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Monday, April 22, 2019

Your Fittest Future Self: Book Review


Happy Easter Monday to those who celebrate!

If you are one of millions of North Americans who wants to improve your lifestyle and/or health but do not know where to start, this book will be of interest to you.

What struck me several times while reading Your Fittest Future Self by Kathleen Trotter, is that it is the book (one of about 20) that I planned to write! I write books in my head on a regular basis and fantasize about actually writing them, but then decide it's way too much work.

But ultimately, this means that Trotter, a personal trainer, motivational speaker and author, is totally on the same page I am when it comes to perspectives on fitness and nutrition.

But that's no surprise as she graduated from my alma mater (Department of Exercise Sciences at the University of Toronto) and also wrote a fitness column for the Globe and Mail that I used to enjoy.

The book has sections on nutrition, fitness and mindset (i.e. motivation and ways to avoid self-sabotage). Trotter has also included a series of workout plans, complete with photos to illustrate each exercise.

Trotter's writing style is very down-to-earth, and peppered with enough personal information to give readers a bit of insight into who she is as a person, not just as an author and trainer.

I find Trotter's overarching philosophy to be similar to that of Yoni Freedhoff (author of a book I often recommend to my clients, The Diet Fix), which is basically, live the healthiest life you can enjoy and maintain long-term. This means, for most people, figuring out a lifestyle tailored to your own personal preferences and needs, not following the diet trend du jour or the advice of some dumb-ass celebrity.

In her discussion of mindset, she brings up an issue that I see often with my therapy clients that often drives emotional eating or poor health choices/behaviours: self-pity, resentment, and/or anger. Going into a spiral of, "Why do I have to stop drinking pop? Other people drink it. It's not fair, why can't I drink pop and be skinny/healthy?"

Just to add to this, I often ask clients if their choices are (often unconsciously) a fuck-you to someone or something. Frequently, clients realize they are giving the finger to someone who nags them to lose weight, to society for judging them based on their weight, etc. I remind them that using food as a way to hurt others usually just hurts them due to the long-term consequences, even if their anger and resentment is fully justified.

Trotter addresses the destructive effects of perfectionism, which can contribute to an all-or-nothing mentality about food/exercise (i.e., I ate a cookie and messed up everything, so it doesn't matter if I eat 6 more, etc.). Related to this is the self-loathing that also often interferes with people's efforts to make positive behavioural changes (i.e. I missed my workout today, I am such a lazy pig, there is no point in continuing at all).

Another recommendation Trotter gives readers, which is similar to what I tell my clients, is to constantly be exploring how to make improvements/find the right fit when it comes to nutrition and fitness. I tell my clients to be guinea pigs: try different things and if something flops, rather than give up altogether, move on and try something else.

Overall, I think this is a great book. I am still miffed at Trotter for stealing so many of my own thoughts and ideas (just kidding!), but I guess it's my own fault for never actually writing any of the books that are in my head.

Do I recommend this book? Absolutely. I think it will be very useful for anyone wanting to make positive changes to their health or lifestyle who feel overwhelmed and do not know where to start. In fact, it's going on the shelf at my office and I will probably be recommending it to many of my clients.

Disclosure: The publisher sent me the book to review but all opinions on this blog are my own.

Monday, April 15, 2019

Things I am Loving: Spring 2019 Edition

It is ironic I am writing this on a day that does not feel like spring at all (04/11/19). It is cold and gray and has been snowing. Tomorrow it is supposed to go up to like 15C and rain...at least it is warming up! I am hoping when this post goes live, it actually does feel like spring!

I did not get sick once this winter! I was feeling very smug about that, and thinking maybe it was because as soon as flu season started, I began using my Navage Nose Cleaner again. Typically I just rinse my sinuses with a squirt of Hydrasense, but after getting the flu last winter, I decided to get out the heavy duty artillery this winter. Unfortunately, the girls brought home a nasty cold last week and even the Navage was no match for it. so my hubris was rewarded with a very sore throat, headache, and laryngitis. In any case, the Navage is indispensable when you are sick! Just imagine being totally stuffed up and having this thing suck all the snot and mucus out!! Its awesome.



I am also loving these new full finger weight lifting gloves I got.



I got a pair before but the palm was a very slippery material. WTF? Holy design fail! I have had to switch to full finger gloves as I have started lifting bigger, heavier weights. I was just having trouble gripping and getting callouses on my fingers (as opposed to my palms). These make a big difference. They are men's and the small is a bit too big, but its fine.

I just recently have gotten into podcasts. I spend so much bloody time cutting up fruits and veggies and prepping meals, I figured I should do something productive with my brain while I do it. I mostly listen to psychology podcasts that can inform my therapy practice. One of my absolute favorites is UnF*ck Your Brain.




The host is a life coach, but her work is grounded in cognitive behavioural therapy, which is my jam. It is so good and I recommend it to many of my clients!

I am currently obsessed with this smoked herring. Make fun of me if you will (Adam and the kids do), but I love this stuff and I often eat it for breakfast. I know, its high in sodium, but hey, its also got lots of good Omega 3 fats! My family hates the smell. I don't care, I will never give it up!

Back to fitness, my friend turned me on to Blogilates. It is a whole fitness site run by fitness professional, Cassie Ho, from Los Angeles. Her workout videos are the best! They range from 5 minutes to 45+ minutes. For my clients trying to find an easy, convenient way to fit in workouts, I have been recommending Blogilates.


Cassie is a total cutie, and she doesn't take herself too seriously. She also has some really cool moves, I love her ab videos!

Quite a hodge podge I've put together huh? Enjoy spring and take pleasure in the little things.

Monday, April 8, 2019

Eat Cleaner: Product Review


One of the biggest frustrations I have with the wellness industry (aside from all the bullshit people sell with zero evidence of its efficacy) is its elitism. Eat all organic! Grow your own food! Buy everything from independently owned small local shops! Its not that I do not see the value in all of this, the problem is, few people can really do these things.

Its not a coincidence that there is a strong correlation between health and socioeconomic status. Most North Americans cannot afford to live on a big property where they can grow their food, they cannot afford to buy organic food, and they cannot afford to replace their daily cup of joe for a turmeric latte.

There are certainly many ways to eat healthfully on a budget as I have outlined in past posts. Buying organic food on a budget can be tough. Does washing conventionally grown fruits and veggies remove pesticides? Apparently it can definitely reduce the amount of residue (See link).

What about special fruit and veggie cleaners, do they make produce safer to eat? Most have been deemed no better than plain water, so I was intrigued when Eat Cleaner sent me a sample of their product, that is the only patented, lab proven produce wash on the market.

Eat Cleaner Fruit + Veggie Wash supposedly has 3 benefits:

1. Removed dirt and soil that may contain bacteria
2. Removes pesticides, chemicals, wax and heavy metals
3. Keeps product fresh for up to 5x longer  (definitely a way to help reduce food costs!)

To use it for produce you want to consume right away, you just spray it on, leave it for 2 minutes and rinse. If you want to just extend your produce's shelf life, spray, dry and place in the fridge.

It contains:

Purified water
Citric acid (Vitamin C)
Sodium citrate (a salt of citric acid)
Sea salt
Vegetable glycerin
Cancium ascorbate (an antioxidant)
Decyl-glucoside (an all natural vegetable surfactant)


Eat Cleaner wash is vegan and gluten-free and made in the US.

I tried in various fruits and veggies but for eating immediately and for storing. It has no taste or odor. It is actually very useful for our family given how much produce we consume. We also get our fresh produce twice a week at our local market and often chop and prepare it for the next few days worth of meals. Its wonderful to have a product that keeps things fresh longer. We don't tend to waste much (as you know food waste makes me bonkers!), but things like berries go bad very quickly, and lengthening their freshness is helpful.

Though people tend to worry about pesticides, harmful bacteria from produce can cause serious illness (remember the recent romaine lettuce scare?), so its great to have a product to lower the risk.

Eat Cleaner Fruit + Veggie Wash is available in US stores and online and prices are reasonable ($21.99USD for 3 spray bottles). They also ship to Canada.

So do I recommend this product? Absolutely. Its definitely less expensive than eating 100% organic, and can save you money by reducing food waste.

Disclosure: The company sent me the product to review but all opinions are my own.

Monday, April 1, 2019

You Should Read Books


I have adored reading since I learned how around age 5. I remember spending hours all through my childhood in my room reading novels. Before I became a teenager I was even happy to re-read my favorite books over and over again.

Obviously, I still love to read as I post a lot of book reviews. There is not a single day that goes by that I don't read. If not while on the subway to and from work, then for certain in the evening before bed. There is nothing I would rather do (actually nothing I am really willing to do) after 8pm, then curl up and read.

Lately, I have felt more pressure to tackle the growing list of books I want to read to help inform my work as a therapist. Since there is only so much time in a day, I decided to start reading them at night instead of fiction/literature. At first I was worried it wouldn't relax me the same way as purely pleasure reading does, but I am happy to say it seems regardless of what I am reading, it is the perfect activity to relax me just before falling asleep. Lately I have been reading everything from memoirs, to historical fiction, to existential philosophy and psychological theories.

I do not understand when people say they don't read. Like exercise, its good for the mind, body and soul!

There is evidence that reading can:

Lower stress

Preserve brain health and lower the risk of Alzheimer’s and Dementia

Alleviate anxiety and depression

Help you fall asleep

Increase life expectancy

Boost happiness and overall life satisfaction

Reading accomplishes all of this by activating your mind, providing an escape from day-to-day life, and offering refreshed perspective for life’s challenges

A common complaint I get from a lot of my clients struggling with anxiety, low self-worth and depression is that "everyone" is doing better than them. Usually it's something like:

"Everyone else has a happy relationship"
"Everyone else gets pregnant easily"
"Everyone else has more money/a more successful career than me"
"Everyone else is thinner/prettier than me"

The clients who usually have this perspective, by the way, are not the ones in very low paid jobs, living in dingy, basement apartments and are unusually unattractive. The problem is, they consider the few people in their proximal environment as representative of "everyone". Reading is one of the ways to get beyond your own narrow view of the world, because all of us can otherwise get sucked down the "everyone else" vortex.

Reading is a great way to get out of your own life, learn more about yourself, others, and the world. Hey, maybe you can't visit every country on the planet, but you can read about them! You can read books to learn, to entertain, to relax, to laugh, to escape, you name it. While many people use social media/the Internet for these reasons, it is NOT the same. There is growing research about the harmful effects of spending too much time on screens, and the benefits of reading (paper) books. So, ideally, skip the e-reader too.

Do you really think spending hours each day posting selfies does as much good as reading? Even passive scrolling of others' selfies does little good. Put your phone down, and pick up a book!