fat loss

Sunday Circuit – Daylight Savings Edition

One of my fave shots from my celebration photoshoot

Time to Spring Ahead!  I don’t know about you, but I am more than ready for some warm weather and beach time!  Here is a full-body heart rate circuit to put some spring into your step and burn some fat.

5 min warm-up of your choice (I like foam rolling and a few minutes of spinning)

1. 15 squats + OH press (DB or RB)

2. 10 pushup jacks

3. 15 alternating reverse lunges

4. 10 Bent-over high rows (DB or RB)

5. 15 prone hip lifts (with feet on floor, chair, or stability ball, depending on fitness level)

6. 10 Russian twists

7. 1 minute fast step ups (use bottom step of stairs in your house)

Rest 1-2 minutes

Do as many rounds as possible in 30 minutes.


*Remember, if you have not been exercising regularly or have any medical conditions or injuries that you should complete a PAR-Q before doing intense physical activity. Always warm up and listen to your body throughout the workout.


Circuit Sunday – 03-01-2015


Thank heavens March is finally here!  Let’s celebrate the end of February – with burpies!  Just kidding. Let’s skip the burpies today and have some fun.

Home Workout:

  • 15 pop squats
  • 10 bent over rows (resistance band or dumbells)
  • 15 SB passes (for your core)
  • 10 alternating reverse lunges (resistance band or dumbells)
  • 15 triceps extensions (pulldowns with resistance band or kickbacks with dummbells)
  • 10 skaters (each side)
  • Plank hold as long as possible
  • Rest 2-3 min between rounds

Repeat 3-5 times

Black Bean Banana Brownie Recipe

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Brownies are the perfect place to hide black beans. Lately I have been making these quite a lot because they are such an easy snack that my son and I both like. I like to have them as a pre-workout snack in the late afternoon.


  • 2 cups black beans (soaked and cooked or from a can)
  • 2 cups egg whites
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 ripe bananas
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1/3 cup coconut flour
  • 1 cup rolled oats
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/3 cup cocoa powder

Mason Jar/Blender Method*:

  1. Heat oven to 375 degrees
  2. Place black beans and 1.5 cups of egg whites in a large mason jar.  Blend until smooth and then pour the mixture into a mixing bowl.
  3. Place bananas, honey, remaining egg whites and 2 eggs in the large mason jar.  Blend until smooth and then pour the mixture into the mixing bowl. Stir all of the liquid together.
  4. In a medium bowl, combine oats, flour, baking powder, cocoa until mixed.
  5. Add the dry ingredients to the mixture. Stir until everything is evenly mixed.
  6. Pour into either a)silicon muffin pans or b) a greased baking dish
  7. Bake for 20-35min depending on what you put it in. Small muffin cups will take about 20 min while large muffin cups or large pan will take about 35min.  Test center with a butter knife or a toothpick – when it comes out clean (no goopy batter) then it is done.
  8. Cool 10 min before removing from pan. Enjoy!

*You can also use a food processor or a potato masher to mush up the beans and bananas together and then add the remaining wet ingredients together.

The Truth about Fruit


Lately I have heard a lot of people hating on fruit because it contains fructose.  Not to oversimplify carbohydrate metabolism but the basic facts are that processed sugars like table sugar, high-fructose corn syrup, and fruit juice are not that great for us.  They can lead to metabolic dysfunction, diabetes, obesity, etc.

Whole fruits, on the other hand, have all kinds of other nutrients such as fibre, vitamins, and antioxidants that are really good for us.  Consumption of fruit is linked to lower disease risk (the opposite effect of processed sugars). Overall calorie balance is important too so this does not mean you should go overboard!  Vegetables also offer a plethora of nutrients and generally have a lot fewer calories than fruits so keep that in mind. In general, how much fruit (and overall calories) you eat should be determined by your lifestyle and activity levels. Personally, I would recommend that most of your carb intake come from complex carbs such as beans, potatoes, rice, yams, oats, etc. and that you time them around your workouts.

Speaking of exercise, fruit can also be helpful during and post-workout. Studies have shown that having a combination of fructose and glucose helps your body absorb carbohydrates more quickly, making them available to do work. Win!  A very simple post-workout snack could be a banana and a cup of low fat chocolate milk (or a protein shake with some fruit).  I also enjoy protein banana pancakes (0.5 cup oats, 1 banana, 0.75 cup egg whites, 1 tsp baking powder, and cinnamon blended in a mason jar) topped with berries and Greek yogurt.  Not quite as fast-digesting as a shake but they provide a whack of nutrients and are very satisfying 🙂

Until next time, eat fruit and prosper!

Selected References:

Jentjens, R. L., Moseley, L., Waring, R. H., Harding, L. K., & Jeukendrup, A. E. (2004). Oxidation of combined ingestion of glucose and fructose during exercise. Journal of Applied Physiology, 96(4), 1277-1284.

Karp, J. R., Johnston, J. D., Tecklenburg, S., Mickleborough, T. D., Fly, A. D., & Stager, J. M. (2006). Chocolate milk as a post-exercise recovery aid.International journal of sport nutrition and exercise metabolism, 16(1), 78.

Self-kindness is a Secret Weapon


January is a fantastic time to make new health & fitness goals but often people are really hard on themselves, taking a militant approach that really isn’t all that helpful. (Example: “I’m going to get up early every day and go to the gym and only eat salad”).  While some people may like a trainer that yells at them to work harder, that has never been my style and I think kindness is completely underestimated when it comes to fitness.  Are you really more motivated by being recognized for making a positive change than by being scolded for eating a cookie that wasn’t in your plan?  Um..no. Probably not.  Mostly likely you will feel bad about eating the cookie and then give up and eat the whole bag (“might as well”, right?). This is where self-kindness (and forgiveness) comes in. You are not a complete failure because you slipped up a little (or even a lot). There really is no such thing as a “perfect” diet or fitness plan and there are more important things to focus your energy on than berating yourself. Learning to forgive yourself and move on quickly is really important for long-term success.

When I was a teenager I was a promising athlete and was extremely hard on myself.  I thought that more was always better and I learned the hard way that this isn’t always the case.  Overtraining and not supporting physical and mental recovery can lead to injuries, burnout, and other negative consequences (for me personally, I developed an eating disorder).  It is one thing to strive for improvement and quite another to feel like you are never good enough. The truth is that there will always be someone faster, stronger, or more beautiful (or differently beautiful) than you are.  That is not the point.  The point is to do your best, to feel alive, and to make the most of the time you’ve been given.

Self-kindness is not permission to go off the rails and do whatever you want. We know that improving athletic performance requires intentional training and optimizing recovery through high-quality nutrition, rest, and relaxation.  We also know that loss doesn’t come from sitting on your butt and eating fast food.  So, are you really being kind to yourself when you make choices that are not supporting your health and fitness goals?  What does self-kindness look like to you?

I think that it will be a little different for each of us.  Practicing self-kindness to me is…

  • going to bed early so that I feel well-rested and ready for the day
  • eating whole foods that support my training and body composition goals most of the time
  • having really awesome cheat meals once in a while
  • warming up properly before my workouts
  • lifting heavy weights and striving to get stronger
  • making time to swim, run, and play basketball
  • getting a massage once in a while
  • reading for enjoyment (not just scientific articles for my PhD)
  • avoiding magazines and most popular media that promotes unrealistic body ideals

What about you?  How are you going to be kind to yourself today?

Hit the Track for a Free Workout

Ah, track workouts!  Brings back fond memories of high school, running line drills at the end of basketball practice, and doing the beep test (aka watching my sister kill the beep test long after I had to stop…).  The thing about sprints (and high-intensity interval training generally) is that they are really hard when you are out of shape but can be a lot of fun when you are fit.  AS we have learned through many research studies about windgate interval training (basically an all-out bike sprint for 15-30s that makes you feel like you are going to die followed by a long rest), sprints are also are very effective at improving your overall aerobic capacity (i.e. the ability of your body to use oxygen and manage energy) very quickly.  Sprinting also doesn’t require fancy equipment, making it cheap and easy, not to mention better for the planet than those carbon-sucking treadmills in air conditioned gyms (which in spite of this I sometimes use because there is no daycare at the track and an almost-two-year-old makes a really bad training partner).

There are many ways to plan a track workout but I think it’s important to use the sandwich method: warm-up, main set(s), warm-down/stretch.  This reduces the risk of injuries and allows you time to read your body.  Some days you  can push harder than others; some days you need to back off.  Learn to listen to your body.

This workout is designed to be done on a running track but if you don’t have one around or available to you, you can modify it to do outside. A low-traffic street near your house or in a local park will do just fine! The distances won’t be perfect but it doesn’t matter – the key thing is that you are working your butt off 😉  If you are just starting out, I recommend doing 1-2 sets of each sprint in the main set rather than the whole thing.  Enjoy!


jog 2 laps (~800m)

20 jumping jacks

10 pushups

10 walking lunges with side twist

2 x 20m high knees (walkbacks)

2 x 20m “A”s (walkbacks)

2 x 20m “B”s (walkbacks)

2 x 20m butt kicks (walkbacks)



4 x 200m sprint at 75% speed (walk back)

6 x 100m sprint 80% speed (walk back)

2 x 50m sprint 95% speed (walk back)



2 laps jog


Give yourself a high-five!



*DISCLAIMER* As always, use common sense when doing exercise.  If you are not currently active or have injuries or any medical conditions that may affect your ability to exericse, you should complete a PAR-Q form and see your healthcare provider before attempting this workout.

Baked Bean Burritos

Today is a great day to do some squats and make homemade BURRITOS!  Here’s a super easy vegan recipe that is healthy and high in protein and other good stuff your body needs.
Makes 6 large burritos


For the Filling:

  • 2 large cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 large yellow onion, chopped
  • 1/2 t. ground cardamon
  • 1/4 t. salt
  • 2 cups of baked yam or pie pumpkin
  • 2 cups cooked black beans (I soak and cook dry beans. If using canned beans, look for brands that do not coat the inside of the can with cancer-causing BPA)
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped fresh cilantro
  • Garlic salt, to taste
  • 1 package of plain tempeh cut into little pieces (I love Henry’s tempeh from Kitchener-Waterloo).

To Assemble:

  • 1/2 cup-1 cup dairy-free sour cream, such as Tofutti or fat free Greek yogurt (for non-vegans or sketchetarians like me)
  • 6 large burrito-sized flour tortillas
  • 1/2 cup-1 cup spicy salsa of your choice


1. Preheat the oven to 500 F.
2. Make the filling. Spray a large pan with non-stick cooking spray and cook the garlic and onions
over medium-high heat, stirring often, for about 3 minutes, or until the onions are just soft. Add
cardamon and salt and cook, continuing to stir often, until the onions are just
lightly caramelized, about 3 minutes more. Stir in the canned pumpkin until well mixed and remove
from heat. Set aside.
3. In a small mixing bowl, toss the drained black beans with the tempeh, fresh cilantro, and garlic salt. Add
the black bean mixture to the pumpkin mixture, gently stirring until just evenly distributed. Set
4. Assemble the burritos. Working one tortilla at a time, spread several generous tablespoons of
dairy-free sour cream in a line about 2″ thick across the middle of the tortilla, leaving about 1″ on
the sides. Spread approximately 1/6 of the pumpkin-black bean filling on top of the dairy-free sour
cream, followed by several table spoons of spicy salsa.
5. To roll your burritos, fold the 1-inch sides of the tortillas toward the center of the tortillas, just
barely folding over the edges of the filling. Pull the “bottom” of the tortilla up over the filling
mixture, tucking the edge of the tortilla just underneath the filling while continuing to hold in the
sides. Roll the tortilla until the “top” of the tortilla now forms a seam at the bottom. Push in the
sides with your fingers if necessary. Repeat with the remaining tortillas, placing them seam-side
down on an ungreased baking sheet.
6. Bake for about 10 minutes, flipping half-way through, until browned on both sides. Serve hot
with additional salsa if desired.