Monthly Archives: November 2012

“Get Fit with Les” Tips for Staying Fit While on Vacation…

For many of us lucky Canadians (and Americans in the northern states), winter can mean vacation to a warmer climate. Whether it’s flying to an island, visiting snow bird parents (that’s me!), or taking a long weekend road trip with friends, the change in schedule can throw off anyone’s workout routine. Combine that with the warmer weather, easily accessible restaurants/junk food, and everyone excusing you by saying “Hey, you’re on vacation!” and you could be looking at gaining 5-10 pounds by the end of your trip. No matter where you’re headed or what your plans are on your vacation, use these 7 tips (that I  follow) to stay fit, and healthy, and (more importantly) feel great when you get back…

1. Pack your own snacks: Non perishable food items like nuts, hard boiled eggs, oatmeal (just add hot water), protein powder+shaker cup (again add water), cut up veggies, homemade protein bars, fruit, and rice cakes are perfect for travelling.

2. Pack your workout clothes/shoes: Nuff said! Oh and use them!

3. Walk everywhere: The weather will most likely be warm and you’ll probably be visiting a part of the country/world you’ve never seen so why not take in the culture by walking or go for a hike!  It’s a much better way to sight-see than sitting on an overpriced tour bus…

4. Most hotels/resorts have a fitness center: USE IT!

5. Wake up early: Groan, moan, but seriously! Typically at the end of your day you’re not in the mood to exercise (whether you’re on vacation or not). Rise & shine 30 minutes before you normally would and get it over with. It may seem like a chore, but studies have proven that working out gives you more energy and makes you much more conscientious about your food choices throughout the day – why not start the day out right? Morning workouts are the best!

6. Drink water: Especially when flying, Flying dehydrates you because of lack of humidity in the cabin air, so stay away from drinking anything caffeinated or alcoholic when you travel. It will dehydrate you and put you off your plan for the rest of your vacation. Try to drink a glass of water every hour on the plane. If you’re sick of water, ask for lemon or pack travel size Crystal Light packs to add to your water. Your body will thank you for it.

7. Relax! This one I will struggle with for sure.  You can’t be hard on yourself if you miss a workout or don’t eat exactly the way you would at home but as long as you’re making an effort to get workouts in when you can and are making healthy food choices 80% of the time, you should come out of your trip in the same shape you left!  You can be good to your body and still enjoy yourself-everything in moderation of course!

I hope that you take my advice the next time you go on a trip!  What are some things you do to make sure you don’t gain weight/lose your momentum on vacation? What challenges do you face?

Les 🙂

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How to stop falling off the wagon!!!

if you're tired of starting over

Are you one of those people who starts a diet or makes a decision to eat healthier and then less than a week later you’re back to eating unhealthyfoods and finish off an entire carton of ice cream?? Well in today’s post you will not only learn why you do this…but WHAT to do about it and hopefully how to prevent it from happening again!

But first, I want to share an interesting article I found on the internet that sounds very similar to the way I dealt with food in the past (and not gonna lie I am human and have weak moments from time to time even now!!)  This is also very similar to what I’ve noticed over the last several years working with  many different people as a personal trainer and observing how people lose weight…it’s long but worth the read…you will most likely be able to relate…

“It’s that when most people start a diet (which by the way I don’t encourage), they seem to have NO IDEA what will keep their enthusiasm going and keep them from cheating… and eventually failing.

And when they fail on these diets, they feel “out of control” of their lives…like a weak person that has no willpower…or a loser that’s failed — AGAIN!

Have you ever started a diet and really believed that THIS time it is gonna be different because you have found that drive and determination to change yourself… NO MATTER WHAT IT TAKES?

Have you told yourself, “I don’t care how hard it’s going to be. I’m ONLY going to eat what my diet says is okay to eat.”

Ok let’s get real here!! Here is an example of what happens to most people (including myself)…

So here you are, on a diet and it’s the weekend and you have plans to go to a party!

You  have been so good all day long and only eaten exactly what the meal plan told you to eat today. You’re feeling really good about yourself and know that you’re going to have a great time at the party tonight.

You show up at the party feeling great and looking good.  You make your way over to the appetizers and there they are…Fresh baked, hot chocolate chip cookies! NO! Not COOKIES!  I LOVE COOKIES!  But there they are… teasing you with their sweet, sugary aroma and hot steam dancing around the slowly-melting chocolate chips (HAHA!)  Your senses take all this in and your mind quickly zooms in on the chocolate chip cookies. Suddenly, you can think of nothing else.  It was as if everyone in the party  has disappeared and there is a spotlight pointed at the tray of cookies (seriously this has happened to me before!)  You tell yourself, “I’ve been so good all day long. One cookie isn’t going to hurt any.” So you grab one and stuff it into your mouth. OMG!! Pure decadence. Mouth-watering ecstasy.  No worries in the world… just you and your cookie… wait! It’s gone! That was over way too quickly… you must eat more. And so you grab a second, and then a third, and then a fourth… and before you know it, you’ve had 6 fattening, sugar-filled chocolate chip cookies. Was that on your diet meal plan for the day?  I guess probably not.  All at once it hits you…What Have I Done?!  You ate 6 chocolate chip cookies in less than 5 minutes. How could I let that happen? I was doing so good.

Well, now that this night is shot… you might-as-well enjoy it while you can and have some fun.  So you go over to the chips and guacamole and start piling it on.  You tell yourself, “I’ll start back on my diet again tomorrow.”

And so the cycle repeats…

Isn’t that a funny phrase, “start back on”?  How can you “start back on” anything?  Can’t you only start something ONCE?  How many times have you “started back on your diet”? If you’re like me then you don’t even remember.  I would start a diet and really believe with all my heart that I would stick with it… that NOTHING was going to break my willpower.  I would tell myself, “This time it feels different.” “It feels special.”So why did I always end up back at the same place with a cookie in one hand and a fried tortilla chip in the other? I was doing everything I could to convince myself that I needed to change my body. I took a ‘fat picture’ of myself and pinned it to my bathroom mirror, I made a list of all the things about my body that I hated and wanted to change, I even laid out my high school jeans so I could look at them every day for motivation. But still I was cheating. Still I couldn’t keep from eating those super-fatted and sugar-filled foods. You would think that the disgust that I felt every time I caught a glimpse of my thighs in a mirror would be inspiration enough to PUT DOWN THAT COOKIE AND GRAB A CELERY STICK…

but it wasn’t.

Every time I started a diet to change the body that I hated, I failed. Finally, it hit me…THE BIG AH-HA THAT CHANGED EVERYTHING FOR ME!.  Maybe the reason that I kept failing at my diets wasn’t because I didn’t have ENOUGH hatred for my body… Maybe that hatred was actually the reason why I was failing. I started to think about this a little deeper. I had been torturing my body and trying to force it to change… but it wasn’t responding.  In fact, it was rebelling and I was getting fatter. The more I thought about this, the more it seemed to make sense. Of course!

Why SHOULD my body change? What motivation am I giving it? Hatred. And what responds positively to hatred? Nothing. Think about what would happen if a friend wanted YOU to change. If she comes to you insulting you… and telling you everything that she hates about you… and all the reasons why you should change… and then DEMANDING that you change…You’re probably not going to react really well to this line of talk… and you are probably NOT going to change. No, you’d just get defensive and grind your heels in deeper. But if she comes to you with caring… and humility… and from a place where she is wanting to help you because she loves you… and then she convinces you there are wonderful reasons to make the change…You might feel inspired.You WANT to change.

I started to treat my own body like a friend that I wanted to inspire. Every day I would tell my body all the beautiful things that I loved about it. And when my body (or mind) made a mistake, I immediately gave forgiveness because I didn’t want my body to become discouraged. This shift in my thinking about my body changed my relationship with my body. It was no longer an enemy that I was fighting against… My body became my strongest ally. And we were fighting together for the same common goal — to be the healthiest person possible. It was suddenly much easier to stop eating junk food or to stop after one. It actually brought me JOY. And that was just the beginning…The more time I spent exploring my body, the deeper into my SELF I travelled. And you know what I found? Hiding underneath all these bones and organs, quietly and patiently waiting to be discovered…Was my spirit. And once I was introduced to my spirit, my fascination with my body faded quickly. And I made some really big discoveries…I am more than my body. This body is where my spirit lives. Every time I eat junk food or crap, I am polluting the house of my spirit. More than that, I WANT to give my spirit a beautiful place to live… and only pure, clean natural foods can build that. And so I started eliminated unhealthy foods from my diet, one-by-one and replacing them with healthy foods. And the healthier I ate, the brighter my spirit shined. I love that feeling. I CRAVE that feeling. I appreciate how great it feels when your spirit shines brightly because I spent the first decades of my life without that feeling. And now, I’ll do anything for it… I’ll even give up chocolate chip cookies. I even enjoy working out.

If this sounds crazy to you, I understand. I never thought I would find a better feeling than eating a plate full of chocolate chip cookies… but I have. When I feed my spirit the pure, clean, natural foods that it needs…My spirit rewards me in so many ways. I have more energy than I know what to do with, I laugh like I did when I was a schoolgirl, and I find happiness EVERYWHERE – even in the most common things. You may be thinking, “You get all this from food?” Believe it or not, Yes. When I finally found a deeper motivation to eat healthy foods, I stopped eating crap. All that crap I used to eat was dead. Dead of life, dead of nutrition, and dead of any good energy. Once I started to eat healthy foods, it was like someone came and breathed life into me. It feels so good to eat healthy! And it begins to actually taste BETTER to you than that junk food does. When your food is dead – YOU ARE DEAD.

I feel like I am alive for the first time in years. I got so many good feelings from eating healthy that I got hooked and didn’t want to eat anything else.

And you know what happened? My body started to change. My eyes got brighter, my skin got clearer, and all that extra fat around my thighs, butt and stomach disappeared. AND I’M NOT THE ONLY ONE! When I started talking to other women who have healthy eating habits, turns out they all have some higher motivation for rejecting crap and embracing healthy, natural foods. Some are healing from an illness…Some are following spiritual beliefs…Some have ethical reasons… Regardless of WHAT the motivation is… it always comes from some higher place other than “I want to look hot in a swimsuit.” The physical desire to change won’t carry you through those really difficult times when you want to cheat because that’s a physical desire as well. The physical pleasure you get from pigging out won’t always win over your physical desire to be “hot”… But your spiritual one will. When your motivation comes from the deepest place within you, it is driven from a much more powerful force. It is NOT driven by fear or hatred – it is driven by love. And that’s what kept me from cheating and failing at my diet. Today, if I do decide to cheat (which I sometimes do) I know that I won’t feel good after I eat it, and it won’t give me the same rush of health that I’ve become hooked on… But I do it anyway and I allow myself the enjoyment while I’m eating it because I know that that’s ALL the enjoyment I’m going to get. I deal with the after effects – the bloating, the indigestion, the sluggishness and lack of energy… And then I get right back to my healthy diet because that is what I prefer. Now, I CHOOSE foods that give me sustained enjoyment that nourish my body, mind and spirit. Look, I’m not some spiritual sage levitating four inches off the ground in lotus position… I’m not some great and powerful person or some holy saint with superhuman powers… I’m just a regular woman from a small town in Texas that turned my attention to what really makes me happy… and I found out that it wasn’t in chocolate chip cookies after all.

I know any woman can turn her attention inward…and discover what REALLY makes her happy…so that she can start to make better choices. And when you PREFER to make better choices, you will STOP failing at your diet. In fact, you won’t have to ever diet again. I know that this is not something that happens right away, and that maybe you might need some more guidance to find your way to where I am. 

PHEW! I am back!  Now  I am going to share with you 5 simple steps you can follow to stop failing at your ‘diet’ and prevent you from constantly starting over again:

1. Don’t be on a diet!!  Instead make wise-food choices.  Eating healthy food allows your body to get the nutrition it needs and it promotes a healthy physique as well.  There are foods that can naturally promote weight loss and a lot of these clean and healthy foods.  This includes a wide variety of vegetables and fruit (most veggies), as well as lean sources of protein, complex carbohydrates (oatmeal, quinoa, sweet potato, brown rice, etc) and a fair amount of healthy fats as well.  Stop failing at your ‘diet’ by wisely choosing the right foods!
2. Do not skip meals! Skipping meals will not do you any good. Do not believe in the common misconception that starving yourself makes you thinner and healthier. This is false! In fact, skipping meals can sabotage your weight loss attempt! Skipping meals causes your metabolism to slow down and as a result, the fat deposits are not thoroughly and easily burned. Skipping meals also makes your body eager to store more fat than the usual because fat stores are necessary to sustain you during the times that you are hungry and skipping your meals. Tip: You should be eating 6 times a day!
3. Proper timing of meals.  Many underestimate the effect or proper timing in food intake. What most do not know is that proper timing can increase or decrease the effectiveness of your weight loss routine. For one, eating on time makes your metabolism regular and on its peak. Correct timing also decreases untimely cravings at night. Tip: Eat small meals (with protein at every meal) every 2-3 hours!
4. Go natural-Eat whole foods! Nature has its way of making our body fit. As much as possible, always go for fresh, organic foods and avoid those which are commercialized and artificial. Commercialized and artificial products are high in bad fats (good fats can be found in natural food sources like avocado, oils, nuts) which are more resistant to fat burning. Moreover, these junk foods often contain a lot of salt and other preservatives which promotes water retention. Excess water makes you feel bloated and heavy.
5. Make your best worst choice– Sure, you might for various reasons make nutritionally or calorically (is that a word?) frightening choices, but so long as you asked yourself these two important questions, “Is it worth it”, and, “How much do I need to be happily satisfied”, there can’t be a wrong choice.  Sometimes your best may be a basket of chicken wings but perhaps a smaller basket than normal and one less beer, or a fancy coffee with whip just ordered less frequently, or a bowl of ice-cream instead of a pint, or a small bag of chips rather than the giant bag, or a full-sized chocolate bar rather than an entire Blizzard. What I’m getting at is that sometimes we make choices that are less than ideal, but that so long as you’ve made your best worst choice, you’re still doing great!


Hopefully this has been helpful and you will do your best to stick to your plan of eating healthy!  I would love to hear your feedback and thoughts on this topic, I know so many of us struggle with this!!


Les 🙂


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Healthy Chocolate Chip Cookies!!? Yep it’s possible!

Who doesn’t LOVE chocolate chip cookies?? Well I LOVE them and I am sure you do too!  BUT we all know they aren’t good for our waistlines if they are made the traditional way (lots of sugar and butter) but I did some surfing on the net and found 3 simple recipes to make healthier versions of cookies.  No matter what ingredients you make your cookies with you should still limit the number of cookies you eat! A calorie is a calorie after all but you can get more bang for your buck with these healthy alternatives!

First I found a recipe  for Almond Butter Chocolate Chip cookies!  What I like about these is that there are only 6 ingredients, 2 steps and 20 minutes to make two dozen cookies that are no-flour, no-dairy, and low-sugar!

Recipe #1

1 cup unsalted almond butter, stirred well
3/4 cup Sucanat (found in the organic section of grocery store or in the health food store)
1 large egg
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp sea salt
3 oz dark chocolate (70% cocoa or greater), broken into small pieces
Preheat oven to 350°F. In a medium bowl, stir together first 5 ingredients until blended. Stir in chocolate.
Drop dough by rounded tablespoonfuls onto parchment-lined baking sheets. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes or until lightly browned. Let cool on baking sheets for 5 minutes. Remove to a wire rack and let cool for 15 more minutes.

Nutrients per cookie: Calories: 110, Total Fat: 8 g, Sat. Fat: 1.5 g, Carbs: 10 g, Fiber: 1 g, Sugars: 7 g, Protein: 2 g, Sodium: 55 mg, Cholesterol: 10 mg

Makes 24 cookies and as you can see from the nutritional info there are 100 calories/cookie and 8 g of fat. Best to bring these to a party or share with friends 🙂  1 or 2 as a treat will be enough 🙂 I wouldn’t eat these everyday if I were you…

Recipe #2

I also enjoy peanut butter cookies so here is an easy NO BAKE recipe for Peanut Butter Protein Cookie recipe.  Give it a try and let me know what you think.

Mix the following in a big bowl:

1 cup of oatmeal

Approx. 1/2 cup peanut butter

2 large spoonfuls of flax seeds

3 to 4 scoops of Whey Isolate Protein Powder (vanilla or chocolate)

Add just enough water to make mixing a little easier. Add it a little at a time, then mix, and add a little more as needed.

When all the ingredients are mixed, form balls a little smaller than the palm of your hand and put them on a plate.

Put them in the refrigerator for a couple hours uncovered.

If you didn’t use too much water, the cookies come out with a nice chewy consistency.

I don’t have the nutritional info for these cookies but as you can tell from the ingredients it is a very high protein and low carb, low sodium recipe. Sounds pretty perfect to me!

Recipe #3

Here is a video (Bonus: the chef is good looking man with an accent) that teaches you how to make healthy high protein cookies if you are more of a visual learner…I think adding chocolate chips instead of raisins would make these DELICIOUS!

If you have any other healthy cookie recipes you’d like to share, please do!


Les 🙂




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Don’t let sore muscles be an excuse for skipping your next workout! Here’s how…

How many of you have ever woken up the day after a tough workout (or maybe 2 days after) and felt sooo sore that you could barely get out of bed?? Yep I LOVE that feeling!!  That burn you feel 24 to 48 hours after an intense workout is called delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS), and it’s enough to make you want to put down the weights and pick up a bag of chips. But please keep going! Ever heard of the saying “no pain no gain”?  A little bit of pain is ok 😉 But good pain of course (in the muscles not your joints), hopefully you know the difference!?

When you’re lifting weights what’s happening is you are creating a micro trauma in the muscle or breaking down/tearing the muscle.  When the muscle recovers, it’s going to recover stronger and denser than it was before.   So that soreness you feel the day after an upper-body or lower body workout—when you’re hauling groceries into your car and you can hardly lift your arms, or the agony you feel trying to sit down or stand up –is good!

Just make sure what you’re suffering from is DOMS and not an injury.  A good way to tell the difference is if the pain is bilateral (one side and not the other).  Having one very sore shoulder after you’ve worked both shoulders could spell injury.

If you feel normal soreness in a muscle, ligament, or tendon, it’s DOMS and you can continue working out around it.  In the case of arms and shoulders, you can lower body and abs and then move back to your upper body in a few days.  Or you can plan to alternater upper and lower body days or break your muscles up into 5 days, one or two muscle groups per day.  I am currently following a 5 day split, Monday-shoulders/abs, Tuesday-back/chest, Wednesday-REST, Thursday-shoulders (cable)/abs, Friday-arms, Saturday-LEGS and Sunday-REST! I also do 20 minutes of cardio after every workout, sprints (ugh!), biking or Stairmaster.

To avoid feeling the pain of DOMS the next time around, start slow. If you haven’t worked out in awhile increase your resistance gradually so that your muscles can adapt to your new workout plan.  Here are some tips to relieve (or avoid) sore muscles, so pain will never be an excuse to skip your workout again—and that’s a good thing!

What to do if you’re sore after a workout?

1) Epsom salts in a warm bath —add three cups of Epsom salts to bath water.

2) Ice to reduce swelling and rest–to assist with repair.

3) Use Glutamine post workout and in the morning or before bed.

4) Use foam roller to help relax muscles.


How to avoid becoming sore after a workout?

1) Warm up — a short cardio warm-up 5-7 min.

2) Stay hydrated–lack of electrolytes can make muscles sore.  Steer clear of high sugar drinks, water is best!!

3) Use a foam roller pre & post workout — Pre-workout can assist with warm up and mobility. Post-workout can reduce lactic acid effect and help with myofascial release by relaxing and lengthening of the muscles.

4) Do cardio–a cardio workout increases blood flow and acts as a filter system. It brings nutrients like oxygen, protein, and iron to the muscles that you’ve been training and helps them recover faster. As the blood leaves the muscles, it takes some of the metabolic bi-products with it (like carbon dioxide and lactic acid) that may be causing DOMS. Try doing 10-20 minutes after your workout and this may help reduce muscle soreness.

5) Stretch post-workout — increase flexibility and joint mobility while the body is warm.

What supplements will help post workout soreness?

1) L-glutamine-You can take up to 20 g/day–5 g with 5 g BCAA’s before or during workout, 10 g post workout with your shake, 5 g before bed is the amount I currently taking.

2) Fish Oil-liquid is best, Carlson’s is great and comes in flavours as well (orange or lemon I think?)

What is L-glutamine??

Here is a short video from Fitness Model/Holistic Nutritionist Lyzabeth Lopez explaining the benefits of Glutamine…

Don’t let your sore muscles prevent you from missing a workout, follow these tips to keep yourself from avoiding the gym!

Les 🙂

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Grocery Shopping Tips

If you are someone who likes to eat healthy, works out and is trying to get in/stay in great shape then you are probably at the grocery store at least once a week.   We all know that no matter how much one works out the most important aspect of a healthy lifestyle is what you eat and it is what most people struggle with the most.  I have decided to come up with a list of ‘rules’ to make grocery shopping easier for you and to help you learn about good nutrition habits.

Rule #1: Accept That You Will Be Buying Groceries More Often Than Sedentary People.

A weekly grocery trip will be the absolute minimum. Why will you need to shop so often? First, most of the foods you should be eating (meat, fruits, veggies, etc.) are perishable. Second, it’s unlikely that you’ll want to get everything at the same place.

For example, in addition to the grocery store, you may want to the farmers’ market for local meat and produce. If you want to get the most out of your nutrition, you can’t necessarily expect shopping to be convenient. Or maybe you want to visit the health food store for some specialty products you can’t find at the grocery store (although most grocery stores carry more organic/gluten free products now!)

Rule #2: Accept That You Will Be Spending More On Groceries Than Sedentary People.

You may indeed find ways to work around this one to some extent (see Rule #3), but with food, as with most things, you get what you pay for. In addition to the fact that quality food often costs more than unhealthy food, you can expect to be buying quite a bit of it. Simply put, athletes need more calories, more calories mean more food, and more food means more money.

On the plus side, however, you shouldn’t be buying soda, chips, fruit snacks, or other processed (and expensive garbage), so take comfort in the fact that you can save a lot of money in that area.  And remember, you are what you eat, so if you eat crap you’ll look and feel like crap!! You’re worth the expensive food!!

Rule #3: Buy In Bulk Whenever Possible, GET A COSTCO MEMBERSHIP!

There are numerous reasons to buy in bulk. First and foremost, it saves you money. Second, since you’ll be going through a lot of food, it allows you to buy in quantities that will actually sustain you for awhile effectively reducing the frequency of you grocery store visits.  I always buy my chicken breasts, egg whites, hummus, almond butter and frozen fruit at Costco because you can buy it for so much cheaper than at the grocery store and have enough to last me a few weeks.

Rule #4: Shop Based On Need, Not Mood.

Plan your shopping out as precisely as possible ahead of time. Shopping based on mood (hungry, full, happy, depressed, whatever) can only lead to one thing: Buying the wrong types of food in the wrong quantities for the wrong reasons. Make a list and stick to it. Everything you eat should have a purpose.  It helps if you eat the same thing everyday as it makes shopping a LOT easier 🙂  Keep in mind that it is best that you eat to live, not live to eat! Something to think about…

Rule #5: The “Perimeter” Rule.

Basically, you should be doing about 80% of your grocery shopping around the perimeter of the store (the produce section, the meat counter, the deli, the refrigerated section… ). This is where most of the fresh fruits, veggies, and lean protein sources can be found.  The aisles are basically full of JUNK FOOD! Stay away, only visit for condiments, spices and rice cakes 😉

Rule #6: Have A System Of “Red Flags.”

As you check the ingredients and nutrition labels of potential grocery purchases, you should have a few set “red flags” in your mind that cause you to immediately toss the product back onto the shelves, regardless of how tasty it claims to be.

Trans fat/hydrogenated oil content should certainly set off a “red flag.” Other “red flags” could include high fructose corn syrup or certain preservatives and/or artificial sweeteners you choose to avoid. If you decide ahead of time that some foods will be completely unacceptable, the temptation to actually buy them will subside somewhat.

Personally, grocery shopping is one of my most favourite things to do!  I can’t wait until we get one of these in Ottawa in the near future! By far the most amazing grocery store ever!

If you still feel overwhelmed or intimidated by the grocery store or figuring out what to eat/what to avoid I offer grocery store tours…just message me for details and we can set something up!

Hope you are having a fantastic start to a new month…I have a feeling November is going to be great month!  What are you doing to make sure that you reach your goals this month?  Perhaps this will give you a few ideas…

Les 🙂