Now that the peak of New Year's resolution season has come and gone, many of us have abandoned our grand visions for 2020. Big-picture goals, which are often vague and too ambitious, sometimes fall by the wayside as life inevitably gets in the way.
But that's no reason to give up on better health this year. In fact, February – also known as Heart Month – is the perfect time to focus on improving your heart health. The key is structuring that goal in a way that keeps you motivated throughout the year.
Now, we know what you're thinking: So, you just want me to lose weight, eat right, exercise regularly, quit smoking and keep my blood pressure, cholesterol and blood sugar down? Fat chance!
But the truth is, each objective really is attainable through manageable behavioral changes. The first step is to find out where you stand. Go to the AHA's website and complete the simple assessment to find out what areas you already excel in, where you need to make improvements and what information you may want to ask your doctor about. For example, if you don't smoke, you've already achieved one of your seven big-picture goals. Don't know your blood sugar levels? That's something you should probably discuss with your doctor. In addition, the assessment will reveal areas where you can improve your diet, how much exercise you need to add to your day and where you stand in terms of body weight and other variables.
Now that you know your long-term goals, it's time to incorporate behaviour changes throughout your day and week to help you progress. Need to get moving? Consider joining us for a gym membership and/or trying some of our fitness classes. Or start with a commitment to walking a 2 km loop in your neighbourhood several days a week. Short on fruits and veggies? Start by adding one piece of fruit to your breakfast each day and eat a salad as part of your dinner three days each week. You can also boost your vegetable content with VegeGreens super food powder, which is availble at the club. Is your blood pressure too high? Talk to your doctor about ways to control it - there are many natural ways to do this. As those new behaviours become habits, you can modify them as needed.
Eventually, small behaviour tweaks will become big changes. They'll also provide frequent successes that keep you motivated throughout the year. Every time you join a fitness class or walk that 2 km loop, for instance, you've achieved another goal!
Remember, lifestyle change is not an all-or-nothing proposition. It may be quite some time before you meet every aspect of the dietary recommendations, or achieve every one of the 7 steps – if ever. But every improvement counts, as does every pound lost. For instance, losing 50 pounds to get back down to your college weight may not be achievable right now, but losing 10 percent of your body weight could lead to dramatic improvements in your health. Likewise, you may not be able to exercise every day, but every moment of physical activity counts. The successes will accumulate and become their own type of habit. It's all about perspective and acknowledging your achievements along the way. You CAN do it!
With all the celebrations and family gatherings this holiday season, are you concerned about maintaining your current weight? If you think about your energy balance (energy in vs. energy out) it is very easy to see how over the holidays you eat a little more and move a little less, which leads to some weight gain.
During the holiday season, the average person gains 5-12 lbs! Fortunately, though, you don’t have to fall victim to excess holiday bulge with these fitness tips...
Tip #1 – Write it down
Create a plan during the holiday season and write down your goals. For most people, the act of actually sitting down and writing out a plan of action, helps them to stay focused and increases their chances of following through. Make sure your goals are realistic and plan out some daily, weekly, and monthly goals. Make sure your plan contains some of the following tips in it as well.
Tip #2 – Get moving and make exercise a priority
During the holidays, most people cut out exercise because they say that they “don’t have the time.” Wrong–you do have the time! You don’t have to exercise an hour every day to get the benefits of exercise. If you are pressed for time, try some interval training which can burn more calories than an hour of steady-state cardio and can be done in only 20 minutes. Another way to burn extra calories in a shorter period of time is to perform some strength training workouts. Interval training and strength training both create an exercise-after burn which allows your body to continue burning additional calories even while you rest for up to 36 hours or more.
Tip #3 – Drink water
This really isn’t anything new, we all know that we need water to stay hydrated, but it’s more than just hydration. Sometimes the lack of adequate amounts of water in our diet can cause us to feel hungry when we are really not. Many people end up packing on extra calories because they think that they are hungry when really all they need is some water. Water helps keep our metabolism running at peak performance and aids in the digestion of foods so, drink up!
Tip #4 – Don’t skip meals
Holiday season means huge meals and huge appetites. On these days people generally tend to skip breakfast or lunch in anticipation of that big holiday dinner. The problem is that this tends to cause people to overeat and really pack on the pounds. Skipping meals slows the metabolism and aids in fat storage. Make sure to eat a few small meals before your holiday dinner to help minimize overeating and save yourself a 1,000 calories.
Tip #5 – Moderation
Watching what you eat and losing weight doesn’t mean that you can’t treat yourself every now and then. The problem is that when most people go to treat themselves, they over-do it. Go ahead and grab a small piece of the pie, but remember to think in moderation and avoid going for seconds on dessert. Eating a few small meals and a small salad before your holiday dinner can help you avoid those cravings for sweets and help keep you feeling full.
Tip #6 – Minimize alcohol
One gram of alcohol contains 7 calories which is nearly double the amount contained in one gram of carbohydrate (4 calories) and is only two calories shy of a gram of fat (9 calories). These 7 calories per gram don’t even include all the calories and sugar you may take it if you mix your alcohol with something else. Drinking alcohol is a quick way to pack on excess calories and weight. If you plan on drinking, just remember moderation.
Tip #7 – Get some sleep
Lack of sleep has been shown to aid in the accumulation of belly fat which can be very dangerous to your health. Make sure, even though holidays are a busy time of the year, that you are getting enough sleep.
Chia seeds are packed with nutrients. A mere 2 tablespoons pack 8 g of fiber, 4 g of protein, and 2 g of omega-3 fatty acids, as well as calcium, magnesium, and antioxidants — not too shabby for a tiny seed! Even more spectacular than its health value is its thickening ability, which can turn a plain cup of liquid into a creamy pudding. In just a few easy steps, you can make yourself the most delicious and hearty breakfast to keep you full and energized for hours.
Rolled oats, chia seeds, and cacao nibs make up the base of this breakfast bowl. Although chia seeds don’t provide any flavor, when soaked in liquids, it adds a great deal of texture. The longer you let it sit, the more the chia seed will plump up.
We use almond milk , but you can substitute any kind of non-dairy milk you prefer. For a touch of sweetness, you can add maple syrup or raw honey.
There are endless variations when it comes to toppings. The fun part comes with the variety of toppings and mix-ins!
OATMEAL TOPPINGS GALORE: This chia oatmeal breakfast bowl is topped with granola, blackberries, and blood orange segments. Get creative though - next time try loading your oatmeal with toasted almonds, sliced banana, and a handful of chocolate chunks. And if you're feeling tropical, maybe add some shredded coconut, pineapple slices, and chopped macadamia nuts. Enjoy!
Roasting adds a savory depth of flavor one can only achieve once a bit of caramelization has occurred, and creates crispy edges, which are a textural delight.
• 1 bunch Asparagus, Ends Cut Off, Chopped Into 2-3 Inch Pieces
• 1 Red Onion, peeled and chopped
• 1 Red Bell Pepper, seeded and chopped
• 8 oz. Mushrooms (any Kind), quartered or halved
• 1 medium eggplant, chopped into cubes
• 1/2 butternut squash, peeled and cubed
• 3 cloves garlic, minced
• Salt & pepper, to taste
• 1 tsp. steak seasoning (your favourite brand)
• 1/3 cup Olive Oil
1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
2. Mix all of the vegetables in a large bowl.
3. Drizzle with olive oil, season with salt, pepper, and steak seasonings.
4. Gently toss to coat all of the veggies.
5. Spread veggies out on two baking sheets.
6. Roast for 20 minutes, shaking the pans 2x while roasting. If needed, roast for an additional 5-10 minutes.
We know you’ve been doing your best to eat healthy and exercise, and along with this most likely, this means you’re weighing yourself and seeing some fluctuation. But don’t fret, there are many reasons for this!
Need help understanding nutrition and the scale? Contact Us at Functional Performance Fitness so we can discuss which of our programs, both fitness and nutritional will work best for you. Functional Performance Fitness has many programs for nutrition, exercise and recovery – contact us now!
Feasting on Fruit using just 13 ingredients with only 230 calories and 85 minutes of your time.
A fun and healthy recipe to make and share with the kids!
Brought to you by Yummly!
Beets contain a unique phytonutrients pigments. These pigments can provide powerful antioxidant protection. They are particularly rich in folate acid, excellent in B1 & B2 vitamin important for a healthy heart and essential for normal tissue growth. Not only are beets are high in nutrients, but are very low in calories. 1 cup of cooked beets contains 75 calories. Enjoy this meal for breakfast, lunch or dinner!
• 1 lb. beets, washed, peeled and diced
• 1/2 lb. Yukon Gold potatoes, scrubbed and diced
• 1 sweet onion, diced
• 3-4 cloves of garlic, smashed and chopped
• Beet greens (from 6 beets), chopped
• 5-6 kale leaves, ribs removed, chopped
• 1-2 Tbsp. olive oil
• Handful fresh parsley
• 3-4 fried eggs
1. In a fry pan, put in diced raw beets and potatoes with plus enough water to cover them (about 3 cups). Season with salt and bring to a boil and cook for about 7 minutes.
2. Drain and set aside the beets and potatoes.
3. In the same pan, add olive oil, onion and garlic and sauté for a few minutes.
4. Add in kale and beet greens, and cook until wilted (2- 3 mins). Set aside.
5. Heat oil in the fry pan over med-high heat. Add back potatoes and beets and press firmly into a layer, and allow the veggies to brown. Once crispy, flip to the other side.
6. Add kale and beet greens, stirring to combine. Let the entire mixture crisp up for another few minutes.
7. Top with 3-4 fried eggs and parsley. Serve immediately and enjoy!!
Bosc and Comice pears are in season in the fall!
Delicious & Healthy Baked Pears
• 2 large ripe pears
• 1/4 tsp. ground cinnamon
• 2 tsp. honey
• 1/4 cup crushed walnuts
1. Preheat the oven to 350°F.
2. Cut the pears in half, and place on a baking sheet (inside facing up)
3. Using a spoon, scoop out the seeds.
4. Sprinkle with cinnamon, top with walnuts, and then drizzle 1/2 tsp. honey over each pear.
5. Bake for about 30 minutes. Remove, cool & enjoy!
A delicious side for your summer BBQ!
• 1 head romaine lettuce (organic if possible, separated into individual leaves)
• 1/2 cup beet store bought hummus (no preservatives)
• 1 cup halved cherry tomatoes
• 1/2 cup alfalfa sprouts
• 1 cup shredded carrots
• 3/4 cup red cabbage, thinly sliced
• 1 ripe avocado, cubed
• 1 tbsp. hemp seeds
For the Sauce:
• 1/3 cup tahini
• 2 tbsp. lemon juice
• 1 tbsp. maple syrup
• Pinch sea salt
• Water to thin, if needed
1. Prepare sauce by whisking tahini, lemon juice, maple syrup, and salt in a small mixing bowl. Add water 1 tbsp. at a time, until dressing thickness is to your liking. Taste and adjust flavor as needed. Set aside.
2. Arrange lettuce “boats” on a platter, and begin filling with 1-2 tbsp. of hummus. Top with lots of veggies.
3. Drizzle the dressing over the top, and serve.
We all know water is good for us and that we should probably drink more of it. So why, then, do people find it so difficult to sip from what is arguably the fountain of youth?
We're all guilty of it -- choosing a can of pop over a bottle of water. But what happens when our kids develop the same habits? Forty-five percent of Canadians drink an average of four or more non-water beverages per day, according to a survey released for Nestle Waters Canada. In the survey, 22 percent of respondents said their child drinks fruit juice the most often.
"It's scary to think about, but it does grab my attention," says Sherry Torkos, pharmacist and author of The Canadian Encyclopedia of Natural Medicine. "This issue needs attention because it can lead to larger health threats, especially for kids."
Water provides the body with health benefits…just take a look at how water helps:
• It balances body fluids. Your body is composed of about 60 percent water and performs vital functions such as protecting your organs and tissues, regulating your body temperature and carrying nutrients and oxygen to your cells—essentially it keeps your body running like a well-oiled machine.
• It keeps skin looking healthy. Water moisturizes your skin and functions as a protective barrier to prevent excess fluid loss (think free anti-aging cream). In addition, it can keep your skin fresh and smooth.
• It boosts the immune system. Those who guzzle water are at a lower risk of getting sick. This crystal-clear concoction may help fight against flu and other ailments.
• It can help control calories. While drinking water may not be a weight-loss strategy, per se, substituting it for higher-calorie or sugar-filled beverages can help by removing by products of fat, filling you up so you’re not noshing, acts as a natural appetite suppressant and raises your metabolism.
Some additional reasons to get enough water throughout the day:
1. Maximize your physical performance.
2. Increase the your energy and brain function.
3. May prevent and treat headaches.
4. May relieve constipation.
You get it right? It’s important to get enough water, but how much is enough? There is so much information out there about what amount is the right amount, but a good guideline is to drink enough water so that you don’t feel thirsty – you’re body WILL tell you. And keep in mind the right amount of water is going to depend on your activities throughout the day. You’ll definitely need more water if you’re exercising, especially in humid or hot weather, if you’re ill, or you’re pregnant.
But, if you’re someone that needs a hard fast rule to go by, “The National Academies of Sciences suggests that women consume a total of approximately 2.7 liters (91 ounces) of water from all beverages and foods each day and that men get approximately 3.7 liters (125 ounces) daily. But these are just general guidelines and are not supported by firm scientific studies.”
Have more questions about hydrating for optimum health? Contact Natatia at Functional Performance Fitness. - she’ll help you get on the road to proper hydration.
We hear it all the time…we’re eating too much sugar. Excess sugar contributes to weight gain (particularly around the middle), chronic inflammation and our ability to fight whatever bug is going around. But did you know that by cutting sugar out of your diet you’ll experience a mood boost and general all over good feeling? Sounds easy right? It’s not. Sugar is highly addictive recently compared to an opioid high!
So how do you beat the intense sugar cravings?
Keep your blood sugar level steady by eating regularly. Making sure your meals contain healthy proteins and fiber will keep you satisfied and help to deter that midday sugar craving. And keep healthy sweet snacks in your purse or at your desk.
In nature there is sugar and along with that sugar comes fiber, vitamins and minerals. Have berries, apples, pears, and carrots on hand when that craving hits. The ultimate benefit is not having that sugar crash that makes you reach for more sugar. Put a fruit bowl on the counter for easy access.
Make sure your getting enough sleep. Being sleep deprived makes your body produce the “hunger hormone” ghrelin – keep this sugar-craving hormone at bay by getting enough rest for your body. Put the phone away at least one hour before bedtime and create a sleep ritual to induce a good night’s sleep.
Did you know that there are good “bugs”? Some bacteria in your system are actually good for an overall healthy system. Your gut microbiota is part of what dictates what your crave. Satisfy your microbiota with good bacteria by eating fermented foods such as yogurt (choose Greek yogurt over the other heavily sugared options), kefir, kombucha and sauerkraut.
To help scale back that sweet tooth eat bitter foods before you eat the sweet foods. Some bitter foods include grapefruit, arugula, radicchio and Brussels sprouts. Veggies, like fruit will keep you satiated which equals less sugar cravings.
And don’t fret, like adding all new habits it can take up to 21 days for those sugar cravings to subside. Don’t lose sight during this time…remember all you’ll be gaining - energy, a great mood, lose of weight and finding new and delicious foods!
We know it’s not that easy so do you need that extra boost to get through those 21 days? At Functional Performance Fitness we offer nutrition guidance, CONTACT NATATIA for more information about the challenges you have when it comes to satisfying those sugar cravings.
I'm Natatia Gemmell. No matter how busy life gets, eating well and exercising is always a priority! I LOVE fitness, and I share my passion for exercising and clean eating with my friends and family, And I want to share with you too! Let me know how your next recipe turns out!