Don’t Ask Why…


vaw blog

I know…this blog is supposed to be around health and fitness…my every day life of working out, feeling good about myself, eating well and HOPEFULLY inspiring other women to know they are not alone in the struggle to feel whole.

Every day I try to do the above – and have taken that passion to start this blog, to teach boot camp part time and to start now my third Facebook health and wellness challenge with another group of fabulous people.

But another big part of me is what I do professionally – at a women’s shelter in Halton. No, I am not a counselor – I leave that job to the highly equipped! I am the woman behind the big events, the fundraising and the media promotion. Although stressful, I love that I have become an advocate and it has shaped my role as the mom of 2 boys, too.

So this week, I dedicate my blog to the crisis that is – and has been – in front of us. Just a few days ago – in our community of Hamilton – another woman, Holly Hamilton, was killed and her ex-boyfriend has been charged with her murder. They have a 4-year-old daughter whose life is forever changed.

In Oakville, a man shot his wife and himself – same week.

My heart feels so heavy. And yet, this is not a new phenomenon. Women have been abused at the hands of partners and ex-partners for as long as time has ticked.

It’s 2018 and enough is enough.

We won’t end violence against women in our generation. But we need to work harder than ever so we can move towards the end. In Holly Hamilton’s case, her ex boyfriend was once charged in assaulting her and got 90 days in jail. 90 days. He continued to stalk and harass her. Now she’s dead.

I truly believe that the ONLY way we will ever end violence against women is by educating our children. If the stats say 1 in 4 women will be abused in their lifetime, think of all those kids in YOUR kids’ classrooms who are living in those homes…whose first understanding of love is equal to power, control, abusive words, screaming, fear, emotional threats…physical altercations.

We need a continual discussion and learning for kids of ALL ages on what healthy relationships look like, what sexual harassment is and how they all can play a part in being a part of the solution that ends violence against women. These kids need to know that if they are living in these households, they do NOT have to follow in these footsteps…that is NOT their future. There are places to go to for help, phone numbers to call, people to talk to.

More than ever, we need to engage young boys and men to be male allies. To stand up for what is right on their playgrounds, in their classrooms, locker rooms, parties and campuses.

We need their voices!

Monday to Friday from 9am-5pm, my work centers on engaging the community, raising much-needed funds, creating partnerships and trying to make a change. But when I close my office door I open a bigger, more important one as I pick up my boys.

My job really starts then and will never stop. I talk to my sons all the time about respect, consent, love and what is happening in the world today. They are 9 and 11.

They are lucky. They have parents who love each other, show respect to each other – no family is perfect but what they are seeing and hearing at home will provide a good foundation.

You may not have that home. I understand. But that’s even more of a reason to talk to your children. And if you don’t have this at home, I hope for you that you stay safe.

I will never ask, why didn’t she leave? There has never been, nor will there ever be, a good enough answer. She doesn’t leave because of love…yes, love…fear, shame, guilt, the unknown, her kids, her pets, her family, her financial security….

Don’t ask, why doesn’t she just leave? Ask, what can be done to keep her safe? Ask, how can I be a part of the solution?

Demand more from the justice system.

Demand more from the Ministry of Education to implement specific curriculum about healthy relationships. (In Halton, Halton Women’s Place has a Public Education Program that has licensed teachers – including two male educators in classrooms…but funding is needed to be in more classes!)

Demand more from our workplaces to take care of those women who are missing work because of the abuse.

There is so much we can all do. We just need to do it. Do it for all those women who are living in abuse, for all those who have lost their lives…and for the children – like Holly Hamilton’s 4 year old daughter, who will grow up without her mother because she could not be protected enough from a man she once loved.









It’s been a long time since I wrote anything here.

It’s been a crazy busy few weeks and to be honest, nothing jumped out at me to inspire me to write.

I finished my second challenge near the end of November and lost a lot of motivation. I still continue to workout hard at the gym – as you know – that’s never my problem. Food continues to be my issue, even though I know what foods I need to stay away from.

But that is not what this blog is about.

I want to talk about 2018.

This year – 2017 -and every part of it – the good, the bad, the ugly is almost done. Staring us in the face is a brand new year…a brand new start!

What are you looking forward to 2018? What changes are you going to make – or have you even thought of it?

I belong to a great Facebook group of women who every year choose certain words as their goal for the year…like Peace…someone who wants to achieve more peace in their life in the New Year…patience…strength…resiliency…

This year my word is Transformation. I chose this word for a couple of reasons.

Yes…physical transformation. I want to see a big difference in my body this year. This means some big changes in my nutrition. Yes, I know…I do eat healthy most of the time. This is a bit different…this transformation will be from eliminating some food from my diet. A big shift in how I eat and how I view food. Stay tuned.

But I chose this word to also represent a transformation of my mind – I could have chosen the word “confidence” but it is more than that…I want to transform my thoughts, which will transform my actions, which will make some changes in my life.

I know I am most hard on myself than anyone else. My 2018 Transformation needs to also happen – in fact more so – with my own thoughts about myself. This will be harder than any physical transformation I plan to accomplish.

And I am most skeptical of this one. But isn’t that what new beginnings, fresh starts are about?

I also want to transform my life to include more of what I love and to simplify my life a bit (I say a bit because I also have to be realistic!)


This is my year. Transformation. Simplification.

What is your word for 2018?

See you at the Squat Rack ~


It’s Time to Slow Down…


When did it become mid November??

Wasn’t it just Thanksgiving? First day of school? Summer vacation??

Is it as you get older, time flies by you? Is it when you have kids and literally run from morning to night to get everything done? So often I write about sitting back and enjoying my kids more, my days more…my life more.

But sometimes I can’t help myself. I have to remind myself to LITERALLY take a breath. The other night in bed I made myself breathe in and out with large sighs to wind myself down. It worked. I’m trying to do that more.


I know my husband wants me to slow down. I know because he told me so last week. LOL. I rush my body and my mind from one thing to another – get kids ready for school, get out of the door, get to work, do a million things at work while at the same time thinking about dinner, homework, volunteering, our hockey schedule, a birthday, my blog, my challenge, the laundry…then I rush home, rush the kids out of my mom’s house, start dinner knowing most nights kids are rushing out to hockey, cleaning up, arguing with kids to take a shower, get PJs on, get to bed…by then I am exhausted that I go to bed, too. Just to do it all over again.

Part of it is my personality – high anxiety, trying to please everyone (even though this in the end, pleases no one), but it is also because I add too many things to my already busy schedule. But I know I am not alone, I know many of you women who are reading this are doing the same thing.

Let’s all take a collective breath. In and out….in and out..

Some changes have already happened to take some stress off me…housekeeper hired for every other week – YES! Crockpot is coming out more – YES! We are stopping one kids’ activity, which will open up so much more time – YES! I have books to read and I am reading them – YES! I am not ironing my kids’ uniforms anymore (yes I did that) – YES!

I attended a great event yesterday called The Well. It was created by women for women and you could almost hear the huge, collective sigh of relief from the 200+ women in the room as guest speakers talked about how much stress we put on ourselves as women…as partners…as moms…and that we are NOT alone in this. But they also talked to us about believing in ourselves, reminding us that we are worth feeling great about ourselves and that we are worth our dreams and goals and that we need to take the time to find pleasure. Its important.

So much more to do to create a less rushed, less stressed life…but I am not planning any more because that will just stress me out lol. I’m going to take my husband’s advice and slow down. I hate when he’s right!!

Now, who’s with me??? I’d love to hear from all of you on how you have simplified your life so that you can breathe more, enjoy more… email me at or respond to my Facebook page!

See you at the Squat Rack ~





Trick Your Mind, Enjoy Your Treat!


Who else raids their kids’ Halloween bags but not necessarily JUST to check for tainted goods? Ah….WE ALL DO!

I usually try to get them to share a Kit Kat, Coffee Crisp and/or Reese Pieces…then of course, the Nibs, the Starburst and…oh yeah…those crunchy cheese like chip things and so on and so on…

I know that all the women in my challenge group want to enjoy Halloween but not the calories it comes with it…soo…here are some healthy snacks that you can make that will have you feeling as though you indulged…but really didn’t.(And yes, I said MAKE instead of BUY…aren’t you worth the work??)

BUT….yes, there’s a but….You HAVE to look at the serving sizes!! Just because it is a healthier version, doesn’t mean you can eat more!!

Grab yourself a nice cup of coffee, tea, seltzer, water…whatever you like and enjoy a small bit of what you think you are missing out on by not raiding those pillow cases!!

I made these for my boot camp class last year…delicious –

Craving ice cream??

Looking for something softer and creamier??

Chocolate is not your thing? You like the saltier treats? –

Or kale chips –

Another EASY peasy delicious treat…peanut butter stuffed medjool dates…But I am talking about medjool dates and NATURAL peanut butter…eat two and you are good to go!

Tips to make these snacks even better…Eat slowly, enjoy the flavor…as opposed to ripping open the smarties box and tilting your head back and shoving all the little candies in your mouth in one shot.

Come on…we have all done it! 😉

Happy Halloween! Don’t let the scale scare you after trick or treating.


See you at the Squat Rack ~



L’Oreal is Not the Only One Worth It


On the last six week challenge that I coordinated from August to mid September, I lost 5lbs and I felt great, motivated and ready to continue with some of the habits I became so accustomed to.

Then a ton of stress hit me straight in the face. It’s interesting how it hit me when the challenge was over and I didn’t really have my group to be accountable to. I mean, I COULD have continued to stay accountable to them since I kept the group page open but I chose not to.

One night of poor snacking led to another, to another and suddenly I was not watching how many times I was grazing on food I shouldn’t have. I was eating through my stress. I was telling myself I deserved that cookie, that bowl of cereal, that piece of cake because man I was stressed and angry and deserving!

Guess what happened?

Eating through my stress, eating all that sugar and extra carbs, made me feel worse – not better. I ended up feeling guilty and bloated and gassy and miserable. So who won here? It certainly wasn’t me.

That was my a-ha moment.

Who was getting the better of me? Stress is always going to be there. It will be there through work, through parenting, through relationships, through the daily struggle of too much to do and not enough time to do it. It won’t go away.

But how you handle it is what you CAN control. It’s what I CAN control.

Luckily, I didn’t gain the 5lbs back, (2lbs instead) but because of the bloating and digestive issues, it definitely felt like I did. My clothes felt tighter and I wasn’t as confident in them. So it was time to take myself back to the motivation and inspiration of my first challenge.

Thank goodness I started my 2nd 6 week challenge this week. My mindset has changed back. I am limited with my weight training due to an injury so I am doing what I can when at the gym. So that means my food intake has to be spot on. It’s amazing how fast life can derail you but it is important to get back on that track to health. You deserve it.

For my challenge I told all the women that they needed to write themselves a note I AM WORTH IT on their scale when they did their first weigh in. Just writing is empowering. WE ARE WORTH IT. We are worth putting GOOD food in our bodies, we are WORTH fueling our body, not poisioning it, we are WORTH moving our bodies, we are WORTH talking to ourselves in a loving, positive manner, like we do with everyone else in our lives.

We are WORTH it.

If you’re interested in details about my Fall Fitness Challenge, email me at

See you at the Squat Rack ~


My (Hard) Lesson with a Barbell


You know how they say exercise is good for the mind? Well, this past week I realized how very much this is true.

As you all know by reading my blog (thank you, thank you, thank you) I am a self-defined gym rat. I love to lift weights. I like to come home from the gym sore and sweaty. And when I can’t, when my gym routine needs to be altered, I am not happy.

So this week, I have not been a happy person. Ask my husband.

I did something stupid at the gym on Sunday and pulled something in my back. Do you think I went home after pulling it? Stupid question. No, I worked through the pain for the hour. Then went home and kinda mentioned that I may have hurt my back.

I have relied on Advil and Platinum Strength Robaxacet for 5 days now. On Monday, I modified my boot camp class workout but really should not have done anything because after class, I was so sore. Tuesday I walked on the treadmill for an hour…of course at a speed that probably was too much for my back. I was almost in tears as I stretched after that. Wednesday, during class, I stayed on the bike and yelled at my classmates the exercises they were to do. I hate doing that. And today, back on the treadmill, slower pace, for 45 minutes. I watched all the people in front of me with their squats and presses and pulls and it makes me sad.

I know…I know…it’s best for me to do what I am doing and let myself heal. I’m seeing my osteopath tomorrow and looking for him to fix me like he did with my ribs.

But delving deeper into this is not just my silly woe is me attitude. I am really seeing how my training routine brings me into a happy place. I am not alone.

“The physical benefits of exercise—improving physical condition and fighting disease—have long been established, and physicians always encourage staying physically active. Exercise is also considered vital for maintaining mental fitness, and it can reduce stress. Studies show that it is very effective at reducing fatigue, improving alertness and concentration, and at enhancing overall cognitive function. This can be especially helpful when stress has depleted your energy or ability to concentrate.

When stress affects the brain, with its many nerve connections, the rest of the body feels the impact as well. So it stands to reason that if your body feels better, so does your mind. Exercise and other physical activity produce endorphins—chemicals in the brain that act as natural painkillers—and also improve the ability to sleep, which in turn reduces stress. Meditation, acupuncture, massage therapy, even breathing deeply can cause your body to produce endorphins. And conventional wisdom holds that a workout of low to moderate intensity makes you feel energized and healthy.

Scientists have found that regular participation in aerobic exercise has been shown to decrease overall levels of tension, elevate and stabilize mood, improve sleep, and improve self-esteem. Even five minutes of aerobic exercise can stimulate anti-anxiety effects.”

Courtesy of

I have often said exercise is not just good for the body. It REALLY is good for the soul!! It makes me feel good; it makes me feel more confident and strong. It’s a powerful thing!

I can’t wait to get back at it! I can’t wait to feel that sense of energy and motivation!

I promise, next time, to know my place with my barbells – after all they are heavier than I am.


See you at the Squat Rack (eventually) ~


Join my Fall Health and Wellness Challenge – email me at for details! Challenge closes Oct 11th.

Lesson Learned


My 6-week health and wellness challenge ended September 18th. There were times during that challenge that I thought it would last forever and yet, when it was done, I asked myself, “where did that time go?”

The 38 women (we started with 40) lost a combined 200.7 lbs!

I was so proud of each and every one of them. Each of us struggled – some more than others – but no matter what, we could relate to each other. No one felt misunderstood or alone in any part of the challenge. 

Little did we know that many of us would feel the struggle so soon after the challenge ended – myself included.

I think for a lot of us, we felt the challenge was over so we could indulge a bit. But the problem was that we didn’t stop indulging! For me, I faced quite a bit of stress, which caused me to take up sugar again. Immediately I felt terrible. Headache, foggy brain, gut rot, bloat…you name it. But unfortunately it didn’t stop me after that first cheat meal. Luckily, before it got out of hand, I curtailed it and went back on track. But not before seeing the scale move up instead of down.

Why is it so easy for the scale to move that way but impossible for it to move the other???

Surprisingly, when I reached out to my group, they confessed the same thing. A “challenge is over” treat turned a bit much for some of them as well. I think so many of us were on this high and felt we could handle the extra treats…until we stepped on the scale!!

I think what this showed and proved is that this was never a DIET.

So, there is no END to eating healthy, exercising, staying with good healthy habits. Sometimes you don’t have to be as strict with yourself but there’s no end to living a healthy life and eating well the majority of the time. We all know what is good to eat and how good food makes us feel. Some of us learned just that through these six weeks.

It was a great lesson to learn for a lot of the women in this group and a great reminder for me. A lot of us are anticipating our Fall challenge where the accountability is back but so are the fun food and nutrition opportunities that I include each week. I love that so many of these women – and now some added friends- want to continue on to the next six weeks!

But until that starts, I must remember to continue to make good choices the majority of the time. Not just for the scale, but for my wellbeing.

Eating badly doesn’t take the stress away…in fact it adds to it!

Thinking about it that way has actually helped me.

If you are interested in knowing more about the Fall Challenge – email me at

I guarantee you will make 30 more friends. 🙂

See you at the Squat Rack ~


Bad Habits are Hard to Break – Stay Away From the Pantry!

My six week challenge that has 38 women PLUS me in it, is coming to a close on Monday. When I look back on the last 5 weeks, it has flown…but some of those days were loooong….like when I was craving a big honking piece of chocolate or watching my family devouring pizza (that was day 1 by the way) So supportive. LOL.

This challenge wasn’t impossible. Of course, if you put your mind to it, ANYTHING is possible. But one of our challenges that I instituted after week 1 was no eating after 7:45pm (unless you were on shift work or nursing a baby).

As I think back to the weeks prior, I think almost everyone…if not EVERYONE…had a hard time with this particular challenge. What is it about nighttime snacking? Sitting in front of the TV with a bowl of something on your lap. It’s just so common.

We all seemed to struggle with this at one, or two, or ten times over the last few weeks. Not every night struggle…but definitely more than once a week.

Habit. That’s really what it is. You become so customized to routine – a habit. Even if I just ate a great dinner, as the night wore on, I found myself walking towards the kitchen, checking out the pantry…the fridge…just to see what was there, of course. So many times I had to forcibly turn myself around and sit back down without a snack to munch on.

"So, what'll it be...binge watching, binge eating or both?"

Was I even hungry??

Sometimes, yes.

If I didn’t drink enough water during the day or my dinner was not filling, I would be hungry. But so many times I was just looking to crunch on something – don’t tell me to get a carrot – that’s not the crunch I wanted nor would it satisfy the crunch as some people will tell you it does. Even if I could just take some bites of somebody else’s late night snack….but fortunately (unfortunately) my kids know about my challenge and screamed if my fingers found their popcorn bowl. “Mom, NO!! You’re on your challenge!!” It’s like a virtual slap of the hand. It also shows that they DO listen to me!!

I think with a lot of the things we women talk about on this challenge is about breaking some habits. Now, it’s not HORRIBLE to eat something after 7:45pm but it is WHAT you are eating and WHY are you eating after dinner. A fabulous holistic nutritionist (Kathy Wilkes) once taught me “eat with purpose.”

I hope I have taught these amazing 38 women some valuable healthy lifestyle tips. I hope that after the challenge they continue to eat with purpose and break some bad habits but at the same time, enjoy their food and love what they eat and don’t ever look at it as a diet or sacrifice, but as a lifestyle and a choice.

I know they have taught me a lot as well. I learned that women can be great supporters of each other – heroes for each other. It’s been an honour to lead them in this challenge and watch them kick butt.

What will they do the night of the 18th when the challenge is over? Will they grab something crunchy that is not a carrot?? Will they actually take something from their pantries after 7:45pm??? I wonder how many will still walk away….

See you at the Squat Rack




The Most Wonderful Time of the Year!

first day

It’s the most wonderful time of the year!!

If you are reading this and you are a teacher, you may curse me I know…

As much as I LOVE summer…I love the heat , I love taking vacations, the end of making kids lunches, a little more relaxed vibe at work, there’s just something great about September and the start of a new year.

It’s weird though isn’t it? To think of September as a new year even when you are out of school.

Is it the cooler air?

Is it the darker mornings?

Is it the Fall clothing in the malls?

Is it the Halloween candy already in Walmart?

Does any or all of the above signify a new year…a fresh start??

Nope. It’s the “get your butts to bed on time, get up on time, get back into a routine, you’re driving me nuts, time to go back to school.” 

Ahh…I don’t even care that I had to make lunches today, or pack snacks, or iron their clothes. I did it all with a spring in my step.

In all seriousness, I am very fortunate. Both my kids enjoy school so I am not dealing with what I know some parents are going through tonight. And, I am looking forward to a great year for both of my boys. Grade 6 and Grade 4 – new memories, new challenges and new things to learn.

It’s a great time to reflect on the summer and all the fun we had…but also a great time to think ahead and think about some goals to make for the year ahead.

This year I want to take more in…enjoy the moments a little more, because all of a sudden the baby who never closed his eyes is pretty much as tall as I am and my baby is gelling his hair loving the manly smell of the gel his father gave him.

It’s the most wonderful time of the year for many reasons. (And yes, there are other wonderful times of the year lol) Good luck, my boys. I am proud of you.

See you at the Squat Rack ~



3 Tips to Eating Better, Feeling Better

love your food

You read headlines everywhere – 5 ways to lose your belly fat this week! Eat these foods to get skinny! Lose cellulite now with this drink!

Typically these are all garbage…and yet we click…JUST to see what they have to say. LOL.

I do however have 3 tips that help me to stay on track and that changed my life…or at least my tummy.

This blog is short but important if you want to eat better, feel better and maintain a healthy lifestyle.

3 – Limit dairy. I am not saying to eliminate dairy but I do believe that the consumption of dairy…or at least over consumption can, and does, cause inflammation – mucous, bloating, constipation, acne and more.

2 – Try new recipes. NEVER eat food that you don’t like. Keep your food interesting AND healthy. It can happen – especially with sites like Pinterest around now…you can find new ways to make typical healthy dishes. Don’t just eat the same old chicken over and over and don’t cringe at boring salad. Eating healthy doesn’t mean boring, bland food. Add seeds, nuts, fruit to salads – use sesame oil to change the flavor, grill vegetables to add, add black beans, corn…and the list goes on and on…Love what you eat. Be excited about it or you will become resentful and think about all the things you are “missing out on” and not focusing on all the amazing food you are filling your body with.

And you don’t just have to eat salads all time. The variety of vegetables that you can eat without even making a salad is incredible!


1 – For me, this tip is crucial to how I feel overall.

No night snacking.

I don’t mean no snacking ever… for the rest of your life. But for most of the time try to go to bed without food in your belly. You will most likely sleep better (after you get used to it) and you will wake up lighter and way less bloated. And there is some sort of satisfaction of waking up and NOT feeling guilty for what you ate the night before. No more, “why did I eat that??” “Ugh, I feel so crappy/my stomach hurts.”

I don’t have all the answers, but I do believe in the above tips. Try one or try them all and see how you feel! Email me at

See you at the Squat Rack ~