Archive for the ‘Guest Blogger’ Category

Janet Fougere

Janet Fougere

What is it?

Interval Training is intense bursts of exercise followed by lower intensity activity.
The lower intensity interval is often referred to as “the rest period” because you
recover from the higher-intensity training.   As you get more fit, you decrease the
“rest” time and increase the high-intensity periods.
The hard work is worth it; You’ll see great results in your physic and fitness level
if you train this way regularly.
Interval Time Frames
The key to interval training is exercising at high intensities for at least 10
seconds, but no more than three minutes. The National Strength and
Conditioning Association recommends specific work-to-rest ratios for interval
training: if your work interval lasts up to 10 seconds, use a ratio between 1:12
and 1:20; if your work interval lasts 15 to 30 seconds, your ratio is 1:3 to 1:5; if
your work interval lasts from one to three minutes, use a ratio of 1:3 or 1:4. For
instance, if you sprint for 20 seconds, using a ratio of 1:3, your rest period should
be 60 seconds. Read more here
I recommend interval training just once a week to start.  It’s hard on the body to
train at high intensity at every workout; you’ll need to allow your body time to
become accustomed to the increased magnitude of your training.
My Interval Workout
I execute this workout twice a week, it takes me 32 minutes to complete.
• 10-minute Warm Up Jog
I like a second phase to my warm up:
• 1-minute Run
• 30-sec Recovery Jog
Repeat Run/Recovery 3 times

• 1-minute Recovery Jog
• Repeat Sprint/Recovery 8 times
• 5-minute Cool Down & Stretch
Why Does it Work?
When changing body composition (i.e. burning fat) intensity is more important
than time, distance or volume.  Interval training allows you to exercise at higher
levels of intensity compared to steady state exercise.
Humans can’t physically train at high intensity for 30-40 minutes straight, we
need breaks to process lactic acid build-up and reduce fatigue.  This process of
extensive exertion and recovery promotes your body’s own growth hormones
and boosts your metabolism, burning more fat and building muscle.
Interval training also adds variety to your bike, run, swim etc.   Running 30-45
minutes every day at a slow and steady pace is good, but if your not getting the
results you want you may have hit a plateau.  It’s time to up your game and get
those great results you’re looking for.
I encourage you to try interval training and let me know what you think.  Looking
forward to hearing from you.


Five Simple Habits for Fat Loss

Janet Fougere

Janet Fougere

I find these strategies result in fat lose for the majority of clients most of the time.  If you incorporate the 5 simple habits into your daily routine it will naturally lead to improved caloric intake, nutrient timing and food selection.

1.  Time your meals. Eat every 2-4 hours.  This is the most important habit, be mindful when you eat.

2.  Eat lots of fruit & veggies. Make sure you have at least 2 servings of fruit or veggies at every meal. (one serving is about .5-1 cup, 2 cups for leafy vegtables)

3. Indulge in carbs after exercise. Have you exercised today?  If not, opt for fruit & veggies and pass on pasta, cereal, bread, rice etc.  This practice is applicable if you have fat to lose.

4. Incorporate lean, complete protein. Does your meal contain protein?  Make sure you have a serving at each meal.  Sources include lean meats, fish, eggs and protein supplements.  Approximately 30% of your calories should come from protein.

5. Include healthy fats. Each meal needs a serving of healthy fats from animal foods, avocado, olive oil, mixed nuts, flaxseed, flaxseed oil or fish oil.

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

Check out Janet’s website at

Rachel Hewitt

Rachel Hewitt

Is Organic Produce Worth the Money?
This is one of the most common questions I receive as a Nutritionist.  The short answer is yes, organic produce is better than conventional.
Here’s the long answer:

Let’s start by asking what exactly is “organic”?  According to the Organic Council of Ontario (OCO), Organic production is designed to :

  •  respect the environment through the responsible usage of soil, water and air, minimizing agricultural pollution
  •  protect the long-term health of the soil, encouraging soil biological activity and minimizing soil degradation and erosion
  • provide livestock with humane living conditions for their health and well-being
  • recycle materials and resources whenever possible and reduce the use of non-renewable resources

Organic production does not permit the use of:

  • synthetic pesticides
  • synthetic fertilizers
  • Sewage sludge (mmmm yummy!)
  • genetically modified organisms
  • ionizing radiation
  • no growth hormones for animals that produce meat, poultry, eggs, and dairy products

Here are some key reasons why organic is worth the money:

  • You get more for your money because organic foods contain more nutrients.  A 2001 study compared the nutrient levels in organic and regular foods.  In every case the organic crops had higher nutrient levels- 27% more vitamin C, 29% more iron, and 14% more phosphorous (2).
  • You avoid harmful pesticides and herbicides if you choose organic.  The definition of a pesticide is “a chemical preparation for destroying plant, fungal, or animal pests, also called a biocide (any chemical that destroys life poisoning).”  Would you ever knowingly drink a glass of Roundup or another pesticide? Then why would you eat it sprayed on your food?
  • You are helping the earth if you buy organic produce.  All of these pesticides and herbicides eventually end up in our soil and water which can end up harming other people, plants and animals.  The intention of pesticides is to kill pests that are going to eat the produce.  Unfortunately, they will eventually end up killing other non-pests such as bees, and we all know bees are essential for the reproduction of most plants. If we kill all the bees that means we no longer have any food!
  • Organic produce tastes better!  You can’t even compare an organic apple with a conventionally grown apple covered in wax!  Once you try it you’ll never go back.

Although organic produce is always better, sometimes cost and availability can be factors. Thankfully, the Environmental Working Group created The Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides which ranks pesticide contamination for 53 popular fruits and vegetables. Nearly all the studies on which the guide is based tested produce after it had been rinsed or peeled (so you can’t use that as an excuse). Did you know that peppers have been treated with as many as 97 pesticides? The Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides will help you determine which fruits and vegetables have the most pesticide residues and are the most important to buy organic. You can lower your pesticide intake substantially by avoiding the 12 most contaminated fruits and vegetables and eating the least contaminated produce (3).

Dirty Dozen (buy organic):
1.    Apples
2.    Celery
3.    Strawberries
4.    Peaches
5.    Spinach
6.    Nectarines (imported)
7.    Grapes (imported)
8.    Sweet bell peppers
9.    Potatoes
10.    Blueberries (domestic)
11.    Lettuce
12.    Kale/collard greens

Clean 15 (lowest in pesticides):
1.    Onions
2.    Sweet corn
3.    Pineapples
4.    Avocado
5.    Asparagus
6.    Sweet peas
7.    Mangoes
8.    Eggplant
9.    Cantaloupe (domestic)
10.    Kiwi
11.    Cabbage
12.    Watermelon
13.    Sweet potatoes
14.    Grapefruit
15.    Mushrooms

1.    Organic Council of Ontario.
2.    Worthington, Virginia. Nutritional Quality of Organic Versus Conventional Fruits, Vegetables and Grains.  Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine. Vol 7, No 2, 2001.
3.    Environmental Working Group.

Janet Fougere

Janet Fougere

Lots of us are trying to juggle many demands at one time:  jobs, kids, training, household chores & family obligations. The craziness can cause us to become irritable, overeat, take medication or a combination of the above.

First, recognize stress:
Stress symptoms include mental, social, and physical manifestations. These include exhaustion, loss of/increased appetite, headaches, crying, sleeplessness, and oversleeping. Escape through alcohol, drugs, or other compulsive behavior are often indications. Feelings of alarm, frustration, or apathy may accompany stress.
The following list of techniques might help you if you are suffering from stress:
1.  Participate in activities that reduce stress
•    My favorite (of course) — Exercise!
•    Check out my No time for the gym workout
2. Breathing and/or Relaxation Exercises
•    The way you breathe is the way you live your life.  Do you hold your breath when you’re angry? Take Shallow breaths? Sigh a lot? Recognize the change and slow down the breath to promote relaxation.
•    Check out Women’s Health article on Meditation
3. Sleep
•    Seven hours per night is minimum & the lack of sleep aggravates the stress
•    Check out Tiana’s blog post – My Secret to getting to Sleep— it really works!
4. Remove yourself from the situation
•    Take breaks throughout the day.
•    Remove yourself  from the situation that is causing you stress even for a few minutes at a time.
5. Set realistic Goals
•    Plan ahead & allow enough time for all necessary activities
•    Reduce the number of tasks assigned to you, delegate
6.  Do things you enjoy
•    Find things that make you laugh
•    Call a friend
•    Create something new
•    Try a new activity
7. Stay calm under pressure
•    Not too much at once.  Focus on one troublesome thing and manage your reactions to it/him/her
8. Have confidence in yourself

By: Janet Fougere – Ottawa Personal Trainer –

Jean-Luc Boissonneault

Jean-Luc Boissonneault

I would imagine that most readers of this blog realize that over consumption of carbohydrates is really what’s making us fat and is a much more common issue than eating too much salad. But once you understand and accept this you may be tempted to simply focus on eating the right foods with no care of how much you are consuming of it. Next thing you know your salad intake goes from a small bowl to a head of lettuce. But who cares right? I mean it’s salad. Read on to find out.
The upper part of the intestine contains cells that release hormones into the bloodstream when they are stretched, like after a meal. These hormones signal the pancreas to produce some insulin to prevent a blood sugar rise that might otherwise follow the digestion of the meal. Large meals will cause greater stretching of the intestinal cells which will in turn secrete proportionately larger amounts of these hormones. Since very small amounts of insulin released by the pancreas can cause a large drop in blood sugar, the pancreas simultaneously produces the less potent hormone glucagon to offset the potential excess effects of the insulin which will cause gluconeogenesis and glycogenolysis and there by raise your blood sugar.
In short: If you eat enough to feel really full then even if it’s salad it will still increase blood sugar and insulin. And as we know what insulin does. Insulin is the fat storing hormone.
Here’s the story of Dr. Bernstein (not the same guy that you’re thinking of) and his patient from his book Diabetes Solution.
“Many years ago a patient asked me why her blood sugar went from 90mg/dl up to 300mg/dl every afternoon after she went swimming.  I asked her what she ate before her swim. “nothing, just a freebie,” she replied. When I asked her how much salad she was eating before her swims, she replied “a head.”
A head of lettuce contains 10g of carbohydrates, which can raise a type I adults blood sugar about 50mg/dl at the most. So what accounts for the other 160 mg/dl rise in blood sugar?”
He calls this process the The Chinese restaurant effect where you could eat a whole bunch of bean sprouts but if you eat to the point where your stomach feels very full you’re still going to raise your blood sugar.
Conclusion: Portion size does count, so be careful that you’re not only eating the right foods but also not stuffing yourself to the point you need to lay down.

You can check out Jean-Luc’s blog at or his website at

Rachel Hewitt

Rachel Hewitt

Are you finishing your workout with a brightly coloured sports drink in order to replenish those electrolytes you lost sweating?  These beverages do supply some electrolytes, but they also supply a lot more that you definitely don’t want. Here’s what you’re getting:

Artificial Colours- May cause allergy reactions or a worsening of asthma symptoms, exactly what you need to perform your best.  They have also been shown to cause hyperactivity disorders in children.  Sport drink companies use artificial colours so you can “tell different flavours apart”.

Brominated Vegetable Oils- BVO is a vegetable oil (usually soy) that has had a bromine molecule attached to it.  Bromine is not found naturally in any foods and it has been banned for human consumption in over 100 countries.  Overconsumption of BVO’s can cause memory loss, tremors, fatigue, loss of muscle coordination, headache, ptosis (drooping) of the right eyelid as well as elevated serum chloride.   BVO’s are used in sports drinks to keep “flavour oils evenly distributed”.

High Fructose Corn Syrup- HFCS has been linked to Diabetes and Obesity, probably not the main goals of your workout.

Sucralose- If you choose a sugar-free sports drink it will be sweetened with Sucralose, an artificial sweetener which is a chlorinated sucrose derivative.  Sucralose has been shown to shrink the thymus gland.

What to drink instead?
Luckily, there is a healthier replacement to sports drinks.  Coconut water is an all natural electrolyte replacement from young coconuts.   Most sports drinks only contain sodium, potassium, and chloride.  Coconut water also contains magnesium (which is essential for proper muscle relaxation and recovery) and calcium.  Some people even claim that you can use coconut water as a blood transfusion because it’s electrolyte ratios are so similar to our blood’s (just in case you are stuck on a deserted island).

Coconut water can be found in many health food and grocery stores.  Choose brands that do not contain extra sugar or preservatives.   Or you can always buy a young coconut and crack it open!

Travis Saunders

Travis Saunders

One of the most interesting things about exercise is that it results in important health improvements even in the absence of weight loss.  For example, just a single session of exercise can result in improved insulin sensitivity, increased levels of HDL cholesterol (aka the “good” cholesterol) and reductions in plasma triglyceride levels – all tremendously important markers of disease risk.  In addition to these metabolic changes, new research by Dr Lance Davidson suggests once-again that exercise can also prevent the accumulation of abdominal fat, independent of changes in overall body fat percentage.
The new study, published recently in the Journal of Physical Activity and Health, examines the prospective association between physical activity and body fat in a group of healthy, non-obese women.  Physical activity, body fat percentage, waist circumference and food intake were assessed at baseline and again 20 months later (there was no intervention per se, just pre and post measurements). Compared to baseline, physical activity decreased in the group as a whole, while body weight, body fat percentage, and waist circumference all increased – none of which is terribly surprising.  But that’s the information for the group as a whole – the interesting results come when participants were grouped according to whether or not they increased, maintained or decreased their level of physical activity during the 20 month study (see graph below).

As you can see, individuals who decreased their physical activity levels increased their waist circumference by about 2.5 centimeters (~1 inch) during the 20 month study.  Surprisingly, individuals who maintained their physical activity levels also increased their waist circumference.  Finally, individuals who increased their physical activity level saw no change in waist circumference during the study.  These group differences remained significant after controlling for confounders including baseline physical activity, energy intake, and overall change in body fat.
So what’s the take-home message?  Increasing your physical activity level appears to prevent the accumulation of abdominal fat, regardless of what is happening to your body weight or overall level of body fat.  This is tremendously important given the strong links between abdominal fat and health risk, and because many people quit their exercise program when they fail to see a change in the number on the bathroom scale.  These findings fit with past research, which has suggested that structured exercise preferentially reduces visceral fat, even when body weight does not change at all.  I’m not 100% clear why waist circumference increased in individuals in the current study who maintained their physical activity levels, and I’d be interested to hear if anyone has any thoughts on that.
So remember, regardless of what is happening to your weight or even your body fat percentage, increasing your level of physical activity still results in measurable improvements in body fat distribution and overall health.