Author: merylmarciante

Running for a Reason

Some people run for exercise. Some run for therapy. Some run for the adrenaline rush, also known as runner’s high. Some people run for an activity to do with friends.

This Sunday, September 18th, we’re running for cancer research.

I am proudly supporting The Terry Fox Foundation in its ongoing work to fund innovative and progressive cancer research programs by taking part in this event. I will be leading the Town of Mont Royal race with a dynamic warm up before the race begins! If you are local, please join us for this family fun and meaningful event. Come run with us! You can run, walk, bike, or skate! There is a 5k and a 10k route.

terry-fox-warm-up-2015

Terry Fox had a dream that if everyone donated $1, he could easily raise $1 million for  cancer research.

Any donation helps. The Just Feel it Fitness team has set our goal at $500.

To learn more about this amazing event click here.

I very much hope you will consider sponsoring the Just Feel it Fitness Team in support of our effort, confident in the knowledge that your kindness will impact the lives of so many people living with cancer.

I certainly hope to see some familiar faces out there on Sunday, we’ll be running for a reason!

Have a great week,

Meryl

Do Sore Muscles = A Good Workout?

Maybe you took a summer hiatus from your training program. Good job for taking the step to get back into it! (you have started back, right?!) When starting up again, or starting an exercise routine for the first time, you will most likely experience muscle soreness. (I most commonly hear grumbling related to trying to sit while using the bathroom, trying to walk up stairs, or when picking up the groceries/kids after a workout!)

But does this muscle soreness represent the quality of the workout you performed? The short answer is NO! Delayed onset muscle soreness (aka DOMS) is most pronounced when you have introduced a new training stimulus. This could be from returning to exercises after a break, trying a new activity, or simply by increasing the intensity or weights of your workout. The soreness is felt most strongly 24-72 hours after the exercise. The technical reason for DOMS is the micro trauma to your muscle fibers caused by the eccentric (lengthening) of the muscles during training. As your body adapts to your training program and learns to distribute the workload across your muscle fibers more effectively, you will feel less sore. Nonetheless, there is a genetic component to our individual response. Some people are more sensitive to pain and soreness. Proper nutrition also plays a role in how your muscles respond and heal.

We often believe if we’re not sore after a workout, then we’re not doing enough. Some like to think of soreness as their “good job!” sticker, but it’s not the case. There are many factors that influence how significantly DOMS presents itself. And you can perform a highly effective workout while not experiencing any muscle soreness.

So does the old saying no pain no gain really stand true when it comes to physical fitness? No! And DOMS should not be feared or revered. It is a natural muscular response to training.

Looking for that new program to get you back into a fitness routine? Don’t miss our Back to School Bootcamp starting next Tuesday, September 6th.

Have a great week,
Meryl

My Top 3 Tips to get back on track after summer vacation ☀️

As summer comes to an end and the back to school zone starts, it is the perfect opportunity to get back on track with your healthy lifestyle.

Even if you stayed on track with your workouts, the all-inclusive vacations, pool parties, and one too many late night bar b q’s full of wine & desserts may have wreaked havoc on your fitness goals this summer. If summertime variables interfered with your weight loss attempts, don’t despair. It’s called life, and enjoying life is not something to feel guilty about. There’s a beautiful thing called balance and the ability to get back on track.
palm tree
Take this opportunity of back to school time to not only get the kids organized but to also get your nutrition back in line.

My top 3 tips to get back on track after summer vacation:

1. Re-haul  the pantry & refrigerator
Give yourself the chance to reach for healthy foods. Fill the fridge with plenty of salad and veggies. Wash it in advance and have snack size veggies easy to grab. Focus on adding lean proteins to each meal. Here are some of my favorites: cottage cheese, Greek yogurt, vegan protein powder, tuna, salmon, and chicken.

2. Meal plan for the upcoming week
The only way to truly take control of your diet is to be proactive. Plan out the next meal or even the next 5 meals. I’m not saying  you have to cook something on Sunday and microwave it all week. Sure, meal prepping helps. But what I am saying is make a plan. Write the plan down. Buy the groceries. Have the plan of action and execute at meal time. Don’t leave room for the option of eating out.

3. Commit to at least 3 weeks of clean eating. 3 weeks is enough time to feel the actual benefits and re-establish your healthy habits.

I hope you look back at your summer vacation and enjoy the memories. Think fondly of the times enjoyed with family and friends. No guilt, no self sabotage, forge ahead and get back on track.

If you’re looking for more guidance and one on one accountability through this process, our Back to School Bootcamp starting September 6th is exactly for you. Sign up by August 27th and get $25 off! More details here.

Have a great week!
Meryl

Get your Groove Back

Summertime, vacations, cook-outs, what’s your excuse? For me it was a bad landing on an exercise jump that left my knee in a big mess. Forget about squats and lunges, I was struggling to bend the leg enough to get in and out of the car. Fortunately (or unfortunately, depending on your perspective) this happened right before taking the flight to our Florida family vacation. So initial plans of beach workouts, filming new videos for my online bootcamps, runs along the beach, and water aerobics changed to sitting in the chair, elevated leg, ice, and a good dose of patience. Maybe a little R&R isn’t so bad every now and then.

Despite billions of dollars spent on gym memberships, diet programs, etc., a recent paper published by the Mayo Clinic reports that fewer than 3% of American adults are living a healthy lifestyle.

Less than 3%. Wow! Just Feel it Fitness has a lot of work to do! 😉

The study defined living a healthy lifestyle as meeting these four parameters:

  • Being sufficiently active (150 minutes of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity each week)
  • Eating a healthy diet
  • Being a nonsmoker
  • Having a recommended body-fat percentage (5%-20% for men, and 8%-30% for women)

The results of the study showed many people accomplished multiple healthy lifestyle goals. 16% met three of the healthy characteristics, 37% had two, but fewer than 3% met all four. Women were more likely to not smoke and to eat a healthy diet, and were less likely to be active, compared with men. Older individuals were more likely to be nonsmokers and healthy eaters, and were less likely to have a normal body-fat percentage and active enough.

Granted, this is only a study of 5,000 American adults, but the bottom line this study does an excellent job at providing four concrete steps anyone can take to achieve a healthier lifestyle.

Things happen like injuries and vacations and busy periods at work. Life gets crazy. Getting back into a fitness groove can be tough. I know. But get your groove back. None of these steps are easy to take. However, even small improvements make a difference and any effort toward these 4 lifestyle goals can have a life changing impact. Become a nonsmoker, be sufficiently active, eat a healthy diet, and achieve a recommended body –fat percentage.

I’d love to help you towards meeting these healthy lifestyle criteria.  Do you need help getting your groove back?

Our next round of Summer Slim Down starts July 18th. This is a 6 week Challenge. For more details, click here.

Have a great week,
Meryl

Featured Recipe

Tuna Salad Boats

Tuna Salad Boats

Ingredients:
1 can tuna
1/2 very ripe avocado
1/2 cup chopped purple grapes
Splash of white wine or champagne vinegar
Salt & Pepper to taste
Large Boston or Romaine lettuce leaves

Directions:
Mash the avocado with a fork. Combine with all other ingredients. Spoon onto large lettuce leaves and eat like a taco.

The Crunch Effect

Yes, crunches are a powerful tool to strengthen the abdominal area, but there may be another type of crunch that can help your waistline. I’m talking about the crunch effect, the impact the actual sound of crunching can have in terms of the amount of food we eat. We all know our senses play an important role in the eating experience. You’ve heard it said we eat with our eyes first. Second comes our sense of smell, taste and touch. But what about our sense of hearing? The sound of masticating our food could actually be playing a role in the amount of food we eat. (That explains why I could drink smoothie after smoothie!)

Scientists performing research on the effect of food sound salience have found the more conscious a person is of the sound their food makes while they are eating; the less they are likely to eat. When you mask the sound of consumption by loud music or watching TV while eating, you may eat more than you normally would.

The main takeaway is to embrace mindfulness as part of your eating experience. We should be aware not only of the taste and physical appearance of food but also the sound it makes. For a delicious crunchy snack, be sure to check out the honey roasted almonds recipe below. (Warning: Not to be eaten while watching TV or amongst loud company!)

Have a great week,
Meryl

Featured Recipe

Roasted almonds

Honey Roasted Almonds

Ingredients:
2 cups unsalted almonds
2 tsp honey

Directions:
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Pour almonds onto a baking sheet. Roast for 15-20 minutes, the almonds will start to split when they are ready. Remove baking sheet from oven and drizzle the honey on top. Vigorously shake the pan to cover all the almonds with honey. Allow the honey to harden (about 10 minutes).
Enjoy!

Go Bananas

“Bananas have too much sugar.”
“Bananas make you fat.”
“You should not eat bananas if you are trying to lose weight.”

Woah. Really? But I eat a banana every day. When I buy bananas at the store, I always buy 2 bunches! And just rarely they will turn brown before getting eaten, which in that case makes perfect bananas to freeze for smoothies or mash for oat ‘n egg banana pancakes!

So why the ridiculous banana bashing, claiming they make you fat? I think the bottom line comes down to sugar. Bananas do contain sugar, thus one might come up with the logic that bananas make you fat.

The reality is bananas contain natural sugar. Along with the natural sugars, the nutrient profile in bananas helps support a healthy and energized lifestyle. Bananas are packed full of potassium, fiber, vitamin B6, biotin, copper, and manganese. The fiber in a banana is naturally occurring fiber, which means you’ll most likely feel more full and satisfied versus consuming a cereal or piece of bread containing isolated fiber. Isolated fibers are those added to increase its fiber content but not naturally found in the foods.

The healthy dose of potassium found in bananas can help diminish water retention, thus helping belly bloat. Additionally, potassium has been shown to lower blood pressure, sustain muscle mass, and preserve bone-mineral density. The vitamin B6 in a banana fulfills around 30-35 percent of the daily-recommended intake for adults. The benefits of vitamin B include treating anemia, promoting healthy nervous system functioning, producing energy from food, and maintaining healthy skin, eyes, hair, and liver. Vitamin B6 is found in most animal-based products, so for vegetarians and vegans, consuming a banana a day is a great way to attain almost half of the recommended intake.

I’m not saying to go bananas and consume them like a chimpanzee, but eating them in moderation (like any food!) is part of a healthy diet. I’m going to go enjoy a chocolate dipped frozen banana pop with the kids now. (Recipe below!)

Have a great week-end, would love to see you at my Lululemon Bootcamp in the Park this weekend!
Meryl

lululemon Bootcamp.JPG

Featured Recipe

Go Bananas

Chocolate Dipped Frozen Banana Pops

Ingredients:
Bananas
Dark chocolate
Coconut oil
Toppings: pistachios, sprinkles, chia seeds, coconut flakes, etc!

Directions:
For the kid-approved version, melt 1/2 cup chocolate chips with 1 tsp coconut oil in the microwave for 30-45 seconds. For the healthier (can’t guarantee kid-approved) melt 3 tsp coconut oil with 3 tsp raw cacao powder. Poke popsickle sticks or straws through half a banana, dip in the chocolate, and roll in topping of choice.
Enjoy!

Still Not Seeing Results

You hit the gym more days than most people you know. You bring your lunch and eat less than most people you know.  You can run miles around your friends.  But, you’re still not seeing the results you are hoping for. If this resonates with you, here are a few items to consider. Just run a quick self-check and let’s see how you answer the following questions:

Are you getting enough sleep?
Are you eating adequate amounts of protein and carbohydrates for the amount of energy and time you spend training?
Are you over training/under training?
Are you lifting weights?

When it comes to not seeing the results we are hoping for, we have to consider all these things.

Sleep is essential for the repair of our muscles. When you train you are breaking down muscle fibers and the only way for them to grow back and repair themselves is when your body is sleeping. Try to hit the hay around the same time every night. Kids need routines, and so do we. Aim for 7-8 hours of sleep each night.

The amount of protein and carbohydrates you consume should be adjusted according to your activity level. You need a balanced approach that will give you all the energy you need to power through your workouts and your daily lives, while still helping you lose weight. Fuel your body with the power of protein.

Maybe you are training too hard. When we truly are over-training, the elevated cortisol levels keep your body in a state of stress. This causes your body to store fat, not shed. Aim for 2-3 resistance training sessions per week and 3 heart pumping/cardio activities.

Lifting weights helps to build strong lean muscle mass. Muscle burns calories faster, even while at rest. Build the muscle, eat accordingly, sleep so your body can repair itself, and sit back and watch the weight fall off. Ok, let’s be realistic, it’s not that simple. But we do break it down into a very simple manner with the Just Feel it Fitness 6 Week Summer Slim Down Program.

If you’ve hit a plateau and you are looking for a plan of action, this program is for you. Stop comparing yourself to anyone but the best version of yourself.

Ready for the Plan? Resistance + Cardio workouts that can be done from your home or gym, Meal Planning Tips and Tricks, Daily Accountability from me. Put it all together and get the results you’ve been hoping for (lean, sculpted abs just in time for summer!).  Our next group starts May 23rd. Check it out here.

Have a great week,
Meryl

Spring Cleaning Your Fitness

It’s amazing when the days start to get longer and the sun shines brighter, Spring cleaning floods the brain. Lifelong dreams of organized closets and sparkly clean windows and baseboards come racing back (or maybe that’s just me). After hibernating through the shorter days of winter, Spring brings an opportunity for a fresh start and a sense of renewal.

It’s not uncommon that these feelings should carry over into our body awareness as well. Let’s shed the layers and allow Spring to give us a fresh start for our Fitness.

What steps can you do to start Spring Cleaning your Fitness? Here are my top 5 Spring Cleaning your Fitness ideas to bring on the new season:

  1. Add some new herbs and spices to your kitchen as you spring clean your pantry. Alternatively, start a small planter of fresh herbs like basil, oregano and mint. Pack a punch of flavor to your foods without adding any extra calories.
  2. Get outside and get some Vitamin D. We need sunrays, we need sunshine. Even 10 minutes a day helps the body to better facilitate normal immune system function.
  3. Squeeze a lemon. Lemon helps rid your body of toxins and restore alkalinity. Lemon and bitter greens like arugula and endive help with digestion. Enjoy a daily detox by starting each morning with ½ lemon squeezed into a cup of water.
  4. Book some exercise into your schedule. If your New Year’s Resolution was lost somewhere back in January, here is a new opportunity to get your body moving again. Spring is in the air, energy is abundant, and by starting a new fitness program now, you might be much more encouraged. Check out our next fitness challengehere.
  5. Reach for color. Fruits, veggies, the more variety of color the better. By choosing to eat from the rainbow of colors, you will increase the amount and variety of vitamins and minerals consumed.

You don’t have to go on a strict detox to Spring Clean your Fitness. By simply bringing in more of the good, you can flush out the bad and give your body a fresh start this Spring.

Have a great week,
Meryl

Featured Recipe

sweet potato chips

Roasted Sweet Potato Chips with Guacamole

I have no description for this, except JUST TRY IT! These are so delicious. Use the sweet potato chips as a base in place of crackers for various appetizers. Add some shrimp on top, or feta and black beans, or fresh cut peppers. The possibilities are endless!

Ingredients:
2 large sweet potatoes, very thinly sliced
Olive oil
1 avocado
1 lime, juiced

Directions:
Preheat oven to 400. Lay the sliced sweet potatoes on a baking sheet. Drizzle lightly with olive oil and using a pastry brush (or your fingers) rub the oil on both sides of the sweet potatoes. Bake for 20 minutes, flip each chip over and bake another 10 minutes.

Mash avocado with lime juice and salt and peper.

Enjoy!

Who doesn’t love a good Challenge?

push yourself

I love a good challenge. The feeling of working toward a lofty goal and accomplishing it at the end is an awesome feeling, right? Many of you heard me talking about my 60 day Master’s Hammer & Chisel Challenge I started back in January. This was an intense weight training program, a little different than the standard functional training I typically incorporate with clients. I would almost call the program something more like body building.

The Master’s Hammer and Chisel is an innovative resistance training system created by Autumn Calabrese and Sagi Kalev of Beachbody, professional trainers and fitness competitors. The program focuses on SSP Training: Stabilization, Strength, and Power. I set a goal to complete this 60 day body sculpting program, 6 days a week of resistance training for a total of 8 weeks. And it’s done, woohoo! And the honest truth is that it kicked my butt! But I stuck with the workouts, and am proud to have accomplished the full program. Some days I felt like it was more difficult than marathon training even though these workouts only take 30-45 minutes each day and marathon training is more along the lines of 45 minutes to 2 hours some days! My physical results from this program include more defined muscles and definite strength gains such as: improved push-ups, pull ups, chin ups, pistol squats, etc. The program calls for light, medium, and heavy weights and I used 10, 15, and 20 pounds accordingly. Do I look like a body builder? No! Do I feel stronger, leaner, and proud of completing a challenging program? Yes!
flex
With nicer weather upon us and summer just around the corner, I’d like to encourage you to find a challenge that will motivate you and push you out of your comfort zone. Commit to something that will push you and that you will feel proud and accomplished when done. Need some ideas? Sign up for a 5 or 10k run in your community. Join a triathlon training group.  Or why not join the Just Feel it Fitness 6 Week Summer Slim Down Challenge starting Monday, April 11th!  This 6 week Challenge will focus on clean eating, cardio and strength training workouts that you can complete from home with minimal equipment. I’m running an amazing promotion on this program, guaranteed to help you achieve phenomenal results! Just ask me for more info today.

After the Summer Slim Down Challenge, I’ll be working on getting ready for the Montreal Half Marathon in September. I would love to help you find a Challenge that will motivate and push you out of your comfort zone and into confidence. Let’s do it!

Have a great week,
Meryl

Featured Recipe

Nori wraps

Nori Wraps

Try this crunchy wrap instead of a sandwich for a light and delicious lunch.

Ingredients:
4 sheets Nori 

1 avocado, thinly sliced
1 mango, thinly sliced
Handful of alfalfa or pea sprouts
1/4 cucumber, thinly sliced

Directions:

Lay out 1 sheet of nori and moisten it by sprinkling water on it. Place the vegetables along one end and roll it up into a wrap! Enjoy!

Recipe from “The All-Day Fat-Burning Diet” by Yuri Elkaim.

The Troublesome “Tech Neck”

Take a look at your posture as you are reading this. Chances are you are hunched over looking down at your tech device. In today’s society, this “Tech Neck” posture is all too common. We spend so much time looking at our devices, our shoulders round and heads jut forward into a troublesome position that now feels natural.

In actuality, the natural position should be shoulders back and down, with the chest open. Try it. Pull your shoulders back and pull your head in line with your spine. If you’re like most, this “natural” position probably feels very unnatural at this point.  Try to become aware the next time you are hunched over in the “Tech Neck” position. The “Tech Neck” might have found its way into your posture, but the good news is there are ways to fight it.

With some simple exercises focusing on strengthening and stretching the upper torso, we can retrain our bodies to good postural habits.  Here are 3 exercises to add to your fitness routine. You won’t need any weights or equipment, so no excuses!

  1. Bent-Over Reverse Fly

Begin by standing up straight with feet shoulder-width apart, knees soft. Hinge forward from your hips, maintaining a neutral spine, and arms dropped down naturally. Lift your arms up laterally and feel your shoulder blades retract. Lower your arms and repeat 12-15 times. Perform 2-3 sets.
Progress this move by adding weights in each hand.

  1. Superman Breast Stroke

Begin by laying flat on your stomach. Extend spine and lift chest and legs off the floor while reaching forward like superman. Begin circling your arms to hips like the breast stroke. Repeat 8-10 times. Perform 2-3 sets.
Progress by alternating straight-leg kicks as your arms circle.

  1. Chest Expansion

Begin by standing with feet wide, toes facing forward. Clasp your hands behind lower back. Slowly hinge forward from the hips, while your arms reach toward the ceiling. Hold the position for 4 deep breaths and return to start position.  Perform 2-3 times.

  1. Wall Snow Angel

Stand up straight against a wall. Try to have three points touching the wall: tailbone, shoulder blades, and back of head. Reach arms out to the side and raise and lower like you are making snow angels.  Repeat 8-10 times.  Perform 2-3 sets.

By strengthening and stretching the upper torso, these simple exercises will help you fight the troublesome “tech neck.” Focus on your posture when you stand, when you sit, when you eat, and when you read. Pull those shoulders back, bring your head in line with your spine, and breathe in the air of confidence.

Make it a great day,
Meryl

Featured Recipe

squash chick pea pecan salad

Savory Squash Salad

Ingredients:
1 Buternut squash, peeled and cut into cubes
1 can chicpeas, rinsed and drained
1 cup pecans
2 Tbsp Olive Oil
1 Tbsp Maple Syrup

Dressing:
2 Tbsp Olive Oil
1 tsp Dijon mustard
1 Tbsp Maple Syrup
Juice of 1/2 lemon
1 Tbsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground cumin
Salt & Pepper to taste

Directions:
Line a rimmed baking sheet with foil, preheat oven to 400.
Combine squash, chickpeas, pecans, oil, and maple syrup. Spread onto baking sheet and roast for 30 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool. In a small bowl, whisk together the dressing ingredients. Pour over the cooked squash mixture. Serve on top of your favorite greens. Enjoy!

Recipe adapted from “The All-Day Fat-Burning Diet” by Yuri Elkaim.