Merry Fitmas!

I’ve been remiss, not for lack of trying but for lack of multiple ‘ME’s to achieve the many tasks at hand. I’m sure we can all agree that life has a way of happening and not necessarily in the ways we’d like to see. We’ve all been there and if truth be told, we’re probably going to go there again at some point and time. We take a back seat to what’s happening and fall off our little fitness wagons. In most cases, we chastise ourselves for those moments we should have gone for a run, dropped a few squats or opted for a healthier meal instead of copping to a cheeseburger wrapped in waxed paper as a time saving alternative. We condemn ourselves for being human and not fully fitness focused…or are we?

In my case there’s been a return to school, a change of jobs, a few rude awakenings and two untimely losses of both family and friends…in short, it’s been a rough year. Whereas I’ve been maintaining my weight within a few pounds up or down my level of fitness seems to have slid to the wayside while I’ve been chained to a computer and a daily three-hour commute. I’ll be honest, my fitness focus isn’t always on chin ups, back flips and how long I can hold a handstand; sometimes it’s on everything but my physical self.

There is more to fitness then buns of steel and a six pack.

Hold up! The heck you say?!

With all seriousness, I kid you not!

Fitness is a package deal…I repeat…Fitness is a package deal!

It’s true, when we think of fitness we think in purely physical terms. Height to weight ratios, waist width, caloric intake, and good lord almighty those ever-present assets. It’s how we have been conditioned to think based upon the partial definition of the word ‘fit’. Suffice it to say the original definition of ‘fit’ was given to a person having an extreme emotional tantrum or to those suffering acute epileptic type seizures. (Perhaps not what you may have expected and in no way related to a person’s size, weight or shape!)

No different then you, I sometimes find it difficult to look past the surface reflection and see the bigger picture…I mean what does 10 lbs of excess weight have to do with my mental outlook and emotional state? Well, quite a lot! Fitness is an overall concept; it is the cumulative aspects of your mental, emotional and physical self. To focus on only one aspect is to deny yourself the experience of ‘whole health’ or ‘whole body health and fitness’.

With that in mind, and without sourcing out every medical and training related reference on the interrelations of mind-body fitness, systemic effects of depression, low self esteem, anger, guilt and the body’s biochemical response and/or issues of immunological suppression under long term stress…let’s agree that when we are depressed we are more likely to feel physically ‘off’ and when we’re happy, we are more likely to feel physically ‘on’. In short, it’s easier to shed a few jiggly pounds when we’re feeling upbeat and positive then it is when we’re down and depressed.
So, with the New Year creeping up around the corner, here are 3 simple things you should remember when it comes to general health and fitness before you step on the scale, write down your resolutions and declare war on the battle of the bulge.

1. Don’t sabotage a good goal for lack of planning.

By taking time to plan for your success, you will be more likely to achieve it regardless of what life throws at you. Quite often we declare on the spur of the moment, “I want to…(fill in the blank)” but we never achieve it simply because we don’t take the time to plan for it. Don’t just declare a goal, create the road map you will need to achieve it. Understand that the ‘how’ is often more important then the ‘why’.

We all have those moments of frustration when we find we’ve slid a little left of centre or lost focus on our main objective. We encounter set backs that take us away from our main goal or throw an unexpected roadblock in our way. This crazy little thing called life isn’t always sunshine and roses, sometimes it’s a prickly little handful of thorns!

Don’t let these set backs make you throw in the towel. Life isn’t personally attacking you simply because it’s happening and all is not lost in these moments! See them for what they are, take a deep breath, refer back to your plan and continue forward. You will always be further ahead for re-starting right here and now then if you simply give up.

2. Set S.M.A.R.T. Goals

S.M.A.R.T. is an acronym for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Timely. I can not stress this enough, there is no quick fix or fast solution to any fitness goal be it weight loss, gain or improved tone. A good rule of thumb is to expect a three-month time frame in order to visually see a difference, however you can ‘feel’ a difference within a matter of a couple weeks…so don’t be fooled by your reflection!

Every year, countless people step forward on January 1st with a list of resolutions that last less then a week. They lose motivation when they realize it takes a level of dedication and commitment to themselves more so then the goal they’ve set. Value yourself and the benefits you will achieve while you’re reaching your goal. Be realistic in your expectations. If you want to lose 30 lbs, don’t get discouraged when you’re only down 1 lb within a week! A good average for weight loss is 1 to 1.5 lbs per week, so plan for it in the timeline you create to achieve it!

Set your objectives, write them down or create a vision board to help you stay focused. Plan for your success in simple daily or weekly ways. Create a menu, shop for it and stick to it. Pre-plan your indulgences to have something to look forward to and try to keep your rewards activity based over food motivated. Eat to burn, don’t burn to eat.

3. Make YOU, Part of Your Goals to Succeed

We all need balance in our lives between the physical, mental and emotional. Make it your goal to love yourself or at the very least, love yourself enough in order to achieve the other goals you set for yourself. Without a sense of value or self worth, we never seem to be able to fully appreciate our own efforts or justify the time it takes to accomplish self oriented goals. We think that self oriented equates selfishness, but that isn’t the truth. You have every right to put your health and well being as a priority.
Be ‘right minded’ in why you want to achieve your goals, it’s easier to achieve them when you believe in the ‘why’…and the ‘why’ is YOU.

With that, albeit it a bit belatedly, I wish you all a very Merry Fitmas and a Successful and Happy New Year xo


Bird IS the Word

As some of you may know, my actual career is as a photographer. From commercial to product and stock; corporate portraiture and high end real estate. What can I say? It’s what I do!

At heart however, not only am I an artist but I am an educator as well; not just in the field of physical fitness but in the realm of photography and natural interpretation.

One of my businesses, is geared towards just that, photography and environmental and ecological interpretation. So here is a glimpse of what I’m developing and launching in the coming months.

Check the link below…because Bird IS the Word…and this is where the real fun begins!

Source: Bird is the Word

Activated Charcoal: Hype or Hero?

Activated charcoal, it’s everywhere!  Proclaimed as the new miracle cure for issues related to skin and hair; teeth whitening and internal cleansing, but are all of these claims really true?  Drug store counters are groaning under the weight of skin care products containing activated charcoal, from cleansers to masques; so I thought I’d do a little digging and see what the fuss was all about. Is it commercial advertising hype or the new health and beauty hero it claims to be?

First of all I had to take a minute and figure out exactly what it is, and here’s what I found.  Activated charcoal is similar to common charcoal; it’s made from peat, coal, wood, coconut shell, or petroleum. What makes it different from standard charcoal is that it is heated in the presence of a gas that causes the charcoal to develop lots of internal spaces or pores which in turn enables it to absorb a variety of substances such as chemicals, minerals and a variety of organic and inorganic material.

Many health practitioners tout the use of activated charcoal as a miracle cleanser and detoxifier for weight loss and improved health. The fact that it is highly absorbent has led many to believe it is also naturally selective of toxins in the body when consumed, however this is only partially true. Activated charcoal is not selective at all; it absorbs the good as well as the bad. Fortunately this active absorption only last for a limited amount of time; the time it takes to make it from one end of the digestive track to the other.

In hospitals and medical emergencies activated charcoal is administered orally to treat a variety of issues from flatulence and high cholesterol to some types of poisonings, over consumption of alcohol and occasionally to assist pregnant women with bile flow issues. It is not recommended for anyone taking prescription medication as it reduces the efficacy of the medication and is known to cause constipation. It is not to be taken in conjunction with syrup of ipecac due to their combined, reactive natures.

In summary, in a medical emergency activated charcoal may just save your life when administered under control conditions by a medical professional.  As a supplemental remedy for over the counter health however, it fails to shine as a true health hero.

But wait! We aren’t done yet!

Other claims for the benefits of activated charcoal include hair care, skin care and teeth whitening. With that in mind, I set about the process of making an unholy mess of my kitchen and bathroom as I opened up a package of gel caps and the charcoal hit the proverbial fan.

First I tried it as an additive to regular shampoo (I mixed in roughly ½ tsp. to the normal amount of shampoo I would typically use). Without a long and drawn out account, it acted very similarly to commercial residue lifters such as Neutrogena. My initial impression was that it was effective. Like commercial residue lifters, I wouldn’t suggest you use it any more than once or twice per week.

On to tooth whitening!

Various posts have suggested creating a thick paste of activated charcoal and water and dabbing the paste onto the teeth and letting it sit for 3 to 5 minutes, 2 to 3 times per week after regular tooth brushing. With no discernible taste the only unpleasant part of the experience was the gritty texture. {Please note that the accidental swallowing of such a small amount of activated charcoal won’t have any adverse effects). My general impression was that it DID whiten and brighten my teeth noticeably.

Last but not least was skin care. In this instance I created a face masque using 2 tbsp. of diatomaceous earth, 1 tsp. honey, 1 tsp. activated charcoal powder and created a thick slurry by adding small amounts of distilled water until the mixture was spreadable without being runny. Avoiding the sensitive skin around the eyes, I applied the whole mixture in layers to my face and allowed it to dry for approximately 15 minutes. The results? I’m pretty impressed! My skin felt clean and smooth with a noticeable reduction in pore size, (which is important to women as we hit our ‘mature phase’ of life!)  I wouldn’t use this anymore than once a week due to its drying nature but it was effective in removing surface oils which, whereas essential  for the development of healthy skin, can run amuck and lead to acne if not kept in check from time to time.

Whereas activated charcoal may be more hype than hero on the natural health and cleanse front, my initial impression is that it comes out a hero where beauty is concerned.

For more information on the medical usage, interactions and precautions of Activated Charcoal please check out the links below for a comprehensive overview.  Before taking any over the counter remedy or attempting any ‘fad find’, consult your doctor or a qualified medical professional.

If you have a suggestion for a Hype or Hero review, please send them to and we’ll check’em out!

Redefining Health and Fitness

The other day I was asked what changes I made in my health and fitness routine that benefited my weight loss and fitness goals the most, and as I sit here writing an article on my recent adventure with Screech Owls, I thought it might be prudent to offer a better answer than the one that I had given.  The answer? I got happy.

You see there’s more to health and fitness then tight abs and a tiny waist; there’s life. Yes I can and will tell you things about diet and exercise; the addictive nature of sugars and processed foods, but what makes me healthy and fit extends far beyond what I eat and how often I work specific muscle groups or in which order I work them. There is my professional life as a photographer and writer; there is my scholastic life as a student; there are relationships between family members and friends; there are good times and bad; days where I laugh and some that I cry. There are days I don’t work out at all and give in to a deliciously sinful slice of pizza.  Last week I even ate gourmet tacos!

The greatest source of health and fitness begins with the way in which you live your life, not in bits and pieces but as a whole. It is the whole of me that is healthy, from my attitude, gratitude and love for life and learning; it is my desire to be the very best me that I can be. That’s what I changed. I changed my internal dialogue and the way in which I interact with myself and those around me. In short, I prioritized my emotional wellbeing and self-acceptance over my waistline.

I changed my outlook and attitude. With an understanding that thoughts are electrically transmitted and chemically carried out through every blessed cell of my body, I stopped hating on me for being human, for making mistakes, for not taking care of me when me should have been a priority. I stopped talking internally as well as externally about weight loss and losing weight because I understood that human nature is not agreeable with terms like loss or losing but with gain. I started verbalizing on all levels that I was gaining better health; gaining a healthier weight; that I was earning it through my efforts! This simple, subtle shift in my thought processes made one of the biggest impacts as I began to look forward to the daily challenge of becoming better than I was the day before.

I began to celebrate small victories; I began to celebrate me and my commitment to a healthier life overall, not just a drop in dress size. I did it quietly with a small pat on the back and a well-earned “you done good”. I gave myself pep talks that reminded me I was worth my own time and effort. I looked for every positive I could find in every given situation and I made sure to laugh honestly and openly at least once a day.  Over time this behavior became ingrained. Over time…this is who I became.

I stepped away from negative relationships. As I continued to redefine my dialogue, I became very aware of the dialogue of others, not just around me, but towards me as well. It was a painful process to step back and away from the people I love, to put distance to and perspective on how these relationships had been working. I’m going to interject a note of caution here and explain. This was not an overnight job! Just because someone hurt my feelings does not mean they were a negative influence. If the hurt was repeated with intention…yes by all means that qualified as a negative relationship. If the relationship left me to question my self-worth…it qualified as a negative relationship. If I was easily forgotten or left out of life loops…it wasn’t a negative relationship so much as a casual acquaintance.

I don’t believe in burning bridges but I also don’t want to be standing on one for support while it crumbles beneath my feet! Having said that, relationships and support systems are important; for many they are crucial to an individual’s success; choose them wisely and choose them well.

So…what makes me healthy and fit? You’re looking at it! My master plan and blueprint is simply a healthy, well balanced diet from the inside out. How you feed and exercise your mind is just as important as how you feed and exercise your body.

Wishing you happiness and good health,

Cassandra xo

Gaia Theory, The Walking Dead and the Future of Humanity

Postulated by British scientist James Lovelock in the 1960’s and further co-developed by microbiologist Lynn Margulis, Gaia Theory, the interconnectedness of the Earth and all of her organic and inorganic components as a single living, breathing organism was named for the Greek goddess Gaia.  Daughter of Chaos, Gaia is the embodiment of Mother Earth and represents the creation of order from chaos and the intricate, interconnected balance of sustainable life (Gaia Theory Organization 2016). A theory more hotly contested than the chicken and the egg, Gaia is a series of non-discriminatory checks and balances and her purpose is to ensure her own continuation, as the Earth Mother. It is going to be suggested here that all will not be lost for the human race in a post-apocalyptic state. We are moving towards a crucial, if not necessary, reset point in order to ensure our survival not obliterate it.

A quick look at the world as it stands today paints a grim picture of an overpopulated and polluted state. At the time of this writing we have a global population that is quickly surpassing 7.5 billion people; 80% of which live in a disadvantaged state of social, economic, physical and/or mental decline, disease and starvation. Our global environment is collapsing in upon itself unable to sustain the burden of inhabitants while maintaining the vital order of operations of basic existence. Global warming and climate change are happening; plant and animal species are slipping away into extinction and we are moving inexorably towards the final curtain call of life…or are we?

First let’s look at the study of resonant frequencies, particularly those carried out through the Global Coherence Monitoring System which studies the Science of Interconnectivity between humans and the Earth itself. As a measurable science, the Global Coherence Initiative has successfully measured the interconnectedness of human emotions and behaviour upon the Earth’s magnetic field and vice versa. Most interestingly, the Earth’s resonant frequencies “…directly overlaps those of the human brain, cardiovascular and autonomic nervous systems.” (Heart Math Institute 2016) In other words, human life and by association all life, is synchronized with the Earth itself. We are not separate entities, we are merely parts of the whole as Gaia Theory would suggest. As parts of the whole we are thereby essential to the existence of the earth. “The Gaia hypothesis is the idea that Earth is a living organism and can regulate its own environment. This idea argues that Earth is able to maintain conditions that are favorable for life to survive on it, and that it is the living things on Earth that give the planet this ability.” (Science Clarified 2016)

Now let’s insert Einstein’s theory of conservation, that “…energy can neither be created nor destroyed [in an isolated system], it can only be changed from one form to another.”(Scientific American, Moskowitz, C., 2014) In other words, within the closed system of the earth and subsequently our universe, energy is consistent in quantitative value from one form to the next. This would include the conversion of energy from one state to another i.e.: from a viable life form through to death, decomposition and the redistribution of energy to another form or process.

Gaia Theory as it relates to apocalyptic scenarios or end of world events does not allow for total destruction or annihilation to take place, quite the contrary! It forces subscribers to value human existence as essential to the earths’ and to consider future models of continuation by means of conservation and conversion theories according to the very laws of science that Gaia encompasses.

One of the most current, artistic portrayals of an end of the world scenario is AMC’s popular series, The Walking Dead. Considered one of the most realistic apocalypse models, The Walking Dead presents a near biblical rendition of the apocalypse, complete with the Four Horsemen: Disease (the zombie virus), Pestilence (the zombies themselves), Famine (the struggle for fresh water and sustenance) and War (the various factions fighting for available resources as well as for survival). We are lead to believe that as much as 80% or more of the (disadvantaged) population are now deceased and have become the walking dead. The storyline flows from the tipping point of the viral outbreak and sudden population decline through to the establishment of survivorship. From survivorship it quickly moves towards re-establishment of social grouping and leadership before careening into rival disputes with a survival of the fittest motif. Slowly but surely creation theory makes an appearance as the leading roles pair off and in some cases start to repopulate.

From total global collapse into abject chaos; the purging of unsustainable populations and practices to the subsequent shift in energy that would allow for repair and re-establishment of adapted life forms, The Walking Dead is a perfect example of Gaia Theory in action. Except for the numbers and location of the surviving population, it presents a startlingly accurate scenario. The Walking Dead depicts the apocalypse as a global colonic; unpleasant in its extreme, necessary for the overall health of the planet.

Climate theorists tell us that location is the first key to survival. It is suggested that the extreme northern hemisphere will be the most likely area of successful habitation due to fresh water availability and increased temperatures radiating outward from the equator. (Daily Mail UK, Sands, S., 2008) Currently Canada, the United States and Britain are already experiencing a mass influx of immigration due to sustainability related issues as well as political collapse within countries that are floundering, in large part due to the effects of global warming and climate change.

How many people will survive? Looking at the most dire of predictions, even if 0.5% of the population survives, that’s still 37 500 000 people. That’s 6.25 times more people than the estimated six million that walked out of the ice age and into the agricultural revolution of the Neolithic era! (The Times of India 2013)

Is the apocalypse avoidable? In a word no. (Daily Mail UK 2008) We have already exceeded our maximum load bearing capacity of inhabitants on the planet and are no longer able to support them from our remaining resource base. Technically it is just a matter of time (Stephen Hawking 2016).

Gaia Theory is the creation of balance and sustainability of life through the transference and conversion of energy from one state to another; in other words she is the creation of order from chaos. Here is the epiphenal moment where we should all clue in that we, mankind, are currently the largest energy source available to utilize for the restructure of the very planet we have destroyed.  By that fact alone we are a valuable, natural resource and therefore essential for the earths survival as a whole. In theory, we cannot become extinct, merely altered from one state to another through conservation of energy; conversion of energy and eventually conversion by means of adaptation and evolution of the remaining population.

The Earth can no longer maintain the carbon load we have placed upon her coupled with overpopulation, global deforestation and the current levels of contamination within our air space and water supplies. We have essentially run out of storage space for human stupidity and waste and the only way to balance that out is to eliminate the larger part of the population and recycle it into reusable energy which will allow the earth to heal from the inside out. The future of humanity as it applies to Gaia Theory isn’t uncertain, it is drastically reduced; location based and dependent upon our ability to adapt to the environment we, ourselves have created…until such a time as Mother Earth can recreate it as a healthier one.


Gaia Theory Organization (2016). Gaia Theory: Model and Metaphor for the 21st  Century. Retrieved from

Heart Math Institute (2016.). Global Coherence Research: The Science of Interconnectivity. Retrieved from

Science Clarified (2016). Gaia Hypothesis (para 1). Retrieved from

Daily Mail UK, Sands, S., (22 March 2008) Article: We’re All Doomed! 40 Years From Global Catastrophe Retrieved from—theres-NOTHING-says-climate-change-expert.html

Scientific American, Moskowitz, C., (5 August 2014) Fact of Fiction? Energy Can Neither be Created Nor Destroyed Retrieved from

Times of India (25 September 2013) Research:  Human Population Expanded Much Before Discovery of Agriculture  Retrieved from

Stephen Hawking  (17 November 2016) Humans Only Have About 1,000 Years Left  Retrieved from

Daily Mail UK, Sands, S., (22 March 2008) Article: We’re All Doomed! 40 Years From Global Catastrophe Retrieved from—theres-NOTHING-says-climate-change-expert.htm

Dropping the Ball

It happens to all of us, our hands become so full of the lives that we’re juggling and eventually…we drop the ball. For me it happened about six months ago, just as I began to hit my stride.  I was halfway through writing my first book; getting my groove on in health and fitness and on my way to becoming a personal trainer. Then calamity struck and I was introduced to the ’18 Weeks of Pneumonia’ life challenge.

Now whether I dropped the ball or the ball was dropped on me is debatable. Life pulled an ‘all’s stop’ and just making it to the coffee pot with my dignity in tact was a chore. Although I continued to research and write, everything else took a back seat to sleep and the sheer effort of breathing.

In an around week 8 of my ‘Epic Viral Adventure’ I was presented a unique opportunity that in truth, made me question my direction as a whole. A friend of mine messaged me about a program saying it was “Right up my alley!” and asked if I’d consider going back to school. Rounding into week 12 that is exactly what I did.

By week 15 I was on my first expedition. I learned to canoe at Pinehurst; kayaked down Big Creek; went tree top canopy walking and ziplining in Long Point and repelled for the very first time. I also began to learn the rudimentary basics of tree identification and foraging. Admittedly I was hooked and my direction…well it began to change!

Week 18 saw me walking out of the viral woods and into my first round of midterms and the realization that I was torn.  How on earth was I going to split time between health and fitness, my insatiable desire to immerse myself in the natural world and a growing hell bent for leather drive to learn autonomous survival?  I dribbled the ball around in my mind between assignments and final exam prep; quit my job to reduce stress; continued to heal and began to re-focus.

Clarity came with the purchase of a wild little property out near Matachewan; 160 acres of new growth, boreal forest surrounded by lakes and teaming with wildlife. It dawned on me that I had been asking the wrong question; instead of how I was to separate my passions I first had to define them and then combine them. After all, they’re a part of me; I live them simultaneously and essentially…it’s a me thing!

I’ve grabbed up the ball. Health is health, it encompasses all aspects of life, and to be completely honest, fitness is such a broad spectrum concept with more niches than an English Muffin! Not everyone needs rippling pecks and a six-pack to be ‘fit’; they need to be functionally fit according to their lifestyle, individual goals and needs.  Whereas I’m still pursuing the route of personal trainer my niche now encapsulates a healthy dose of the outdoors…with the odd foray into survivalism and wilderness expedition for good measure.

So, allow me to re-introduce myself and Finding Fit. My name is Cassandra; I am an author, a photographer and student. I study health and fitness along with ecology; wildlife biology and behavior; sustainability; business and marketing.  I’m becoming both a personal trainer and an Interpreter in Adventure Expeditions. I’ll give you fair warning, I am as likely to post exercise videos and articles on health and diet as I am to share environmental essays, concepts in primalizaton and hardcore survival hacks. My goal is simple, to embrace a natural, healthy, fit life and bring as many people along with me as want to come.

You see, dropping the ball may seem like a setback but it isn’t the end of the world; in fact it might be just the thing you need to re-think your motivation and re-evaluate your game plan. For me it was a necessary, evolutionary step indeed.

Wishing you and yours a healthy and prosperous New Year and cheers to an exciting 2017!

Cassandra xo

Protein, The Ever Essential

Protein, the essential foundation upon which we are built, literally! Skin, muscles, organs and tendons are all made up of protein. Proteins also make a hefty contribution to the creation of hormones, enzymes; the neurotransmitters in our bodies that relay messages to and from our brains as well as a multitude of other complex and necessary molecular functions.

Every breath; every heart beat is possible because of protein. So it lends a bit of logic to the adage that you are what you eat….in many, many ways.

When we think of protein we automatically envision eggs, meat and dairy however protein is also found in every living plant. At least 14% of the calories in plants are derived from protein and in some cases certain plants (like broccoli) contain more protein per calorie than steak!

There are notable differences between plant based and animal based proteins however and they are worth more than a cursory glance.

Plant proteins contain fibre; are more alkaline (body friendly) and for the most part are completely cholesterol free.  Animal proteins contain zero fibre; have more sulpher containing amino acids which make them more acidic (less body friendly) and contain cholesterol.

In general plant based proteins are considered a healthier option for human consumption which makes a strong case for vegetarians and vegans alike.

I myself am at least a quarter carnivore. I enjoy fish and chicken and Sunday morning bacon and eggs with my husband. I confess, on occasion I have also been know to drool over a juicy, medium rare prime rib.  By and large however I stick to the cleaner animal based proteins such as eggs, fish and chicken as they’re easier on my digestive system.  They provide a sense of ‘full’ without feeling ‘heavy’ in the gut like beef does. This is because different types of proteins, whether plant or animal based, are digested differently by the body. For this reason it is safe to conclude that yes indeed, not all proteins are created equal.

Whether you source your protein from a purely plant based diet or an omnivorous one is a matter of personal preference…no judgements here!

I will however impart a cautionary note on the not so healthy additive proteins such as soy, whey and casein. Where as yes soy, whey and casein are high in protein (Whey is a co-product of steaming and straining milk and casein is a protein that makes up 80% of milk’s compoition. They are the basic components used in the creation of cheese, protein additives, health shakes, meal replacement bars and body building/muscle building supplements) they are also very high in glutamate, a non-essential amino acid. Glutamate is the stuff that gives MSG (monosodium glutamate) a bad…no scratch that…a dangerously toxic name. Additionally casein has the stimulatory affect on the production of estrogen in the body (it’s a naturally occurring growth hormone; it’s function is to stimulate the growth of nursing calves!).

The question then becomes whether organic sources of soy and field fed cows producing organic milk is better or safer? Is it worth the dollars and cents difference?  Sadly no. Whereas many companies tout the superiority of their soy, whey and/or casein products the fact of the matter is that the concentration of glutamate, whether from soy, whey or casein is intrinsic to the natures of soy, whey or casein regardless of the growth medium of the crop, lack of chemical exposure or the diet of the cow.  It is what it is and an organic stamp of approval doesn’t make it healthier in this case.

For this reason I will strongly suggest avoiding additive proteins that are, or contain soy, soy isolates, whey or casein. Instead if you feel the need to supplement protein or the need to supplement has been identified try choosing a plant based option such as hemp or make the necessary adjustments in your diet to include more protein rich veggies, legumes and nuts. Things like broccoli, asparagus, cauliflower, pumpkin seeds, peanuts, quinoa, almonds and organic oatmeal are all high in protein.

I’ll be covering the topic of glutamate and the many names it goes by very shortly. Be aware that government approved labelling practices allow MSG to be labelled differently if it’s concentration is less than 99% pure. As a heads up, terms such as ‘natural flavour’, ‘isolate’ and ‘hydrolyzed protein’ are all pseudonyms for MSG and glutamate. There are literally hundreds of approved names to disguise MSG. In the meantime I’ll leave you with a few glutamate related diseases and disorders to contemplate until I get there: Alzheimer’s, ADHD, Excitotoxicity and Cancer to name but a very, very few.

Fork Wars

It’s so much easier to write forward than to write back. Forward is a blank page awaiting adventure. You can fill it with hopes and dreams. Forward is full of infinite possibilities. Back is a place I have already been; for better or worse it is the history of me, of where I was and who I used to be…a much shallower, weaker version of myself.  Yet we all must learn and grow from our experiences and whereas I am quite certain there are people’s pasts much darker and more debilitating than my own I only have mine to draw upon as a touch point of understanding for those who have traveled a similar road…for those who are travelling it now.

When I started to ‘get it’, to truly understand my health; where I was; where I was heading and come to the belief that ‘yes’, I actually was worth the time and effort to extend to make things right; I stepped forward into a whole new way of life…and all hell broke loose.

People don’t like change. It’s sudden; unpredictable and beyond their control. Overnight I started eating differently. I eliminated everything and started over from scratch. Goodbye breads, pastas, rices, sugars, chips, pop, cookies, candies…hello lettuce and veggies with a small side of dressing and a mouthful of chicken. Comments changed from the skeptical ‘Are you really going to eat that?’ to concerned tones of ‘Here, try this’, ‘Is that all you’re eating?’ Fork full’s of foods pushed in my face over my meager plate, ‘One bite isn’t going to kill you!’. I couldn’t help but recoil into horrified flash backs of my Mother pinning me to the floor at 17 and shoveling spoonfuls of food in my mouth. I thrashed and cried, gagged and wretched, covered in my own vomit. In my minds eye I can still see my Mother struggling to force feed her bulimic daughter as a last resort.

I became stubborn. Steadfast. I was going to break every food based fear, phobia and addiction if it killed me. I WAS going to be healthy. The war raged for months; everyone thought I was crazy, other’s feared I was relapsing. I learned the word ‘No’ in a deafening roar. More importantly I began to learn; to read and research everything I could on proper nutrition and healthy eating. I started walking, every day. 1 kilometer quickly turned to 2 turned to 5 and before you knew it I added 5 km of biking to my daily routine as well.

I stopped focusing on my weight and put everything I had into how I felt and dammit all, for the first time in years I began to feel physically well! It took a couple months to fully notice but my moods were becoming better and more stable; my hair was growing in thick and healthy and my skin…started to look more pink than blotchy red and grey. It was working! I was doing it…there was no turning back.

In hindsight it was necessary, this path and place. I wouldn’t be me today had I not have been me then. I wouldn’t be as understanding of the struggles of others. I wouldn’t know to truly celebrate the achievement of others the way I do now. I wouldn’t be able to say with any truth or conviction that yes, I understand; I get it and there IS a way.

The Quick and Dirty on Weight Loss: Part II


It’s taken me a couple days worth of fact checking before I was confident enough to tackle the topic of Carbs. I must confess I relied heavily upon the McKinley Health Centre resources as well as Prevention Magazine (which I personally adore) and cross referenced between a few other sources.

Carbs (carbohydrates) are one of the most misunderstood of the macronutrients. Where as some studies suggest we don’t need them, others say they are essential. When you look at their functions within the body, I’m going to have to agree they are essential. What they do is provide the bulk of the energy we require to fuel our daily metabolic processes as well as our activity. Without them we would experience a wide spread decrease in organ functions as well as overall fatigue and muscle tissue breakdown and degeneration. That’s not exactly my definition of health!

The problem arises not with carb intake itself but with the types of carbs we intake as well as the quantity we consume them in. Carbs convert to sugar! Sugar is addictive and excess amounts of sugar are stored in the liver and muscle tissues of the body for later use. If we don’t utilize those energy stores they convert to fat deposits around the liver and between the muscle tissues and outer lying skin wall.

The trick is to eat the right kind of carbs in an amount that is sufficient enough to fuel the body but not excessive enough to store in our tissues and carry around for the next 10 years.

So here’s the skinny on good and bad carbs:



You get the gist. Refined is bad, whole is good.

Now contained within your good carbohydrate selections are simple sugars and starches that your body can break down, process and assimilate for immediate use as well as fibre which is necessary for maintaining intestinal functions and colon health.

Now here’s the all time, award winning question! How many calories in carbohydrates should you consume?

Briefly, here is the general break down of caloric content.

1 gram of Carbs = 4 calories

1 gram of Protien = 4 calories

1 gram of Fat = 9 calories

(Well that’s awesome Cassandra, but you didn’t answer my question!)

Here’s where a food journal is truly worth it’s weight in gold!

If we take our 10 x Body Weight Rule of Thumb for calorie consumption this is how we figure it out.

At 150 lbs x 10 you would require a minimum of 1500 calories per day.

Carbohydrate Calculation:

Women need between 1 and 1.25 grams of carbs per lb of body weight daily for low level activity, 2.3 to 3.2 grams per lb for moderate activity and 2.5 to 4.5 grams per lb for high intensity.

A sample calculation would look like this

1.25 x 150 = 187.5 grams of carbohydrates

187.5 grams x 4 calories = 750.8 calories

Protein Calculation:

You need 0.8 to 1 gram of protein per lb of body weight daily

1 x 150 = 150 grams of protein

150 grams x 4 calories = 600 calories

Fat Calculation (because fats are essential to brain function!):

What ever is left over.

Total Calories – (Carbohydrates + Protein)

1500 – (750.8 + 600) = 150 calories (16.66 grams of fat)

Note: There are discrepancies between the experts as to whether we should use the 10 x Body Weight Rule of Thumb or a 12 x Body Weight Rule of Thumb on calorie consumption. The 10 x Rule is based on someone with a low to moderate level of activity. (I myself burn a ridiculous amount of calories and 10 x my body weight isn’t going to be enough to fuel my activity without causing a sense of brain fog; fatigue or muscle tissue break down).

There are a variety of resources and calculators available on line to help you calculate your caloric needs based on age, weight, gender and activity level. All of them come up with roughly the same base line within a hundred calories or so. The key objective to lose weight safely and effectively is to take whatever it is you’re currently eating and remove 500 calories from your diet. Simultaneously, you should be increasing your level of activity to burn an additional 500 calories more than what you already are on a daily basis. In theory this is awesome! However you need to establish what your basic intake already is along with your level of activity. The calculations above are the bare minimum you require…so please don’t go below these numbers. Where as it seems easier to just eliminate calories from your diet to create that 500 calorie deficit, you’re actually compromising your all over physical health by eating too little of what your body needs. It’s better and healthier to maintain your basic intake and increase your activity to create the necessary deficit that will allow you to shed those unwanted pounds.

Quick Recap:

  1. I research everything…and then I cross reference and fact check…and then do it all over again!
  2. Carbs are not the enemy, they are essential!
  3. Refined Carbs = Bad, Whole and Natural Carbs = Good
  4. Body Mass and Math sucks, but it’s a necessary evil.
  5. Food Journal!!! It’s like gold!!!
  6. Before you eliminate calories, figure out how many you need.
  7. Once you’ve established your average, daily intake and you’re in the clear for consumption a good general guideline for weight loss is to reduce calories by 500 and increase activity by 500 calories burned.


Coming up next…Proteins!

The Quick and Dirty on Weight Loss: Part 1


Good morning! By now I have taken my first 7.83 km power stroll and I’m swimming in a blissful cup of caffeine before I set up to shoot the first round of ‘3 Moves in 3 Minutes’ (which I should be able to post for you later this afternoon). ‘3 Moves in 3 Minutes’ is an introductory series on basic form and technique of the most common toning exercises we will be using over the next 12 weeks. Each move is geared towards strengthening your core, breaking down cellulite and slimming down those bulging areas none of us are fond of. But more about that later…

Now that you’re here I’m going to lay down a few guidelines and make a few suggestions. I’m not asking for your first born child! I am asking that you take responsibility for your diet, dietary needs and put your health first and foremost above and beyond the simple goal of losing weight.

Understand that any change you make to your diet and/or exercise routine is going to have an affect on your outcome provided you are consistent and persistent. It really is that simple. This goes both ways either to the good or the bad, it’s really up to you.

One day of dietary lapse is not going to kill your entire program but it may make it difficult for you mentally and emotionally. A mistake is a mistake and we learn by it, but to make the same mistake over and over again is a choice. So consider the risks and be conscious of the choices you’re making to save yourself the heartache and disappointment later on. Weight loss is a very emotional process; we are redefining not only our outward appearance but our metabolism by establishing healthier habits both inside and out. Trust me when I say we take it personally when we don’t hit our objectives on time. You will be happier in the long run if you stay vigilant now and resist the temptation to “splurge” or “binge”.

Weight loss (and gain) is a numbers game, pure and simple. For this reason it’s important that you become aware of what those numbers mean and how they affect you. Food journaling, especially during the beginning stages of a weight loss program, is a simple and affective way to keep track, not only of what you ARE eating but also what you aren’t!  Too often we think we need to cut calories from our diets to speed up the process of weight loss but without an established baseline of intake it’s quite possible you’re causing more harm than good. Are you eating enough to justify the amount of calories you’re trying to cut out?

Rule of Thumb:

Don’t eat any less than 10 x (your body weight) in calories.

For example a woman who weighs 150 lbs should not consume any less than 10 x 150 = 1500 calories per day.

Adequate calorie consumption is essential to your body processes and internal functions. It takes calories, quite a lot of them, to be able to simply breathe, blink and remain sedentary. You can not maintain a proper balance of health if you are not eating enough to maintain it.

Not all calories are created equally! I repeat…not all calories are created equally!

The kind of calories you should be avoiding are those that contain no nutritional value (empty calories) and those that come from overly processed and refined sources, the greater majority of which are additive sugars; refined/enriched wheats, pastas, rices and grains.

Become familiar with their names!

Agave, Beet Sugar, Black Strap Molasses, Brown Rice Sugar/Rice Syrup/Rice Malt, Brown/Golden Sugar; Buttered Sugar/Butter Cream, Cane Juice/Cane Juice Crystals/Cane Sugar, Caramel, Carob Syrup, Castor Sugar/Superfine Sugar, Coconut Sugar, Corn Sweetener, Corn Syrup/Corn Syrup Solids, Crystalline Fructose, Date Sugar, Demerara Sugar, Dextran, Diastatic Malt Powder, Diastase, Ethyl Maltol, Evaporated Cane Juice, Fructose, Fruit Juice Concentrate, Galactose, Glucose, Golden Syrup/Refiners Syrup, High Fructose Corn Syrup, Honey, Invert Sugar, Lactose, Malt Syrup, Maltodextrin, Maltose/Malt Sugar, Maple Syrup, Molasses Syrup, Muscovado Sugar, Organic Raw Sugar, Oat Syrup/Avena Sativa, Panela/Raspadura, Panocha/Penuche, Confectioners Sugar/Icing Sugar, Rice Bran Syrup, Sorghum, Sorghum Syrup, Sucrose, Sugar, Syrup, Treacle, Tapioca Syrup, Turbinado Sugar/Turbinado Syrup, Yellow Sugar

Bottom line, sugar is sugar! It’s almost impossible to avoid out of a box, bag or can! Start reading labels before you put those items in your grocery cart, you maybe shocked if not horrified to see what additive sugars they contain as well as how much. Knowing is half the battle however and forewarned is forearmed. It’s suggested by a variety of sites and sources to limit additive sugar intake to no more than 100 calories per day…the equivalent of 6 teaspoons of regular table sugar. Whereas this may not always be possible to achieve it’s important to be aware so you are able to make an informed choice on the type of sugar you are consuming. Obviously more natural sources are better; I myself use Honey or Agave when it comes to baking but it’s really a matter of preference.

Wait a minute…back it up…why are refined/enriched wheats, pastas, rices and grains lumped in with additive sugar and empty calories?

I am so very glad you asked that question!

Refined and enriched wheats, pastas, rices and grains have been processed to such an extent that they no longer contain any true or viable nutritional value. The term “enriched wheat flour” is a misnomer as it means that most of the natural vitamins and minerals have been removed for the purpose of creating a different texture during the baking process. This is done by removing the bran and germ of the actual wheat. Once this occurs your body no longer absorbs or processes the wheat in the same manner as a whole wheat. Similarly for white rices and other processed grains; the vital and nutrient dense parts have been altered or removed and are no longer beneficial to the body as a food source. In short they become calorie rich carbohydrates that your body can not process efficiently and stores within the bodies fat cells.  This is counterproductive not just to weight loss but to overall good health! Instead try whole grains/ancient/sprouted grain breads and pastas as well as organic and wild (unprocessed) rices.

One last recommendation of note, avoid the use of artificial sweeteners such as NutriSweet, Sugar Twin, Equal, Splenda or products containing Aspartame. Where as they are all low to no calories they are all chemically derived and from unnatural sources. Research and studies have proven time and again that artificial sweeteners create metabolic confusion by spiking the body’s glycemic index (sugar levels) which in turn affects insulin production; they encourage appetite as opposed to suppressing it; they are addictive and have been linked to lab studies in the development of cancers and tumours in rats; they are also linked to obesity, migraines, alzhiemers and a host of other neurological and toxic disorders that are currently on an upswing in population studies. My suggestion is to use Stevia (plant extract) or Xylitol (sugar alcohol), Honey, Agave or simply to go without additional sweeteners in your tea or coffee.

A quick recap:

  1. I don’t want your first born child.
  2. Health trumps weight loss.
  3. Any change you initiate to your diet and exercise is going to have an affect if you are persistent and consistent.
  4. Weight loss/gain is a numbers game.
  5. Don’t eat any less than 10 x (your body weight) in calories.
  6. Start a food journal to establish a baseline for what you’re eating. Ensure you are eating enough to allow yourself to lose weight safely.
  7. Not all calories are created equal.
  8. Try to limit additive sugars to 100 calories/6 tsp per day.
  9. Start reading labels to understand what you are eating.
  10. Avoid refined/enriched white breads, pastas, rices and grains.
  11. Avoid consumption of artificial sweeteners

Coming up next, a closer look at carbs.

If you find your fun, fitness will follow!

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