May 25 2016




May 2004

I was away for the long weekend. A long standing tradition, for the last 20+ years, the May long weekend has been the start of summer training. For some in Canada the May 2-4 is the start of the summer drinking season (24 cans in a flat/case of beer) to each their own I guess. But, back to the way I like to enjoy the May long weekend, by cycling, running, sometimes swimming (weather dependent) all with some like minded friends. This weekend was no exception. It got me thinking about weekend warriors.


May 2016

We were in the South Okanagan in BC, wine country, and there were many weekend warriors to be found. On Saturday morning, at the end of our run, we stopped for coffee. The coffee shop had all sorts of things for sale, including napkins with clever sayings and one, in particular, stuck with me.


Doesn’t that explain everything.

The number one excuse for not exercising is “no time“. This does not need an explanation.

One of the most common reasons that people who are trying to lose weight don’t succeed,  is because of the “weekend effect”.

The weekend effect is a little more complicated. Not only do people tend to eat more on the weekends, they also tend to eat more junk food. Processed foods have more calories and are easier to absorb, requiring less effort to digest than whole foods, but junk food indulgences also change our gut bacteria. Eating junk food on the weekends only is enough to change your gut bacteria to undo any healthy changes you make through the week. 

For many people this is how the week might go…

Monday. Start with great intentions, eat healthy, exercise, go to bed on time.

Tuesday. Still full of promise and good intentions.

Wednesday. Have to catch up at work/pick up kids/go to a meeting… I’ll exercise Thursday, maybe have take out for dinner.

Thursday. I am so tired. I have so much to do. I can go to the gym tomorrow. 

Friday. Yeah! Survived another week. Tomorrow I am going to do an extra hard workout and have brunch with friends.

Saturday. Go for a workout. Eat too much all day long. Start thinking about eating better on Monday.

Sunday. Relax. Prepare some healthy food for Monday and Tuesday. Wash workout clothes I’ll start again Monday.

After Monday and Tuesday even the week says WTF.

Medscape, a website for health professionals, describes weekend warriors  as

” individuals who “engage in [physically] demanding recreational sporting activities on weekends despite minimal physical activity during the [work] week.”[1] The most common reason cited for this burst of activity on the weekends rather than regular workouts throughout the week is not having enough time to exercise. Consequently, weekend warriors may not be in the best physical shape, and suddenly engaging in intermittent strenuous activity can therefore increase their risk of injury—with certain types of trauma more common to these individuals.”

My best advice, based on something I read on a napkin, WTF does not stand for Wednesday, Thursday, Friday. For best results be active everyday.

Change your mind, change your health,




May 18 2016

Sweat is the best anti-depressant


On Tuesday morning I was at an Active Living seminar listening to Dr. Guy Faulkner, Canadian Research Chair in Applied Public Health, talk about exercise and depression. He compared the evidence for exercise as an anti-depressant. His conclusion? Compared to anti-depressants, when exercise is used as a treatment for depression, it is as effective, less expensive, can be self-administered and has no negative side effects. 

Dr. Faulkner argues that exercise should be presented as a treatment option along with counselling and drugs to everyone, because it is as effective as conventional methods. As he says,

“There is a mountain of evidence”

With reviews of 20 different studies on the effect of exercise on depression there was almost no difference between exercise and anti-depressants.

Why don’t doctors prescribe exercise? There is still little awareness or understanding in the medical community, even with more than 15 years of research. There are no exercise reps going to visit doctors to provide information on the value of exercise. In Canada, the exercise guidelines for physicians view it as a “complementary medicine”, somewhere between light therapy and St. John’s Wort.

I agree with Dr. Faulkner when he says that physical activity is a mental health promotion strategy. It prevents and treats depression, improves daily life, and increases happiness and well-being. The best part? It only takes 30 minutes a day to improve your health, physical and mental.

Change your mind, change your health,



May 16 2016

Weight loss

jillian-michaels-yellingThere has been a lot of press lately about the impossibility of long term weight loss. The NY Times reported a study of past participants of The Biggest Loser and decided that it is not possible to lose weight and maintain it.

That is simply not true.

Studies have shown that weight loss is not only possible, it is sustainable. The only thing that is not sustainable is living like you are a contestant on the Biggest Loser.

Other, more reputable sources, have proven that weight loss and maintaining weight loss can be achieved, with some persistence.

 One study followed 3,000 people, who lost at least 30 pounds and kept it off for 10 years. There were three common factors for losing weight and keeping it off. The people that were physically active, weighed themselves regularly and watched portion sizes maintained their weight loss.

Another study looked at 65,000 overweight and obese people from 2005-2010.  80% of those that lost a significant amount of weight during the first year kept the weight off the second year.  90% of participants that continued in the program maintained their weight loss. This program provided support, encouraged activity and exercise, as well as healthy eating.

Personally, I have watched many clients lose up to 100 pounds and maintain their weight loss.  Common factors that worked for all successful losers include, eating more vegetables, reducing processed foods, exercising regularly, having support and keeping track of their body weight.

Perhaps we could assume from these results that the common ingredients for successful weight loss include, regular physical activity, keeping track of your body weight, eating whole foods, watching portion sizes and having support. Perhaps not entertainment, but practical and proven methods for success.

But, back to the Biggest Loser.

This isn’t real, this is “entertainment” if you like that sort of thing. Dr. Yoni Freedhoff, a Canadian obesity specialist says it is the most god-awful dangerous thing to happen to weight management in history.”

Dr. Ed Tyson an American eating disorder physician has said “it’s miraculous that no one has died yet”

Fitness “expert” Jillian Michaels is an actress who made millions of dollars out of bullying people for entertainment by saying things like The only way you’re coming off this damn treadmill is if you die on it!” 


Not inspiring, not professional, not sustainable, not a weight loss program.

The Biggest Loser is not a realistic study in successful weight loss.  But, it does remind us one thing. Diets don’t work. Lifestyle changes need to be made for the rest of your life. Exercise and activity are important for weight maintenance. This doesn’t make for good tv or great headlines.  As Dr. David Ludwig, Director of the New Balance Foundation of Obesity Research, says “it shouldn’t be interpreted to mean we are doomed to battle our biology or remain fat. It means we need to explore other approaches.”

Change your mind, change your health,



May 11 2016

Allergies and exercise


Have allergies? Do you take anti-histamines? They might be affecting your recovery after exercise. 

Our bodies produce histamines to respond to pollens, mold. animal dander, insect bites and more. Over production of histamines is an uncomfortable, and sometimes dangerous, allergic reaction. We  take ant-histamines to combat this reaction. 

pollen allergy

Researchers at the University of Oregon have found that histamines have another important function. They help us recover from exercise. Assisting in providing glucose, fuel for muscles, as well as help muscle change in response to exercise.

Following hard exercise 3000 genes go to work boosting muscles and blood vessels response to help with recovery. Taking high doses of anti-histamines decreases that response by 27%. That means 795 genes are effected for up to 3 hours following a workout. Reducing their expression and possibly reducing the benefits of all your hard work.

Trail running

Researchers also found taking anti-histamines before exercise didn’t have the same effect, so if you need to take one, before exercise might be best to get all the benefits of your hard work.

Change your mind, change your health,



May 4 2016

Grapefruits vs tangerines



Did you know that if you hold three grapefruits in one hand and three tangerines in the other,  the grapefruits are about the same size as 5 pounds of fat and the tangerines about the size of 5 pounds of muscle?  Do you want another reason to go to the gym? Or get moving? Here are two.chart-arteries


This week researchers found that the more people sit the greater the risk of having calcium deposits in the arteries of their heart. Southwestern University in Dallas, Texas has shown that each additional hour of being sedentary increases arterial calcification by 12%. Dr Amit Khera, Director of the Preventative Cardiology Program has shown that sedentary behaviour was an independent risk factor, regardless of whether you exercise, have diabetes, or high blood pressure, sitting is a risk factor. 


So why go to the gym if getting up and moving regularly will help prevent heart disease? Researchers at UCLA have found that even if you already have heart disease, having more muscle as opposed to fat, lowers your mortality risk.  Emphasizing the fact that it is not so much what you weigh that is important for your health, but what you’re made of or how much muscle you have, that is important. The only way to gain and retain muscle is exercise and the best way to keep your muscles strong is resistance training. Don’t stop exercising and move a little during the day, it is good for your heart.


Change your mind, change your health,



Apr 27 2016

Exercise ≠ weight loss


Exercise does not equal weight loss. I can’t tell you how many times I have heard clients say they haven’t lost weight because they haven’t been doing their workouts.

It doesn’t matter.

Exercise does not equal weight loss. It is a very inefficient way to burn calories. We are so beautifully designed to store calories and save them for later, exercise will not result in weight loss. Just in case you missed it – exercise does not equal weight loss.

Exercise is the best way to stay healthy.

Exercise helps prevent certain types of cancer, type 2 diabetes, heart disease, depression, osteoporosis and more. Exercise is an effective treatment for high blood pressure, rheumatoid arthritis, menopause, chronic pain, asthma… well you should be getting the point. Exercise is a critical component of your health. But for weight loss? It’s not so great.


However, if you google “exercise for weight loss” you get something like this…

8 most effective exercises for weight loss, the best full body workout for fat loss, lose your belly fat with just 2 exercise moves, the best workouts for weight loss, 16 best exercises for weight loss, 5 minute fat burning workouts, slimmer in 7 days, lose 10 inches in 10 days

Recently the British Medical Journal suggested that food labels should include activity equivalents, in other words, this is how much exercise you need to do to burn off these calories. Huh? Talk about mixed messages. Shirley Cramer CEO of the Royal Society of Public Health says,

“Giving consumers an immediate link between foods’ energy content and physical activity might help to reduce obesity. We desperately need innovative initiatives to change behaviour at population level.”

She is right, we do need innovative initiatives. This isn’t one of them. Confusion is not innovation. The Society also found that 44% of people find food packaging claims confusing. If we know that exercise does not equal weight loss how would this help people be less confused about weight loss?


I can also tell you that education about the benefits of weight loss doesn’t matter when it comes to helping people lose weight. Knowledge doesn’t change behaviour. How you feel changes behaviour. If you don’t like how you feel, you will change. If you don’t care, nothing will change.

Change your mind, change your health,


Apr 25 2016

Vicious cycle


Do you eat more when you are sleep deprived?

You know those days when you haven’t slept well and you would give anything for a nap, but it just isn’t possible. You may find yourself  trying to boost your your energy with food, and if you are like me, you probably aren’t choosing fruit and vegetables. Sleep deprivation does effect our brain’s ability to function.

Sleep deprivation reduces our decision making ability and increases activation in the pleasure seeking areas of our brains. Being tired decreases our higher order brain functions, those areas that help make complex decisions, ones that help us make choices.

Sleep research has proven that being tired increases the chances of eating high fat, high calorie food and reduces the chances that health, or even taste, matter much when it comes to eating when sleepy.


Now, new research from the University of Adelaide shows that eating high fat diets increases daytime drowsiness and reduces the likelihood of getting a good nights sleep. Researchers found a direct relationship between fat intake and daytime sleepiness as well as sleep apnea.

Poor sleep makes us feel less energetic during the day, which leads to increased cravings for sugar and fat, which leads to less sleep. It’s a vicious cycle, but it could work both ways. Get a good night’s sleep for better food choices and make better food choices for better sleep.

Change your mind, change your health,



Apr 18 2016

Eating and running


The Boston Marathon is today. It is one of those races runners dream about and worry about if they are running it.

A point to point race that involves getting up early, being bussed out to an outdoor venue to wait and wait and wait for the start time… a nightmare when it comes to what to wear and what to eat.

Most runners training for a marathon have spent countless weekends getting up early, having a snack and going out on their run first thing, now this.

One of the critical rules of training for an event is don’t change anything on race day. In Boston your race could start anytime between 10:00 – 11:15 AM Eastern Time depending on your qualifying time. Your bus could pick you up at 5:00 AM to go to the start line, so being prepared is critical. Whether you are running a late start marathon or are running later in the day here are a few tips to help you prepare for a long run later in the day.

  1. Never do anything new on race day. Ever. Practice. Practice. Practice. Running. Eating. Drinking. Clothing. Training is for practice. Practice eating and drinking later in the day to prepare for your run.
  2. Fueling for a long run means that you will need to eat 0.5 grams of carbohydrates for every pound that you weigh, multiply that by the number of hours before your run. For example you weigh 175 lbs. 175 x 0.5 = 87.5 grams of carbohydrates and you are running in 3 hours. 87.5 x 3 = 262.5 grams of carbohydrates to get you through a marathon. 
  3. Eat small amounts regularly. To eat 263 grams of carbohydrates you may have oatmeal, with nuts, soy milk and a banana for breakfast about 79 grams of carbohydrates. On the bus to the start line you could sip a sports drink with another 21 grams of carbohydrates and have a bagel with jam, another 64 grams of carbohydrates. Once at the start venue another sports drink with 21 grams, another banana, 23 grams and one more bagel with jam to top up your carbohydrate stores.
  4. Stay hydrated. This and reducing your training load the week before the marathon should be your focus. Eating high quality carbohydrates, staying hydrated and recovery in the last week before your event allows your muscles to be prepared for the big day. Don’t worry if you gain a few pounds. For every 28 grams of glycogen (stored carbohydrates in your muscle) you will also store 3 times as much water. Gaining 2-4 pounds the week before your big race is healthy and means you are well hydrated and fueled as long as you are eating well.
  5. Your training diet should be the same as your event week and on race day. Remember, nothing new on race day.
  6. You still have to hydrate and fuel throughout your run. For every hour you are running after 75 minutes, you will need to consume 30-60 grams of carbohydrates. Normally, runners start eating around 45 minutes into a long run and have a small snack every 20 minutes. A few sips of a sports drink, a piece of a sports bar, a block or sports jelly bean. Small quantities over the run to keep your muscles fuelled and functioning for the whole run.
  7. Done. Congratulations. Now refuel for proper recovery. In the first 20-30 minutes after finishing you need to eat a combination of carbohydrates and protein to recover. 1 gram of carbohydrates per kilo of body weight and 0.5 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight For our 175 lb runner that means 80 grams of carbohydrates and 40 grams of protein. If you can’t even think about eating another bagel prepare a grain salad the day before and enjoy the  South of the Border Couscous salad and top it up with a Post Workout Protein Shake. 

And you thought training for a marathon was all about the running? Eating right makes all the difference. If you want to do your best, don’t forget that your diet makes the difference.

Change your mind, change your health,



Apr 6 2016

Should I workout today?



Sometimes you just don’t feel like exercising. Maybe you are just too tired or sick or recovering from an injury, but if you just don’t feel like it,  think about this. A-One-Hour-Workout-Is-4--Of-Your-Day-T-Shirts

Sitting for more than 3 hours per day is responsible for 4% of all deaths. Exercising for one hour is 4% of your day.

Only 15% of Canadians meet the guidelines of 150 minutes of exercise a week.

If only 10% of Canadians that currently do less than 150 minutes of exercise per week simply reduced sedentary behaviour – not increased physical activity – many chronic diseases would be reduced. This would save $2.6 billion dollars on treating high blood pressure, diabetes, heart disease and cancer from now until 2040.

Being physically active reduces your risk of type 2 diabetes by 43%, high blood pressure by 26% and osteoporosis by 36%.activity_zones_1000px


What are you waiting for? Get moving.

Change your mind, change your health,




Apr 4 2016

How to lose weight.


How many times have you failed? I can’t count the number of times I have failed. If I started thinking about it too much I would go back to bed and maybe get up sometime next week. I believe that one of the reasons we don’t succeed is there is too much noise. Too much information, too many distractions, too much room for not giving it your best shot, for not making a decision, for overwhelm.


Let’s take weight loss as an example.

Most people fail at weight loss, not because they can’t lose weight, but because they are fed the belief that it is a quick fix, that it is next to impossible, that it is a secret. But, it is not. It is a matter of changing our habits and that is difficult. Change often takes more than one try, or many changes, tried a number of times, until you figure out what works best for you.

Maybe you have heard some of this before? Eat 6 small meals, eat only 3 meals, don’t eat after 8:00 PM, always eat breakfast, always eat before you are hungry, only eat when you are hungry, count calories, watch your portion sizes, eat slowly, be mindful.  

What works? All of them.

It doesn’t matter which one you chose as long as you chose one and do it. But, that is the problem. With all this noise it is easy to get distracted into thinking we are “doing” it when really we are not. We are surfing the edges, but not committing. Only eat well and watch your portions on weekdays and you eat whatever all weekend long? Decide to track your eating patterns, but never actually write anything down?  Because, you know, “I’ll remember it”. Never really prepare and end up eating convenience foods more times than not? Decide to lose weight, but never change your eating patterns, or what you buy or how you cook? The result is the same.

Nothing has changed, so you don’t either.


Why? Because a series of decisions you make through the day drains your willpower and we are inundated with messages to eat. Eat cheap, fast, convenient foods. Messages to eat more food, not less. And it’s working. And it isn’t just you, but you can change it.

On April 1st, and this is not an April fools joke, the number of obese people outnumbered the underweight for the first time in history.

20% of the the world’s obese population, 118 million people, live in 6 countries. English speaking, high income, countries. Australia, Canada, Ireland, New Zealand, UK and USA. People that live in these countries get the most messages about eating, eating all the time, anywhere, everywhere. 

The research, published in The Lancet, suggests that ‘new policies that can slow down and stop the worldwide increase in body weight must be implemented quickly and rigorously evaluated’. 

Maybe. But, I wouldn’t wait for that to happen because food is a business. Businesses are in it to make money, encouraging people to eat less means making less money. So you can see where the problem lies in the policy option. 

What can you do?

You can lose and maintain your weight. This is something I know for certain. Let me give you some examples. In the last year these are some of the people I have helped lose weight. People just like you. People with busy lives, jobs, kids, commitments.

The common factor is their desire for change. And that is the critical component. If you are comfortable with the way things are then changing is not worth it. If you are not comfortable then you will change.

Karen, is a mother of two and her husband works out of town. She was tired of being too big to play with her kids, with being unable to move comfortably. She purchased some exercise equipment, since she can’t afford regular childcare, turned her garage into a gym,  she exercises when her kids go to bed. She walks with them. She arranges for the neighbour to watch them on Saturdays so she can go to an exercise class. All of these options seemed impossible when we started, but slowly she started trying a few of them and now she exercises for mental and physical health. She decided to reduce processed foods. Eliminated most of the junk from her kitchen,  only eats one square of chocolate a day instead the whole bar.  She lost 30 pounds between September & December and hasn’t gained any weight back. 

Steve, mid 50s, high cholesterol, high blood sugar and high blood pressure, on 5 different medications. Wants to live past his retirement. Now weighs the same as when he was 25 years old. Off all his medication. Decided to go to spinning classes. Now he has a road bike and goes to the gym 4 times a week. Decided to not eat anything out of a package at work. Committed to drinking more water. Only eats dinner, no snacking before or after. Had to buy new belts because he could step in and out of his old ones.

Dave, was admitted to hospital because of his weight. Decided he wanted to live instead. Makes all his own meals now instead of eating out. Exercises 4 days a week and walks for all his errands. Monitors his food intake. Has lost 75 pounds and still working on a little more.

Mike, his wife was expecting their first child, he decided he wanted to watch his child grow up. Started only grocery shopping with a list, read all the labels, pre-made his lunches, used his lunch hour for a workout and ate his lunch as snacks throughout the day. Started walking after work. When his wife delivered their son he had lost 30 pounds and even with the new arrival has lost another 10 since. 

Ricki, mother of 4, full time job, husband works full time. Was tired of not being comfortable in her clothes, feeling out of breath all the time, couldn’t get up a flight of stairs without stopping. Started by substituting water for pop and reading food labels. Wanted to start to run, went out with her kids on their bikes while she started a walk/run program. Thought her family wouldn’t make any changes when she began. Her kids don’t drink pop anymore, they read all the labels when they go grocery shopping and tell her “Mom, we shouldn’t be eating this.” She lost 40 pounds, got a new job. Ran her first 5 km and is signed up for a 10 km. She says that the best change has been her kids.  That they have changed what they eat because they wanted to help her. She thinks she has given them the gift she never had when she was young.

You don’t need a policy to change your health. If you live in one of those 6 countries, most likely you are educated and have a regular income. You may need help. You may need guidance or support. You can get those things, but the one thing you can’t get from someone else. The one thing that matters more than any other? The desire to change. That comes from you. 

Young active woman doing yoga on mountaintop, facing away from camera.

I can tell you it can be challenging, it can take time and you will fail, more than once. But you can do it. I see it everyday. It’s the reason I keep trying, every time I fail. I think of all the people I know that have been successful in their personal journey. All the obstacles they have overcome, and it reminds me that I can do this, and so can you.

Change your mind, change your health,