Day 3 of the 12 Days of Fitmas: Five Cost Free Ways to Beat the Winter Blues

The winter solstice is coming up next Wednesday December 21st, 2016, this means it will be the shortest day of sunlight for the entire year, also making it the darkest day of the year. It comes as no surprise to me, that we celebrate Christmas, and other Holidays during this time of year, as an attempt to bring some light, and happiness to one another on these cold and dark winter days. However, despite the celebrations, the lack of sunlight can have a dramatic effect on your energy levels and mood. Below is a list of 5 ways to lift your spirits this winter that won’t put a strain on your pocket-book! Because I’m sure the holiday season is costing you a pretty penny already ūüėČ

  1. Brighten up your environment. Open up your shades during the day, and let as much natural light into your space as possible. If your desk at work does not get any direct sunlight, or if you don’t have access to a window, then on your lunch break sit by the window, or find ways to get to window through out your day. For example, on your way to the bathroom, or to a meeting, take a route that passes by areas that are well-lit with natural light. OR if all else fails, leave the office for lunch, go out for coffee, and get outside! Even though it may be cold and a little uninviting, you will feel so much better after getting a brief amount of fresh air and sunlight, trust me!
  2. Watch your diet. During this time of year, and well, winter in general, we tend to gravitate towards “comfort foods.” These types of foods are high in fat, and high in sugar. The reason why these foods are considered “comfort foods” is because not only do they taste awesome, the high amounts of carbohydrates provide temporary feelings of euphoria, and the high fat content gives you a sense of satiety or a satisfying feeling of fullness. Or, if you’ve had too much, you may feel a little sick or “stuffed.” I’m not saying that you shouldn’t have some holiday food here and there, but do not go overboard! It is so hard to keep yourself from overeating at this time of year! And sure, these comfort foods taste great, and feel great going down, that feeling is only temporary! If you want to feel great for a longer period of time, feed your body with nutrient dense foods! Sure, pie tastes great, but it doesn’t look great, and it doesn’t feel great if you’ve had too much. Also, if you overeat these comfort foods, you basically put yourself in a food coma, which makes it very difficult for you to be motivated to do anything else but lie on the couch. Not only will you feel “fat,” and “gross,” you will lower your energy levels, and lower your overall mood. So, my advice is to eat as healthy as possible, and keep the Christmas treats to a minimum!
  3. Exercise! I’ve written an article in the past about the effects of exercise on your mental health called How Fitness Continues to be a Beacon of Hope for Me¬†. It talks about how fitness has helped me overcome times when I’ve felt very unhappy with how my life was going, and it can most definitely help you! Exercise, especially doing cardiovascular exercises can help you naturally create “happy chemicals” in your brain called endorphins. Actually exercise can be as powerful as taking an anti-depressant! Also, doing interval style training can help alleviate stress and anxiety. So, if this time of year has you feeling really stressed out and anxious? Then take a spin class, or do some interval training on some of the cardio equipment in the gym. Either way, you should get your body moving this time of year, especially when all you want to do is hibernate. Hibernating, and hiding from the world will only isolate you more, and have you feeling the blues even more so.
  4. Turn up the volume of your favorite music! Ever notice how¬†Christmas music is always happy, hopeful, and cheerful? I don’t know about you, but I love to play Christmas music at this time of year. Not only does it get me into the Christmas spirit, it really does lift my mood. I just can’t help but feel happy when I listen to it. Especially when I’m doing Christmas things, like baking, or decorating the tree. However. I know that many people find Christmas music to be a little annoying, especially because it literally plays in every store, and almost every coffee shop that you walk into. So, if Christmas music doesn’t make you happy, play the type of music that does. Music has a tremendous ability to really affect people in a positive way!
  5. Volunteer, and help others! There is no better time, then the holiday season to give back to your community! Volunteering your time and helping out others really does feel good, and it¬†can help you get a sense of purpose. When things seem so dark and lonely, it’s a good idea to reach out and give a helping hand. It may help you to realize you are not alone, things are not as dark as they seem, and you can really make a difference in someone’s life. It is so positive to be able to give back in some way to your community. Not only is it positive for the people who directly benefit from the work you’ve done, but for you as well. Everyone wants to feel like their lives mean something, and that they are needed in some way.

These are all my suggestions for helping you overcome those winter blues. Heck! You can apply all of these things to your life in general, and I can guarantee a higher quality of life! Go outside, get some more sunlight in your life! Eat well, and exercise! This will help you feel better both mentally and physically. You will have more energy throughout the day, and you will be a better version of yourself to conquer whatever life throws at you! Listen to music (that’s if you enjoy music) and dance, sing, do whatever makes you happy! I literally dance everyday and some point, music makes me so happy ūüôā And last but not least, give back! I know we all live busy lives, but it really does make you feel good from the inside out to be able to do something genuinely nice for someone for no reason other than it was a good thing to do. Merry Christmas guys! Don’t let the winter darkness get you down!

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Glade doesn’t necessarily make me feel joy but spending time with the people I love the most does ‚̧ Me and my bestie at the Toronto Christmas Market November 27th, 2016¬†


Day 1 of The Twelve Days of Fitmas: Focus more on what you have than what you lack

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays! This is my favorite time of year! I love the Christmas season, and what a better time to help others then now? This is why, I decided to do the Twelve Days of Fitmas series again this year. It is my passion to help people better themselves through fitness and health, and so here I am addressing some of the questions that I’ve been getting a lot concerning fitness, and health, as well as general concerns that have been brought to my attention. I’ve decided to start the 12 Days of Fitmas with an article about focusing on the positives in your life rather than the negatives. For some reason, especially at Christmas time, even though it can be a very happy and generous time of year, it can sometimes be a time where people really take note of what is missing in their lives, rather than all the positive things that they have going on for them. This usually stems from some sort of comparison between you and the people you know. It’s a negative habit that I’m sure we have all been guilty of at some point or another, and sometimes, no matter how happy we may think we are, we cannot help but think about whether or not the grass is greener on the other side.

I cannot lie and say that I have never felt a little sorry for myself during Christmas because I didn’t have the things that I felt I deserved, or because I wasn’t where I thought I should be and so on, and so forth. I think a majority of us can maybe admit to this. It’s sad really, but I think there’s several reasons why this happens during this time of year. First of all, it’s the last month of the year, and a lot of us are reflecting upon the year past, and evaluating whether or not we had a “good year” or a “bad year,” and then making resolutions for the upcoming year. Self-reflection can be a very positive thing! However, it is only positive if you are only focusing on yourself. What you have accomplished? What you would like to do in the future?¬†And where you should focus your energy in order to be the most happy? It becomes negative when you start to compare what you have done to the accomplishments of others. It is not productive to look to your peers as a way of measuring your own success! Believe me, I’ve been there, and honestly you don’t get anywhere with it. All you end up doing is overwhelming yourself with this feeling of being left behind. Once you get it in your head, that everyone seems to be doing better than you, or seems to be further along in life than you, all you can think about is what is missing, and not how to achieve the things you want. Sometimes external motivators can work, and seeing your peers work hard and do well, can motivate you to do the same. However, generally most of us don’t see the hard work that goes behind all of our peer’s success. Instead we see the edited Instagram, and Facebook posts of their success¬†and it all just seems so easy. So, why don’t I have the same? And that is where the problem lies! It is so easy for us to forget how far our friend’s, or especially distant acquaintances,¬†have come when we start to compare our lives to theirs. All we tend to see is the end result, and then we look at ourselves and wonder, why we don’t have the same?

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You will never be successful, or happy if you constantly compare your life and accomplishments to others’. First of all you need to appreciate where you are in your life, and understand why things are the way they are. There will always be someone who may be taller, thinner, prettier, wealthier, and so on. And there will be people who are in far worse circumstances than you. At the end of the day, none of these things will help you become a better and happier person. The only way you can be the best and happiest person that you can be, is by focusing on the positive things that you have in your life, or what I like to call your strengths, and growing those things. As for the things that no longer make you happy? Well,¬†you need to take responsibility for the things that are no longer making you happy, whether it be your job, your body image, your health, your relationships, whatever it may be, and then begin to take the steps to making positive changes in the areas that make you the most unhappy. A lot of the time, it means getting rid of those things that make you most unhappy, and using¬†your strengths to help you build a new you, or a new career, or better relationships with people who add value to your life.

Going online, flipping through Facebook and Instagram posts, and wondering why you don’t compare will only bring you deeper into a negative space. It will unmotivate you, and have you feeling inadequate, and insignificant. Christmas is a time of year where the online posts are rampant, people tend to over¬†share during this time of year. This is why I have decided to write this as my first piece during the 12 Days of Fitmas. Take this time to focus on the people, and things that make you happy. Life is too short to constantly worry about what you don’t have. Focus on what you do have, it is powerful. You are much more powerful than you think. It is so easy for us to build up our friends, but we are the first person to cut ourselves down. Take some of your own advice my friends! Know that you are capable of great things, and even though 2016 is coming to an end 2017 is a new beginning with so many possibilities! Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays! I hope this helps you during this time of year to be positive and fair to yourself. Your life isn’t over, and it is never too late to make a change for the better ūüôā

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My Parents, my best friend and I at the Toronto Christmas Market November 20th, 2016


How diet is more than just “will power”

Lately, a lot of my clients have been asking me about what it takes to be successful. Especially when it comes to their diet. When it comes to improving your fitness, the diet is always the hardest part, and for some reason, a lot of my clients assume that it has something to do with their “lack of will power.” However, it is much more complicated than that. Believe it or not, there are¬†a lot of social, psychological, and emotional attachments to food, and to eating in general. These all play a big role in how successful you are at dieting. Here are a few things that I have come to understand about dieting, and how to lose weight successfully through my own personal experiences:

First of all, you need to decide whether or not you really want to lose weight. How serious are you about this goal? Has this goal changed from a want to a need? For example, generally when someone really wants something like a job, a new car, or shoes, they start to convince themselves that they “need it.” When someone really wants something, they will talk to themselves, and to others about how much they “need” this particular thing. Example: “Oh my God, I need these new shoes!” ¬†Whether or not they may actually need the new pair of shoes, is besides the point. The point is, they convinced themselves that they do, and therefore have justified the purchase to themselves. Now they’re happy, or at least for the moment, because they had achieved the goal of buying new shoes. They had gotten themselves something that they really wanted, and they now feel more accomplished, and happy. It is the same with weight loss. How unhappy are you in your current situation? How uncomfortable do you feel in your own skin? Enough to make a permanent and lasting change? If so, then we can actually start to set up a game plan to help you be successful. Permanent and lasting weight loss only works if you are committed to it. It is something that you have to work on everyday, it is all the choices that you make through out each and everyday that impact your weight loss success or failure.

At the very basic level, you need to put yourself, your health, and your body first. It must be a priority. If it is a priority, if being healthy and feeling good is so important to you, then you will choose better foods for your body, and you will find activities and exercise for your body and so on. If your health isn’t a priority, if you’re not unhappy with your weight, or at least not enough to really do anything about it, then why do you keep punishing yourself for the choices you make? Why do you keep calling yourself fat? And treating yourself like shit? ¬†If you are not willing to make any changes with your current lifestyle, then you must find a way to be happy with the person you are right now, because putting yourself through this emotional and psychological trauma just isn’t worth it. No one deserves that sort of abuse. It is not positive, and it is certainly not productive. Being mean to yourself isn’t going to change your life, and it isn’t going to change who you are. If anything, you become a victim of your own life, and the circumstances that you put yourself in. This only perpetuates the problem, and keeps you fat, unhealthy, and unhappy.

Being healthy, or feeling good about yourself in general, is a constant battle. It doesn’t just magically happen, and once you have found your happy place, you need to work to keep yourself there. ¬†The second you think you’re fine, and you don’t need to be as “strict” with your health goals, is the second you start to fall down your priority list. Before you know it, your back to square one, or worse. Your health and happiness is the most important thing in your life. In fact, YOU are the most IMPORTANT¬†person in YOUR life. Without you, and your body, you would not be able to experience life. If you want to be successful at anything it is more than “will power,” or discipline. It starts with you putting yourself, your happiness, your needs, and your goals first! Everything else is secondary. Once you know what you need in your life to be happy, you will do anything to get it, but only if your happiness is of the utmost importance!

Your happiness only becomes important to you, if you think you deserve it. You have to accept who you are now, flaws and all, before you can truly be happy. Once you believe that you deserve better, that you can have better, and that you are better than the way you are treating yourself, that is when you can really be happy. Failure happens, mistakes happen. You will never be perfect, and you may fall off your diet, but tomorrow is a new day. The only way you can truly be successful at anything you do including your diet, is through consistent, committed, hard work. You need to be 100% committed to consistent hard work, no matter how hard it gets, or if you’ve made a mistake, you need to be willing to get right back up on that horse and keep going. As they say, slow and steady always wins the race, and that could not be more true when it comes to long lasting weight loss. Being healthy and feeling good is a life long battle. If it is important to you, then you must be committed to consistently making the best food choices for you and your body every single day! Sometimes we may not make the best choices, but that is no reason to let it snowball, let it go, and get right back on track tomorrow. If anything happiness, and healthiness are both a life-long battle. I’m not saying that consistently looking a certain way will guarantee happiness, however, I am saying that consistently feeding your body healthy foods, and keeping yourself active does foster happiness. So if you want to be healthy and happy, then you MUST make the choice everyday to be healthy and happy.


Top 5 negative behaviors that prevent you from really being happy

Over the past weeks I’ve really been battling with various forms of negative behavior from various people all around me, and it really got me thinking about how exhausting negativity can be! Being negative, fearful, and/or hurtful to yourself and to others is like having an anvil strapped to your ankle, you’re sinking because of it, and pulling those who you care about the most down with you. Negativity sucks! LITERALLY! It’s like a Dementor (Harry Potter reference) sucking the life out of you, and¬†everyone who really cares for you.

The more negative your are as a person, the more isolated and alone you become. This is why I am writing this blog post, because I truly believe that nobody really wants to be alone… At least not always and forever! So, here we go! I’ve touched on this subject a bit when I’ve talked about falling into a slump, or feeling lost and confused. However, this post is about when you’re down in the dumps and you’re having a hard time getting out. This is a wake up call from yours truly! We all go through hard times, but¬†you can choose whether or not you’re going to be the victim of hard times or the victor… Which leads me to my first point:

  1. Playing the Victim: This gets old real fast, and to be honest pity will not get you anywhere in life. Yes, sometimes real terrible things happen to us, and sometimes it takes a long time to heal. I understand that! Especially, if there’s been some emotional, psychological, or even physical trauma. Some things just never really go away! However, how you choose to deal with these situations, not only speak to the strength of your character, but it will have a dramatic affect on your life. But tragedies aside, there are way too many people out there that use their past as an excuse for their current behavior. At some point, you need to make peace with your past and move on! Constantly bringing up the past, and how hard your life has been, or how wronged you’ve been in the past, will not change it. We cannot change whatever may have happened to you. The only thing that can be done really, is to find some sort of closure, and move on! Some things are harder to overcome than others, so if you need help, seek it out! There are plenty of resources out there to help you deal with your past, so use them! Because when you’re stuck in the past, you can never move forward, and eventually you’ll start to feel like everyone is bypassing you in life, and you’re just stuck in one place. Negativity feeds negativity, so if you’re constantly holding onto your hurt, and pain, you will only cause yourself more hurt and pain…
  2. Stop Comparing yourself to others!! Envy is a really ugly thing. When you’re envious, it means that you want what someone else has, and you resent them for having it in the first place. When you start comparing yourself to others, and saying things like, “Why can’t I have what she/he has? What makes them so special? I swear I’m so much better than them, why do they have it so easy?” The only thing you’re doing is punishing yourself for not being good enough. You’re telling yourself that you suck, and that everyone else is better than you because their Instagram and Facebook profiles tell you so. Their lives seem¬†so much more glamorous, because they’re in Europe drinking wine by the bottle, and you’re¬†sitting at home in sweats “liking” their photos while talking shit behind their backs about how they even got to Europe in the first place… “Of course she’s in Europe LOL her daddy pays for everything… wish I had parents like that!” WHY?!?! What is the point?! Is doing this going to get you to Europe? NO! When was the last time you spoke to this person? Do you really know what their life is like? Probably not, and even if you had any idea, is it really your business? NO! Sulking about how other people have what you don’t have will NEVER¬†get you what you want! And at the end of the day, you sound like a spoiled brat LOL So stop it already! If you really want something, you need to go out and get it! Believe that you can have the things you want, that you deserve to be happy, and stop thinking that you suck! Easier said than done I know, but if you start to visualize and create goals for yourself, then start working towards the things you want, it gives you a sense of confidence and purpose. When we have a purpose in our lives, we have less time to think about what other people are doing! This will make you a happier person, and who knows?!?! Maybe somebody else is on your Instagram thinking the very same thing you used to think about someone else!
  3. Self-loathing, this ties into my last point about envy. Generally people who are envious of others are not happy with themselves. They don’t like themselves very much, so they punish themselves by comparing themselves to others, telling themselves that they’re not good enough, that they’ll never amount to anything, and that they will never be happy. Why? Well people who don’t like themselves ultimately believe that they don’t deserve any of those things. Please stop hating yourself so much! You are your own worst enemy and if you want love, and if you want happiness, you need to start with yourself! Hating yourself only causes you more pain, and loneliness. Let me tell you something, everyone on this earth has a purpose, we are all meant to be here! You mean something to someone, believe that! How do you expect to get anywhere in life if you keep cutting yourself down? By hating who you are, you are putting yourself in a corner, and keeping yourself there so no one will notice you. People will pass you by, which will only make you feel more angry and resentful towards yourself, and others. This just isolates you more, and has you sinking further and further away from the people you love and the things in life that you want most. You need to start treating yourself like a human being! Self-deprivation and self loathing is not positive or productive. Telling yourself that you’re fat, ugly, stupid, worthless, will not make you thinner, prettier, or smarter. And if you’re constantly saying these things to yourself, you are only making it more OK¬†for someone else to call you these things! Plus if you treat yourself like shit, what’s stopping someone else from doing the same to you? If you want the best, then you need to start first, by treating yourself like you deserve the best. YOU are the most important person in YOUR life, so please treat yourself that way! That is the only way that you will have success in anything you do, including your relationships!¬†John-Lennon_LiFE
  4. This quote from John Lennon leads me to my next¬†point about fear. Fear is not a behavior, it is an emotion that ultimately impacts our behavior negatively. Fear actually causes us to participate in all the behaviors listed above. It is our fear of inadequacy, of love/intimacy. of failure, whatever, these fears lead us to loneliness, and unhappiness. Ultimately, our fears create this self-fulling proficy¬†where what we fear the most ends up being what manifests in our lives. If we keep focusing on the negative, and what scares us the most, then those are the things that will happen to us. This just reinforces our fears, and our negative beliefs about ourselves, and the world we live in. If you’re tired of feeling like shit, and living a life that makes you unhappy, then you need to let go of a lot of your fears. It is OK to be scared, we’re human after all! But you need to use your fears to drive you, not hold you down. Again this is easier said than done! If you’re finding that you’re having a lot of trouble letting go of your fears, there are plenty of resources out there that can help! I am a major advocate of reaching out for help when you need it most! There is no shame in admitting that you can’t do something on your own. Again, we’re human! We are not made perfect, and we don’t know everything! And chances are, if you’re unhappy, and have been unhappy for a while, you probably don’t have the tools you need to get out of it. That’s OK! Mentors, coaches, therapists, trainers, counsellors, these are all people who exist to help elevate you as a person, use them! They are professionals that are trained to help you! They can help you find the tools you need to get you out of your funk, and to help prevent you from slipping back into a depression or slump in the future!
  5. Which brings me to my very last two behaviors that keep you from happiness, and those are shame and guilt. I grouped these two together because they really do feed into one another. Actually, all of these emotions, and behaviors listed above feed into one another. They all come from fear, they fester in our brains, and grow like bacteria, until fear and this sort of behavior is all that we know. It’s sad really, and it happens way too often. Fear turns you into an ugly person from the inside that nobody wants to be around. Fear, and the behaviors that come from it, isolate you, prevent you from having meaningful relationships, from being successful, and ultimately, it keeps you from being happy. Shame and guilt make you feel dirty and wrong. They force you to hide from others, and put you further into isolation. Your feelings of shame and guilt can come from anything. It could be a mistake that you made in your life that you’re still punishing yourself for. It could come from your self-loathing, where you hate who you are and where you are in your life, so you feel ashamed for not being more accomplished etc No matter where your shame and guilt come from, it only keeps you deep inside this black hole of unhappiness, fear, and regret.Shame and guilt, like self-loathing, is another form of punishment. You are punishing yourself for whatever reason, but at some point you’re going to have to accept whatever you did, or whatever happened, and forgive yourself. You will never be happy, or have the things you want, if you don’t allow yourself to. You are the beginning and the end of your own happiness. That is really what this whole post is about. You create your own happiness, just like you can create your own demise. The choice is yours.

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