Detoxify your body

This spring, I have decided to try a detox from May 13th to May 22nd. Not a vegetarian or vegan and always on the go, I look forward to cutting out some meat from my diet, but I think I will have the hardest time letting go of cheese.

Prior to my first detox, I was able to talk to a Certified and Registered Nutritionist (CNP, RNCP) who is overseeing the first BarreNourish Detox at Barreworks. At the moment they have just under 20 people who have signed up, but are expecting 10-20 more people.

“It is all online-based, other than picking up the detox kit, and the teleseminars are live and recorded for convenience,” she explains. “I kept the Barreworks client in mind. It isn’t too extreme and I don’t restrict on calories. They’re energizing foods with a restriction of foods that drain energy and all processed foods. There is an emphasis on the reset button. It’s about resetting your habits. There is cooking and buying healthy ingredients while thinking ahead on meal planning. “
They also decided not limit portion sizes. “Restricting portion sizes and calories is exhausting on a person’s body. I did a survey ahead of time and there was a concern that they would not being able to exercise,” she says.

In addition, she added substitutes for common food allergies. “Most are taken out including wheat and dairy, but nuts in a lot of meals. Ninety percent could be replaced with seeds. There are recommended suggestions and you can choose other meals. There are 15-16 recipes and I have provided 25. You can substitute for another recipe.”

Although this is a mild detox and all whole-food based, it is not without side effects. The largest is cravings as well as headaches, fatigue, bloating and skin eruptions that last a day. In order to prevent them, participants can use a dry brush, drink more water, go to an infrared sauna and exercise to increase the elimination.

The most common cravings include caffeine, sugar, wheat and meat, although meat is not usually a strong craving. “Healthy snacks, especially deliciously sweet dates and raw white chocolate, are good for sugar. It is important to increase portion sizes and eat enough to decrease cravings,” she says. “It is hardest during the first three to four days and then you feel amazing.”

My nutritionist assures me that there are numerous benefits. They include weight loss, clear skin and increased energy. You will be more focused and creative.

Join me as I go through the BarreNourish 10-Day Detox.  Visit again soon to hear about my experiences as I go through the detox process.

Big Girl In A Skinny World

As a woman who has struggled with weight loss for 32 years, I know what being emotionally tied to your weight and size is all about. I know what it’s like to be out of breath after one or two flights of stairs or to be judged based on your looks. I also know what it’s like to be desperate for a change.

I grew up on my mother’s delicious and famous Georgian food. The food was endless and always high in calories. Wasting was not a word that was allowed in our vocabulary and we were constantly urged to “eat, eat.” Weight has always been a struggle for me, not only because I am a food-a-holic, but because I also happen to suffer from Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS). One complication of PCOS is an imbalance in blood-sugar levels, which happens to also be a major factor in weight gain, weight fluctuation and difficulty losing weight.

As an adult, at 5’1 and 215 pounds, I qualified as obese. I was ashamed of my size and my habits. I tried to hide the fear I had of what my future would be like if I didn’t change my ways. Growing up, I was always the plump girl with the great personality, but for once I wanted how I looked on the outside to reflect the beautiful woman I was on the inside.

Eventually I realized that if I didn’t look out for my own health, no one would.

I tried a countless number of weight loss programs and exercise programs, and consulted several dieticians – nothing lasted. It was frustrating wanting something so badly, but constantly feeling like your best wasn’t good enough.

Weight loss is difficult. It’s not just about changing your diet but about changing your lifestyle. It’s many calculated decisions throughout the day for your whole life.

About a year ago, I started working as the clinic manager at a physiotherapy clinic. We were holding our first open house, working hard to put it together and promote it. All the practitioners were there to answer questions and offer free consultations, and I was there greeting potential clients and offering them additional information. It was a success and we were thrilled. Then I found out that during the open house one of the patrons had approached the owner to tell him that because I was overweight, I was a bad representation of the clinic. He suggested that perhaps my position shouldn’t be as public.

I was devastated. I was angry that he would dare to judge me without knowing anything about my skills and capabilities. On the other hand, what kind of an example was I setting for our patients when I hadn’t been successful with my own weight loss? As much as it hurt, I knew this stranger had a point and I made a promise to myself that this was the year I was going to take control of my weight. I started by meeting with a naturopathic doctor so that she could do a full assessment and set up a treatment plan for me.

I wanted to be healthier, but I also wanted to be a role model and to prove to myself that I could achieve my goals. With the help of my doctor I was able to lose 60 pounds, tackle my food sensitivities, increase my endurance, and reduce my BMI by more than 15%.

Today, seven months later, I weigh 158 pounds and am 13 pounds away from my goal weight. I work out five times a week. My friends tell me that I seem at peace with myself and at ease with my body. They say that my outside finally matches what my inside always was.

Getting fit by shaking my booty

I am not athletic, but I am trying to branch out. So I decided to try a fitness class and found myself at the Danforth Booty Camp Fitness.

“Working out should never be boring,” states Susan Chung, an Elite Drill Instructor at the fitness centre. Her workout approach is to have fun. “Without fun, there is no motivation or drive to keep moving.”

“For the most part, it’s all about having fun at camp and working towards similar fitness goals.  The recruits love getting their kick-booty sessions – a mix of cardio, high or low intensity muscle conditioning work with options for all levels of fitness, and HIIT (high intensity interval training). We get our sweat on,” says Chung.

Chung started the class with a light jog. I struggled with the rock climbing leg movement. They did leg lunges, which I really enjoyed, followed by burpies, which are sort of similar to jumping. In addition, we did the traditional sit ups, crunches and push-ups. The class also did Booty Camp Wars, which was really fun, and a series of leg exercises followed by ‘The Britney’, a leg and arm movement which is very hard to describe. Chung ended with some stretching to ease the muscle tension.

Chung was searching the Internet one day and was attracted to the website with the pink colours. “I thought that having an all women’s boot camp around the city was incredibly empowering. I’ve never seen that before,” she says. “To share the love of fitness and to share it with so many amazing women each day is gratifying. I am blessed.”

Overall, I found the class to be very supportive and personal. If you were slacking or doing something wrong, Chung or a peer would correct you, which was nice and a motivator. The workout itself was fun but intense and there were water breaks. Chung is also very flexible with the class times for her recruits.

One of the perks includes a healthy cookbook called Eat Right Made Simple, which the recruits adore. Kennedy has a blog with delicious recipes on her website, and she shares them on a weekly basis via social media. I tried the Banana Mousse, Barbecue Chicken, and Sunshine Rice, all of which were simple, tasty and guilt-free.

If you’re looking for a medium to high intensity workout with supportive women and a cookbook, Booty Camp Fitness may be right for you.

Menu planning when dealing with food allergies

As someone who has had food allergies most of my life, I know too well how difficult it can be to plan nutritious, tasty meals. If you are like me, and have to avoid an array of foods, it can be overwhelming at times.

My first rule of thumb is to clean out your pantry and fridge. Get rid of the items that you can no longer eat, so you won’t be tempted. If you are part of a family and they can still eat these items then you are going to have to be pretty strong in your resolve. For me, it just wasn’t worth cheating as it made me feel to unwell.

It may take you a while to enjoy some of your new foods, as your taste buds have been accustomed to the same foods for years, so don’t be too hard on yourself.

The first thing to realize is that it is about what you can eat, not what you cannot eat. Perhaps dedicate a shelf or a cupboard just for you, filled with all the foods that you can eat.

Next, figure out what your favourite foods are that you can eat. Have them on hand, so you don’t feel deprived with you new diet.

Visit a health food store and ask them about all the allergy-free items that they offer. You will be amazed at how many foods you can eat.

Purchase a cookbook that contains recipes that you can enjoy.

Many big bulk stores are featuring allergy-free items like gluten-free grains and pastas at a much lower cost than health food stores, so you may want to check them out as well. Try the healthy natural food aisle at your local grocery store for allergy-free options.

Once you start to eat foods that agree with your body, you will notice how much better you feel physically and emotionally, and this will then encourage you to continue on with your healthy eating regime.

Remember that pre-packaged allergy free foods usually contain a lot of sugar and do not have a lot of nutrients in them, so if you can start to make more of your meals and treats from scratch, it will benefit you in the long run.

Many people say to me that they don’t have time to cook, but they soon realize if they give up one television program and get into the kitchen they can whip up a soup and a couple dozen muffins to freeze for the coming work week.

It’s important to have food in your freezer for those busy evenings or when you are on the run.

Making smoothies is another fast option for quick mornings or evening snacks. Try to have lots of fresh produce in your fridge, so at a moment’s notice you can whip up a shake or smoothie for yourself. Frozen fruit is great to keep in your freezer and avocados are indispensible to me and I always have at least seven or eight in my house for veggie shakes.

My daily vegetable shake base is a mixture of celery, cucumber, spinach, avocado, cilantro, water, sea salt, and lemon juice. Sometimes I will add a tomato or a small green onion. Blend and you have a salad in a glass, full of nutrients.

My favourite mid day smoothie is a simple, nutritious mixture of unsweetened So Delicious Coconut Milk, a banana, and hempseed.


For more allergy -free recipes and healthy ideas, please visit my website.

Avocados: the super fruit

Last week I was lucky enough to be asked to try some recipes with Mexican avocadoes. I love avocadoes. I probably eat at least two avocados a day, maybe more. But if you had asked me 20 years ago if I liked avocados I would have said, “I have never tasted one.”

Yes, I am one of those who ate meat and potatoes and a little seasonal fruit most days. Foods like cilantro, avocados, arugula, and anything else that was green, except frozen peas, were probably not high on my list, nor was it served at our supper table.

Then my life became all about food allergies and what the heck was there left to eat. Avocados were on the ‘Can Eat’ list. So I tried one and, well, I loved them. They are so smooth and creamy and I can’t imagine how I had lived without them.

I first tried avocados in a local vegetarian restaurant where they had made them into an avocado and onion salad with lemon juice, uembushi vinegar, olive oil and salt. I thought I had died and gone to heaven.

Since that day I have never looked back and every time I go grocery shopping, which is fairly often, I pick up at least six avocados.

My significant other was like me, and when we met a few years ago I tried to get him to eat avocados. He would always say “I don’t really care for them”, and I would say,” have you ever tried them?”

Now he eats more avocados than I do. His favourite way to eat them is sliced on toast or with a chicken sandwich. He also loves them with his eggs on the weekend, or on homemade flax crackers.

My girlfriend always carries an avocado in her purse when she goes out for dinner, just in case there is nothing on the menu that she can eat. She will ask the waitress to bring her some olive oil and lemon and voila she has a healthy snack.

I put sliced avocado into all my salads. Whether it is a green lettuce salad, a cabbage salad or kale salad, avocado always makes it taste so much better.

Avocados are full of healthy fats and help keep the body alkaline, which helps us to keep disease away. Avocados contain nearly 20 vitamins and minerals, folate, and more potassium than a banana. Avocados can help lower cholesterol, so why not pick up a few avocados at your local supermarket.

It is best to buy avocados that are green and firm. You know they are ready to eat when the skin changes from green to almost black and is slightly soft to the touch.

What about avocados for dessert?

Last night I decided to make an avocado pudding.


2 avocados
1 banana
5 tbsp maple syrup
1 tsp vanilla
½ cup coconut milk


Mix all ingredients in a food processor until smooth and enjoy.

I found this a little sweet, but my husband loves sweet things (guess that is why he loves me). If I were making this just for me, I would put in less sweetener, but I have to say the fresh maple syrup that we just picked up at the sugar bush last month makes this a delicious and healthy avocado-banana pudding.


Want to try more of Shirley’s recipes? Enter our contest to win her cookbook, Finally…Food I Can Eat.

Win inner peace

This is your chance to win a spot in the very exclusive fall Shanti Yoga retreat organized by Cruda Cafe. On October 18-20, expert yoga guide Paula Marin will guide you through a weekend of yoga and meditation designed to bring you inner peace while executive chef Claudia Gaviria cooks you meals that will convert you to the raw food diet. Only eight spots are available for the whole retreat, so don’t miss out on this incredible opportunity to win one. Enter today!

Contest Rules & Regulations:
Contestants must reside in Canada (excluding Quebec) to be eligible to win
Contestants must be 18 or older
Contestants are eligible to enter 1x daily (further entries will not be counted)
Contest closes on Wednesday, October 16th, at 12 p.m.

This contest is now closed. Thanks for entering!

Life’s Lessons from a Septuagenarian

It is often at the dusk of our life that we seem to value the life we had and live. I turned to the elderly to sail through seemingly tough times. Here is what I have learned so far…


1. Trust only a person’s actions, not their words. Much can be promised; little of it gets done.


2. Surround yourself with people who will either help you grow as an individual or who keep you happy. You are better off alone than with false friends.


3. Always have a plan. Time passes swiftly and one day you will not realize when you turned 60. Set New Year resolutions; you may not follow them but you will at least know where you want to be.


4. Be happy or learn to be happy. Create your pockets of happy moments, like adventurous travels, risqué affairs, insurmountable challenges, etc. These will be the memories you will return to when in distress.


5. Don’t fight to change people or things. Change your perspective and everything around you will change itself. If there are people bothering you, discard them from your life and stay out of theirs.


6. Gain control over anger and emotions. Maintain silence and refrain from making any decisions when too excited, depressed or upset.


7. Do not envy or compare yourself with anyone else. Know that everyone has their own set of miseries to deal with.


8. Be good to your spouse, friends and children. Your treatment of them will decide how your old age is going to be.


9. Learn your finances well. Money has more value than everyone else advocates. Use it wisely.


10. Remember to never lose faith and instill ample patience. Everything has a way of working out in the end.

Women of the week: Susan Jamieson

Sometimes a personal crisis can give you the needed perspective to change your life.

In 1995, Susan Jamieson’s daughter was diagnosed with A-plastic Anemia. Doctors prescribed a treatment of blood transfusions, a treatment neither her daughter nor Jamieson supported.

“We are grateful to live in a country that respects religious freedoms and our family supported our daughter’s constitutional right to ask that hers be respected. Now 31, Tarin still remains the youngest child in Canada to have gone to court and ask for the right to have a say in her medical management,” says Jamieson.

Prior to her daughter’s illness, Jamieson had overseen marketing and sales programs for numerous high profile companies such as Sheraton Hotels, American Express, Budweiser and Pepsi. She took a leave of absence to focus on this medical battle but in 2001, with the disease in remission, Jamieson returned to the work world with a new, more refined focus.

She now serves as a managing partner in JoSuTa Group, a company whose directive is “A desire to help people be healthy.” With clients such as Greenzone, Food Diva and Score-Up, JoSuTa is helping people make informed decisions and working to make the world a better place.

A fine example of her impact: In 2007, she travelled to Dubai to be a guest on a radio show and discuss organic fertilizer. Her segment would prove to be incredibly popular, bringing in a floodgate of callers. The show quickly made the decision to cancel the other scheduled guests and Jamieson was the featured guest for the full hour.

In 2012, Jamieson learned about First Do No Harm. Produced by Asia Geographic Entertainment, this documentary, according to its website, details the “controversial and paternalistic” history of blood transfusions and “the knee-jerk rejection of new knowledge because it contradicts entrenched norms.”

Very excited by the concept of the film, Jamieson sought out the producer and asked for Canadian distribution rights.

“You might say I came to the table a little more motivated than most,” she says.

A key source for her pitch: “She Decides: How to Reach the Most Important Audience for Your Health Campaign,” a report published by Fenton Communications which details the critical role women play in making health decisions for their families.

Once she successfully secured the rights, Jamieson began reaching out to Canadian and U.S. companies, using both her personal story and statistics on targeting the women’s segment of the market. Her goal, she says, is to get these companies to support a potential paradigm shift on the subject of blood transfusion use.

“I am not interested in starting a discussion about individual choice – the question I am asking all women to think about and answer for themselves is have you made an informed choice about the use of blood in your medical management?”

“Yes, I recommend all women make the time to watch the film, educate themselves and then consider, with the assistance of your family doctor, what your stand on blood transfusion use is for your family,” concludes Susan.




Win the Wrap Your Body Slim experience

This is your chance to win a great package from the fantastic health and wellness company Wrap Your Body Slim. One lucky winner will receive a basket filled with goodies such as a detox body wrap, facial wrap, a Vemma (vitamins, essential minerals, mangosteen & aloe) sample bottle, a Verve sugar free energy can, a Bod-e Burn can and a Thirst packette. Enter today for your chance to win the Wrap Your Body Slim experience.

Contest Rules & Regulations:
Contestants must reside in Canada (excluding Quebec) to be eligible to win
Contestants must be 18 or older
Contestants are eligible to enter 1x daily (further entries will not be counted)
Contest closes on Tuesday, August 13th, at 2 p.m.


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Honour your hunger

I hate being hungry. I think most people do. It’s a feeling that’s hard to ignore. Sometimes when I’m really, really hungry, I get angry too. (Ever heard of “hangry”?) I try to remember to pack a baggie of almonds everywhere I go so as not to cause bodily harm to others.

Anyone who’s ever been on a diet or tried to lose weight has come up against hunger. Hunger is something you might think you have to control or trick. You can try to control it by eating proper proportions of macronutrients (protein and fat will make you feel full) and by eating at regular intervals. You can try to trick it by drinking a glass of water or distracting yourself by doing chores. Do these strategies work? Maybe for a while. But it’s not easy to fight hunger day in and day out. Perhaps it’s time to step back and take a look at our relationship with hunger.

Firstly, what is hunger? It’s your body telling you something: to eat more. Is that necessarily bad? I can think of two reasons why it would do that. The more obvious one is that you haven’t eaten enough calories to meet its needs. Your body doesn’t like it when you severely under-eat, especially when the demands put on it are high. You’ve probably heard of “starvation mode.” Chronic under-eating will cause your body to lower its metabolic rate in order to hang on to the limited calories you’re putting into it. Hunger is a helpful signal that you’d better eat soon or starvation mode will kick in. It’s okay to skip a meal every now and again but relentless caloric restriction will most definitely do damage to your metabolism, damage that your body might not ever be able to repair.

The less obvious reason why hunger nags at you is that your body is looking for something that’s missing. The issue is not that you’re not getting enough calories; it’s that you’re not getting enough essential vitamins and minerals. (This often happens when people fall into “food ruts” and eat the same foods over and over again. Spinach salad with chicken breast, anyone? Eating a wide array of foods and managing stress are ways of making sure your body has adequate amounts of vitamins and minerals.

Think of it this way: a hungry body is a seeking body. Perhaps we should listen to our bodies’ signals instead of ignoring them. We often treat our bodies like they’re stupid. But they’re always acting in our best interest to help us and doing the best with what we put into them. True hunger is not something to be pushed aside; it’s something we should honour.