Support Alecia for the Olympics

Alecia Stewart Personal Trainer

Alecia Beckford- Stewart is a Canadian athlete who has harnessed her athletic prowess and entered the amazing winter sport of Bobsleigh. Alecia attended the University of Illinois on a full track and field scholarship where she received a Bachelor in Science focus in Kinesiology and Exercise Science as well as a minor in Chemistry. She has competed at the international level as a heptathlete and is currently on the Canadian Bobsleigh team.

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Bobsleigh requires speed, power, strength and a desire to improve with every rep, set and step. It is a speed centric sport around chasing numbers down to the hundredth of a second. Alecia trains 6 days a week, about 5-6 hours a day. Her training includes Olympic lifting (squats, cleans, snatches, bench press etc), sprint training, sled pushes, plyometrics, core stability, mental imagery and to seal it all together maintaining a well balanced diet and recovery plan. The bobsleigh season is from October to March and during the off-season months (April to September) Alecia finds a way to balance all the necessary training with working to help support her athletic endeavors. In fact, it is like working two full time jobs and can be extremely physically and mentally demanding however her drive to succeed outweighs the hardships that she may face.

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Alecia has aspired toward excellence in sports since the tender age of three starting with gymnastics and evolving constantly within athletics. Her passion has only grown over the years and hopes that a life-long dream of representing Canada in the Olympics will come to pass this February at the 2018 Winter Games in Pyeong Chang, South Korea. Alecia will head out to Calgary, Alberta which is the home base for Bobsleigh Canada Skeleton and be evaluated during the National Bobsleigh Program team testing camp this August and September. The results from these testing camps will decide the 2017/2018 Canadian National Team and bring her one step closer to being on the 2018 Canadian Olympic team, which will be announced in January 2018. If you would like to follow her journey or help toward her continued success please visit her at


Alecia Stewart is a Your House Fitness personal trainer based in Toronto, ON. To view his profile click on his name.

You Are Your Greatest Motivational Tool

As a personal trainer, I’m always being asked questions about workouts, nutrition, supplements and physique, but there is one question that gets asked more than any other.


This has always been the hardest question to answer.  It was never something I paid much attention to, or gave much thought.  In my head, my body felt like a machine, and a machine needs to be running consistently to not break down.  I never gave a lot of other thought to it, but rather scientifically concluded that I MUST TRAIN, and TRAIN HARD!

I had felt what happens when you let your body become sedentary, train improperly and neglect nutrition.  Recovering from shoulder surgery and hernia surgery were big wake up calls. There was no way I was going to be out of shape for the rest of my life, I needed to make a change and start moving.

So I started walking.  5 minutes became 10 minutes.  10 minutes became 20 minutes.  Eventually, an hour passed, then 2.  I realized what amazing organisms we humans are, how resilient we are, how quickly we recover with activity and how intricately we’ve been fashioned to move, swim, run and jump.  One year became two years, two became four.  Now I stand before you all as a completely new person.

…. but it STARTED with 5 minutes.

So I guess my greatest motivational tool is keeping just a little picture of my old self in the back of my mind.  I keep a picture of him there as a constant reminder of what can happen when we slack off, the consequence of neglect of our body, and how incredibly hard I’ve worked to become a better, healthier person.  I myself am my greatest friend, I am my motivator, but I can sometimes be my own enemy.

I always tell my clients, “I can’t make you do the workouts, I can’t make you eat right.  The CHOICE is always YOURS.  Every small decision to try and be better, from doing one more rep, to saying no to that cheat meal is a reflection of YOU and YOUR DEDICATION TO YOUR GOALS.”

Make your choices victorious, and always learn from your mistakes. Take every little victory you can, use them to empower the next battle. Before you know it, time will pass and a better you will emerge. Stay Happy and Healthy.

Eric Zimmerman is a Your House Fitness personal trainer based in Toronto, ON. To view his profile click on his name.

5 Full Body Exercises Everyone Should Be Doing

Some exercises are definitely more beneficial than others. This is partially because they strengthen important muscles in your body which are crucial to your overall health and fitness. If you have ever worked with a personal trainer, you probably noticed that they often focus on squats, deadlifts, push-ups, chin-ups and planks. Let's take a closer look at each of the aforementioned exercises.


The squat is a fantastic multi-joint full body exercise. It primarily works the glutes, quads and hamstrings. To a lesser extent, squats have a positive impact on core and back strength, especially when you do them with weight. In order to properly perform a squat, stand with your toes pointed outward and your feet a little more than hip width apart. Lower yourself down so that your thighs end up parallel with the floor. You should keep all the weight in your heels and try not to let your knees go past your toes. In order to avoid arching your back, engage your core especially as you increase the weight you are squatting.

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Goblin Squat


When it comes to full-body strength training, the deadlift is one of the best compound exercises you can do. Deadlifts are great for your hamstrings and glutes. Not only that, but you will also get a stronger core and lower back. Having a strong lower back will help prevent back injuries later in life. Lastly, it improves grip strength because you must hold on to the bar as you are lifting it. In order to properly perform a deadlift, your back must stay neutral or you will risk injury.


One of the best things about push-ups is that you can do them at any time anywhere. You don't need to invest in any expensive gym equipment and you will still be able to work many muscle groups. Push-ups help strengthen your pectoral muscles, triceps, deltoids, as well as the core. In order to perform a proper pushup, start out in the high plank position with your hands under your shoulders. Then, engage your core, glutes and hamstrings. While keeping your body straight, lower yourself by bending at the elbows until they are at ninety degrees or your chest touches the ground. However, do not lay down on your stomach or this will defeat the purpose of the exercise.  After that, push yourself back up to complete the movement.


Chin-ups are the king of upper body exercises. They work your biceps, latissimus dorsi, teres major, infraspinatus and core. Additionally, chin-ups will help you improve your grip strength because you have to hold on to the bar while lifting your body up. To perform a chin up, grab the bar with your hands facing towards you. Pull yourself up until your chin is over the bar. Then, lower yourself in a controlled fashion.

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The plank is an isometric exercise which helps improve your core strength and posture. Depending on the type of plank you are doing, you will be able to strengthen your rectus abdominis as well as your obliques. There are many variations of the plank, including: high plank (arms straight), low plank (on your elbows), front plank and side plank. Regardless of the type of plank you are doing, in order for the exercise to be effective, you must be sure to keep your body straight and your core engaged for the duration of the hold.

As we can see, the aforementioned exercises work all the major muscle groups in the body and they are very effective. If you are unsure of how to perform any of these movements, then it's recommended that you consult a personal trainer who will teach you proper exercise form.

Sergio Pedemonte is a Your House Fitness personal trainer based in Toronto, ON.

The Benefits of Exercising Outdoors

The world of fitness seems to be in a continuous state of flux. Newer fitness techniques seem to be emerging every other day, some unique and some rather odd. Fitness regimes today include everything from different dance styles to complex gym machines and what not. Hectic lifestyles mean that more and more people are turning to different fitness regimes to keep themselves healthy. But what about the old school outdoor exercise? A brief perusal of doctor's advice columns in the newspapers clearly shows that the medical community still believes that jogging, walking and simple outdoor exercises are the key to keeping diseases away. Most true personal trainers and fitness experts will also not hesitate to tell you a thing or two on why exercising outdoors is great.

Sometimes we get so caught up visiting the gym that we forget about the advantages of exercising outdoors. You can find many advantages of getting outside and leaving the gymnasium behind. We're doing our bodies a favour, when we leave the confines of a fitness center and head outside. While there are many advantages of exercising outdoors, here are a few of them to get started with:


Mental Well-Being

There was a recent study that demonstrated an increase in mental well-being when exercise was performed outside. It enhances our disposition, releases tensions, and revitalizes us, when we work out outside.


Vitamin D

There have been many studies lately that corroborate the claims of an increase in levels of Vitamin D. This indisputably is extremely beneficial to our and there is no better way to raise those levels than to get outside and snatch a feel of the sun.


Fresh Air

Fresh air does a lot to the body and mind. Occasionally the atmosphere in houses and buildings may be rancid and polluted. Exercising outdoors gives us a chance to inhale fresh air which is highly recommended. 


It's Fun

Let's face it. Running on that treadmill for 45 minutes can get rather monotonous. Spinning on a cycle for an hour is very tedious. There are a lot of things to do outside. The terrain offers many options. Every one of this option will definitely keep the mind occupied and thinking. Inside we generally either watch TV or pay attention to music to pass time. Listening to music and watching TV keeps your mind occupied but not focused at the task at hand. It is fine to let your thoughts have a break from your distractions and to head outside to get a jog.


It's Free

Gym membership fees seem to creep up in cost through the years, just like everything else. Wish to exercise at no cost? Head outdoors and get started. Equipment is required by some tasks of course. In the event you're already going to the fitness center you almost certainly have a good pair of running shoes. With those shoes you can walk, run, jog, or trek outside.


There are different possible activities to perform outside. One thing to keep in mind would be to pick activities that get your heartbeat up to get the most benefit. Several exercises you can try out are running, walking, hiking, and cycling. While you are outside and attempting to change your exercise routines, don’t head for the park or run laps on the track. Instead find a route through an area and hit the trail. If you can’t run, find a good trail someplace with varied terrain and just walk, if you appreciate walking. Get on your own bike and explore different places you generally don't get to visit. Obtain a mountain bike and locate some enjoyable trails to ride.

As you can discern, it sounds sensible to escape the gym occasionally and head outdoors. Clearly you'll not be able to replace your gym activities all with outdoor activities. You'll still need the gym for weight lifting as well as for all those bad weather days. Additionally while exercising outside remember to be safe. Be cautious about traffic and stay hydrated. It's always safer and much more fun to work out having a personal trainer too.

Sergio Pedemonte is a Your House Fitness personal trainer based in Toronto, ON.

The Difference Between Jogging, Running and Sprinting

There is definitely a big difference between jogging, running and sprinting. Therefore, it's not a surprise that runners hate being called joggers, although far too many people use those terms interchangeably. The only thing that makes running and jogging even remotely similar is that they are both forms of aerobic exercises. Sprinting, however, falls in its own separate category.  Let's examine what makes those three activities so different from each other.



First, jogging requires a lot less effort than running because it's a less intense form of aerobic exercise. One of the biggest differences is, of course, the pace. In order for a jog to be considered a run, a person's pace should be about 10 minutes per mile or faster. Anything slower than 10 minutes per mile is generally considered a jog. Keep in mind, however, that pace is often subjective. Therefore, for some people, a 14 minute mile may feel like a run if they are starting their fitness journey.



Although jogging and running both use the aerobic system, jogging will allow you to burn a higher percentage of fat relative to carbohydrates. When you are running, you still burn fat but your body will also demand more carbohydrates than if you were just jogging. Running takes far more energy than jogging and it definitely burns more calories. Think of jogging as something that runners do to warm up before they race a 10k or a half marathon while shooting for a personal best time.



Sprinting, on the other hand, requires a completely different energy system and is therefore in its own category.  It uses the anaerobic energy system, which means that it does not require oxygen. However, since oxygen is not used, we are not meant to sprint for long periods of time. Sprinting is usually used to describe an activity that requires you to go full out for less than 600m. When you are sprinting, you are going as fast as you can and it is very intense. After finishing your sprint, you are forced to breathe extremely hard in order to make up for the oxygen deficit that you encountered during it. Anaerobic activity falls into two categories: lactate and phosphocreatine. You can rely on the phosphocreatine system if you are doing a sprint that lasts less than 20 seconds. However, if you have to go as fast as you can for over 20 seconds but for less than three minutes, you will need to rely on the lactate system. After the initial three minutes of sprinting, it becomes very difficult to maintain that pace. With that in mind, you are forced to slow down to a more comfortable running pace in order to clear the lactic acid from your body. If you are still having difficulty with lactic acid, you may need to reduce your pace to a jog until you are able to speed up again.

As we can see, apart from the differences in pace and effort, sprinting, running and jogging use different energy systems. For this reason, it is important that if you decide to integrate one of these into your daily or weekly routine that it will help, not go against, your fitness goals.

Finally, remember to stretch after every jog, run, or sprint to decrease injuries. Also, make sure you visit your massage therapist, to speed up the recovery process of your muscles.

Sergio Pedemonte is a Your House Fitness personal trainer based in Toronto, ON.

10 Ways to Fix Weight Loss Mistakes

We've all been there before: doing cardio for hours, skipping meals (only to binge eat after), obsessing over the number on the scale... all to try and optimize our weight loss goals. The truth is these are just a few of the mistakes we make while on our weight loss journey that can really throw us off our track. Here's how to fix them:


1. Stop Overeating Protein

Some often believe that consuming more protein per meal serving will make you feel fuller and thus help you not overeat carbohydrates. The issue is that the body has a limit to how much it can absorb, so after the required intake is met the remaining gets flushed out of your system or turned into fat storage. The solution is to eat 20 - 30 grams per meal serving (for example: 1 chicken breast the size of your fist).



2. Strength Training Is Your Best Friend

Many people are under the misconception that the only way to lose weight is by doing cardio. No! Not only does strength training get your body to burn calories and tone up during the workout, but it helps accelerate your metabolism so you are burning calories even hours after finishing your workout.



3. Focus on Good Carbs, Not Bad Carbs

Drop the white bread! Simple carbs only make your sugar levels spike and leave you wanting to eat more. Complex carbs, on the other hand, keep you fuller and satisfied for longer periods of time (for example: sweet potatoes, black beans and quinoa).




4. It's Not a Cheat Day, It's a Cheat Meal

Don’t binge eat a whole day and then diet for the rest of the week. This will only keep your bad food habits going and will strip you off the energy you need to be more active! Instead, indulge yourself with a cheat meal once a week to keep you on track.




5. Avoid Skipping Meals

If you're accustomed to eating 3 - 4 times a day and you decide to skip a couple of meals, your body will know and react accordingly. Extreme calories restriction tells the body to store the next meal as fat storage. Why? Because your body now doesn’t know when it will get the next meal. Focus on eating more frequent meals while paying close attention to the portion size.



6. Sleep Is Key to Losing Weight

The real work happens while you're a sleeping. While sleeping, the body focuses on repairing itself which it needs to keep you in tip top shape for your fitness program. Not sleeping can also wreak havoc to your weight loss plan, by causing your cortisol levels to increase causing your appetite to get out of control.



7. Thinking You Don’t Have Enough Time

The busy excuse. We have all heard it before. “I'm too busy to go to the gym today”. “I don’t have time to make a home-cooked meal”. Think again. Focus on short daily workouts that last 10 to 20 minutes. Also, skip the takeout and opt for meals using easy-to-cook, wholesome ingredients like quinoa or kale. It’s better than the alternative!



8. Keep Your Program Fresh to Avoid Plateauing

Stop doing the same workouts with the same weights, sets, repetitions and rest times. Spice it up: go to a spinning class one week and then go to a strength training class the next. If you're having difficulty setting yourself up with a program get in touch with a personal trainer to set you up with weekly or bi-weekly exercise programs that you can easily follow.



9. Be Consistent with Staying Active

Don't expect results to come your way if you're actively working out one week and sitting on the coach watching Netflix the next. Remember thought that it’s not always about going to the gym. Try to include physical recreational activities to your day (for example: rock climbing, playing soccer, going for a nice walk, swimming). One of my two favorite things to do in my free time are boxing and axe throwing.



10.  Don't Weigh Yourself Everyday

The body’s weight fluctuates a lot, so avoid obsessively weighing yourself everyday. While you're seeing the number on the scale go down you will be happy, but any minimal increase will have you yourself on what you did wrong. Water retention or even the time of day can affect your weight. Focus on only weighing yourself once a week or bi-weekly to keep everything in perspective.



Do any of these resonate with you? Are there any other mistakes you keep on making over and over? Let me know in the comments!

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Sergio Pedemonte is a Your House Fitness personal trainer based in Toronto, ON.

5 Best Post-Workout Foods to Optimize Fat Loss

Nutrition is always of the utmost importance when it comes to reaching your health and fitness goals and getting the most out of your personal training sessions. Let’s dive into some great options that can help you maximize the results you are looking for, and get you in recovery mode.

Lean Meats


If you have ever talked to a personal trainer about post workout nutrition, one of the first things they have probably mentioned is that your body needs protein ASAP after you workout. Wait! Don’t throw that steak on the grill just yet. If your goal is fat loss, then your best bet is sticking to lean meats like chicken or turkey. If you’re really feeling beefy then opt for some extra lean ground beef (5% fat or lower). These lean meats will provide you with the protein needed to refuel and rebuild your muscles after putting them through an intense personal training session.



Everyone has some sort of connection with veggies-- you either hate them or you love them. Your body loves them. This goes for especially after a grueling workout because of the essential vitamins and minerals - but there’s a catch. Reaching for the veggies in the fridge? Make sure you cook them. Raw veggies after a workout tend to take up space in your belly while not giving you enough calories to refuel your body. The solution? Cook your veggies and make sure that you serve them up along side some protein and complex carbs for an added nutritional boost and a complete meal.

Complex Carbs


Besides protein, your body relies on carbohydrates to kick-start the recovery process. However, your personal trainer and your fat loss goals beg you to stay away from sugary sports drinks that “promote recovery.” Drinks like Gatorade and Powerade are an easy way to pack your body with simple carbs in the form of sugar, but if you’re serious about your fat loss goals, then you are much better off choosing complex carbs instead. Go for carbs like brown rice to help you with your recovery process and keep you full longer.

Greek Yogurt


Greek yogurt is the mecca for quick and healthy protein sources because it contains a high amount of protein. You already know that this getting enough protein in after your personal training sessions, help optimize fat loss because protein does a great job with keeping you full and satisfied. It also aids in your muscle repair. Many Greek yogurts contain the added benefit of probiotics for your gut health and have healthy fats. This is a must have snack to add to your grocery list if you want to maximize your protein intake.

Healthy Fats


Yes, you must eat fat to keep your body running at optimal levels - which your body loves and craves. When you are on a weight loss journey and working with a personal trainer to guide you nutritionally, you may learn that adding fats to your diet is a great way to stay full as well. Keep in mind the amount of calories you're consuming when eating healthy fats. For instance, two tablespoon of peanut butter is about 190 calories and half an avocado is about 130 calories, and can actually deter you from your weight loss goals if you’re not careful.

You have to be putting the right fuel into your body for it to work properly, which is why the saying goes, abs are made in the kitchen. When you have weight loss goals, it’s best to consider options that will move you into that direction when you complete a personal training session for the day.

Sergio Pedemonte is a Your House Fitness personal trainer based in Toronto, ON.

5 Best Energizing Pre-Workout Snacks

Your personal trainer reminds you that you don’t need to be reaching for your favorite pre-workout supplement or coffee to give you a boost to complete your workouts. Sometimes the greatest boost comes from the foods sitting right in your pantry or refrigerator. After all, food is fuel! These pre-workout snacks will help increase your stamina during any workout and help you finish strong.

Protein Shakes


This pre-workout snack is a classic go-to in the fitness world and recommended during personal training sessions. Drinking a protein shake before your workout will ensure that you’re not focusing on hunger - the fiber and protein content will keep you satisfied. When you drink a protein shake, you won’t feel heavy/bloated feeling or experience problems with digestion due to it being a liquid. Drinking a protein shake before your personal training sessions will allow you to maximize muscle growth from the added protein.



This tried and true snack is always a great go-to before a personal training session. Bananas are filled with water and simple carbs that go straight to your bloodstream, which energizes you quickly. Bananas are filled with fiber, which helps you stay full and keep you satisfied. Bananas are the top choice over any other fruit by personal trainers because of their unique composition. The carbohydrates in bananas are very digestible and contain potassium - a nutrient that helps with your muscle function.



If you don’t love oatmeal, you’re missing out. Oatmeal can be eaten in a wide variety of ways, making it a popular choice recommended by personal trainers. Oats are a good source of complex carbs, meaning your body will digest it slowly and use it over time to give you maximum energy. Complex carbs, such as oats, only result in a small increase in blood sugar levels, so you won’t feel like you want to crash while during your personal training session.

Whole Grain Bread + Peanut Butter


Whole grain contains complex carbs which digests slowly like oatmeal so are ideal to consume before a personal training session. If you add a healthy fat such as peanut or almond butter, this light meal is sure to satisfy and give you enough energy to crush your workout without weighing you down. The added peanut or almond butter is sure to make you feel powerful during your workout. The protein, fiber, and healthy fat combination that peanut and almond butter provide, is the perfect energy source if you need something quick before training. For added health benefits, go for an all-natural brand of peanut or almond butter that doesn’t include any extra sugar or unhealthy oils.

Berries + Yogurt


Like bananas, this fruit is a source of simple carbs that will be digested easily and rapidly into your body giving you increased energy effects. The truth is, berries of all kinds will give you a colorful, fiber-filled snack that fuels you up with healthy protein and fat. As an added bonus, berries are full of antioxidants which helps decrease free radicals in your body, which destroys your cells. Let’s not forget to mention that berries, as in any fruit have high water content, making perfect for increasing body hydration before your personal training session. Greek yogurt is beneficial for the high protein intake, which helps with satiety, and building/repairing your muscles.

Don’t feel like you need to overeat before your next personal training session. You need to feel comfortable but not uncomfortably hungry during a workout. It’s best to consume all snacks at least 30 minutes before so the energy effects can start getting to work!

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Sergio Pedemonte is a Your House Fitness personal trainer based in Toronto, ON.

How-To Video Series: Muscle Release & Activation

We all know it's important to stretch after a workout to reduce recovery time, but what if there was something that took it one step further and made your workouts even more effective? This is where muscle release & activation comes in.

Why release & activation?

  • Release: Gets rid of pain and restores range of motion of the muscle
  • Activation: Waking up the muscle (making sure the muscle is firing at 100%)

Benefits of using release and activation

  • Reduces pain
  • No compensation of muscles that aren’t supposed to be targeted
  • Reduces injuries
  • Increased strength and flexibility
  • Improve performance

The best part is you don't even need to go to the gym to do these. All you need is an exercise band (or a few, if you want to vary the resistance), a lacrosse ball and yourself.

Our 7 how-to videos cover all the important muscle groups in your upper and lower body. Give it a try!


Sergio Pedemonte & Eric Zimmerman are Your House Fitness personal trainers based in Toronto, ON.

Lucky 7: The 7 Benefits to Exercise for Your Mental Health

Most people go to the gym or work out to improve their health, build muscle, and have a fitter body. However, exercise can have tremendous impact on our brain and overall mental health.

The next time you debate whether to go work out, consider the following benefits:

1. Stress Reduction – Tough day at work? Consider taking a long walk, or making a quick trip to the gym. The most common mental benefit of exercise is stress relief; it increases levels of norepinephrine, a chemical that regulates the brain’s response to stress.

2. Boosts Happy Brain Chemicals – The next time you think, “I hate the treadmill,” remember that your brain loves it. Exercise releases endorphins that are responsible for feelings of euphoria and happiness. If you suffer from depression, or are feeling a bit down, consider adding exercise to your regimen. You don’t have to spent hours in the gym to reap the benefits; 30 minute workouts a few times a week can do the trick. 

3. Confidence Booster – We often go into a workout kicking and screaming, but it’s rare to find someone post-workout who has regrets. That’s because not only do you feel good post-workout, but you often look it. Regardless of whether you’re seeing noticeable results, exercise can swiftly increase our perceptions of self-worth. As we continue, the obvious physical changes only solidify our positive relationship with ourselves.

4. Vitamin Gain – If you’re one who takes his or her workout outside, be prepared for more than just fresh air. Sunshine not only provides our body with Vitamin D, but it also helps reduce depressive symptoms. There’s more to just running to be done outside, too. Consider cycling, yoga, rowing, or a grab a few friends and consider joining a league.

5. Help Your Brain – As much as we hate to admit it, aging impacts the body and the brain. However, exercise has been show to have a remarkable impact on slowing aging of both, including helping to prevent diseases like Alzheimer’s or even to combat Osteoporosis. As we’ve learned from recent research, exercise can even grow new brain cells. Even though you won’t be able to see it, exercise results in a healthier, sexier brain.

6. Maximizing Memory – Memory not what it used to be? Exercise can help with that. Just like with preventing diseases and aging, exercises knack for stimulating your hippocampus boosts your memory and helps you to retain information when learning new things. Studying a new language? Schedule in routine workouts to maximize your likelihood of success.

7. Controlling Addiction – Dopamine—the principal chemical responsible for pleasure—is also what drives addiction. We just can’t get enough of it. However, instead of turning to drugs, alcohol, or food for a dopamine release, consider exercise. Not only does exercise help in addition recovery, but it helps you prioritize your dopamine cravings.

Of course, regular exercise is just one strategy to promote mental wellness. If you are feeling overwhelmed with stress, anxiety, or sadness, mental health counselling can be an essential part of taking care of yourself. However, the next time you’re trying to motivate yourself to hit the gym, remember: your body AND your brain will thank you.

This article was written by Megan Rafuse, MSW RSW. Megan is a social worker, clinical therapist, and the founder and clinical director of SHIFT. SHIFT is Toronto's premier therapy clinic, with a keen focus on being relatable, honest, and friendly. 

SHIFT is collaborative therapy clinic aimed at doing things a little bit differently to support your mental health needs. You can find us in Yorkville, Toronto and we have diverse training in all areas. In addition to our in-office sessions, we offer e-Counselling and workshops—many of which are free.

Transforming your body is important, but so is transforming your mind. We are ready for some change, and so are you.

You can visit our website at, email us at, or call us at 416-962-8255 to schedule a session today.

Why Strength Training Is Important For Everyone

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When it comes to strength training with a personal trainer, things often seem very one sided. You’ve probably noticed that male bodies traditionally dominate almost all of the precious space in any given weight room. These men often look extremely buff and sometimes can be heard grunting - a scenario that can leave a novice and the large majority of women, extremely intimidated. This is when self-doubt and lack of motivation creeps in. You may find yourself questioning if you even deserve a space in that weight room.

In terms of health and fitness, this gym intimidation is a top barrier, but things are changing. Let us set the record straight - strength training is important for everyone, and not just something your local personal trainer spews for fun. Everyone who is looking to reach his or her health fitness goals can benefit from strength training greatly.

The Big Deal

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Many people believe that strength training is only for the men that want to be extremely buff and hang out in the gym 24/7. This couldn’t be further from the truth. Strength training is an essential part of any personal training program because stronger muscles results in a stronger body overall. Here are just some of the benefits:

●      Improved posture

●      Improved body mechanics such as balance and coordination

●      Toned muscles

●      Increased fat loss

●      Protects bones

●      Decrease injury risk

Okay, so now you’ve decided that you want to start a strength-training program with your personal trainer for the benefits, but you don’t need to lift more than 5-10lbs right?

Not quite.

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This really isn’t an issue seen with men, but it can be detrimental to the physical progress of a woman that desires to have a better physique and tone up. Women tend to stay away from personal trainers that want them to lift heavy weights because many believe they will bulk up just like a man. Let’s set another record straight - most women don’t eat enough or have enough testosterone to become overly muscular. Strength training benefits a woman’s body by giving her fabulous muscle tone and the curves she desires.


Fat Loss

Both sexes can benefit from the increased fat loss benefit. If a personal trainer hasn’t trained you lately, you probably believe that doing more cardio is the only way to go when you have fat loss goals. An amazing benefit of strength training is that it will increase your metabolism and produce much greater fat burn in your body than classic cardio.

Your body may burn a significant amount of calories from your cardio sessions, but after your session is done, you stop burning for the day. Strength training is a form of HIIT (High intensity Interval Training) and is much more effective than cardio because it burns calories both during and after exercise. Essentially, when you do any HIIT workout, your body and metabolism function at a higher rate of burned calories for up to 36 hours afterwards. You are guaranteed at least three times the amount of fat loss with half of the exercise time since HIIT is usually so short.

Strength training with your personal trainer ensures that you have a very complete total body program that will help you reach your fitness goals. Men and women alike will benefit in ways that are unique to their body and genetic makeup. Strength training with your personal trainer will push you to create a stronger version of yourself. In the end, aren't you trying to push for a real change anyway?

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Sergio Pedemonte is a Your House Fitness personal trainer based in Toronto, ON. To view his profile click on his name.

Why Chocolate, Stress and Poor Posture Don't Cause Your Headaches

The Misleading Causes


I know you might think that chocolate, wine, stress, bad posture or another factor might cause your headaches but I can guarantee that they are not the cause!

A little science and then I will tell you about Jackie.

Consider how important knowing the aetiology or the basis of any condition/disease. If you want to be enabled to provide the very best of care, you will want to know the specifics of its cause from a gross to molecular level.

It is why I always address the core problems of someone's condition and make the specific corrections rather than just focusing on often misleading symptoms.

More specific and accurate care will lead to better results!

But whether it is due to a socially conditioned connection or the simple association of stimuli and response, we often find some obvious factor to blame for a health problem. 

Explaining a cold as the result of poor weather instead of inhaling a rhinovirus might lead us to wash our hands less often and be more at risk of getting sick. Our misunderstanding have a huge implication in terms of how we best take care of ourselves.

When it comes to headaches, most people will associate it with a few specific causes

The Leading Causes


I want to tell you that it simply isn’t true.

The majority of headaches that chiropractors manage successfully like migraines (with or without aura), tension headaches, or cervicogenic (coming from the neck) are the result of irritation of pain and sensory nerves of the upper back and neck. Headaches are the result of an irritated and dysfunctional nerves associated with the upper spine. Period. Full Stop.

If these nerves are calm and healthy then you will not have a headache.

When the joints and muscles of the cervical vertebrae in the neck become irritated by chemical or physical stimuli they send a signal to the brain that it interrupted as pain or a headache. If the neck and its nerves do not get irritated to a painful threshold, even when placed on external stress, then no headache will result.

But if your posture is poor enough or stress is causing your to tighten your spine muscles tight enough, it might excite and activate the nerves associated with headache like symptoms.

Factors like posture, diet, a lack of sleep, stress and many other directly or indirectly stress your nervous system, that if sensitive enough, might cause a headache. But they are never the sole cause.

If we thought that posture is a causative factors for headaches than headache sufferers should find immediate relief when their posture improves; this simply doesn’t happen. 

Likewise, we might not have pain every time we are stressed out but notice it is more likely if we have also been eating and sleeping poorly.



Many of these factors add together to stress our nervous system and our well evolved bodies is kind enough to let us know to change what we are doing in the form of a headache when we hit our nervous system’s threshold.

The more stressors, the greater intensity of the stressors or the more susceptible the nervous system and the more likely you will have symptoms whether we are talking about headaches or running injuries. 

Therefore is important to identify these factors as contributing and not causative.

The key is to manage the core problem causing the condition and make the nervous system less susceptible to stress.

The key is not to tackle headaches by focusing solely on the factors that lead to them but ensuring that the actually machinery in the body is more tolerant and stress resistant. 

When the spine and nervous system start to function properly and the nerves of the neck are less irritated and susceptible to stress, it will take more and more contributing factors to cause a headache.



A patient we will call Jackie (no not my partner) that I began seeing in November told me at her initial Neurofunctional Chiropractic Assessment that she suffered from multiple headaches in a given week that were debilitating. I was shocked and upset because she was such a lovely young woman barely in her 20s and had failed to have any relief despite a number of other interventions. 

Upon palpating her neck it was obvious that the upper neck was extremely irritated and sensitive to the point that gentle challenge of the upon neck joints caused headache like symptoms.

Fast forward a few months and Jackie has not had more than a handful of headaches since. I can palpate her neck without us grimacing in pain at its dysfunctional state. She can tolerate stress, poor sleep, getting back to the gym and now activities of a normal life that were once all contributors to headache and misery.

It is always and important part of our care to try to improve lifestyle factors and reduce negative stressors but doesn’t it make sense to actually fix the underlying problem safely, specifically and effectively so it doesn’t come back?

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This article was contributed by Dr Alex Ritza, special friend and associate to the personal trainers of Your House Fitness.

If you think that your health is holding you back or want to feel and perform even better, Dr Alex can help.

Dr Alex is a chiropractor and neurofunctional acupuncture provider practicing at Park Road Healing Arts near Yonge and Bloor. He helps people to achieve more from their bodies by restoring and optimization function of the nervous system. If you are looking to improve your health in general or have specific concerns like neck or back pain, headaches, poor posture, numbness and tingling or chronic sports injuries, he looks forward to helping with compassionate care.

Make The Climb

We don’t always need a traditional gym to achieve our fitness goals.  The key to maintaining success with your fitness goals is to constantly adapt and push yourself to try new experiences.   There are many recreational activities that can be done outside the normal fitness routine that can provide a dynamic and fun challenge.  One of my personal favorite activities is indoor rock climbing and bouldering.

I was brought into the sport of indoor bouldering by one of my best friends just over 1 year ago, as it took a lot of convincing because I’m not usually a big fan of my feet being more than 3 or 4 feet off the ground.  I got into bouldering as it was usually climbing a lot lower to the ground than straight wall climbing, an idea I liked as well.  I feel less restricted while bouldering as you climb without a harness above a very thick cushioned mat that surrounds the bouldering area.  I feel slightly more “safe” even though I am still challenging myself to bend and move in many different directions and use my core in a way other exercises can’t replicate.  There is also an element of psychological stress from the fear of falling, which quickly subsides once you realize how cushioned the mat is.  Even so, I love the element of having little room for error.


Bouldering and rock climbing provide an amazing workout that is truly unique and one of a kind.  There is quite the mix of aerobic and anaerobic capacity involved with the sport of climbing.  Studies have shown a significant increase in heart rate and blood pressure due to the extensive use of isometric and eccentric contractions, especially the forearms and hands. [1]

Due to the constant change of position on the wall, the body is constantly adapting to provide energy to working muscles.  Studies have shown blood lactate levels post-climb of 1 minute between 3-6 mmol/l, depending on difficulty. [1]

As the climbing difficulty increases, the more the reliance on anaerobic glycolysis to provide energy to fatiguing muscles.  A good climber must have incredible endurance and strength to hold and propel his or her body through straight and sometimes inverted sections of wall, often performing multiple problems and routes.

Bouldering and rock climbing provide an incredible use of all limbs; it is an incredible task of motor control, balance, and coordination. The increased flexibility and core strength that comes from climbing has huge potential in positive transfer of skill to other types of sports and exercise.  Bouldering and rock climbing could also have therapeutic effects, and have the ability to help individuals with certain motor control disorders.


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Combine some climbing into your fitness routine and you will experience an increase in strength, endurance, and flexibility! [3]



1. Sheel, A. W. (2004). Physiology of sport rock climbing. British Journal of Sports Medicine,38(3), 355-359. doi:10.1136/bjsm.2003.008169.

2. Stephan Marianne Anke, Krattinger Sylvie, Pasquier Jérôme, et al., “Effect of Long-Term Climbing Training on Cerebellar Ataxia: A Case Series,” Rehabilitation Research and Practice, vol. 2011, Article ID 525879, 8 pages, 2011. doi:10.1155/2011/525879.


Eric Zimmerman is a Your House Fitness personal trainer based in Toronto, ON. To view his profile click on his name.

An Olympic Medalists 7 Tips For Achieving Success


Spending 9 years of my life as a member of the Canadian Women’s National Team gave me the privilege of competing in 2 FIFA Women’s World Cups, 2 Olympic Games, and achieving one of the most coveted rewards in an athlete’s career, an Olympic Bronze Medal. I learned everything from the tactical and technical side of playing the sport, however, the most important lessons were the ones I took with me after soccer. All of those years spent competing at the highest level, with and against the best in the world, taught me some of the most valuable skills in achieving your own success, not just in soccer, but in LIFE! Whether that be with fitness, school, relationships, careers, hobbies, or family life, these 7 tips are key in achieving your goals. Enjoy!

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1. Have a Clear Vision. Set your goals and decide to be the BEST version of yourself! Mindset is EVERYTHING. The process begins with this decision. 

“Create a vision for the life you really want and then work relentlessly towards making it a reality.” - Roy T. Bennett


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2. Trust the Process and Stay Committed. Success isn’t achieved over night. Take it one day at a time. Patience is a must!

“Trust the process. You are exactly where you are supposed to be.” - Anonymous


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3. Learn How to Deal with Adversity. No journey is ever easy. Challenges will arise and the way we learn to adapt and rise above them will determine our success. Persistence and resilience are undeniably key!

“It doesn’t matter how many times you get knocked down. All that matters is you get up one more time than you were knocked down.” - Roy T. Bennett


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4. Control the Controllables. Sometimes things are just completely out of our hands, while others we have full control over. We can control things like our attitude and effort. You can’t choose what life throws at you, but you can choose how you respond. 

“We can’t direct the wind, but we can adjust the sails. - Thomas S. Monson


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5. Believe in Yourself! If you think you can, YOU CAN! If you think you can’t, YOU’RE RIGHT!

“Believe in your infinite potential. Your only limitations are those you set upon yourself.”               - Roy T. Bennett


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6. Never Stop Learning and Growing Throughout the Process! We are human. We are not perfect. There is always room for improvement. An open mind allows us to constantly learn, evolve, and grow .

“Learn as if you were to live forever.” - Gandhi  


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7. Have No Regrets! When you place your head on your pillow at night, make sure you did everything in your control that day to be the best version of yourself!

“A change is brought about because ordinary people do extraordinary things.” - Barack Obama


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Jonelle Filigno is a Your House Fitness personal trainer based in Toronto, ON. To view his profile click on her name.

Does Missing Breakfast Make For a Better Day?

Take a moment to think back to when you were very young. Do you remember the reaction you would get from your close circle of elders if you refused to eat your breakfast? The trademark response you would get from your parents, teacher or school bus driver would be ''breakfast is the most important meal of the day''.

The idea of missing your breakfast was be your own worst enemy, putting the success of your day in jeopardy. If you want to feel at the peak of your optimal health, performing all daily tasks at their best, you may not want to neglect missing breakfast, so its believed.  [Malcolm Gladwell would on the other hand disagree with general well known thought]

It's true that a sound morning routine that combines a nutritionally balanced and specific breakfast is a key factor of having a successful day.

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What Goal Does Everyone Share For Their Health?

From the many patients I see, what is the unified health goal most people wish to accomplish from their Neurofunctional Chiropractic Assessment? Most would imagine that the objective is to be ''pain free'', but its close.

The most common goal patients have worldwide is to lose weight. Being a universal concern, it's not a billion dollar industry for no reason. Better health outcomes are associated with less adipose tissue and abdominal fat and having a “healthy” weight is well, healthy. If somebody is committed to losing weight or simply restore good health, an extensive plan including a reorganized fitness and diet program is best, accompanied by the right mindset and plenty of rest.

Weight Loss!

In terms of nutrition, I believe that breakfast, lunch and dinner are not the most significant meals to think about when losing weight, but more importantly what happens in-between.

Look at it from this perspective: you are very dedicated to reorganizing your diet and maybe even consulting a trainer or dietician that has got you committed to nutritious meals threes to four times a day.

All the food groups are covered, your calorie intake is optimal for your needs, your protein intake is sufficient and you have even considered your gut’s health. Great!

However in between these meals it is easy to consume up to 500 or even 1000 calories of nutritiously empty foods when you add up the lattes (150 cal), muffins(110+ cal), afternoon snack, and  dinner that includes dessert (a lot of calories) and a glass or two of beer (150 cal) / wine (120 cal). These “treats” and snacks become meals in and of themselves. Not only do these calories add up, but most snacks also lack any nutritional contribution and are typically hyperglycaemic.

Replacing, and in some cases cutting out the meals in between the major meals, can be the easiest and bring about the most profound health changes.

If you are already working hard to change your health by improving the quality of your meals, this might be the final piece of the puzzle.

If you do not know where to start, the in-between meals might be the easiest concern to tackle first.

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Pack a healthy lunch for those in between snacks and drink moderate and socially!


The Easiest Six Ways to Make a Monumental Shift

  1. Take your coffee or tea “black” and without milk + sugar / sweetener
  2. When it comes to sweets, muffins, croissants, be like Nancy and “just say No!”
  3. Make dessert a piece of fruit
  4. Always have some vegetables (and hummus!) or nutritiously dense food packed for a snack.
  5. Avoid artificial sweeteners because they might make you hungrier than you really are.
  6. Less alcohol at night means fewer calories and a better sleep.

This is nothing revolutionary but I think it is really important to step back and make sure that there are no missing pieces holding you back from reaching your goals.

This article was contributed by Dr Alex Ritza, special friend and associate to the personal trainers of Your House Fitness.

If you think that your health is holding you back or want to feel and perform even better, Dr Alex can help.

Dr Alex is a chiropractor and neurofunctional acupuncture provider practicing at Park Road Healing Arts near Yonge and Bloor. He helps people to achieve more from their bodies by restoring and optimization function of the nervous system. If you are looking to improve your health in general or have specific concerns like neck or back pain, headaches, poor posture, numbness and tingling or chronic sports injuries, he looks forward to helping with compassionate care.

3 Reasons You Should Eat These Fruits





Apples have a high fiber content and packed with antioxidants. Two key reasons to why this a is your typical detox food. Therefore, the nutrients in apples help to fight heart related disease as a result of weight gain and metabolism issues, such as coronary heart disease, hypertension and diabetes. The phytonutrients, as well with fiber in apples, also help to stimulate the digestive system and reduce LDL levels in the bloodstream. Apples also help the production of saliva which helps fight against bacteria in the body.




Strawberries are said to increase awareness and stimulate thought process due to their high content of phytochemicals. They are most rich however in Vitamin C, which helps boost your immune system and repair all cells in the body. It also helps produce a protein named collagen that helps form skin and repairs damaged muscle. They also contain phenols, an anti-inflammatory agent that helps many respiratory disorders from occurring, keeping your lungs more healthy.





Grapefruits are very rich in Vitamin A and Vitamin C.

Vitamin A is best known for how it improves vision, especially in reduced light. The vitamin helps produce pigment in the retina. Again, like strawberries, grapefruit will help fight against infection and bacteria due to its content of Vitamin C.

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Ben Walker is a Your House Fitness personal trainer and kinesiologist based in Toronto, ON. To view his profile click on his name.

Cardio Training 101

Whenever you step onto a piece of cardio equipment you find yourself with a plethora of options and information. There’s a nice little chart with your age correlated with the heart rate you should be at for “fat burning” and “cardio training”, next you’ll notice buttons labeled with what kind of workout you want, cardio, hill training, intervals, fat burning, heart rate programs etc. I can see how this can be so confusing and potentially misleading for one to follow. This will briefly explain what you should be paying attention to.

The desired heart rate is 220-your age, multiplied by the capacity at which you work (60%-80% is on cardio equipment). This age-old formula is an easy solution to the question on how hard you should be working. 60% would be the “fat burning zone” and 80% would be your “cardio zone”. The American Heart Association and Health Canada want all individuals who are looking to maintain their heart health to complete 150 minutes per week of moderate to intense cardiovascular work, in other words between 60%-80% of your max heart rate.

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Pictured: Carleen Lawther

Personal Trainer, Your House Fitness

''Make sure to warm up, stretch and foam roll, when taking to the streets''


But wait, what does the fat burning heart rate mean? If I go over that heart rate am I no longer burning fat? This is a myth. There is no magic formula to be purely burning fat tissue in our body, in order to reduce fat we need to have a negative caloric balance. Less calories in, more calories out. In fact, the lower your heart rate is the less calories you are burning. Therefore you can workout at a lower heart rate for a longer period of time to burn more calories, or you can workout at a higher heart rate for a shorter amount of time to derive the same results.


Pictured: Ileana Herman

Personal Trainer, Your House Fitness

''Lany performing a HIIT program"

This brings us to the type of cardiovascular work you can do which seems to be the most contradictory area of working out these days. The two that contradict each other right now are HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) and steady state cardio. HIIT targets specific muscle groups, works your anaerobic system and your aerobic system, makes you sweat and also gets your heart rate up. It sounds great in theory, but may not be the only option to follow, especially for individuals with injuries, heart conditions or anything else that could be made worse with vigorous activity. Using this as your sole cardiovascular training method could be setting yourself up for burn out and potential injury when used too frequently. As for steady state, again you are working a specific set of muscles, increasing your heart rate but working only aerobically. Typically you wont push yourself too hard, but you are spending a lot of time in repetitive motion, typically with impact, which can lead to imbalances or injury. That being said, the best way to incorporate cardio into your regime is to blend both HIIT and Steady State while adhering to the heart rate guidelines. For more information on implementing cardiovascular work into your routine or more about target heart rates and how it applies to you, feel free to get in touch and I’d be more then willing to help you get on track with your cardiovascular goals.

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Pictured: Katherine White & Danielle Bennett

Personal Trainers, Your House Fitness

''Katherine & Danielle are avid runners of the Your House Fitness team"

Jolene Kohne is a Your House Fitness personal trainer and kinesiologist based in Toronto, ON. To view his profile click on his name.

3 Tips For Following a Fat Loss Paleo Diet While Training


The Paleo diet has emerged as a popular nutritional protocol over recent years for people looking to lose weight and improve health. In my opinion, it definitely has a lot of sound principles going for it. Here are a few guidelines I would recommend to get the best out of your Paleo lifestyle.


Paleo to me doesn’t necessarily mean low carbohydrate. Sure foods like pasta, breads and cereals are eliminated which is great but surely potatoes, sweet potatoes and colored vegetables which were around during the paleolithic era have their place in this type of lifestyle.

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Diet is primarily based on Protein, Fat and Veggies. This to me is one of the best aspects of the Paleo diet. Meals like this are filling, provide a wide range of vitamins & minerals and are ideal for body composition. A meal consisting of primarily the starchy Carbs mentioned above and Protein is more suitable for after training. speaking of which…

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Lift Weights, Sprint and move Heavy Objects. These are without doubt the best training methods to burn body fat and develop muscle. This type of exercise combined with the real food principles of the Paleo diet will be a powerful combination to help you reach optimal health and body composition goals.

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Paul Taylor is a personal trainer based in Dublin, Ireland. Paul is a close friend of the Your House Fitness team of Toronto, ON. To view his profile click on his name.

Jolene's Steps To A New Year, New You


Without fail, every January the gyms get busier with the eager New Years resolutions for better health, six pack abs, bikini bodies and weight loss targets.

Unfortunately as quickly as it picks up, it also slows back down to the regular rhythm by about mid February. Nobody wants to be that statistic that fails sticking to their resolution in one month, I am going to help you plan yours out so you can be successful with your fitness resolution!


“You dream. You plan. You reach. There will be obstacles. There will be doubters. There will be mistakes. But with hard work, with belief, with confidence and trust in yourself and those around you, there are no limits.”

- Michael Phelps, swimmer and 18-time Olympic gold medalist

Step 1



Write it down writing it down can force you to review your goal frequently to keep it on your mind. Then chart your progress as you start to see results, reinforcing why you started in the first place!

Step 2



Make it Measurable make sure the goal you are making is measurable, either I want to lose ten pounds or I want to run 5km. This way you can keep track of it and see your progress!

Step 3


Make it Specific just as I had mentioned you want to make it measurable, also make sure you are specific! Vague goals such as “Be Fit” or “lose weight” make it more difficult to measure your success and keep you on target.

Step 4


Start Small changes take time to become a lifestyle, and don’t underestimate it! If you want to lose 20lbs but have never worked out in a gym before start by setting your goal to getting to the gym 3 times a week. Then build up your goal from there as you stick to your routine.

Step 5

Manage your Time one of the biggest excuses associated with failure of adherence to a fitness regime is time. Schedule your fitness into your week, write it down and treat it like any other appointment or obligation. Habits develop over time and require consistency.

Step 6



Make yourself Accountable develop your support system with friends or family, or charting your visits to the gym, or joining a group with like minded individuals to help push and motivate you to continue.

Step 7


Keep Things Interesting The best athletes in the world work their bodies in different ways to avoid plateau, so you should do the same! As you build your routine start to incorporate different ways of working out such as joining a class at your gym, finding a recreational sports team to play on.This will keep you from feeling bored of your routine and motivate you to continue.

Step 8


Ask for Help Don’t be afraid to ask for help with attaining your goals. There are professionals in this area who are more then happy to help you learn proper form, plan out your goals appropriately and offer support as needed.

Step 9


Reward yourself when you hit milestones such as making it to the gym 3 times a week for a month or losing the first 10lbs. Make the reward something related to your activity such as a massage or a new gym outfit.

Fit these steps into your resolution planning and remember to be forgiving of yourself. As mentioned frequently new behaviours take time to learn and adhere to, you will slip up but just always remember why you started. Here’s to planning a healthier, fitter you in 2016!

Jolene Kohne is a Your House Fitness personal trainer and kinesiologist based in Toronto, ON. To view his profile click on his name.

Losing 10 Pounds, New Year's Resolutions and Your Cabin In The Woods

Personal Trainer Cabin

Tomorrow is the first day of December and it is time to start your New Years Resolutions! It’s the time to get back into the gym. It’s the time to spend more time with friends and loved ones. It’s the time to start getting to bed earlier and finally get some more sleep. And it might be the time to really get serious about eating better and losing those extra pounds that have been on your mind.

I am not a month early, it is just that if you start thinking and enacting New Years Resolutions in a stupefied haze after waking up at 11:33am on January first it might be too late – the battle could be over before it even started!

There is a better way – it starts right now.

I want you to go to AirBnB. I want you to search for a cabin in the woods. I want you to find a place completely shutoff from the outside world. I want you to book said cabin in the woods (but not this one) for New Year's Eve. Try to find something that will let you relax, reflect and give your uninterrupted time to yourself to rehash this year, determine in great specifics what you want to accomplish in 2017, and design a plan to get there.

I can tell you from experience that this is the best possible way to ring in a new year, but more about that in a second.

If you have plans, can’t commit to the time away or fancy yourself as more of a Four Seasons Man / Woman, sometime in the next month I want you to book yourself a few hours at a metaphorical “cabin in the woods” that is all about you. No cell phone. No computer No interruptions. Just you!


5 Things Every New Years Resolution Needs

If you want a New Years Resolutions that are going to stick you are going to need time to yourself to thing. And if you truly want to make some lifestyle changes in 2017 then taking uninterrupted time to think, reflect and plan for the year ahead is the best and maybe the only way to guarantee it yields the results that you want. Once you have some time to yourself, I think there are 5 key steps to developing a really sound plan to making any lifestyle change

Look Deep

Take some uninterrupted time to figure out exactly what you want – not want society or your mom or your boss wants of you – what you want. If you want to genuinely run a half marathon than that is amazing but don’t do something just to appease someone else. If you do, the odds are that by March it will be unlikely that you will still be determined and working on it.

Have a plan, backup plans, and backup-backup plans that are so specific you can taste them

Write everything down about what you want. Think about what each day’s routine is going to look like to help you succeed. How itis going to feel? What are you specifically going to shoot for? What is your training program going to look like and who will your coaches be that will get you there? Who is on your health care team that is going to help you with an inevitable folly? What do you do if you have a misstep and deviate from your plan for a couple of weeks or a couple of hours? The more specific you are in your writingthe more likely you will be successful. 

Add don’t subtract

It is much harder to take away a habit or vice than to add a good activity.

The Outcome Isn’t The Goal – It is The Process

You are not going to measure how successful your resolution is based on the result. You are going to measure your success by how many checkmarks you get to lay down on your plan and backup plans. Lets say that you spend every day for 12 months eating well, moving well, and consistently checking tasks off your “Lose-10 pounds-To-Do-List”. You rarely miss a workout or cave on your meal plan and when you do, you stick to your backup plan. Regardless of what the scale shows on New Years Eve 2017, I can guarantee that you will be incredibly proud for your new found energy, confidence, spirit and health that might not be reflected by a silly machine.

Have a Team

No one becomes successful by themselves – no one. Teammates: Tell friends and family about your goal so that they can help you, provide accountability and encourage you. You need coaches: Have a team of “experts” to fill in knowledge gaps to make you more effective and efficient. You need a trainer: Have a team of people to keep your body right and help you when you get off track.


Richard’s Cabin

Personal Trainer Cabin

Last year on NYE we drove up on a snowy and treacherous day to Baysville located just off of highway 11 between Bracebridge and Huntsville to Richard’s Cabin.

Over the next three days we spent our time snow shoeing, reading, cooking by fire, using a really frigid latrine (read  as outhouse) and relaxing without electricity, running water or cell phone reception. It is hard to articulate just how relaxing it can be to hear nothing but the woods and to be removed from the possibility of ever being interrupted by a push-notification or e-mail.

Besides waking up refreshed for once to start the new year, the break provided some undivided hours to reflect, plan, write and organize some to-be successes for the year ahead.

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Success needs a plan and a plan needs time. I can say without reservation that besides being an amazing little trip with great food and exercise, there is no way that 2016 would have been as great as it was without those few hours in front of the fire with my Moleskin.

This planning takes time and unless you defy the odds with every New years Resolution, I really think it would help to take some “cabin in the woods time” to figure out what needs to change in 2017 and how you are going to get there.


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This article was contributed by Dr. Alex Ritza.


Dr Alex Ritza is a chiropractor and neurofunctional acupuncture provider practicing at Park Road Healing Arts near Yonge and Bloor. He helps people to achieve more from their bodies by restoring and optimization function of the nervous system. If you are looking to improve your health in general or have specific concerns like neck or back pain, headaches, poor posture, numbness and tingling or chronic sports injuries, he looks forward to helping with compassionate care. If you think that your health is holding you back or want to feel and perform even better, Dr Alex can help.