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Promoting a Healthy Lifestyle

We lead busy and hectic lifestyles, and we need to take care of ourselves.   If you find yourself skipping meals, eating fast food on the run, and generally not making the time to take care of yourself then try incorporating 1 or 2 of the tips below.

1. Eat breakfast daily! Start the day off with a healthy breakfast to have the energy necessary to get through your busy day.  Not eating breakfast increases your risk of overeating later in the day, and often selecting the less healthy options.  Make a point to have 20-25% of your daily calories at breakfast and ensure there is some protein and healthy fat included to help provide longer lasting energy.  If you are pressed for time in the morning, then try a smoothie, which you can even make the night before and drink it on the go.  Try blending:  1 cup berries, ½ avocado, 1 handful of spinach, 1 tbsp chia seeds and about 15-20g of protein powder or ¾ cup plain Greek yogurt with 1-2 cups water.  Now you’ve got an energy dense, slow digesting power breakfast that will keep you moving until your next break.  Look for un-falvoured Whey protein isolate, or an un-falvoured vegetarian protein powder to avoid any artificial sweeteners or flavours.

2. Add water!  Water is one of the best places to start to keep energized, not coffee!  You tell clients about the benefits of water and the importance of maintaining proper hydration, so start listening to yourself.  Water is critical for the transport of nutrients and elimination of wastes from the body, maintaining energy levels and burning fat. Make water your primary liquid, and you’ll also be saving the cost of those $5 coffees.  As active individuals aim to drink at least 2.5-3 litres of water per day.  Remember, that starting a workout dehydrated is a quick way to get injured, and impair recovery.  

3.  Pack Snacks!  I know, we are all busy and on the go, who has time to eat snacks.  However, a little preparation can go a long way.  Packing snacks that are quick and easy to eat will help keep energy levels high for hours and will stop the reliance on energy bars or coffee.  Try bringing a container of raw nuts or seeds to snack on throughout the day.  A serving of 24 almonds have around 160-170 calories and 6g of protein and carbohydrates, a total 14g of healthy poly and monounstaturated fats, as well as some calcium and iron.  These are easy to keep in a bag, purse or pocket and eat a few between clients.  Other great snacks are fresh cut vegetables and hummus, or Greek yogurt and berries.

4.  Schedule lunches or dinner and brown bag it!  Most trainers don’t get paid if they don’t work, however skipping meals will cost you more in the long run.  Make sure you’ve got a mix of lean protein, complex carbohydrates, fresh vegetables and healthy fats.  Invest in an insulated bag to keep your meals cool during the day and prepare things that are easy to eat on the run.  For example, quinoa salad, with peppers, beets and broccoli with some cut up chicken breast or fish, fits in a bowl and can be eaten with just a fork.  Or find a healthy choice near where you work such as fresh salad and source of protein or a sushi roll and dark green salad.

5. Schedule your workouts!  Begin active is a big part of being a trainer or group exercise instructor.  Plan the time to get your own workouts in there so you can stay healthy and fit and on track of your own goals as well.

Maintain a positive attitude towards nutrition and health and lead by example. Your clients will see first-hand how effective good food and exercise choices are and as a result your business will also have positive results.

Written by  Tara Postnikoff

Food for Thought, What's the Deal with Diets?

Anytime someone is unhappy with their shape, they automatically think of diets first. I certainly can’t blame them, since they consume good portions of television programming, from news of post-pregnancy starlets returning to athletic shape in record time to late night infomercials that prey on our exhausted minds to facilitate an impulse purchase. And then there are those who always ask: will dieting work for me? The answer is yes. They were actually conceived to work for everyone. But there’s a catch.

 Diets are designed to work in the short term. They’re not intended for sustained weight loss. This means that within a month or two your body has lost all it can lose and you’ve plateaued at about 85-90% of the original mass. This naturally comes with all the side-effects of hunger: grumpiness, weakness, chemical imbalance, low energy and the instinctive knowledge that you’re doing something wrong. That’s just your body’s way of telling you that without an actual lifestyle change, things just aren’t going to change. A reduction in the number of calories ingested is not the same as calories burned. In effect, it’s practically the opposite, since fasting brings with it fatigue, which makes it difficult to exercise enough to burn calories in the first place.

But the biggest reason for avoiding diets is their effect on muscle. They not only cause it to atrophy during periods of caloric restriction, but they destroy it by reducing the metabolic rate. This doesn’t cause muscle to turn into fat, but for all intents and purposes, once muscle mass has been reduced, the arrival of fat is a natural reaction to the panic mode that the body has been forced into.

According to a recent study published by the New England Journal of Medicine, the relapse and cravings suffered by dieters are not only behavioural but physiological. The body simply keeps producing hunger hormones even years after the diet, eventually leading to relapses. What’s more, according to a new report published in the journal Cell Metabolism, during caloric restriction certain hunger inducing neurons actually consume one another, further boosting the hunger signal and prompting the urgency to consume.

According to a UCLA study, dieting often has the opposite effect of the desired weight loss. Whether it is a fad diet, crash diet or other abrupt caloric restriction, your body will react negatively to it. In fact, several studies now show that dieting is a consistent predictor of future weight gain. The answer is simple: moderate consumption and regular exercise. It works. And let’s not lose sight of the fact that prevention works even better. This is why efforts should be focused on preventing weight gain initially – in particular for young people - rather than counting on the ability to lose it later.


Written by  Claudiu Popa, in Canfitpro Magazine


Saskatchewan’s Best Figure — Melissa Leier

Beyond The Weight Room
From Contest Prep To First Place

 Melissa Leier, Saskatoon-based Figure Competitor and cover model for Saskatoon Well Being Magazine’s debut January 2012 issue, takes us through three weeks of contest prep and her experiences at this year’s Saskatchewan Amateur Bodybuilding Association (SABBA) Provincials in Regina through excerpts from her journal.  

March 17, 2012

3 Weeks To Go

After a solid off-season of trying to make gains in muscle symmetry—especially to fill up my legs and glutes to balance with my wide upper body—it is now time to lean out to see what lies underneath.

As of this week, there are no more supersets and high reps. Down to 6-8 reps of heavy training, with 45 minutes of cardio in the morning and 20 minutes after weights.

I have regular check-ins with my coaches now (almost daily) for them to track my progress and adjust as needed to dial my body in to exactly where it needs to be.

I have consistently gotten up at 4:30 a.m. to start morning cardio at 5 a.m. The key is routine. Same every day. Just get up and go and make the time in the gym as effective as possible. I don’t get up at 4:30 a.m. for nothing!

Hitting the shower after and having some oatmeal and egg whites is always THE BEST feeling. And then I’m refreshed, wide awake and ready to take on my day.

I notice that I am feeling wiped out by 8 p.m. now. Ideally, I try to do my round two training either over my lunch break or right after work at 4 p.m. Earlier the better. Need to keep workouts effective and intense.

My routine is pretty much the same every week day: gym, work, gym, home to pack up for next day and get in bed as soon as I can to do it all over again next day. Doesn’t really leave room for much else!

All cooking, cleaning and family time happens on the weekends when I have a few extra hours.

I have cut out all social events or commitments to focus just on this last few weeks getting ready for showtime. I’m way too busy right now for anything else to be on the mind.

I’ve started to surround myself with motivation wherever I can. Posting motivational posters and quotes on my Facebook, looking at my role model’s achievements and even looking back to previous years’ progress and seeing how I’ve grown. I try to avoid looking at other competitors’ photos that they share on social media. Some people peak early and look stage ready right now and it can make you think OMG, she’s in better shape than me. Stay away from playing that head game.

Tanning seems to take up a lot of time. I’m going about four times a week. This is something I know isn’t great for skin (exposure to UV), but it is relaxing. Makes me feel like I’m lying on a beach. I always save it for the end of the day.

Posing practice daily now. Going through quarter turns (the four mandatory poses that figure athletes do on stage), ensuring posture, turning on the right muscles, angling your body just right to showcase or highlight your best and hide or cover areas you don’t want the focus to be on. In addition, having smooth transitions, confidence, demonstrating attitude, building up endurance to last while holding these poses for extended durations that happen on stage and smiling while doing it! Posing can be really exhausting.


March 24, 2012

2 Weeks To Go

 No change to the training program this week, except I have now progressed to 30 minutes of cardio after weights. I’m still feeling good. Haven’t lost any strength.

I have been working on altering my posing suit, making adjustments as my body changes. The fit, style and cut can make quite a difference in a competitor’s appearance. You want to use your suit to your advantage as much as possible to shape your physique. I’ve had to learn to be a little “artsy and craftsy” with my sewing kit.

Yesterday I made a trip to Swift Current to meet with my coaches for body measurements (I’m at 8.3% body fat at 128 lbs. with another four lbs. to go), posing practice and a team get- together to discuss the next few weeks’ preparation.

I woke up to find that my boyfriend, Chris, had cut up, weighed, measured and packaged up all my chicken and veggies. WOW, this was an awesome surprise! I am so thankful to have this support at home!

It is amazing what a good supportive environment can do to enhance sustainability of a commitment to this exact science of fitness for competition. The first year I competed, I remember my family wondering why I was doing this. They had the perception of the old school women’s bodybuilder look— unfeminine and all muscle and huge, unnatural looking. But, after I did it the first time, my family realized that figure athletes have an athletic look while showing muscular definition, poise and the beauty of the human body in exceptional health and fitness condition.

Last time I went home my mom had stocked a fridge full of at least 10 kinds of veggies, washed, cut up, put in Ziploc bags and ready for me. And my dad had cooked a full BBQ of plain chicken breasts for me to eat over the weekend. WOW, how’s that for support? I couldn’t ask for more!


March 31, 2012

7 Days To Go

I’m looking forward to some extra time on the weekend to get some final details into my posing suit (fitting and adjustments, adding more “bling”) and get my nails and toes done.

My water-load plan starts this Sunday with up to eight litres of water and increasing one litre per day to a maximum of 10 litres of water a day up until before the show. I normally drink four to five litres per day all year round, but once you get up past the eight litre mark, you better try your best to get most of it in earlier in the day so that you can sleep at night! I always map out washrooms no matter where I am. If I walk by one, I take the chance to stop whether or not I feel I need to, because guaranteed once I get five minutes past it, I’m gonna wish I had!

Staying Fit Before And After Baby

Saskatoon Well Being Magazine article of the month.  This is something we see around the gym far too often; a mother-to-be giving up on her workout due to pregnancy.  True, under some circumstances it is not safe for an expecting mother to put the extra demand on her body.  The bottom line is that the rules don't change; to maintain optimal health, positive mental state and desired physical appearance, exercise is your best bet.  To take better care of your family, you need to take care of yourself first.
Staying Fit Before and After Baby
By Andrea Deopker-Gavidia  


Exercise will give you a sense of control of your changing body throughout pregnancy and boost your energy levels by releasing endorphins, which increases your feelings of well being. Establishing a regular fitness routine before becoming pregnant may help you maintain a consistent plan once you become pregnant, as well as when you return to exercise after having your baby. However, if you have not been active in the past, there are still many physical activities that you can safely begin now that will help you stay fit and healthy throughout your pregnancy. When you become pregnant, your exercise priorities will change to adjust to the emotional, physical and hormonal changes that occur in your body.

The Prenatal Mother

Exercising while pregnant can be beneficial to improve your posture, strength and endurance, as well as help to relieve stress and prevent excessive weight gain. Consult your doctor throughout your pregnancy regarding your physical activity level and discuss any concerns should any complications arise. If you were active before becoming pregnant, continue with your program and listen to your body by making modifications as you need them. If you were not active before becoming pregnant, begin slowly and build gradually as you become more fit.

Use the “talk test” to determine your level of intensity while performing aerobic activities; if you cannot talk during your exercise, you are working too strenuously. Pay attention to your temperature, since overheating can cause problems for your developing baby. Use fans or air conditioning while exercising and avoid over exertion on hot days outside in the sun.

To help strengthen your pelvic floor muscles, Kegel exercises can be performed throughout your pregnancy, which will help with bladder control. During your second and third trimester try core-strengthening exercises on all fours, by simply contracting and relaxing your abdominal muscles and avoid lying on your back, which decreases blood flow to your baby. Avoid rapid changes in direction and bouncing, as your joints are more lax with an increase of hormones during pregnancy. A focus on balance exercises is important as your center of gravity changes, especially during your last trimester.

During pregnancy, some effective forms of exercise include yoga stretches and Pilates movements, which use your own body weight, as well as resistance training using dumb bells and resistance bands. Using a body weight suspension training system, such as TRX, may also be useful since you can adjust the intensity of your strength training as your body and center of gravity changes. Using a TRX Suspension Trainer may also help you maintain balance for exercises such as squats.

Take action! Create a list of five positive affirmations such as “My core strength is helping me to maintain great posture and a healthy back throughout my pregnancy.”

The Postnatal Mother

If you had a Caesarean delivery, begin with light exercises, such as walking and stretching, slowly based on your comfort level. Your 6-week postpartum evaluation is an opportunity to discuss with your healthcare provider a safe reintroduction of exercise into your lifestyle. If you were active during your pregnancy and had an uncomplicated vaginal delivery, you may typically begin walking and stretching within days after giving birth. You may have a gap in your abdominals and exercises like crunches should be avoided until this gap closes, usually 4-8 weeks postpartum. You may then begin strengthening exercises such as plank, side bridge and leg lowers lying on your back, which will help you regain posture and develop core strength.

Listen to your body and slowly introduce aerobic and strength training activities that you enjoy and are familiar with. Develop a realistic plan of incorporating 30 minutes of activity three days per week. Remain flexible so you can adjust your workout intensity or length of exercise sessions with your unpredictable schedule and the added fatigue of caring for your newborn. If you are uncertain where to begin and would enjoy the company of other new parents, search for postnatal fitness classes that are led by a qualified exercise instructor.

Take action! Write down any barriers to performing your workout and make a list of how you are going to overcome these barriers.

Naturally, your main focus is going to be caring for your baby, but it is also important to look after yourself. As you remain fit, healthy and relaxed, you will be better able to care for your baby. Continuing to exercise after your baby’s birth will also help you regain your pre-pregnancy shape and fitness level more quickly. Having a focus on core exercises both during pregnancy and after birth will assist you in staying strong while giving birth and then carrying your baby afterward. The key is to listen to your body and increase your exercise intensity gradually to return to your pre-pregnancy exercise routine.

How To Be A Healthy Vegetarian

It's time again for our favorite article from Saskatoon Well Being Magazine.  Our Favorites usually revolve around diet and
nutrition; and here is another great write up about healthy eating for those who are on a vegetarian diet, or wanting to incorporate a vegetarian aspect to their diet.

Vegetarians often return to meat after months or years because their lack of knowledge on how to be a healthy vegetarian catches up with them. To be successful at vegetarianism, you must understand what your body needs and where to find it. We have compiled a list of food alternatives and supplement suggestions so you can be a thriving vegetarian just like some of the staff of Saskatoon Well Being Magazine.

 Meat Alternatives
The ever-growing popularity of vegetarianism has necessitated the appearance of companies that create meat substitutes that look, smell, feel and taste like real meat products. Some companies that produce realistic vegetarian meats include Yves, Amy’s Kitchen and Gardenburger. Non-meat versions of hamburgers, hot dogs, ground beef, beef and chicken strips, sandwich meats, sausages, roast beef, meatloaf, chicken burgers, chicken nuggets and even turkey are available. Many of these products can be used directly as substitutes for real meat. For example, instead of using ground beef on nachos, one could use the vegetarian version, ground soy.
This substance is made by rinsing wheat flour with water until the starch dissolves, leaving the gluten behind. The resulting gluten is a spongy mass with a similar texture to meat and can be used as a non-soy- based meat alternative. Seitan can be fried, steamed, baked or eaten raw. In North American grocery stores it can most commonly be found flavoured with shiitake or Portobello mushrooms, coriander, onion or barbecue and other sauces.
Tofu is made by coagulating soy milk and pressing the curds into blocks. Tofu has very little smell or taste on its own and picks up flavours from other foods easily. It is low in calories and fat and high in iron and protein. It can be used in a variety of both sweet and savoury applications and is featured prominently in many Asian cuisines. It can be used in soups and desserts and can easily replace animal proteins in many recipes, including stir fries and salads.
TVP stands for textured vegetable protein. This is an animal protein substitute made from defatted soy flour, which is a by-product created from the process of making soybean oil. It is fibrous and spongy in texture and comes in granules, chunks or flakes. It has little flavour of its own, but easily absorbs the flavour of whatever it is cooked with. It can be used to replace animal proteins from ground beef, lamb or even fish in dishes such as chili, spaghetti sauce, tacos and burritos.
Like tofu, tempeh is made from soybeans, but has a different taste and texture. Tempeh is shaped into patties or cakes and has a slightly nutty flavour. Tempeh also contains more protein, dietary fibre and vitamins than tofu. It can be used in chili, stir-fries, sandwiches, stews and soup recipes. You can even buy tempeh bacon!
Using legumes such as lentils, chickpeas, kidney beans, peanuts, soybeans and bean sprouts as an alternative to animal proteins found in meat is a great way to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease and diabetes, since these foods are significantly lower in saturated fats. Legumes are valuable sources of protein, iron and fibre.
Keep in mind that while beans are good sources of protein, they are not complete proteins, which means they don’t carry the entire spectrum of amino acids that your muscles need. Be sure to eat beans with rice or another carb source like cornbread to complete the proteins you’re ingesting.

Much more to read, go to How To Be A Healthy Vegetarian 

By Tyler Kalmakoff & Sarah Stefanson

Fitness Focus Saskatoon

Nutrition Information on the Web

On the topic of nutrition, as far as informational websites go, there are thousands everywhere you turn on the net. Much of the information you do find is often contradictory to what you have read elsewhere.  You may find it also tries to give you conclusive information without providing the raw data and tools for you to learn and improve your knowledge and understanding of proper nutrition. is one of the best websites we have found for this very purpose.  On Nutrition Data, you can learn the meaning and use of food nutrtion labels.  You'll also find detailed nutrition labels with detailed food property information and different portion sizes for nearly any food that comes to mind. There are also unique analysis tools that tell you more about how foods affect your health and make it easier to choose healthy foods, as well as nutrition

Check out   This is a great site if you are just starting a diet plan or to find quick answers to questions about your diet.

Fitness Focus Saskatoon

Outdoor Boot Camps are Starting for Spring

Spring is upon us, Saskatoon! Time to get outside and enjoy the weather after the dark winter months; and our Outdoor Boot Camps are starting May 14th for Members and Non-Members.  This year we'll be offering early morning and evening workouts to suit everybody's schedule.

Evening Outdoor Boot Camps with Robin run May 14th - June 25th, Mondays at 6:30pm
Morning Outdoor Boot Camps with Jenn run June 5th - July 12th, Tuesdays & Thursdays at 6:00am

Spots are limited, so come down to the gym to reserve your spot with the Desk Staff today.
If you have any questions about availability or prices contact us at (306) 244-6413 or

6 Days Until SABBA Super Weekend

It's been a long journey to next weekend's SABBA Novice and Provicial championships (April 6th 7th and 8th), now only 6 days away.  Competitors from around Saskatchewan have been training, dieting and pretty much living Fitness and Bodybuilding 24/7 for 12, 16 and even up to 20 weeks.  They have reached levels of dedication and discipline that few of us can only imagine.  For most, it will all be over this weekend; so we want to wish all our friends good luck on Friday at the Novice Classic and Saturday at the Provincial Finals.  

Also, many thanks on behalf of all your competitors throughout Saskatoon to the Personal Trainers of Team Wawryk Training from here at the gym; Vince Wawryk, Jamie Polson and Chris Pylypchuk.  Your knowledge and support has been invaluable.  As for all the athletes, we have seen all the progress everyone has made in the last year, it has especially come through over last several weeks.

Fitness Focus Saskatoon

Follow Fitness Focus Today

Stay in touch with us on your social media network!  Fitness Focus is your gym, so follow us on Facebook, watch us on Youtube and join us @fitnessfocusgym on Twitter!  There are so many reasons why; keep in touch with the Fitness Focus community, stay up to date with upcoming events from in and around the gym, read our health and wellness informational links, all kinds of events thoughout Saskatoon and even upcoming contests.

Fitness Focus Saskatoon Twitter

Fitness Focus Health & Athletic Centre

Nutrient Timing - Part II

Muscle Breakdown and Muscle Building

Nutrient timing capitalizes on minimizing muscle tissue breakdown that occurs during and after training and maximizing the muscle repair and building process that occurs afterwards. Carbohydrate stored in muscles fuels weight training and protects against excessive tissue breakdown and soreness. Following training, during recovery, carbohydrate helps initiate hormonal changes that assist muscle building. Consuming protein and carbohydrate after training has been shown to help hypertrophy (adding size to your muscle). The proper amount and mix of nutrients taken at specific times enables your body to utilize them most efficiently—that’s one of the Nutrient Timing Principles.


Nutrient timing can have a significant impact on immunity for athletes. Strenuous bouts of prolonged exercise have been shown to decrease immune function in athletes. Furthermore, it has been shown that exercising when muscles are depleted or low in carbohydrate stores (glycogen) diminishes the blood levels of many immune cells, allowing for invasion of viruses. In addition, exercising in a carbohydrate-depleted state causes a rise in stress hormones and other inflammatory molecules. The muscles, in need of fuel, also may compete with the immune system for amino acids. When carbohydrate is taken, particularly during longer-duration endurance training (two to three hours), the drop in immune cells is lessened, and the stress hormone and inflammatory markers are suppressed. Carbohydrate intake frees amino acids, allowing their use by the immune system. Carbohydrate intake during endurance training helps preserve immune function and prevent inflammation.

Certain vitamins and minerals also play a role in immunity: iron, zinc, and vitamins A, C, E, B6, and B12. However, excess intake of iron, zinc, and vitamins A, C, and E can have the opposite effect and in some cases impair the body’s adaptation to training. An eating plan incorporating all of these nutrients in reasonable quantities, such as amounts found in food, can help athletes maintain immunity. The quality of the foods selected is very important and needs to be just as much of a priority as the focus on carbohydrate or protein, for example. For instance, eating a bagel for the carbohydrate but also including an orange for the vitamin C is important; drinking a protein shake can be helpful at the right time, but including some lean steak or shellfish for the iron and zinc is also essential.

Injury Prevention

Did you know that dehydration and low blood sugar can actually increase your risk of injury? Avoiding injury due to poor nutrition is absolutely within your control. Inadequate hydration results in fatigue and lack of concentration. Low blood sugar results in inadequate fueling to the brain and central nervous system. This leads to poor reaction time and slowness. Poor coordination as a result can lead to missteps, inattention, and injury.

Additionally, chronic energy drain (taking in fewer calories and nutrients than needed) will increase your risk of overuse injuries over time. Stress fractures are one example; poor tissue integrity can happen when athletes think solely about calories taken in but not the quality of the calories consumed. This is what is behind the phrase “overfed but undernourished.” Eating lots of nutrient-poor foods will not provide your body with the building blocks for healthy tissues and overall repair. Inadequate protein will also hinder the rebuilding of damaged muscles during training. If muscles are not completely repaired, they will not be as strong as they could be and will not function optimally. The damaged muscle fibers can lead to soft-tissue injuries. Both protein and carbohydrate along with certain nutrients are needed to help with this repair. For instance, gummy bears may provide carbohydrate, but they don’t contain any vitamin E, which is helpful in repairing soft-tissue damage that occurs daily during training. Therefore, the goal is both an appropriate quantity and an appropriate quality in food selection.

This article was taken from

Fitness Focus Saskatoon

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1250 Ontario Ave
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Ph: 306.244.6413


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