Monthly Archives: December 2011

Start the New Year off with a Personal Challenge!

With a New Year starting tomorrow what better way to start the New Year off with a bang then starting a 30 day challenge?!  Join me in a 30 day nutrition and fitness challenge to ensure your commitment to health and fitness in the New Year.  This challenge will kick start your 2012 and get you on your way to a healthier, happier you…and hopefully it will help you pick up a new habit after the 30 days 😉

Here are some ideas for your 30 day nutrition and/or fitness challenge:

Try running everyday (for at least 30 minutes)-Check out my friend’s blog for more details

No alcohol for 30 days

30 days of eating clean (only raw foods-no refined/processed/fast foods)

30 days of fitness (classes/workouts)

30 day yoga challenge (I may try this one!)

Get up early everyday

Cook a new healthy meal everyday

Drink 3 liters of water everyday

Eat more  fruits and vegetables

Eat breakfast everyday (for those of you who don’t already)

Remember chose something that YOU want to do!  I would love to hear your own ideas and experiences from your 30 day challenge!

Happy New Year everyone!!!

Les 🙂


Should I lift weights or do cardio?

That is the question!  lol

Well there are many different opinions as to whether doing cardio or lifting weights is more effective but since this is my blog I am going to offer mine 🙂

First of all I think it is important to do both!  I have had the most success with clients when they workout with me (lifting weights) 3 times a week for 1 hour and do cardio on their own 3 days a week (for at least 30 minutes).   Working out almost everyday kept them on track with their healthy eating, they felt energized, stayed lean and slept really well.

I personally do my best to exercise everyday-at least 3 days a week of strength training, 2-3 days of running/cardio, and I am still working on doing yoga AT LEAST 20 minutes everyday.  I find this very manageable and gets me the best results 🙂

On the other hand I think that if I were to decide whether an hour of lifting weights or an hour of cardio is more effective for individuals trying to lose fat I would have to say LIFTING WEIGHTS in the winner!  The reason for this is because the moment you step off the elliptical or the treadmill you stop burning calories.  After a strength training workout your body continues to burn calories long after exercise as your body is working hard to repair itself.  Also, being a personal trainer I firmly believe that my service (which is helping guide my clients through 1 hour strength training workouts) are most effective and would choose lifting weights (for my clients workouts and my own) over doing cardio anyday! 🙂

The most important thing to remember when deciding whether to lift weights or do cardio is to MIX IT UP!  So if you are the type to go to the gym and do an hour of cardio and then 15 minutes of abs 4 days a week GREAT-but just remember in order for your body to change you need to CHALLENGE your body.  So instead of going through the motions and doing an activity you could do forever (cardio!) try doing a full body workout with weights like this one–>

Squats or Leg Press 3 sets of 15 (at a weight that is 7-8 level of difficulty for all exercises)

Chest press with dumbbells (lying on a bench) or Push ups 3×12-15

Walking or stationary lunges with dumbbells (or your body weight) 3×12-15

Pulldowns or Seated Rows 3×12-15

Step ups on a bench (with dumbbells if you wish) 3×12-15

Standing Dumbbell Shoulder press or machine shoulder press 3×12-15

Lying leg raises or hanging leg raises 3×12-15

Standing bicep curls (barbell or dumbbells) 3×12-15

Bench dips (triceps) or rope tricep pushdowns/extensions 3×12-15

Back extensions or supermans on the floor 3×12-15

Just a basic full body workout for those of you who are interested.  There are also a lot of great classes that gyms offer.  Go out of your comfort zone and try one!  It’s so much fun and your body will love the change!

If you are someone who lifts weights religiously 3-4 days a week and skips the cardio completely but can’t figure out why you struggle to walk up stairs or feel like you have some extra fat around your middle should go out of your comfort zone and try doing a few cardio sessions a few times a week.  Break a sweat-it will pay off in the end!  I love the way I feel after a good run or a spin class or doing even 30 minutes of the step mill 🙂

If you are the type who finds doing cardio very boring well fear not!  A great way to get some cardio in is to do 5 minutes of it in between sets…for example…try this circuit…

Pullups 10-12

Seated Row 12-15

Pulldowns 12-15

1 armed rows 12-15

5 mins bike/treadmill/elliptical/stairs

Pushups 10-12

DB Chest press 12-15

Chest fly machine 12-15

Barbell chest press (incline) 12-15
5 mins bike/treadmill etc

Do a few rounds of this and you will be exhausted trust me (or ask my clients)!  After doing 3 rounds you will have completed 30 minutes of cardio and an awesome chest and back workout.  TRY IT and let me know what you think!

Hope that this was helpful and clears up the question for most of you as to whether or not you should do cardio the next time you are deciding what to do for your workout…

I would love to hear from you as to what you think is more effective-cardio or weights?

Les 🙂

In Buffalo for boxing day shopping…

Hope everyone had a wonderful Christmas and enjoyed the time spent with family and friends (and some delicious food in moderation).  I am spending the next few days in Buffalo shopping with my family before they fly back to Arizona so I will be back to regular blogging on Wednesday….

Going to have a workout in the hotel gym the next couple days…I am sure Wednesday’s post will be full of ideas for workouts while travelling 😉

Until next time…

Les 🙂

Here’s to happy (and healthy) holidays!

I am finally in the Christmas spirit!! Left early this morning from Ottawa and arrived in Toronto around lunch time to very happy and excited parents!!

We met up with my sis for lunch on Bay Street at a delicious restaurant called Mercatto for some delicious Italian food (Thanks Dad!) then a nice walk home in the underground path.  Got all my gifts wrapped and am enjoying the Christmas playlist my sister put together.

Going to keep this one short as I am in the process of getting ready to head out for dinner (my family is  meeting Dave’s family…NBD (no big deal!))

So here’s to many good meals, fun times with family and friends and hopefully a few workouts…

Have fun everyone-but not too much! 😉


Les 🙂

Address of the new studio :)

For those of you who have been wondering where the studio I will be training at is located…

1376 Bank Street
Suite B-200
Ottawa ON
K1H 7Y3

1376 Bank St, Ottawa, ON K1H 8N6
Let me know if and when you want a tour and I would love to show you the new place…just call or email me to set up an appointment 🙂  My schedule is filling up fast  so book your appointment now and you can GET FIT WITH LES!
Have a wonderful day!
613 601 7037
Les 🙂

Some tips on balancing your blood sugar (From Living the GoodLife blog)

Less than 1 week till Christmas!  Hopefully most of you are all ready with gifts wrapped, menus planned, schedules coordinated for visiting friends and family and outfits picked out 🙂  With so much to do over the holidays sometimes we forget to (or choose not to) do important things like EATING PROPERLY!  It is so easy to skip meals and save up for the BIG Christmas dinner but that the WORST thing you could do for your metabolism and blood sugar levels.  For all of you trying to lose weight it is very important to eat in a way that creates balance in your body so that you will be free from food cravings (and obsessions).  When you are in a state of equilibrium, you will feel satisfied with the food you eat, and you will eat as a way to satisfy physical hunger and keep your blood sugar stabilized rather than simply due to appetite (or what looks/smells good).  You can keep your blood sugar steady by including high-quality protein (for most of us, this has to be animal protein to cure cravings), healthy fats such as olive oil, water-rich food such as vegetables, and complex carbohydrate, in your meals.  The body always seeks equilibrium.  However, when we are out of balance, we just keep craving more carbs in a confused attempt to self-correct. The more simple carbs we eat (white sugar, bread, pasta, etc.), the more out-of-balance we become.

Here is an easy read (re-emphasizing everything you already know of course) but a good reminder especially around this time of year.  With it being my last week at GoodLife I thought I would share this as I found it on  the GoodLife Fitness blog…

5 tips to balance your blood sugar

Here are some tips to help you control your blood sugar – avoid the ups and downs!

  1. Eat every 3-5 hours. No matter how healthy your previous snack or meal was, if you go longer than 5 hrs without eating, your blood sugar will crash and so will your energy.
  2. Every time you eat, the snack or meal should contain a source of protein. Protein slows down digestion and prevents your blood sugars from spiking and then crashing. 5-8g of protein is a good minimum target. Example: spread some peanut/almond butter on your banana. Have a small piece of cheese with your apple. Pair your fruit with yogurt. Have some hummus with your raw veggies.
  3. Fiber helps to control blood sugar by slowing down digestion. High fiber foods will keep you fuller longer.  Examples of high fiber foods are: high fiber cereals and breads, legumes such as edamane (soy beans), chick peas, black beans, lentils etc. Some fruits also have higher fiber such as pears, apples and raspberries. Try adding ground flax seeds, wheat germ or oat bran to your yogurt, salads or smoothies.
  4. Choose less processed foods. The more basic, the better. Regular converted rice or brown rice will affect your blood sugars a lot less than minute rice. Large flake oats/oatmeal will affect your blood sugars a lot less than processed quick oats.
  5. Never eat carbohydrates on their own – even healthy ones. Carbs are digested easily and as such, can elevate your blood sugars quickly and then cause a crash. Can you remember a time when you ate an apple as a snack and then 10min later felt MORE hungry? Add mentioned above, add a protein!

So can you commit to doing this starting today??  The sooner you start eating this way the less weight you will have to lose after Christmas!  Wouldn’t it be wonderful to lose weight over the holidays??  Be conscious of what you put in your mouth and when and you will be free from cravings!!!  But don’t forget that have fun and enjoy some home-cooked meals and baked goods (I know I will!) BUT in moderation of course…

Have  a wonderful Monday everyone!!

Les 🙂

The Risk to Bloom

Every weekend at the beginning of our yoga teacher training someone from the class volunteers to do a reading from a book (I can’t remember the name of it).  Last weekend I volunteered and came up to the front of the class, opened the book to a random page and this is the reading I came too.  I found it quite a coincidence as I had made the decision to ‘take the plunge’ and start my own business.  It was almost as though the reading chose me 🙂  Ask anyone who was there and they would tell you I was very ‘moved’ by it 😉  Maybe some of you can relate…

The Risk to Bloom

And then the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk to bloom. -Anais Nin

We all face this turning point repeatedly; when resisting the flow of inner events suddenly feels for hurtful than leaping towards the unknown.  Yet no one can tell us when to leap.  There is no authority to bless our need to enter life but the God within.

How often we thwart ourselves by holding tenaciously to what is familiar.  It is instructive, if chilling, that in floral shops the roses that won’t open are called bullets.  They are discarded because they will never bloom.  They have turned in on themselves so tightly that they can never release their fragrance.

Yet as spirits in bodily form, we have the chance to tighten and bloom more than once.  But even spirits, if turned in on themselves enough, may grow accustomed to being closed.  Unlike roses, however, the human chamber can be shut down for years, and still, it takes but one breath from the true center and we will flower.

It has always amazed and humbled me how the risk to bloom can seem so insurmountable beforehand and so inevitably freeing once the threshold of suffering is crossed.

I have a friend in recovery, and when asked what made him stop drinking, he says, “The pain of drinking became greater than the pain of not drinking.”  The same can be said for us all.  We can flower in an instant, as soon as the pain of not flowering and not loving become greater than our fear.


Wow!  It is so true!!

What scares you most about being who you in the world are or doing what you really want to do??

I have read this so many times.  I need to get my hands on this book.  Once I figure out the title I will share it with you!  You don’t have to be a yogi/yogini to appreciate this, this is life!!  I am learning so much more through this yoga teacher training than I ever expected!  Not only do we learn the postures and how to be an excellent yoga teacher, I am also discovering a lot about myself and how yoga relates to life!

Any thoughts or reflections?

Les 🙂

Train your abs!

Thought I would include a pic of my boyfriend and I today:)  HAHAHAHAHA

How many of you strive for a flat stomach or want a “six-pack”? I do!  I can remember seeing my abs (briefly) when I was training for my fitness competition (following a strict diet, doing 90 minutes of cardio a day) but to be honest I wasn’t having much fun nor did I have much energy!  Personally, I am much happier accepting that while my abs may not be ripped (like the girls in fitness magazines and in the photo to the left) I aim to have a strong core as this is much more useful than having a visible ‘six pack’.  Read on to learn why having a strong core is important!

Core training should be the main focus of  all your workouts yet many people aren’t sure how to “train their core” in order to develop it.  Exercises designed for building balance and strength, and ones that can be done while using a BOSU ball or a stability ball are great ways to strengthen your core (and tone your abs).

Also, using free weights will allow for better results than using (boring) machines.

The reason core strength is so important is that almost every movement we make is initiated in the core.  Squats, lunges, twists, running, swimming, and lifting weights – almost everything starts with the abs, hips and lower back, which is where the ‘core’ of the body is.  Yoga practitioners, as well as dancers and athletes, have always known the benefits.

Here is a quick list of benefits to having a strong core:

– Reduction of injury risk

– More comfort with sitting (either in office chairs, or just in general)

– Serves to increase balance, letting you isolate other muscle groups

– Increases energy

– Improves posture

– Aids in sports development

Now if this list doesn’t motivate you to train your core I don’t know what will?? Maybe a trip somewhere warm over the next few months where you will be baring your belly on the beach?

As a trainer I always focus on core training with my clients.  The hardest thing for most people to do is to learn to “engage” their core.  Some have no idea how to “turn on” their abs so this makes training your core very difficult.  Here is a simple exercise you can try at home to practice and make sure you know how to use your abs.

1. Lie on your back with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor.

2. Place both hands (palms on the ground) under the curve in your low back.

3. Press down on your hands by flattening your back and tucking your tailbone (this will help to engage your core or your “transverse abdominus”).

4. Hold for 10-20 seconds.

5. Release and repeat 10 times.

6. For a challenge try doing it with your legs straight up in the air. Then try lowering one leg at a time (with a flat back) or both legs.  If this is too hard try it with your legs bent 🙂

A very simple exercise yet if done slowly and properly it can be a great ab workout.

Here are my favourite ab exercises that I find very effective if I FOCUS on every muscle in my core while I do them…

Plank (On both forearms)  Hold for 30-60 secs

Side Plank with a lift (Plank on one arm with a hip lift and drop)

Full sit ups (with feet unhooked/unsupported)

Mountain Climbers (Like a plank but on your hands and bring one knee at a time into your chest)

Leg raises (lying on your back or using the Captain’s Chair)

Bicycle Crunches

Reverse crunches

Do these exercises 3 times a week, 3 sets of 12-15 reps and if you don’t feel your abs after this you need to make sure you are doing them properly.

Now some of you may spend HOURS doing cardio and abs but at the end of the day your body responds to change right?  So if you find that you are doing the same routine CHANGE IT UP!  Change the intensity, number of reps/sets, rest period, increase the weight, or try a new activity (ie yoga or pilates)!  If you want some help with changing up your program (or want help designing one) feel free to email me  at or message me on Facebook.

And the number one BEST way to have great looking abs is to EAT PROPERLY and GET ENOUGH SLEEP although this is what most people usually forget.  Try eating clean for a month (no cheats, no alcohol) and sleeping 7-8 hours a night and you will be surprised with what is hiding underneath…

What are your favourite ab exercises?


Les 🙂


Control yourself…and your portions!

Happy Monday!

Can you believe we are only a couple weeks away from Christmas?  I don’t know about you but I am nowhere NEAR ready for Christmas nor am I in the spirit of the holiday season yet.  Maybe having some snow on the ground would help?  Or perhaps I should start Christmas shopping, that always gets me excited about Christmas!  Regardless, one thing that excites me the most about Christmas is FOOD (along with seeing my family and friends AND Santa Claus of course!) hahaha

But since I like to maintain my fitness and work hard to not gain any weight (or inches) over the holidays I must remember to control my portions!

So for some of you this may be a review but I have a feeling most of you have no idea what the appropriate serving sizes are.  Here is a helpful link…

How many of you after going through that chart have to rethink the amount of food you are eating everyday never mind over the holidays??

Here are some more tips to help you avoid eating too much over the holidays (from  I promise that I will come up with more original posts, Mondays are a very busy day for me for the next couple of weeks 🙂

Don’t Skip Meals

Many people believe that if they skip breakfast or lunch, they can save up all of those calories for the holiday party that night. That sounds like a good idea, but skipping meals can make you crabby, tired and maybe even leave you with a headache that just might ruin your evening festivities. Plus, when you are really hungry and surrounded by high-calorie holiday treats, you may very easily turn into a raving eating-machine and consume many more calories than the ones you skipped earlier in the day.Don’t skip meals; just eat sensibly. A bowl of whole grain cereal and low-fat milk for breakfast, a mid-morning snack of raisins and nuts, followed by a healthy lunch with a big salad or a sandwich made with whole grain bread will keep your body and your brain fueled throughout the day.

Eat High-Fiber Foods Before the Party

When you have a party to attend, snack on some fiber-filled foods just before you go. Fiber helps you to feel full, and if you aren’t feeling so hungry, you might not eat so much at the party. Choose foods like low-calorie vegetables, a small salad, a piece of fresh fruit, or a small bowl of oatmeal.

Eat Small Amounts of the Foods You Love

No one wants to feel deprived, so go ahead and take a small piece of pie or one cookie — but not both. Look over the buffet or the serving table, and pick out one thing that you really would love to enjoy. The rest of your plate can be filled with healthy vegetables and fruits, whole grain crackers, cheese and lean meats.

Don’t Hang Around the Buffet

It isn’t easy to resist the delicious foods you find on a buffet at a party, so get away from the table. Choose your foods and your drink and move to a different part of the room. As they say, out of sight, out of mind. At the very least you will have to think about what you are doing before filling your plate again and again.

Pace Yourself

When friends and family gather at a meal, the food is usually piled high on most everyone’s plate. You wolf down the first plate and pick out more of your favorites to gobble down as second helpings.Slow down. It takes a few minutes for your brain to realize your stomach is getting full, and you can eat a lot of extra food in those few minutes. You don’t need a giant mound of food, so place small portions on your plate. Set your fork down between bites and sip some water. Relax and enjoy the flavor of each mouthful. Chew each bite thoroughly before you swallow. Savor each moment with your friends, your family and this wonderful food, but remember it is a meal, not a race to see who can eat the fastest.

Drink Plenty of Water

Many people believe that mild dehydration may feel like hunger, and the best way to avoid becoming dehydrated to drink plenty of water. You can also use water to slow down your eating by taking a sip or two between bites. Have a glass or two of water before you start drinking alcoholic beverages, and have one in between drinks to slow down your alcohol consumption as well. (Not only can cocktails be high in calories, but overindulging in alcohol can lower your awareness of how much you’re eating.)

Keep Healthy Snacks at Work

Keep some healthy snacks on hand when coworkers start bringing in holiday treats. These treats are always tasty but rarely healthy. Snack on nuts, raisins, fresh fruit or energy bars instead so that your snack calories provide you with good nutrition. If you are going to indulge in a holiday goody, make sure it’s not an everyday add-on.

Keep Exercising

Exercise is a great way to control your weight, your blood pressure and exercise adds to your good health by reducing stress and keeping your muscles and bones in good shape. Although the holidays are a hectic time, keep your exercise routines going to help ensure that the occasional treat won’t land permanently on your thighs or belly. Even if you are so busy that you have to cut your workout time in half, continuing to work out keeps you in the exercise habit. Once you quit your exercise routine, it can be very difficult to start up again — nevermind the weight you can gain from taking a hiatus.

Decide What to Buy Before You Go Into That Shop

You know how tempting it is to walk into a coffee or candy shop. That temptation seems to double itself during the holiday season. You may think you are going into the coffee shop for a cup of coffee, but when you see that delicious mocha with whipped cream and peppermint sprinkles, you suddenly decide you need that one instead.When you go into a coffee shop, decide what you want before you go in and stick to it. I know that huge glazed doughnut in the pastry case looks so good and tastes so sweet, but it also adds a lot of calories and sugar that you don’t need. Just order your coffee and get out of there — fast. Same thing goes for the candy shop. Do you really want a small square of dark chocolate? That’s fine, just go into the shop, buy one and enjoy it. Don’t go in and buy three truffles, a peanut butter cup and two caramel-pecan turtles.

Don’t Beat Yourself Up, Just Get Back to Healthy Eating

It is difficult to avoid overeating during the holidays. If you do slip up now and then, don’t beat yourself up for it. Be good to yourself. Remember that maintaining a healthy diet throughout the holidays takes practice. Forgive yourself and make sure your next meal or snack is a healthy one.

Simple enough to follow?  Feel free to comment on today’s post and leave any other ideas or suggestions you have for people who want to ‘get fit’ or ‘stay fit’ over the holidays!  Remember you lose weight in the kitchen and get fit in the gym (with Les for guaranteed results of course!)


Top 10 ways to run safely in the winter :)

How many of you are afraid of running in the winter?? Scared that you might slip and hurt yourself?  Or are you worried you will freeze in the frigid temperatures?  Think that you will have a hard time breathing in the cold air?  I used to think all of these AND I also used to assume that winter meant running indoors was the only option but when treadmill running got boring I quickly changed my mind!  I even started training for races over the winter months (Around the Bay 30km in March and Ottawa Race Weekend in May) to help keep me motivated.  I have been running year round now for over 3 years and in fact I like winter running better than running in the summer!!

For those of you who are still hesitant here are some tips to help you become better winter runners (and for all you hardcore winter runners feel free to offer some of your tips and suggestions to the first timers!)

1-     Find a friend to run with-less chance you will wimp out and it is even more fun than running alone.

2-     Experience the outdoors inexpensively-It is an amazing feeling to run in freshly fallen snow-it can be sublime-try it and you will know what I am talking about!  Plus it is a lot cheaper than skiing!

3-     Try shortening your stride or think ‘tall and fall’-hey this sounds a lot like ChiRunning! I am sure my friend Eric Collard would love to give you more information on this topic.  With a shorter stride, your feet hit the ground with less angle, and consequently less pressure to slide out from under you (therefore no slipping!) so less chance for injury and you will have better running form running this way.

4-     Dress warm-think LAYERS as you will warm up once you start running.  Also make sure to cover your head, ears, neck and hands as well.  Your feet will get cold and wet too so make sure you have good socks that are warm but wick away the moisture (acrylic, CoolMax or wool are best).

5-     Wear sunglasses-The glare from snow can cause be hard on the eyes, so wear sunglasses (polarized lenses are best) to avoid this problem.

6-     Stay hydrated-Despite the cold weather, you’ll still heat up and lose fluids through sweat. Cold air also has a drying effect, which can increase the risk of dehydration. Make sure you drink water or a sports drink before, during, and after your run

7-     Make sure you warm up before you head out and don’t run too fast on really cold days-You are at higher risk for pulling a muscle in frigid temperatures so save your interval/sprint workouts for indoors or days that temperatures are milder.

8-     Be visible-With there being less daylight in the winter wear reflective gear and wear bright colours when running in the snow during the day.

9-     Protect your skin-You can still get a sunburn in the winter as the snow reflects the suns rays.  Don’t forget to protect your lips too!

10- Choose a race to train for-this will help keep you motivated to train over the winter months (even better-choose a race somewhere warm and make it a holiday!)

So when the snow starts piling up (hopefully soon) you will have NO EXCUSE to not run.  Let’s take advantage of our mild winter so far though and get as many runs in as you can!

Have a great weekend everyone!  Another full weekend of yoga teacher training for me at Rama Lotus…and a special weekend for my boyfriend as he turns 28 on Saturday 🙂 Happy birthday Dave! Let the celebrations begin!

Les 🙂