Healthy Living

Meet our Members: Cher Obediah

By | Healthy Living

Cher Obediah is the winner of canfitpro’s Got Talent 2020

Why did you choose canfitpro?

I chose canfitpro because it offers a comprehensive program and supportive path for industry professionals. As an intimidated novice new to the field, I wanted to feel confident in my leadership role as a fitness instructor. The mechanics and methodology was exactly what I needed to ensure I’m offering classes that are well planned, fun, and safe.

What is your WHY?

I strongly believe this profession chose me. I made my entrance in an unconventional way, after learning Woman’s Fancy Shawl, which is a powwow dance. I grew up culturally disconnected, due to Canadian assimilation policies, and I’m not alone. I was determined to get certified to create my aerobics class series, Cultural Cardio, Shawl Shape and Fancy Fit, to help others reconnect in a non-intimidating way and to invite people of all backgrounds to celebrate unity, diversity, and inclusion. Winning canfitpro’s Got Talent has really opened the door for me on a larger scale, and for me that’s the real win!

What gets you excited to go to work each day?

Purpose is a pillar rooted deeply in our human experience that can catapult us from happiness into pure joy. Doing something that’s bigger than myself offers me an intrinsic reward that’s difficult to put into words. I know I’m doing something pretty special when it scares me, challenges me, and freaks me out.  I’m not just instructing an aerobics class and promoting a healthier lifestyle, I’m filling a gap and offering hope, motivation, and inspiration.

What do you enjoy most about what you do?

There is nothing but payoff in what I do. I really view exercise from a holistic perspective. It has a long list of physical benefits, but it’s also a mindfulness practice that causes me to be present and focused.  It’s also an extraordinary tool for regulating emotions, which leaves me feeling mentally refreshed to tackle what ever comes my way. Exercise is a beautifully balanced way to show up for myself and fill my tank mentally, emotionally, spiritually, and physically.

Watch her winning entry for canfitpro’s Got Talent below:

Meditation to Support Fitness

By | Healthy Living

By Daisy Moss

Meditation can mean different things to different people, but something that most people who practice meditation have in common is that it has greatly helped them in some way. One-way meditation can help is through its ability to improve your mental health, and therefore, your physical fitness. Incorporating as little as 10 minutes of meditation into your daily routine can have unbelievable effects on how you feel and function when you’re exercising, as well as in your everyday life.

Here we will be looking at the relationship between meditation and exercise, the benefits of meditation in relation to fitness, how you can incorporate it into your busy lifestyle, and finally the importance of maintaining a balanced diet to get the most out of your meditative experiences. Many people are skeptical about meditation before trying it, but once you have, you won’t turn back.

The Relationship Between Meditation and Exercise

Pairing meditation with exercise can completely change how you feel. Maintaining your mental fitness is essential to performing well when doing physical activity, which in turn makes your overall wellness phenomenal. Having a clear and focused mind when working out will help you to focus on exactly what you are doing, enabling you to engage your muscles and to push yourself that extra bit further than you have before. This will do wonders for your confidence and dial up your determination. Your mental fitness and physical fitness complement each other massively. You’ll be shocked at the difference you notice, not only will you be more confident and determined, but also more productive than ever.

The Benefits of Meditation for Your Fitness

Meditation has the ability to enhance all aspects of our mind and body which can help take your mental and physical strength to another level. It can:

  • Encourage Happiness – Meditation generally makes people happier and improves their mood, meaning you can wake up feeling fantastic ready for your workout. Everyone knows how great it is to be in a fantastic mood before starting your workout – you get so much more out of it!
  • Focus Your Breathing – A large part of meditation is focused on the breath and having complete control over it. If you are aware of how to utilize and control your breath throughout your workout, you’re much more likely to be able to run that extra kilometer or beat your personal best. The breath is such a powerful tool when it comes to fitness, so using meditation to gain optimal control over it is a must.
  • Clear the Mind – If you go into a workout with an overworked mind, you won’t be able to focus. Try spending 10 minutes meditating before your gym session to clear your mind, giving you space to focus on exactly what you’re trying to achieve. You will be more focused and self-disciplined throughout your workout.
  • Boost Your Energy – Meditation helps to release endorphins and increase your blood flow, meaning your entire body will have more energy. There’s nothing worse than hitting a wall halfway through a good workout, and although pre-workout supplements can help, meditation may be a more natural and long term solution.
  • Reduces Stress – Stress completely drains you of energy, which will also make you far less productive in the gym. Not being fully alert and focused will lead to a poor and potentially dangerous workout. Meditation will relieve you of excess stress and give your mind space to make the most of your time in the gym.

Incorporating Meditation into Daily Life

Life can be chaotic, so taking time to yourself while also maintaining a demanding fitness regime can seem like a difficult thing to do. Yet, finding your balance and giving your mind time to unwind, even for a short amount of time, will ensure you get so much more out of your workouts.

Decide on a set amount of time that works in your daily routine, maybe five or 10 minutes, or potentially up to an hour. Guided meditation apps, like Calm, offer support throughout your meditation, along with hundreds of different programs to suit your time restrictions. Find a way to fit this into your life, perhaps for 10 minutes before your morning workout or 30 minutes before bed instead of watching one more episode on Netflix.

Having a consistent routine with meditation embedded into your day will help you to fully relax when it comes to it, as your body will adapt more quickly and you will feel the benefits even more. Of course, life gets in the way sometimes, but trying to fit in even a few minutes will make a huge difference to your life and fitness.

Don’t Forget Your Balanced Diet!

Food has the ability to nourish both your body and your mind, hence it is important to align the two properly. If you aren’t fueling your brain and body properly, maintaining optimum focus during meditation will be difficult, therefore you will struggle to get the most out of your experience. Here are some of the essential food groups you should be consuming to optimize your time meditating as well as helping improve your fitness:

  • Carbohydrates – Non-processed carbohydrates such as potatoes, whole-grain cereals, and beans are absorbed slowly by the body which gives you a more consistent energy source while working out and meditating. Avoiding any dramatic highs or lows in your blood sugar is likely to keep your body, and therefore mind, in a calm and relaxed state.
  • Vitamins and Minerals – Eating nutrient dense foods is a great way to support your meditation journey, as vitamins and minerals can keep both your mind and body healthy by supporting essential bodily functions. For those of you who have a hectic schedule and simply don’t have time to ensure that you are consuming all the vitamins and minerals necessary, supplements can be a great option. For example, vitamin D tablets are designed to support your energy production – keeping you focused and alert, thus more productive when you’re working on both your mental and physical fitness.
  • Nuts and Seeds – According to ayurvedic tradition, nuts and seeds promote balance within the body as they are considered to be pure and non-harming. They are a part of the sattvic food group, along with whole grains, legumes, fruit and vegetables, and natural sweeteners. If you are extremely committed to your meditation journey, incorporating these foods into each meal can help your ability to maintain a high consciousness and meditate effectively. They are also extremely good for you and can do wonders for your fitness.


Many people say that one of the hardest things about meditation is finding time to do it, but making a small effort to fit it in will definitely be worth it in the long run, as your fitness and overall health has the potential to improve massively. Pairing your meditation with exercise will help you maximize what you can get out of both of them separately, as well as together. Focusing on your diet can also make a huge difference to how effectively you are able to meditate, making those 10 minutes all the more useful. If you are ready to feel mentally strong and physically fit, set aside 10 minutes each day and you will soon begin to reap the benefits in all aspects of your life.

About Daisy Moss

Daisy Moss is a freelance writer specializing in nutrition and fitness. When she isn’t writing, you’ll probably find her enjoying a spin class or making her famous protein brownies!

The Power of Connection – Unites Us All, Especially in COVID-19 times

By | Healthy Living

By Mo Hagan, canfitpro COO

In a time of unprecedented change, the only thing that one can do is pivot — this applies to individuals and businesses. I realize this is a term that has been used and most likely overused throughout the last nine months, however, its definition means more than you might imagine. Pivot can mean the one central thing that something depends on.

For canfitpro that one central thing is our purpose and our willingness to connect people with each other and a common purpose. Knowing why we exist and feeling empowered to serve our purpose (inspire healthy living through fitness education) has been our lifeline during this crazy COVID-19 year.

Knowing why you exist and understanding your purpose or responsibility gives you a reason to wake up every day and do what is necessary to push through obstacles and break through glass ceilings so as to discover new ways to exist and thrive. When the lockdown became canfitpro’s new reality in March 2020, we had to pivot and change course swiftly. The result was that within weeks we were able to offer members the opportunity to connect and participate in continuing education opportunities in a whole new way.

This incredibly challenging time reminds me that:

  1. You must exercise a positive mindset in every situation - anything is possible when you focus on the possible more than the impossible (limitations).
  2. To move forward through adversity, you must align yourself with positive advisors, coaches, leaders and people you trust and who are willing to pivot when change is the only way forward.
  3. You must surround yourself with those who will lift you up on those days you feel like you are falling down.
  4. Your faith must be greater than your fear.
  5. The power of connection is a strong force that will serve you well when you believe and value it.

Putting business needs aside for a moment, we believed then as we do today, that fitness professionals need to feel a sense of connection with each other and their profession. Committed to a mission to support the legions of fitness professionals who work hard every day to help people achieve their goals, we felt it was our responsibility to move our entire business online.

Within six weeks canfitpro launched its inaugural ‘Virtual Series’ to replace all of the live events we had planned for 2020. As an industry dominated by highly social, people-oriented people, motivated by innovation and change, we trusted this would grant us the opportunity to take the biggest risk of all –move our canfitpro 2020 conference and tradeshow online. We realized that we possessed the power to bring people together and while we really did not know exactly how we were to accomplish this, we leveraged the strength of our associates, technology and the trust of our members.

Our results exceeded our expectations. Registration surpassed canfitpro’s goals by over 100 percent! We received feedback that the canfitpro 2020 Virtual Series became a professional lifeline for many of our members and was described by many of our attendees as the “best part of their year”. It gave them something to look forward to month over month from August through November 2020.

2,500 delegates from fifteen countries, including Canada, participated and the Zoom chat boxes lit up with their commentary and support not only for the presenters, but also for each other. It was heart-warming to see delegates connecting with and supporting each other.

My friend Sarah from Scotland summarizes her experience at the Virtual Series as follows: “Although things have been pretty awful these past six months, these events have allowed me like others to stop and reset. Having this event to look forward gives me that buzz again to get on with things.”

As someone who is both behind the scenes and in front of the camera at canfitpro’s Virtual Series I can honestly say that while this year has been the most challenging year of my 38-year career in the fitness industry, it has on many levels, been the most rewarding with so many silver linings to appreciate, learn and grow from. I have been reminded that anything is possible when you commit yourself fully to the possibility. Giving people hope of what is possible gives them permission to believe in both themselves and the vison of their business and their world, and get on with things.


Photo credit: Dawn Bowman Photography

Imposter Syndrome: Overcome “Feeling Like A Fraud” in the Fitness Space

By | Healthy Living

By Liam Coultman

If you feel comfortable and confident, your gym or fitness space can feel like a second home, full of friends and like-minded people. If that isn’t the case though, it can be a very different story. There’s nothing worse than having to regularly go and spend extended time in a place where you feel like you don’t belong.

While it’s bad enough for members, it’s even worse for trainers, as your livelihood depends on you going back, regardless of how you feel.

With gyms all around the world currently being reopened and adjusting to the “new normal” the old challenges we face as trainers have not gone away and may even be harder to address during these testing times.

Rest assured, you aren’t the first to feel this way, in fact, it’s very common amongst fit pros to suffer from self-doubt.

What Is Imposter Syndrome?

Imposter syndrome is a condition where the brain convinces an individual to doubt their own skills and abilities. A study by The Journal of Behavioural Science estimated that 70% of people experience feeling like an imposter at some point during their lives with both men and women affected.

Expert Dr. Valerie Young states afflicted people generally believe they are inadequate and are only in their current position due to good fortune or luck. They are left feeling like frauds and often live in constant fear that they will be exposed as such.

Examples of Imposter Syndrome in the fitness industry

Like many psychological problems, people suffering from them can often be unaware that they exist.

That’s particularly true for conditions such as this, where an individual may be so convinced, they are indeed inadequate, that the idea there might be another explanation for how they are feeling seems completely absurd.

There are two very common examples in the fitness industry that are red flags for imposter syndrome:

  • Do I Know Enough?

Possibly the most common manifestation, convincing yourself you simply aren’t skilled enough.

“Everything I do is easy or common knowledge.”

“The other trainers all know more than me.”

“Why would someone pay me for what they could do themselves?”

If you’ve found yourself thinking any of the above, or similar, you may well find you are indeed suffering from imposter syndrome. Convincing yourself that despite being picked out and paid for your services, you don’t deserve to be.

  • Am I Fit Enough?

It can admittedly be hard on anyone to walk into a busy gym and not feel a little self-conscious if there are bigger, stronger, fitter people around you, especially if you are getting paid to be the one teaching.

There’s a big difference though between feeling a little self-conscious and convincing yourself you are unworthy.

If you can’t shake the feeling that your qualifications, experience, and wealth of knowledge aren’t worthy, purely because there are people in better shape around you, there’s a very real chance imposter syndrome is to blame.

How Imposter Syndrome may affect your relationship with your clients

In an industry such as ours, confidence is key, both for retaining current clients, as well as securing new ones.

The service we provide doesn’t come cheap and people therefore expect a quality experience for their money. They don’t want someone timidly asking them to do things, they want clear, concise, confident instructions. They aren’t just paying for information remember, they are paying you to push them to levels they wouldn’t be able to go to on their own.

Similarly, when approaching prospective new clients, you must convey that they couldn’t possibly achieve the same results you will give them on their own. They need to believe that there’s no better way to spend their money than on your services.

It’s also worth noting that even when you are getting clients, self-doubt will potentially cause you to undersell yourself. People are always looking for a bargain and knocking you down will be much easier if you don’t believe your service is worth what you are charging in the first place.

At the end of the day, if you have any self-doubt in this business, you are setting yourself up for failure. Imposter syndrome will absolutely cripple your career prospects, more so than in most other professions. If anything I have said so far is hitting close to home, don’t panic, there are some simple steps you can take to help you overcome this.

Tips to address and overcome imposter syndrome

While there unfortunately isn’t a way to make imposter syndrome magically disappear, there are steps you can take to combat it.

  • Recognize and admit the issue: This is by far the biggest step to take. Allowing yourself to see that the problem is in your head is already half the fight to overcome it.
  • Talk about the issue: They say a problem shared is a problem halved and that is never truer than right here. Talk to friends, family, colleagues – frankly anyone you trust. The easiest way to prove to yourself that you know more than you think is by getting a chance to spread your mental muscles in a safe environment, to people who you know will build you up.
  • Turn Negatives Into Positives: Fitness instructor Patrick from com offered this advice: When you think a colleague knows more than you, see it as an opportunity to learn, instead of bemoaning not already knowing it. When you see someone in better shape than you, have a chat and see if you can pick up some tips. If someone asks a question you don’t know the answer to, go and find out for the next time you see them. Every interaction in life is an opportunity. Learn to make them work in your favor.
  • Realize No One Knows Everything: Don’t be so hard on yourself. We all have to learn as we go along, so don’t punish yourself for not knowing everything that you are asked. I’ve been in this industry over a decade and just last week had to research an exercise I’d never heard of for an article I was writing. We’re all in the same boat, some of us are just at slightly different places in it.

For more ideas on how to mitigate the negative effects associated with imposter syndrome, check out this article by the Harvard Business Review.

Final thoughts

Imposter syndrome is a very real thing and it will eat away at you if you let it. While it may seem tough, you absolutely can overcome it and come out the other side even stronger.

Hopefully, the tips I have given you in this article will go some way to helping you overcome imposter syndrome or just help squash any self-doubt you may be feeling.

If you only take one thing away from here though, please let it be to talk to someone. Making that first step of admitting your problem to someone is absolutely huge, it could even be a defining moment in your life.

We all have our demons and you’ll be surprised what other people have been through, and how much their experiences can help you. So, make sure you go and take that first step. Keep doing your best and know that that is good enough.

About Liam Coultman

Liam Coultman is a speed and strength conditioning coach and founder of The Speed Project. He holds a Poliquin Performance Specialist Certification and a BSc in Sports and Exercise Science. He also writes for various sports and fitness publications.

New Times, New Strategies

By | Healthy Living

By Kathleen Trotter, PTS

It is a new world, one filled with ZOOM, facemasks, heightened anxiety, home gyms… oh, and did I mention anxiety?

The conundrum is this: although our new normal has made “health” feel almost impossible, it also has made healthy living an absolute must—a non-negotiable. Exercising regularly, getting adequate sleep, and maintaining a nutritious diet not only supports immune and cardiovascular health, but these habits assist in the management of depression and anxiety, and improve everything from mood to energy, to mental focus. Plus, I know that when I “control what I can control” (exercise, nutrition, etc.) I feel more able to navigate what life throws at me. Maintaining my healthy habits gives me a semblance of control, a much-needed feeling in this new crazy world.

Instead of trying to use solutions that may—or may not—have worked pre-pandemic, find new and innovative ways to reach your health and fitness goals. Acknowledge that our world has changed, then adapt your strategies to the new reality.

New Strategies

In terms of exercise…

Try the “plug and play” solution

The plug and play solution is a tailored list of exercise options based on time and accessibility. Decide what activities you could realistically do in five minutes, 10 minutes, 15 minutes, 20 minutes, etc. When you find yourself with a chunk of “found” time, instead of wasting that block of time on social media or wondering what you should do, look at the list and go.

Think of the plug and play list as “exercise snacking.” Sure, you might not be able to prioritize an hour workout—a full “exercise meal”—but you can always fit in 5 or 10 minutes. Ten minutes of exercise a day is 70 minutes a week, and 70 minutes a week is better than zero minutes. All motion adds up.

Create the list in advance. Why? When you have to stop and think about what exercise to do, all too often you will end up doing nothing. The cognitive load of deciding is one thing too many. The list will help you take the guesswork out of fitness. That way you can make the best of all free moments.

How do you decide what goes on your plug and play list? Think about what you find fun, what is safe, what is realistic, and what can be done in the specific amounts of time you have.

Make it FUN… maybe get your family involved

Find things you enjoy, or at least that you don’t hate. This pandemic is hard enough; it might not be the time to make yourself suffer through exercise that you despise. Put on some music and dance around! Jump rope outside. Play semi-active games with your kids such as hide and seek—these types of games may not be a workout, but they require more activity than watching TV.

Make “dates” with your family to do online workouts, or to go for “fitventures.” Every Sunday I try out a different park around Toronto. My dog, Olive, loves it. I get time with my partner, James. We get our steps. Wins all around!

Consider a family challenge! Be creative. Base the parameters of the challenge on the number and age of your kids and their interests. Maybe each family member counts how many steps they take throughout the day. Everyone has to get creative to accrue steps — “forget” things upstairs, play active video games, pace on conference calls, etc. Or try a family pushup or squat challenge. The winner gets to pick family movie night or have their favourite meal delivered.

In terms of nutrition…

Procrastinate intelligently

Learn to delay your gratification. The next time you desire something that you know your future self will not be proud of, tell yourself you can have it, but not now. Delay the indulgence. Tell yourself you can have the treat tomorrow, or after you play a fun game or get going on a project. Future you will typically forget about the craving altogether!

Only bring food into the house that you want your future self—or your future family—to consume!

Control your nutritional environment; be vigilant about what comes into your house! Make your grocery list or order your groceries when you are feeling satiated and relatively calm—that is, when your rational brain is in charge. Then, don’t allow your emotional self to change that list.

The main takeaway is this: your workouts don’t have to be perfect, but they do have to happen. Think consistency—think daily, non-negotiable motion! Your food choices don’t have to be perfect, but they do have to be conscious. Stop mindlessly snacking. Control your nutrition environment. Unhealthy food in your cupboards will eventually be consumed by you or someone you love. Equally, healthy food will eventually be consumed by you or someone you love. If you don’t bring it into your house, you can’t eat it!

About Kathleen Trotter

Kathleen Trotter holds a masters in Exercise Science, is the author of two books including the new book Your Fittest Future Self, and is a Personal trainer, Nutritionist, Pilates Specialist and Life Coach. Visit her at

Twitter: @FITbyKathleenT

Instagram: @fitbykathleent

Facebook:  FIT by Kathleen Trotter

Exercise Prescription for Mental Health

By | Healthy Living

By Igor Klibanov

As a fitness professional, you undoubtedly know how prevalent mental health issues are, and you may even work with people who have them. However, there’s very little specific information on how to make it better (other than “exercise is good for you”) and any improvements that come are simply a side effect of exercise. But what if there was a direct way to exercise specifically for improvement of mental health issues? That’s exactly what we’ll cover in this article.

If your clients have noticed that they:

  • Have lost pleasure in activities that they really used to enjoy
  • Aren’t taking care of themselves as much
  • Are neglecting certain relationships
  • Performing worse at their work than they used to

Then this article is for you.

We’ll discuss the exercise prescription for mental health issues. I use that word, “prescription” very precisely. After all, when a doctor prescribes a medication, there’s a lot of precision behind it. S/he tells you:

  • The name of the medication
  • The dose
  • Whether you should take it with food, or away from food
  • Whether you should take it in the morning, or the evening

But, when the doctor recommends exercise, well, the recommendation is vague. You don’t know exactly how to do it. You need the exercise prescription for different conditions:

  • The type: cardio, strength training, or stretching
  • The frequency: how many days per week. It’s not always a “more is better” type of scenario. With some things there’s a “sweet spot”.
  • The duration: how long you exercise for, or how many sets and reps
  • The intensity: at what percent of your maximal effort do you exercise?

Cardio vs. Strength Training

Although the occasional study finds that cardio is more effective, most studies find no difference in effectiveness between cardio and strength training.

In one study, researchers divided participants into two groups:

Group 1 did cardio, three times per week, for one hour, at an intensity of 80% of their maximal heart rate.

Group 2 did strength training, three times per week for one hour. They did 10 exercises, in a circuit format, making sure their heart rate did not rise above 50-60% of their estimated maximum.

Group 3 was the control group. They did not exercise.

Both groups one and two had similar improvements in mental health (as judged by their depression score). After the study, around 80% of the people in groups one and two no longer met the diagnostic criteria for depression. But only 17% of the people in group three no longer met the diagnostic criteria for depression.

In another study, participants with mental health issues, whose average age was 71, participated in high-intensity strength training and, after 10 weeks, those who were in the exercise group had a 54% improvement in their mental health.


How many days per week is better – one, three, five? Or is it like medications, where if you don’t take it for one day, the effect completely goes away, in which case, you need to take it every day, seven days per week?

That’s what this study tried to answer. In here, researchers divided participants into five groups:

  • Group 1: control group (stretching)
  • Group 2: burned 7 kcal/kg/week, across 3 days
  • Group 3: burned 7 kcal/kg/week, across 5 days
  • Group 4: burned 17.5 kcal/kg/week, across 3 days
  • Group 5: burned 17.5 kcal/kg/week, across 5 days

In this case, there was no difference between the two groups that burned 7 kcal/kg/week, and the group that didn’t exercise at all. None of those three groups saw much of an improvement in mental health. However, both groups that exercised at 17.5 kcal/kg/week saw reductions in symptoms of mental illness that were similar to each other. After 12 weeks of following this program, the reduction in mental illness symptoms was about 47%.

From this preliminary evidence, it seems like there’s not much of a difference between three times per week, and five times per week, as long as you cross a certain energy expenditure threshold. Is there a greater effect for even greater calorie expenditures? Maybe. But, as far as I know, that research has not yet been done yet.


So, now that we know the type (cardio and strength training are about even), the frequency (not much of a difference between three and five times per week), what’s the intensity required to reduce mental health issues? Should you take it easy? Or should you really push?

That’s what this study tried to find out.

Researchers divided participants into three groups:

Group 1 was a control group (they didn’t exercise)

Group 2 did strength training at 80% of their maximum weight, three times per week for eight weeks.

Group 3 did the exact same exercises, repetitions, and frequency as group 2, but they did it with only 20% of their maximum weight.

The results:

  • 21% of the people in group 1 had a reduction in their mental health issues after eight weeks. Without exercise. Without medication. Without psychotherapy. It just happened.
  • 61% of the people in group 2 had a reduction in their mental health issues after eight weeks.
  • 28% of the people in group 3 had a reduction in their mental health issues after eight weeks

What’s our conclusion? High intensity (over 75% of your maximum) is superior to low intensity when it comes to mental health improvement. This study looked at strength training, but other studies saw the same effect for cardio.


Is this a case of “more is better”, or is this a case of “just right”? Unfortunately, this variable hasn’t been as well studied as frequency, intensity, and type. However, one preliminary study concluded that duration and intensity are much less important than frequency.

In terms of weeks/months, although small, transient reductions are seen with just a single exercise session. To see large, consistent, long-term reductions, you should exercise for at least 9 weeks, according to this study.

Exercise vs. Medications

And now, the million-dollar question: how do medications compare to exercise when it comes to mental health improvement?

One meta-analysis (a study of several studies), from the journal Frontiers in Pharmacology looked at this question in very significant detail and found that exercise is equally effective to medications in the treatment of mental health issues. And, when the two are combined, the medications work even better.

How Exercise Work on Mental Health?

It’s nice to know what works, but “why” does exercise help relieve mental health issues? What are the mechanisms involved?

Reason #1: Endorphins

When you exercise at a high intensity, it’s physically uncomfortable. You’re out of breath and your muscles are burning. Your body doesn’t like that, so it releases “pain-blocking” chemicals called “endorphins.” It makes sense why the high intensity is required for mental health improvement. It has to be uncomfortable enough to trigger the release of endorphins. Low intensity is too comfortable for endorphin release. It blocks physical pain, but along with that, it helps emotional pain, as is seen in mental illness.

Reason #2: Self Efficacy Hypothesis

Often, a person who suffers from mental health issues has the feeling like their life is out of control. Things are happening to them and they are helpless against circumstances. Exercise gives you a sense of control. You know that if you go for an intense 20-minute workout, you’ll feel better. And who controls when you work out? You do! Who controls how long you work out? You do! Who controls how hard you work out? You do!

Reason #3: Distraction

Sometimes exercise just works because you’re focused on how hard you’re breathing and how much your muscles are burning. You are able to forget whatever is stressing you out.

Reason #4: Sleep Improvement

It’s very well-known that people who exercise usually sleep better. People who sleep better have better moods.

Reason #5: Serotonin

Serotonin is the “happy chemical” and when it’s released you feel content and relaxed. Exercise helps increase serotonin in the brain.

About Igor Klibanov

Igor Klibanov is the author of five books on fitness and nutrition, including The Mental Health Prescription, as well as the CEO of one of Toronto’s premier personal training companies, Fitness Solutions Plus. He was selected as one of the top five personal trainers in Toronto by the Metro News newspaper, and has performed approximately 400 speaking engagements, many of which have been to some of Canada’s largest corporations (including RBC, IBM, Intact Insurance, and others).

Additionally, he has multiple programs for personal trainers to enhance their skills and is a regular speaker at various personal training conferences.


R.E.W.I.R.E. Your Brain for Success!

By | Healthy Living

By Jill Hewlett, Brain Fitness Expert

We often refer to our cognitive abilities as muscles, but did you know that your brain is actually a jelly-like substance that is malleable and modifiable?

Similar to the muscles of your body, your brain is designed to grow and strengthen, and thanks to a special ability called ‘neuroplasticity’ it can be sculpted too.

This means that with the right knowledge and tools you can impact how your brain functions, improving your physical, mental, emotional and functional states, currently and long term.

 One of the best ways to do this is by using the body you currently have to get the brain you want!  Your brain is neurologically wired throughout your entire body, so when you intentionally care for your body, you inevitably care for your brain.

As fitness professionals, you are practicing and teaching many practical aspects of neuroscience – perhaps without even realizing it. With the information and new awareness that I’d like to share with you, you can quickly leverage your current skill set and have an even greater impact on your results and the outcomes you provide for yourself and your clients. Here are six steps to get you started.


REPETITION – Whatever you repeat on a regular basis creates more neurons and neural networks that will support and engrain that habit and way of thinking. If you are happy with your results, then continue with what you are doing. However, if you are not satisfied, then it’s time to get some new habits into place and to fortify a new and improved brain network.

ENGAGE – In neuroscience terms: “how you fire it, is how you wire it!” If you are serious about making changes in your life, you need to engage in supportive actions that align with your goals. In other words, you can’t just talk or think about it, you need to DO something which will activate neural responses and resulting brain connections.

WHY – As with anything in life, there needs to be some degree of motivation to get us started. For example, you are hungry enough to make a meal, tired enough to go to sleep, smelly enough to take a shower…etc. This is the same with life goals, too. When you want a change badly enough you will let go of your current situation and move into new terrain. Take a moment and connect to the reason behind your desired life change or goal. What’s your motivation? How would your life look, feel, or be different if you were to achieve the change? Clarifying and anchoring your intention is the precursor to actually delivering on it.

IMAGINE – Did you know that visualizing yourself performing an activity is almost as powerful as doing it? Visualization works because the same brain regions are activated when you mentally rehearse something as when you actually perform it. If you want to improve your athletic performance, deliver a powerful presentation, talk about a delicate subject with a friend or co-worker, you can rehearse ahead of time and improve the likelihood of more positive outcomes.

RELEASE – In order to bring the ‘new’ into your life, you need to make space for it. For example, if your calendar is already packed with commitments, how will you schedule in new opportunities? If your cupboards are full of food that doesn’t nourish you, where will you put new items that will? If your mind is so busy analyzing and regurgitating familiar thoughts and material, how will you have time to imagine and invite new possibilities? Take the time to do some weeding out to lighten your load and shift your energy in the direction you want to go.

ELEVATE – As they say in show biz, “It’s a long road to an overnight success!” Every step is part of the bigger picture; and if you want to make the ‘long road’ fun and enjoyable, recognizing all your efforts will be worth it. Research has shown that as children are growing and developing, being acknowledged for their efforts plays a big role in keeping them motivated and anchoring each new skill. Adults are not much different. We all do better when affirmed for our efforts. There are many simple, quick, and affordable ways you can bring in an element of celebration on a regular basis. A high five can go a long way!

To your Fit Brain & Fit Life!

About Jill Hewlett

Jill Hewlett is a nationally recognized speaker, author, Brain Fitness Expert & Wellness Authority.

Combining user-friendly neuroscience and inspired common sense strategies, Jill draws out the natural leadership, resources, and resilience in individuals and organizations to support them in achieving greater levels of wellness, productivity, and success.

With her keynotes and training sessions, you will be equipped with the information, motivation, and tools to proactively build your Fit Brain & Fit Life!

Visit her website

Mino-bimaadiziwin (Live the Good Life)

By | Healthy Living

By Donna Mior, RN, BSCN, IBCLC

Niwiisoogawaananing Ashinaabeg chi mino bimaadizid

Ogimaawabiitong Kenora Chiefs Advisory (KCA) is committed and dedicated to providing culturally appropriate health and social services which address the needs and enhance the well being and capacity of community members in our affiliated First Nations.  KCA Communities include:

  • Naotkamegwanning First Nation (Whitefish Bay First Nation)
  • Asubpeeschoseewagong First Nation (Grassy Narrows)
  • Shoal Lake 40 First Nation
  • Wabaseemoong Independent Nation (Whitedog)
  • Wauzhushk Onigum First Nation (Rat Portage)
  • Northwest Angle 33 First Nation (Dog Paw & Angle Inlet)
  • Washagamis Bay First Nation
  • Animakee Wa Zhing 37 First Nation (Regina Bay and Windigo Island)
  • Niisaachewan Anishinaabe Nation (Dalles)

Our dynamic staff work within Health, Mental Health & Addictions, Min-O-Qwe-Ke-Ga-Bwe’in Social Services, and Niigaanning Bimaadiziwin (Future Life) programs.  With leadership of the chiefs, our nine community chiefs comprise our board of directors, and guidance from our elders and youth council, traditional ways are embedded in programming to ensure the survival of the Anishinaabe way in the present and future generations.

Manaa-siizabaakotaapinetaa (Together let’s reduce the risk for diabetes)

I started my nursing career in an Acute Care Hospital on a medical unit specializing in renal (kidney) disease.  Renal disease is one of the possible complications of diabetes.  It is known that the prevalence and incidence of diabetes in our Indigenous population is concerning.  Traditional lifestyles were active with healthy food from the land, nibi (water) and tea. Today’s lifestyles are not as active, with more processed foods and sugary drinks contributing to the increase in diabetes and other chronic conditions.  In my role with the Anishinaabe Diabetes Education Program, I can provide information and initiatives to reduce the risk for diabetes and diabetes related complications.  Our program consists of a Registered Nurse and Registered Dietitian.  We strive to provide practical skills and knowledge to promote health and optimal diabetes management.  This is done through a variety of initiatives, including public health fairs, community workshops, cooking classes, access to a lactation consultant, education in schools, resource development, physical activity sessions and capacity building.

First Nation Programs such as, Aboriginal Diabetes Initiative, Healthy Babies Healthy Children, Family Well-being, Prevention, and Right-to-Play collaborate with KCA to provide activities which promote health and wellness.  Physical activity is important for holistic health as it impacts mental, emotional, spiritual and physical wellness.   In February 2020, 14 community and KCA staff embarked on an exciting journey with canfitpro to achieve Fitness Instructor Specialist (FIS) Certification.  Anne Parr, canfitpro PRO TRAINER provided a 3-day training workshop.  For many, this was an introduction to the information and offered many new elements to consider when implementing and encouraging physical activity sessions.  We recognize how this material will enhance our abilities to create and offer programs for all ages to support healthy individuals and communities.  Although our journey, was delayed as a result of Covid-19, we are eager to resume our preparations to complete certification.  Our group appreciates Anne’s energy, knowledge, and expertise as she continues to support us to successfully achieve certification.

It has been stated that “sitting is the new smoking.” MAA MAA CHI DA  (from stationary to physically active).  Everyone benefits from regular physical activity.  Let’s get moving to inspire and motivate healthy active lifestyles.

Diabetes and The Seven Grandfather Teachings


Respect others and respect yourself.  The Creator has given us one body:  take care of your body.


Learn as much as you can about healthy lifestyles and any health concerns including diabetes. Wisdom is taking small steps to make positive change in your life.


Be truthful that diabetes must be managed every day. When you learn, live, walk with and speak truth about diabetes daily, it may change the way you look at it.


Achieve honesty within yourself: Recognize and acknowledge the effects diabetes can have on your body. Learn all you can about diabetes so that managing it becomes a natural part of your day.


Humble yourself (humility): Diabetes is an ever-changing disease, that affects your body. It is important for you to see your diabetes team at least every 3-4 months to live well with diabetes and keep healthy.


Bravery is making changes that may not be easy, but that you know are good for you. Many changes are difficult at first; they become easier to manage over time.


Give unconditional love; when people are weak they need love. When it comes to your health, you must take care of yourself; show love for yourself.

Submitted by Donna Mior, RN, BSCN, IBCLC
Community Diabetes Educator, Anishinaabe Diabetes Education Program
Kenora Chiefs Advisory

To learn more, check out:

Red Light, Green Light: Red Light Therapy and the Input-Output Equation

By | Healthy Living

By Marc Poirier

Most fitness journeys look a lot like that childhood game — one voice calling out ‘red light’ and ‘green light’ in alternation, the crowd running hard on green and coming to a halt on red.

In the gym, some weeks are green light weeks. The client achieves a personal goal, proves their commitment, and the numbers — on the scale or on the squat rack — echoes their efforts. Then, as if on cue, the voices of pain, injury, and burn out scream ‘red light’. Morale goes down, progress reverses, and the client is met with numbers that seem like the inverse of their efforts.

When an input-output equation doesn’t add up, disappointment and discouragement are inevitable. But, fitness professionals know progress is a delicate balance between training and recovery, commitment and knowledge, elbow grease and targeted solutions. Even professional athletes, who are paid to tailor and tweak this equation, aren’t able to do it alone. They use coaches to monitor their safety, biomarkers to understand their somatic signals, and expensive technology to optimize their recovery.

Recently, they’ve also been using red light therapy.

Red Light Therapy for Red Light Days

Red light therapy, known also as Photobiomodulation, refers to the non-invasive practice of using red and near infrared wavelengths to penetrate the skin. Originally tested as a strategy for growing plants in space, red light therapy has been recognized since the 1990s for its untapped potential, and the subsequent years have brought more testing and wider applications.

Today’s evidence proves red light produces a biochemical effect on mitochondria. The mitochondria are the powerhouse of the cell, controlling energy production; to promote mitochondrial function is to improve muscle growth and repair. A recent grassroots study monitored a group of untrained individuals through eight weeks of training and found those that combined weight training with light therapy were able to double their muscle size gains.

Inflammation is both the antidote and the byproduct of progress; muscle gain often brings with it muscle damage. Researchers believe the ability of red light therapy to increase levels of CO2 can inhibit inflammatory cytokines and allow more efficient repair without scarring. Similarly, lactic acid is a loud voice when it comes to fatigue, making workouts feel infinitely harder. Red light therapy is known to reduce lactic acid, allowing clients to decrease recovery time and avoid the dreaded stiffness associated with leg day.

Beyond the production of cellular energy, the reduction of inflammation and the treatment of lactic acid, red light therapy has proven effective for skin rejuvenation, improved sleep, wound healing, arthritis, and fibrosis. Years of research has shown the benefits are hard to overstate.

Red Light Therapy in Your Practice

With the exponential advancements of technology, red light therapy has become an affordable addition to any health club or gym, and even a viable at home solution for clients looking to maximize their benefits. Gaining popularity at clubs like Planet Fitness, the treatment is a way to maximize both client results and company revenue.

Red light therapy is an addition that will differentiate your operation. After the recent shift in our understanding of public health, red light therapy will emerge as the only solution for group recovery. Saunas and steam rooms require intensive upkeep and thorough cleaning between uses, but red light therapy uses a different spectrum of light to achieve results, allowing guests to reap more benefits in a safer and more hygienic way.

As your clients await a return to business and carry out their fitness plans at home, red light therapy provides the perfect opportunity to stay in touch and extend your coaching. With affordable units that can be intuitively installed and used from home, you can help your clients make that investment on the recovery end of their health and fitness. When it’s time to return, enhanced membership packages can be offered with scheduled red light treatment, and guests can collaborate with their trainers to target their specific recovery needs.

The wealth of knowledge in the fitness industry is vast. New exercises, emerging theories, and continuing research makes the pursuit of health and fitness one that requires great commitment and collaboration. Red light therapy has been confirmed and reconfirmed as a jack of all trades when it comes to safety, healing, and recovery. Affordable treatments and portable panels are making it easy for fitness professionals to incorporate the treatment into their practice. When the health of your clients is your number one priority, investing in their recovery is a non-negotiable. Red light therapy is the safest and quickest way to have more green light days in your fitness journey.

About Marc Poirier

Marc Poirier is an entrepreneur and the Founder of Rouge Red Light Therapy, a manufacturer of medical-grade red light therapy devices. This professional level LED red light treatment penetrates the depths of the skin to treat joint pain, reduce inflammation, and promote muscle repair.

Equipped for Emergencies: Bug-in and Bug-out Bag Basics

By | Healthy Living

By SGT Ken®


Two tornadoes tore through our city in May of 2020. While our house was unscathed, one of the twisters trashed the power transformer three blocks away from us. Many people in our neighborhood heard it when it exploded in the chaos, putting us all in sudden darkness with screaming winds around us.

One of the many things that I have learned from being in the military for over 30 years is that very few battles were won under ideal circumstances. We had to face the unknown, time and time again, under tough conditions to complete our missions. It was those situations under fire that forced us to flourish or flounder.

We learned to love the process of preparing for the worst while hoping for the best! We equipped ourselves for emergencies and practiced dealing with disasters and deploying to safe surroundings, when needed.

There are two main categories for disaster preparedness: Bug-in or Bug-out. The bottom line is that bugging in is always the most preferred response for an emergency. Bugging out means that your situation is severe, forcing you to leave your home to seek refuge elsewhere.

Extreme Environment RULES OF 3 Survival Priorities

You can survive for:

3 Minutes without air

3 Hours without shelter in a harsh environment

3 Days without water

3 Weeks without food

The main principle of the Rules of 3 is to simplify your priorities during a disaster.

Bug-IN Bags

Tech Case (Steel Case, Military Surplus)

  1. Restored Ammunition Box, Steel, Medium
  2. Faraday Sheet, Large
  3. Dry Sack, Large
  4. Lithium Battery, 2,000mA, Hand Crank, Eton
  5. Lithium Battery, 100Wh, Goal Zero
  6. Solar Panel, 20-Watt, Goal Zero
  7. AC Charger, 15.3 Volt, 3 Amp, Goal Zero
  8. Lithium Batteries, 1.5 Volt, AA
  9. Nickel Metal Hydride Batteries, NiMH, 1.2 Volt, AA and AAA
  10. Handheld 2-way CB Radios (2 each)
  11. Handheld 2-way GMRS Radios (2 each)
  12. Radio, Hand Crank, Eton
  13. DC Voltage Adapter
  14. DC Charger, AA
  15. Solar Charger, AA
  16. Light Kit with Lithium Battery and Goal Zero lights
  17. Emergency Kit, Small
  18. International Hot Spot, Solis
  19. Headlamp
  20. USB External Drive (Personal documents and back-up files)

Download the PDF!

Survival Case (Hard Case, Pelican)

  1. Pelican Case, Medium, with Foam
  2. First Aid Kit
  3. Rescue Breathing Mask
  4. Sunscreen
  5. Insect repellent
  6. Multi-tool
  7. Knife, Large, with blade sharpener
  8. Headlamp, or Flashlight (batteries stored separately to maintain power)
  9. Light Sticks, Cyalume
  10. Paracord
  11. Rations, Long-term Storage (MRE or similar)
  12. Camping Stove
  13. Camping Candle
  14. Hand Crank Generator, 12 Volt
  15. Mobile Phone Dry Bag
  16. Duct Tape
  17. Wind-resistant Lighter
  18. Water Purification Tablets
  19. Fire Extinguisher
  20. Super Glue

Stored Separately (Wrapped in Faraday Materials)

Generator, 2,000-Watt, with Sine Wave Inverter, Ryobi

Stored Separately

Water, 5-gallon bottles (1 bottle for each family member)

Download the PDF!

Bug-OUT Bags

72-hour Bag (Backpack, Large)

  1. First Aid Kit
  2. Insect Repellent
  3. Sunscreen
  4. N95 or higher respirator mask
  5. Gloves, Heavy Duty
  6. Zip Ties
  7. Hat
  8. Water, at least 100 oz.
  9. Water purifier
  10. Rations, Long-term Storage (MRE or similar)
  11. Spork (Stainless Steel)
  12. Compass
  13. Storm Whistle
  14. Sunglasses
  15. Toilet paper
  16. Spare socks in a Ziplock
  17. Hand sanitizer
  18. Lip balm
  19. Wet wipes
  20. Duct Tape
  21. Super Glue
  22. Rain Poncho
  23. Bandana or Gator
  24. Blanket, Compact
  25. Headlamp
  26. Flashlight, Lantern
  27. Lithium Battery, 100Wh, Goal Zero
  28. Solar Panel, 20-Watt, Goal Zero
  29. Nickel Metal Hydride Batteries, NiMH, 1.2 Volt, AA and AAA
  30. Handheld 2-way GMRS Radios (2 each)
  31. Cash
  32. Passport and Driver’s License
  33. Birth Certificate (Copies only)
  34. Local and State Maps
  35. Survival Book
  36. Hygiene items
  37. Medicine items
  38. Prepaid Mobile Phone
  39. GPS
  40. Binoculars (optional)

120-hour Bag (Duffle Bag, Large)

Note: This is added to the 72-hour Bag, if expected to be remote for longer periods of time.

  1. Blanket
  2. Sleeping Bag
  3. Pillow, Compact
  4. Air Mattress or Cot
  5. Tarp
  6. Tent and stakes
  7. Hammer and Wrecking Bar Combination
  8. Cot
  9. Camping Stove
  10. Camping Candle
  11. Wind-resistant Lighter
  12. Water Purification Tablets
  13. Rain Poncho
  14. Spare Clothes
  15. Fire Extinguisher, Mini

Special Remarks: Keep your items dry by lining your backpack and duffle bag with thick garbage bags, before you place your items from your packing list inside. If you get rained on, the pack may get wet but the items inside will remain dry.

Get more free training and tips at @sgtkenw.

About SGT Ken®

Ken Weichert (aka SGT Ken®) is a two-time canfitpro International Presenter of the Year (2017, 2019), six-time US Army Soldier of the Year, Master Resilience Trainer and CSP® (Certified Speaking Professional™). Ken is the co-founder of Project HOPE: Help Other People Endure™, a non-profit program with comprehensive coaching services designed to encourage and empower people to push for positive perspective and become the champion of change. Ken has impacted and empowered over one million military and their families through Operations Family Fit, Fit to Fight, and Warrior Fit Camp, while supporting the Suicide Prevention Task Force. Ken’s personal mission is to help people turn stress into strength and obstacles into opportunities through physical and emotional resiliency coaching and leadership training. For more information, go to