Tag Archives: healthy lifestyle

Healthy Summer Date Ideas

21 Jun

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The weather seems to be getting nicer (knock on wood!) and today is the first day of summer. So we thought this was the perfect time to write a post about healthy and active summer date ideas!

Now of course you don’t want to go out with your hunny and do something that’s going to leave you sweaty and stinky…so here are some active/healthy date ideas that won’t leave you sweaty!

Picnic

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What a great way to enjoy a nice healthy meal together while enjoying the beautiful weather. Pack a healthy lunch with sandwiches, fruits, salads, veggies and dip then bring it to a park and sit down and enjoy it together.

Biking

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Biking is actually a great date activity. And if you are going for a leisurely ride, you can ride side by side (wow I just felt like Dr. Seuss writing that line!) and talk as you ride. You can even bike to your picnic destination! You can also bike to a cute little coffee shop (where you will order your coffee without cream and sugar right?!) and sit outside and enjoy the sun. There are so many places you can get to on a bike –especially for those of you living in Ottawa. You wouldn’t believe how many bike paths we have. And if you are not aiming to be Lance Armstrong (without the doping of course) and go for a leisurely ride with your partner, you won’t be too sweaty.

Hiking

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Put on your hiking gear and a backpack with water and healthy snacks and head for the hills with your hunny. Hiking is a great way to keep your body moving and working hard.  It will also help build endurance and strength and it’s even more enjoyable when you do it with someone else!

Rock Climbing

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Rock climbing is a great physical activity that builds strength. We think it’s a good Summer date idea because it really helps work on communication skills and building trust. When you are on the rock/wall you will be relying on your partner to not only hold you up and keep you steady, you will also rely on them to communicate with you in terms of where and how you can work your way up.  Open communication and trust are two key components of a healthy, functional relationship so why not work on them in a fun way?!

Boat Ride

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Find a place where you can rent a boat – whether it be a paddle boat, row boat canoe or kayak. You will be sure to get a upper body workout (minus the paddle boat) while spending time together in a beautiful setting. You will have to work together to make yourselves go anywhere so it also becomes a great team work activity- and we definitely look at being in a relationship like being on a team.

Play Chef

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Take turns playing Chef for one another. Plan out a healthy meal and prepare it for your partner. What a great way to show them how much you like/love them. Remember the saying ladies, the way to a mans heart is through his stomach! And if you want that to be a nice looking stomach that you could wash clothing on, I suggest preparing a healthy meal 😉 .

Go to the Beach

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There is nothing better than a beach date in the Summer. You can get a good upper body workout by jumping in the water and swimming, you can go for a walk along the sand or toss a Frisbee or football. What a great way to spend some time together outside in a fun setting. Just don’t forget sunscreen, and a water bottle!

Water Park

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They aren’t just for kids – grown ups can go too!! They always have super fun rides and you normally have to walk up a hill or stairs to get there – so you’ll be getting exercise without even realizing it! If you want to keep it a healthy date, pack your own lunch and steer clear of the hot dogs and pizza.

Yoga

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This may sound like a weird one, but doing yoga together can be a great summer date – especially if you take it outside! You can either do your own session at a park, look for a studio or teacher that offers outdoor sessions* or go to parliament hill Wednesdays at lunch and do it there! There are also some places that offer partner yoga*! Yoga is a great way to build strength and patience, clear your mind, and if you are doing partner yoga –team work!

We hope you like our Summer date ideas! Message us if you have any other great healthy and/or active Summer date ideas – we’d love to hear them!

S & L

  • If you are interested in doing yoga sessions outdoors check out *insert ciaras link*
  • If you are interested in trying a partner yoga class Cherry Blossom studios offeres classes on Friday nights at 7:00
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Beware of “Fat Free” Foods

20 Jun

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We have written about how important it is to read food labels when trying to make healthy choices in the supermarket. One thing you will see often listed on food labels is “fat free”, “low fat” and “reduced fat”.  Now the question is; do these foods fall into the healthier choice category? If you want to know the answer – keep reading!

First of all it’s important to note that food companies are allowed to label foods as “fat free” or “reduced fat” so long as the actual number is lower than a pre-determined number of grams per servicing. So when you see those types of labels you need to understand what they really mean.

According to the Canadian Food Inspection Agency:

“Free of fat food contains less than 0.5 g of fat per serving of stated size and per reference amount.

… Low in fat food contains 3 g or less of fat per serving of stated size and per reference amount.”

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Often times we see these labels and automatically think that these products are healthier choices than the full fat ones. Unfortunately that’s not really the case. Think about it, if all the fat is removed from something, a lot of the taste of the product will be removed along with it. So what do food manufacturers do to compensate? They add other ingredients like sugar, flour, thickeners and salt. These ingredients add the flavour back in, while boosting the calorie count at the same time. So sure, maybe that “low fat” salad dressing you have in your cart has less fat than the regular one, but it also probably has more crap in it too and just as many, if not more calories than the regular version.

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Fat free may sound like a healthy choice, but the reality is that your body needs fat. And it’s not so much the amount of fat you eat that’s important it’s the type of fat. Remember, there are good fats, and bad fats! When it comes to health you want need to consume good fats. Let’s quickly go over the difference between good fats and bad fats (for more info click here). Good fats are heart healthy such as monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats. They can be found in foods such as olive oil, avocado, nuts and fatty fish like tuna and salmon. These types of healthy fats also play a role in your body’s ability to absorb vitamins like A, D, E and K and they help lower bad cholesterol. Consuming good fats will increase your feeling of fullness and supply your body with necessary nutrients – so you definitely want to incorporate good fat into your daily diet.

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Bad fats are saturated fats found in animal products like beef, pork, butter and other full fat dairy products. As we talked about in a recent post, trans fats are another bad fat you absolutely want to steer clear of. They are found in hydrogenated and partially hydrogenated oils that you are often used in crackers, baked products, fast food and processed foods.

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So to answer the question I posed at the beginning…no, foods labeled as “fat free”, “reduced fat” or “low fat” are not always a healthier choice. It is important that you don’t make your decision to buy food products solely off these types of advertisements. You need to read the entire food label. Check to see what else has been added to the product to make up for the fat that was taken out. Check to see the calorie count and serving size and compare it against the full fat product. And remember, if you are avoiding processed and packaged foods, and making things like salad dressing from scratch, you wont have to worry about this at all J !

L

Our Top 5 Must Haves for Building a Home Gym

14 Jun

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As we have mentioned, we have created our own home gym and that’s where we do most of our indoor workouts. Our home gym wasn’t born overnight – over the years we have slowly added more and more to it. We love the convenience of being able to workout in the comfort of our own home. And if you are committed, you can get just as good of a workout at home as you would in a gym – and save some money in the process!

If you are looking to start working out at home – don’t be overwhelmed. You don’t need to go out and buy tons of fancy and expensive equipment. At least not to start 😉 . And you don’t need to have a huge area to set your gym up in.

Here is a list of our top 5 “must haves” when creating your own home gym!

Exercise Video

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If you are working out at home, chances are you are going to be doing some exercise videos. So, of course you will need to have them in your gym! It may be a program like P90X or Insanity, or you may have an assortment that you rotate through. We have done many of the BeachBody programs, so we have all the DVDs but we also have kickboxing, yoga, Pilates, bosu ball and core videos. If you like doing videos but don’t want to follow a pre-selected program – you can make your own! You can build your collection slowly, a lot of times we find great videos on sale. Having a nice variety is always a good idea because that way you won’t get bored always doing them same videos.

DVD Player and TV

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If you are going to be working out to videos, it only makes sense to have a DVD player to put them in and a TV to watch them on right?! It doesn’t need to be a huge flat screen, plasma, HD TV mounted on the wall…any old TV will do. You know that huge box TV you have been wanting to get rid of? Well, it would be perfect as your gym TV! And DVD players are pretty reasonably priced these days so you won’t have to break the bank on that either.

Free Weights/Bands

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There is a lot you can do with your own body weight, but there is even more you can do with free weights! We recommend going out and getting some dumbbells for your home gym. Consider your current fitness level and select them accordingly. As your fitness level and strength increases, you can go out and add heavier dumbbells to your collection. There are so many options out there, and they are pretty reasonable priced. If you are looking for more bang for your buck or don’t have room for a ton of dumbbells, we recommend buying bars and weight plates so that you can adjust your weights.

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If you aren’t a fan of dumbbells, bands are a great alternative. The color of the band correlates to the difficulty, so keep that in mind when picking them up. There are lots of great moves you can do with bands and there are so many different kinds out there. You can buy ones with handles on the end so you can grip them easily, you can buy straight flat bands and you can buy circled bands that you can wrap around your ankles to make certain moves more challenging. Not only are they good for resistance training, they are also great for flexibility training and stretching.

Yoga Mat

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Mats aren’t just for yoga, but of course if you are doing yoga you need a mat! They are also good for stretching and flexibility training and ab work. If your gym floor is carpeted, doing what you can on a mat is a good idea because it means your sweat isn’t falling all over the carpet! Yoga mats can be rolled up and neatly tucked away. You can also use them to lay your weights or other equipment down on so your carpets/floors are protected.

Stability Ball

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The reason a stability ball made our list is because it is so versatile. You can use them for core moves, they help with balance and they are great for stretching. You can even use it as a chair and work on your posture! They do take up a bit more room, so if you are in a tight space you may want to leave this one out, but if you have the space – we highly recommend including one in your home gym setup.

So there you have it, our top 5 list of “must haves” when creating a home gym. With these 5 things, you should be able to open for business! Just don’t forget the Febreeze 😉

S & L

Working out while on vacation

29 May

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When we think of summer we think of vacations – so, we thought it would be a great idea to do a series of posts all about staying healthy while on vacation. For anyone gearing up to go away – pay close attention!

Today’s post will be the first of three and it will go through reasons why you should workout while you are on vacation!

We know what a lot of you are thinking; “If I am on a vacation why would I want to workout??” Well, there are actually a lot of good reasons for sticking to a workout routine while you are away. So let us try and convince you.

1.       Sight Seeing

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Believe it or not working out while on vacation can be a great way to see the sights. I went backpacking a couple years ago and the easiest way for me to exercise was to run. So run I did. I ran in as many of the cities we visited as possible; Madrid, Barcelona, Valencia, Lyon, Nice, Paris, Rome and Florence. Not only was it a great way to stay active, it was an amazing way to see each city! You can even bring your camera along and snap some pictures along the way.

2.       All you need is a Pair of Sneakers

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As I mentioned above, running is a great way to stay active while you are on vacation because you only need one thing – running shoes. Well shoes, plus your body of course – oh and  workout clothes…but with those 3 things you will be good to go! There are so many exercises you can do using your own body that there really is no good excuse not to do anything while you are away J.  (Stay tuned for post #2 of 3 for more on this…)

3.       Compensation

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Face it, when you travel a lot of your good eating habits fall by the waist side. In fact, I don’t think it’s a stretch to say that people’s scales probably go up a few numbers when they return from their vacation. Because you know in advance that you won’t be able to keep all your good eating habits (you better keep some!!), making sure you incorporate exercise into your vacation routine is even more important. It will help ensure that you are least break even and that your health and your waist don’t suffer!

4.       Energy

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Exercising gives you energy, so if you exercise while you are away you will have more energy to go out and enjoy your vacation! You don’t want to overexert yourself because that will not give you more energy, but you can still exercise.

5.       Hotel Gyms

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Most hotels have gyms in them –surprised?! We hope not! When you are booking your hotel, chose one with a gym in it – you will be able to throw your gym clothes on, go down a couple flights, workout, then go right back up to your room to shower and get ready for your day! Easy peezy lemon squeezy.

6.       Easier to Get Back to Normal

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If you have ever taken a break from a workout routine, you know how hard it can be to get back into it. Taking a break while on vacation is no exception. We aren’t saying that you should keep your exact same workout routine while you are away, but if you maintain some sort of fitness (and healthy eating J) routine while you are away, it will be that much easier to get back into your normal routine once you are home.

Hopefully after reading this post we have squashed all of your excuses not to workout out! Stay tuned for our next vacation post where we will give you a hotel room workout!

S & L

Paleo 101

3 May

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My cousin was in Ottawa for Easter and while he was here I learned that he has been eating Paleo. I had heard a lot about it, and knew a bit, but I guess having someone in the family follow it peaked my interest. So this post is going to serve as Paleo 101!

You may have heard of it referred to as the “cave man diet”- that is because when following this eating plan you eat wholesome foods that mimic what our hunter gather ancestors ate.

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Here are the 7 fundamentals of the Paleo diet:

  • Higher protein intake
  • Lower carb intake & glycemic index
  • Higher fiber intake
  • Moderate to higher fat intake (monosaturated and polysaturated fats)
  • Higher potassium and lower sodium intake
  • Net dietary alkaline load that balances dietary acid
  • Higher intake of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and plant phytochemicals

So, if you want to follow a Paleo diet-what do you eat? And what do you stay away from?

What you can eat:

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  • Grass-produced meats
  • Fish/seafood
  • Fresh fruits and veggies
  • Eggs
  • Nuts and seeds
  • Healthful oils (Olive, walnut, flaxseed, macadamia, avocado, coconut)

What to stay away from:

  • Cereal grains
  • Legumes (including peanuts)
  • Dairy
  • Refined sugar
  • Potatoes
  • Processed foods
  • Salt

The idea behind it is that our bodies are genetically programmed to eat like our hunter gather ancestors. It is believed that by following this kind of eating plan you will be optimizing your overall health, decreasing your risk for chronic disease and it can also help you lose weight.

So there you have it, Paleo 101! A very basic breakdown- but hopefully it gave you a nice introduction. Stay tuned for some good Paleo recipes!

L

Clean Eating

22 Apr

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A couple weeks ago after passing up a slice of cake at work I was once again asked the question “well, what do you eat then??”. It seems that since we often pass up sweets and treats people think we don’t eat anything “good”, or that because we eat healthy all our food is bland and we are missing out. These are two huge misconceptions about clean eating!  Clean eating is centred around eating good foods- it’s just that our definition of good, and others may differ J. For example some people consider cookies “good food” where as for me bake sweet potatoes with cinnamon is “good food”- and that’s okay! We don’t expect for our thoughts and practices to always align with other peoples, and we don’t expect other peoples to align with ours.

We often get questions or comments about the way we eat-so we thought it was probably time to do a post that outlines some clean eating principles. You have probably heard the terms “clean eating” or “eating clean” used a lot lately- we like to use these terms because they best encompass the way we like to eat.

Before we get to the good stuff, it is important to note that clean eating  is not a “diet”-it’s merely an approach to eating that improves health and maximizes energy. It fits into a broader healthy lifestyle.  Unlike a “diet” that has strict rules, it has flexibility so it can be adapted to fit into your routine.

Here are some of the main principles when following this type of eating approach.

1.      Go for whole foods-not processed

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A good way to make sure you are choosing whole foods is to try and stick to a 1 ingredient food “rule”.  How many ingredients are in sweet potatoes? Blueberries? Salmon? 1!! Easy enough right? You want to stick to whole foods and stay far away from processed ones. What’s an easy way to spot processed foods?? Well the majority (because there are always exceptions!) of foods that come in a bag, box, can or any other sort of package are processed.

2.      Beware of bad fat, salt and sugar

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If you follow #1, this one will be a breeze! Most processed foods contain one or all of these- so by cutting out/limiting your intake of processed foods, you want have to worry about this.

 3.      Unrefined over refined

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You want to be choosing unrefined foods over refined foods as often as possible. For example brown rice over white rice and whole grain noodles over white noodles.  White sugar is an example of a refined food- instead for honey, maple syrup or agave nector.

4.      Eat throughout the day

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Most clean eating guidelines suggest eating 5-6 small meals throughout the day. So if you break it down: breakfast, snack 1, lunch (biggest meal), snack 2, dinner, snack 3 (optional). Some of the benefits of eating this way are that it helps regulate your blood sugar which in turn gives you steady energy throughout the day, and it also helps prevent you from skipping meals or overeating.

5.      Protein, Carbs and Good Fat at Every Meal

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All three of these things are really important for different reasons. You want to try and have all three included in every meal and snack you eat –  but we fully understand that it is easier said than done. Protein especially can be hard to include at every meal. The important thing is to be aware of its benefits (builds muscle, can help curb your appetite) and try and space out your protein intake. For example, maybe you eat protein during each meal, but not always as a part of each snack.

6.      Steer Clear of Liquid Calories

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A good way to do this is to drink lots of water and avoid pop, juice, alcohol and coffee (*if you take it with cream, milk and/or sugar).  If you are looking for a hot beverage, opt for unsweetened tea.

7.      Physical Activity

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Now you may be thinking this one is out of place since it has nothing to do with eating – but for us eating clean and exercising go hand in hand (or at least they should!). Both are important! Partaking in regular physical activity has so many benefits: it decreases fat, builds muscle, keeps your heart strong, keeps your bones strong, makes daily activities easier- the list could go on and on.

In a nutshell, those are some of the main clean eating principles. So now the next time people ask us how we eat, I guess we can direct them here ! As we have mentioned, these are simply guidelines- so you can fit them into your life (or not) whichever way you want. But obviously to see all the benefits of clean eating, you want to follow these guidelines pretty closing.

L

*if you want more info on eating clean, we recommend Tosca Renos “Clean Eating” book! You can find it in most book stores, or on Amazon. She has since written follow up books as well as cookbooks.

Alcohol and Exercise

12 Apr

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Some people enjoy the occasional glass of wine, and some people drink until they are stumbling and mumbling. And then of course there are people somewhere in between that spectrum.  If you are someone who drinks regularly, and is committed or committing to live a healthy, active life it is important to understand the role alcohol plays in your life, and the effects it has on your body.

Having alcohol in your system is unfavorable to any kind of physical fitness activity. Here are a few reasons why…

1.      Delays Fat Loss

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When you drink, your body will prioritize metabolizing the alcohol you’re pouring into your body over burning carbs and fat. The body sees alcohol as a poisonous substance that has to be removed from our systems immediately, so it focuses on burning off the alcohol – this means that everything else you consume while drinking (e.g. the nachos with your beer) gets stored as fat because your body focusing on the alcohol.  Also, alcohol breaks down amino acids and stores them as fat, which I am assuming you don’t want, right?!

2.      Increased (empty!) Calories

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When you drink alcohol not only are you in taking a lot of unnecessary, empty calories-not only from the alcohol but from whatever other liquid you are mixing it with. From our experience with and around drinking, it seems that alcohol and crappy food go hand in hand. For example: you drink (a lot) for a night out on the town and at 2:00 am when the bars are closing you are suddenly hungry. You decide you have to eat, but where do you go? Most likely a McDonalds for a burger and fries or some other crappy fast food place. So now not only have you consumed a ton of liquid calories, you have added another 500-1000 on top of them! Not good!

3.      Disrupted Sleep

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When you drink, you sleep less, and the sleep that you do have is most likely not quality sleep. As we have mentioned before in our sleep post (click here to read it), sleep is extremely important for your health. One of the reasons we mentioned is muscle recovery. So if you are drinking regularly, and sleeping irregularly you are not allowing your muscles to properly recover and therefore won’t be able to rebuild themselves. So if you are a dude who likes to get a good pump in before hitting the bar-you won’t be reaping the rewards.

4.      Less Productive

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So, you have drank (maybe too much!), eaten a lot of empty calories, passed out, had a restless sleep and now have woken up feeling like there’s a jackhammer in your head. Still gonna workout? Probably not. When you drink too much you get hung-over- and if you didn’t drink too much are not hung-over per say, you surely do not feel 100%. Especially since you probably didn’t get a good night’s sleep. So the chances of you working out (and getting in an intense, quality workout) or doing some sort of physical activity are pretty slim.

5.      Slower Recovery

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If you do manage to get in a workout the day after drinking, your recovery time will be slower. When you work out hard you drain glycogen stores (carbs stored in your liver and muscles) and your muscle tissues are left in need of repair. If you drink high levels of alcohol your carb stores will drop to about 50% lower than normal (for up to 8 hours later).  Your body will not be able to recover as well as it normally would and you will not be able to reap all the benefits of your workout.

6.      Affects Absorption of Water and Nutrients

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Alcohol affects your stomach lining and can reduce your capacity to absorb nutrients. So even if you are sitting down to a healthy meal, if you are coupling that meal with cocktails you will not be getting all the nutrients from your food. Another effect of alcohol is that it makes you have to pee a lot. Because you are pumping up so much urine you risk getting dehydrated! And we all know how important water is right J ?

We hope that this post has made you think twice about picking up that beer, glass of wine or cocktail. The occasional drink is fine-in fact some research supports that a glass of red wine now and then can be good for your health- but if you are looking to stay healthy and achieve fitness goals, stay away from the sauce!

S & L