BY MELISSA TUCKER, RHN, Training Coach & PURICA Ambassador
If the thought of cutting out every last gram of sugar sounds impossible – especially the idea of going cold turkey – maybe we could simply reset the goal. Cutting back gradually may be more effective in the long run.
Here are a five Fitlicious ways to help cut your sugar intake without feeling deprived. I really believe they’ll give you big returns:
Start your day with a no-added-sugar breakfast, because starting your day right sets the tone and balances your blood sugar for your remaining meals;
Use cinnamon and 1 tablespoon protein Chaga powder instead of sugar in your coffee. It helps curb sugar cravings and balance energy;
Replace sugar and fat laden ice-cream with Fitlicious 3 ingredient banana ice cream (yes, only three ingredients);
Craving a chocolate fudge Brownie? Have a Perfect Date instead! For a single serving after dinner dessert, simply remove the pit of a Medjool date and replace it with a tablespoon of almond butter and 1 teaspoon of raw cacao nibs and unsweetened coconut flakes. You’ll love it;
Make protein, fibre and healthy fats the building blocks of your meals and snacks. These nutrients slow down the digestion process and prevent quick blood sugar spike and crash. That’s important, because a sudden drop in blood sugar can cause extreme sugar cravings.
Most importantly remember, you’re human. You don’t need to be perfect. Give your taste buds and brain time to adjust to lower sugar intake by reducing your sugar intake a little bit each week until you reach your new goal.
BY MELISSA TUCKER, RHN, Training Coach & PURICA Ambassador
At least 85 per cent of menstruating women experience a symptom of PMS every cycle. Does this staggering number mean that having PMS is normal? No, it means it’s common. Just because something is common, does not mean you need to accept it as normal.
In my experience as a woman and health coach, I’ve concluded that by reducing inflammation in the body, many if not all premenstrual symptoms of cramping, bloating, sugar cravings and mood swings can be reduced and often ultimately eliminated.
For my clients who report mild to extreme PMS, I apply system support on the strength of the following PURICA products:
A recent study found that women who have higher levels of inflammatory proteins are more likely to suffer from PMS symptoms such as mood problems, cramps, back pain, cravings, bloating and breast pain.
To lower inflammatory proteins you must detox your body:Remove alcohol, caffeine, sugar, processed flours and inflammatory fats such as those found in full-fat dairy products, red meats, peanuts, margarines, shortening and hydrogenated oils from your diet.
Incorporating some vegan meals or days into your weekly nutrition program can also help lower acidity and inflammation. With the new PURICA Power vegan protein powder, it’s easy to incorporate an alternative to whey isolates. PURICA Power also has the added antioxidant support of Chaga. The fermented PURICA Power vegan protein powders get my two thumbs up first of all because they taste great and also because they are more bioavailable pre and post workout than other non-fermented, or soy- based vegan powders.
The best way to make PMS “MIA” is to:
Rest. Drink More Water.
Limit Alcohol, caffeine and salt and at any time of month stay committed to healthy whole foods.
Balance lean proteins such as organic chicken, turkey, fish, nuts, omega-3 eggs and legumes, healthy fats such as coconut, olive oil, avocado, nuts, etc. and a variety of complex carbohydrates including vegetables, fruits, kamut, beans, rye, oats, and quinoa every three to four hours during the day. This will stabilize blood sugars and avoid undue stress and hormonal imbalance because of skipped meals.
Melissa Tucker, a training coach and one of Canada’s foremost global fitness competitors, is a member of our team of PURICA Ambassadors committed to providing you with healthy eating and training tips.
With the change of seasons and temperatures getting colder, Tis the season for runny noses, sore throats and fatigue. What do you do when your co-worker, family or friend shows up with a full-on case of the sniffles, red eyes, a runny nose, and a sore throat? When this happens to me, I’ll ask if they are feeling sick or have a cold.
They most often reply, “No, I think it’s just allergies?”
They say its allergies. I’m concerned it’s a cold, which I don’t need to have or want to pass along a scratchy throat and headache to my other clients.
This time of the year, how are you supposed to tell?
Keep this quick reference chart handy for the next time you or someone you know is feeling under the weather.
Supporting your immune system with proper nutrition, rest and supplements, like Immune 7 can all help minimize your chances of getting a seasonal cold or flu and can also minimize the effects of allergy symptoms.
Research indicates that humor may increase immune function by increasing levels of immunoglobulin A (IgA), a protein found in your eyes, ears, mouth, throat, and nose that protects against infection. So if you feel a tickle in your throat, go ahead and rent a funny movie or laugh with a friend — anything that gives you the giggles may help you feel better!
*A note on vegan and vegetarian options: At PURICA, we’re committed to empowering you with the best in whole foods, supplements and positive lifestyle solutions. We support all athletes and active living people whatever your dietary preferences, although we will always do our part to raise awareness about the benefits of vegetarian or vegan options.
In a powerful message delivered with humour, popular actress Elizabeth Banks plays an example of a modern day woman coping with the everyday demands of raising a young family. She might even be playing you and the lengths many women with great intentions like you go to be everything to everyone; often even at the expense of their own health. This video shows common symptoms of heart attacks in women that are critical to recognize. Do you listen to your heart? Do you act on warning signs? Do you protect it? Elizabeth Banks may help you answer those questions.
Adam O’Meara, a Victoria-based professional triathlete, is a member of our team of PURICA Ambassadors who are committed to promoting positive lifestyle solutions, including healthy eating and training tips. Here are some of Adam’s suggestions – as a father and husband – on how to balance the demands of a training lifestyle with the responsibilities of family:
You don’t have to be a high performance athlete like myself to understand that it’s not easy to combine the rigours of working out and training with the responsibilities of family life.
A father of two recently told me that the fondest memories his children (now aged 12 and 8) have are of the times they’ve experienced together.
I understand that myself, having transitioned from living in my own little world as a professional triathlete to married life and now being a father of our four-year-old Max.
For me, the biggest challenge in the last 5 years has been finding the balance between family life and my long-distance triathlon career. It’s not so much getting the training done, even though it is tough going. The hard part is making sure that my wife and Max get the time they deserve; especially when I have to head out and close the door behind me while Max is idling for attention.
Here’s how I’ve kept up with my training while not missing out on my family and the memories of our time together. I hope these tips help you make the most of your active lifestyle and your quality family time:
Communicate your plans and needs to your spouse / partner, children, other family members and friends;
Learn what works best for you as an individual when it comes to your training approach. We are all different, for example – you may not be a morning workout person, so be present and engaged with the family at that time of day;
Plan outings, events and other activities with your family and friends. And then make sure you stick to that plan;
Know your spouse / partner and respect their needs. This is vital. It doesn’t happen very often but sometimes I have to make a decision to simply not do the 2nd or 3rd workout of the day because I see my family needs me;
Remember that a missed workout here or there does not affect your overall fitness, health and wellbeing. The most important thing when it comes to training and exercise is consistency over long periods of time;
Listen to your body: If you are feeling overly tired and not motivated to perform your planned workout then change it to the next day, put it out of your mind and make the most of your new found time and spend it with your family and/or friends;
Include family when you can. Max has run a few kids running races over the past few years and it has been an absolute blast for him;
Become time efficient. I save this point for last because it’s a skill that needs to be developed. It isn’t that tough to do; it just takes practice. For example, combine the stops to the gas station, grocery store, library or chiropractor with when you are going to be travelling to and from the gym or pool or run location. Every time you run an extra errand it takes time; time which you could be spending with your loved ones.
Melissa Tucker, a training coach and one of Canada’s foremost global fitness competitors, is a member of our team of PURICA Ambassadors committed to providing you with healthy eating and training tips. Here’s Melissa’s suggestion on how to enjoy Valentine’s Day, but not go off the rails.
Are you craving a hunk of chocolate for Valentine’s Day? You can avoid a diet disaster, satisfy your hearts desire and improve your heart health with a one-ounce piece of dark chocolate filled with heart healthy flavonoids. The Antioxidant effects of the flavonoids can lower cholesterol and help prevent certain cancers, such as skin cancer. Dark chocolate with at least 80% cocoa has less sugar and more antioxidants than milk chocolate or white chocolate making it by far the healthiest option.
Chocolate ranks among the most heavily sprayed crops, so be sure to choose organic. For the greatest health benefit, buy traditionally prepared or “artisan” chocolate, it’s most likely to contain more flavonoids because it’s gently made with reduced heat.
Skip those heart-shaped boxes of milky, cream-filled sugar bonbons this Valentine’s Day and try this heart healthy, antioxidant rich; Chocolate – Pomegranate – Ginger Bark recipe!
Chocolate – Pomegranate – Ginger Bark
This simple recipe is amazingly delicious with heart healthy nutrients and a flavor explosion to satisfy your sweet tooth!
10 oz bittersweet chocolate
1-cup pomegranate seeds
1 ½ Tsp. dried ginger
1/4 tsp. sea salt
Line a baking sheet with a silicone-baking mat or parchment paper.
Melt the chocolate. If using a microwave, be sure to use a microwave-safe bowl for 1 minute. Stir with a spatula until the chocolate is completely melted and smooth, heat in additional 10-second increments if necessary.
Gently stir half of the pomegranate seeds, ginger and the salt into the chocolate.
Scrape the chocolate mixture onto the baking sheet and spread it into a rectangle. (Approx. 8×10)
Sprinkle the remaining pomegranate seeds evenly over the top, pressing them into the chocolate.
Refrigerate until fully set, about 30 minutes.
Break the bark into chunks and enjoy.
* The bark will keep, if refrigerated, for 4-5 days if you don’t eat it all in one sitting.
Melissa Tucker, a training coach and one of Canada’s foremost global fitness competitors, is a member of our team of PURICA Ambassadors committed to providing you with healthy eating and training tips, including how to get your heart pumping!
To strengthen a muscle you have to challenge it. That’s as true of the heart muscle as it is any muscle in the body.
One of my favourite ways to challenge the heart is a circuit of quick cardio bursts of strength and power moves. You can intensify the bursts as your conditioning improves. You will burn fat, tone your muscles and condition your cardiovascular system!
Begin by performing each exercise in a circuit for one minute each. One full circuit is 5 minutes.
Mix up your footwork as your skill level increases.
Side to Side Step Overs:
Stand upright with one foot on a bench to one side and your arms by your sides.
Step both feet up onto the bench then one down the other side to the floor.
Repeat back and forth up and over the bench, alternating with one foot on the bench and one on the floor.
Lateral Mountain Climbers:
Support your body on your toes and hands with your knees bent and drawn up into your chest.
Step one foot out to the side with your leg straight, keeping your hands on the floor.
Step back to the centre and switch sides.
Knee In Side Bridge
Lie on one side propped up on one elbow with your legs straight out on top of one another.
Raise your body off the floor, resting on your forearm and foot.
Bend your top knee, bringing it toward your chest, keeping your body in a straight line and your elbow directly under your shoulder.
Complete all reps on one side before switching to the other side.
Stand upright with your feet together and your arms by your sides.
Run on the spot raising your knees as high as possible each step.
Rapidly switch feet and use your arms as if running.
Make the most of Heart Month. Challenge your heart and make it one of your strongest assets!
Melissa Tucker, a training coach and one of Canada’s foremost global fitness competitors, is a member of our team of PURICA Ambassadors committed to providing you with healthy eating and training tips. As part of our recognition of Heart Month in February, Melissa addresses some common misconceptions about heart health:
1. During a heart attack, your heart stops beating. True or False?
Answer: When your heart suddenly stops functioning, it’s called “cardiac arrest”.
During a heart attack, the heart is still beating but blood supply to the heart tissue is blocked, leading to tissue death.
2. Heart Disease kills more men than women. True or False?
Answer: To be precise, it’s actually false. Stats from 2011 show that the number is almost equal, with women dying from heart disease at 29.7% and men at 28%.
3. Heart disease is the No.2 killer in North America, second only to breast cancer. True or False?
Answer: That’s false. Heart disease is the No. 1 killer of women in North America, killing more women than all forms of cancer combined. One in four women die of heart disease, while one in 30 die of breast cancer. It’s also the leading killer of men.
4. Which of the following could be a sign of heart attack?
a) Neck Pain, b) Back Pain c) Chest Pain d) All of the above
Answer: (d) Although the most common sign of a heart attack is chest pain or discomfort, it’s not always one of the symptoms. Other symptoms might include shortness of breath, nausea, sweating, feeling lightheaded, and/or pain or discomfort in other parts of the upper body, such as the back, stomach, neck, or jaw.
5. “Broken heat syndrome” is a real medical condition and its symptoms are similar to those of a heart attack. True or False?
Answer: “Broken heart syndrome” can be brought on by grief or emotional stress. Traumatic events can trigger the “fight or flight” feeling produced by the sympathetic nervous system releasing a sudden flood of chemicals, including adrenaline which can stun the heart muscle, leaving it temporarily unable to pump properly. Although symptoms may be similar, it is not the same as a heart attack.
6. The most common trigger risk for heart disease is:
a) Inactivity b) Obesity c) Smoking d) High Blood Pressure
Answer: According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in the United States, 39.5% of Americans are at risk for heart disease because of inactivity. The percentages of U.S. adults carrying other key risk factors are: obesity, 33.9%; high blood pressure, 30.5%; cigarette smoking, 20.8%; high cholesterol, 15.6%; and diabetes, 10.1%.
Bottom line, you must take care of your heart so it can take care of you. Unleash your athlete within by adding physical activity to your day and be sure to eat heart healthy whole foods and get adequate sleep to refuel the most important muscle pump you’ve got. #IHeartMyHeart
Melissa Tucker, a training coach and one of Canada’s foremost global fitness competitors, is a member of our team of PURICA Ambassadors committed to promoting positive lifestyle solutions, including healthy eating and training tips. Here are Melissa’s suggestions on how to make the most of your winter workouts!
Winter may seem like the time to head indoors and bundle up against the cold; well here are my top picks to get your Canadian hearts pumping outside. Continue reading →
Melissa Tucker, a training coach and one of Canada’s foremost global fitness competitors, is a member of our team of PURICA Ambassadors committed to promoting positive lifestyle solutions, including healthy eating and training tips. Here are Melissa’s tips on how to keep motivated, even when you’re not feeling well.
Nothing can bring your fitness progress to a halt more than feeling sick. So the question is: Should you continue training while you are sick?
Your body’s immune system is taxed much more by the flu than by the common cold. So training with a flu would not only be detrimental to muscle growth, but to your health. Continue reading →