Who’s Ready for Summer?

Need a quick and easy summer recipe that is completely on plan?

Journey to Flexible Dieting

Looking for ways to navigate all the summer BBQ’s and parties? 

I’m sure I speak for many of us (at least those of us in Ontario) when I say “bring on summer!”  I think we’ve had just about enough of the winter weather and are getting excited about what the summer will bring.  I know I am!  I love everything about summer; the sun, the hot weather, the beach, the family BBQ’s and all the other social gatherings that are sure to come with the warmer months.  I know many of us might get a bit anxious about the food that we will consume at all these social gatherings especially if you’re working towards a goal.  The seasons and life does not stop because we are working towards something.  So rather than fight it, why not embrace it?  Here is one fresh summer recipe that you can bring to any…

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The Science Behind Carbs (And the Reasons We Need Them)

Carbohydrates (or carbs for short) are one of the top sources for energy, actually they are the primary energy source.  They are composed of carbon, hydrogen and oxygen (1:2:1 ratio).  There are four chemical groupings in carbs; monosaccharides, disaccarides, oligosaccharides, and polysaccharides.  Now for those that remember their highschool science, you might remember what mono, di and poly mean.  But we will get into it a bit more here:

Monosaccharides (mono meaning one) are the simplest or smallest fuel sources and building blocks.  They include things like glucose, fructose and deoxyribose (check your ingredients list on packaged products).

Disaccharides (di meaning two) are formed when 2 monosaccharides are joined together by dehyrdation synthesis.  They include sucrose, lactose and maltose.

Oligosaccharides (oligo meaning a few) are short chains of monosaccharides (3-10) linked together as polymers commonly found on the plasma membrane where they play roles in cell recognition (I know, very sciency).  They include fructooligosaccharides (FOS) and galactooligosaccharides (GOS).

Polysaccharides (poly meaning many) are longer chains of monosaccharides (10 or more) linked together as polymers.  They make ideal forms of storage due to their insolubility and stability.  They include glycogen, starch and cellulose.

Saccharide of course means sugar.  Sugars come from plants through the process of photosynthesis (now that’s a flashback to grade 8 science!).  Plants use sugars to supply it’s energy requirements.  When we harvest and consume them, our bodies are able to utilize the plant’s stored energy as fuel.  Pretty cool right?

Carbs can do only 1 of 3 things:  they can support health and homeostasis, they can have a neutral effect on health and homeostasis, or they can upset health and homeostasis.

All carbs are NOT the same.  Four questions to ask yourself; what type is it, how much is consumed, what is it consumed with, and when is it consumed?  There are 2 key distinctions of carbs as well, which I’m sure we all know; there are carbs from whole natural foods and those derived from them and there are carbs from refined, processed foods.

What Type Is It? – The form that something is consumed in really does matter, i.e. whole fruit as opposed to fruit juice.  The considerable fiber content in whole fruit will cause the simple carbs to be absorbed much slower.

How Much Is Consumed? – When too many carbs are consumed they will either replace foods that provide needed proteins and fats or be consumed in addition to them.  If they replace the foods then there’s a danger of creating deficiencies and imbalances.  If they are eaten in excess and in addition to those foods, you will gain body fat and develop other health challenges.

What Is It Consumed With? – Everything is held back and the sugars ferment in the acid of the stomach which has a negative impact on the digestion of protein leading to a degree of putrification.  Everything gets “dumped” into the small intestine prematurely (due to elevated pH from the interaction) which means the digestion of protein has been compromised.

When Is It Consumed? – Growth hormone (GH) levels generally decline as one ages.  GH is secreted at night.  Insulin suppresses the release of GH so the worst thing a person could do that wants to enhance their body’s natural release of GH is to consume something sweet at night or just before bed.  As a hormone critical for the health and well being of all humans, Growth Hormone is needed in precise amounts for the optimal functioning of a number of physiological processes and growth of body tissues, including muscle.

The bottom line is for every gram of protein, you should consume between 0.5 to 1.0 grams of good quality complex carbs.  There are three general categories to help you determine how much you should be consuming.

  1.  Category 1 – If you have significant health challenges, are significantly over your ideal weight or body fat percentage, or have certain lab values out of the optimal range, aim to get 0.5 grams of carbs per gram of protein
  2.  Category 2 – If your weight and blood sugar are good, and you are feeling great, then you will likely do well on 1-2 grams of carbs, depending on personal sensitivity and activity level.
  3.  Category 3 – For those expending considerable amounts of energy (due to a great deal of exercise, physical work or temperature regulation) higher amounts of carbs are beneficial based on what is needed to maintain one’s weight, energy and performance.

As you can see, carbs are an essential part of anyone’s diet.  Get creative in the kitchen and enjoy!


Macros Split, Why Does it Matter?

Many of us have heard the saying IIFYM (If It Fits Your Macros) and we have been bombarded with Instagram posts showing all the food that people consume just because it fits into their macros for the day.  But do we really know why the macro split matters?  Why is it that they are divided into protein, carbs and fats and why does it matter how much of each you get?

There are 3 main reasons why your macros split matters:

  1.  Muscle Retention – if we work hard at trying to put on beautiful lean muscle mass, the last thing we want to do is lose that right?  Anytime we are in a calorie deficit for the purposes of losing body fat, we are also at risk to lose some lean muscle mass because we are consuming less energy than our bodies need to sustain ourselves.  There’s a chance that our bodies will steal from our lean muscle mass as fuel.  That’s why it’s so important to ensure protein in increased in a calorie deficit because if it’s too low, our bodies could start using incoming protein as an energy source which means there won’t be enough left over to support our lean muscle mass.  Boo.
  2. Energy Level – our macros split will absolutely influence our energy levels.  If we’re not getting enough carbohydrates, we may find we will struggle in our performance in the gym.  Our workouts will suffer and our strength will go down.  We don’t want that.  Carbs are essential for an intense workout, and the more intense workouts we do, the more carbs we’ll need.  Simple enough right?
  3. Health Promotion – the third reason to consider our macros split and determine what our individual ration should be is for health consideration benefits.  For example, getting enough dietary fiber is critical for stabilizing your blood glucose levels, which is what keeps our hunger in check.  It also helps to maintain regular bowel movements.  Another example, if we cut fats too low, our hormone levels can suffer, wreaking havoc on our appetite and spin i t out of control!

There is no perfect macros split for everyone but rather there is a perfect macros split for you.  Some people tend to run better off of dietary fats as a fuel source, and some people tend to run better off of carbs as a fuel source.  Learn your body and how the different macros impact it and then use that info to create your own perfect macros split.

Need help in figuring that out or don’t quite know where to start?  Sign up for my blog to get more information.

My Flexible Dieting


Myth vs. Fact

There is so much conflicting information in the fitness and health world today that most people who are new to this world would have no clue which information is accurate or true and which information is a myth.  It is unbelievable how quickly inaccurate information can spread like wildfire and so many people believe it to be true.  I could probably write for days on the number of myths that are invading our world but in the hopes of keeping this as short and sweet as possible, I’m here to share with you 6 myths that have really taken the world by storm and continue to do so.

  1.  You shouldn’t eat late at night.  This is by far one of my favourite myths because it couldn’t be farther from the truth.  It is also probably the most common myth out there, thinking that food will be stored as fat the minute you go to sleep.  NOT TRUE!  There are no fairies that invade your metabolism at night and magically turn anything you’ve eaten after 8:00 into fat.  If you are watching TV at night and snacking or eating out of boredom or for comfort, that’s certainly not something that is helping us move closer to our goals.  Eat to fuel your body, eat with purpose.  It’s ultimately the number of calories consumed in a day (no matter what time of the day) that will dictate whether or not you lose or gain.
  2. Fat is bad for you.  Fats are an important part in regulating hormones in your body to ensure proper functioning.  When our hormones are out of whack, that’s when our fat lost can be out of whack.  I’m sure we’ve all heard of the essential fatty acids omega 3 and 6; these are the types of fats we want to consume.  If you are not consuming enough of them through food, consider supplementing with omega oils.  the only fat you want to stay away from is trans fat.  The rest are fair game.
  3. Fad diets can help me lose weight.  Absolutely 100% they can help most people lose weight.  What these fad diets don’t tell us is that the diet is not something that we can maintain for the long term which means we will not be able to keep the weight off.  There are so many fad diets out there; the no sugar diet, the no fat diet, and my personal favourite, the no carb diet.  The simplest thing to do in order to create lifelong habits that will help to maintain weight loss is to eat sensibly.  Ensure we are getting a well balanced diet and exercise a little.  We cannot out train a bad diet, so skip the quick fix fad diets and put the work in.  After all, we are worth it aren’t we?
  4. Eating too much protein is harmful to your kidneys.  The only people that excess protein can potentially be harmful to are those who already have kidney disease.  Otherwise, we should be consuming a protein with every meal.  Protein has so many health benefits including the following:  protein helps to promote muscle growth, protein helps you feel fuller throughout the day thus reducing incidences of mindlessly snacking throughout the day.
  5. A calorie is a calorie no matter where it comes from.  Now this one is a bit confusing because although it’s calories in vs. calories out that determine the success of fat loss, we have to be mindful of where those calories are coming from.  For example, we can’t throw all calories under the same category because we have to account for where those calories are coming from (i.e. protein, carbs, fats).  All three of these macros are required in order to be successful in any weight loss venture.
  6. Look for low-fat foods because they are healthy options.  This is my second favourite myth.  Food that has natural fat in it should always be chosen over their low-fat counterparts.  In low-fat foods, they remove the fat but they replace it with sugar!  This is a horrible trade-off.  The reason they add sugar is because when fat is removed from food, it essentially tastes like crap, so they add excess sugar to compensate.  And as mentioned earlier, our bodies require a certain amount of fats to regulate hormones and help with fat loss.  Skip the low-fat version unless needed.

As I said, I could go on and on but I hope that this short list has given you a glimpse of the information that is out there when it comes to health and fitness.  When in doubt, do your research and invest in a coach!

Cheers to your health.


What to Expect from a Coach

So many people have started and stopped a diet, nutrition plan or training plan numerous times.  It could be for a number of reasons; because they got bored of the food they were eating, because they missed the food that they “couldn’t” eat, because they felt it was just too difficult to go it alone or because they didn’t really have the proper guidance.  All of these are very valid reasons.

If we are talking about food, it definitely has quite a unique place in the world.  Food has properties and features that set it apart from any other area of our lives.  Obviously, no one can live without food and quite honestly our quality of life is absolutely dependent upon it.  Not only does food provide the essential nutrients that our bodies require physically to carry out all of life’s processes, but it actually also nourishes us on a psychological and emotional level.  Make no mistake, food is a vital
part of our lives physically, psychologically, and emotionally.  Can you really
think of anything else in your world that you are as dependent upon as food?  Well yes of course, there’s oxygen and obviously water, which are even more vital in
terms of how long we could survive without them.  But even oxygen and water do not hold the emotional and social power of food.

Navigating the ever changing information on nutrition and training can be very overwhelming for most.  That’s why there are coaches (nutrition and training coaches, health coaches, life coaches) out there to help you find your way through the vast maze of theories, diets, supplements and exercises.

A coach is there to help you identify personal health related goals, develop strategies, and action plans intended to achieve those goals.  A coach provides a place for you to be held accountable to yourselves by monitoring your progress towards implementation
of your action plans.  Together, you and your coach evolve and modify the plan to
best suit your needs and environmental.  Hiring a coach could be the single best investment you could make in your health, quality of life and ultimate happiness.

Did you know?

  • in 1980, less than 50% of North Americans were overweight; today that number is more than 68% and growing!
  • 80% of preventable disease risk factors are influenced by behaviors like smoking, overeating, poor diet, and lack of exercise
  • 1 in 4 North American 4-year-olds is considered to be obese (this makes me very sad)
  • by 2025 it is estimated that nearly half of all North Americans will have a chronic disease

(These statistics are taken from the World Health Organization)

These statistics are astonishing to me not only as an average citizen but as a Nutrition and Training Coach who wants to see people healthy

and happy.  There are so many risks, illnesses, and chronic conditions that can be avoided if people were taught the best way to care for their bodies.

So what’s stopping you from getting in touch with a coach to start your path to a healthier, happier lifestyle?  Please contact me to help you become the healthiest version of you!

Yours in health,



How to do Easter “On Plan”

The Easter Bunny is coming!  For those that celebrate Easter, you may be getting anxious or weary about the upcoming social gatherings, abundance of food and mounds of chocolate that will surely make their way into your weekend.  DO NOT PANIC!

Here are my top 5 tips on how to have a successful Easter holiday:

  1.  Make a plan – we have all heard that old saying “fail to plan, plan to fail.”  Rather than winging it through the weekend, decide on which day you will have the “big” family gathering and plan to keep your “free meal” on that day.  Be cognizant of your portions, it’s not a licence to gorge.
  2. Drink plenty of water!  Water helps to eliminate toxins in the body, assists with fat loss and keeps the bloating at bay.
  3. Keep active, get outside with your family.  The weather in most parts of the world is quite lovely these days so plan a game of outdoor hide and seek, flag football, go for a hike on community trails or a family bike ride.
  4. Sleep!  Rest is just as important as physical activity and choosing the best foods for our bodies.  Lack of sleep not only makes us irritable and anxious but it also raises the level of the stress hormone cortisol which increases our appetite.
  5. Enjoy the time with family and friends and let that be the focus of the Easter holiday rather than chocolate.  Having a good laugh or a really fun night with family and friends releases far more of the good chemicals from the brain than any amount of chocolate ever could.  So be sure you laugh a lot this Easter!

Happy Easter from my home to yours.


Let’s Chat About Exercise for a Minute

Overtraining is a common phenomenon in the world of health and fitness. People believe that more is better which will lead them to their goals of fat loss and a lean physique. This could not be further from the truth. Take for example when doing excessive cardio; overtraining aerobically causes the parasympathetic system to slow down which causes bodily function to slow down thereby conserving energy. Your metabolism is one of these bodily functions that slow down. When your body conserves energy, it stores anything that you give it as far as fuel, this includes fat. This is why doing excessive cardio (aerobic exercise) works the complete opposite of one’s intentions. Be on the lookout for early onset of fatigue, increased resting heart rate, decreased heart rate recovery after exercise and an increase in resting blood pressure. These certainly don’t sound like health benefits do they? So why would anyone want to do excessive cardio? Ask yourself, if you’re doing more than 30 minutes of cardio 3 times per week, why are you? Is it getting you closer to your goals or are you left scratching your head wondering why the fat loss isn’t budging? 

Do You Diet or Do You Eat?

“Summer is coming and I want to look good in a bikini.  I have to start my diet so I can lose weight before the beach weather arrives.”  Have you said some variation of this to yourself?  Or to someone else?

The dictionary definition of diet is a :  food and drink regularly provided or consumed “a diet of fruits and vegetables a vegetarian diet” b :  habitual nourishment “links between diet and disease” c :  the kind and amount of food prescribed for a person or animal for a special reason “was put on a low-sodium diet” d :  a regimen of eating and drinking sparingly so as to reduce one’s weight “going on a diet.”  (Miriam-Webster Dictionary)

The dictionary definition of eat is to take in through the mouth as food :  ingest, chew, and swallow in turn (Miriam-Webster Dictionary)

When most people hear the word diet, they think of the latter definition, “a regimen of eating and drinking sparingly so as to reduce one’s weight (as in going on a diet).”  When I hear the word diet, I think of the food that I consume daily (as in, my diet consists of a variety of foods including fruits, vegetables, proteins and carbs).  So for me, diet and eating go hand in hand.  I eat a variety of foods as part of my daily diet.

The word diet has developed a negative connotation over the years because of society’s perception.  A diet seems to have the stigma of punishment for those that have gained body fat (or the popular term “weight”) due to a number of reasons, mainly because we’ve overindulged in food and drink.  So in order to lose that “weight” we must restrict calories and certain foods to achieve our goal of fitting into a bikini and looking good in it.

What the general population doesn’t seem to know is that our bodies require energy in order to function, to breathe, to move, to live!  Where does that energy come from?  Mostly the food we eat.  All living systems require an ongoing supply of energy.  Energy is the ability to cause specific changes.  So if we restrict that energy, what do you think will happen?

All energy comes from the transfer of energy that is stored in macronutrients (proteins, carbs and fats) via digestion, absorption, assimilation, transportation and ultimately metabolism.  The body needs energy for thousands of different functions required for LIFE!  That vast majority of that daily energy intake goes toward carrying on the basic life processes.

Metabolism is the process by which our bodies convert what we eat and drink into energy. During this complex process, calories in food and beverages are combined with oxygen to release the energy our bodies need to function.  Even when we’re at rest, our bodies need energy for all its “hidden” functions, such as breathing, circulating blood, adjusting hormone levels, and growing and repairing cells.

 The number of calories our bodies use to carry out these basic functions is known as our Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR) — what you might call metabolism. Several factors determine our individual basal metabolic rate, including age, height, growth, body composition, fever stress, environmental temperature, fasting/starvation, malnutrition and thyroxine.
Age – BMR is generally higher in youth due to a higher percentage of muscle mass relative to overall weight
Height – taller people have more surface area which creates a higher BMR in order to regulate body temperature
Growth – higher growth demands more energy; children and pregnant women have a higher BMR
Body Composition – the more lean body mass (muscle and organs) the higher the BMR
Fever – causes a significant increase in BMR due to the body working harder to regulate body temperature
Stress – initially stress hormones increase BMR but prolonged can actually lower BMR
Environmental Temperature – when environmental temperatures are either high or low it requires considerably more energy for our bodies to maintain the optimum range of body temperature
Fasting/Starvation – hormones that are released during fasting/starvation lower BMR
Malnutrition – lowers BMR
Thyroxine – the overall level of the thyroid hormone and its conversion rate play a major role in BMR regulation
Consequences of energy imbalances (either too much or too little) can lead to a number of issues.  If we consume or take in more energy than the body needs, it must be stored as either fat (from any excess calories regardless of the food source) or muscle (if some of the excess is protein).  If we do not consume enough energy, our bodies are forced to obtain energy from energy stores.  For most people, adipose tissue (fat) accounts for the largest energy reserve.  Then the body will tap into lean body mass (which is something we definitely don’t want).  Finding that balance between the two is the tricky part but the good news is it can be done!

There are generally three major goals associated with knowing how much energy and therefore calories are needed each day:

  1.  lose weight (preferably fat)
  2. put on weight (preferably lean body mass/muscle)
  3. maintain weight

Calculating your energy requirements is not at all difficult as long as you are aware of your BMR and the factors that affect it.  Based on our goals, we can easily calculate the number of calories our bodies require to achieve that goal.

Need help with figuring out your energy requirements?  Sign up for my blog http://www.myflexibledieting.blog and follow my page http://www.facebook.com/myflexibledieting for more tips and stay tuned for what’s to come to help you lose the body fat and learn more about flexible dieting!

Cheers to your health!


What’s in a Protein?

Protein is involved in almost EVERY structural and functional component of the body!

By that simple statement, we can safely assume that we need sufficient protein daily in order to keep up with the demands placed on our bodies.  So how much do we need?  A general rule of thumb is this:  for the average person who is sedentary, the requirement is 0.8 grams per kilogram of body weight.  For any athletes in the house, the requirement is anywhere between 1.2 grams to 1.7 grams per kilogram of body weight.  Please don’t be confused by the weight of a protein item such as chicken breast vs. the actual amount of protein that is contained within that piece of chicken breast.

Proteins are organic compounds that are made up of amino acids.  There’s another important word; amino acids.  Any amino acids that are in excess of what the body’s cells can use at any given time are metabolized to glycogen (or fat) and stored for future use.

There are several functions of the proteins we ingest.  To be clear, some of the proteins we ingest are things like seafood, lean meat and poultry, eggs, beans and peas, soy products, and unsalted nuts and seeds.  So what are their functions?

  1.  they provide the primary building blocks (like Legos) for most tissues in the body (cells, muscles, bones, skin and blood)
  2. proteins are the cellular “workhorses” of our bodies
  3. proteins are absolutely vital in building new cells and tissues as well as repairing those that have been damaged
  4. proteins are used to make thousands of other chemicals that play key essential roles in virtually all of the body’s metabolic processes
  5. proteins are what make up the body’s 3000+ metabolic enzymes that literally account for all life processes (50% of protein consumed each day goes to make enzymes)
  6. proteins comprise the digestive enzymes
  7. proteins perform a wide range of regulatory functions in the body
  8. immune system function depends heavily on proteins to fight against infections and invading microbes
  9. proteins are the key to supplying oxygen throughout the body
  10. proteins are also vital in helping to maintain water balance in the body and transporting nutrients in the blood
  11. proteins serve as a major energy supplier

So as you can see, proteins are extremely important to our bodies.  We should actually consume a protein with every meal.  The only protein foods that will support our bodies health are those that we are able to digest and absorb.

Digestion of protein is vital to our bodies ability to absorb them so we want to ensure that when we consume them (and all our other foods) we are doing so, it’s important to remember the factors that can compromise digestion; our attitude, our eating environment (are you in an uncomfortable position in your chair? are you in a room that is too loud?), a stressful event either before, during or after the meal (this plays into the weight gain when we stress eat), how the meal was cooked or prepared, what different types of foods are consumed together and how much fluids are consumed with the meal (we should limit our consumption of water or other beverages during our meal in order to assist the stomach acids to breakdown the nutrients of our food so our bodies can absorb them).

So you can see, protein is not just needed for those bodybuilders out there!  Everyone needs to consume enough protein daily in order to keep our bodies functioning at their optimal levels.  Proteins are what help sustain us throughout the day.  Proteins keep our tummies and our minds happy!

Are you stuck on what to make with so many protein options out there?  Download my favourite resource, Coach JVB’s 100+ Guilt-Free Recipe Guide (link below).  You may find a recipe or two in there by yours truly!  🙂

Cheers to your health!




What’s Stopping You?

In one sentence, what’s stopping you from reaching your health, fitness and body goals?  This can be a very difficult question to answer, let alone in one sentence.  So think about it……what’s stopping you???

I know if you asked me that several years ago, I would have said I want to be able to be social with my family and friends and indulge in whatever it was that was a part of those social engagements.  I did not want to be considered an outsider if I didn’t partake in those social gatherings.  I wanted to be able to eat the food that was being served or go to the restaurant that everyone else was going to.

Funny enough, it was never about the food!  It was about being accepted, having a large social circle and being as popular as everyone else.  Wow, even now as I write this, I still cannot believe that I led myself down that path for so many years.  Why did I think that by attending these events, eating the food, drinking the alcohol, was going to make me part of the “in” crowd?

Why did it mean that I wouldn’t be popular or accepted if I didn’t attend every single social event?  Or go out drinking with friends?  Or go out to every new restaurant that hit the town?  Those were my own perceptions and thoughts about society and what was “normal.”  What was the alternative for me?  Being at home alone and being afraid that I was never going to be accepted into any social circle.  So I sabotaged my own health and my own fitness goals because I had the misconception that I wasn’t good enough if I didn’t do all those things.

Sadly, it took me several years to re-frame my thoughts and to realize that I can have goals, I can reach for those goals and still be able to “have a life” that I really wanted.  Exercise was never a problem for me, I’ve been in the fitness industry for 15 years and my experience spans from teaching group fitness classes, one on one coaching and creating circuit training for individuals looking to elevate their conditioning.  Not once did I give thought to what I was feeding my body.

With the help of a fantastic coach (Coach JVB) I learned what it meant to feed my body fuel that would help it function at it’s most optimal level.  I also learned that that fuel didn’t have to be chicken breast and asparagus for ever and a day!  Food flexibility and food choices flooded my brain and I almost didn’t know what to do with that information.  Coming from several years of thinking certain foods were bad and certain foods were good, my world was shattered when I learned I could eat whole, healthful foods along with things like Rice Krispies and S’mores pop tarts and still lose body fat, gain lean muscle and be completely satisfied!

Fitting every day food into one of the macronutrients that your body requires is as easy as 1-2-3.  Of course at first I didn’t think so, but over the last couple years, I’ve really developed an expertise in that area and that means I am finally living the life I love!  I have achieved many goals along the way, (with more to come!) and I’ve been able to enjoy social events and still be a part of a social circle that I care very much about.  Food flexibility literally saved my life.

If you want to learn more about food flexibility and IIFYM (if it fits your macros), please sign up for my blog (www.myflexibledieting.blog) and like my page on Facebook (www.facebook.com/myflexibledieting).

Happy eating!