Category Archives: Health

You Should Know Squat

In the world of health and fitness, there are so many schools of thought, opinions, and techniques. How is anyone ever to know who to trust, what will work for them, and what is B*!!shit?

Find out for yourself. Do some research. I’m not saying you need to become the biggest expert and most forward thinker in the field, but knowing your basics can help you steer clear of the things that can harm your body – because there are tons of fads that are just plain bad for you.

I’ve always been the kind of girl that wants to get to the bottom of everything. I want to absorb all the knowledge that I can. This may come from my inherent need to be right (but at least I earned the right to be confident that I am!… right?). This also translated into me being the kid in high school staying home on friday nights watching documentaries in my room on my sweet tv/vcr combo. I like learning. I like knowing what I’m talking about. I like having conviction and not looking like an idiot.

I started an online class recently to receive a certificate in Sports and Exercise Nutrition. This is not to say I want to change my career, but I wanted to learn about what my body needs in order to be active, and the science behind it.

Also, let me tell you, the more you learn about this stuff, the better you’ll treat yourself. You realize the crap you’re putting into your body, and the damage you cause when you don’t give it enough fuel and energy. I’m not here to give you lessons on what you should be doing (we just like to share what WE’RE doing!), you need to find out what works best for you, because we’re all different. I see a lot of girls doing these insane diets and cleanses that I, personally, disagree with. These are unhealthy short term solutions to something that should be a slow and longterm lifestyle change. You may drop some pounds at the beginning (though, mark my words, they’ll come back with a vengeance once you fall off the wagon (which you will (because it’s unrealistic))), but your body needs nutrients to function; because it’s not just about weight, the things you put in your body – or don’t put in your body – affect so much more: energy levels, skin, hair, nails, sleep, brain functionality… but I digress.

Do your freaking research before you mix hot pepper and honey for 10 days, or whatever. Please. If you still want to do it – to each their own; but at least know what you’re depriving your body of. We need to stop with the “everything for vanity” mentality, and concentrate on being healthy and fit. Trust me, the hot bod will follow. It really will. It will be even better, because you’ll feel great.

-kylie

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Coo-coo for Coconut Oil

I’ve been using coconut oil (aggressively) for about a year now, and I still find new ways to reap its benefits.  Here’s my top ten list of uses for coconut oil:

 

  1. To cook eggs (whites for me) in. You won’t regret it.
  2. Cut up sweet potato, rub a bit of coconut oil on it, and bake. Delicious.
  3. To cook my protein pancake. Throw a bit on the pan and pour in the pancake mix (egg whites, oats, blueberries, and cinnamon). Heck, cook anything in it.  It’s healthy, smells amazing, and tastes delicious.
  4. Lip gloss. Yup. Lip gloss.
  5. Use a bit in your hair to smooth it out and style the ends.
  6. Leave-in conditioner. Rub a small amount mostly into the ends of your hair, comb through and leave in for about an hour before washing out. So silky and smooooothe.
  7. Use on the skin as a basic lotion.
  8. Popping popcorn! Instead of butter – coat the bottom of the pot with coconut oil  and add just enough kernels to make a single layer over the bottom of the pot.  Shake the pot up a bit, put over medium heat, cover and pop!
  9. Add a teaspoon to your coffee or tea.
  10.  Use it as a makeup remover, or on a sunburn, or even on your pets. It’s magic. Anything goes. Go crazy and enjoy!

 


coconut-oil

 

Alyssa

xoxo

What’s THE DEAL with food?!

A few years ago, if you told me I should be eating organic and local food, I would have said “haha, yeah, because I’m rich and pretentious”. I was wrong. Oh, so wrong.

Though it is definitely daunting when thinking about this stuff, I’m here to help! It always seems easiest to just run out to a big chain grocery store and grab a beautiful looking tomato or apple from the massive pile. You always know they’re going to be there, no matter what time of year… wait… even when they shouldn’t be growing? Yes. Even then. Weeeiiiirrrrrd.

It’s easy to see why factory and industrial farming operates the way it does… money! Who doesn’t love money?! AMIRITE?!  The trouble is that a lot of this is seriously affecting the things we are ingesting.

I’m not going to go on a huge detailed scientific rant, as I can tend to do, I’m just going to give you the general facts.

For veggies, it all starts with the soil. To save money, the soil sucks. This makes the veg more susceptible to pests and fungus. To remedy this, they spray all the food with pesticides, fungicides, herbicides, and all sorts of crap. Crap that you’re eating. Veggies are now not growing with the same nutrients that they used to either. They’re concerned with uniformity, genetic modification, and long shelf lives. Food is picked before it’s ripe, then ripens along the thousands of miles that it travels to the store from wherever it’s grown. This is why non-organic, non-local produce is cheaper – it comes from government funded factory farms which get a higher yield, which has a longer shelf life, so they can charge less.

Meat is much worse. I’m a meat eater, and I don’t think I could do the vegetarian thing (though, to each their own). I am, however, a big advocate of humanely treated animals. Grass fed cows contain TONS more vitamins than grain fed cows (A, C, K, and the belly-fat busting Conjugated Linoleic Acid, or CLA for short). And free range eggs and chicken are from healthier happier birds. The better they eat, the better you eat. They’re not shoved into an arena with thousands of other chickens, made to live in their own feces and breathe it in until they’re sick, then pumped full of antibiotics to counteract their conditions. They’re not given zero room to walk around, then fed grains and hormones so they get giant and can’t even walk, their legs break, and they SIT THERE AND DIE!!! But I digress.

Chickens are seen inside cages on a truck near a poultry market in Dengzhou

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real-free-range

 

Take your pick.

 

Now don’t get me wrong, even non-organic, non-local foods are WAAAYYYY better for you than fast food and tons of other things we eat. All I’m saying is to be aware of where your food comes from. Take your vitamins to make up for the ones that were lost along the way. When you don’t get the proper nutrients, your body still thinks it’s hungry and will force you to keep eating… maybe even cookies. OHMYGODIWANTACOOKIE!!!

 

Now the $64,000 question… where’s the best place to get the good stuff?!

Farmers’ Markets are the best place – there are tons of markets in the city, and it’s really hard to beet the prices… see what I did there? Here’s a list of some of the great places to get local and organic foods in Toronto:

 

Fiesta FarmsThis little gem is tops. A family run grocery store on Christie St. (between Bloor and Dupont), this place has tons of organic and local food to choose from. They’ve got a great butcher section and carry Rowe Farms… which brings us to….

 

Rowe FarmsA farm with 3 retail stores in the city! Crazy! There’s one in the annex, one in Roncesvalles, and one in Leslieville – they’ve really covered their bases. You can get veggies and meat here, and also delicious pre-made soups and salads, all made with their products. If you like bacon, this is where you should be getting it. Oh man.

 

St. Lawrence Market I mean, this place just has everything. Just go. But check their hours. Every time I want to go, it’s closed. On Saturdays there is a special farmers’ market!

 

The Stop’s Green Barn at Wychwood BarnsFarmers’ Markets! You can get stuff from all sorts of local farmers and it’s a fun little outing too. Located up at Christie and St Clair Ave., it’s easily accessible by TTC, so no excuses! While you’re there, check out Footstep Organics!

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Other markets to check out:

Sorauren Farmers’ Market

Trinity Bellwoods Farmers’ Market

Dufferin Grove Farmers’ Market

Nathan Phillips Square Farmers’ Market

Evergreen Brick Works Farmers’ Market

Leslieville Farmers’ Market

 

 

Let’s not forget about growing your own!

Last year we started our first garden, and it was awesome. We were super lucky with our soil, because we either did or didn’t have chickens living in our backyard before that… (the freshest, most delicious eggs you’ve ever had!). That time of year is coming up quick, and we recently bought a new home with a HUGE garden area. So excited. If you can, I definitely recommend growing plants of your own. I will keep you posted on my planting!

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Happy, healthy eating!

 

 

Kylie

The skinny on B12

They say you don’t really know what you’ve got until it’s gone… and in this case, no truer words have been spoken.

What is B12? Well, if you ask Wikipedia (and they are always right) it will tell you  – Vitamin B12, also called cobalamin, is a water-soluble vitamin with a key role in the normal functioning of the brain and nervous system, and for the formation of blood.

Sounds important…

 

I think I was 14 when I decided I didn’t want to hurt cows anymore, or pigs, or spiders – come to think of it, Charlotte’s Web must be responsible for this. Anyway, I felt I had a moral responsibility, and wanted to save allllll the animals (Except for chickens and turkeys apparently, but that would eventually come a few years later). I was never really interested in dairy. The thought of eating eggs completely freaked me out, and I am probably a very rare breed of human being who genuinely finds cheese and milk repulsive. It seemed like a no brainer – I should become a vegan! It will be so easy. So I did.

What they don’t tell you – it is not hard to become a vegan. I mean, vegans can eat FRENCH FRIES!!! It is, however, not easy to maintain a vegan lifestyle properly. Properly meaning, supplementing for all the vitamins and minerals of which you’re not getting sufficient amounts through a plant based diet. Vegetables were once a (mediocre) source of B12 because it was found naturally in the bacteria that pesticides have now made non-existent. We live in a world of supply and demand, which has a HUGE affect on quality.

As a vegan I gained a whopping 80lbs! Yes, 8-0. Sounds outrageous, and it was. I was not only fat, but also tired, depressed, unmotivated, insecure, anxious – you name it. I will spare you the horrific details of how I got to this place and how I crawled out of it – that is a whole other story.

After numerous blood test and doctors’ appointments, I was diagnosed as Vitamin B12 deficient. I had never really even heard of this vitamin, and considering the symptoms I had were starting to mimic those of MS I was shocked that they didn’t think of this sooner. I started getting B12 shots monthly, and after the first one I felt like new person – Or the way I feel when I buy a new pair of shoes – ALIIIIIIIIVE!!!

 

B12 Deficiency Symptoms – just to name a few:

Strange sensations, numbness, or tingling in the hands, legs, or feet

Difficulty walking (staggering, balance problems)

Anemia

Anxiety

A swollen, inflamed tongue

Yellowed skin (jaundice)

Difficulty thinking and reasoning (cognitive difficulties), or memory loss

Paranoia or hallucinations

Weakness

Fatigue

…And they only get worse.

 

Some great benefits of B12 include:

Increases energy levels. (It makes you less lazy, yes you.)

Helps maintain healthy regulation of the nervous system, reducing depression, stress, and brain shrinkage – I know a lot of people who could benefit from this last part

Helps maintain a healthy digestive system

Protects against heart disease by curbing and improving unhealthy cholesterol levels, protecting against stroke, and high blood pressure

It is amazing for healthy skin, hair, and nails

Helps protect against the C word in many ways – including breast, colon, lung, and prostate cancer

 

Vitamin B12 is found in most animal derived foods, including fish and shellfish, meat (especially liver – yuck), poultry, eggs, milk, and milk products.

I would highly suggest taking a B12 supplement, even if you eat an adequate amount of these foods  (This is especially important if you are a vegetarian/vegan, smoke, are pregnant, elderly, suffer from anemia or celiac disease).  B12 also aids in maintaining a healthy metabolism – which is awesome.

Lucky for you, you can find this little miracle just about anywhere.

 

Ash xo

Vitamins, and supplements, and proteins, OH MY!

Deciding to live a healthier lifestyle, and actually committing to it can be extremely difficult and overwhelming – especially in the first few months.

Unfortunately, there’s no secret to success, you really just need to want it…bad… like really, really bad. You have to make hard decisions like, do you (a) get wasted with your friends, drunk dial your ex boyfriend 47 times, and then wake up looking and feeling like a hot mess? OR, (b) eat a healthy meal, go to the gym (this is where the cute boys are by the way), and look smoking hot? TOUGH CHOICE.

Although I love drunk dialing my ex, option B is probably the way to go. So, where do you start? Do your research! Drastic changes in your diet or levels of activity can be extremely hard on your body. If you’re really going to do this, I suggest meeting with a certified nutritionist to make sure that you’re not causing your body more harm than good.  A lot of people tend to forget about vitamins, supplements, and proteins that are vital to a healthy lifestyle. The problem is THERE ARE SO MANY OPTIONS and walking into a health food store can sometime make your brain explode. So, I wanted to share some of my favourite things! By this I mean stuff that I now can’t live without and that have become a part of my every day attempt at a healthy lifestyle. I’m no pro but I have tried quite a few things on my long journey. So here’s a list of my personal must-haves:

 

  1. Progressive MultiVitamin for Active Women (there’s also one for men).

Don’t be thrown off by the “for Active Women” part – this multivitamin isn’t specific to those that are training. If you work out a couple of times a week, work long hours, or just have a generally busy lifestyle, you can still take them.  Multivitamins have a ton of benefits – they reduce stress, keep you alert and energized throughout the day, protect your heart, improve your immune system, and help you maintain clear, healthy skin.

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  1. Naka Vital Greens

Greens can be brutal to take. If you add the powdered greens to a shake, not only do they ruin the taste, they also make you feel like you’re eating chalk. Mixing the greens with water = chalk. Adding the greens to juice = chalk! Mixing the greens with your oatmeal = CHALK! You get the point. The powdered greens taste gross and turn things into chalk. So, I found a liquid format that lets me take the greens in a way I’m very familiar with… a shot! The Naka Vital Greens are super easy to take – a shot in the morning (it has a nice minty taste) is all you need…It’s no lemon drop but it provides the full daily dose of veggies your body needs.

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  1. New Chapter Wholemega Whole Fish Oil

This one was a simple choice. Fish oil in a liquid format? No thank you, barf, bye. Fish oil in a capsule? Yes, please. Is it normal for me to love Omega-3? Well I do, I want to marry it.  My favourite is that it improves fat burning, who doesn’t want that? It also reduces the signs of aging and makes your hair soft and shiny. So, I think that’s all I need to say. Oh yeah, and something about boosting brain power, memory, and improving bone health.. blah, blah, blah.

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  1. Digestive Enzymes

Can I marry digestive enzymes too? Is that bigamy? Whatever. I do what I want.  Digestive enzymes are a life saver, no matter what’s on your plate.  Any typical diet can drain our enzyme supply – but you need them to help breakdown foods so that your insides can properly extract and distribute nutrients. Without these the food you eat would just slowly rot inside of you… gross.  I find they also help with bloating, and no one wants to look 3 months pregnant when they’re not. Let me put it this way – take the enzymes with your meals and after about 5 days you’ll be able to schedule your bathroom visits… for the same time every day. Yay! For once being “regular” is good.

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  1. Dymatize Nutrition ISO 100 – Gourmet Chocolate

I choo-choo-choose you, chocolate. I’ve tried dozens of protein powders, and this one is by far the best tasting one. So that, and that reason alone is why it’s on my must-have list. If you are looking for something more natural or that has less calories (they are all very close by the way) then this may not be for you. But boy oh boy does it taste good – and when you’re on a strict meal plan taking this protein feels like cheating… sweet, sweet cheating.

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All of these gems should be able to be found at your local health and nutrition store. If not… Google.

 

xoxo

Alyssa