Our mission is to promote, provoke, educate, inspire and empower our team members into all things wellness through health, fitness, nutrition, spirituality and mind.
Sample Team Challenge PostMarek Hlavenka
Ready. Set. Go!
Do you want your company to walk to the moon and back? Or circumnavigate Africa? With StepSense, the goal is yours to set. Dream big, because the only limits are the ones that you set.
Your employees download StepSense from the App or Play Store, enter your unique challenge code and register for your company challenge. All their steps, flights climbed and calories burned are aggregated and displayed on the leaderboard.
Participate individually, as a team, business unit or per country with real-time leaderboards to keep everyone informed and motivated.
In a nutshell
The ultimate step challenge for you, your team or organisation. Equip your employees with the knowledge, tools and support they need to build new healthy habits.
We support your corporate health and wellness initiatives and objectives. Helping to change culture and assisting ongoing wellbeing of your employees.
Chocolate Peanut Butter Chia Pudding (Keto Friendly)Paul Lauzon
2 tbsp chia seeds
½ cup milk (almond or coconut)
1 tbsp heavy cream
1 tbsp Keto approved sweetener (erythritol or monk fruit)
1/2 tsp cocoa powder
1 tbsp peanut butter
Combine everything in an airtight container. Shake well to mix and refrigerate for at least 4 hours to thicken. Lasts for 4 days in the fridge.
Nutrition per serving:
2g Net Carbs
14g Total Carbs
Broccoli Cheddar Soup (Keto Friendly)Paul Lauzon
1 head of broccoli or 8 oz frozen broccoli
3 cups water
1/4 cup shredded cheddar cheese
4 tablespoons cream
Salt & Pepper to taste
- Boil the broccoli in 3 cups salted water until tender.
- Add the broccoli into food processor or blender and slowly add 2 cups of the cooking water back in. Blend until smooth.
- Pour the mixture back into your pot on low heat. Add in the cheese & cream. Mix till all the cheese is melted.
- Serve in a mug with a little cheese on top and fresh pepper. This recipe makes 3 servings
Nutrition Info (Per serving)
- Calories: 151
- Net Carbs: 5g
- Carbs: 7g
- Fat: 12g
- Protein: 7g
- Fiber: 2g
Meal PreparationMarek Hlavenka
What is Meal Planning?
For me, meal planning involves selecting meals to cook and eat in advance of the day that I need them and actively deciding to be prepared with healthful meals. It is a strategy we can all use to feed ourselves more nutrient-dense foods more often. As a naturally organized person I thrive on lists, calendars, and sticky notes, so, I thought, how hard could this be?
I’m not going to lie … it was challenging to get started, but I’m still at it almost ten years later. These days, I meal plan for both myself and my fiancé. And since I’m back in school pursuing m master’s in nutrition at Boston University, meal planning often saves the day, especially on busy school weeks.
Benefits of Meal Planning:
- Meal planning saves time. By investing a few hours each Sunday, it gives me back those precious hours during the week.It also saves me money.
- Healthy eating has an expensive reputation, but cooking at home certainly costs less than eating out all the time!
- My fiancé is passionate about sustainability, so one benefit I appreciate more these days than I did when I first started my meal planning journey is how much less food waste we generate simply by planning our meals. I make a list before my grocery run so that I’m only buying items we need. The result: fewer items end up in the garbage.
How I Meal Plan:
I block a period on my calendar each week, usually Friday afternoons, to take a look at what’s left in my fridge and to select the next week’s recipes.
This first step ensures I’m using everything I buy – good for the planet and the wallet! I review my schedule for the week ahead and pick my shop/prep day (usually Sundays), and then I lay it all out in an excel spreadsheet. If excel isn’t exactly your jam, there are so many other ways to get organized, including meal planning apps, online and printed calendars, and Liz even has printables available including her 7-day meal planner and aisle-by-aisle supermarket shopping.
My strategy tends to be ingredient based; I select the carbohydrates, proteins, healthy fats, and veggies that I want to eat. I also choose one big batch recipe.
A sample week might look like this:
As you can see on the spreadsheet above, my “big batch” item this week is turkey chili. (I scheduled it for dinner Tuesday, because I have my Medical Nutrition Therapy class that night, which runs from 5:30-8:15pm.) I know that once class ends, I’ll be too hungry and won’t want to do any serious cooking, so this way I’m not tempted to order out. On the spreadsheet, I also made note of a Thursday virtual cooking class that I’m attending and left Friday night open for whatever we feel like eating because … well, it’s Friday!
Once the schedule is filled out, I make my grocery list so I’m ready for shopping and prepping on Sunday.
Are you a meal planner? What’s your best strategy? What do you see as the benefits?
In my next post, I’ll walk you through what meal prepping looks like in my house (AKA my apartment) and toss in a few storage, chopping, and pantry tips for good measure!
Sample Meditation & Breathing PostPaul Lauzon
Many studies have shown the positive impact that meditating has on our health and well-being. Meditation is often advertised as a habit of happy people and is used as a means of coping with stress and anxiety. Meditation is a quiet time you should dedicate to yourself every day. Use deep inhales and exhales to refocus your attention on being in the moment. Stay tuned for tips & techniques as we explore meditation together.
Sample Meditation & Breathing PostMarek Hlavenka
Simply observing the breath can damp down stress and open a door to a more healthy and mindful lifestyle.
Psychological stress has a devastating effect on health. Research shows that people with heart disease do worse over time if they don’t control stress, and stress seems to be associated with a higher risk for cancer. Stress is strongly associated with poorer memory and more aches and pains. However, reducing stress helps you sleep more restfully and control high blood pressure.
One of the easiest ways to reduce stress is to simply focus your attention on your breath. It’s a form of “entry level” meditation that anyone can do. You’ll notice an immediate sense of relaxation that could help protect your health over time.
If you enjoy it, breath meditation can be a gateway to a broader practice of “mindfulness,” in which you learn to accept and appreciate what comes in life and stop fighting your own thoughts and feelings. “Many people take up mindfulness practices thinking they’d like to relax more, but where it leads is a very different approach to life and its inevitable challenges,” says Dr. Ronald D. Siegel, assistant clinical professor of psychology at Harvard Medical School.
May 26, 2023Paul Lauzon
With the warmer, sunny days of spring, people are anxious to get outside and be more active. Walking, hiking, cycling, golf, and gardening are all popular spring activities. What about birdwatching? Is it really just for older people? This past week one of the world’s strongest upcoming pro cyclists announced in an interview that he was a “birder” and has been for years. (He is only 25 years old). Reality is, birding is a fantastic activity to offset a hectic, stressful life and offers multiple mental health benefits. Birdwatching spiked in popularity during COVID. Anyone can participate in a safe, free, outdoor activity. Remote workers were curious as to what was happing outside their home office window and walkers were curious about the birds they heard while walking.
A study from October 2022 found that seeing or hearing birds improved people’s mental wellbeing for up to eight hours. No other environmental factor (seeing trees plants, water, etc.) had as strong of an effect. Another study in 2017 found that an abundance of bird species in urban areas was associated with lower cases of depression, anxiety, and stress. A study in 2020 showed a relationship between happiness and the number of bird species around people’s homes and towns.
So what is causing these benefits? Experts think its a few things. Being in nature helps improve concentration by decreasing mental fatigue and reduces stress by lowering blood pressure and levels of stress-inducing hormones. Birds tend to lure people outside and increased outdoor activity improves your mood. There is also the fact that birds are everywhere and are beautiful, colourful, and most are lovely to listen to. Birds also remind us of certain seasons and places. Spring birds such as a robin or red winged black bird is a sign of spring and warmer weather.
Birding is easy to get into. It is great for kids and families, and anyone of any age. Here are some tips to start your adventure in bird watching.
1-Bring the birds to you. Set up a feeder in your yard. It does not have to be elaborate.
Even just some hanging pine cones filled with peanut butter will do.
2-Visit natural areas with water. Birds are drawn to water.
3-Use an app to learn bird songs and to identify the birds. Check out this app from The Cornell Ornithological Lab https://merlin.allaboutbirds.org/
4-Take a birding course. In-person or on-line, there is lots to learn even about the most common birds.
5-Keep a list of birds you see. Make a note of when and where you saw them, or heard them.
6-Make your backyard a bird sanctuary. Choose native plants that attracts and protect birds. Check out this database from the National Audubon Society https://www.audubon.org/native-plants from the National Audubon Society https://www.audubon.org/native-plants
May 24, 2023Paul Lauzon
Too much sun without protecting your skin is the main cause of melanoma. Doctors recommend wearing sunscreen 365 days of the year. Whether it is summer or winter your skin can be damaged by ultraviolet light. Melanoma is a type of skin cancer that occurs in the melanocytes, the cells in the skin that make pigment. UV rays from the sun or tanning bed damage melanocytes. Melanocytes are unable to repair damage to the DNA from the ultraviolet light and that results in overgrowth and tumours. Rates of melanoma are going up in Canada but the good news is this type of skin cancer is preventable if you protect yourself and check your skin for irregular moles.
People with fair skin that burns easily, many freckles or moles, or had more than two blistering sunburn before the age of 20 are at greater risk for melanoma. Early detection is key. Spotting it early and getting it treated it before it spreads is critical. Melanoma first grows along the surface of the skin, but over time, it starts to grow down and can become deadly. Experts recommends checking your skin and moles once a month. Here are the ABC’s of mole evaluation:
A – Asymmetry. The mole should be symmetrical, or a uniform shape.
B – Border. The mole should have smooth borders, not jagged or fuzzy edges.
C – Colour. The mole should be a uniform brown colour. Melanomas are often black, blue, reddish or
D – Diameter. The mole should be no more than 6 mm across, or about the size of a pencil eraser.
E – Evolution and Elevation. Melanoma often changes over time, unlike a benign mole, which will
stay the same. Melanomas can also rise above the surface of the skin.
F – Family. If you have a grouping or family of moles, they should all look the same. Melanomas tend
to stand out.
If you spot any of these signs while checking your moles, you should see a dermatologist.
How can you protect yourself? Really, it is nothing you have not already heard:
1- Cover up. Wear a broad rimmed hat. Cover your skin or wear SPF 30 sunscreen or higher.
2-Avoid peak hours when the sun is strongest (10 am – 4 pm)
3-Wear SPF clothing if you are going to be outside in the middle of the day
4-Reapply sunscreen every two hours, after you sweat, or go swimming
5-Even if it is cloudy you still need to protect yourself the same as if it was full sun.
May 19, 2023Paul Lauzon
Studies have shown that eating a healthy breakfast can boost your energy, help to limit weight gain, and live longer. The key is choosing the right foods that are rich in protein and fibre. The combination of protein and fibre helps to fight hunger, keep you satisfied longer, and help prevent against some illnesses. Eating a protein packed breakfast helps to keep the blood sugar stable for hours and prevent energy slumps that can lead to more eating.
Aiming to eat eight grams of fibre and 15 grams of protein is a great guide. That equates to:
- Two scrambled eggs with vegetables and one tablespoon shredded cheese wrapped in a whole-wheat tortilla, plus a medium apple.
- A smoothie made with 1/4 cup oats (pulverized in a blender first), 1.5 cups of frozen berries, 1/2 cup of nonfat Greek yogurt, 1/4 cup orange juice, and one teaspoon orange zest.
Here are some other tips to a better breakfast:
- Avoid eating only carbs. If you are used to eating pancakes or waffles for breakfast and don’t want to change that, there are ways to adapt your recipe to include more fibre and protein. Replace half the flour in your recipe with whole-wheat flour and Greek yogurt in place of half the liquid. Switch from syrup to nut butter and fruit. If you want healthy carbs why not reach for whole grain slow cooked oatmeal. Oatmeal has 4 grams of fibre per cup and when you add milk and nuts you increase the protein count as well.
- If you aren’t hungry first thing in the morning don’t force yourself to eat. Wait a few hours and eat something small such a Greek yogurt and berries or an apple and a bit of cheese.
- If you are in a rush prep breakfast the night before. Mix chia seeds with yogurt and let it sit overnight for chia pudding. Or do some overnight oats. Whip up a smoothie with fruit, Greek yogurt, milk, and flaxseed.
- Not a fan of breakfast foods? No worries, there is loads you can eat in the morning. A peanut butter and jam (or banana) sandwich on whole grain bread is great in the morning. Or even a grilled cheese on whole grain bread.
May 17, 2023Paul Lauzon
In some areas strawberries are already in season, for others it is days or weeks away. Strawberries are not only a sign of summer, they can help improve your memory, boost your immune system, and keep your heart healthy.
Strawberries give you a lot of nutritional value for little calories. Strawberries are loaded with vitamin C. Eight medium strawberries contain 160% of your daily recommended amount. That’s more than what you get from an orange.
Strawberries are also packed with antioxidants which protect cells from damage. The primary antioxidant in strawberries is linked to its red colour. The redder the strawberries the more antioxidants.
Strawberries also have fibre and other vitamins and minerals such as manganese, potassium, and folic acid. Strawberries also have less natural sugar than many other fruits including apples and bananas.
Eating strawberries can help protect your brain’s processing powers thanks to its antioxidant content. In one study, the Nurses’ Health Study, found that the more blueberries and strawberries you ate the less cognitive decline you experienced. The results of another study, the Rush Memory and Aging project showed that people who ate strawberries were 34% less likely to develop Alzheimer’s disease.
Strawberries are a great source of vitamin C which plays an important role in wound healing and prevention of respiratory and systemic infections. Vitamin C is also an anti-inflammatory which can lower your stress response that is triggered by illness or your overly busy life.
Research has shown that eating a few strawberries each day can help prevent several conditions that lead to heart disease and stroke as well as diabetes.
Want some healthy strawberry recipes? Check these out:
Strawberry Smoothie: https://health.clevelandclinic.org/recipe-creamy-strawberry-greens-smoothie/
Strawberry Pretzel Squares (healthier): https://health.clevelandclinic.org/recipe-strawberry-pretzel-squares/
Strawberry Cream Cheese Oatmeal Cakes: https://www.eatingwell.com/recipe/8012987/breakfast-strawberry-cream-cheese-oatmeal-cakes/
Strawberry Spinach Salad: https://www.eatingwell.com/recipe/270668/spinach-strawberry-salad-with-feta-walnuts/
May 12, 2023Paul Lauzon
You might not have heard of it yet, but “mouth taping” is a trend that’s gaining traction thanks to a TikTok trend. Mouth taping is about taping your mouth closed while you sleep to improve snoring, allergies, and bad breath often brought on by sleeping with your mouth open. However, since the origin for this idea is TikTok, should you really be considering this? Bottom line is no, and here is why…
Breathing through your nose does have benefits including:
- lowering blood pressure
- filtering allergens
- regulating the temperature of your breath
- humidifying the air you breathe and moisturizing your throat
- decreasing anxiety
On the other hand, breathing through your mouth while sleeping can result in a dry mouth, bad breath, and a sore throat. For some people mouth breathing results in snoring.
We often breathe through our mouth when we can’t breathe properly through our nose. This often happen when we are congested from allergies, sinus infections, or suffer from other nasal problems.
The goal of mouth taping is to force breathing through the nose. However studies to date show no concrete advantages to mouth taping. As well, mouth taping is not considered part of any practice to treat sleep disorders. Taping your mouth shut while sleeping could impair your ability to breathe properly. You could also experience a skin rash from the tape itself. Bottom line – don’t listen to things you hear on TikTok.
So what can you do about snoring or sleep apnea?
For snoring, depending on the cause, you can try sleeping on your side, using nasal strips, or taking decongestants. It would also be best to talk to your doctor to find out the right approach to take and to ensure it is not a symptom of something more serious.
For sleep apnea, the most common treatment is the use of a CPAP (Continuous Positive Air Pressure) machine to help open the airways while you sleep. If you are concerned that you might have sleep apnea, contact your doctor right away.
May 10, 2023Paul Lauzon
There is a lot of talk about helping the bees and other pollinators this spring and summer. No Mow May is a popular trend across many areas, yet this has been criticized by experts at the University of Guelph as not being the best approach to help pollinators. So what will help pollinators?
A pollinator is an animal that helps plants reproduce by transferring pollen from one plant to another. This action is critical in the production of plants and crops. Types of pollinators include:
In order to help the environment, plants, and these pollinators, we are best to create spaces where they can feed and seek shelter. Here are the steps to follow to help pollinators.
Change some of your grading habits:
- Leave some natural debris such as dead stems and dry leaves – this is ideal habitat for overwintering insects and materials for birds to make nests in the spring
- Avoid lawn chemicals
- Use a rake instead of a leaf blower – leaf blowers can create pollution but also destroy habitat by removing too much debris and eroding/drying out soil
Plant pollinator friendly plants:
- Bees like flowers that are blue, purple, white, and yellow. Butterfly and hummingbirds are attracted to red.
- Plant a single species of flower in one meter clumps to help the pollinators minimize travel.
- Reduce nighttime outdoor lighting – artificial lighting can impede navigation, reproduction, and the ability to find food.
- Attract hummingbirds. Hummingbirds don’t just eat nectar and pollinate plants, they also eat insects such as mosquitoes. Hummingbirds like brightly coloured and tubular flowers such as cardinal flower, blue flag iris, bee balm, bergamot, wild columbine, etc.
Plant the right plants:
- You don’t need a big yard to help pollinators. Even a few pots with the right kind of flowers can help.
- Plant sunflowers – these are a beacon for pollinators.
- Plant native wildflowers and plants for your region: https://www.torontozoo.com/pollinators/Pollinator%20Plant%20Guide.pdf
Stretching improves flexibility
If you want a flexible body, then stretching is the way to go. It will enhance your bodies all round
improvement and it is always recommended that some stretching exercises be included in any workout
Stretching improves circulation
Stretching exercises improve the flow of blood around your body. Improving your circulation means that
more blood and oxygen are reaching your muscles and your brain. This can help avoid injuries in a
workout and it’s also why it feels so good when we stretch first thing in the morning.
If you feel pain then you’ve gone too far
When you stretch, you should feel the strain, but not feel pain. Some soreness after stretching is normal
but, if you are feeling any real pain, then you are stretching too hard.
Stretching before a workout will not stop muscle soreness
Stretching before you exercise will help to warm you up, make you more flexible and improve your
balance, but it won’t actually stop your muscles from feeling sore after a workout. Studies have shown
that no amount stretching reduces muscle soreness, that’s just something that we have to live with!
Keep stretching balanced
When you stretch, remember to stretch both sides of your body, to keep things balanced. If you stretch
your left arm, then stretch your right arm as well, and so on. Also, remember to stretch the muscles that
will be used in a workout. For example, if you are preparing for a run, then do a few squats or lunges.
Too much stretching can decrease your performance
The best type of stretching to do before a workout is called dynamic stretching. These are stretches that
include movement in them, like squats, lunges and burpees. Too much static stretching has been shown
to actually decrease physical performance.
You need to warm up before you stretch
Some people think that stretching is a way of warming up, but this is completely wrong. Stretching cold
muscles can cause tears in the muscles. You should have a gentle warm up, before you do any stretching
exercises at all.
Add stretching to your everyday routine
Stretching is not only useful in the gym, it can be useful to stretch through the day. Many people spend a
lot of time sitting down during the day, and standing up to do a few stretches every hour or so, will help
keep your blood circulating properly and loosen up the muscles.