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healthy lifestyle

It All Begins with Food {Cookbook Review}

Food is a universal language we all speak, something that unifies us. It’s something to be enjoyed, and also the fuel we provide our bodies. If you’d followed the blog for a while, you’ll know that our family loves food, albeit with a few bumps in the road- we’re still gluten free, but other restrictions have since been removed from Ari’s diet- and I’ve sought out options as healthy staples in our diets. We enjoy as many home- cooked and healthy, whole- food based meals as we can, but still indulge in comfort food, etc when we get a craving or are short on time (everything in moderation, no?).

Before kids and since, I love a good recipe. There’s something I find soothing and therapeutic about preparing a meal (note: when the kids are cooperating); it’s a simple pleasure I find a lot of joy in. And while I turn to online sources for much of my inspiration when trying out a new meal idea, I still love turning the pages of a cookbook. There’s something about the tactile nature of running my fingers down the pages and marking recipes to try with sticky notes that I love. So when I had the chance to review the new cookbook by Love Child Organics founder Leah Garrad- Cole, I looked forward to the opportunity.


“Welcome to It All Begins With Food, a book dedicated to clean, whole- food recipes for your entire family”.


Leah and I share the same outlook towards food, with a focus on the quality and integrity of ingredients, especially when it comes to feeding our kids. There is a lot to be said about the source of our food today (how was it grown, where did it come from, etc) and while this isn’t always black and white, Leah offers up a valuable resource in her new cookbook for everyone from new parents to passionate home cooks alike. I discovered her line of quality baby food, Love Child Organics, soon after Ari was born and have had the pleasure of being a brand ambassador with the company and watching it grow over the past few years. The introduction of It All Begins With Food was something I was looking forward to, and now am happy to be sharing my thoughts on the book here with readers. This cookbook will grow with your family, and even if your kids are past the baby and toddler years, it is full of information and recipes you will appreciate and enjoy.

This is a beautiful cookbook, filled with photos and tables of information that compliment Leah’s recipes. But it isn’t all eye candy, and second only to the recipes themselves, the information Leah has gathered in this cookbook make it a great reference to have on hand. What does it really mean to be organic? What’s a GMO? What foods should I avoid introducing to my baby? Are just a few of the questions Leah addresses in It All Begins With Food, along with a section I love, make it yourself, make it better, which features suggestions on how to make pantry staples at home to avoid unnecessary ingredients such as sugar, salt and preservatives. 


“There is an overabundance of of information out there, and it can make the task of feeding your family really confusing and overwhelming. We all want our children to eat well, but it’s hard to know where to start, and with our busy lives, it’s really difficult to find the time to make it happen.”


Alongside the recipes, Leah has included information to help guide readers through food topics that we face today, including:

  • organic foods (one of Leah’s favourite topics)
  • The Dirty Dozen & The Clean Fifteen- foods grown with the most pesticide residue and least, respectively
  • GMOs- what are they and how to avoid them
  • alternative names for sugar used in ingredients lists
  • clean kitchen/ pantry shopping list + tools and equipment 
  • meal planning tips + planner
  • getting your kids involved in cooking + food prep
  • information, tips, and serving suggestions for introducing first foods to baby

 

While this cookbook is a wealth of information for starting out your little one on solids (see For Baby, below), Leah has covered healthy suggestions for the whole family from start to finish: breakfast, lunch, dinner, snacks, smoothies, creating your own pantry staples (I’m looking forward to diving into this chapter more in the coming months), and recipes for entertaining. I tend to avoid recipes that contain ingredients that are hard to find or seem too complicated; most of the time I have the kids with me when shopping and cooking, so I’ve subscribed to the adage simpler is better on several levels when it comes to the food we eat.

And that also applies to the nature of the ingredients themselves: Leah uses common, clean/ healthy, simple- to- find- ingredients in her recipes, with prep and cooking time around an hour total for many of the recipes (many less than that). This is a cookbook with crowd- pleasing recipes, but doesn’t forget about the person creating the meal. You don’t have to have kids to appreciate her method, but it’s definitely a cookbook created by a parent with parents in mind: healthy food that doesn’t take hours to prep and cook. Thank you Leah!


“With an unwavering focus on replacing ingredients that have little nutritional value with ones that are nutritionally dense, It All Begins With Food ensures that every bite counts while making the end result is pleasurable and the ingredients are easy to find.”


Chapters in the book:

purees & mashes

finger foods

smoothies: the vitamin vehicle

superhero breakfasts to keep them going (and going!)

easy lunches

family- friendly dinners

healthier snacks & treats

let’s celebrate

make it yourself make it better


 

For Baby

For parents looking for information, tips, and recipes for feeding their baby, this book is a wealth of knowledge and I wish it had been around when Ari was a baby. As a Mom, Leah speaks from her own experiences, as well as from the wealth of information and knowledge she has amassed since starting an organic food company; I love this combination of experience and knowledge and I feel this approach will appeal to many parents beginning the food journey with their children. Here are just a few of the highlights for me that I appreciated Leah including:

  • Canadian & US official infant feeding recommendations
  • suggestions on when to start introducing solids + signs to look for that your baby may be ready
  • what foods to start with
  • food allergies + reactions (also the difference between a true allergy and an intolerance/ food sensitivity)
  • how much food + how often
  • baby food recipes (purees + mashes), tips + combinations

    

Whether you’re passionate about healthy cooking, want to incorporate more whole- foods recipes into your weekly meal plan, or starting out a little one on solids, It All begins With Food  includes ideas for all members of the family, and will be a welcome addition to any cookbook library. 

To learn more about Love Child Organics, visit them online:

Website | Facebook | Instagram

It All Begins With Food available online at Amazon.ca and Indigo

Disclosure: I received this cookbook in exchange for my honest review. All opinions are my own. This blog post contains affiliate links. 

Want to save this review for later? Pin it!

May 11, 2017
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TPB Fitness Series: Why Moms Should Consider Hiring a Personal Trainer

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In the past few months I have upped my fitness game, and I have Irina from Tone Every Zone to thank for helping inspire me to finally stop making excuses and actually get on it. I’ll be the first to admit that I don’t always fit a workout in and when I do I’m aware that there are so many other things that need doing. But this is what I’m starting to accept: so what??? I haven’t felt this good in years and it’s made me feel better mentally and physically. Taking a few minutes when I have the chance might not sound like much, but it has made a difference. And I’m excited to be back in the pool after years away, swimming laps and remembering how good it feels when you make time for your health. Plus after a week or two, it really becomes easier to make it a part of your routine.

This fitness series with Irina has been a project I’ve enjoyed and I hope you’ve found it helpful as well. For her last post in this 6- part series, Irina is sharing about how a fitness trainer can help you make time for exercise and the benefits of working with one. And before you finish the thought ‘it’s not in the budget’, it’s surprisingly more affordable than you might think and if you need that little extra help and motivation to keep you on track, isn’t it worth it? I think of it as investing in yourself and really, isn’t that what you’re doing? Thanks Irina for this amazing series, it’s been a good one; one that’s impacted more than I could have anticipated.
See below for Irina’s final post.


Out of all the clients I see on a regular basis, moms resonate with me the most. They are one of the groups who is the most motivated to succeed but often fall short of their goals. As a mom I totally get it: kids, house chores, meal prep and that never ending pile of laundry, all make it so that fitness is last on the to-do list. A personal trainer can’t take the chores away, but here are some of the ways in which we can help!

You do personalized workouts that get you results faster
Doing random exercises in the hope they give you results will take you nowhere fast, not to mention they will get you extremely frustrated. To get results you need to work at the right intensity and do the right exercises in the right order. A few sessions with a trainer will ensure that you do just that as we will select the routine and intensity that will give you the most bang for your buck while taking into account your goals. Personalized workouts are the best way to go!

You avoid injury
When you are exercising incorrectly you are just setting yourself up to get injured. And that totally sucks. Personal trainers don’t just sit around and count reps. We show you proper technique, we correct your form and we also modify an exercise if we see you struggling with it. You don’t get that from YouTube or even a class at the gym.

You have the support and motivation you need to succeed
When it comes to exercising, I often found the hardest part was getting my butt off the couch. Scheduling your sessions with a trainer ensures that you show up and actually do your workouts! You also have a shoulder to lean on now – your trainer will listen and encourage you to keep going even during those moments when it’s easier to quit. Moral support is incredibly important throughout your fitness journey.

You rely on expert knowledge
Your trainer is the ultimate knowledge source when it comes to fitness so go ahead and ask them your burning questions! I looove to teach my clients about fitness, explain why we are doing certain exercises and share my insights with them because ultimately I want them to take control of their own fitness.

The workouts come to you
Getting out of the house to hit the gym or a class is completely overrated – and super time consuming. When you factor in the time needed to get there, changing and showering afterwards your 1hr workout turns into 2hrs. A busy mom ain’t got time for that!

So why not get the gym to come to you? Hiring a mobile personal trainer will help you save time, as well as money on gym memberships and gas. You are working your butt off out in the privacy of your home – how awesome is that? As a bonus, you no longer need to smell someone else’s body odour either!

The punchline

If you haven’t considered hiring a personal trainer – why not? They are fitness experts who can help you reach your fitness goals faster, share their knowledge, help you get the most out of your training and some (like myself!) even come to you, helping you save time and money!

Don’t miss the other posts by Irina in this fitness series!


About Irina
Irina discovered fitness by accident after becoming a mom and started Tone Every Zone out of an overwhelming desire to help other busy individuals such as moms juggle a hectic lifestyle while staying active. Irina loves teaching people about fitness and working with them as a team to make long lasting lifestyle changes.

To get in touch with Irina about her personal training services please email her at irina@toneeveryzone.ca, or get in touch through her website. You can also follow Irina on social media for more great fitness education tips:


About Tone Every Zone


Tone Every Zone is a mobile personal training company servicing New Westminster, as well as parts of Burnaby, Coquitlam, Port Moody and Surrey. Tone Every Zone comes to you, saving you the cost of gym memberships, and eliminating the need to adhere to a schedule set by a commercial gym. To learn more, please visit: www.toneeveryzone.ca

Thank you to these partners for collaborating on this post series:



Photographer: Catherine Hilcove Photography Facebook | Instagram

Workout Apparel:
Underables Shown in this post: GROCERIES workout tee & leggings (worn by Irina)

LNBF Shown in this post: Melissa Light Active Hoodie & Suri Leggings (worn by Katherine)
September 27, 2016
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TPB Fitness Series: The 5 Habits of Healthy Eaters

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We’ve all heard the saying ‘an apple a day…’ but it can be tough trying to actually eat the way we should. My general attitude is everything in moderation- I try to eat healthy the majority of the time but I don’t deny myself treats as a reward (especially after the kids are in bed for the night!). I know this isn’t a perfect philosophy but for the most part it works. Irina’s post this month is loaded with some great tips to help us improve our eating habits and overall health and I love how she always includes some simple ways to incorporate her advice into your day- to- day life without it seeming too overwhelming. What little tricks do you have up your sleeve to help eat healthier?

From Irina:

Healthy eating is a priority for most people and yet such a large number of us struggle in this respect! If you fall in this category, not all is lost!


Over the years I’ve seen healthy eaters consistently demonstrate several habits which are a dramatic differentiator between them and the general population. In this article, I will go over what 5 of these are.

Healthy eaters understand macronutrients

Our bodies need protein, carbohydrates and fats and all three are extremely important! These are called macronutrients, and our bodies were designed to utilize all three, as well as water and a tiny amount of essential minerals and vitamins that our bodies can’t make themselves. Carbs should contribute ~50% of our daily food intake, proteins ~30% and fats ~20%. This is necessary for your body to function properly regardless of whether you’re a vegetarian, vegan or what have you.

Now I want to bust a myth for you: Carbs, proteins and fats are not bad for you, it’s the type you eat that is bad for you, and also the amount.

For example, fruits and veggies are carbs. And so is chocolate. Which one is better for you?

Butter and olive oil are both fats. Which one is healthier?

Finally, our bodies will store anything that’s in excess: it doesn’t care if we give it excess carbs, proteins or fats. If it’s in excess, it will store it!

Healthy eaters understand that carbs, proteins and fats are all important and make sure their diet includes all three!




Healthy eaters understand their own eating habits!

An excellent way to truly understand your eating habits is to hold a food journal over the course of a couple of weeks and see if you roughly fall under the percentages I outlined above. Sometimes it becomes super apparent right away that you are heavy on one of the macronutrients and lacking in another (remember what your body does with excess stuff??). Other times you will realize that you have a habit of eating something sugary after lunch, etc.

Once you understand where you are at, you can start to tweak things. Add some protein if you’re carb heavy, brainstorm an alternative for your sugary snack, etc.

And speaking of snacks…
Healthy eaters pay attention to their snacks and drinks

When you’re thinking about your eating habits, don’t forget snacks and drinks! Those count too! In fact, sugary drinks are incredibly high in calories – and that includes things like your morning coffee.

Alcohol is another big one – here in BC we don’t even know what’s in our drinks, or how many calories they have. But make no mistake, drinks have calories too. And they contribute nothing healthy to your body (although I do agree that they can contribute to keeping your soul happy – I too indulge in the occasional Friday evening drink)

That being said, healthy eaters consistently prep healthy snacks and make water their beverage of choice!


Healthy eaters do meal prep

Meal prep can be daunting but there are some tips and tricks to make it easier. Grocery shopping over the weekend and designating one or two meal prep days can go a long way.

Healthy eaters understand that eating at home and prepping meals ahead of time to avoid eating out is crucial to maintaining a good body weight!


Healthy eaters treat themselves –  but don’t do it often!

Healthy eating doesn’t mean you never get to eat anything delicious or indulge in life’s small pleasures. After all, if you can’t let go once in awhile and enjoy the wonderful food we have available to us, what’s the point? Me? I LOVE pastries and popcorn! Throw a croissant my way and I’ll stuff my face immediately with zero regrets. I just don’t do it all the time.That’s the secret!

When people attempt to become healthier, they restrict themselves too much. Treat yourself sometimes – just admit that it’s a treat and understand that there is nothing wrong with that.

Healthy eaters allow for treats – they just limit how often it happens.

Healthy eaters start small

Too many people fail at healthy eating because they do it all at once. I like to teach my clients to just focus on one goal at a time. Maybe it’s reducing the sugar in your coffee, or adding more veggies to your meals. Whatever that one thing is that’s most important to you, start there. Once you’ve achieved your first goal, move on to the next one.

Summary
Healthy eating is about understanding macronutrients, your eating habits and minimizing eating out. It allows for treats once in awhile and encourages people to take it one step at a time. How about you? How many of these healthy eating habits do you follow?

Don’t miss the other posts by Irina in this fitness series!


About Irina
Irina discovered fitness by accident after having her daughter and started Tone Every Zone out of an overwhelming desire to help other busy individuals such as moms juggle a hectic lifestyle while staying active. Irina loves teaching people about fitness and working with them as a team to make long lasting lifestyle changes.

To get in touch with Irina about her personal training services please email her at irina@toneeveryzone.ca, or get in touch through her website. You can also follow Irina on social media for more great fitness education tips:


About Tone Every Zone

Tone Every Zone is a mobile personal training company servicing New Westminster, as well as parts of Burnaby, Coquitlam, Port Moody and Surrey. Tone Every Zone comes to you, saving you the cost of gym memberships, and eliminating the need to adhere to a schedule set by a commercial gym. To learn more, please visit: www.toneeveryzone.ca

Thank you to these partners for collaborating on this post series:



Photographer: Catherine Hilcove Photography Facebook | Instagram

Workout Apparel:
Underables Shown in this post: GROCERIES workout tee & leggings (worn by Irina)

LNBF Shown in this post: Melissa Light Active Hoodie & Suri Leggings (worn by Katherine)

August 23, 2016
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TPB Fitness Series: Be More Flexible- The 6 Secrets of Proper Stretching

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Years ago- like when there were dinosaurs (ha, not really but it feels that way!)- I was a competitive swimmer. It was the best shape I’ve ever been in and I miss it. I miss how I felt. I miss being toned and feeling like I could swim a few kms without thinking much of it. There is such a good feeling that comes from exercise. Ah, those endorphins- whenever I hear that word I always think of Elle Woods in Legally Blonde “Exercise gives you endorphins, endorphins make you happy…”, so true Ms Woods, so true. 
But there’s one thing I always remember about practice outside of the time in the pool: the stretching. We would spend about a third of practice stretching and warming up/ warming down. It was as important as the swimming itself. Remaining flexible- and going through stretches properly- are important not just when you’re pushing your body, but when you’re going through day- to- day life. When you’re not taking care of yourself- and this includes simple things like stretching- it’s that much easier to hurt yourself, and in the long run, you lose range of motion and flexibility. Not so great. I had my kids young so I could goof around with them, and enjoy being a little crazy as a Mom. To be the Mom that can keep up with her kids and chase them around the yard like a mad woman- I want to still be kicking ass when my kids are my age now. That’s a life goal right there and I plan to keep it. 
When I saw that Irina’s fitness post for the month focused on flexibility and stretching, I smiled. Sometimes the simplest things make so much difference and I love her tips to help us stay flexible. So come on gals, let’s get flexible. 😉
Why is it important to be flexible?



Hands up who knows the answer to this question!
While many people know it’s important to be flexible, not many people understand why that is, and even fewer still know how to work on it.



Flexibility gives our body the range of motion it needs to work well on a daily basis. And, when it comes to exercising, the range of motion needed to perform exercises well. As we get older we lose flexibility and our muscles become more rigid. If we want to maintain our quality of life into old age, we can’t ignore stretching.



The majority of people fall into these two categories:



  • those who ignore stretching and
  • those who do it wrong



I want you to be neither of these which is why in this article I will share with you 6 secrets of how to stretch properly so you get the most out of your flexibility training.



Secret #1: Do a warm-up before you stretch
Even if your workout is all stretching you still need to start with a warm up. That’s because muscles are like a tough rubber band and not very stretchy. Do a quick 5min warm-up (run on the spot, jumping jacks, etc) followed by your workout. You will find that it’s much easier to get into the moves. Your body with thank you



Secret #2: Stretch at the end of your workout not at the start
For the longest time people would start their workouts with stretching but science has shown that there is little benefit to be gained from stretching cold muscles. The optimal time to stretch is  at the end of your workout when your muscles are warm and already loose because you just worked them out!



Secret #3: Hold the stretch

Another mistake I see people making is holding a stretch for less than 5 seconds. In order for a stretch to be effective, you need to hold it for at least 20s. Anything less than that doesn’t really do anything. I like to recommend a 30 seconds hold to my clients. It might be useful to time yourself the first few times. 30 seconds is longer than you think!



As you hang out for the 30s seconds see if you can get further into the move. You’re trying to develop flexibility so see if you can push a little further. It should feel slightly uncomfortable but not painful.



Secret #4: Breathe

Breathing is extremely important when it comes to stretching. It’s very easy to forget to breathe when you stretch but your muscles still need oxygen and blood. Moreover, your muscles relax on the exhale – so you need to breathe to get that effect! I like to take nice deep breaths when I stretch. It’s meant to be relaxing. I think of stretching as my opportunity to relax and let go of my day. I focus on my breathing and let everything else drift away. For 10 min, it’s your chance to live in the moment!



Secret #5: Listen to your body
Stretching is meant to maintain and develop flexibility not to hurt you. Yes, there is an element of discomfort, but you shouldn’t be gritting your teeth when you stretch and you shouldn’t feel any sharp pains. Being slightly uncomfortable is ok but you should be able to breathe through it and feel relaxed. Stretching should feel like a release. If it feels too intense, back off a little bit and if you experience strange sharp pains you should definitely check with a doctor.



Your body will tell you if something isn’t right – don’t ignore it!



Secret #6: If it’s tight, stretch it

I like to recommend to my clients that they stretch the muscles they worked that day, but also any areas of tightness that we discover together. Any area that is particularly tight should always be a focus when you’re stretching. For example, I would still want someone with tight hamstrings to stretch them even if we’ve done upper body that day.



Typical areas of tightness that I see in my mommy clients are:
  • Neck
  • Lower/mid back
  • Hamstrings/hip flexors (from all the sitting down while nursing)
  • Chest/rounded shoulders



Conclusion:



Optimal flexibility is pretty tough to achieve because our lives work so hard against that! But I certainly feel it’s worthwhile to try to offset the damage as much as we can! Being able to move and have good range of motion is incredibly important so I challenge you to find at least 5min of stretching in your day. Your body will thank you!



And remember to check out the other posts as part of this series, for more fitness education tips for moms:





About Irina
Irina discovered fitness by accident after having her daughter and started Tone Every Zone out of an overwhelming desire to help other busy individuals such as moms juggle a hectic lifestyle while staying active. Irina loves teaching people about fitness and working with them as a team to make long lasting lifestyle changes.



To get in touch with Irina about her personal training services please email her at irina@toneeveryzone.ca, or get in touch through her website. You can also follow Irina on social media for more great fitness education tips:





About Tone Every Zone



Tone Every Zone is a mobile personal training company servicing New Westminster, as well as parts of Burnaby, Coquitlam, Port Moody and Surrey. Tone Every Zone comes to you, saving you the cost of gym memberships, and eliminating the need to adhere to a schedule set by a commercial gym. To learn more, please visit: www.toneeveryzone.ca

Thank you to these partners for collaborating on this post series:



Photographer: Catherine Hilcove Photography Facebook | Instagram

Workout Apparel:
Underables Shown in this post: GROCERIES workout tee & leggings (worn by Irina)

LNBF Shown in this post: Melissa Light Active Hoodie & Suri Leggings (worn by Katherine)

July 26, 2016
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TPB Fitness Series: Not Just for Guys- Why Women Need Strength Training

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I was just thinking this week that we’re almost half way through the year. What?! And not that I want to be this person, but I thought I’d ask: how are your resolutions for the year coming along? Haha, mine are so- so. That being said, there’s still 6 months left in the year to work towards our goals, whatever they may be, so let’s not be too hard on ourselves just yet.
Fitness and health- related goals always seem to be popular choices at the beginning of a new year, but following through with them and actually making the changes tends to get lost in the shuffle of daily life as the year goes on. Motivation diminishes, and with it the promises we made to ourselves. Sound about right? I’m totally guilty of this and with June winding down I’ve been taking stock of where I am with my goals for the year. I’m not going to beat myself up over it- and you shouldn’t either!- but the only way to make changes and achieve those goals is to hold ourselves accountable and actually make the effort. Even if the path getting there is imperfect and inconsistent, it’s better than nothing- and really, isn’t that how life works anyways? It’s about the journey, and so on. With that in mind, I’m going to hand it over to Irina and her great tips on strength training (don’t miss her 10 minute workout- great for getting in a few minutes of exercise in the day). Ladies, we’ve got this. Cheers to making the second half of 2016 even better than the first!
In a previous post, 4 Simple Ways to Make Cardio your Friend, we explored cardio and how it can be easy to incorporate it into our lives if we do it in short bursts. In this post we will add on to that knowledge and address strength training.



Strength training is the other side of the coin. While cardio is excellent at burning calories in the moment and working our lungs and heart, strength training helps to build muscle and, as the name implies – strength!  And while it may seem like strength training is only for the guys, women can benefit tremendously from it as well.



Here are some of the benefits of it:



  • Increases muscle mass and thus strength
  • Tones and gives you a sexy, lean body
  • Increases your basal metabolic rate and makes your muscles continue to burn calories even after you’ve completed your workout
  • Teaches you proper form: how to lift, how to reach, how to engage your core – all of which in turn make you less prone to injury in the real world.



If that sounds pretty awesome that’s because strength training really is amazing!



In this post, I’ll teach you where to start, what equipment to use, and how to make sure you have proper form so you don’t injure yourself.



Remember your goal!



Too many people jump right into it and end up doing a bunch of random exercises with no purpose. Does that sound familiar? The thing is, if you’re going to get any results you need to plan and think about it a little.



What’s your goal?



A great butt? Core strength? Arm strength? Chiseled shoulders? Each of these will require different types of exercises.



To start, pick some simple exercises that you are familiar with. Most people know about squats, bicep curls, mountain climbers, lunges. Think of exercises that you know that target the “thing” you’re trying to work then focus on those.



If it sounds a bit daunting it’s ok to ask for help. That’s what a personal trainer is for! My job is to put together kick-ass workouts specifically targeted for my client’s goals.



Pick your weapon!

There are TONS of different types of equipment you can use for strength training:
  • Dumbbells
  • Resistance bands
  • Kettlebells
  • Stability balls
  • Gym machines, and the list goes on!



I don’t believe any of these are needed, but if I were to pick one, I highly recommend resistance bands. They are cheap, durable, they don’t take up a lot of room and they are light.



As for me, I’m a fan of body weight training mainly because it means I can take my workouts anywhere and I’m not limited by the equipment I have available. Here is a quick total body workout that you can do right now in your living room and won’t take you more than 10 minutes!



  • 10 push-ups (on your knees is OK)
  • 20 alternating forward lunges
  • 1min mountain climbers
  • 20 squat pulses  (squat, pulse 3 times then come up)
  • 10 step back burpees
  • 1min hold plank



Use proper form
As a personal trainer I see a lot of people doing exercises wrong so I’ve compiled a short list to help you avoid some common pitfalls and make sure you always have stellar form:



  • Check your alignment:
    • Are your knees right above the ankles?
    • Are your shoulders right above the wrists?
    • Is your core tight and engaged?
    • Are you looking out straight ahead? Never tuck your chin!



  • Remember to breathe:
    • Your muscles need oxygen and blood to work. If you hold your breath, how will you perform your exercises well?



  • Check in halfway through the exercise
    • Are you are starting to use body momentum to get you through the move?
    • Are your arms/legs shaking?
    • Are you taking a break more than you are exercising?
    • If “yes” to any of the above, you need to stop



Proper form is extremely important! You want to work out not injure yourself. Again, this is where a few sessions with a personal trainer can be incredibly valuable. I can teach you proper form, range of motion, breathing technique and proper speed. Then when you’re on your own, you know what to do.



In summary, strength training is an extremely important element of fitness! For ladies it means a more toned physique, increased stamina and increased metabolic rate. So don’t be afraid to experiment with it!



And remember to check out the other posts as part of this series, for more fitness education tips for moms:





About Irina
Irina discovered fitness by accident after having her daughter and started Tone Every Zone out of an overwhelming desire to help other busy individuals such as moms juggle a hectic lifestyle while staying active. Irina’s loves teaching people about fitness and working with them as a team to make long lasting lifestyle changes.



To get in touch with Irina about her personal training services please email her at irina@toneeveryzone.ca, or get in touch through her website. You can also follow Irina on social media for more great fitness education tips:





About Tone Every Zone


Tone Every Zone is a mobile personal training company servicing New Westminster, as well as parts of Burnaby, Coquitlam, Port Moody and Surrey. Tone Every Zone comes to you, saving you the cost gym memberships, and eliminating the need to adhere to a schedule set by a commercial gym. To learn more, please visit: www.toneeveryzone.ca.

Thank you to these partners for collaborating on this post series:



Photographer: Catherine Hilcove Photography Facebook | Instagram

Workout Apparel:
Underables Shown in this post: GROCERIES workout tee & leggings (worn by Irina)

LNBF Shown in this post: Melissa Light Active Hoodie & Suri Leggings (worn by Katherine)

June 23, 2016
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TPB Fitness Series: 4 Simple Ways to Make Cardio Your Friend

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Cardio. That is such a loaded word, full of expectations, anxiety, and pressure. At least it is for me. I always set myself such lofty goals in this department and beat myself up for it when I fall short. But cardio isn’t actually as intimidating as so many of us think and thanks to our kids, we’re already a step in the right direction for what it takes to get this aspect of fitness in check: we’re up and moving about! Part 2 of this fitness series with Tone Every Zone is dedicated to this topic and I love how Irina has suggestions that you can easily fit into your daily routine- even with the kids around- that take 15 minutes or less to help you work towards your fitness goals. You don’t need a gym or even a workout space for her suggestions (think hills, stairs, a step stool, and even your own body) and let’s face it: 15 minutes isn’t such a challenge to squeeze in, is it? See below for her great tips and click here to view Part 1 in this fitness series.
Oh! And I almost forgot- there’s a GIVEAWAY  announcement at the end of this post! See how you can enter to win 1 of 5 fitness assessment sessions with Irina and for a chance to win a pair of LNBF Suri leggings (like the ones I’m wearing) at the end of today’s post. 😀

Hey everyone it’s Irina again! Cardiovascular health is a very important aspect of general wellness. We spend too much time being sedentary and we don’t  move around as much as we should. This can lead to heart disease and all sorts of other problems! Now, if you’re a mom – you’re already ahead of the game: chances are your kids force you to be more active than the general population because we all know kids don’t sit still unless they’re sleeping.

Cardio is a bit misunderstood: it doesn’t necessarily mean going for a run or doing a crazy HIIT class. But it is great fat burning exercise and should not be overlooked. Here are some simple ideas you can start incorporating once or twice a week into your schedule.

Hills
If you have any hills around your house, you’re in luck! Start modifying your usual route when you take your baby/ kids for a walk and opt for the hill instead! An incline is a great way to get your heart rate up while at the same time eliminating the high impact that comes with running or jumping around (which can be really uncomfortable if you’re a breastfeeding mom for example). When the hill starts getting easier, increase your walking speed.

Stairs
If you live in a house or townhouse, chances are you have some stairs. Here are some cardio exercises you can do with stairs:
  • 1min step ups
  • 1min sprints
  • 1min jumps (jump from step to step)
  • 1min step and squat: go up a step, do a squat. Do the same on the way back

*Repeat 3x for a quick 12min cardio workout!*

Any elevated surface
If you don’t have hills in your neighbourhood or stairs in your house, maybe you have a step stool! A step stool can be awesome cardio! Really, any elevated surface will do, just make sure it’s sturdy! Here’s a quick cardio routine using a step stool:
  • 1min step-ups
  • 1min step up and jump down
  • 1min step up and lunge back
  • 1min jump up and jump down

* Repeat 3x for a quick 12min cardio workout!*

Your body!
As it turns out, equipment is only optional when it comes to fitness training. Your body and gravity can do an awesome job getting your heart rate up. Here’s an awesome 5min sequence that requires no equipment. These exercises are simple but very effective!

  • 1min jumping jacks
  • 1min high knees (or marching, for the lower impact option)
  • 1min jump squats
  • 1min mountain climbers
  • 1min walking planks

*Repeat 3x for a fast 15min cardio workout!*

As always, the thing to keep in mind is that it’s ok to start small. 12-15min can be a quick burst of energy and a great workout if the time is used to its full potential.


What are your thoughts about cardio? How do you incorporate it into your busy schedule? What are you finding works really well? What are you struggling with? I’d love to hear from you!

And now about that giveaway I mentioned!
As part of this fitness series, Irina and LNBF (who kindly contributed fitness apparel for this post series) are offering up some great incentive to help you with your fitness goals! Some lucky ladies will win one (or both!) of the following prizes as part of this fitness post series. Enter in the forms below. Good luck!

What’s Up for Grabs:


5 Initial Training packages with Irina*

Each Package Includes:

  • 1hr session with a certified personal trainer who will travel to your location
  • Fitness assessment to determine your starting point
  • Stretching sheet designed to improve posture and flexibility
  • Sample workout
  • Training package that you get to keep

*Please make sure to read the terms and conditions to ensure you are eligible to win a session with Irina. Click here to view the terms & conditions of this part of the giveaway.
***Fill in the Lifestyle Questionnaire for 5 bonus entries and to help Irina get to know you before the initial training session.

a Rafflecopter giveaway


1 pair of Suri Leggings from LNBF
LNBF’s best- selling leggings made from amazingly soft bamboo fabric that’s lightweight and comfortable. The breathable fabric is thermo- regulating and wicks away moisture- perfect for staying comfortable during a workout. This portion of the giveaway is open Canada- wide.

About Irina
To get in touch with Irina about her personal training services, send her an email at irina@toneeveryzone.ca, or get in touch through her website. She would love to hear from you!
You can also follow Irina on social media for more great fitness education tips:
About Tone Every Zone
Tone Every Zone is a mobile personal training company servicing New Westminster, as well as parts of Burnaby, Coquitlam, Port Moody and Surrey. Tone Every Zone comes to you, saving you the cost gym memberships, and eliminating the need to adhere to a schedule set by a commercial gym. To learn more, please visit: www.toneeveryzone.ca

Thank you to these partners for collaborating on this post series:



Photographer: Catherine Hilcove Photography Facebook | Instagram

Workout Apparel:
Underables Shown in this post: GROCERIES workout tee & leggings (worn by Irina)

LNBF Shown in this post: Melissa Light Active Hoodie & Suri Leggings (worn by Katherine)
May 26, 2016
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TPB Fitness Series: 4 Steps to Help a New Mom Start a Fitness Training Program

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Exercise is one of those things that is so important for our health but often gets pushed off to the side. Having kids isn’t the excuse or reason for this, but it definitely makes our daily mix more dynamic. When your day revolves around others it’s easy to see why many women find it hard to make time for themselves. And I’m one of them. I am totally guilty of talking the talk- vouching for how we need to take care of ourselves and make time to do so- but then neglecting to follow through. This isn’t anyone’s fault but my own, and I have to be accountable for that. And I know I’m not alone. How many women like the idea of running a marathon, hiking the Grouse Grind, or even just conquering a few kms in the pool but just don’t feel like they have the time to fit in exercise to achieve these goals? If you love the idea of making fitness a part of your routine, this series will be perfect for you. I’ve teamed up with Irina, personal trainer and founder of Tone Every Zone, a mobile personal training service, to show you how making time for exercise isn’t as time consuming/ annoying/ frustrating, etc as you might think. I’m excited for this 6- part series that we’ll be bringing to the blog every month, and hope you’ll pick up some tips to help you with your fitness goals (if you need some workout wear to get started, make sure to check out Underables & Leave Nothing But Footprints, who provided our workout wear for this series). And now, I’ll hand it off to Irina for our first post in the series so you can get to know here a little better…


4 Steps to Help a New Mom Start a Fitness Training Program
Guest blog post by Irina Almasan



Introductions
First, some introductions are in order! My name is Irina and first and foremost, I am mom to an adorable but very feisty 3yr old girl. Secondly, I am a lover of all things fitness – but you should know that this wasn’t always the case! I didn’t discover my passion for fitness until I had my daughter, and brought fitness into my life at a time that was incredibly hectic and busy (just like surely all of your schedules are as well)! Soon after doing so, people started to ask me questions about how I was able to squeeze it all in my day and how I was able to look so good after having a baby. I genuinely wanted to help other busy moms get active – but doing so required some special training. So I decided to become a personal trainer. I also realized that busy people don’t often have time to go to the gym, and that it’s hard for them to stick to a particular schedule. And so I thought I would turn the whole concept upside down, and bring fitness to the people instead! This is how Tone Every Zone was born, a mobile personal training service.



Part of my mission with Tone Every Zone is to teach people how to exercise safely and at the right intensity, and this is where I feel the value of hiring a personal trainer truly lies. So for the next 6 months, I will be bringing fitness related blog posts to The Pampered Baby – but I want to make it interactive – so I’m looking for your questions/comments and any topics you want to learn more about.



Now, with intros out of the way, let’s start learning about fitness! In this first post, you will learn a few easy ways you can start moving and grooving towards lifelong fitness.



So you want to start getting into shape…



Getting into shape is often the #1 thing a mom wants to achieve after having her baby. And it makes sense because we so desperately want our bodies back. The first thing you should know is that it is never too late to start! There is no rule that says you need to start exercising right after you’ve had your baby. And there’s no rule that says that if you haven’t done anything for a year then don’t bother trying. In fact, after having my daughter, I did nothing for the first 11 months and I was still able to get some awesome results!



So don’t beat yourself down, be kind to yourself and allow your body and your mind to recover. More importantly, remember to speak to your doctor before you become more active just to make sure you’re all good to go and there are no underlying issues.



Step 1: Start small and work your way up



The single biggest mistake I see people do when they think about getting into shape is that they attempt to do too many things at once. They become super excited and eager to get going but they start doing workouts that are too intense for their fitness level, get on a diet that deprives them of too many things and it all lasts about one week before they revert back to their old habits. They feel miserable because they failed and feel like it’s no use to even try.



Sometimes, as a personal trainer, I find that my role is to help someone pace themselves and remind them that our goal is lifelong fitness. You cannot look for a 30 day fix and expect it to last longer than that. You also need to learn how to exercise properly. So often times people’s expectations need to be toned down a bit – but this is such an important aspect because the reality is fitness transformations take time. And if you want to be active long term you need to learn how to make fitness as habitual as brushing your teeth.



I started my fitness journey by taking my daughter on longer and longer walks each time. I then started going grocery shopping and pushing back a stroller full of groceries. Eventually I started adding on yoga classes and home based workouts to build strength.



I also didn’t bother with nutrition right away. I focused on getting my workouts in. I felt like the fact that I was now working out 45-1hr every day was enough of a start and enough of a caloric expenditure that I needed to focus on that. Once I started seeing results and felt like the workout part was pretty habitual, that’s when I started thinking about what I put on my plate.



Step 2: Set realistic goals



Here’s the deal. You’re a real person. You don’t have a chef cooking for you or a nutritionist building your perfectly balanced meal plan. And on top of that you’re a mom, which means there’s always at least one mini version of yourself tugging at your pants. You probably don’t have any time to yourself until late at night, and when you do it’s a constant battle between doing something for yourself or working away at the endless list of things that make a household liveable. Am I right?



Yup. I feel you.



When I hear phrases like “A 1hr workout is 1/24th out of your day” I always cringe because very few moms have 1 free hour every day. I know I often don’t. So when you set a goal, make sure it’s realistic and that you are setting yourself up for success, not failure. Here’s an example of a goal one of my clients came up with:



This month I want to be active at least 30min every other day. I will achieve this through a combination of going for a walk with my kids, doing a short home based workout off the internet and a session with my personal trainer. Time permitting, I will go for a yoga class during the weekend while my husband babysits the kids.



Notice that the goal is not “I want to be more active this month”. That’s super vague.
What’s awesome about the goal this lady came up with is that it is:
Specific: 30min every other day and she even lists the options for exercise.
Measurable: She knows when she has achieved it.
Attainable: 30min every other day is a big change for this person but she’s confident she can do it.
Realistic: She’s setting herself up for success by committing to doing something every other day instead of every day because she knows she doesn’t have the time every single day.
Time-based: She is committing to doing this pattern this month. At the end of the month, we evaluate.



SMART goals such as the one above set you up for success because they very clearly outline your path to getting there. So try it. What’s your SMART goal for this month, using the framework above?



Step 3: Get help

One thing that I’ve found to hold true about people who are continue to stay active is that they are surrounded by individuals who are also either very active, or support them in their quest. When I started working out, my husband and I worked out together, helping each other along the way and sharing in the whole journey. Partner training, if your schedules allow it, is awesome. If not, even the support of a friend who is already active can work wonders.



As a personal trainer, I love to provide this kind of support because I think it’s so important, especially when things get tough. I love to hear how my clients are doing and I encourage them to reach out to me between sessions to share their success, but also their struggles with me. I am always there for them.



Step 4: Be patient. Things take time.



I want to leave you with some food for thought. Just as every single body and every single person in this world is different, everyone’s fitness transformation will be different too. Genetics, metabolism, past diets and your time commitment all play a part. Some get in shape faster and some slower. Some see visible results right away. For others the results are not that obvious. But there is one thing you can be sure of: your body is absolutely changing when you become more active. Here are some of the things that happen when you become more active:



  • Your heart becomes more efficient and your resting heart rate goes down
  • Your lung capacity increases
  • You have more energy and feel more positive
  • You increase your strength and stamina
  • You learn wonderful things about how your body reacts to exercise
  • You find weak spots – things you can work on and improve



For all of the reasons above, becoming more active is an awesome thing to strive for! And it’s never too late to start!

For more great fitness tips, see the other posts in this series:
4 Simple Ways to Make Cardio Your Friend
Not Just For Guys- Why Women Need Strength Training
Be More Flexible- The 6 Secrets of Proper Stretching
The 5 Habits of Healthy Eaters



About Irina

Irina has a background in Science and Marketing, but above all, she is a MOM! She discovered her fitness by accident after having her daughter and started Tone Every Zone out of an overwhelming desire to help other busy individuals such as moms juggle a hectic lifestyle while staying on top of their fitness. Irina’s goal is to get her clients closer to THEIR goals! She loves teaching people about fitness and working with them as a team to make long lasting lifestyle changes.



To get in touch with Irina about her personal training services, send her an email at irina@toneeveryzone.ca, or get in touch through her website. She would love to hear from you!
You can also follow Irina on social media for more great fitness education tips:





About Tone Every Zone



Tone Every Zone is a mobile personal training company servicing New Westminster, as well as parts of Burnaby, Coquitlam, Port Moody and Surrey. Tone Every Zone comes to you, saving you the cost gym memberships, and eliminating the need to adhere to a schedule set by a commercial gym. To learn more, please visit: www.toneeveryzone.ca


Thank you to these partners for collaborating on this post series:






Photographer: Catherine Hilcove Photography Facebook | Instagram

Workout Apparel:
Underables Shown in this post: GROCERIES workout tee & leggings (worn by Irina)
Facebook | Instagram


LNBF Shown in this post: Melissa Light Active Hoodie & Suri Leggings (worn by Katherine)
Facebook | Instagram

May 2, 2016
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Yummy Mummy Monday: 3 Tips for Delicious Smoothies + Recipes

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I’m excited to have my friend Jena back with this yummy post all about smoothies! They’re a great meal on- the- go for busy Moms & families and a perfect chance to get in some valuable nutrients (I love her idea for using frozen kale pucks!). I’m going to keep my intro simple & hand it over to Jena… 🙂
I want to start by sharing 3 tips I’ve learned that take smoothies from good to great. And two involve the freezer:
1. Ice.
It
may seem obvious to smoothie veterans out there, but in my household we only
recently made the life-changing discovery. Seriously. You know the days when
you try a different smoothie combo and you end up choking down a barely
palatable, somewhat warm (from blending) concoction? If you had added ice, it
would have been 100% easier to swallow that green awfulness.
2. Dates. 
What could possibly have made
the afore-mentioned awful smoothie more digestible? Dates. They are a great,
non-processed, natural sweetener to take the edge off less palatable flavours.
3.
Freeze your greens! 
We are lucky enough to have a garden that produces more
kale than we know what to do with. This summer I started freezing it for
smoothies, and I haven’t purchased fresh kale all winter! If you don’t have a
garden, buy it when it is in season, cheaper and local, and freeze in batches. To
do so you simply blanch it, and then freeze in little pucks. Simply grab a puck & add it into your smoothie every morning. *High five*, I just saved you enough money to
go to the movies and buy a huge bag of non- GMO popcorn! 😉
4. (Bonus!) Invest in a good blender.
When it comes to making smoothies I
can’t emphasize the importance of a good blender enough!!!
We used to use a Magic Bullet and now that we have a Blendtech, we can’t afford shoes for our
youngest child, but our smoothies are amazing. It’s the difference between
choking down an unblended strawberry or a smooth ride.
Mr. Nico enjoying some yummy healthy smoothie goodness!
See below for  two of my favourite smoothie recipes. Simply toss all of the ingredients into a blender until smooth & enjoy!
Each recipe makes one large cup of deliciousness

 Banana Butter Smoothie 
1 banana
1 heaping spoonful of peanut or almond butter
1 pitted date
1.5 cups of almond milk
1 scoop of hemp protein powder
1 puck of frozen kale (or a small handful of fresh)
4 ice cubes
½ tbsp of chia seeds

 

 Cucumber,
Ginger, & Green Apple Smoothie 

( Great for digestive problems!!)
 ¼ cup of cucumber

½ a Granny smith apple
2 thin slices of fresh ginger
1 date
1 puck of frozen kale or spinach (or a small handful of fresh)
1.5 cups of coconut water
5 ice cubes
Protein powder optional

PS- These are great for pouring into reusable pouches as mobile snacks for your little ones (like these ones from Little Green Pouch).


Looking for more great snack ideas? Check out the blog’s Yummy Mummy Recipes page! I can’t wait to share more posts from Jena soon- stay tuned!

February posts sponsored by Little Dreamers Consulting

February 16, 2015
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Food Sensitivities & Allergies: What’s the Difference & WHY Are They on the Rise?

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This week my daughter joined my husband & millions of other North Americans as being diagnosed with food sensitivities. While we have had our suspicions for some time that something she was eating was affecting her health we wanted to be sure. And not surprisingly the main foods that she is sensitive to are among ‘the most common food allergens’ as listed by the Government of Canada (and many other organizations): milk & wheat; she is also sensitive to almonds and gliadin (another allergen in wheat). 
We are strong believers in diet- related health (literally you are what you eat) and tend to think more along the lines of treating a health concern starting from the inside out rather than the outside in. This has lead us think more about why we have a symptom & the source than simply treating the symptoms. For example: if one of us gets a cold we don’t simply take a medicine to treat the symptoms (runny nose, cough, etc), we make efforts to treat the cause/ source of the symptoms (why am I coughing? How & why did I get sick? How can I give my body what it needs to get better? Answer: Give it the nutrients it needs to boost the immune system & fight what’s wrong). Don’t get me wrong, we do have medicine on hand & don’t question the need for traditional healthcare, we just question the cause of the symptom before we treat it, often this eliminates the need for a traditional medicine (note: often not always). In the journey I’ve been taking with Will & now with Ari I’ve been building on this approach and knowledge as I tackle how our family will make further adjustments to our lifestyles and diet choices. 
It was tough enough eliminating certain foods with Will, meaning no sandwiches or quick grab & go lunches for him; no deli meats, no out of the freezer pizzas or mac and cheese for lazy dinner nights (albeit these changes were and are for the better), but eliminating these items for Ari will present a slightly different set of challenges, even though our family has already made adjustments. Think: how often do we grab some crackers and/ or cheese as a convenient on- the- go snack? As Moms just trying to get our kids out the door we turn to choices that we can pop in the diaper bag and that don’t require much thought/ prep. I know there’s options out there, but figuring out what she likes will take some trial & error (it’s been tough enough to find options for a grown man!). Keep in mind that I am very pro organic/ non- GMO, narrowing our options further & bumping up our food budget. I realize that’s a self- imposed choice, but again one made with the overall health of my family in mind.

The difference between allergies, sensitivities, & intolerances
With all of this new information swirling around in my head I’ve also been trying to differentiate between allergies, sensitivities, etc. Are they reversible? For life? What’s more severe/ serious? Can you get away with a little here & there or have to eliminate items completely? Here’s what I’ve been finding out: Sensitivities differ from allergies and age does play a factor in how the body reacts to allergens (younger children’s immune systems react differently as they ‘mature’ around the age of 2 years), meaning that if detected early, the damage caused by food sensitivities to the gut and immune system can be reversed rather than having them evolve into full- blown allergies with more adverse reactions. I can’t speak to how this may relate to Celiac disease & other similar auto- immune diseases triggered by foods we consume, but I feel there has to be a strong correlation. 
To help better understand the difference between everything I Googled the heck out of the terms and found these definitions on the Health Canada website
Food allergies: Sensitivities caused by a reaction of the body’s immune system to specific proteins in a food… 
In allergic individuals, a food protein is mistakenly identified by the immune system as being harmful. The first time the individual is exposed to such a protein, the body’s immune system responds by creating antibodies called immunoglobulin E (IgE). When the individual is exposed again to the same food protein, IgE antibodies and chemicals such as histamine are released. Histamine is a powerful chemical that can cause a reaction in the respiratory system, gastrointestinal tract, skin or cardiovascular system. In the most extreme cases, food allergies can be fatal. Although any food can provoke an immune response in allergic individuals, a few foods are responsible for the majority of food allergies. 
A food intolerance: A food sensitivity that does not involve the individual’s immune system. Unlike food allergies, or chemical sensitivities, where a small amount of food can cause a reaction, it generally takes a more normal sized portion to produce symptoms of food intolerance. While the symptoms of food intolerance vary and can be mistaken for those of a food allergy, food intolerances are more likely to originate in the gastrointestinal system and are usually caused by an inability to digest or absorb certain foods, or components of those foods.
A food sensitivity: An adverse reaction to a food that other people can safely eat, and includes food allergies, food intolerances, and chemical sensitivities.
Are we allergic to food or what’s being done to it?
What has really bothered me in my research is the acknowledgement that food allergies are on the rise, but claims by large organizations (often linked to government & traditional medicinal channels) that there is no indication as to WHY. Please note that I’m not suggesting that allergies don’t exist outside of a simple reaction to a food that doesn’t agree with your body, but I feel that the vast majority of allergies today & the rising population suffering from allergies, etc goes a little deeper than simply what’s going in our mouths; it starts before that, with what’s happening to our food before it reaches our homes.
When I was a kid, sure there were peanut allergies, but kids with allergies seemed to be in the minority, now it seems that kids without allergies/ sensitivities are in the minority. People are increasingly facing allergies in their families and what’s heartbreaking/ scary is that more kids are developing allergies & sensitivities. BUT WHY? I know this is getting into messy territory but if you look at the most common allergies (wheat, soy, peanuts, etc) you’ll notice a few things: these are some of the largest, most- consumed crops in North America; they are heavily treated with pesticides; and they are among the most notorious GMO (genetically modified organisms) crops (and don’t forget about the increase in dairy allergies). Coincidence? Sorry, not buying it. You can’t tell me that allergies are somehow mysteriously on the rise at the same time that North Americans are consuming (knowingly & unknowingly) foods that are covered in harmful pesticides/ herbicides (read: poisonous chemicals) and/ or have been genetically altered. In this article I found, a UK study found that soy allergies increased 50% after the introduction of genetically modified soy. Hmmm…..
Natural vs organic
Since it’s becoming big business to claim food is ‘natural’, ‘organic’ etc, it’s important to note there are significant differences in these claims and you may be purchasing products you thought were free from pesticides, GMOs, etc because they claim to be ‘natural’. This is not the case. See the definitions of these terms below (from the American Society of Nutrition) to help you know what you’re really buying:
Natural: Without a formal definition of what “natural” means, let’s examine what this label does not mean. First of all, foods containing natural flavors, sweeteners, or other plant-derived substances can be labeled natural. In addition, foods containing highly processed high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) can also be labeled “natural”, since the synthetic materials used to generate HFCS are not incorporated into the final product (2). Finally, foods containing genetically engineered or modified ingredients can be labeled “natural,” something California’s recently defeated Proposition 37 tried to prevent (3). Although far from an exhaustive list of what can be labeled a “natural” food, these are a few examples of how “natural” may mean something different than consumers think… Although consumers purchasing “natural” meat, poultry, and eggs can be confident that there are no artificial ingredients or colors added, it’s important to note that “natural” does not necessarily mean hormone-free or antibiotic-free; these are separate labels, also regulated by the USDA.
Organic: Foods with an organic seal are certified organic and contain at least 95% organic content (5). Organic food is produced using approved organic farming methods “that foster cycling of resources, promote ecological balance, and conserve biodiversity. Specifically, “synthetic fertilizers, sewage sludge, irradiation, and genetic engineering may not be used” to produce organic food, meaning that organic food products are not genetically modified and have not been treated with synthetic pesticides or fertilizers (5). Use of the “organic” food label and seal is strictly regulated by the National Organic Program, which is administered through the USDA. 
So what can you do?
Get tested
If you or members of your family are facing health challenges or have noticed lingering health concerns that don’t seem to be clearing up, I encourage you to consider getting tested for food sensitivities & allergies instead of turning to the medicine cabinet. Different tests are carried out by naturopathic doctors vs traditional medical doctors, so make sure you do some research & find out what sounds most fitting based on your needs & symptoms. 
Look at the food you’re eating 
Raid your fridge & cupboards and examine what you’re putting in your mouth. Are you eating nutrient- dense food or is it highly processed? Natural vs organic? Are you unknowingly consuming foods containing GMO ingredients such as wheat & soy? Are they high in sugars? It’s important to note that even ‘healthy’ foods lose their nutritive advantage if they’re chock- full of sugar & other additivies, even if it’s organic/ natural, etc. Empty calories are still empty calories, no matter how fancy the packaging makes them look.
Do some research
If this is new to you I encourage you to do some research into GMOs, organic foods, etc and find out for yourself the importance of examining what your family is consuming. Is it easy to make these changes? Cheap? Unfortunately not always, but I can tell you from experience that it’s worth trying. It might mean making a cutback from somewhere else in your monthly budget, but think of it this way: if you don’t have your health and/ or if you’re unhappy, what enjoyment will that money & what it can buy bring you? 
I hope this post offers some valuable information that will encourage you to continue on a healthy journey with your family or be the inspiration to start one.  
Sources referred to in this post:
Most Common Food Allergens (& other info): Click here
Allergy Facts & Statistics (US data): Click here. (This is the site that claims that there is “no clear answer as as to why” allergies are on the rise)
GMOs vs Allergies: Click Here
Natural vs Organic: Click Here
Image source:
Gluten Free Quote: Funline on Etsy 
January posts sponsored by Little Dreamers Consulting
January 21, 2015
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What the Heck is the Raw Food Diet?

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Have you heard of the raw food diet? It’s become a popular trend in the foodie world and has taken hold with health buffs. As people are beginning to recognize the health benefits it’s gaining more mainstream attention. We spoke with Audrey Wong, a raw foods expert from Living Lotus and had her explain what a raw food diet really means and the associated health benefits. She even gave us a delicious recipe to try- a natural & homemade alternative to chocolate milk!
Understanding the Raw Food Diet
Contributed by Audrey Wong

Let’s talk about raw. 
When you hear the words  “raw food”
what comes to mind?  What should come to
mind is clean, unprocessed, nutrient dense, efficient eating.
Raw food consists of unprocessed plant based foods that have
not been heated above 115 degrees Fahrenheit (46 degrees Celsius).  Plant based foods are vegetables, fruits, nuts and seeds.
There is no cooking in the traditional sense in raw
food.  The food dehydrator, blender, juicer,
food processor, fridge and freezer are used to make delicious meals t fit for the
whole family.
Raw food is not raw meat, raw milk,
raw seafood, a cult or just salad.
So why would one want to only eat plants?

Here are 5 benefits of incorporating more raw
food into your diet:

·      Weight loss
     Free of cholesterol & trans
fats, the fats that are consumed are all   healthy fats.  Coconut oil, which is used in many recipes,
speeds up your
metabolism.

·      High in antioxidants, fibre, and phytochemicals
    Antioxidants neutralize free
radicals – this helps you look younger, fight
off disease and improve blood flow. Phytochemicals are the plant’s immune
system, when consumed they aid in supporting optimal health.                                                

·      Better results through process of elimination
    Eating this way cuts out anything
processed. You are avoiding refined sugar,
empty calories and refined carbohydrates to name a few. The five most
acid forming foods are eliminated.
·     Gluten
·     Dairy
·     Sugar
·     Meat
·     Alcohol
·      As a result, this aids your digestive system. This is beneficial because your digestive system is directly related to your immune system.
      Lowers Insilin Growth Factor 1
IGF-1
is a growth hormone that promotes the growth of cells. Our bodies need a lot
of this hormone while we are growing. Once we’re
done growing, this growth hormone will keep dividing cells                                in the body. It
facilitates the change of normal cells into cancer cells and also helps angiogenesis
(blood flow to tumors). Due to the low essential amino acid
content of plant-based proteins, this decreases                      IGF-1 activity and halts cancer induction.
·      Good fat
Fats
and oils are very important to our health.  Our brain is 60% fat. It is needed
for the cells that make up the myelin sheath (protective layer around the communicating
neurons in our body). Some good fats sources from
a raw food diet are:
·  
 Avocado
·  
Coconut oil
·  
Nuts
·  
Seeds
You don’t have to be a raw foodist to enjoy all the
benefits. Changing your eating habits is about the individual. It’s important
to define your goals according to your comfort level. It may be adding one raw
meal a day, for others it may be one raw meal a month. What matters is that you
do the best for your situation.
Here’s a great recipe that’s fast & simple to try. It’s a great alternative to the chocolate milk you find in stores that’s full of sugar & chemicals

 Chocolate
Hemp Milk 
Makes 2
glasses
Ingredients:
1/3 Cup hemp
seeds
2 ¾ Cup Water
¼ Cup Date soak
water (see directions below)
3 medjool
Dates
2 Tbsp Cacao
powder (raw, unheated)
1/4 Tsp Vanilla bean powder
Pinch
Himalayan crystal salt
1Tbsp coconut
oil
 Directions:
1. Cut open the
dates to de pit and check for mold growing inside (this is very important).
2. Presoak your
dates in 1/4 cup warm filtered water for 30 minutes. Reserve the water to use in
this recipe
3. Place hemp
seeds, water, dates, date soak water, cacao powder, vanilla bean powder, and
salt in blender and blend until smooth.
4. Taste test
and add more ingredients to taste. If you like it a little sweeter, add one
date at a time to taste.
4. Slowly
stream in coconut oil while blender is running.
Enjoy!
You can also
experiment with other flavours you like by by omitting the cacao and adding any
fruit (think strawberry or blueberry, tis the season)
This will
keep in the fridge for 3 days.
Some
settling will occur after you store it in the fridge so give it a stir or a
shake before drinking.
A note about
the ingredients
– Be sure to buy the raw hemp seeds (as opposed to the roasted),
you will get a lot more nutrition from them. Same goes for the cacao powder.
You want raw, unroasted. 
Health
Benefits:
Hemp- High
in plant based, easily assimilated protein and a good source of Omega 3
essential fatty acids.
Dates – High in beta d
glucan fibre – it slows the release of sugar & cholesterol into your blood
stream – no sugar spikes here!
Cacao – Raw cacao
powder – High in antioxidants
Vanilla bean powder – Trace amounts of
minerals in the whole bean
Himalayan crystal salt – Contains 82
minerals.

About Audrey: Audrey is the founder of Living Lotus, a nutrition and food company committed to providing plant- based desserts that are free from gluten, dairy, refined sugar, and soy. The company also offers food workshops and information for anyone interested in making their lives healthier through diet.

A huge thank you to Audrey for contributing this article & recipe! 
To find out more about Audrey and her passion about raw food, visit the Living Lotus website.
You can also find Living Lotus on Facebook, Twitter, & Instagram  

If you re interested in learning more about raw foods, check out these upcoming workshops offered by Living Lotus.
This workshop series will teach you how to make delicious raw, plant based food free of gluten, dairy and refined sugar and also teach you about the nutritional properties of each in ingredient in order to make health sweet.


September 13 Desserts The Right Way – Learn 5 recipes & try them too.
In this 3 hour lecture style workshop, you will learn 5 recipes, tips and tricks to preparing raw desserts.
Registration closes September 7th

September 27 Superlicious Superfoods – Boost Your Energy
Quick and easy ways to boost your nutrition. Learn about 6 super foods and how to incorporate them into your daily life. 6 yummy recipes.
Registration closes September 21

November 1 No Nuts, Just Yum: Decadent Desserts Without Nuts
Very much like desserts the right way, but the nut free version.  Gluten free, dairy-free, no refined sugar. Don’t worry, it’s still yum. 
Registration closes October 26

November 15 Nut Milk and Nut Cheese: Dairy Doesn’t Live Here
Delicious dairy alternatives to incorporate into you life. 
Registration closes November 9

Logo & chocolate hemp milk photo courtesy of Audrey Wong, Living Lotus

Top Image Source: Good Food Clinic

August posts sponsored by Cutie Pie Boutique
           
August 8, 2014
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