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  • It is all well and good to want to better yourself by going to the gym or by working out but have you ever taken the time to write down a specific goal you wished to achieve?


    Here we will talk about some “S.M.A.R.T.” ways you can create goals that are realistic while pushing yourself to be better. As mentioned, an important part is to physically write it down. This physical act can help solidify the goal in our mind, as well as create a sort of contract. It also creates a record for you to look back on once the goal has been achieved, providing closure and confirmation of your ability to stick with it! Another good technique is to start your goal setting phrase with “I will…” as it implies this is something you will do as opposed to something you “want” to do or “will try” to do.


    So how do you create a Specific, Measureable, Achievable, Realistic, and Time-Limited (S.M.A.R.T.) goal?



    When creating your goal you want to clearly outline what it is you want to achieve. The more clearly defined it is, the easier it will be for you to break it down into parts that will allow you to do the next step - Measure!


    Too Vague: I will walk more often.

    Specific: I will walk 5 kilometres today.


    You must be able to measure the progress of your goal. Without being measureable your goal will fall into the category of “too vague” as you will not be able to easily determine progress and achievement of the goal.


    Not Measureable: I want lift 25 lbs. with ease.

    Measurable: I will be able to do 25 bicep curls with 25 lb. dumbbells without stopping by the end of this month.


    It is important to know yourself and be honest when setting goals. Setting goals that are too hard or too easy can slow your progress. Therefore, it is important to set goals that are at a high standard yet are still obtainable.


    Unachievable: I will run 10km in under 25 minutes. (Note: fastest 10km in the world is currently 26.01)

    Achievable: I will run a 10k in under 1 hour after 3 months of training.


    This one is very similar to Achievable in that you must know what you are capable of and physically able to do. Often the realistic step ties into scheduling and timing as we can get caught up in goals we physically cannot do due to our busy schedules.


    Not Realistic: I will work out for 1 hour every morning at 5 AM seven days a week.

    Realistic: I will weight train or do a cardio workout at 5 AM four days a week. The remaining 3 days a week my workout type and timing can be variable.

    Time Limited

    As you may have noticed, all my example goals have included a time limit. This ties in with specifics and measurability as it imposes a start and end to your goal allowing you to observe your progress and achievement accurately.


    No Time Limit: I will squat 200 lbs.

    Time Limit: I will squat 200 lbs by July 1, 2017.


    SMART goals can be applied to almost any aspect of your life but they are especially good for physical activity! Take a couple minutes to think about something you want to achieve and try to phrase it as a SMART goal, checking to make sure it passes the different criteria. Then put it somewhere visible and stick to it till it is done and move on to the next one!


    Matthew Sommerville - Kinesiologist


    June 14, 2017
  • The patio furniture is out, the evenings are long, and the BBQ is fired up. Welcome back grilling season, we’ve missed you! Cooking food on the BBQ over coals or an open flame can be an amazing way to cook your meals. However, there’s a small dark cloud hanging over the barbequed meal, and that comes in the form of carcinogens. Carcinogen just refers to something that can be “cancer-causing”. A scary thought to be sure.


    When we cook our meats over high heat such as an open flame a blackened or charcoal effect occurs and two compounds can be formed: heterocylic amines (HCAs) and polycylic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs). These two compounds have the ability to mutate our DNA, which can lead to an increased risk of developing cancer. The high cooking temperatures plus the open flames are what causes the changes to occur in our food. Fat dripping onto an open flame causes smoke to rise, which attaches to our food. Chicken breast, well-done steak, pork, salmon with skin on, and hamburger patties are the foods that have the highest concentration of HCAs and PAHs (in decreasing order).


    Research is showing that individuals with a high consumption of well-done, fried, or barbequed meats have a higher risk of colorectal, pancreatic, and prostate cancer. There’s a lot that is still unclear however: how much BBQ is too much? How much HCAs and PAHs do we actually consume in a barbequed meal? We have guidelines to limit our red meat consumption, but no guidelines around the HCA and PAH consumption.


    Since we know that these two compounds can cause harm and damage in our body, we definitely want to minimize the risk. This BBQ season, follow these tips:

    1. Minimize cooking time. Rare is better in this case! The more well-done your protein, the higher the production of HCA and PAH in the meat. For foods that require longer cooking time such as chicken, try cooking partially through first by baking, and then finishing on the grill. Or, cut your protein into smaller pieces so that it will cook faster.
    2. Flip it more. The longer you let your protein sit on the grill untouched, the better chance it has to char. You might miss out on those beautiful grill lines, but you’ve also decreased the risks.
    3. Trim off the black. The charred portions of the meat proteins are where the HCA and PAH concentrations are going to be the highest.
    4. Think vegetables. Plant foods do not contain HCAs when grilled. Focus on increasing your vegetable content when grilling or tried homemade meat-free patties. As an added bonus, vegetables contain many cancer-fighting antioxidants.
    5. Marinate tofu or tempeh and fire up the grill. The marinade process does require a couple of extra hours, but tofu is very versatile and takes on the flavour of whatever it is paired with.


    Don’t feel you have to pack away the BBQ this season, but smart grilling is something we can all start doing. As we always recommend, minimize the processed meats as much as possible. Increase your vegetable grilling as it will only intensify the flavours of your meal. Get out there and enjoy summer!


    By Raina Beugelink – Registered Nutritionist




    May 17, 2017
  • Next up in our series of exercising throughout life, we will focus on middle age. While there is no set point at which middle age begins, it is generally considered to be the period after young age but preceding old age. Age estimates run from 40-45 as the onset, up to about 60 years of age (Merriam-Webster).


    At this stage of life, it is extremely important to maintain and preserve both bone and muscle mass. As discussed in our previous blog, bone mass starts to decrease after around the age of 30. Likewise, muscle mass will also start to decline (known as sarcopenia). Largely as a result of this decreasing muscle mass, we also start to experience a metabolic decline at about a rate of 2-4% per decade (Berardi & Andrews, 2013). Muscle is one of the most metabolically active tissues in the body, so when we start to have less of it, our metabolism naturally decreases. That is a factor in why as we age we don’t require as much food as we did when we were younger.


    Thankfully, there are ways to help maintain the muscle and bone mass that we worked hard to build up as young adults and mitigate the decline. Even if you did not lift weights when you were younger, you can still gain benefits from getting into the gym at this stage. Maintaining muscle mass not only helps to minimize this metabolic decline, it also helps to maintain better overall health outcomes throughout middle and old age (Rantanen, et al., 2000). Weight or resistance training is key to keeping that hard-earned muscle mass (and helps preserve bone mass as well). Interval training (short bursts of intense activity, followed by recovery) is another good tool to help fight the accumulation of belly fat that can occur more frequently around this stage of life (due to factors like stress levels and changes in hormones for both men and women).


    This is also a time in life where aches and pains become more common. You may find that you need to either adapt some of the exercise routines you have or change up activities (i.e. cross-training) to give sore parts of your body some extra time off. In line with aches and pains, it is common for our posture (more specifically, our bad posture habits) to start to really show at this point in our lives. Perhaps you have been in a desk job for many years now, which unfortunately encourages a bad back position, highlighted with an overly rounded upper back. Even if you haven’t had a desk job, this rounded upper back can start to occur with weakness in the back muscles and tightness in our chest muscles at the front. That is why it becomes very important to work on the strength of the muscles in your back and shoulders. If you can keep those muscles stronger, you can help to avoid a hunched back further down the road.


    By Caitlin Jones - BPE, CSEP-CPT




    Berardi, J. & Andrews, R. The Essentials of Sport and Exercise Nutrition; 2nd ed. Precision Nutrition, p. 125-127. 2013.




    T Rantanen , T Harris , SG Leveille (2000) Muscle strength and body mass index as long-term predictors of mortality in initially healthy men. J Gerontol A Biol Sci Med Sci 55, M168–M173.


    May 15, 2017