Body Design Staff

The Body Design Team Shares Their Expertise!

Body Design only hires qualified, certified yoga and fitness class instructors. Our trainers collectively bring years of experience within their fields of health and fitness expertise. In this section, they share that expertise in interesting and informative articles.

The articles are featured in The Bulletin Magazine.

Articles from 2016

(Click here for 2015 Articles)

Nancy Barratt

Christmas Traditions

The holiday season is such a magical and wonderful time of the year. It’s a time of sharing and caring, friends and family, joy and peace and traditions. We depend on our traditions for the comfort they bring. They make us feel happy, safe and they bind families together. If, however, we are not willing to change, adapt or modify our traditions we could lose a great deal of the joy and happiness this season brings.

There is one reality about ALL families - they change over time. Changes occur naturally as families mature. Children grow up and their interests change. They leave the family home and start families of their own perhaps moving hours or even provinces away. Changes can happen due to death, disease or divorce. We can gain new family members as children bring significant others into the fold. Grandchildren may arrive or perhaps a new relationship results in a new blended family. As our families grow and change so must our expectations. Changing traditions can be difficult and even cause family friction when we don’t allow ourselves to try something new and embrace the change.

New situations often demand that new traditions be established or that existing traditions be modified or adapted to meet with changes in a family’s dynamics. I can remember worrying so much when I approached my Mum and suggested that it would be better if we had the family Christmas dinner at my house. I gave my speech reminding her that we would all still be together but just in a new location. I listed all the logical reasons why this change was beneficial. Her comment was “it’s about time.” She loved giving up the chore of cooking a big meal and being able to spend more time with her grandkids. I had worried for nothing.

Now with my children grown and having families of their own we have many new traditions. My kids have chosen to stay at their own homes on Christmas day so they can enjoy the day with their children and not have to worry about travelling. I will join my son’s family for a Scottish brunch a tradition from my daughter-in-law’s family. Everyone in my son’s family gets new PJs for Christmas which they all wear for brunch and for as long as they want. This year Gramma is coming in her new PJ’s. I think my grandduaghters will love that. Later in the afternoon it will be off to spend time and have dinner with my daughter, son-in-law and grandson. I love these new traditions that allow me to share the day with my children and grandchildren in their homes where the grandkids can show me their new toys and I can play with them and NOT have to worry about cooking.

We sometimes need to adapt or modify our traditions. When I was growing up my favourite part of Christmas morning was opening my stocking and watching others open theirs. The same was true when my children were small. It was a great time of sharing and being together. Now my Christmas mornings have changed and I have started a new tradition with small stockings and a book for each of my grandchildren which I deliver on the 24th when my kids and their families get together. I get to enjoy watching them open their stockings and I read them their new books. This is perhaps my favourite new tradition.

Many of our holiday traditions revolve around food. The big turkey dinner, the lovely baked treats, the food at open house events and don’t forget the candy and chocolate. All this food can be a problem when we are trying to make more heathy food choices to improve how we feel, our general health and maintain a healthy weight. It’s only once a year you say but in January we often feel guilty and depressed because we’ve gained weight. Here are some tricks which may help and still allow you to enjoy those special traditional foods and treats. Use smaller plates so you can better control the portion size. When you go to an open house eat something healthy but filling before you leave so that you’re not so hungry and tempted to eat more than you should. If you’re hosting or bringing food to an event, choose to make a healthy snack like veggies with hummus or fresh fruit with a yogurt dip. Fresh fruit is delicious, sweet and colourful. 

The actual preparing of special baked treats and sweets that are only made for the holidays is a tradition in itself but the results of all those treats can be oh so tempting. Instead of not baking here are some tips. Make cookies and squares much smaller, just one or two bites and make mini tarts instead of pies. This way you can have those traditional treats but eat less and because each treat is smaller you can enjoy more variety. My daughter has come up with a couple great ideas that allow her to bake to her hearts content. She gives baked goods and her homemade sweets (her salted toffee is to die for) to friends and co-workers as gifts, bakes for a hospice and each year her and her husband each pick the house in their neighbourhood they feel has the best outdoor decorations. The lucky winners get a gift of her assorted goodies. Hope these help.

Traditions matter so ENJOY the old, Embrace the new, and Endure those traditions that have had to changed due to lose of loved ones. May the memories of those no longer with us give you peace.

I wish you all good health, great happiness, love, joy and PEACE during this holiday season and 2017.

By Nancy Barratt.  Nancy is a certified Personal Trainer, Older Adult Specialist and Yoga Instructor.  Body Design offers Personal Training, Nutrition, Yoga and Group Fitness Classes to assist individuals achieve their health and fitness goals

Nikki Lafrance


I haven’t met many meditation fence sitters. It would seem that it’s either an activity you think you should be doing more often or one you just have no interest in. For those who have no interest, it fascinates me that you aren’t interested in a quiet mind. Those of you who who feel like you should be meditating more often, please release the guilt! It seems that giving ourselves permission to create a peaceful mind doesn’t always make top priority. I’ve taught both Yoga and Meditation classes and have observed that participants are far more dedicated to their Yoga practice. As I watched the Meditation attendance wane, I tried to understand why the difference. I think it has to do with tangible results. I’ve spoken to many people who have tried Meditation, but just don’t feel like they’re doing it right. So I’m going to offer my two cents on the topic with knowledge from my Yoga training and life experience.

Firstly, some benefits of a regular Meditation practice include: emotional and mental stability, clarity in decision making, freeing-up creative energy, and peace of mind that will influence communications and relationships. The mind, though incredibly beautiful, can be so challenging to bear. Meditation is releasing the body and mind from its busy functions in order to restore authenticity. You are at your truest self when you have the time to be. Been awhile since you’ve made the acquaintance of your truest self? Maybe it’s time to check in.

So, a fellow named Patanjali is known as the grandfather of Yoga. He created an eight-limbed yoga path referred to as Ashtanga. Each limb builds upon the one before it, eventually revealing total bliss. Patangali is said to have created Ashtanga to help people better cope with the human condition. The beginning of the path is morals and observances, basically a positive way of interacting with yourself and others, like releasing ego, being honest, and choosing non-violence. Next up we have yoga postures to keep the body feeling well. After that is something called Pranayama which is intentional breathing. Pratyahara is sense withdrawal, which helps to turn a practitioner inward. Dharana focuses on concentration to still the mind. Dhyana is meditation and is the last place on the path in which you are conscious of your efforts. Samadhi is the ultimate goal of bliss and connection with all things.

Samadhi sounds like an amazing place to be. I’m not sure if I’ve ever been there. I may have grazed it subtly. As you can see, there is a lead up to that and they’re important limbs of a path, not just a check list. Did yoga postures, check. Deep breathing, check. Stopped listening to clock ticking, check. On my way to bliss; shouldn’t take long now! So, I encourage you to take small manageable steps on this path. To expect that the mind can go from multitasking genius to calm yogi in a snap is a tall order!

I’ve had some truly amazing, life affirming, experiences with meditation. I also know how frustrating it can be to feel like you’re not doing it right. Just lying there with nothing happening besides your mind swirling with constant nonsense. Here’s how I would recommend viewing this eight-limbed path as something you could take on as your own:

  1. Look up yama and niyama online. These are the morals and observances to cultivate our highest self. Choose one each week to observe and consider. When you’re living in accordance with your morals, you’ll likely have less to fret about when you’re trying to meditate.

  2. Do something that calms you before committing to Meditating. It could be Yoga, but it doesn’t have to be. Maybe moving in a different way? Taking a shower, reading, tidying some surfaces are also nice winding down options.

  3. When you’re ready to settle in to Meditating, whether it be in a class or at home, ensure that you’re comfortable. Consider pillows for propping behind your head and/or beneath your knees. A blanket is a good idea because your heart rate will likely slow which can make you a little chilly. Then, release expectations. Relax the body. Then we try for the Pranayama limb, focusing on our breath. You’ll be guided through this if you’re in a class or listening to a meditation at home. For the first little while, make this your only goal: relaxing and breathing. If you happen to move inward and leave behind the happenings of your environment, great! But don’t expect it.

Buddha and a few Hindu gods have been depicted seated at the center of a lotus blossom. This is symbolic of their dedication and patience with the process towards self actualization and bliss. The lotus blossom has its roots in the swamp. It needed to be patient as it grew towards the light through the discomfort of the swamp. Eventually it grows taller than the swamp’s murkiness and its petals open into its beautiful self.

By Nikki Lafrance.  Nikki is a certified 200hr Yoga Alliance Instructor.  Body Design offers Personal Training, Nutrition, Yoga  and Group Fitness Classes to assist individuals achieve their fitness and weight loss goals. 

Lori Andrade

Self Care is Not Selfish

So, how do we do it? We embrace restorative practices. They fill up our bucket. They will be different for each person but with a common theme: they make us feel replenished, energized and available. To discover what these are for you may take some self-inquiry. Looking inward and really getting in touch with what restores you. It may also take some experimentation and perhaps trying things you never have before. Find things you love to do and that love you back; they nourish you.

While exercising, eating well and getting enough sleep are extremely important to self-care, I consider them to be part of regular maintenance. Certain activities, however, tend to be more restorative. As examples, the following are some of the activities I have explored that restore me: meditation, journaling, djembe drumming and being in nature.

Sounds wonderful, but how do we make it work? The first step is recognizing that this is non-negotiable. It needs to be given the same priority as regular maintenance. Ok, I can hear so many of you now saying, “Yikes, something else to fit in my day”! I have said the exact same thing. However, keep in mind that by filling up your energy bucket you will be better able to accomplish life’s tasks.

There are some strategies that can help. First of all, start with just one thing that you can easily add to your life and start there. Celebrate small victories. Secondly, make a commitment to yourself. It can be helpful to write it down. Hang it where you will see it and tell your family and friends what you are doing. They will see that this is not selfish on your part when they reap the benefits of your increased sense of well-being.

To solidify your commitment it is important to schedule your time. Making a plan for when you will do these activities increases the likelihood you will succeed. Your one small thing to start with could be as simple as spending a few minutes a day sitting still and deep breathing through your nose. The calming effect on your nervous system of just doing that is huge.

Whether it is basic maintenance or restoration, self-care is all about loving yourself and there is really nothing self-ish about that.

By Lori Andrade, BPHE, CSEP. Lori is a Certified Urban Pole Walking instructor at Body Design. Body Design offers personal training, nutrition, yoga and group fitness classes to assist individuals achieve their fitness and weight loss goals.

Jen Mark

Getting Back to Routine, Without Needing Therapy!

January is not the only time that people start working out and setting goals. Did you know that September is the biggest month for getting back into a routine, trying to get healthy and when most sports start? This is great news because it’s upon us right now. Whether you are getting back into working out or playing a sport, there is an increase in activity. But, have you been exercising or training all summer?

Overuse injuries creep up on us. They are not like a sprained ankle from tripping over a curb. They have no exact date to which you can say when it started to hurt. They seem to just appear! This time of year people are in clinics across town with overuse injuries, from getting back into the swing of things. Overuse injuries can happen from starting too much exercise too soon, or from increasing the frequency or intensity before you’re ready. Unfortunately, you can’t cram fitness or reach a goal overnight. It takes a gradual progression and listening to your body.

If you have only had some time off and know the exercises, like starting to lift weights again, or starting practices again, you don’t need to start at the beginning. But remember that the body will lose muscle when it’s in disuse. You need to get that back. Start small, less weight, more recovery time. Then gradually increase each week. The general, conservative rule, is increasing frequency, intensity, and time by ten percent per week.

If you are new to the exercise or sport, you need a phase of learning. Start carefully and learn what you need to do. Then start increasing. You should feel confident and ready to increase. Your form should be spot on before increasing, your skills should be mastered before learning more. It may seem like small progress in the beginning but once you really get going, you’ll improve in leaps and bounds.

Don’t forget to recover. When starting or getting back into your exercise or sport, you must make sure you have good self-care. This includes a proper warm up, a cool down, stretching, eating right after your workout, drinking 2-3L of water daily, and sleeping more. It’s not fun being injured. And if you just start exercising at a level that is too high than your body is used to, you will not recover, and eventually get injured. It sounds funny for an athletic therapist to promote prevention, but hey, education is a big part of my job.

So get out there and enjoy your exercise. Get back to your sport. Meet your goals this September! But doing it smart, and take time to do it right.

By Jen Mark, RKIN, CAT(C), CSCS.  Jen is a registered Kinesiologist and Athletic Therapist at Body Design. Body Design offers Personal Training, Athletic Therapy, Nutrition, Yoga and Group Fitness Classes to assist individuals achieve their fitness and health goals.

Nancy Barratt


We all need a time to regroup, refresh and refocus. To take a break from our everyday lives and labours, daily stresses and an opportunity to get away from it all, to let our hair down and just have some fun. This is important to our overall health and well being. In our society we try to do this through what we refer to as a “vacation”.

Vacations are very personal and what we choose to do on vacation changes greatly over our lifetime. Age, family commitments and finances are some factors that can determine what a vacation looks like. The vacation you choose as a student of 20 will be very different from the vacation you choose as a 35 year old parent of young children or an empty nester who is experiencing new found freedom after years of raising their family.

Vacations are essential and are meant to be good for us yet they can also create stress. Deciding on how to vacation, where to go, how much to spend and pleasing everyone can be a challenge. Vacations can also be challenging with temptations. They can take us away from our routine with food and exercise causing possible weight gain and regrets. We work hard all year and deserve a vacation so we need to find a way to make that happen without stress or getting down on ourselves because we overspent, over ate or under exercised.

According to financial experts the amount you set aside for vacations should be no more than 4% of your after taxes income. Figure out what that would be and plan your vacation around that amount.  Don’t go into debt for your vacation. If you charge it to a credit card, pay it off immediately. Plan a road trip to visit family and friends. If travelling isn’t in your budget this year. Do a “staycation” and take day trips while still staying at home. Take a day trip to a local beach, theme park, museum or go for a hike. Go on line and look for deals. There are lots out there. A little planning can ensure you don’t overspend.

Pleasing everyone can be stressful and a challenge. When my children were younger and we had our annual family vacation we would rent an RV and hit the road. This allowed us the ability to go to different places each year, to cook for ourselves and not have to depend on restaurants for every meal, provide healthy and inexpensive snacks and the very best thing, there was a bathroom on board. We each got to pick something we wanted to do. Mum and Dad usually picked those historic sites that didn’t thrill the kids but they knew that the next day was theirs. Theme parks, swimming in the ocean, horseback riding, mini golf whatever they chose.

Those RV vacations created so many wonderful memories and a huge number of laughs. If you have ever seen the movie RV with Robin Williams you have a picture of some of our early adventures with the RV. We learned that if you didn’t lock the fridge the door would and did come open when you turned a corner and the food would fly out. Learning the correct way to empty the waste turned into a father and son bonding session with very green faces and much gagging.

Renting the RV allowed us to vacation within budget, let our kids see other places and meet new people and have new adventures each year.

One of the greatest challenges while on vacation is eating and exercising. Keeping a fairly consistent diet helps you to maintain your weight. Try to aim to eat roughly the same amount and kinds of foods that you normally do. Beware of buffets but if that’s what’s available try taking a smaller plate so you won’t be tempted to pile on too much. Fill up on as many fruits and vegetables as possible. If you are going to be out all day pack healthy portable, size controlled snacks to stave off hunger. Trail mix, raw nuts or granola bars are great alternatives to stopping at the Golden Arches. Much healthier and better on the pocket book. Another good tip is to be aware of drinks. Cocktails are full of sugar and calories. If you would like a “stiff” drink have a nice glass of wine with your meal. The less mix in a drink the less calories. Ask for a glass of water as well to help that “special” drink last longer. This is a vacation so don’t deny yourself that “treat” but instead of eating it all yourself share it with someone.

You can still exercise while on vacation. Try walking to see the sites of a new city rather than taking a bus tour. This not only allows you to get some exercise but it lets you set the pace, see what you want and stay as long as you want. Body weight exercises can be done anywhere and require zero equipment so bust a move in your hotel room to keep fit. Thera bands and deflated corgeous balls weigh next to nothing, don’t take up much space and will add some variety. Many resorts have gyms, water aerobic classes, yoga and tai chi so take advantage and have some fun. Try something new like tree top treaking or rock climbing.

When we take a vacation we hope to get some rest and relaxation so LEAVE WORK AT WORK. Resist the temptation to check work e-mails and focus on having fun. This will help keep your mind clear and allow you to decompress. Get the most out of your time off!  Doing activities you enjoy, keeping your cell phone off and sharing time with family and friends (or alone time) ensure that you’ll get the most bang for your buck out of a vacation.

It’s all doable. Bon voyage. Have fun, create memoires and stay safe.

By Nancy Barratt.  Nancy is a certified Personal Trainer, Older Adult Specialist and Vinyasa Yoga Instructor. Body Design offers personal training, nutrition, yoga and group fitness classes to assist individuals achieve their fitness and weight loss goals.

Nikki Lafrance

Instinctual Recipe   

We had some apples starting to lose their crunch, so I decided to turn them into muffins. It just so happened that this was the first recipe I was trying to follow properly. Usually when I want to make something and realize I don't have all the ingredients, I make it anyways with some creative substituting. Sometimes the dish works out; sometimes it becomes “yogurt crumble”. I'm frequently teased about my lack of ability to follow directions in general.

So here I was, all the ingredients present for once, working step by step through this muffin recipe. I put in a cup of brown sugar, then it asked for a cup of white sugar. I paused. Wow, that's so much sugar! As much as I was wanting to stick to the recipe, I just couldn't! I'm sure I eat sugar loaded sweets like that all the time, but the act of measuring it out and seeing it all in the bowl like that was just gross. So I searched around my kitchen for a substitute I could live with. I went for carrots because I remembering seeing a glycemic chart indicating them as a sweet vegetable. And, I have to tell you, those muffins were amazing! Everyone asks me for the recipe!

Do you see what I did there? I trusted my instincts! Sure it's just a muffin recipe, but we rebuild trust in our instincts through the little things. It's a shame that our instincts get rusty. Well, it's not that they get rusty, but sometimes our trust wavers. I think this largely has to do with the fact that we can't see other outcomes. If you trust your instinct you're left with a certain result. If you go with someone else's advice, you have perhaps a different result. But you can never test the theories against each other at the same time. So, you're left wondering, “Was that the right decision?” and “Would it have been better if I'd done it differently?” You can see this easily with parenting. So many decisions to negotiate as parents! Or other big situations, like answering questions in a job interview. If your result is a sick baby or no call back from the employer, you may find yourself eager to tune into what other's have to say. Leaving your own inner voice behind where it can't betray you. And, if we take other's advice more often and we fail, at least we weren't wrong, they were!

What's your relationship with your instincts? Are they still sharp as a tack or are you feeling unfamiliar with that part of yourself? Are you interested in re-cultivating that guiding inner voice? Nurturing your instincts involves mindfulness. When you have a big decision to make do you tend to ask a bunch of people what they would do before you make your final decision? In this moment you are taking in advice, but your instincts are also acting as a filter. When you notice this happening, take a moment to pause for mindfulness. Sit with the information. Do you feel emotionally charged by any of it? Typically your instincts know the right decision right away, but it's ok to want advice from others as well. In a sense, getting advice from others helps us to hone in on what we know to be true for us. A friend could say what he'd do in your shoes and you may think, “No way! I'd never do that!”  and there you've moved closer to what feels good for you. You can practice with little projects. For me it was creative baking, but it could be: standing up for a cause you believe in, training a new pet, taking on a new kind of project at work, anything that tests you.

I invite you to embrace moments of spontaneous mindfulness! Whether it's a decision you're facing or a new or uncomfortable situation, take a moment to pause. Remove the sense of urgency. And see how you can infuse yourself into what you're doing in a way that feels truly connected. Sometimes you end up with “yogurt crumble” and sometimes you end up with award worthy muffins. But at least you were present.

By Nikki Lafrance.  Nikki is a certified 200hr Yoga Alliance Instructor.  Body Design offers personal training, nutrition, yoga and group fitness classes to assist individuals achieve their fitness and weight loss goals. 

Nancy Barratt

Aging & Fitness

AGING is inevitable, growing OLD is optional.

This is something that I truly believe. We can’t change the passage of time or the changes we will all go through as we age but we can do something to slow things down. Aging is a complex process in which we experience changes in many different systems in the body over time. It’s not a single event but a process that creates different experiences for each individual.

As we age there are a number of physiological changes that occur. There are the obvious changes like wrinkles, grey hair, age spots, decreased height and increased weight. Then we have the changes that we don’t see. Starting at age 45, muscle tissue begins to waste away and the total of fat free mass (muscle) steadily declines. We lose 3 kg (6.6 lbs) of muscle per decade. Men lose 5% per decade and women 2.5%. If you are an inactive person age 65, you have already lost 13.2 pounds of muscle! Muscle strength and endurance also declines with age.

Bone development changes as well. The young replace bone at a faster rate than it’s lost and as we reach adulthood it’s replaced at an equal rate. After the age of 35, the rate slows and bone is lost faster than it’s replaced causing a bone lose of 1% per year. We also lose a significant amount of flexibility. Around 30, the range of motion of most joints is severely reduced if stretching is not performed regularly.

Our body composition also changes over time. Our bodies are 60-65% water but as we age this steadily decreases to only 50% in very old adults. Dehydration is a very real health issue for older adults. It can cause fatigue which can lead to less desire to stay active compounding the problem. It can also lead to mental confusion and light headedness leading to falls and broken or fractured bones.  We all need to drink 2-3 litres of water a day but as we age it becomes even more important.

Our percentage of body fat increases and by age 70 it increases to 21% in men and 39% in women. This extra fat settles around the torso in men and the vital internal organs in both men and women. This added fat around vital organs can be a very real health concern as organs have to work harder and can wear out faster. When the heart and lungs are working less efficiently even simple things like climbing stairs can become a chore. That excess weight can also put added stress on the joints causing pain and possible joint damage.

These changes can mean that the activities of daily living (ADL) can become harder to perform. Simple tasks like laundry, vacuuming, putting out the garbage, lifting things from high shelves, getting in and out of a car or doing yard work can become arduous and even a possible source of injury when muscles become weaker, bone density is lost and joints become stiffer.
So, how can we fight this? Get Active!!!

Most of us will experience some form of arthritis as we age. When we are in pain we tend to stop moving as it hurts however, “MOTION IS LOTION”. Moving the joints, doing supervised and safe stretching will help relieve the pain and stiffness. By getting involved in weight and resistance training programmes you can increase your muscle mass, muscle strength and endurance as well as strengthen your bones. Two for the price of one! The more muscle mass you have, the more calories you burn even at rest which helps with weight reduction and control. BONUS!

Get more aerobic exercise. It can be as simple as good brisk walks, swimming or bike riding. Grab some friends and go for it. Join fitness classes or sign up for Yoga. Another option is finding a Personal Trainer who has a background in working with older adults who will focus on proper alignment, form and can plan a program that not only addresses strengthening but also flexibility, agility and improving balance and posture to help reduce the risk of falls. A trainer with a background in nutrition is always a good choice too.

Being active for at least 150 minutes per week (only 2.5 hours) can reduce the risk of chronic diseases (such as heart disease and high blood pressure) and premature death as well as helping to maintain functional independence, help you preform the activities of daily living with more ease, improve mobility, improve and maintain body weight, improve fitness, maintain mental health and just make you feel great. A positive side effect is meeting new people and an improved social life.

No matter what your age being physically active will improve your life and give you a head start on fighting and slowing down those inevitable changes that come with aging. Remember it’s never too late to improve your over overall fitness, health and well being and as a bonus maybe even feeling younger. Pick a time and place. Make a plan and get moving. We do not have to accept getting old. Wine gets better with age and so can we!

By Nancy Barratt.  Nancy is a certified Personal Trainer, Older Adult Specialist and Vinyassa Yoga Instructor.  Body Design offers personal training, nutrition, yoga and group fitness classes to assist individuals achieve their fitness and weight loss goals. 

Danielle Goobie

Nutrition for Kids

Giving children a strong nutritional start supports healthy development and prepares them to make healthful choices later in life. As a teacher, I get a first hand look at children's lunches. In my observation, modern lunches are commonly high in refined, high glycemic carbohydrates, and low in good quality fats and protein, fibrous foods, and essential vitamins and minerals. Most high glycemic foods, such as bread, commercial cereal, and processed baked goods, offer minimal nutritional value and are quickly converted to sugar. This leads to rapid spikes and drops in blood sugar levels. For adults, low blood sugar often results in the "foggy," sluggish feeling that sends us reaching for a coffee mid-afternoon. Conversely, when children experience blood sugar swings, they often present with hyperactivity, aggressive behaviours,and difficulty concentrating, playing cooperatively, and regulating emotions. School lunches and snacks should provide them with the essential nutrients they need for healthy development and learning.

Canadians teens aged 14-18 consume the largest amount of sugar across all age groups at 170 grams per day, nearly 1 cup. Among Canadian children aged 1-8, the main source of sugar comes from milk and juice; and for children aged 9 to 18, milk and pop. Replacing a juice box or milk carton with water, can reduce sugar intake by 30 grams per day. While many kids drink milk daily for its calcium content; broccoli, almonds, almond milk, and legumes are great non-dairy sources. Children need regular snacks throughout the school day to help them focus and learn. Understandably, packing a lunch to meet your child's taste preferences and at the same time avoid allergenic foods can be an arduous task. Try fruit and plain yogurt, veggies and hummus,or a homemade muffin as nutritious alternatives.

A main concern with packaged children’s snack foods is the synthetic dyes found in many products. Commonly derived from petroleum byproducts, dyes are added to food items to make them visually appealing. Many of the synthetic food dyes lurking in your children’s foods, have been linked to cancer, allergic reactions and behavioural concerns, among a list of other adverse effects. Food dyes are not only troublesome for children with ADHD and other autism spectrum disorders; they can cause behavioural changes in children who don’t normally present with these symptoms. Interestingly, the European Union requires a warning label on products containing food dyes and has banned the use of several dyes, which continue to lurk ;on our grocery store shelves. Watch out for food dyes in baked goods, cereals, sport drinks, yogurt, candy, gummy snacks, and granola bars.

Children require good quality fats for brain and nervous system development, and to help absorb fat-soluble vitamins. Nuts, seeds, avocado, and oils are some of the best sources. Due to food allergies, breakfast and after school snacks are an ideal time to get some of these foods into your child's diet. Quick cooking oats with maple syrup, chopped almonds, and a teaspoon of coconut oil, provides them with slow digesting carbohydrates, protein, fiber, healthy fat, and B vitamins.

Involve children in grocery shopping and meal preparation so they too can learn how to fuel their bodies for optimal health.

By Daniell Goobie, RHN.  Danielle is a Registered Nutritionist at Body Design.  Body Design offers personal training, yoga and group fitness classes and nutrition coaching to assist individuals achieve their fitness and weight loss goals.

Nikki Lafrance

Living Consciously  

Make the moments count.  Live juicy.  Today is the day.  You only live once, but if you do it right, once is enough.  The world is yours.  If it doesn't challenge you, it will not change you.

How many of us post these kind of quotes on Facebook because the words resonate but then don't change a single thing in our day to day living to make those words come true?  We've all done it, there's no judgment here. But I bet you'd like to start consciously moving towards some of that juiciness.  I started to persue what it meant to live consciously because I had been in a real funk.

I recently transitioned out of a job I'd been in for eight years.  My position was the sort that kept me at the office at least forty hours a week and kept my mind occupied much more than that.  As my scheduled end date neared and I taught my replacement all I could, it felt as though a tremendous peace was just on the horizon.  I was so excited!

The first couple weeks of time off came.  At first it was sheer delight to wake up whenever I wanted!  I'd open my eyes and think automatically, "What day is it?  What have I got on today?"  Then I'd remember I had nothing 'on' and a huge smile stretched across my face.  I luxuriated in my backyard with wine and fun books.  I took afternoon naps.  I boasted about these activities to whoever asked how I was coping.

At some point during the third week a shift occured.  I had been so accustomed to multi-tasking in a fast paced environment that I couldn't stand my down time any longer!  At work I had felt so important that I couldn't take a sick day; they needed me. Now I woke, remembered I had nothing on and went back to bed feeling lost. I found I was going through my wine at a worrisome rate. The characters in my books weren't cutting it anymore; I was desperately lonely.  And if I napped I felt guilty.  I knew I needed to do something to infuse some meaning into this time.  I wrote a list of things that were important to me and things I've been meaning to do.  I figured if I started to create habits or rituals involving these items, it would be easy to maintain when my life did get busy again.

So, here are some of the rituals that I'm infusing into my life. I know that not everyone can relate to having time on their hands.  But I bet that if you make a commitment to yourself to do one or two rituals everyday, you'll start to see meaning creep in.

  1. Every morning I literally roll out of bed and do about seven minutes of stretches. can be an excellent resource. I do a deep twist to aid with digestion.  Hip openers and a few leg stretches to help my posture. I hold boat pose and plank for ten seconds each to activate core strength. As much as doing core work first thing in the morning may not sound appealing, I find they really wake me up and help bring alertness.  Then, looking in the mirror, I stand tall and take three deep breaths.

  2. I drink some warm lemon water before I consume anything else.  I'd always heard this was a good idea, but was one of those things I kept thinking I'd get around to later.  Now I do it everyday. It's the easiest thing to add to your day and has many benefits like - cleansing your system, boosting immunity, balancing Ph, clears skin, freshens breath and many more!  As I drink my lemon water I look outside and take a moment to consider what I'm grateful for.  It's such a beautiful way to begin the day!

  3. I read positive affirmations aloud. You can find them in books or online (just search for 'positive affirmations').  I recommend planting them in your home or car where you'll see them at least once a day. When you encounter them and take time to say them outloud you're taking time for you and acknowledging what you desire. This keeps you on track everyday to meet your goals.

  4. I create "to-do" lists. The lists have typical items like grocery shopping, baking muffins and vacuuming. Being able to cross items off a list gives a much needed feeling of accomplishment.  Even more important than grocery shopping are the items like: call so-and-so, read for an hour, go to a coffee shop, paint.  I write these things in as a reminder to stay connected with people.  It also acknowledges and gives permission to have fun.

  5. I exercise and eat well. I'm lucky, most days I have a few hours that all mine. I have no excuse to not exercise everyday. I know this is not the case for everyone. Trust me though, if not everyday at least commiting to a few times a week will bring awesome benefits!  When I'm done a workout I go to the mirror and say, “You rock! I love you!”  Celebrate with yourself!  I also started making interesting salads everyday and making dishes from healthy recipe books.  My boyfriend eats a salad a day with me and he noticed himself slimming down.  I still laugh recalling him saying, “Huh, salads. Who knew?”  It's ironic because I'm sure everybody knows salad are a good choice. There are plenty of ways to make them interesting.  Just search 'interesting salads' or 'hearty salads'.

  6. I try new things.  Most of the time it's daunting; but every time I try something new I'm living my life awake. It can be as simple as picking up a wacky looking vegetable at the grocery store and learning what to do with it.  Sometimes it's about auditioning for a play.  Go ahead, move your furniture around, highlight your hair funky colours, try a new class, say 'no' if you always say 'yes'.  Maybe you've always wanted to host a dress-up party.  Maybe you'd like to try being a vegetarian.  Maybe those forest trails keep calling your name and you're finally going to explore them.  This is my once a week ritual.  It's important because it creates memories and calls for you to really participate.

You're welcome to try any of my rituals if you'd like.  Or if this article has got the wheels turning, you could write your own list of things that are important to you and where you would like to go.  I encourage you to take at least a few minutes a day to do something just for you.  One intentional ritual.  Give yourself permission to live juicy!

By Nikki Lafrance.  Nikki is a certified 200hr Yoga Alliance Instructor.  Body Design offers personal training, nutrition, yoga and group fitness classes to assist individuals achieve their fitness and weight loss goals.

Nancy Barratt

Osteoporosis and Women

This past year after having a Mineral Bone Density (MBD) done I was diagnosed with Osteoporosis.

I had had a MBD test done in the past and really wasn’t the least bit concerned. When the results came in I was, to say the least, shocked. I have Osteoporosis in my lumbar spine (L1-L4), my left femoral neck and my left total hip. My risk for fracture is “moderate”. It was recommended that I take adequate calcium and Vitamin D supplements and consider taking bone antiresorptive medication. How could this be? I had changed my career in 2012 and became a Yoga instructor and in 2013 a personal trainer. I CAN’T have Osteoporosis! What would this mean to my new career? What would be the effects to my health, my mobility and my ability to get down on the floor and play with my grandkids? I was devastated!

I went on line to find out more and I must say there is a wealth of information out there. So much that I found it very overwhelming. I wanted to know exactly what Osteoporosis was, what was happening to my bones and why. I wanted to know about medications and supplements, both pros and cons. My questions just never seemed to stop.

Here are some of the things I’ve learned.

I discovered that 200 million women world wide have Osteoporosis. That 1 in 3 women over 50 will experience Osteoporotic fractures. The most common of these fractures occur in the wrist, hip and spine. Wrist fractures are usually the result of a fall. Spinal fractures are known as vertebral compression fractures and are painful and may impact your ability to balance properly. Some fractures can be permanently disabling especially when they occur in the hip. Twelve to 20 percent of people who suffer hip fractures die of complications. Hip fractures are twice as likely to occur in Caucasian women than African-American women. However, women of colour who fracture hips have a higher death rate. Women over the age of 50 have the greatest risk of developing Osteoporosis. Women are four times more likely than men to develop it. Women’s lighter, thinner bones and longer life spans are part of the reason they have a higher risk. We reach our maximum bone density and strength generally around the age of 30. Bones mass begins to decline naturally with age.

OMG. This was all so frightening. I had to learn more.

What is Osteoporosis?
Osteoporosis is a progressive disorder defined by loss of bone mass and density, which leads to an increased risk for fractures. The term literally means “porous bone”. It often progresses without any symptoms or pain, and the first sign may actually be a fractured bone. This is why Osteoporosis is often called the “silent disease”. It’s also why you should look into requesting a MBD test (they are not routinely done) if you are at risk for Osteoporosis.

What are the risk factors?

  • Being over age 50
  • Being female
  • Ethnicity
  • Family history of Osteoporosis
  • Low body weight/being small framed and thin
  • Prior history of broken bones
  • Cigarette smoking
  • Certain diseases
  • Certain Medications

Okay now I needed to find out about my bones.

Our bones are living growing tissue that are constantly being renewed through a process called remodelling. There are two phases to the process, resorption and formation. When both processes occur at an equal rate the quantity and quality of bone is maintained. As we age, the rate of resorption exceeds the rate of formation so the quantity and quality of bone decreases. Osteoporosis is characterized by an imbalance in the cycle when there is too much resorption and not enough formation which leads to a further decrease in bone quality and quantity which leads to a risk of fractures.

“The stronger your bones, the greater their ability to withstand fracture.”
So how do we strengthen our bones?
Studies indicate that the quality of the bone is a better indicator of bone strength and suggests that people who are more active through exercise have better quality bone structure.
Exercise and a healthy lifestyle are so important to our overall health and well being and now we know that it also strengthens our bones. A good Osteoporosis program will include both a cardiovascular (that incorporates appropriate weight bearing activities) and a strength training program. Weight bearing activity generated through exercises causes vibration that stimulates the bone to build and strengthen. Strength training also stimulates the bone as you build muscle.

Yoga’s emphasis on strength building, balance and alignment can help individuals with Osteoporosis avoid injury. As for medications and supplements, I did my research and have chosen not to take an antiresorptive as I felt the possible side effects out weighed any possible benefits. I believe a good exercise program is a much better, natural choice with more overall benefits. The best way to get all the vitamins and minerals we need is through a well balanced diet with plenty of fruits and veggies but sometimes we do need to supplement. Just be careful not to go overboard.

I found a site called Melioguide that was fabulous. It gives information on all aspects of Osteoporosis so check it out.

Just being women puts us at risk for Osteoporosis so don’t wait. Get active. There are loads of great programs out there so find one near you and make that commitment to not only improve your overall health and well being but build stronger bones and have FUN. If you already have a diagnosis of Osteoporosis be sure to find programs and activities that are appropriate to your fracture level. I now feel less stressed about my diagnosis and realize that I will have to make a few changes in my exercise program but all in all my life won’t change drastically. I will continue with my cardiovascular activities, my strength training and my Yoga.

Life is good!

By Nancy Barratt.  Nancy is a certified Personal Trainer, Older Adult Specialist and Vinyassa Yoga Instructor.  Body Design offers personal training, nutrition, yoga and group fitness classes to assist individuals achieve their fitness and weight loss goals.


Articles from 2015

Danielle Goobie

Reaching Your Health Goals During the Holiday Season

Staying on track with a healthy eating plan can be a challenge during the holiday season.  During this time of year, staying focused on your long-term health goals is imperative to keeping your immune system in check, maintaining energy levels, and avoiding unwanted holiday weight gain. Use the following tips as a guide to stay on track with your health goals this coming holiday season.

  1. Hydrate.  Many people tend to consume more alcoholic drinks around the holidays. Alcohol, along with coffee, acts as a diuretic, which can lead us to be dehydrated. Alternating between alcohol and water helps to prevent dehydration. For those of us watching our weight, it’s important to know that our bodies often mistake hunger for thirst. Dehydration can lead us to believe that we’re hungry when really, we’re thirsty. Other symptoms of dehydration include dry skin, constipation, and fatigue.

  2. Portion Control. When the trays of food in front of us seem to be endless, practicing appropriate portion control can be a challenge.  One rule of thumb to follow is to fill half of your lunch and dinner plates with vegetables.

  3. Use whole, unprocessed foods in homemade baked goods. Watching your consumption of white flour, found in most baked goods, breads, and pastries is important to maintaining stable blood sugar levels. This is because white flour converts almost immediately into sugar. When baking at home, consider swapping half of your white flour for a more nutritious alternative such as spelt, buckwheat, or oat flour. Sugar intake can also add up during the holidays. Consider swapping white and brown sugar for coconut sugar, an equally sweet alternative, offering some nutritious minerals, while wracking less havoc on blood sugar levels.

  4. Use a food log.  While portion sizes are important, I’m less concerned with caloric intake than I am with the quality of the food we’re consuming. I recommend logging the types of food you consume daily and foregoing a calorie counting approach. Food logs serve as an effective tool in helping us to get clear picture of the amount of nutrient rich foods are consuming, along with sugar, trans fat, and processed food intake. Food logs are a great starting point for determining where adjustments in our diets to be made in order to reach our goals.

  5. Enjoy the holidays. Give yourself permission to enjoy “treat” foods this holiday season while following the 80-20 rule. On days when you have a holiday dinner or party, stay on track with your regular eating patterns for 80% of the day, and allow yourself to indulge the remaining the 20%.

By Daniell Goobie, RHN.  Danielle is a Registered Nutritionist at Body Design.  Body Design offers personal training, yoga and group fitness classes and nutrition coaching to assist individuals achieve their fitness and weight loss goals. 

Lori Andrade

Cycle of the Seasons

For thousands of years human beings have lived in tune to the rhythm of nature, the cycle of the seasons.  Today, thanks in large part to the invention of electricity, we live in an artificial world where the day can never end and we ignore the cues of nature.

One of the negative offshoots of this artificial world is a phenomenon known as Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD).  A small percentage of people suffer from this serious form of depression.  However, I believe there are a greater number who are not as severely affected but still experience lethargy and moodiness associated with the dreary late Fall and Winter months.

I am one of those.  For quite a few years now I have recognized my extra sensitivity to the cycles of light and dark.  While most people are happily welcoming the arrival of Summer at the solstice (around June 21), I am actually mourning that the days will now start getting shorter again.  Even as we enjoy the hot days at the cottage, I am noticing the beautiful sunsets slowly slipping further to the south.  As the seasons progress and the daylight hours become less and less I feel the downward pull on my being.  Many people feel low after Christmas.  There are probably many reasons for this, but the fact that the days surrounding the Winter solstice (around December 21) are some of the shortest of the year may be a contributing factor.

Our very existence depends on sunlight.  Every cell of our bodies respond to light.  The depressed mood and lack of energy felt by many may be due in part to the effect of low light levels on two important neurotransmitters.  Serotonin is often called the ‘feel good’ hormone and less light leads to less serotonin and depressed mood.  Melatonin prepares us for sleep by decreasing our energy levels in response to darkness.  More hours of dark leads to increased melatonin and a greater need for sleep and even more lethargy throughout day.

Current ongoing research is confirming what has always been a fundamental truth for me: adequate sleep is crucial to well-being.  This translates into getting more sleep in the lower light months.  In the book, Lights Out, T.S. Wiley makes a strong case for this: “when we don’t sleep in sync with the seasonal variation in light exposure, we fundamentally alter a balance of nature that has been programmed into our physiology since Day One”.

So what can be done?  Every year I search for different solutions.  It is a source of frustration because being a person who has lots to accomplish, it is difficult to accept that for a few months each year I will lack energy and feel unmotivated.  This year I have decided to take a different approach.  Instead of fighting this beast, I will accept the cycle of the seasons and use the awareness of its impact on me in a positive way.  I will take my cue from nature, listen to its wisdom and give my body what it needs at this time.

There are four areas I call the pillars of wellness, which I will focus on: sleep, nourishment, physical activity, and relaxation and connection. 

  • Sleep
    I will strive to get the quantity and quality that my body needs.  The use of black-out curtains in the bedroom and a gradual wake-up light to simulate sunrise has been helpful.
  • Nourishment
    Keep it simple.  Seasonal, real foods including good protein sources, complex carbs and healthy fats.  Warm comforting soups, stews and chilis are great for the cold winter days.
  • Physical Activity
    Not only is it beneficial to get some form of physical activity every day, it is crucial that you get outside and get a daily dose of sunlight.  If you go to work in the dark and come home in the dark, try to get out at lunchtime to catch some rays.  Combining activity and sunshine really gives your body a boost.
  • Relaxation and Connection
    Relaxation may be a challenge for those of us with a pressing ‘To Do’ list.  Give yourself permission to take some time each day to slow down, reflect and restore.  A suggestion is to adopt a practice of meditation.  Even 5-10 minutes will do wonders.  Also important is to connect with others and nurture relationships.

Instead of approaching the next few months with dread, I am looking forward to embarking on this pathway of living in tune with self and nature.  It is my intention to give my body what it needs, be gentle with myself, spend time in reflection and truly embrace the cycle of the seasons.

By Lori Andrade, BPHE, CSEP.  Lori is a Certified Urban Pole Walking instructor at Body Design.  Body Design offers personal training, yoga and group fitness classes and nutrition coaching to assist individuals achieve their fitness and weight loss goals.