Tag Archives: health

Interested in learning more about fitness?

Our fitness programs and education courses can help you do just that!  This program can help you learn more about muscles and movement, and/or become certified as a Personal Trainer or Group Fitness instructor.  Coming soon, Aquafit instructor training and continuing education for already certified trainers and instructors!

Contact me for more information!  Deanna at 905-522-9922 ext 148





Ramadan – Healthy Benefits!

Good morning! Here is part two of yesterday’s post – healthy benefits of Ramadan!  We begin with a fruit that you may have yet to try…


Although three dates are eaten at the start of Iftar every day during Ramadan for spiritual reasons, they also come with the added bonus of multiple health benefits. One of the most important aspects of fasting is getting the right amount of energy, and considering an average serving of dates contains 31 grams of carbohydrates, this is one of the perfect foods to give you a boost. Dates are also a great way of getting some much-needed fibre, which will aid and improve digestion throughout Ramadan. Add to that their high levels of potassium, magnesium and B vitamins, and it quickly becomes apparent that dates are one of the healthiest fruits out there.

Surprising health benefits of Ramadan – dates

Boost your brain

No doubt you’ll be aware of the positive effects fasting can have on your mental wellbeing and spiritual focus, but the brain-boosting powers of Ramadan are even more significant than you might think. A study carried out by scientists in the USA found that the mental focus achieved during Ramadan increases the level of brain-derived neurotrophic factor, which causes the body to produce more brain cells, thus improving brain function. Likewise, a distinct reduction in the amount of the hormone cortisol, produced by the adrenal gland, means that stress levels are greatly reduced both during and after Ramadan.

Ditch bad habits

Because you will be fasting during the day, Ramadan is the perfect time to ditch your bad habits for good. Vices such as smoking and sugary foods should not be indulged during Ramadan, and as you abstain from them your body will gradually acclimatise to their absence, until your addiction is kicked for good. It’s also much easier to quit habits when you do so in a group, which should be easy to find during Ramadan. Fasting’s ability to help you cut out bad habits is so significant that the UK’s National Health Service recommends it as the ideal time to ditch smoking.

Lower cholesterol

We all know that weight loss is one of the possible physical outcomes of fasting during Ramadan, but there’s also a whole host of healthy changes going on behind the scenes. A team of cardiologists in the UAE/USA found that people observing Ramadan enjoy a positive effect on their lipid profile, which means there is a reduction of cholesterol in the blood. Low cholesterol increases cardiovascular health, greatly reducing the risk of suffering from heart disease, a heart attack, or a stroke. What’s more, if you follow a healthy diet after Ramadan, this newly lowered cholesterol level should be easy to maintain.

Lasting appetite reduction

One of the main problems with extreme fad diets is that any weight lost is often quickly put back on, sometimes even with a little added extra. This isn’t the case with Ramadan. The reduction in food consumed throughout fasting causes your stomach to gradually shrink, meaning you’ll need to eat less food to feel full. If you want to get into the habit of healthy eating then Ramadan is a great time to start. When it’s finished your appetite will be lower than it was before, and you’ll be far less likely to overindulge with your eating.


As well as being great for spiritually cleansing yourself, Ramadan acts as a fantastic detox for your body. By not eating or drinking throughout the day your body will be offered the rare chance to detoxify your digestive system throughout the month. When your body starts eating into fat reserves to create energy, it will also burn away any harmful toxins that might be present in fat deposits. This body cleanse will leave a healthy blank slate behind, and is the perfect stepping stone to a consistently healthy lifestyle.

Absorb more nutrients

By not eating throughout the day during Ramadan you’ll find that your metabolism becomes more efficient, meaning the amount of nutrients you absorb from food improves. This is because of an increase in a hormone called adiponectin, which is produced by a combination of fasting and eating late at night, and allows your muscles to absorb more nutrients. This will lead to health benefits all around the body, as various areas are able to better absorb and make use of the nutrients they need to function.

Yoga Lifestyle

The benefits of yoga practice are many.  Too many to cover in one blog post.  I’d like to narrow this discussion to the “lifestyle enhancing” aspects of a regular yoga practice.

The original and ancient guidelines of yoga serve as a prescription for basic moral and ethical conduct and the importance of self-discipline.  Who among us wouldn’t benefit from more of that?   These guidelines can direct our attention toward better health and help us acknowledge any of the spiritual aspects of our nature.  Make no mistake, however;  yoga is not a religion or belief system.  It is simply an opportunity to quiet a turbulent mind, remove obstacles and find contentment.  Learning to be in stillness and silence for short periods of time encourages present moment awareness.  Our busy lives so often have us racing ahead of the clock and on a perpetual treadmill toward the next obligation or task.  Mindfulness is built through that present moment awareness and can give us the tools we need to be our best possible expression of humanity.  Yoga encourages gratitude and I believe gratitude grounds us and adds an important perspective to our daily life.

Try a class or simply try being still and quiet for a few short minutes a day.  Give your mind and body a rest.  Appreciate all that you are, all that you have and all that you can offer!



4 Worst Breakfast Items!

Don’t get caught eating one of these 4 things for breakfast:

  1. Breakfast Pastries: muffins, doughnuts, bear claws and croissants sure taste good with coffee, but all those refined carbs are going to cause unwanted weight gain.
  2. Granola Bars: watch out for the breakfast bars that claim to give you fiber, vitamins and minerals. Check the number of carbs and sugars on the back of the label – most contain the same sugar as a pastry.
  3. Cereal: here’s another popular breakfast item that has tons of sugar lurking beneath its surface. Only eat cereal that has no added sugar and that contains some protein and healthy fat.
  4. Drive-Thru Breakfast Sandwich: don’t even think about heading to the drive-thru for a quick breakfast sandwich. Instead grab a hard boiled egg from home to enjoy on your commute.


The Importance of Your Kid’s Breakfast

Your mornings may be hectic, the alarm may not go off, or the kids may not seem hungry first thing after waking up.

Whatever your reasons may be, skipping breakfast puts your kids at a distinct disadvantage. And while you know breakfast is the most important meal of the day, approximately 40 percent of children don’t eat breakfast on a regular basis.

Why do kids need breakfast? What are some fast, easy, and healthy foods to serve your family in order to get them ready for a good day? Keep reading to find out.

The Morning Necessity
Breakfast provides the fuel that is needed by all bodies to start the day. When your child wakes in the morning, his or her tank is empty and it is time to “break the fast” so to speak.

Food gives the energy needed to function mentally and physically. Don’t believe it? Consider this: Studies have shown that children who eat breakfast before school perform better on their reading and math scores, have longer attention spans, visit the school nurse less frequently, and are better behaved in class.

As if improved school performance weren’t reason enough to get your kids into eating breakfast, kids who eat a healthy breakfast are better able to get the daily nutrients they need. They are more likely to eat recommended levels of essential vitamins and minerals such as calcium; magnesium; phosphorus; riboflavin; folate; iron; and vitamins A, C, and B12. Breakfast-consuming children also have lower cholesterol levels.

Some kids, especially teenagers, skip breakfast because they’d rather sleep in or because they think skipping breakfast will help them lose weight. Unfortunately, skipping breakfast to lose weight is a myth.

In fact, those who don’t eat breakfast are more likely to have a greater body mass index (BMI) than those who do, since skipping breakfast makes kids so hungry they eat extra calories later in the day to make up for their skipped morning cuisine.

Easy, Healthy Options
Why aren’t your children eating a healthy breakfast each day? If it’s because your family is too rushed in the morning or you think you don’t have extra time to make them a homemade nutritious meal, it’s time to change your thinking. There are plenty of easy, fast, healthy foods to have readily available for your kids to grab and eat on the way.

Any food is better than no food for breakfast, but healthy foods give your kids the energy they require to make it until lunch. A great way to knock out breakfast is to handle it the night before by hard-boiling some eggs. Hard-boiled eggs are a great source of protein and are fast and easy in the morning.

You can also keep some small yogurt containers in the refrigerator for your kids to grab on the go. And of course, keep whole-grain bread, English muffins, or bagels on hand to toss in the toaster.

You can also warm up microwavable oatmeal or let the kids eat cereal bars in the car. Keep whole-grain, low-sugar cereals on hand that kids can eat with low-fat milk or yogurt. And lastly, keep fresh fruit such as apples, bananas, and pears readily available to eat on the go.

These are all nutritious options that are easy for moms or even kids to make themselves.


My running shoes are staring at me!

…and I’m staring right back!

image source

But it’s right, we should be out there right now training for the big day coming up (March 25, 2012)!

I hope you didn’t miss your chance to sign up for this year’s Around the Bay Road Race!  Registration is full for all distances accept 5k, which I’m sure will fill up quite soon.  One of my friends is still trying to buy off a 30k ticket from anyone who cannot participate for some unforeseen reason – so if you know someone selling, please let me know.  Otherwise, she’ll join us on the big day with a 5k.

I’m the one who pressured her to run the 30k race, she did it last year and performed superbly but wasn’t so sure about repeating the effort!  Luckily, she has lovely friends around her, such as myself, to ensure she doesn’t miss ongoing positive peer pressure!  But she’s a runner already, so I’m only a little bit annoying!

Whether or not you are currently physically active, I hope you have a good circle of friends around you that encourage positive, healthy choices.  If you like to be more physically active, it’s a good idea to surround yourself with people who share that same desire.  It IS more fun to go for a jog or a walk or the gym or whatever, when you have a pal or two by your side striving along with you.

I do the majority of my runs alone since my running friends live too far and my scheduling doesn’t permit joining our awesome running group at YWCA.  So when I do have someone to run with it’s a treat!  That’s another reason why races are fun, running with hundreds of people just totally elevates the awesomeness of running!

image source

Okay, I’m going to have a talk with my running shoes.  I’ll let you know how that goes….


If you want to be happy for the rest of your life…

I heard about this Youtube video earlier this morning and thought of you instantly:)  Pay attention to how big a difference a little effort makes.  Then give yourself a pat on the shoulder for already treating your body and your self right.  And if you haven’t started yet … well, here’s another dose of information but in a fun and interesting format! Enjoy!

Start the new year with new moves!

I bet you can’t wait to see our new class schedule for January 2012!

You will be pleased to see that we are offering a variety of classes throughout the week; from early morning to late evening classes!  Stay tuned for our winter schedule.

Here’s a sneak peak:

Starting January, the Ottawa street location will begin offering Zumba on Tuesday nights.  If you used to take Zumba at Ottawa with a certain brunette spunky lady, then you don’t want to miss out on her return to the Ottawa branch this January!

And if that one night isn’t enough to get your fix of cardio – or Zumba specifically, MacNab has even more Zumba in the mornings and evenings.  Come by this Thursday at MacNab for a holiday inspired Zumba class at 5:30 (also Holiday Zumba is offered on Christmas Eve 8:30am)!!

If Zumba isn’t your thing, then try out our Fitness Mix Up classes – brand new for January.  We’re going to keep it different and interesting every time you try it.  It will be offered throughout the week at various time periods to try and match your availability!

As always, we still offer our classic cardio and muscle conditioning classes: Jump Start, Muscles & More, Completely Cardio, Kickboxing, Step N Tone, Morning Motivation, Pilates, Yoga, and Spin, among others.

If you have always been interested in trying out these group classes but are intimidated by the choreography that comes with some of them, then look no further then Basic Blast.  If you’re new and interested, this class was designed with you in mind.

Basic Blast is an introductory level class to help you transition into some of the classes mentioned above.  It will be offered on Tuesday nights at Ottawa Street and on Saturday mornings at MacNab.  We will cover hi-lo choreography, steps and intervals.

So come out and try this very basic 30-minute class offered for just six weeks.  In no time you will get the hang of a grapevine, a step touch, a basic step, a v-step, an x-step and just a few more to get you started!!!

Starting off a new year learning something new is a GREAT idea, so I hope to see you there.  I’ll be there every Tuesday and Saturday to help you get ready!


NOW is the best time to start quitting!

Smoking and exercise have two major things in common: your heart and your lungs.  Both affect your cardiovascular and your respiratory systems for better or worse.  Smoking and exercise have the power to determine your risk of developing  diseases such as lung cancer and heart disease.  Smoking increases risks while exercise helps reduce those same risks.

If you are a smoker and tried everything BUT exercise to help you quit, it’s about time you added exercise into the mix!  As you attempt to quit again – give exercise a brand new generous opportunity to make a difference in your life!  This means that for a while, you will be smoking AND exercising!  Exercise will help you quit.

The moment you start exercising, (similar to the moment you stop smoking), your body instantly begins to react positively.  Small bouts of exercise make a big difference in general – yes, even as a smoker!   For now, you are better off smoking AND exercising as opposed to smoking and NOT exercising. 

This new year, YWCA Hamilton is partnering with The Lung Association to launch a free exercise program to help you kick this habit to boot for good!  We want to help you Quit & Get Fit!  This program will be offered at both of our YWCA Hamilton locations – MacNab and Ottawa Street.

With so many smokers searching for all kinds of ways to quit smoking, this initiative has attracted an unprecedented amount of interest – to the point where we have reached our capacity for this registered program – registration is now FULL.  (But stay tuned for upcoming sessions).

In the meantime, get a head start on quitting right now by adding exercise into the mix of your routine.   If you’re a smoker and already exercising – congratulations, your heart and lung thank you and are that much better of for it!  Visit the Lung Association for more details about quitting and about the instant benefits to your body and general wellbeing.

Don’t give up on quitting!  Try again!  Be a quitter!

If you are an ex-smoker share with us your success story!


What Do You Know About Fibromyalgia?

Not much?

Same here….  That’s why I decided to learn a little to get by.

I recently discovered the DVD section at the library.   I mostly indulge in the aerobics DVDs, but I’m sure I’ll get to know the other genres soon enough.  The last DVD I borrowed was one about fibromyalgia.   I only heard of fibromyalgia late last year when we started offering our Gentle Fit program at YWCA.

It was a very comprehensive DVD and I encourage you to borrow it or browse around the website below to learn more.  The DVD was a production of the Mayo Clinic; here’s how they defined fibromyalgia on their website (http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/fibromyalgia/DS00079):

“Fibromyalgia is a disorder characterized by widespread musculoskeletal pain accompanied by fatigue, sleep, memory and mood issues. Researchers believe that fibromyalgia amplifies painful sensations by affecting the way your brain processes pain signals.”

Fibromyalgia does not exhibit any physical evidence. There is no inflammation, no damage of muscles or nerves to identify.  Fibromyalgia is a disorder diagnosed via a list of symptoms.  Physicians are trained to identify 18 tender points.

Without physical evidence to rely on, people with fibromyalgia are at times completely misunderstood by their family and friends—their symptoms waved off.   Some are told that it is “all in their heads.”  But as the DVD pointed out, all conditions—all pain—is “in the head”—as processed by the brain!

There are a number of environmental factors that can trigger pain; stress is one.  Stress is a leading factor.  Of course, family and friends not fully acknowledging the capacity of the disorder only exacerbates the stress.  For this reason, it is imperative to develop a plan to relieve stress. This can include exercise (meditation, yoga, pilates, acupuncture, tai chi), humour, positive self-talk and other strategies that lifts one’s mood.

Another factor is sleep.  Good quality sleep is essential, especially to reduce fatigue and allow muscles the opportunity to heal.  Try to develop a manageable routine.  Go to sleep and get up at the same time everyday.  Reduce caffeine and alcohol intake; and try to limit naps throughout the day.

Another major factor is exercise.  Taking part in regular physical activity is critical.  People with fibromyalgia may hesitate to engage in regular physical activity because of the pain and ensuing fatigue.  But according to the Mayo clinic, regular exercise will eventually help to reduce symptoms.   The type of exercise does not need to be vigorous at all.  Spread them out throughout the day, five minutes at a time for example.  Start very slow and increase even slower.  It’s a process; be gradual.  Moderation is the key.

Increasing muscle strength and muscle endurance helps to better manage fibromyalgia.  Exercise helps you learn how to relax muscles and initiate smooth movements.   Relaxation techniques can help conserve energy, reduce pain, release muscle tensions and lower anxiety.

Plan ahead.   Pay attention to your body and any patterns that ensue.  If your symptoms have a pattern, take note and plan ahead to avoid pitfalls.  Don’t shortchange yourself because of your illness.  Find something you can do, then do it!

The most important thing to understand is that, fibromyalgia does not lead to disability.  It is a manageable disease.  It’s something you can take charge off, rather than allow it to cripple you.  Education is the best way to combat fibromyalgia.  Education for those with fibromyalgia as well as the family, friends and community members who need to gain a little understanding.