Tag Archives: learning

Eating Junk Food: We Know It’s Wrong. So Why Do We Do It Anyway?




The answer to the question above is in this video, short and sweet, easy to watch and understand.

Regardless of your nutritional approach (you don’t have to be paleo, or vegan, or anything in particular to get the jist of the issue here) I recommend you watch it, watch it, WATCH IT.


Zumba is Fitness and Dance’s Lovechild


I can’t think of a single better way to work out than this.

My Saturday began with waking up at 5:30 am in order to get ready and leave the house in time for the 1.5 hour drive to the town where the training would take place.

I love to dance and have been teaching dance fitness classes for some time, so I decided it was time to become a fully certified Zumba instructor. It was also kind of urgent that I get it done as soon as possible because, you know, once the baby is born it will be near impossible to be gone for an entire day. When you’re pregnant it’s like you’re constantly chased around by Mike Wallace’s 60 Minutes ticking clock because time’s a-running. And you can’t forget it.

The training was super fun and dynamic: Nothing to wake you up like a high-intensity dance fitness class at 8:30 in the morning!

Our instructor, Andrea Sandhu, was fantastic.

Super grainy pic. Sorry about that!

I grew up listening to Latin music like the one used in Zumba classes. My favorite for dancing is Salsa, but I’ve always found it a bit difficult how to explain to non-Latin students how to follow the beats. I’ve listened to this kind of music so long that the beats are simply there for me, it all just makes sense. However, someone who is new to the music style may not hear the same things I do; not all beats jump out as clearly. In Andrea’s simplification of the basic steps I learned how to help someone make sense of the different rhythms and pauses, and I’m sure this will help me a lot with my students.

Along with the practical classes in which the simplified steps for Salsa, Merengue, Cumbia and Reggeton were explained, we also had a couple of lectures in which the more technical parts of being a Zumba Instructor were broken down for us. It was very helpful because we were provided with many resources and options, as well as learning tools and material.

Our group was very eclectic, with people from all ages and from all areas in attendance. It was almost mostly women, but I was very happy to see two guys in there! I think Zumba needs male instructors as much because everyone has something of their own to offer. One of our classmates had a very inspirational story that she shared with us: She has lost 130 Lbs. so far, and this was just following the Zumba dvds in her living room, on her own. There’s no doubt that when there’s determination you don’t need fancy equipment or professional studies in exercise and nutrition. She was so happy and I’m sure that she’s extremely proud of herself.

Overall it was a great experience, I made new friends (even someone from my area, yay!) and I had a great time.

I was nervous in the beginning because with it being such a long haul I wasn’t sure where my energy levels were going to be at different points of the day, but fortunately my almost five month-pregnant self got through it fine.

If you’ve been thinking about becoming a Zumba Instructor you should totally go for it. I found the training to be very helpful and worthwhile, and I’m super glad I did it!


I was going to title this ‘Taste the Rainbow’, but then I wanted to punch myself in the face.


I can do better. I’ll come up with a more creative title. Someday.

Now focus.

Some months ago I found an article in one of those trashy celebrity sites (now you’re gonna pretend you never read those?) and the headline said something like ZOMG JENNIFER ANISTON REVEALS SUPER DIET SECRET. Not exactly but might as well considering journalism is pretty much dead. Anyway, it was one more of hundreds of articles that promise the answer to everyone’s prayers, the revealing of the mystical elixir of youth– and skinniness. So of course I read it!

Her secret diet? She eats colorful meals.

I facepalmed and rolled my eyes so hard they almost fell out of their sockets, but not because the advice was stupid. It was because groan why did this information have to be released as celebrity news, thus completely stripping it of any credibility? Looking at it on the bright side, maybe the article helped some people change their eating habits for the better by sheer aspiration to be perceived as desirable as Aniston. Har.

Jennifer Aniston aside, I learned about colorful meals a long time ago through my reiki teacher, who also happens to be a naturopath, herbologist and a medical doctor. The logic behind this idea is actually quite simple: Every food’s color is determined by the nutrient they mostly consist of. So, by eating a bit of every color found in nature each day you’re guaranteeing your body is receiving the widest variety of nutrients.


I laugh sometimes (and by laugh I mean I want to cry) when I see how unnecessarily complicated some people make nutrition seem. The bookstore is full of books in which the authors figured how to make money off of you and me, and we fall for it every time. Think about it: If it was absolutely necessary that we carry around our kitchen scale, calculate our intakes like a witch’s potion, avoid entire food groups, and count calories until our head explodes, then humanity never would have made it this far. None of it is sustainable for the course of an entire lifetime.

Of course nutrition is a science (and a fascinating one, too!) and it’s full of awesome complexities, chemical reactions, hormonal  releases and even psychological aspects. It is true that when there is a specific goal at hand (say, shaving off a fraction of a second in how fast an Olympic runner runs 100 m.) the elaborate details in the diet are of mayor importance, but it is also true that the act of eating normally, for everyday sustenance and health, is in no way difficult– and it was never meant to be.

If you’re thinking that by ‘colors’ I mean you can down a packet of Sweetarts and call it a day, you’re doing it wrong. These colors must come from wholesome foods: Foods that grow/exist on their own in nature with no human intervention. GASP. There is an amazing world of food out there, and sadly we have limited ourselves to a very small spectrum. Our choices aren’t always what our body needs, and we suffer because of it in the form of disease, lethargy and excessive weight. Changing this doesn’t have to be difficult.

And now, I will share with you the list of foods by color that I use myself as a reminder of some of the options there are available. Because I’m awesome. WHO LOVES YOU.

Simply click on the picture and you’ll be able to print it.

Obviously depending on your area and availability some of these items will be more difficult to find than others. Stick to what is affordable and readily accessible to you. Remember, easy does it. For example, if some fresh fruit is off-season and very expensive at the moment, maybe consider using frozen fruit instead. I do use frozen fruits and veggies when prices are too hacked up here (usually in the middle of the cold, dead winter), but I generally steer away from canned stuff. Do whatever works for you.  Also, feel free to add or delete items from the list above to your liking– make this yours.

And because I know it can take a bit of time to get used to new habits, here’s a little something to help you along the way. Print the following chart and simply write down by day the foods you’ve had so far. It’s a great way to see which color is the most evasive in your diet, and so you can focus on consuming a bit more of that.

For example, yesterday I ate

Smoothie: Blueberries, strawberries, cherries, blackberries, pomegranate, flaxseed.

Hot cereal: Bob’s Red Mill mix with corn, wheat and buckwheat; almond milk, almonds and walnuts added to it.

Lunch: Chickpea soup (tomatoes, ginger, yellow onion), and avocado sandwich in whole wheat bread.

Dinner: Green salad (spinach, lettuce, beet greens, arugula), vegetable cream soup (carrots, potatoes, red onion, leeks, zucchini, almond milk), shrimp.

So my chart for yesterday would look something like this:

It isn’t necessary to write down every. single. thing. you eat, though you can certainly be as detailed as you want. I mostly conform with writing one item per color even if I ate more, just to know that I’ve had something in that color for the day. As you see, yesterday I didn’t have anything black so today I’ll remember to add some raisins to my cereal.

Bonus? This chart is awesome for kids, too. It’s like a game, the challenge of getting one in every color by the end of the day! Even better when they get to pick and choose from the list what it is they like to eat. Involvement never hurt ’em.

I find that starting my day with a fruit smoothie not only guarantees that I consume a whole lotta colors right off the bat, but it also gives me that extra humpf of energy. Plus they’re delicious.

And now you’re ready, my little grasshopper, to take charge of your beautiful body and treat it like it deserves. Go on and make me proud.


My body pulled a Natalie Portman


And I don’t mean I woke up one morning looking like she did in Black Swan.

In fact, quite the opposite, you know, considering I’m pregnant.

I am! But I hadn’t written about it because I know it can be an awkward subject since every knocked up woman in the history of the world has felt her pregnancy is the most. important. thing. and of course to her it is, but so many others around her are going eh. Can’t blame them (or you, if that’s your case) because the baby baking isn’t everyone’s cup of tea.

But now that we got the (potential) awkwardness out of the way let’s tackle today’s class, which I have lovingly titled Dear body, seriously WTF.

I love questioning myth vs. fact, old wives’ tale vs. scientific evidence, what is vs. what isn’t, and no other moment in life offers more of these comparisons than pregnancy. Oy. We’ve heard it all: tie a red ribbon to your shirt for protection! Wear this little medal of St. Whoever’s-in-charge-of-pregnant-ladies so that everything turns out fine! (at least if you grew up Catholic like I did), don’t stare at the moon or the baby will be hairy (ok I may have made that one up)… you get the hint.

But along with the myths are a myriad of facts: it’s a fact that the body will change; for some women the changes are precipitous and obvious, while for others they’re imperceptible and almost only internal– but they’re there.

It is also a fact that during pregnancy the body produces all sorts of hormones and baby forming ingredients. However, this fact comes hand in hand with a shitload! of myths. It is a myth that you have to puke. It is a myth that you have to end up with the emotional stability of a ravenous murderer. It is a myth that your hair has to fall out or your skin has to break. While all of these are possibilities, there are many different variables that will determine what, in the end, will be our own personal outcomes, symptoms and effects.

With this in mind I was pretty determined to not be a textbook pregnant. I decided I was fine without morning sickness and that the change in shape of my body would be gradual and slow. Awesome, right? I was like, bitch, I got this.

But then something happened that I wasn’t expecting. The body reveled. The body was like dude, fuck this shit. Surprised and in shocked awe, all I did was sit back and observe it happen.

It all began with a salad. I love salads! For a few weeks out of my first trimester though, my body was having none of that. I could have slapped whoever dared offer me spinach. RAGE. Also my beloved fruit smoothies: Just opening the freezer and seeing the bags of fruit made me want to go she-hulk on someone’s ass. It was awful.

But the worst came after: I was all, get me fucking fried chicken NOW or prepare to DIE. Is this embarrassing to admit? Absolutely. Did it ground me down from any shadow of a holier than thou attitude I may have been flaunting? Hell yes.

Everyone and their pet fish will have a theory of why this sort of thing happens: The regular meat eater will use it as obvious evidence that the body needs meat and will feel vindicated. The militant activist will point fingers and blame a faulty will power and lack of commitment. One opinion or another, it doesn’t really matter; this personal case of mine is for me to understand and learn from, and boy, did I ever!

And this is the story of how Natalie Portman and I are twinsies: From a life of predominantly vegan eating, to a pregnancy where the body says fuck all and takes a different direction. It’s ironic, too, because I’m willing to bet that Portman, much like myself, really desired to eat only the healthiest, purest and most peaceful food during a time in which what we eat matters most. Has the occasional cheese and burger turned me into an awful, unworthy mother? Well, I believe that if there’s anything that poisons the body more than unhealthy food that would be guilt, so I’ve chosen to free myself in this one.

What about you, any psycho swings experienced during your/your partner’s pregnancy? OR AM I THE ONLY ONE.

Kickbox bootcamp


Now that I’ve had the chance to organize my thoughts and the lessons learned at the Canfitpro conference, I’ll dive right in and share with you exactly what I learned.

Let’s start with the very first class I took, Kickbox bootcamp.

As the term bootcamp requires, this was a high-energy class with lots of movement going on at all times. Here’s a snippet of what we did:

In pairs

-Moving forward while holding a resistance band with arms extended in front of your body, and your partner is pulling the band behind you (working almost like a leash).

-Moving forward while pushing the band away from you, extending one arm in front at a time.

-Running while your partner holds you back with the band around your waist.

-Running sideways with the right in front leg first, with partner offering the same resistance.

-Running sideways  with the left leg in front, with partner still holding you back by the band.

-Doing a bear crawl– you guessed it– with your partner still trying to pull you back with the band.

In case you’re not familiar with the term, this is what a bear crawl looks like:

Except it’s nowhere near that fast when you have someone holding you back with all their might.


After this we put down the bands and exchanged them for gloves and targets.

-Combo: 20 punches, 20 squat kicks (like the name describes, you squat and front kick with one leg. Squat and kick with the other)

-Combo: 20 punches, 20 knee strikes

Super fun because you get to grab your partner by the shoulders and pull them down to strike. Also, great core workout!


Then we moved positions so that one person was lying on their back on the floor, while the partner was kneeling in front holding the targets.

-Combo: Situp, elbow strike (come up in a situp, do and elbow strike with right elbow, come back down to the floor. Situp again, strike with left elbow, repeat)

-Resistance: The person on the floor would come up in a situp and hold the position, while the partner would try to push them back, to the left and to the right. Burn!


After that came my favorite set:

-Striker on the floor, partner standing over them with feet by striker’s hips. The striker had to bring their shoulders off the ground and punch 20 times. My abs were screaming with this one.

-Switch! Striker now stands up while partner is on the ground, striking down as hard and fast as possible.


I found kickboxing to be great fun and it’s something I definitely want to try again!

A runner studies running, for runners


Ha!  I love it when scientists get to explore their own passion because I think this gives them more insight as for which questions to ask, which answers to look for.


Without further ado, here is what I thought was a very entertaining article by The New York Times, in which scientist – and runner!- Daniel Lieberman explores evolution and how it has suited us humans for running.





P.S. The Canfitpro conference was nothing short of spectacular! I’m still decompressing and organizing all that I learned from it. Soon I’ll be sharing all the information I received with you.

Canfitpro Toronto 2011, here I come!


I’m going away for the weekend! To a paradisaical holiday? Not exactly.  I’m attending the Canfitpro Toronto conference, which is the largest fitness conference and trade show in Canada. I’m so excited! I get three days jam-packed with classes, clinics, and tons of new techniques to use with my clients.

It’s my first time going to this conference and I’m also a bit terrified because I know the program can be grueling (it’s only a whole bunch of hours of physical activity each day). Also, it’s the first time I’m going somewhere and leaving the family behind; I’m curious to see how the hubs and kid will manage without me. For the time being they already ammo-ed themselves with frozen pizza. Sheesh.