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Thursday, August 16, 2018

The Latest in Fitness: World Fitness Expo 2018

If you don't know what World Fitness Expo is, its the new name for the annual CANFITPRO conference in Toronto. Apparently the biggest fitness conference in North America.

If you are a long time reader, than you know I've been attending it for about 20 years. Not because I want to, but because I basically have to. It provides me with the necessary continuing education credits to maintain my fitness and personal training professional certifications. I attended the conference on Saturday, August 11th.

The reasons I hate it aren't because there is anything so terrible about the conference itself. I just hate being in big crowds of people I don't know. I also hate going way downtown in the heart of tourists and traffic. I hate spending a whole day in sweaty workout clothes and the discomfort and fatigue that comes from exercising, than a break, than exercising, etc. as you go from one seminar to another and spend the waste of time in between spending money you shouldn't at the trade show. Probably the worst part of all is that inevitably at least one session will involve having to be in a group or with a partner (i.e. getting real cozy with strangers...sometimes even having to involve touching). Ugh, the introvert in me HATES THIS!

Though I didn't enjoy it this year, as expected, in some ways it wasn't as bad as I anticipated (though in others it was disappointing).

My itinerary this year was:

1. Core Without Crunches - 2 personal trainers and a pelvic floor physiotherapist talking about pelvic floor health. I actually learned a lot in this session about diastasis (something I have from pregnancy as do many of my clients), and incontinence, prolapse, and exercises/treatments for all of it. I plan to get a referral to the physio so I can see if she can help me with my diastasis. One of their key messages was that any woman who has ever had a baby is postpartum, and it is never too late to improve things!

2. Grit Strength - I have NO idea how I ended up registered for this session. Its one of these Les Mills prechoreographed classes that I despise, don't teach and never plan to. Did I make a mistake, or how did this happen? Anyways, it was interesting since I'd never been to one of these sessions before to see what they are like. What they are like is going to a freakin' night club. Very dark with strobe lights, loud music, and instructors 'performing'. It requires a barbell like Body Pump and has lots of the expected overhead presses and squats, interspersed with mountain climbers, etc. Its supposed to be HIIT I guess.

3. Step KUSHH! - This is a new product from The STEP Company, but really why I took this session is it was led by Gin Miller!! FYI, she is the brilliant woman who invented the original STEP, and she invented this product too. She generously allowed me to take her photo:


The KUSHH! is a platform similar to the original, but with a soft top. This makes it ideal to use as a weight bench but also makes it an unstable surface to stand on. Doing cardio on it requires more stability and a lot more energy (i.e. calories!). The specially designed risers allow you to set it on an angle and it will remain stable for stepping/standing/laying on (unlike the original STEP).

Gin Miller is 62, but looks about 20 years younger, and is incredibly fit and fiesty. I love her and felt so fortunate to finally be able to take a session with her! I desperately wanted to take a KUSHH! home as they were selling them off at a discount, but I was taking the subway home and it is just too big and heavy and awkward to lug on public transportation.

4. Beyond Boot Camp with Mindy Mylrea - Mindy is always a great and absolutely hilarious presenter. The only thing I didn't like was all the team/partner stuff. Ugh!

5. My last session of the day was an Essentrics class. I do Essentrics every day in lieu of static stretching following my workouts, so I thought it would be perfect to finish the day with it since I knew I would be stiff otherwise. Though I had been more than ready to leave at 2:30pm (having started the first session at 7:30am), I pushed myself to stay to the end even though this session didn't begin until 5:15pm. It was a good move because I think I would have been super sore on Sunday otherwise.

What was most disappointing was the trade show. There seemed to be many fewer vendors than in past years and prices sucked.  I guess the upside is, I bought nothing except a bottle of detergent that is guaranteed to get smells out of workout clothes. The only other thing I wanted to buy on the spot was this massage chair:


Too bad they cost $16,000 😂😂. If I had one of these at home, I would seriously use it every day...possibly all day! My 3 minutes in it were the best 3 minutes of the whole conference!!

The most exciting news I got was that a company has finally come out with a home/retail version of electro-myo-stimulation method (EMS) training! I have tried the commercial systems from EMS and X-Body and fantasized about getting one for our home gym, but since they cost upwards of $20,000, its always just been a fantasy. At the trade show this year, there was another company, Vision Body, advertising their products. I inquired as to whether they had a retail version for home use, and they said it had just been created and they are about to launch it. Believe you me, I will be trying to get my hands one one!!

So overall I guess this year's conference was worth the pain. I got to meet Gin Miller, try her new cool STEP out, and discover that there is an EMS system I may be able to get my hands on 💪.

Monday, August 13, 2018

CozyPhones: Product Review


Listening to music can make just about anything better. Music can positively affect mood, and boost motivation and endurance. Since the advent of the Walkman, we have been coming up with more and more convenient ways to allow us to listen to our favorite tunes on the go. Thankfully, things have come a long way since the Walkman (and and even longer way since folks used to mosey down the street with a huge boombox on their shoulder!).

In this house, its Big A and Adam who could listen to music 24/7. Personally, there are times I need it quiet, but they'd be happy to have tunes on all the time. Headphones are bought in bulk since they tend to die fairly quickly. So when CozyPhones offered to let us try their product, I jumped at the chance. I knew someone in this house would love them. That someone is Big A.

They sent us one of their Lycra Headband Headphones from their active line. Its made from Lycra mesh that keeps your head cool and is perfect for use while exercising. But because of the way its designed, you can also use it in bed if you like to fall asleep listening to music.

Big A found it very comfortable and loved that it stays put. For her, she found it came down a wee big low on her forehead. But overall, she is very pleased with it. They are a more comfortable option for most people's ears than ear buds or regular headphones.

CozyPhones have a 100% money back guarantee and have:

...a flexible and durable 1.5 meter braided cord and strudy 3.5 mm stereo plug. Will not kink, twist of break under normal use. Use with all your favorite devices like Apple iPhone, iPad, iPod, Android, Samsung Galaxy, Blackberry, Nokia, LG, HTC, Google Nexus, Lenovo, Asus, Sony, Dell, Toshiba, HP, MP3, MP4 and other audio devices.

Do I recommend CozyPhones? Absolutely! They even have a line of cute animal ones just for kids and another intended exclusively for sleep.

You can purchase them online for about $30 CAD.

Disclosure: The company sent us a sample to try but all opinions on this blog are our own.

Tuesday, August 7, 2018

Jarlsberg Cheese: Product Review


Is there any food more crave worthy than cheese? Maybe ice cream, potato chips and chocolate, or so say many of my weight loss clients. But cheese certainly ranks up there!

Little A and I are the cheese eaters in this house. I keep a handle on how much I eat, but that little kid, she can eat her weight in cheese! Sometimes I tell her she must be a mouse!

As you know, I am not someone who thinks dairy is unhealthy. Its a good source of calcium and protein. I come from a long line of cheese lovers. In fact, when I was asked if I would sample and review Jarlsberg cheese, I immediately thought of my childhood, and of my dad. When I was a kid, he would eat a deli sandwich with meat and cheese and a can of Chunky soup almost every day for lunch. Often it was Jarlsberg cheese. So I likely ate it too, but I don't remember.

They generously sent me coupons for free Jarlsberg products and I picked up a wedge at our local grocery store.

Jarlsberg, is a cow's milk cheese originally from Jarlsberg, Norway, but now it is produced in Ireland and the U.S. as well. It has holes like swiss cheese but a milder flavour that I would describe as buttery, sweet and a bit nutty.

I grated some and melted in on to sandwiches I made with turkey bacon on my low-carb cauliflower biscuits. It was absolutely delicious.

Do I recommend Jarlsberg? Yes!! Great for sandwiches and cooking, and even salads (though I only like soft cheeses in salad). Thank you to the company for the samples.

Monday, July 30, 2018

Honoring Victims of the Danforth Shooting

Canadians are probably all aware of this, but for those of you International readers, I will share that there was a mass shooting here in Toronto last week. It happened on a Sunday at 1030pm, when many folks were out enjoying a warm summer evening. It also happened 2 blocks from my brother's house.

Many people were injured, some very seriously, and 2 were killed including an 18-year-old woman, and 10-year-old girl.

Not only the city, but I think the whole country is shocked, especially after the van attack that left many dead here just last April.

So when I was asked to post information about this yoga class taking place tomorrow in honor of the victims of the shooting, I was happy to oblige. If you live in the city, do think of dropping in.


A result of this incident, Canada is thinking of banning the sale of hand guns altogether. Maybe some day the country down south will do the same (yeah right!).

Monday, July 23, 2018

Watermelon, Cucumber and Smoked Tofu Salad




They say that as you get older you get worse at regulating your body temperature. This is bad news for me, because my whole life I have been too hot most of the time. Now its out of control. Basically between April and November I am a sweaty mess. And yes, I live in Canada. We get freakin' hot, humid summers folks.

I have also found that what I eat makes a big different to how I feel in different seasons. I crave hearty, warming meals in the dead of winter (I do occasionally get cold too), and cool, refreshing foods in the summer. This salad is one of my favorites because it is light, hydrating, and satisfying. I am not a big melon fan, but I do like watermelon in salads. If you don't like tofu, you can use feta cheese, which is also amazing in this salad (along with kalamata olives!), but the tofu boosts the protein even more. If you can find it, use this Soyganic brand tofu. IT IS THE BOMB:

Besides how yummy and nutritious it is, this recipe is also quick and easy to make. You have to try it!

Watermelon, Cucumber and Smoked Tofu Salad

4 cups seedless watermelon, diced
1 English cucumber, sliced
1 box smoked tofu, diced
Juice and zest of 1 lime
Chili lime salt, to taste

Toss everything together. Eat.

Monday, July 16, 2018

Comvita Manuka Honey: Product Review


I freakin' love honey. And as I've written about in past posts, I tend to be loyal to the honey I  grew up with, produced on an apiary near my hometown. Its fantastic, and I've never found a honey as good!

But over the past few years I've heard all the talk about manuka honey and wondered what all the fuss is about. So I was happy to agree to sample some from Comvita.

Manuka honey is produced in New Zealand and comes from manuka trees.  It is valued for its antimicrobial activity and unique flavour.

Comvita brand manuka honey has a UMF® license with the UMFHA (Unique Manuka Factor Honey Association). In addition, genuine UMF® Manuka Honey complies with all five of the following criteria:

1.  UMF® is clearly stated on the front label

2.  It is packed into jars and labelled in New Zealand

3.  It is from a New Zealand company licensed by UMFHA to use the name UMF®

4.  It has the UMF® licensee’s name on the front label

5.  It has a rating of UMF® 5+ or more.

The UMF® trademark is a quality trademark that is internationally verified and recognised. It is backed by an industry quality standard, independent audits and a network of accredited laboratories around the world. You can be sure that you are buying the best quality Manuka honey and your rights as a consumer are protected.

The number rating (5+) represents three chemical markers that indicate the content of this honey to ensure purity and quality. This includes the key chemical markers DHA, MGO, and Leptosperin (antibacterial components). Apparently, manuka honey has more powerful antimicrobial activity than other types of honey. It is used to prevent infection topically to wounds, and for treatment of various infections and for ulcers. One study found that, despite manuka honey being a source of sugar, it also reduces plaque and gingivitis.

Though you should not give kids under 1 year honey of any kind, after that, its generally recommended as a remedy for sore throats and coughs for children, since they cannot take conventional medications. Conveniently, Big A has had a cold and when the jar from Comvita arrived, she'd lost her voice. She was happy to swallow a spoonful of the manuka honey to see if it would help soothe her throat. Almost immediately she felt some relief, and by the next morning, she had most of her voice back. This is an anecdotal experience, of course, but consistent with research on its therapeutic properties.

Of course, it can also be used as a sweetener in your tea, yogurt, on toast, etc.

In terms of how it tastes? Yummo!! Very different from my honey, but its amber in colour, and thick and creamy, with a really rich, floral flavour. I definitely like it a lot. Adam doesn't really like honey, and Big A doesn't use it that often, so it will probably be Little A and I who consume most of it.

Just keep in mind that while honey may have therapeutic properties, it is still pretty much sugar. It may not be safe for anyone with diabetes or blood sugar issues. It is also high in calories, at 60 calories a tbsp, so best to consume in moderation.

So do I recommend it? Absolutely!! Delicious and with some health benefits. But it doesn't come cheap. The company sells a kilogram of 5+ (it goes up to 20+ in strength) for $36 US (plus $38 shipping to Canada). I found it on Amazon.ca for us Canadians, but its even more expensive so better to buy direct.

Disclosure: The company sent us the product to test but all opinions on this blog are our own.

Monday, July 9, 2018

The Kids Got Big!


This past spring Big A turned 12 and Little A turned 9. Parenting is never easy, but I do feel its gotten less hard. Partially, its because the girls are older, and thankfully, within the past 6 months, they have FINALLY stopped fighting as much. They used to fight 24/7 and it drove Adam and I bonkers, so its a wonderful relief for us all. I have even witnessed moments of tenderness between them. Whoa, I thought I might never see the day!

Bit A graduated from Grade 6 and is heading to middle school in the fall, but she is very mature for her age, and as you can see, also looks much older than she is:


People often mistake her for being anywhere from 15-18! I guess its good that she also behaves like an older kid...sometimes! But she really has come a long way this past year. She is obsessed with music and sports (like her dad), does extremely well academically, and is a free thinker. She is confident but likes to spend time alone. If she isn't playing basketball with boys in the neighbourhood, she enjoys being alone in her room reading, or listening to music, or watching sports.

Little A is frighteningly smart, but also very mischievous and funny. She too is very confident, and a little too competitive. She doesn't want anything to do with boys, but loves hangin' with her girlfriends. Unlike her older sister, she is in no hurry to grow up. This makes her sometimes absolutely adorable, and sometimes completely infuriating - because she tries to get everyone to do everything for her always claiming she isn't big enough/old enough/doesn't know how, etc. But the little monkey makes my heart melt:



Both girls are involved in a million sports and activities and not afraid to try new things. This makes me so happy, because I was such a shy, insecure kid, and when I look back on my life, most of what I regret are missing out on opportunities because of it.

Little A left for sleepaway camp last week for the month. One of the many things I didn't do because of lack of confidence is go to sleepaway camp. Though that's not something I regret. Camp = bugs, no air conditioning, etc. Not my thing! But I am really proud of her for being so brave. The house is so quiet without her, I already miss her like crazy.

Some 80% or more of my counselling practice is working with infertility clients, so I am reminded on a daily basis how lucky I am go have these girls. I am so proud of how both of them are turning out. Not sure how a couple of goofballs like Adam and I pulled it off!