Category Archives: mental health

Beginner Nutrition Tips to Look, Feel and Be Better

When it comes to eating, maybe you often get bored of what you’re eating and than revert to more palatable yet not-so-healthy foods. On occasion this is ok if you have hit that mark on your journey, but too often and that is just a recipe for disaster. If you’re always on the lookout for new recipes or ways to change up some of your faves, or for easy shortcuts to prevent boredom, here are some tips to get you started:

1. Add Art to Your Meals – Colorful fruits and vegetables (just like a beautiful painting yes) quickly decorate your favourite recipes and make your food appear much more appetizing. Look for deep greens in spinach, vibrant reds in tomatoes and a rainbow of colors in peppers to add to your favourite home-cooked dishes.

2. Swap Schtuff  – It may surprise you to learn serving meals on smaller plates (or in smaller bowls) encourages people to eat less food. So downsize what you serve your meals on, and you might find your family eating the proper portions.  Eating with smaller utensils can help too as you will be forced to slow down your eating and thus will likely trigger your “I’m full” hormones sooner.

3. Change Your Take-Out and Delivery Menus- If you have a stack of take-out/delivery menus in your home, replace them with meal planner services. Having a planner will help you arrange a weekly grocery shopping list and save you time and money by limiting the number of nights you eat out. There are so many options as far as being able to get these delivered, daily, weekly or monthly as well as the option of buying pre-cooked healthy portioned meals to pick up. The number of healthy “fast-food” joint nowadays too removes major barriers as well.

4. Flip Off the TV and Couch – No I am not advising you to take gymnastics, or wait, maybe I AM! Instead of plopping on the couch in front of the tv after dinner, go for a walk and help shuttle the nutrients from the foods you just ate into the right places 😉

5. Vary the Ingredients – If you already have family-favorite recipes, look them over to see if there are ways to swap healthier ingredients in place of others. Varying your foods, ingredients and so forth is actually a great way to prevent food aversions, ensure you get a wide spectrum of micronutrients that are essential for health, fat loss, muscle building, performance, mental health….are you getting the picture 😉 Variety also helps to prevent certain intolerances and allergies too.

If you are a newbie, and even if you’re not, these little changes can make a big difference and when they do, please share them! You can, and totally SHOULD, keep adding to your toolbox. Start with small habits and changes each week. Add more nutrient dense foods, and a whole buttload of variety of them, instead of always “taking away” and you will no doubt look, feel and perform better in all aspects of life.

Indulging in Treats and Napping Just May be Your Key to a Healthy Holiday Season

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The holiday season is full of celebrations. From office parties to family events, everyone gathers to spread a little extra cheer. While people may be wary of what all of the holiday treats will mean for their health, avoiding all of the revelry could cause more harm than good.  Creating a balance between restraint and indulgence will help sustain physical, mental and emotional well-being. Come out of the holiday season feeling just as good as you did when you went in with these easy tips.

Choose wisely.

During the holidays there are tempting treats everywhere you turn. From cookies at the office to fondue at the holiday party, your favorites can be hard to resist. But if you choose your treats wisely, you can guiltlessly enjoy every bite.

Browse the buffet line for healthy options like veggies or fruit, shrimp cocktails or chicken skewers so you won’t have to skip dessert. You can always share a sweet treat with someone else to keep you accountable. And if you’re worried about not having the will power, it’s a good idea to eat 1.5 ounces of healthy protein before an event to keep you feeling satiated.

Don’t deny yourself.

Food is connected to family, culture, tradition and celebration, and it should be a source of enjoyment. Avoid creating a list of items you cannot have. “When it comes to tempting foods, forbidding them only makes you want them even more,” says Debbie Swanson, registered dietician, and nutrition and healthy-cooking tips instructor at The International Culinary School at The Art Institute of Colorado. She suggests eating smaller portions of your favorites, such as a bite of pie instead of the whole piece. “My friend makes the best apple pie. I always have two bites,” Swanson says.

Work it off.

The best way to prevent the extra pounds from sneaking up on you is to engage in a regular exercise routine. Doing something as simple as parking farther away from the office or taking the stairs instead of the elevator can help increase the number of steps you take each day.

Individuals typically gain around two pounds during the holidays, according to the Mayo Clinic. “The problem is that we don’t lose the weight,” Swanson says. Rather than adding weight that you have to work off later, maintain a workout regimen or find other ways to burn the calories you consume throughout the busy day.

Make “me” time.

Research over the past two decades has begun to demonstrate the strong connection between mental health and the strength of the immune system, which affects overall physical well-being, according to Jim Wasner, dean for the American School of Professional Psychology at Argosy University | Schaumburg. Wasner says that the strength and resilience of everyone’s overall immune system, feeling depressed or overly anxious, often correlates with poorer physical health and vulnerability to illnesses. “Relax and schedule time for yourself,” he says.” Go easy on the alcohol and sugar. Catch up on your sleep.” Maintaining this overall balance will keep you physically and mentally healthy during the holiday season.

Allow yourself to enjoy the celebrations, just maintain the balance between health-conscious and indulgent decisions so the holidays don’t get the best of you.

Seriously though, be more like this otter images (omg this little guy is so cute and really just wanted a reason to put this somewhere lol) and just chillout a little. The effects of stress and stressing out about a pound or two or and inch or two :p will do you more harm than the laughter and enjoyment you will experience from the little bit of indulgence with good friends and family 😉

T.A.M.I. York Region – Stomping Out Stigma

It truly is a joy and a blessing to hear people’s stories, whatever they may entail. It was about about 10 days ago now but I am just getting the chance to write this quick blurb about the T.A.M.I York Region event where a group of amazing people and organizations came together to help stomp out the stigma of various mental illness (and related) issues.

I was very humbled and honoured to be with this amazing young lady named Morgan (she rocks and is going to do, already does do, incredible things!) as we were ambassadors for Kids Help Phone at the event. We were helping to spread the word at a booth as well as speaking in front of a group of students, teachers, officials and other guests (thank you for this experience and the lessons I have learned 😉 ) I have said it before and I will say it again, KHP is SO much more than a help line for young kids and the people on the front line, on the phones, in the office, behind the scenes, are all just unbelievable in every regard.

There were some other booths related to health, mental health and how to kick ass in life, but the guest speakers and even the students who shared their stories at the table were amazing. I really just wanted to post this to quickly say thank you not only for the opportunity to represent and spread goodness, but to be able to hear stories, share stories and be reminded of just how awesome people REALLY are 😉

Moral of the story here is while we all have our moments or days, do your best to lend a hand, be compassionate and kind, be you, do you, you can and will get through whatever it is just keep reaching, voicing, and you are absolutely not alone!

Thank you Kid’s Help Phone, York Region and all of those in attendance for this amazing opportunity.

Please keep doing all the good you do 🙂

p.s. I am not sure if the video is able to be posted but if it is, I will post here later.

Macho Muscle, Mean People Suck aka Mental Health, Muay Thai and Me

I legit have not had the opportunity to sit and put something decent together in terms of a training, health, fitness article for you here so this is what you get for now, sorry!  Some random stuff I have been up to this month and have upcoming this month:

I have been a huge fan of Iron Radio and more so Dr. Lonnie Lowery and Phil Stevens for years now. We conversed a few times via the net but I finally got to meet Dr. Lowery and he was just as groovy and by groovy I mean he will blow your mind with his knowledge bombs AND his guns 😉

Anyhoo…I was asked to come on to the show and ramble (ok so that wasn’t exactly the projected outcome but Lonnie is aware of my gnat-like attention span so they managed me quite well). Here it is and be sure to subscribe to the cast, donate if you like to support all things awesome whaaaat and just enjoy the amazeballs that is their site:

NEXT UP…

This coming weekend, Saturday October 25th from 11am to 1pm I will be providing members and guests of Southside Muay Thai some info, goodies and the chance to win some Lebert Equalizers and Stretch Straps. Honestly these people are not only extremely skilled, they are good peeps so please come out to say hello, try some classes or just stare eerily in the windows in admiration…whatever works for you lol.

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and then we have the T.A.M.I. Summit happening November 6th from 8am to 3pm. I think it might be one of the biggest honours to be asked to be an ambassador for Kid’s Help Phone at this event and am beyond grateful that such an amazing group of people, such an incredible organization, would entrust upon me to be one of the ambassadors at this summit 🙂

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There are some other cool things on the horizon but for this month, this is enough I think. Hope to see you out!

Quit Arguing

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If you are passionately involved in the health, fitness and performance field, which clearly you are if you are reading this, you no doubt have come across some argumentative aspects on various training modalities. I want to shed some light on two of the most popularly argued protocols/modalities. Thinking one is horrible or being best is not only absurd and a waste of energy, but it may be holding you and your clients back from progressing.

Let me first start with the popular “muscle confusion” form of training and Crossfit. I put these two together because many stake them with several commonalities, similarities that will prove my point of neither being “bad” per se as many will adamantly argue. First of all, Crossfit is a SPORT and secondly, along with the term muscle confusion, is a marketing term for a concept of pretty much “random activity” by definition of what has been accepted as majority. This does not mean that that is true because a lot of the coaches actually do have great ways of tracking and have methods to their “madness”. I will say this, neither concept was invented anytime recently as athletic forms of various training and cross training in general has been around for decades. So don’t argue that. The sport is new(er).

The somewhat randomness is not necessarily a bad thing if your goals are to simply lose some fat, gain some conditioning and if you are a newbie, potentially gain some lean mass. Or is you are advanced, you can get jacked too due to the high loads and volume. Is there a rhyme of reason for doing 30 snatches at high speed with no rest followed by kip-ups and 50 box jumps? No, unless you are training for the sport of Crossfit. That is where I believe people lose sight of things.  Is it bad to confuse your muscles each time you train with different movements and modalities like lifts with HIIT? No, absolutely not unless you are training for a particular sport and need to have the proper movement patterns and nervous system adaptations. Will your joints and nervous system pay for things later? Yeah probably but if you go in knowing that and are willing to stake that claim, that’s your decision. Live and let live.

There are actually some similarities between conjugate and contrast training as well as undulating periodization to these two highly ridiculed forms of training. In fact, the somewhat “randomness” of these types of activities can actually be more helpful to many who have hit  a fat loss plateau or have several years of training under their belts.  You must have a good coach as well as be gradually introduced to these methods but in terms of fat loss, efficiency is something you do not want and to become efficient, you must have repeat behaviors. You also want to keep these to shorter not longer and more frequent bouts unless it is solely your job to do this.

Next up is another two concepts that often has trainers or trainees confused or arguing. The debate of slow and moderate cardio versus balls to the walls HIIT (high intensity interval training) cardio or HIRT (high intensity resistance training circuits) for goal attainment is one that I’m sure will not die anytime soon.  If you are looking for performance enhancement, fat loss and muscle retention, HIIT and HIRT seem to be the surefire winner. Does this mean that slow or moderate cardio should be demolished? Absolutely not. If you or your clients have joint issues, injuries or an already stressful lifestyle plus hit the weights with good intensity, further adding to the already high levels of stress with HIIT/HIRT can make them feel rundown, sick and even make them lose muscle and gain fat over time. Some people just cannot get the physiological response safely with certain types of activities.

Slow to moderate cardio work is a great tool for not only burning off some calories, because they DO ultimately count in terms of fat loss, but it also serves as a mental stimulator and a form of movement meditation for some, as well as it helping your clients to recover from their training. Neither form of cardio should be relied on solely or dismissed as they can greatly compliment each other.

There are so many methods of training, schools of thought that many will waste time arguing on. Having an open mind to various protocols and seeing them for what they are as well as the potential within the methods, will greatly enhance your ability to help your clients and yourself.  If you are looking to improve at a sport, you will want to become efficient in movements, neurological and physiological aspects, but if you are looking to just have some fun with training to be healthy, fit and maybe shed some fat, you will want to be inefficient.

While I firmly believe in getting the basics down first, I am not here to dictate to you my opinions on your best ways to achieve goals and outcomes. I am just here to shed some light and make you think for yourself in an industry so filled with those wanting to lessen critical thinking for their own agendas. The main thing is to prevent injuries and to help make people better in their lives. This means finding the methods and modalities your clients enjoy and respond well to even if it goes against what some may say.

When it comes down to it, you want to continually educate yourself on all sides of an argument in terms of training methods. Don’t fall into the trap that you need to have yourself or your clients doing it all because it is the hot thing right now. There are far too many factors involved and it is supposed to be about making people better at life isn’t it? (Again, we are talking non-sport specific as that is a whole other game).

You must also remember that these are your clients so who should really be dictating your goals, programs and outcomes? You and your client that’s who! Find the fit for them based on what their lives, needs and bodies can do and handle, yourself included. Do what makes you and/or your peeps happy, healthy and feeling good. Don’t tell them, educate them. Help lead them. To that there is not argument.

 

 

 

When Your Belly Fat Grows and Your Mind Blows, Who You Gonna Call? Stress Busters!

I don’t know about you but stress sucks. Wait, too much stress sucks. From creating sleep disturbances to overeating or just not utilizing food properly, poor workouts and recovery, depression, memory loss and fatigue, chronic stress is a killer.

Even if you are following a healthy eating plan and regularly exercising, too much stress can still damage your mind and body. There are many lifestyle factors (saying no, mindfulness or movement meditation, laughter, sex, lighter workouts, nutritious foods etc.) to reduce this killer in your life and those should be addressed first, but what if there were some other things to help you along?

Everything starts and ends with your brain and your nervous system. Physical stress or breakdown is nothing in comparison to mental burnout. Couple these two and you are in serious trouble. The thing is, if you prioritize the mind, the physical will follow. It may take years if you let it get too far so let’s nip things in the bud and call upon these additional stress busters.

Citicoline. This seems to be a promising supplement that may offer cognitive enhancing effects like memory retention, reduction of depressive symptoms and oxidative damage to the brain (1,2). Adding this to your lifestyle overhaul just might be worth trying.

L-Theanine. This is a no-brainer (lol pun intended) as this is not really a new discovery. L-theanine is an amino acid found in green tea and has both calming effects on your body as well as protective effects on the brain (3,4).

Fruit and Veggie Supplements. There are many “greens” products out there and some really can make a difference. Yes, absolutely you want to eat a ton of produce but supplemental extracts just may be of benefit after all (5).

PUFA’S. This will be of no shock to you maybe but PUFA’s (polyunsaturated fatty acids) like those found in fish oil, have great benefits to your brain and body’s responses to stress (6,7).

Summary

Every body is different and will respond differently to the above but if you are under chronic stress and want to try something additional to lifestyle modifications, you just might want to call on these stress busters.

PLEASE watch this:

 

References:

  1. Xiaonan, Y., Qiyi, M., & Nengrong, P. (2007). A control study of citicoline in the treatemnt of dysmnesia due to MECT [J]. Journal of Clinical Psychosomatic Diseases, 4, 009.
  2. Hatcher, J. F., & Dempsey, R. J. (2002). Citicoline: neuroprotective mechanisms in cerebral ischemia. Journal of neurochemistry, 80(1), 12-23.
  3. Juneja, L. R., Chu, D. C., Okubo, T., Nagato, Y., & Yokogoshi, H. (1999). L-theanine—a unique amino acid of green tea and its relaxation effect in humans. Trends in Food Science & Technology, 10(6), 199-204.
  4. Kimura, K., Ozeki, M., Juneja, L. R., & Ohira, H. (2007). L-Theanine reduces psychological and physiological stress responses. Biological psychology, 74(1), 39-45.
  5. Joseph, J. A., Shukitt-Hale, B., Denisova, N. A., Bielinski, D., Martin, A., McEwen, J. J., & Bickford, P. C. (1999). Reversals of age-related declines in neuronal signal transduction, cognitive, and motor behavioral deficits with blueberry, spinach, or strawberry dietary supplementation. The Journal of Neuroscience, 19(18), 8114-8121.
  6. Ferraz, A. C., Delattre, A. M., Almendra, R. G., Sonagli, M., Borges, C., Araujo, P., … & Lima, M. (2011). Chronic ω-3 fatty acids supplementation promotes beneficial effects on anxiety, cognitive and depressive-like behaviors in rats subjected to a restraint stress protocol. Behavioural brain research, 219(1), 116-122.
  7. Ochoa, J. J., Quiles, J. L., Huertas, J. R., & Mataix, J. (2005). Coenzyme Q10 protects from aging-related oxidative stress and improves mitochondrial function in heart of rats fed a polyunsaturated fatty acid (PUFA)-rich diet. The Journals of Gerontology Series A: Biological Sciences and Medical Sciences, 60(8), 970-975

Rooftop Fitness Party in Downtown Toronto

This morning brought out an exciting array of fellow fitness instructors, yogis, studio/gym owners and fitness enthusiasts to a party atop the Big Carrot . This fun filled, health promoting event was for the media launch of Tryfit.ca . Before I continue I would like to thank Jake for having me out. It was an exceptional way to start my day. I had to leave early to teach a class but the time I was there was awesome.

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Aside from the banging beats from the DJ, the snacks and spa water quenching my thirst for some awe-inspiring oh yeah-ness, every one there was so friendly. It is always great to see a community of like-minded positive people in one place.

The day was gorgeous (aka sunny and hot wooooh) and the rooftop venue made the mini-workout sessions that were a part of the event much more enjoyable. The ability to network and to share stories was also a highlight. While there was fun to be had, it was all very professional and well organized by all.

I love what Tryfit.ca is doing. There are so many great spots in Toronto and so many different styles, modalities and venues that it is a shame NOT to experience as many of them as you can. The fact that they are also helping to grow and promote good people trying to make a difference, makes me love this concept even more. By offering what they are, they are not only helping to grow the smaller businesses in the community, but they are also helping others to find their fit when it comes to fitness.

Thank you for what you do!

 

P.S. I am totally for hire for teaching classes, events, consulting, event coverage, writing…;) athletictraynor@gmail.com

This is Your Brain, Your Fat Loss and Your Performance on Creatine NOT Drugs

I have been too busy writing for others hence my ignoring of my own bloggerooni. Did you miss me? I hope so 🙂 Yet again I am revamping things and this blogs randomness will soon be less random and arbitrary and just more awesome (I hope lol). I was prompted to write this recent post as the sexy vixen Shannon Crane  saw a post I made on Facebook about creatine aiding fat loss and was like, “wassup wit dat”? Okay so that is not exactly how she said it but I digress.

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This post is nothing ooh la la super new and cutting edge as most everyone knows of creatine. To be honest with you as I always hope to do (always learning!), the ooh la la supplements that come out every week promising you magic, are mostly BS and good ole creatine is NOT. Boring? Maybe, but LEGIT. There are enough posts out there delivering info on this stuff in a complex manner. This is why I will keep it simple and yes will include for you a few references. There are a TON on its efficacy in various areas I will cover though with my primary focus on how the eff this stuff can help fat loss.

Hopefully at this point in time you understand that training hard but smart and not just longer and more is better. Hopefully you also understand this means intensity is key for transforming your body as well as your health and performance. This is where you will realize that you should befriend and totally BFF creatine.

This is your brain on creatine:

Supplementation with creatine has been shown to help reduce oxidative (damage) stress in our brain while also improving our mental function/health and even memory (1,2,3,4)

This is your performance on creatine and thus fat loss:

Supplementation with creatine has been shown to increase the ability to lift higher loads, to train at a higher intensity, train with greater volume and output and thus increases your ability to put on fat burning, body reshaping, metabolically active, fat burning muscle mass (5,6,7). Due to its ability to aid recovery and reduce excessive catabolic hormones, fat loss is enhanced in that regard too by means of muscle preservation (8).

So the short version of all of this is drumroll puhleez….

In order to rock at all things in life and be a lean mean speed demon agility machine, you want to have muscle and a solid bit o grey matter between your ears. Creatine supplementation along with nutrition, training at the proper intensity and frequency with a balanced lifestyle may help you with the rockage ;D Wooooooooh to you!

References:

1. Rae, C., Digney, A. L., McEwan, S. R., & Bates, T. C. (2003). Oral creatine monohydrate supplementation improves brain performance: a double–blind, placebo–controlled, cross–over trial. Proceedings of the Royal Society of London. Series B: Biological Sciences, 270(1529), 2147-2150.

2. McMorris T, Mielcarz G, Harris RC, Swain JP, Howard A. Creatine supplementation and cognitive performance in elderly individuals. Neuropsychology Dev Cogn B Aging Neuropsychol Cogn. 2007 Sep;14(5):517-28. Retrieved June 24, 2014 from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17828627

3. Roitman, S., Green, T., Osher, Y., Karni, N., & Levine, J. (2007). Creatine monohydrate in resistant depression: a preliminary study. Bipolar disorders, 9(7), 754-758.

4. McMorris, T., Harris, R. C., Swain, J., Corbett, J., Collard, K., Dyson, R. J., … & Draper, N. (2006). Effect of creatine supplementation and sleep deprivation, with mild exercise, on cognitive and psychomotor performance, mood state, and plasma concentrations of catecholamines and cortisol. Psychopharmacology, 185(1), 93-103.
5. Volek, J. S., Duncan, N. D., Mazzetti, S. A., Staron, R. S., Putukian, M. A. R. G. O. T., Gomez, A. L., … & Kraemer, W. J. (1999). Performance and muscle fiber adaptations to creatine supplementation and heavy resistance training. Medicine and science in sports and exercise, 31, 1147-1156.
6. Becque, M. D., Lochmann, J. D., & Melrose, D. R. (2000). Effects of oral creatine supplementation on muscular strength and body compositioin. Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise, 32(3), 654-658.
7. Olsen, S., Aagaard, P., Kadi, F., Tufekovic, G., Verney, J., Olesen, J. L., … & Kjær, M. (2006). Creatine supplementation augments the increase in satellite cell and myonuclei number in human skeletal muscle induced by strength training. The Journal of physiology, 573(2), 525-534.
8. Passaquin, A. C., Renard, M., Kay, L., Challet, C., Mokhtarian, A., Wallimann, T., & Ruegg, U. T. (2002). Creatine supplementation reduces skeletal muscle degeneration and enhances mitochondrial function in< i> mdx</i> mice. Neuromuscular Disorders, 12(2), 174-182.

 

I am doing far too many things right now but will be revamping and getting back to blogging again soon. For now though I wanted to share with you a short interview with artist and inspiring strong beautiful woman extraordinaire Paula Platter Galloway who not only does various bits of art/performing arts, but is an unbelievable soul who also has her own site giving props to peeps (holy run on sentence there wow!) Anyhoo, for some reason Paula finds me interesting lol and the interview is really on me and some of my experiences over the last mmmm like 7 years or so with trying to get into combat sports and more importantly my love for supporting other women in it and wanting them to grow! As per usual I am not sure I said everything I wanted to or how I wanted to and there is a major gap in the story as no one really knows the goings on over the years…yet but whaaaaatever

Here is a little about Paula:

Originally from Montréal, the audio docs began at CKUT radio as a monthly one-hour show  from 2011-2012.

Now based in Southwestern Ontario, the storytelling spans the Great Lakes/St-Lawrence watershed, ie. the “The Windsor-Québec City Corridor”.

And here is the second less ranty-softer-side version of the interview 😀 http://ruellesmtlalleyways.wix.com/culturalcorridor

Rough Days Make For Tough Days ;)

When all you got is blessings around you but your mind wanders to dark

You fight the black but it keeps creeping in, your life feels like a lark

When all that seems to satisfy is giving your love, giving it up for all but you

None can survive this way, but guilt, never good enough, bullshit always coming through

The voices you try to control, you drown it out but band-aids lose their stick

You often wonder if it’s just past veering its head or if you really might be sick

Surrounded by so much love, support and yet some tell you that’s all lies

Never knowing what the truth is, gut instinct nullified, lost in so many people’s eyes

Silence is the enemy because that’s when it awakens, stirred up and ready to feed

You would never hurt another but your own soul cannot be freed

Feelings come and go in waves you hide it all well, you do what’s needed to get by

Thank God the warrior deep in us all doesn’t believe the “stories” told, the lies

It’s not a switch you can turn on and off and off and on again

Some days it’s like IT is never there, like the now was never then.