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10 Ways To A Healthier You in 2019

February is a tough month. For one, it’s freezing cold, unless you live on the west coast. It also seems to be the month that people start to find it hard to keep up with their new year’s resolutions, especially when it comes to health and wellness. Why? Well, most make the mistake of setting one huge goal that is difficult to attain, instead of one more smaller goals that when achieved, can give them the confidence to set more larger goals. However, when someone falls off track towards this one big goal, it becomes harder to stay motivated to stay the course.

Full transparency here, I’m not into New Year wellness resolutions. Come to think about, I am not into resolutions at all. I do however love to find ways to incorporate more healthy habits into my daily routine that help keep me happy, healthy, focused and closer to my goals. Luckily for you, I’ve collaborated with long time partner, Joe Fresh, to dish on some of these things that you can start integrating into your life right away. I’ve linked some of my favourite pieces from the current collection as well and stay tuned for next week but there will be a giveaway announcement here and you won’t want to miss it!

TREAT YOUR WORKOUTS LIKE AN APPOINTMENT IN YOUR CALENDAR

I know, sounds a bit dramatic, but implementing this has significantly changed my life once I started working out again post baby. Blocking time out in your calendar pretty much ensures that you’re not going to miss that workout, run or class, even if you’re schedule get super hectic because guess what? – You’ve already accounted for that time off work or mom duties.

IMPLEMENT ACTIVE RECOVERY

Our bodies are designed to move every day and suffer when we don’t. Some form of activity, even if it’s not intense, is beneficial. It also keeps the momentum going. Have you ever had a lazy weekend or came back from the holiday break and struggled to get back into your workout routine? One missed workout can easily turn into two and from there; it can be a slippery slope. Momentum actually works both ways, so keeping up a habit of doing some sort of movement even on off days from workouts, means you’re more likely to stick to it. Plus guys, it’s important to mix things up, it can’t be hardcore workouts all the time. An active recovery session like Yoga can reduce soreness and speed up the muscle building process.

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DRINK LEMON WATER (THE RIGHT WAY) TO IMPROVE DIGESTION

Indigestion issues are so common today. The foods we eat are usually the main cause but there are a few simple things that can make a world of a difference like; not having your morning coffee on an empty stomach, taking a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar and starting the day with lemon water before you do anything.

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I do ALL of these things before my morning workout and noticed BIG changes. Everyone at some point has done this little trick, but did you know lemon water is most effective when it’s warm and not cold or hot? It’s important that warm water is used because the temperature is what extracts the Vitamin C from both the lemon and it’s peel. Besides aiding in digestion, it helps to balance pH levels, hydrates your lymph system and promotes healing in your connective tissues and cartilage.

GET AN ACCOUNTABILITY PARTNER

Not new news by any means, but it’s one of the best ways to keep you on track and motivated. This doesn’t necessarily mean that you need to do all your workouts with your accountability buddy, but at least having someone to check in with or to push you even via a text when you feel the least bit motivated helps. I have a few accountability partners. Réjean, a small group of equally obsessed fitness fanatics who I share Apple Watch metrics with and of course Maxie because she watches my every move and is my biggest cheerleader.

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THINK OUTSIDE THE (WORKOUT) BOX

Not every single workout needs to be intense and sometimes I find choosing to walk instead of driving, taking the stairs over escalators and running after my kid all day can yield more steps and calories burned than some low impact workouts. Now that Max isn’t always in her stroller, I take full advantage when we don’t have the stroller with us during outings and we take the stairs.

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With her in my arms, it’s an unbelievable workout. Some days, I even bypass the elevator and climb or go down 12 flights of stairs in our condo building. Moms don’t be afraid to incorporate your kiddo into your workouts either. Babies are the perfect size to add weight to lunge, squat overhead movements, and you know what…? It’s so much fun and a great way to bond with your baby.

PRACTICE MINDFULNESS OR MEDITATION

We live in a busy world and if you’re not multitasking and doing four things at once, society views that as being lazy. We do the laundry, cook dinner and keep one eye on our kid. We plough through our food during meals and even spend what should be restful time like getting a manicure or massage, brainstorming for meetings, creating to-do lists and responding to emails. We all need to slow down, just a little bit anyway.

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Introduce mindfulness into your daily routine. Mindfulness is the practice of purposely focusing your attention on the present moment and accepting what comes your way. Introducing mindfulness techniques or meditation can help relieve stress, reduce chronic pain and play an important role in the treatment of anxiety and depression. There is more than one way to practice.

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I started by just sitting quietly for 10-20 minutes focusing solely on my breathing or on a mantra that I would repeat silently. Then worked my way up to doing this for longer periods of time, practicing mindfulness during other times in the day; while I was eating, while out on a walk, even while I was in labour. This practice will allow your mind to focus more on the present moment in times during the day when you need it the most.

KEEP A JOURNAL

This is a new-ish habit I’ve introduced into my own life and now that I am doing it, I could go on and on about the benefits of writing in a journal.

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It’s effective for many different reasons and can help you reach your goals sooner. My old coach used to say that the goals you have for yourself are not real until they are written down. Writing things down somehow just makes you more accountable. are only real until they are written down. The process of writing can also help you clear your head, make an important connection between thoughts, feelings and even reduce the effects of mental illness.

INCREASE YOUR FRUIT & VEGGIE INTAKE BY JUICING

More and more folks are juicing these days after either discovering or re-discovering the New York Times Best Selling book, The Medical Medium. This is great, however people seem to be hung up on this celery juice fad that the author pushes in his book.

While it definitely has some benefits, you can get way more out of juicing than sticking to just celery juice. Our consumption of fruits and veggies is far below the suggestion consumption, so juicing is a great way to consume not only a large number of them but also a variety. I’ve done it for years and have found that consuming fresh juice super charges the body with phytonutrients, which has helped me with my illnesses and with liver detoxification. The time spent in the kitchen also allows me to introduce these veggies and fruits to Maxie in a fun way. It’s never too early to start introducing healthy eating habits and she gets to discover all the different textures, colours and sometimes tastes while I press the juice.

On Me: Soft Knit Knot Tank $19 // Essential High Waisted Legging $16 On Maxie: Long Sleeve Graphic Tee $8 // Essential Legging $7 // Leather Footlet $16 – similar here

How Can Maximize the Benefits of Juicing

  1. Buy only organic fruits and vegetables, this should be a no brainer, and buy in small amounts. The best juice is made from fresh produce so buy only what you need and use within a week.
  2. Wash your veggies thoroughly and with citrus fruits, you may want to remove the peel because they can leave a bitter taste in the juice. However, make sure to keep the white portion of the rind because it’s super high in antioxidants.
  3. Make sure not to load your juice with fruits and veggies that are high in natural sugars like carrots, apples and oranges. It will make it your juice taste great no doubt but just winds up being counter productive.
  4. Chew your juice. Sounds odd but this is one of the first things I learned when I started. Our mouths produce an enzyme when you chew that is necessary to initiate the digestion of carbs and makes them readily available for energy. Chewing while you’re drinking your juice also matches the temperature of what you’re consuming to the temperature inside your body so the nutrients are best assimilated and bioavailable.

GET THE BEST SLEEP OF YOUR LIFE

Yes, keeping your bedroom dark, cool and quiet are obvious ways to help induce sleep, but there are some other tips that I’ve found helpful over the last couple years that have dramatically made a difference in my quality sleep. To be honest, quality sleep is often compromised with a baby in the house, which is to be expected, but for the most part, I have developed some really good habits in the bedroom that set me up for sound sleep and here’s some of them:

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Set a schedule and stick to it. Go to sleep and wake up at the same time every single day, even on weekends. If you have a baby this can a bit difficult unless he or she is sleep trained. But here’s the deal with consistency, your body cannot establish a normal rhythm, if you don’t allow it to get into a pattern. If you stay up late, don’t sleep in.

Establishing a sleep ritual that you start an hour before bed works wonders. Mine now includes 15 minutes of reading or writing in my journal. NO SCREEN TIME.

Ditch Your Cell Phone. Did you know radiation emitted from your cell or iPad can increase the amount of time your body requires to reach deep sleep cycles and also decreases the time in those cycles?

Improve The Cortisol Awakening Response (CAR) The more awake you feel in the morning, the more tired you will feel in the evening. The best way to do this is to expose your body to natural sunlight shortly after waking up so draw those blinds open as soon as your alarm goes off.

SWEAT IT OUT

Never underestimate the powers of sweat therapy. For me, infrared saunas are like a cure all for everything. It aids in detoxification, relaxation, provides relief from sore muscles and joints, clears skin, improves circulation and more.

Photography by Bettina Bogar and David Pike for Joe Fresh

I swear by it and lucky enough to have a sauna at home but for those who don’t, using one at your gym or hitting up spots like Dew Sweat House for a 55-minute session works wonders. I just had my first Dew experience and can’t wait to tell you all about it.

Now I want to hear from YOU so let’s make this a giveaway. What are the healthy habits you incorporate into your daily routine? Mainly because I am always looking for ways to improve my health and life and I think others would benefit from learning new things too. Post your favourite healthy habit on this IG post for a chance to win a Joe Fresh gift card valued at $250. To be eligible you must 1) Like the photo, 2) follow me and @Joe Fresh and 3) comment with your healthy habit. For bonus entries you can leave more than one habit or tag friends, but sure be sure you tag each one in a separate comment. Contest is open to Canadian residents only and closes on Friday morning at 10am. You can enter as many times as you want until then. The winner will be DM’d directly on Saturday March 2nd.

This post is in partnership with Joe Fresh however all views and opinions are my own

6 Ways To Improve Back Pain Post Pregnancy

I could talk (write) for hours about all the different things women experience postpartum but back pain seems to rank high on the list for new moms. Not really surprising at all when you think about all the demanding tasks in a mama’s day that requires bending, carrying, lifting and feeding; usually with a baby in hand, causing back muscles to work in overtime.  I experienced some back pain towards the end of my pregnancy that made sleeping at night damn near impossible by the time I reached 34 weeks. Carrying around that amount of weight for 9 months can take a toll on the body, especially the abdominal muscles, which need to stretch to make room for the delivery.

Thankfully, there are things you can do to help with postpartum back pain. As soon as I was cleared by my healthcare practitioners , I made chiropractic care and functional training a priority to help with my postnatal recovery. With the help of my chiro Darcy Worthylake, I have recently introduced these 6 spine exercises to improve my back health.

I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that you could actually make working on back health a fun activity at home with you and your bub. Even though she’s only 7 months, I integrate Maxwell into some of my exercises at home and not only does it make it more fun for me, but it’s also a great way for us to bond. In her mind, she’s having the time of her life playing with mama while I’m benefiting by improving my core and back health.

Ontario Chiropractic Association - So Sasha

It is surprising how by just adding a few exercises to your day can make a world of a difference giving you more support while carrying, lifting and holding your baby; whom only gets heavier as each week passes. If you’re a new mom and experiencing some discomfort due to your day-to-day tasks for your baby, there are four simple exercises you can do at home to help for post partum back pain:

Tips On How Improve Your New Mom Back Pain With Your Bub

Pelvic Bridges

  • Lie on your back, bend your knees and put your feet flat on the ground.
  • Place your baby on your pelvis with their back against your thighs.
  • While holding your baby in place, slowly push your hips up towards the ceiling.
  • Hold this position for 3 to 5 seconds.
  • Keep your abdominals tight to avoid sagging your lower back. Inhale as you slowly lower your body back to the starting position.
  • Repeat 8 to 12 times.

Ontario Chiropractic Association - So Sasha

Plank

  • Lay your baby on the ground; face up, while kneeling in front of them.
  • Place your forearms on either side of your baby and lift your body off the ground.
  • Keep your back in neutral spine position and engage your core by contracting your abdominal muscles. Avoid letting your hips fall or stick up in the air.
  • Hold for 10 seconds, working your way up to 30 seconds.
  • Repeat 3 to 5 times.

Ontario Chiropractic Association - So Sasha

Stabilizer

  • Lying on your back, bend your knees at a 90-degree angle with your feet in the air.
  • Stabilize your baby so they are resting on your shins and hold onto their hands.
  • Engage your core and hold this position for 10 seconds, working your way up to 30 seconds.
  • Repeat 8 to 12 times.

Arm & Leg Extensions

  • Get down on all fours with your baby lying on their back and parallel to your chest.
  • Engage your core and slowly lift and extend your left arm and right leg at the same time while maintaining a neutral spine position.
  • Hold this position for 3 seconds, then lower your limbs and give your baby’s belly a tickle as you return to starting position.
  • Repeat on the opposite side, lifting right arm and left leg.
  • Repeat 8 to 12 times.

Ontario Chiropractic Association - So Sasha

Before you begin working on back mobility or any kind of exercise, consult your postnatal practitioner and get cleared to return to exercise. For the safety of your little one, you will want to make sure that your newborn can hold their head up on their own if you’re going to include them in any of these exercises. If you experience any discomfort or pain in your back while performing any of these exercises or persist after trying them, visit your chiropractor to develop a treatment plan for your recovery.

This post is in partnership with the Ontario Chiropractic Association but all views and opinions are my own.

5 Things You Should Consider When Looking To Hire A Trainer

I am working with a trainer for the second time in my life. The first time was while I was pregnant with Max (because I needed someone to force me to dial down and modify my workouts) and now postpartum. For years my workouts have always been with my team, a personal strength coach during my years playing tennis or workouts I created for myself. Getting back into a groove in the gym post pregnancy has been tough. Well, at least for me it has been. My body just wouldn’t move the way it used to and I was SO DAMN WEAK. I could have easily used my pelvic floor and wrist issues as an excuse to delay the hard work that was waiting for me because I was getting so discouraged but I figured if not now then when? And let’s be honest, when you’ve just had a baby people give you a free pass and tell you that you look great no matter how washed you look. If you’ve had a baby you know what I’m talking about, “Oh girl please, you JUST had a baby like yesterday and you look amazing!” But for my mental health and self confidence I had to get moving again and enlisted the help of a trainer.

There’s been so many of you sliding into my DM’s lately asking for advice on trainers like; how to find one, who is reputable in the city and why I’ve made SWAT my home for training and workouts? For me, the choosing SWAT Health was an easy decision. I needed someone who understood my limitations that came with postpartum fitness. That means, having the knowledge to put me through a Functional Movement Screen before taking a couple weeks to focus solely on creating a solid foundation again. With the plan of eventually progressing to a more intense program. A trainer who could be creative enough to come up with challenging workouts with the proper modifications for my wrist injuries. Not an easy task when it’s impossible to load any weight onto your hands. Most importantly, even though I am retired, I want to still train like an athlete. This meant the person chosen for the task probably needed to have been an athlete at some point too or experience training them, in order to come up dynamic workouts I would enjoy. I couldn’t think of anyone better than SWAT Health’s Co-Founder Kyle Ardill. The SWAT concept is based on a 360 approach to health and wellness incorporating chiropractic, physiotherapy, and massage into their offering. Since my body needs serious rebuilding right now, I am taking advantage of ALL of it. It’s been a crucial component to my journey because Kyle, Darcy (Chiro) and Phil (RMT) can all communicate to ensure they are providing me with the right rehab program within their respective disciplines to get me results. The education of the PT staff at SWAT is so diverse, the team has you covered whether you’re looking to do power lifting, HIIT/cross training, athletic based training, or group class workouts.

Kicked off my training program on January 8th with an FMS – Functional Movement Screen

So how do you find the right personal trainer? Things have gotten a little interesting in the fitness industry because of social media and it has certainly turned into a hot topic. With so much information at people’s fingertips thanks to the   internet and weekend fitness certification courses, becoming a personal trainer has replaced “handbag designer”, and “DJ” as the new fallback career in 2018. But here’s the thing folks, knowledge in personal training is not measured in a  CanFit Pro certification or having a big social media following. I think it’s also important to point out, a person’s physical appearance on Instagram doesn’t necessarily tell the whole picture. Looking fit doesn’t always mean someone has the knowledge base to train clients. There are loads of folks on the internet sharing their transformation before and after photos and using this as marketing tool to get clients and actually charge them money, which is appalling. More often than not, these transformation trainers as I like to call them, usually have leaned out because they stop putting garbage in their mouths, stopped binge drinking and started working out a bit. Not because of any well thought out training program they expertly developed for themselves. Yet, they are selling training to uneducated consumers who think they are getting a deal because their prices are competitive. And nobody should just assume that someone is a fitness expert because they have the word “fit” in their IG handle. I could go on and on but I think the point here is that people need to be informed, know what to look for and expect when hiring a professional in the field of fitness. If you’re thinking about a finding a personal trainer to help you achieve your fitness goals, I applaud you for making this first and very important step in your fitness journey.

Here’s 5 things you should consider when looking to hire a personal trainer:

  1. Certification vs. Experience. This is usually the first mistake many people make when they begin their search for a trainer. Instead of doing their due diligence and finding out how what a trainer’s experience is in terms of diversity in disciplines, they feel satisfied knowing that the person they have chosen to train them is certified. If you’re pregnant or a new mom, the goal should be to find someone who has worked with prenatal and/or postpartum clients. You may want to know if that person has experience training an athlete, has worked with a rehab client, who has the knowledge base to change up a client’s programming on training day if they are stressed or walk into a session injured.  Someone who is passionate about fitness and continues to educate themselves through courses and programs. A trainer who reads and does research, always wanting to learn because things are always evolving. Anyone can get a certification in personal training in 48 hours but not just anyone has the extensive knowledge base to tackle a wide range of training scenarios. You want a trainer that can provide a wide range of results for a wide range of the population.
  2. Authenticity. Yes folks, your trainer should be authentic…in other words living the lifestyle. And guess what? Your trainer should also be fitter than you, not the other way around. Ever. I never could understand how people would spend their hard earned money on a trainer that looks like a bag of milk. Your trainer shouldn’t be eating their weight in chicken wings or drinking energy drinks/soda. You wouldn’t hire a dentist with bad teeth, a lawyer that has never won a case or an accountant that doesn’t have their books straight. You need someone that has some credibility. Someone who is not a contradiction to the system. Someone who not only talks the talk but walks the walk.
  3. Results. What is a coach/trainer without results? Results are everything. Take the time and do your research. Ask your potential trainer for “receipts” aka show you results they helped their clients achieved. If they can’t show you results you can applaud and admire, then how can they help you reach your goals?
  4. Good Communication. This person should be an excellent listener and communicator. They have to hear what you’re saying. They can’t simply force you to do what they think you should be doing. It has to be a two way street; where they are providing you information and recommendations based on their experience in similar types of situations and the information you have given them. You both should be working together as a team. Your PT should be open and available to answer your questions and concerns outside of training via phone, email or in person. Last but not least, an excellent trainer will be able to fully explain why they are having you do the exercises in each of your workouts.
  5. Personalized Programming. There are a lot of IG famous people, Insta coaches and a plethora of template programs that people are purchasing online. You cannot pay money for a program that is not personalized. I repeat, you cannot pay for a training program that is not personalized. If that is the route you choose to go, there are tons of free options available online. Your program should be created specifically just for you based on where you are and what you want your end result to be.

6 Steps For Easing Back Into A Fitness Routine Post Birth

I guess you can say I had delusions of grandeur when I was pregnant about what my postnatal exercise routine would look like. I had actually assumed that soon as I got my six week clearance from the doctor to begin working out again, I would hit the ground running (literally) and back to my regularly scheduled HIIT workouts. Reality hit me pretty hard after giving birth and I’ve realized it will take some considerable time to ease back into the workouts I once enjoyed and to get back to feeling like my old self. But that didn’t mean I was going to stop moving. I soon figured out that finding alternative ways to stay active (like walking and hiking in Toronto’s High Park and in Hamilton’s beautiful conservation trails) meant that I would have more energy to tackle my crazy days with work and baby. The endorphin release would do wonders for my postpartum blues and most importantly it would help with the transition once it’s time that I can get back to more strenuous workouts.

And just because my ways of staying active are a little bit different these days, things have changed when it’s comes to my antiperspirant. Carrying around this little lady everywhere I go and postnatal hormone induced sweating, I need extra sweat protection these days more than ever. Degree Black + White Dry Spray Antiperspirant is what keeps me feeling fresh while keeping my clothes clear of those nasty white marks most deodorants leave behind. Engineered with Motionsense technology, it releases extra body odour protection the more you move and is formulated to provide 48 hour protection – music to any new mom’s ears.

If you’re a first time mom like me or expecting, it is important to be realistic and patient during this time until your body is 100% ready to take on the impact of regular exercise. Trust me, this is something that I still struggle with from time to time but Réjean does a great job of reminding me on the days I get frustrated. Remember, it takes about 40 weeks to prepare your body to give birth and it can take almost the same amount of time to return to your pre-pregnancy physical self.

Degree Black + White Dry Spray Antiperspirant
Photos by Jess Baumung

Here’s 6 Steps For Easing Back into a Fitness Routine After Birth

  1. Start Back Slowly. As a general rule, it’s best to not return to exercise until your bleeding has stopped and you have gotten the green light from your treating physician. If you push yourself too hard in the beginning, you can set yourself back – trust me! But that doesn’t mean you should be on house arrest by any means. A walk is a great start to getting back to your old routine in a slow and healthy way.
  2. Pay Attention To Your Pelvic Floor. This is something I heard over and over again while I was pregnant and I am actually going to see a specialist this week about mine. If you’re pelvic floor is weak, doing crunches, Pilates or any other abdominal work can put too much pressure down there, drastically slowing down your healing or leading to organ prolapse.
  3. Think Outside The “Studio Workout” Box. You don’t necessarily need to hit up for favourite cross training or boxing class to get back into a fitness routine. I’ve discovered that outdoor walks are a great place to start and the bonus – the little ones usually love the fresh air and scenery. Don’t discount walking like I did in the beginning. Especially when it’s in trails with varying elevations, it can be a great cardio workout with your baby in a carrier.
  4. Loose and Wobbly Joints. Be careful of those wiggly, wobbly joints. Thanks to the hormone called Relaxin, a woman’s joints and ligaments loosen during pregnancy and childbirth and can stay in our body for up to six months. I am currently struggling with severe tendinitis in both of my wrists due to lifting the baby repeatedly with loose joints.
  5. Stay Hydrated. Once you start ramping up your activity post baby, it’s important to stay hydrated especially if you’re breastfeeding.
  6. Stay Fresh and White Mark Free. Make sure you have an antiperspirant like Degree Black + White Dry Spray to keep you dry and smelling fresh throughout the day.

This post was sponsored by Degree Canada but all opinions are my own

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