To the members of my Virtual Fitness Studio, I offer free lectures given by top experts on various topics within the field of exercise science and well being.

In September, our first lecture was given by meditation master, Sheila Southon. Sheila taught us that breathing deeply for just 5 minutes a day, reduces stress and bathes the body in ‘happy hormones’ which combat disease in the body.

Covid-19 has all of us stressed nowadays and when we are under stress our body is designed to respond to danger with the strategies of Fight, Flight or Freeze. These reactions bring on stress hormones which are designed to only last in the body for minutes and their function is to give us the energy we need to escape danger. The problem that we are having now is that we have been under the stress of this pandemic for so long, our system is on overdrive which can lead to chronic disease over time.

Sheila is encouraging everyone to turn off the news after a certain hour of the day, get fresh air and sun as much as possible, and practice meditation daily. Sheila then lead us through a guided meditation that melted most of us to our chairs. If you would like to try meditation on your own, I highly recommend the app: Insight Timer. This app is free and offers meditations of all different lengths.

Last week, dietician and international speaker, Tricia Silverman, spoke to us about nutrition and she gave us many valuable tips on everything from reading food labels to calorie counting. Her advice was general and she made it clear that we should seek the advice of a dietician if we are looking for strategies more tailored to our specific situation.

One of the biggest takeaways that resonated with me is that we should be eating 3 fruits a day of different colours. I started practicing this the very next day. Tricia also recommends that we eat fish twice a week and those varieties that are typically low in mercury such as Salmon.

Calorie counting is indeed important for weight loss and Tricia suggests that if we cannot seek the advice of a registered dietician, that we use a BMR calculator which will help to determine the minimum amount of calories that your body needs to function at rest. Armed with this information you need to also take into account your activity level and obviously adjust the calories accordingly.

One of the problems that can arise when we stop exercising for a few weeks or a month, is that we forget to eat less and before you know it, we have gained weight. Tricia taught us that 110 extra calories a day, can equal 10 pounds a year in weight gain. Please seek help if you are looking to lose weight by restricting your calorie intake.

Tricia suggests that we also take a look at the food label of anything we are about to buy and look for food that is low in sodium, low in sugar and low in saturated fat. Ultimately, we want to eat foods that are high in fiber, as this will help us to feel full longer, resulting in less calories consumed. We also learned that when it comes to the listed percentages on the labels, 5% is less and 15% is high.

Tricia told us that her favourite protein sources are fish, beans, chicken and turkey. She wants us to limit our intake of red meat and she advises that we be careful with how many eggs we are eating because it can raise our LDL (lousy) cholesterol. Tricia mentioned that she likes greek yogurt and pumpkin seeds for protein as well.

Tricia highlighted the negative effects that added sugars have on our body and recommends that we stop drinking pop because it is too easy to overconsume when it is in liquid form. When it comes to butter or margarine, she would prefer that we stick to small amounts of butter or extra virgin olive oil. One image that I will never forget from her slide show was the one that depicted the amount of fat in one poutine. It equals three sticks of butter!

And finally Tricia showed us how using smaller plates can help us to lose weight. She showed us half a cup of cooked rice on two different sizes of plates. On the small plate, it looked like we were getting more which in the end can help us to feel less deprived. So opt for smaller plates and then she suggests the 80% rule. Don’t eat until you are stuffed but only 80% full.

I hope that some of these facts help you on your journey towards optimal health!

See you soon,

Beth