that knowledge with ALL my clients so that they can take a more active, and ultimately more vested, interest in their health and well being.

For more information:
Visit the British Columbia Recreation and Parks Association (BCRPA) at: 
Visit the Can-Fit Pro website at:

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Other Than Weight - What Can A Scale REALLY Tell You?

Get off the scale!
A scale can't measure health, fitness, talent,
purpose, personality, spirit, or love.
A scale can't  measure how good a worker,
parent, friend or partner you are.
A scale can't measure your insight, sense of
humour or self esteem. 

Get off the scale!
A scale can't tell you how enchanting your eyes are.
A scale can't express how wonderful
your hair looks when the sun shines on it.
A scale can't thank you for your
compassion and contagious smile.
A scale can't admire you for your
perseverance when challenged in life. 

Get off the scale!
The only thing a scale can give you is a numerical
reflection of your relationship with gravity.  That’s it!
Don’t give the scale more power than it has earned!

If, for some reason, you feel you must step on,
I want you to take note of the number, then
get off the scale and live your life!

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Maximize Fat Loss - Plan to "Mindlessly Eat Less"

If you're like most people you can probably remember a time when you ate more than you intended.  Studies have concluded that external cues influence how much you eat, which foods you eat, how fast you eat, whether you enjoy what you eat and more.  It’s not enough, according to these studies, to know your portion size, to know to stop eating when you feel full, or, what foods are not conducive to your goals of weight or body fat loss.

The size of your plate, or container, will determine how much you eat.   If you purchase the large bucket of popcorn you generally will eat 34% MORE than if you bought a smaller container.  Same goes for your dinner plate.  Use a smaller plate – your eyes and your mind will feel satisfied sooner.  Once while vacationing in Vegas, my husband and I went to a buffet for dinner.  On the way to the buffet table, I noticed super huge servings on almost all the plates at the tables – so huge in fact, that I knew most stomachs cannot digest all that food, not to mention how many calories or grams of fat were on those plates – for one meal!  I found the super big plates right there by the ‘dinner’ items.  I knew I would overeat using that huge plate (seemed more like a platter which made me understand all that food on people’s tables!) so I went to the salad section of the buffet and found a smaller plate – actually, probably my plate size at home.

You’ll probably argue – ‘well, I'm paying for the food – I might as well eat as much as I can’.  A perfect example of how your environment can alter your portion sizes!  If dining at a buffet gives you the attitude of eating more because it’s all there or eating ‘your money’s worth’ – which most people do – then avoid buffet tables while you are trying to lose body fat or weight.  Better yet, avoid them altogether.  Unless you are super diligent, you WILL end up eating too much fat, sodium and sugar at buffets.  And I haven’t even gotten to the dessert table yet.

Who you follow in the buffet line can also affects how much you eat.  If a woman follows a woman, the person behind usually took about the same amount on their plate as the one in front.  If the woman was larger, the person behind took more (with the attitude “I’m not that big, therefore I can”) and if a woman followed a guy, it didn’t matter and for men – well, it didn’t matter – they just filled their plates!

Other examples of your environment affecting your consumption of food:

  • If you tend to leave your serving dishes on the table at home, when eating a meal, men will eat 29% more and women will eat 10% more than if you leave them on the counter or a side table;
  • When you eat with someone who eats faster than you, you will consume significantly more calories than if you eat alone;
  • When you believe you are eating ‘healthy food’ or at a healthy restaurant you‘re apt to consume more calories and fat.  For example, in one study, people who ate at McDonald’s estimated within 200 calories of the actual consumption of their meal.  However, people who ate at Subway (considered a healthier option than McDonald’s) under estimated their calorie consumption by almost half!; and,
  • You will eat more of a food when you can see it, so take the fruit out of the refrigerator and place it in a clear bowl on the table to encourage snacking on healthy food.

Watch out for foods labelled ‘low fat’.  People tend to eat 21 to 46% more calories if they think the food is healthier or lower in calories or fat than the alternative.  And knowing you have to cut back or eat foods lower in fat and calories isn’t enough!  You count with your eyes, not your mind when eating.

Knowing you need to stop when you are full isn’t enough.  Knowing you are aware of ‘mindless’ eating or after reading this article you feel “I know now, I can stop the influence” isn’t enough.  Most of us are too busy with life, kids, work – our lives are chaotic and stressful.  To think we can just eat ‘better’ or ‘less’, or be more mindful, doesn’t work for 95% of the population.  For most people, the solution is not mindful eating – it’s setting up our environment at home and at work, so that we mindlessly eat less.

Enjoy your meals, set up your environment for success, menu plan and journal what you eat.  Cut the excuses, we can all think of reasons to start ‘tomorrow’.  Start now to “mindlessly eat less”.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Weight Loss Magic Formula

A magic pill, or a quick fix, to weight loss.  It's what we all want and never seem to find.  What we tend to look for is something easy.  It was easy to pack it on, right?  Why is it so hard to take it off?

There are many reasons why our bodies want to hold onto excess body fat.  The simplest reason is we consume too many calories!  For the most part, that's true. But, for a successful weight loss program, it’s not the total answer.  It’s more complicated than that.

So, for now, lets’ not get into why it’s there and focus more on how we can take it off!  And, realistically, we aren’t even concerned about the ‘weight’.  It’s more about body fat loss and inches lost than that ‘number’ on the scale.

Starting any exercise and nutrition regime to promote body fat loss requires some planning, both before and during your program.  It all starts about 3 weeks before, at a time when you find yourself thinking and feeling that you are not happy with the way you look and feel.  Chores are harder and you are more tired at the end of the day.  Here is where you do your research.  What do you want to do? What time have you got? Where do you want to go?  Who can help you (as in a gym, a fitness company such as Alter Ego Fitness Experience or a Personal Trainer)? 

Pick a date approximately 3 weeks away to start your nutrition and training program. Call around or find a trainer that can help you with a workout program to get you started (at Alter Ego Fitness Experience we do packs of 5 or 10 - 1-hour Personal Training sessions and one can take up to 6 months to use up the 5 pack and one year to use up the 10 pack).   To ensure proper use of muscles, and to keep down the risk of injury, you will need professional help with your workout program .

As far as eating healthier, get a Canada Food Guide for ideas on the servings required in a day and the foods you need to eat to stay healthy.  I strongly recommend that you journal what you eat and when you eat every day.  Create your own journal (or one can be purchased through Alter Ego Fitness Experience).  Go out and purchase a low fat, low sodium, low sugar cook book.  You’ll need new ideas on how to eat.  Don’t fall prey to magazine or newspaper articles on what foods to eat to slim down!  If you eat a variety of foods, or as I say a “rainbow” of foods (funny how now the Canada Food Guide has a picture of a rainbow!), and keep to eating foods as close to their natural state as possible you will succeed in nourishing your body.

With 2 weeks to go, once you have prepared yourself and have booked when you are starting, begin eliminating the following foods from your meals:  WHITE foods (flour; sugar; salt; rice); any and ALL junk food; and, Pop or sweetened fruit type juices.

At one week to go, be sure you have your workout gear arranged.  You will need runners for you and your individual foot strike.  So, see a professional at a running store (Frontrunners Westshore and Peninsula Runners both have passionate and dedicated staff there to ensure you get what you need!).

Try out a recipe or two.  Don’t forget you will want snack ideas as well.

Bottom Line:  Plan, plan, plan.  One of my favourite sayings:  If you fail to plan – you plan to fail!

Plan when you are going to do your workouts.  Make them consistent – 3 times a week, for an hour each time, is a minimum for successful body fat loss.

Plan your nutrition.  Plan to eat whole nutritious foods that are low in fat (no trans fat!), salt and sugar.  Plan to eat several small meals or snacks a day.  Start with clean sweeping your kitchen, your car and your desk at work.  Get rid of all those snacks and foods that aren’t working for you and that contain any of that white stuff (listed above) that tends to encourage body fat storage.

Any safe, effective weight loss or body fat loss program will take 12 weeks or more depending on your goals.  A general rule of thumb:  for HEALTHY weight loss (factoring in muscle building) is 1.5 to 2.0 pounds a week.  It’s not quick and it’s not easy but it is worth it to be feel good, look good and to minimize your risk for such diseases as high blood pressure, stroke, heart attack and certain types of cancer.

Take the plunge this week.  Today would be even better!  Good luck and remember, there will always be little stumbles along the way and diversions, but keep consistent, keep up your determination and realize that Rome wasn’t built in one day!

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Cut the Sweetness – Live Longer!

The word is out – the “Fight Against Sugar “, as the Times Colonist article reads, is upon us.  I have been warning clients for over 2 years about the effects, especially the hidden effects, that sugars have on our minds, bodies and ultimately our increased body fat.
I am talking about the white sugar, the fructose corn syrup and/or any of those other kinds of sugars that are not meant for human consumption.  Don’t even get me started on all those chemical sweeteners out there!
Don’t get me wrong – not ALL sugars are bad for you.  In fact, just like the differences between trans and sat fats, and the "necessary for life" Omega fats, not all sugars are created equal and not all sugars have the capacity to literally destroy our very cells.
The sugars I want to help you avoid are those that are not considered healthy such as fructose corn syrup and most other sweeteners labelled ‘syrups’, white sugar and brown sugar (which is really just white sugar with molasses added to turn it brown).
All fruit, and most vegetables, have sugars in them.  But, they have the healthy and natural combination that, when consumed, breaks down in the body and is utilized efficiently and effectively as energy to keep us moving.  Other sugars, like corn syrup or white table sugar, are processed so much that they are not natural and are pure sugar and are absorbed by the body in a way which increases the blood insulin levels.  This sends the body into ‘stress mode’.  When the body believes it is stressed by the high insulin levels in the blood, the adrenal glands work overtime, the pancreas must pump even more insulin to level out the excess sugar(fat) and the end result – the body stores the fat.  It dumps all this fat that the sugar became into the fat cells that are just waiting to be filled!
Because of the adrenal glands and the pancreas working so hard, and because of the extra fat you have now encouraged your body to hold, you are bigger around the middle and there are spots that jiggle.  Not to mention how much all this plays on your heart and your mind.  Brain fog anyone?
We have changed the way we eat sugar.  Nearly 90 % of the sugar we eat comes from packaged, processed foods (how about that cereal you are eating every morning?  What’s the sugar content in that?).  Sugar is the most common food additive according to the Heart and Stroke Foundation.
What does this mean in terms of what you are currently eating?  Well, it means you must read your labels!  It means you must curb your appetite for added sugars.  Get rid of the simple carbs like most desserts, donuts, soft drinks, juices that have added sugar and many processed foods.  Eat more fresh and in-season fruits and vegetables.  Fill yourself up with naturally occurring sugars so that you don’t have ‘room’ for the added unhealthy sugars.  Buy processed foods, like your morning cereals, that are sweetened with a better alternative like fruit juice.
Did you know that 1 teaspoon of sugar is about all the ‘extra added’ sugar an adult woman can consume without adding too many extra calories?  That’s not much in a day when you consider some breakfast cereals have as much as 5 teaspoons!  For easy figuring – there is 4 grams of sugar in 1 teaspoon.  No wonder we are all battling the bulge, not to mention our tired and overworked adrenal glands and digestive system.
Sugar is everywhere.  You must be vigilant in your quest to rid your diet of excess sugars, especially the kinds that just overwork you inside and out.
Keep on eye on this blog for future articles on the various types of sugars and get ideas on what, and how, to make better choices for your body.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Make A Commitment To Your Personal Health and Fitness

I applaud everyone who wants to make changes to their lifestyle.  Those who want to get fitter and healthier.  However, it seems that most folks don’t get past the first 2 months of their new-found enthusiasm for a healthier lifestyle.  Why?  Because there are too many out there who don’t really understand the concept of combining training (exercise) and nutrition.  Or, how they work together.  Each is not sufficient, on their own, to achieve the success that most people seek.

Without a regime of healthy nutrition, you are setting yourself up for failure.  You will be working your body hard, while failing to supply it with the fuel it requires to perform at a peak level.  So, you’ll just get into your training regime only to have to quit because you will be injured or sick.  Getting sick (flu or cold) within 6 to 8 weeks of any training program usually means your nutrition hasn’t been adjusted to help your body compensate for the exercise you’re doing.

To ensure you are losing body fat and gaining muscle, consider having a professional give you a Comprehensive Body Assessment.  It’s one of the best ways to follow your success.  At Alter Ego Fitness Experience we take numerous girth measurements and, by using a formula developed by the US Navy Seals, we will then accurately calculate your overall body fat percentage.  This Comprehensive Body Assessment works well at the beginning of your training and nutrition program and then every 6 weeks thereafter.  

Working with a trainer, and/or nutritionist, you can then monitor your nutrition and make any changes necessary for healthy body fat loss and muscle gain!  Body fat loss and muscle building through a fitness regime, combined with a solid nutrition program – now you are on the right track for long term health and fitness!

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Spring Rejuvenation Retreat

March 31st - April 3rd, 2011

For women only!

Pay in full by March 07th and you SAVE $50!

We have secured the deluxe, luxury rooms at the Oceanwood Resort (a small, but certainly not lacking in the "pamper you" department, resort) on Mayne Island.  All suites, but one, have a view of the ocean and some even have large soaker tubs and fireplaces!  Also included are an outdoor hot tub (pictured), as well as a games room with a pool table and a very intimate restaurant.  Check it out online at to pick out your preferred room.
For the "rejuvenation" portion of your retreat, you will have the opportunity to join us on both Friday and Saturday mornings at 10:00 AM for a 90 minute Alter Ego workout, and both afternoons we'll also host a one hour run or hike at 2:30 PM. 
Your meals are given the utmost attention to detail and taste as they choose only the "freshest of the fresh" ingredients.  The taste and presentation is comparable to the top restaurants here in Victoria.  You will not be disappointed!
And, I realize that some of us cannot possibly enjoy a good meal without a glass of wine.  For those folks, they have a well stocked bar, with many varieties of wine and cocktails.  But, alcoholic beverages and desserts are not included in your package price.  However, you will have the opportunity to indulge if you wish - after all it is your retreat!
Your retreat package includes:
·      Accommodations, with the option of a 3-night stay (arriving Thursday afternoon, March 31st) or a 2-night stay (arriving Friday afternoon);
·      ALL meals (excluding drinks and desserts)!  You will get a continental breakfast, lunch and dinner on Friday and Saturday, as well as a full breakfast/brunch on Sunday before you leave;
·     ALL taxes and gratuities, for the included accommodations and meals;
·     Two 90-minute workouts - one each on Friday and Saturday mornings;
·     Two 1-hour hikes and/or runs - one each on Friday and Saturday afternoons; and,
·     For those choosing the 3-night option, a "Meet and Greet" social event on Thursday evening.

PRICING (per person) 
Varies, dependent upon the room you choose, as follows:

Double Occupancy:
·         Two night stay          -  $469.70 - $536.90
·         Three night stay       -  $578.90 - $685.30
Single Occupancy:
·         Two night stay          -  $542.50 - $676.90
·         Three night stay       -  $657.30 - $858.90

Contact the Alter Ego Fitness office ASAP to reserve the room of your choice and pay your non-refundable deposit of ½ the costVisa, MasterCard or cash accepted. And remember, if you pay in full by March 07th, you can SAVE $50!