Archive for February, 2011

Chicken Rice SoupHow can you not love your slow-cooker? Cold winter months making a huge batch of soup, how can you beat that? It’s healthy, tasty, a great way to get some veggies into you! This recipe I usually cook while I’m doing things on the weekend because it only takes about 4-5 hours. You can’t leave it for an entire work day but it makes about 14 servings and takes about 30 minutes to cut everything up. A bit of prep work but you get 14 meals out of it! Freeze them and put them in your lunches! Yum! As you might have read, I freeze everything and bring the foods to work for lunch/dinners, it’s a quick meal when you don’t have the time to cook! Read my past post about freezing foods here.

Chicken Rice Soup
3 quarts hot water (12 cups)
1 medium onion, finely chopped( I use a little less, a little too much onion for me)
2-3 celery ribs, finely chopped
2 sprigs finely chopped fresh parsley
1 clove garlic, crushed ( I use 2, I love garlic)
2 tsp. salt( I use sea salt)
1/2 cup thinly sliced carrots
4 large skinless chicken legs and thighs
1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley
3 cups hot cooked white or brown rice

1. Combine water, onion, celery, 2 sprigs parsley, garlic, salt, carrots and chicken in slow cooker.
2. Cover. Cook on high for 4-5 hours.
3. Remove chicken when tender and de-bone.
4. Stir cut-up chicken back into soup. Add 1/2 cup fresh chopped parsley.
5. To serve, ladle soup into bowls. Add a rounded tablespoonful of hot cooked rice to each bowl.

*VARIATION: After 2-3 hours of cooking, add 1 cup raw long-grain rice to the slow cooker mixture, rather then adding the tbsp of rice to the soup after it’s done cooking. Cook on High another hour.

What’s happening

Posted: February 25, 2011 in In the news

Sportmen's showDon’t forget that this weekend is the Ottawa Boat and Sportsmen’s show at Lansdowne Park! Fishing, Boating, Hunting, Travel & lots more!


I saw lots of great stories in the news this week, the first I want to mention is actually about a reporter who was covering the Grammy Awards when all of a sudden she went to talk and gibberish came out of her mouth! You can literally see the fear in her face when she started to talk.

People were saying that she was having a stroke on live television and apparently her symptoms were similar to a stroke but turns out it was a migraine! The reason why I mention this is because I have experienced a ‘complex migraine’ before, not to the extent of this lady, where she had speech problems but I had vision problems. I tell you just the vision problems for 30 minutes was scary, I can’t imagine how she felt!

You can read one of the many stories that are online about her experience here. Migraine questions/answers can be found here.

A US group wants to ban caramel food colouring found in soft drinks. I say ban soft drinks, but that’s just me ;)

I am a huge movie fan, love going to movies! Love the popcorn too but do you know just how much fat is in movie theatre popcorn? I was shocked to see just how bad a bag of popcorn is for you. I usually opt for a small popcorn but might just stick to eating air-popped at home after reading this!


You’ll never guess what lies hidden in these foods! Unhealthy foods in disguise?

Have a great weekend everyone and if you go to the movies, skip the popcorn!

I thought now that this blog has a new home on the Ottawa Sun site, that I would introduce you to a few people I’ve asked to help out. I’m well aware that I don’t know everything there is to know about weight-loss, health, nutrition and exercise so I have asked a few experts to contribute to this blog. How will they contribute exactly? Well, once a week, starting the first week of March, they’ll be guest blogging! We’ll have an “Ask the Expert” type blog once a month and you’ll also see them commenting on some of my blog posts. So watch for them every Friday.

AND also starting the first week of March, once a week you’ll start seeing videos with our experts. Exciting ? I think it is, so without further adieu here are our experts! I’m looking forward to learning lots from these folks!

If you have any questions for our experts, email them to tiana.macleod@sunmedia.

Say Hello to our Fitness Experts

Janet FougereJanet Fougere

In my late 20’s, I was 8-10 dress sizes larger & smoked a package of cigarettes a day.  For the last twenty years of my life I’ve raised two boys and got involved in physical fitness in a big way, eventually becoming certified as a personal trainer and nutrition specialist.

I’m 47 years old and in the best shape of my life.  I provide coaching for weight management & fitness programs, specializing in resistance training for women.

My clients say they continue to come to me because of the personal and caring attention they get from me.  They appreciate that their program are customized to fit their individual needs/bodies, even the music is customized to their likes/dislikes.  I’m confident that we can transform the thought of a healthier lifestyle into action,  reaching your goals regardless or your current challenges.  Some of my clients have special needs, including cancer, autism, thyroid complications, menopause, scoliosis, hip replacements & herniated disks; all are experiencing results.

Here’s to you being Healthy, Happy, Lean and Fit!

Jean-Luc BoissonneaultJean-Luc Boissonneault

For more than a decade, Jean-Luc Boissonneault, award-winning body builder, fitness coach, founder of the Free Form Fitness personal training center, speaker and author of Abs On The Go, has helped thousands of people transform their bodies and their life.

He lives for one purpose: To help peoples dreams come true.

A warm welcome for our Dietician & Nutritionist

Helene CharleboisHélène Charlebois

As a Registered Dietitian, Hélène Charlebois brings her 20+ years of experience in the Nutrition Counselling field, and a fresh perspective on women’s health issues. She has special certifications in adult weight management Level 1 & 2 (ADA) to help in the prevention and treatment of Metabolic Syndrome, Diabetes, Cardiovascular Disease, Hypertension and PCOS. She’s known by her clients and peers as a mentor / lifestyle coach in the often-confusing world of weight management.

Having graduated from McGill University, Hélène became an entrepreneur, and opened one of the first private nutrition practices in Canada, followed by a tenure as President of the Consulting Dietitians of Canada & Board Member of the Dietitians of Canada (2006-2009)

Hélène continues to be a much sought-after speaker throughout Canada with media work extending to television spokesmanships with Quaker Oats and Tropicana Canada, not to mention being a nutrition expert to radio, magazines, newspapers, podcasts, webletters, and various Government agencies.

Rachel HewittRachel Hewitt

Rachel Hewitt is a Nutritionist based in Ottawa, Ontario. She specializes in creating personalized nutritional programs that respect the unique biology, goals, and dietary needs of her clients.  Since no two people are identical, no two eating plans will be the same.

Rachel studied Bio-Medical Sciences at the University of Guelph, graduating with honours in 2006. She then studied at the Canadian School of Natural Nutrition and became a member of the Canadian Association of Natural Nutritional Practitioners.   She is a sought after speaker for corporate events, government, workplace wellness programs, health food stores, and health clinics.  She counsels clients in the areas of weight loss, digestive issues, IBS, IBD, children’s health and ADD/ADHD, prenatal nutrition, and nutrition for cancer patients.

Rachel has developed a unique personalized weight loss program which focuses on the cause of weight loss issues and teaches clients the tools they need to keep the weight off for good!

Mmm chocolate!

Posted: February 24, 2011 in Food, LCHF/Paleo

Lindt ChocolateSometimes I just feel like some chocolate. I can’t say I have a real sweet tooth, maybe more of a sour tooth but when I crave chocolate, I’ve just got to have it! If you’ve read up on the latest chocolate news lol well you’ll see that the media is dubbing chocolate as a super fruit.. yeah a super fruit.. wouldn’t that be nice?

Sorry to say, most chocolate, the chocolate you’re probably craving, isn’t all that healthy unless you go for the darker chocolate. As you can see I am partial to Lindt dark chocolate. When I craved chocolate before, it wasn’t very often and when I craved it I craved milk chocolate, you know the chocolate that has little cocoa and lots of sugar!

Yeah that’s the culprit right there, the sugar and while it tastes great it’s certainly not the best for your waistline. Now that I am watching what I am eating I still crave chocolate but I don’t dare go for the milk chocolate, or semi-sweet chocolate. I go for the dark chocolate. Want to know why?

The darker the chocolate the healthier it is for you, anything with 70% cocoa or higher the better!

Dark chocolate has a high antioxidant content. Why are antioxidants good? Well Antioxidants are a group of compounds that are increasingly thought to have many heart-healthy properties.

Some recent studies have shown that dark chocolate has reduced blood pressure, improved blood flow and showed mild anti-clotting effects and could help prevent plaque from forming in your arteries.Cocoa beans

Dark chocolate also has many minerals including copper, potassium, calcium, iron and magnesium and despite its reputation it has a low glycemic index, which means it doesn’t send your blood sugar spiking!

Now that doesn’t mean you should eat a bar of dark chocolate everyday but like everything, it’s good in moderation!

First time I tried dark chocolate, I hated it! It takes some getting use to and it’s better to try a lower % like 65% the first time you try it and as you get use to the taste, up the percentage.

I sometime bring a small piece or two of 70% or 85% Dark Chocolate in my lunch, the caffeine in it also gives me a good afternoon kick when I’m feeling a bit drained. I’m not a coffee drinker!

Want to learn more about chocolate and its many secrets check out this video with funky Food Science expert Dr. Kiki!

Do you think the recent studies are right, is dark chocolate good for you? OR if it tastes so good, it must be bad? Post your thoughts in the comments!

Get some zzz’s

Posted: February 23, 2011 in Health

hypno_sleepDid you know that sleep plays an important role in weight-loss? I make sure I get at least 8 hours of sleep each night! If not, I don’t feel rested and find it hard to get through my day.

There have been lots of studies on this issue and these studies have shown that basically, if you’re not getting enough hours of sleep at night, you could be finding it hard to lose weight. It can also cause many more unwanted health problems.

There’s really no proven reason why it can affect your weight-loss YET but there are some theories!

1. A lack of sleep messes with two hormones. An increase in the hormone Ghrelin and a decrease in Leptin! Ghrelin basically tells you when you’re hungry and Leptin tells you when it’s time to stop.. so if you aren’t getting enough sleep your body is being told you’re hungry and you don’t feel as satisfied or full after you eat! Add to that the fact that people who are sleep deprived tend to crave foods that are high in calories such as sweet or salty, starchy foods and you can see why these changes in your hormones can lead to weight gain over the long-term.

2. It interferes with the body’s ability to metabolize carbohydrates and causes high blood glucose levels. This can lead to higher insulin levels and greater body-fat storage.

A lack of sleep also increases your risk of diabetes from a possible insulin resistance, increases your blood pressure and the risk of heart disease.

So how many hours of sleep per night should you be getting? It really depends on your age and your body but an adult (18+) should on average be getting between 7.5 and 9 hours of sleep, teens (12-18) should be getting 8.5 to 10 hours a night.

Things like stress, drinking too much alcohol or caffeine before bed, exercising too close to bedtime or working before bed. Even following an erratic schedule (waking up and going to bed at different times each day) can throw your body’s natural sleep/wake cycle out of wack. Other things such as your sleeping partner, jet lag, not being physically healthy and medication can effect your quality of sleep as well.

Ways to try to get a better night sleep can include:

1. Follow a good exercise program but refrain from exercising within three hours of your bedtime.

2. Reduce your stress

3. Don’t drink caffeinated or alcoholic beverages near your bedtime.

4. Set your sleep and wake up times around the same time each day to keep your body on a regular schedule.

5. Upgrade your mattress

6. Make sure you’re comfortable, a cool dark room is best for sleep.

If you get enough sleep, you’ll actually be able to get more accomplished in your day then if you had little sleep and more time to do things. Sleep will help increase your energy and efficiency.

Sleeping Myths

Myth 1: Getting just 1 hour less sleep per night won’t effect your daytime functioning. You may not be noticeably sleepy during the day. But even slightly less sleep can affect your ability to think properly and respond quickly, and compromise your cardiovascular health, energy balance, and ability to fight infections.

Myth 2: Your body adjusts quickly to different sleep schedules. Most people can reset their biological clock, but only by appropriately timed cues—and even then, by 1–2 hours per day at best. Consequently, it can take more than a week to adjust after traveling across several time zones or switching to the night shift.

Myth 3: Extra sleep at night can cure you of problems with excessive daytime fatigue. Not only is the quantity of sleep important but also the quality of sleep. Some people sleep 8 or 9 hours a night but don’t feel well rested when they wake up because the quality of their sleep is poor.

Myth 4: You can make up for lost sleep during the week by sleeping more on the weekends. Although this sleeping pattern will help relieve part of a sleep debt, it will not completely make up for the lack of sleep. Furthermore, sleeping later on the weekends can affect your biological clock so that it is much harder to go to sleep at the right time on Sunday nights and get up early on Monday mornings.

Watch this video to find out how sleep deprivation could be affecting your health!

No more excuses!

Posted: February 22, 2011 in Fitness/Exercise, Health

For so many years I used every excuse in the book to not exercise.. I was the queen of excuses! My easiest excuse had been my hips. If you haven’t read about my hip problem, you can read about it here. In short, I was born with my hips further in the sockets than they should be, so when I move the bones are closer together than normal and rub together. Because of this a lot of activities including walking, running, anything that puts pressure on those joints, hurt. I had to stay away from basketball and volleyball.. I was always told, if it hurts don’t do it, so I took it to heart and eventually I just stopped doing everything, as I got heavier everything would hurt that much more! It became harder and harder to do physical activities, to get any type of exercise.

This is the reason I started this lifestyle change, it was to keep myself from getting hip replacement surgery at a young age. My orthopedic surgeon told me that exercise and losing the weight would help the hip pain. I asked him how I could do that when everything hurt and he said, work through it and it will get better. It was worth a shot and he was right!

Well now I say, why can’t I do that? I’ve learned that if I get my muscles strong enough and my joints use to a certain movement, I can do most things, maybe I can’t do them as well as anyone else but I can still do them, without much pain, if any at all. Sometimes I’ll push myself too much and I hurt the next day but the pain isn’t nearly as bad as it use to be.

To compare now from then, in 2008 I couldn’t go for a walk without limping the next day from inflammation in my hip joints, I couldn’t do 5 minutes on the treadmill! Now I can go for long walks with my dog and even jog on the treadmill. A lot has changed since then but I still hide behind my pain and use it as an excuse to not take part in things I know MIGHT hurt.

Well no more excuses! The two most basic activities that I find hurt the most are long walks and riding a bike. These are both my goals for this spring and summer! Basically I want to know that I can do these things, that I have come far enough to know that I can do whatever I set my mind to and that I don’t need to hide behind excuses anymore to do these things that I never would have dreamed of doing 3 years ago!

On May 28th I will participate in the Ottawa Race weekend, I have signed up to do the 5km race. I don’t think I have ever walked let alone jogged at one time 5km, likely not even 1km. I can’t even say how far that is or how long it will take me. I don’t know if I’ll be able to jog but would love to try. All I know is I’m doing it! May 28th at 5pm I will leave the start line and set off on my own personal quest to prove to myself that I can do anything that I set my mind to. That the doctor who told me that “if it hurts, don’t do it” was wrong and that what he should have said was “if it hurts, go slower, don’t give up, it will get better!”

BikeI’m also going to do this for all of you sitting at home, in pain, thinking there’s no hope of getting better. There’s hope and I’m proof of it and I will prove it to everyone by doing something I never thought I would ever do! Then after that, I’m going to work towards getting back on a bicycle and this summer I’m going to go and rent a bike and go for a bike ride for the first time since I was a kid!

They both seem like simple things to do but for someone like me, they are both very difficult. I fear the pain! For so many years I have felt the pain when doing activities like these. I need to prove that I can do these two things so that after this, I have no more excuses!

If you want to participate in the Race weekend or have already have signed up, tell us why you want to take part. Do you have something to prove? Share it with us in the comments section!

Be realistic!

Posted: February 18, 2011 in Fitness/Exercise, Hints & Tips

Be realistic!Weight-loss is all about learning and I think the biggest lesson I learned, besides being patient was being realistic..

People would always ask me, how much weight do you want to lose? I would say, I want to lose my belly! That was always my response because I really didn’t want to put a number to it. The number actually scared me and almost made me not want to bother. This is how I looked at it, if I lose 40 lbs and my belly is gone, then that’s my goal. If I get to 40 lbs and my belly is still there, I will try for another 10 lbs and go from there. Heck I have a hard time losing 5 lbs, how can I even think beyond that especially in the beginning? Just thinking about losing anything beyond 10 lbs makes me tired! I already want to take a break!

At the beginning I didn’t know how much weight was healthy to lose. What was the magic healthy weight-loss number? My fitness instructor told me that a realistic and healthy weight-loss would be around 1 or 2 lbs a week. Ok, that I can do! So, that was my goal. If I could lose 1-2 lbs a week, by 2 months I would be between 15 and 20 lbs of weight-loss! Not bad, I wish it would come off faster but as long as it was coming off, I was better off then where I was at, right?

When I would set a small goal like losing 2 lbs a week, it would seem easy, something I knew I could do!

If I didn’t set any goals at all, I would get frustrated really quick and give up. Then I’d try to start over again the next week, and guess what? You guessed it, I’d get frustrated again.

After a little while you’ll realize what IS and isn’t realistic. At the beginning I really just wanted to lose weight, the quickest way possible. I would think to myself, “I should lose 5 lbs this week” and then I only lost 1 lb and I’d be disappointed. But really what I was doing was setting myself up for disappointment.

So, set small goals and take this process day-by-day, don’t look too far ahead! Remember, this IS NOT A RACE!

What are ways you keep going while trying to stay on track to lose weight? Share your hints and tips in the comments!

If you’d like to see a before and after photo and find out how much weight I have actually lost so far, check out my ABOUT ME page here!