Why You Need To Avoid Sugar

Last night I watched a documentary called ‘Fed Up’.  It’s about what’s really causing the obesity epidemic: sugar.  The information wasn’t new to me.  I’ve been studying nutrition for years and I know first-hand the damage sugar can do.  Watching this documentary got be pretty fired up though because it reminded me how the food companies are misleading people into eating foods that are not just making them too fat, but also slowly killing them.  These food companies particularly like to go after kids because they’re an easy target.  Let’s look at why you need to avoid sugar.

Why You Need To Avoid Sugar

  1. Sugar causes insulin resistance.

When you eat a diet high in sugar/carbs it causes your body to overproduce insulin.  Basically insulin takes sugar and turns it into fat for storage.  If your body is overproducing insulin you’ll be storing more fat and also possibly develop type 2 diabetes.

  1. Sugar causes heart disease.

I’ll bet you thought fat was responsible for heart disease.  Well guess what?  Too much sugar has been linked to fatal heart disease even in those who don’t appear to have a weight problem.  By the way, skinny/lean does not equal healthy.  There are a lot of skinny people out there who are struggling with the same health issues as obese people from eating a diet high in sugar.

  1. Sugar affects your cholesterol.

There is significant evidence that sugar will lower your HDL (your good cholesterol).  A high sugar/high carb diet will raise your triglycerides which is a better predictor of heart disease than total cholesterol.

  1. Sugar causes tooth decay.

Bacteria loves sugar.  If you’re eating a high sugar/high carb diet your feeding bacteria in your mouth that will cause cavities.

  1. Fructose causes non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD)

For the first time ever, kids are developing fatty liver disease.  Normally fatty liver disease is a problem caused by too much alcohol.  Not anymore.  Fructose is fine when it’s consumed as fruit.  Fruit contains the necessary fibre, vitamins and minerals to allow your body to process it for energy.  It’s when fructose alone is added to foods that it becomes deadly.

  1. Sugar is linked to cancer.

Cancer cells can only survive off of sugar.  Eating sugar feeds cancer.

  1. Sugar makes you more hungry.

Sugar causes you to release more insulin (basically the fat storage hormone) and less leptin.  Leptin is a hormone that signals your brain that you’ve had enough to eat.  It suppresses the release of leptin so your brain is unaware that you’re actually full and will drive you to eat more.

  1. Sugar suppresses your immune system.

Sugar depletes your body of the nutrients it needs for a healthy immune system.  It also reduces your body’s ability to fight infection.

  1. Sugar can cause depression.

There is a direct link between blood sugar and mood.  If your blood sugar is going through spikes and lows daily your mood is going to be affected negatively.  A high sugar and therefore low nutrient diet will not provide the essential amino acids and vitamins you need for a stable mood.

  1. Sugar affects your gut flora.

Sugar feeds the bad bacteria in your gut and kills the good bacteria.  Your gut flora impacts your immunity, serotonin (your feel good hormone), allergies, bowel function, metabolic function and more.  Sugar throws your gut flora out of whack causing a myriad of problems.

  1. Sugar can cause macular degeneration.

Eat too much sugar and you’ll be needing glasses soon.

  1. Sugar causes wrinkles.

Did that get your attention?  Basically sugar attacks the fibres in elastin and collagen.  Elastin and collagen is what makes your skin supple so if they’re being destroyed by sugar the result is wrinkled skin.

  1. Sugar causes inflammation.

Inflammation is basically the root of all disease including cardiovascular disease, asthma, allergies, arthritis and many more.

  1. Sugar can affect your child’s IQ

There’s evidence that children eating a poor diet high in sugar and therefore low in essential nutrients may be associated with reductions in IQ in later childhood.

  1. Sugar can cause estrogen production in men.

Listen up men!  MOOBS (man boobs) are on the rise!  Don’t let it happen to you.

  1. Sugar causes kidney disease.

Sugar damages the microvascular vessels in the kidneys.  This affects your kidney’s ability  to regulate excretion of harmful wastes among other important things that healthy kidneys do.

  1. Sugar causes high blood pressure.

Most people blame salt for high blood pressure but in fact sugar is more strongly associated with hypertension.

  1. Sugar promotes acne.

When you eat too much sugar more oil is produced on your face leading to acne.

  1. Sugar can affect fertility.

Eating too much sugar can cause polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) which can lead to infertility.

  1. Sugar can cause a drop in libido in men.

Guys!  Sugar can affect the ability for blood flow and cause nerve and hormone damage.  These are common causes in erectile dysfunction (ED).

Sugar Is Sugar Is Sugar

The processed food companies are just as bad as big tobacco used to be.  They’re producing and promoting a product that they know does extreme damage and may even cause death and their only concern is making more money.  They’ll put a healthy spin on sugar by naming it cane sugar, natural sugar, agave nectre or whatever.  In the end your body reacts exactly the same to any source of processed sugar.  Get your sugar from your fruit and treat the processed foods like the poison they are.  It’s time to take control and get healthy!

Plan Your Fitness Routine Around Your Hormonal Cycle!

We women are all too familiar with how our hormonal cycle affects our training.  During the typical 28 day cycle there’ll be days where you feel strong and energetic and other days where you just want to sit on the couch in your sweats and eat stuff.  Why not plan your fitness routine around your hormonal cycle?

How To Plan Your Fitness Routine Around Your Hormonal Cycle

First, let’s look at the typical 28-day cycle (for some of us it might be more like 25 days or over 31 days).

  1. The follicular phase is from day 0-14. During this phase, you have a higher than normal tolerance for pain as well as a greater force generation capacity.
  2. The ovulation phase is around day 14. Your relative strength capacity will remain high and you’ll still have that greater ability to generate force.
  3. The luteal phase lasts from day 15-28. During this phase, your body experiences higher than normal temperatures which means your cardio output could be altered.  You’ll be less efficient during exercise in this phase and fatigue will set in sooner than normal.
  4. Menstruation.  During this phase water retention and PMS symptoms subside

Now, let’s look at what you should be doing during each phase.

  1. During the follicular phase, you should be focusing on training progress. You’re stronger during this time so take advantage of that!  During this phase, your body tends to use more carbohydrates as a fuel source.  This means that you can train more intensely.  This is a great time to do some power training which relies on using stored glycogen for quick energy.  This is where you can train through the (good) pain!
  2. During the ovulation phase, your strength is still high and is a great time to attempt personal records! Unfortunately, this is also a time where you’re more susceptible to injury so train smart.  During this phase, estrogen levels are higher which can interfere with collagen synthesis and neuromuscular control.  Risk for ACL injury is at it’s highest during ovulation.  So go ahead and train hard, just make sure you’re doing it with proper form and lots of focus.
  3. During the luteal phase, you’ll retain more water and you won’t be able to participate as comfortably in activities that are more intense. This is a good time to opt for low impact activities such as yoga.  During this time your body tends to rely more on fat for energy so doing low impact activities and moderate levels of weight training would be wise.  Low to moderate activity promotes fat utilization over glucose utilization.
  4. During menstruation, you can start doing higher intensity activities and heavier strength training as your body starts to transition back into the follicular phase. This is also a good time to increase your carb intake a bit since your body is now ready for intense exercise that utilizes glycogen.

Work With Your Cycle

If your cycle is quite regular use this to your advantage.  Use the info above to make the most out of each phase.  If you’re irregular it can be a bit more tricky but not impossible.  Keep a diary of your cycle and use that information to your advantage!  Don’t fight your cycle, work with it!

What To Do When You Feel Insecure About Your Body

I used to be chubby and super bad at sports.  No surprise that kids teased me and school was a miserable experience for me.  Unfortunately I’ve carried a lot of those insecurities into my adult hood but luckily I’ve learned to deal with them better.  I want to share with you some ideas of what to do when you feel insecure about your body.

What To Do When You Feel Insecure About Your Body

  1. Learn to love your body.

Definitely easier said than done but once you figure this one our you’ll be SO much happier.  When you have a negative thought about your body come up with two positive thoughts.  For instance, if you have large legs like me, remind yourself of all the wonderful things your strong, beautiful legs allow you to do.

  1. Keep in mind that everyone feels insecure at times.

You might look at another person and think they have the perfect body but it’s almost guaranteed that that person is insecure about certain areas.  Using my leg example again: I always felt they were too big and masculine but over the years I’ve had countless men and women compliment me on how beautiful they are.  It took a while for me to be able to accept the compliments but eventually I did.

  1. You don’t see yourself as other’s do.

Flaws that you see in yourself are probably only seen by you.  Those areas that you agonize about are not as bad as you think they are.  People tend to over exaggerate the so-called flaws they see on themselves.

  1. Have realistic expectations for your body.

I always wanted to be that tiny, wispy girl who was a size 0.  I wasted SO much time and effort trying to get there and it always ended in tears and frustration.  Finally, one day I got really honest with myself and realized that my body type would never be thin and wispy because I simply do not have the build for that.  At my lowest weight I still didn’t look the way I wanted because I don’t have that body type.  I finally realized I had to stop fighting it and work with my body, not against it.  That’s when I embraced strength training.  My body is the type to put on muscle and there’s nothing wrong with that.  Once I accepted that my relationship with myself got MUCH better.

Love Your Body So You Can Live Your Life

When you hate your body, life can be pretty miserable and you can end up holding yourself back from things if you let your insecurities get the best of you.  I don’t always feel great about my body and I definitely have my ‘I hate my body’ days but now I’m able to deal with it better.  Your body is your body and it’s beautiful so make sure you love it and treat it well.

Benefits Of Listening To Music

I absolutely LOVE music.  If I’m having a bad day and need a pick-me-up listening to my favourite music always works.  Music has the ability to change your mood, take you back to a different time and even lower your blood pressure.  There are many more benefits of listening to music so let’s take a look.

7 Benefits Of Listening To Music

  1. Improves athletic performance.

Studies have shown that exercise can actually improve your athletic performance by reducing the feeling of fatigue and improving motor coordination.  If you’re not feeling like doing your workout, get your favourite playlist and get to it!

  1. Reduces stress and anxiety.

Music has the ability to reduce your stress and/or anxiety by actually reducing cortisol levels.  The next time you’re feeling stressed or anxious try listening to your favourite down-tempo music.  This can be really helpful if you have a stressful commute.

  1. Reduces pain.

They’re not sure of the exact mechanism here but they suspect that music’s impact on the release of dopamine plays a role.  Dopamine is a neurotransmitter that makes you feel happy and relaxed.  I know that when I get tattoos it really helps when I’m enjoying the music that they’re playing.

  1. Improves your immune system.

Listening to music causes an increase of immunoglobulin A in your body which is an antibody that helps keep cells healthy.  As mentioned above, music also decreases cortisol and high cortisol levels  can cause a decrease in immune response.

  1. Helps your brain.

A study showed that young children who took music lessons showed different brain development and improved memory over the course of a year than children who didn’t take music lessons.  Music even helps people struggling with memory problems.  A study showed that stroke patients who listened to music daily showed significant improvement in memory and were able to focus better.

  1. Helps you sleep better.

Listening to soothing music before bed helps you sleep better and get a better rest.  Soothing music reduces sympathetic nervous system activity, relaxes your muscles, alleviates anxiety and helps to distract you from thoughts that may be keeping you from falling asleep.

  1. Helps lower blood pressure.

Listening to calming music or music that makes you happy actually helps to lower your blood pressure.

Improve Your Day With Music!

If you’re having a bad day, try putting on your favourite music.  You’ll be surprised how music can take you to a happier place.

Contrast Showers

You may have heard of using contrast showers to help with muscle recovery after a hard workout.  Basically, you’re just alternating between warm and cold water.  The warm water opens blood vessels which flushes the body with blood.  The cold water drives the blood inward to warm and protect the organs from the cold.

The way this helps with muscle recovery is it reduces the amount of inflammation and lactate in the blood.  The contraction and dilation caused by contrast showers also seems to help the body flush out toxins.

Benefits of Cold Showers

It is not easy to take a cold shower!  See if some of the benefits listed below will convince you to try.

  • Improves circulation.
  • Great for your skin and hair.
  • Increases energy. If you’ve ever tried it you can’t deny that a cold shower really wakes you up!
  • Increases well-being. They’ve done studies!
  • Increases testosterone in men!
  • They build character. It takes a lot of strength to be able to tolerate the discomfort of a cold shower.
  • Helps burn fat.

Helps Burn Fat???

Yup!  Cold showers help burn fat!!  Your body has two types of fat, white fat and brown fat.  White fat is the fat you accumulate when you take in more calories than you burn.  Brown fat on the other hand is the fat that helps keep you warm.  Brown fat will actually use white fat to generate heat in your body!  So by taking a cold shower you are actually making your brown fat burn white fat in an attempt to protect you from the cold.  SO interesting!!!!!

How To Do A Proper Contrast Shower

It’s recommended that you do 3:1 warm-to-cold.  You could start with 90 seconds of heat followed by 30 seconds of cold and repeat 3-5 times.  As you start to get used to the cold you can start to increase maybe even working your way up to 3 minutes of heat followed by 1 minute of cold.  It might feel like the longest minute of your life, but really all it is is a bit of discomfort which will eventually end.  Get comfortable with being uncomfortable if you want to be more than just average 😉

Electrolytes

What are electrolytes?  Electrolytes are minerals that dissolve into particles that can carry an electrical charge in your body.

Electrolytes are responsible for your heart working properly, muscle contractions, they stimulate nerve impulses and they influence the movement of fluids in and out of your cells.   Another super important thing they do is regulate the acid-base balance in your body.

Electrolytes

Important electrolytes that a lot of people are familiar with are sodium, potassium, calcium, magnesium and phosphate.  But did you know that baking soda consists of two electrolytes?

Baking Soda

Baking soda consists of sodium which plays a vital role in the body.  The other component of baking soda is bicarbonate which helps neutralize acids in your body.  It does contain a lot of sodium though so if you have a condition that makes it necessary to limit sodium talk to your doctor before using baking soda as an electrolyte.

A Closer Look At Baking Soda

  • Sodium

Sodium plays a role in muscle contraction and nerve impulses but it’s main function is to control the amounts of fluid in your body including blood volume.  When you consume too much sodium your kidneys hold onto fluids rather than eliminating them through urine.  This increases blood volume which raise blood pressure.  Too much sodium is not ideal but if your sodium level is too low it can cause problems too.  Low blood sodium can cause weakness, fatigue, headache, nausea, vomiting, muscle cramps or spasms, confusion and irritability.  If you lose too much sodium too quickly it can cause loss of consciousness, seizures and coma.

  • Bicarbonate

Bicarbonate buffers acids in your body to keep your body from being too acidic.  Your body strives to maintain a slightly alkaline PH but bad diet and stress can cause the PH level to become acidic and disease thrives in an acidic environment.  Because bicarbonate is able to buffer acid it also aids in muscle performance by neutralizing the acids that build up during prolonged activity.

Make Your Own Electrolyte Drink

Mix ½ tsp sea salt, ½ tsp baking soda and 2 tbsp agave nectar or raw honey or pure maple syrup into a litre of water.  Drink as needed.

Just remember that just because some is good it doesn’t mean that more is better.  Too much sodium can cause an increase in blood pressure so if you’re pregnant or have high blood pressure make sure you talk to your doctor first.

5 Reasons Why We Need Vacations

Vacations are fun but did you also know that they’re good for your health?  If you’re super busy it might be tempting to forgo your vacation but don’t!  Here’s why we need vacations.

Why We Need Vacations

  1. Vacations help you to calm your mind.

Some neurologists believe that the neural connections that make you feel calm become weaker if they’re not used regularly.  This means that over time, if you don’t vacation, it’ll become harder for you to switch into relaxation mode.  Without the ability to switch over to relaxation mode your stress levels will go through the roof.

  1. Vacations help reduce your risk of having a heart attack.

Did you know spending some down time with family and friends can reduce the risk of heart attack by as much as 30% in men and 50% in women?  Down time is critical for your overall health.

  1. Vacations restore your energy.

Taking a vacation increases your energy.  When you get back to work after your vacation this energy will make work seem easier and maybe even more enjoyable.

  1. Vacations make you happier with your entire life.

If all you do is work and never take a break you’re going to start to feel like your life sucks.  When people schedule in regular vacations and take control over their free time they feel much more satisfied with their life overall.

  1. Vacations allow you to view the world differently.

When you go on vacation it gives you a chance to experience different cultures and a different way of living.  This can be a real eye opener and often results in you viewing your own life differently.

Book Your Next Vacation Now!

Don’t just tell yourself that you’re going to make time for a vacation soon, book it now so you have to commit.  Booking ahead of time saves you money and guarantees that you will take that quality time you need.  It’s easy to talk yourself out of taking a vacation because life is SUPER busy.  Don’t get into that unhealthy habit.  Book your next vacation now and start daydreaming about how great it’s going to be!

5 Benefits Of Using A Remote Personal Trainer

Have you ever felt like you wanted a personal trainer to help you get fit and healthy but you have a really crazy schedule which makes it hard to commit to a schedule and you can’t really afford it anyway?  Why not try out a remote personal trainer?

What Is A Remote Personal Trainer?

Remote personal training is where your trainer designs a customized fitness program based on your needs.  Your trainer helps you stick to the program and keep track of your results without meeting with you physically.  All communication is done through e-mails or text/phone or an app you can download to your smart phone.  You don’t get to work one on one with your trainer but you do get all the info, support and guidance you need to be successful.

5 Benefits Of Remote Personal Training

  1. It’s affordable.

What you pay for a month of training with a remote trainer is about what you’d pay for one or two sessions with a one on one trainer.

  1. It fits your schedule no matter how hectic it is.

Your trainer will give you a program to follow.  All you have to do is fit in into your day when it’s convenient.  No more having to cancel appointments because of a sudden schedule change.

  1. Your program can be done anywhere.

You can ask for a program that you need a gym for or one you can do at home or outside.  Whatever you need, your trainer can provide.

  1. There’s accountability.

Your trainer will have a system for keeping you accountable.  It could be through daily e-mails or text messages, or a weekly video call, or a private Facebook group or an app that you can download onto your phone.

  1. Your program can be done anywhere in the world.

Travel a lot?  You won’t have to worry about missing sessions with your trainer because you can take your workout and support from your trainer anywhere you go.

No More Excuses!

With today’s technology, you don’t need to hire someone to physically work with you.  You can have your own personal trainer who you never have to see in person but can accommodate your health and fitness needs.  It’s time to invest in your health to ensure a long, pain free and active future.  You deserve this!

Take A Break Before You Break!

I know some of us think we don’t, but we all need to take breaks once in a while.  Many people feel like they’re too busy to take a break but what they don’t realize is that not taking a break is making them less effective.  Breaks are necessary if you want to perform at your best and feel excited about what you do.  Not sure if you need a break?  Check out the warning signs below that you need to take a break before you break!

Warning Signs You Need A Break

  1. You truly believe there just isn’t enough time to get everything done.

I think a lot of people fall into the trap of trying to do everything themselves so it gets done right.  This is a bit of a control freak characteristic.  If you’re one of those people and you keep running around trying to do everything you’re going to burn out.  You need to take a break and use that time to figure out what you absolutely have to do and what you can delegate to others.  It’ll be hard at first but once you see how much more effective you become you’ll be so glad you did it.

  1. A ringing phone stresses you out.

When you’re super busy and the phone rings it signifies more work which can completely stress you out.  If this is happening to you it’s a clear sign that you have way too much on your plate and you need to step out for a while to reevaluate.  Quite often a lot of the things you do can be streamlined or delegated or dropped completely.  You need a clear head to be able to figure all that out so take a break.

  1. You have no social life.

Spending time with people you love is something we all need to do as often as possible.  Did you know that people with more active social lives tend to live longer?  If you’re so busy that you can’t carve out time to spend with your friends and loved ones you really need to take a break and get some of that quality time with them.

  1. You hate it when there’s a change in your routine.

When you’re so busy trying to be in charge of every aspect of your life a change can really throw you for a loop.  If you find yourself getting angry when someone changes a meeting time or reschedules plans they had with you it’s time to schedule some time off.

  1. Things that normally wouldn’t annoy you suddenly start annoying you.

Are you finding yourself getting annoyed with things that normally wouldn’t bother you?  Are certain people who you’re close to suddenly becoming super annoying?  This can be a symptom of burnout and a clear sign that you need to get away before you react in a way that you’ll regret later.

Take A Break!

I know it’s easy to get caught up in your own busy world but taking breaks is essential.  If you never take a break you could be heading to a really bad outcome.  Don’t let yourself get to a point where you hate what you do and you’re miserable with your life.  Schedule in regular breaks so you can be the best you.

There Are Many Benefits Of Practicing Gratitude

Do you ever take the time to appreciate all the great people and things in your life?  There are so many small things that people take for granted and so many people that people take for granted.  Without these things and people their life would not be as great as it is and they need to recognize that.  Maybe if people knew the benefits of practicing gratitude they’d take more time to do it.

Benefits of Practicing Gratitude

We should be grateful for the special people and the things that make us happy.  Being grateful makes you aware of all the great things surrounding you and it has benefits.  Here are a few:

  1. Gratitude makes you more optimistic.

Did you know that practicing gratitude actually makes you a more optimistic person?  Optimism makes you happier, improves your health and even increases your life span by a few years.

  1. Gratitude improves your sleep.

As you try to fall asleep what’s on your mind?  If it’s worry and frustration you’re going to be tense and not be able to get a long, restful sleep.  If you’re thinking about all the things you’re grateful for your body and mind will be relaxed and calm making it possible to fall asleep faster and stay asleep longer.

  1. Gratitude makes you more resilient.

People who practice gratitude seem to have a more pro-active way of dealing with things.  They’re more likely to seek out help when they need it and they seem to cope better with stress.

  1. Gratitude helps your marriage.

It’s easy for couples to start taking each other for granted and when that happens quite often the relationship suffers.  When couples appreciate each other and let that be known they create a much tighter and more loving bond.

  1. Gratitude increases your productivity.

When you practice gratitude, you feel more energetic and happy.  When you feel energetic and happy you can’t help but be more productive.

What/Who Are You Grateful For?

Take some time today to think about all the people and things that bring you joy.  Write them down and reflect on how they make you feel and why they make you feel that way.  Just a few minutes of doing this will be enough to lift your mood and help you have a better outlook on life.