Your Fitness & Health Questions!

Thanks to everyone that commented on my Facebook page, or texted me a question for the blog. I’m going to answer all the questions I received here. My answers are from my own personal research, and my knowledge as a trainer. Let me know what you think!

1.) What is the best footwear for working out? 
-I’m honestly not that knowledgable in the footwear department. It really depends on what type of training you are doing- there are different shoes for running, lifting, cross-training, etc. I highly recommend heading into a Running Room store and having them fit you specifically for the activities you are doing the most, and make sure your feet are being properly supported to avoid injuries. I personally LOVE my Nike Free’s because I like minimal support, very lightweight shoes and of course.. the colours are pretty too ūüėČ

2.) What are good safe and effective cleanses?
I’m not a fan of “cleansing” per say. Your body has very effective systems in place to ensure everything is running smoothly and being detoxified. If you are looking for something to get your body back on track and feeling good- this is meal plan that I’ve used to “detox”. It basically very clean eating and focuses on plant based foods. The outline of this plan is 5 days and stick to these meals/ingredients. For a more detailed outline of this plan, grocery list & why all these things are cleansing; facebook me and I can send you¬†the full version PDF for 5$.
Hot water + Lemon Slices
1/4cup oats
12 almonds
1 cup berries
1 tbsp chia seeds
Homemade Hummus:
-1 can chickpeas
-large handful spinach
2 tbsp tahini
juice of 1 lemon
2 tbsp olive oil
1 small garlic clove
1/4c water
–Place chickpeas, spinach, tahini, garlic, lemon & olive oil in a blender or food processor. Add water slowly to create a creamy consistency. Add black pepper or cayenne for an extra kick (optional).
1 cup spinach
1 cup mixed vegetables
1 tbsp chia seeds
1/4 cup quinoa, lentils, or black beans
1/4 avocado
Small handful basil or cilantro
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
dash balsamic vinegar
juice from 1/2 lime
any dried herbs/spices you prefer
1 cup mixed vegetables
1/2c broccoli
1/4cup quinoa, lentils or black beans
1/4 avocado or 12 almonds
1/5th pack tofu
Handful Chopped Mushrooms
–Heat olive oil in a pan, sautee garlic & onion, add veggies & tofu, add juice of 1/2 lime, salt & pepper, & dressing below.
1 tbsp tahini
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
dash of cider vinegar
cayenne pepper
dried oregano/basil
That’s the basic outline. In the PDF there is optional meals included!

3.) Is it best to eat 5 small meals per day?
There are lots of different opinions on this- I always say choose what works BEST for you. Some people prefer to eat 3 larger meals. Personally I enjoy eating all the time (haha) so I usually eat about 5-6 meals per day every 2-3 hours. Whatever makes you feel the most satisfied and energetic is what you should do! The science behind recommending 5-6 small meals per day is that it supposedly raises metabolism (there is a thermic effect of eating food- so when you eat, your metabolism increases to digest food. You burn a small amount of calories through eating. This thermic effect is very minimal though and probably not going to result in weight loss). Other camps say that eating more small meals per day keeps your blood sugar levels stable (true) and results in more energy. This can go either way. It really depends on what you are eating. If you are eating high protein & fat foods- you are not going to get that insulin spike and crash. If you are a carb lover you may find that you need to eat every 2-3 hours because you will find yourself hungrier and crashing after a meal that is high in carbs. There are studies proving that BOTH ways of eating can keep you satisfied and keep your blood sugar levels stable so this is a debate that is still ongoing. Every body is different and thats why you need to figure out what works best for you when choosing a meal plan/diet. Listen to your hunger- Are you hungry every 2-3 hours? Eat! If you aren’t- then you are obviously eating enough at each meal and there is no need to eat a snack.

4.) Is calorie counting effective for weight loss?
I find this to be a very touchy subject and something that I caution my clients against. I think the overall quality and macronutrients of your food is a lot more important than the calorie count. I would rather my clients focus on the NUTRITION they are receiving than the calories they are taking in. I think when you start counting calories and that’s all you take into account- you can end up eating a lot of crappy low calorie foods that are not going to make you feel your best.
That being said- it is a fact that reducing calories results in weight loss. When I am designing a meal plan for someone I do make sure that their calories are below their maintenance level in order to lose weight. I also ensure they are hitting their protein, carb & fat goals everyday for best results.
If you are eating 1700 calories of crappy foods- you will probably lose weight- but your hormones are going to be completely out of whack, you will feel lethargic, you will lose lean muscle mass, you may not sleep well, you will probably be hungry and miserable most of the time.
If you are eating 1700 calories of the correct macronutrient ratio’s everyday- you will have tons of energy, you won’t go hungry, you will preserve your lean muscle mass and lose FAT instead of just “weight” and you will see quicker and more effective results.
So – calories are important- but what you eat is much more important!

5.) How many days a week should I exercise?
Ok I’m going to pull out my textbook here and give you some facts on exercises & the recommended amount. The following information is from the Canadian School of Exercise Physiology (which is what I am certified through as a trainer).
Guidelines for age18-64 years
At least 150 minutes of moderate to vigorous aerobic activity per week in at least 10 minute increments. (So.. 30 minutes 5x a week)
-2 days per week of strength training using the major muscle groups
-More daily activity will provide greater health benefits.

-Weight loss —¬†150-250 minutes/week of moderate-intensity physical activity provides only modest weight loss. Greater amounts (ie. >250) provide clinically significant weight loss. (4x/ week for an hour)
250+ Will provide the greatest results & should include strength training to increase fat-free mass. (4-6x/ week for an hour)
-For weight maintenance after weight loss —¬†There is some evidence that¬† >250 minutes/week of moderate-intensity physical activity will prevent weight re-gain.

As you can see, you should definitely be working out most days of the week! The more you do the better, to an extent. I don’t believe anyone needs to be exercising for more than 60 minutes, 5-6 days a week for weight loss (this also really depends on the type of training. If you are going high intensity, bootcamp style – you can get a serious workout done in 30 minutes and you are done for the day!).

If you want a personalized program designed around your lifestyle and your goals- contact for me for personal training!

6.)  Do muscles need time to repair?
Yes definitely! You need to ensure you are getting adequate rest in order to see results. I see a lot of people in the gym thinking “more is better” and they never let their bodies repair or their muscles rebuild … And they wonder why they never see results! This will only lead to injury and overuse. It’s a myth that you build muscles in the gym- you actually tear the muscles down during your workout and they rebuild during rest! (Hence why good post-workout nutrition is important, and you need to let those muscles re-build after a workout by resting). You should give your muscles 24-48hrs to repair between workouts. (This goes in line with that sometimes terrible post workout soreness called DOMS which is worst 24-48 hours after your workout). This does NOT mean you need to only workout every two days. Let’s say you do a really hard upper body workout on Monday- it’s perfectly acceptable to work lower body on Tuesday, do a cardio workout on Wednesday, do a total body high intensity interval circuit on Thursday.. Maybe take Friday off. Long hike/spin class on Saturday.. You catch my drift. Keep your body guessing, mix it up, do different activities and this will ensure you are not overworking muscle groups, allowing adequate rest, and also keeping your body guessing. Get lots of sleep, drink lots of water, and make sure you are eating enough nutritious foods to see results! (You need to EAT to put on lean muscle mass and lose fat!).

7.) Give me some good smoothie recipes!
In order to make a great smoothie you need these elements:
CARBS: Fruit, Oats, Veggies
PROTEIN: Whey Protein Isolate, Plain Greek Yogurt
FAT: Avocado, Nuts, Flax/Oils, Chia Seeds, Nut Butters
Then we are hitting every food group and ensuring we are getting a fulfulling, delicious smoothie.

This is my personal favourite Green Tropical smoothie:

1 cup unsweetened almond milk, or regular milk
1 – 2 handfuls spinach
1/2 frozen banana
Handful frozen mango
1 scoop vanilla whey protein
1 /4 avocado

Chocolate Peanut Butter Banana
-1 cup unsweetened almond milk or regular milk
-1 frozen banana
-1 scoop chocolate protein powder
-1 tbsp natural peanut butter
-1 tbsp cocoa powder

Coconut Delight
-1 cup almond milk/reg milk
-1 cup frozen berries
-1 tbsp coconut oil or butter
-1/3cup plain greek yogurt
-1/4 tsp coconut extract
-Stevia to sweeten (optional)
-Top with some shredded coconut flakes ūüôā

I hope you found this helpful! If you want to see your question answered- please let me know what you’d like to see on this blog!



So.. You wanna lose weight?

There is SO MUCH conflicting information out there in the weight loss and fitness industry, its no wonder we are facing an obesity epidemic. Everybody has an opinion, everyone says something different, no carbs, low calorie, lots of carbs, raw foods, whole foods, low fat, high fat, high protein, IIFYM, paleo, primal.. What the heck? How are you ever supposed to sort through all this information and choose the right one for you?

Basically- I’m not about to put down any certain diets or lifestyles- EVERYONE has something that works for them, and I don’t believe any one diet is best for everyone. It is truly about CONSISTENCY. If you are truly consistent with whatever you choose, and truly make it a lifestyle change- you will see results. Some people thrive on certain diets that I would seriously lose my mind on, so you gotta find what works for you!

I’m going to outline some of my non-negotiable tips that will help you lose weight and not have you pulling your hair out from hunger or deprivation. I’m also going to shamelessly plug myself here and say if you want a personalized meal plan that takes into account your goals, lifestyle, and everything in between- come talk to me and I can design that specifically for you ūüôā¬†

1.) Learn to trust your hunger and fullness signals.
-If everyone ate simply when they were hungry, and stopped when they were satisfied- We’d all be lean, mean, machines. Your body does not naturally want to be overweight. Everyone has a “set point”¬†(within 5-10lbs)¬†weight that is their natural weight without any external forces (ie: diets).¬†Your body is extremely smart. If you start gaining weight- your metabolism is going to kick it up a knotch and bring you back down to where it feels comfortable. If you start restricting¬†and losing weight; guess what? Your body is going to make you extremely hungry and irritable and bring your metabolism to a grinding halt so that you start putting weight back on. (This is exactly why 95% of diets do not work and you put the weight back on.. plus more). Of course there are so many other factors that trigger you to eat. Some people eat because its simply mealtime. Some people like to eat some popcorn while watching a movie, ice-cream with out with friends, wine after a hard day, indulge in treats that they don’t get very often, or struggle with binge eating and emotional eating.¬†
You might be completely surprised if you start listening to your hunger. Maybe you don’t need that dessert, or extra serving, or perhaps you aren’t really hungry right when you get up in the morning. Maybe you need to eat MORE especially if you are staring at the clock at 10am and waiting for lunchtime to hit so you can dig into that sandwich. Eat your sandwich now! Who made up these ridiculous rules? Stop listening to all those “rules” and start listening to your body. It knows whats best!

2.) Get your beauty sleep
Did you know that if you aren’t getting enough sleep there is a lovely little hormone called ghrelin that gets secreted and makes you hungry and craving carbs & sugar like you’ve never craved them before? Lack of sleep totally messes with your entire system and your hunger signals. Aim to get 7-8 hours a night of restful sleep to keep your metabolism running smoothly and having you kicking ass all day. (Not to mention all the other amazing things that happen while you sleep like building those muscles you tore down in your workout that day, or giving you glowing rested skin).¬†

3.) Exercise!
I am a personal trainer so obviously you knew I was going to go here… I don’t care WHAT you do to exercise- but you gotta do it! It will energize you, pump you full of those¬†feel good chemicals,¬†make you feel accomplished and strong, as well as burn fat, build lean muscle and keep your heart healthy for life. Find something you enjoy doing and DO IT! You don’t need to go crazy and attend 6 spin classes a week and lift weights and run marathons. You can do whatever works for you. ¬†Get your sweat on. Go for a walk, do some yoga, dance around, rock climb, swim, surf, attend Tara’s super fun bootcamp.. You get the drift.

4.) Eat real FOOD.
You’ve probably heard this many times for good reason. Nobody ever got fat eating plain old protein, vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds etc. It’s pretty much impossible. FILL your shopping cart with everything on the perimeter of the store. Tons of veggies, delicious fruit, meat, eggs, nuts.. Don’t venture down those aisles where you only find processed crap full of sugar and void of any nutrients.¬†

I feel like this is cliche to say and everyone knows they are supposed to drink water, but its SO IMPORTANT. Even slight dehydration makes you tired, hungrier, slows down your brain from focusing, and impairs your workouts. Get a water bottle. Carry it constantly. Drink it all the time. You will be peeing 10+ times a day (my friends hate me on road-trips)… but you will feel so much better I promise!¬†

6.) Make in enjoyable.
This is so important. Nobody is going to be able to maintain a deprivation diet forever. You aren’t having fun. You can’t go out with your friends, you can’t stand to eat another plain chicken breast and broccoli and if you have to you might just go CRAZY. I’ve been there. I used to force myself to follow ridiculous diets and I never wanted to leave the house for fear of eating something that wasn’t “allowed”. Instead, experiment with healthy recipes! Try out new vegetables, think of all the delicious things you CAN eat that make you feel energized and healthy. Find things you LOVE to eat. You should make each meal a healthy experience that you really enjoy. Its totally possible to enjoy¬†eating healthy and once you find those foods that you love AND you don’t feel lethargic and bloated after eating them? You want to eat them ALL THE TIME.¬†

Start following these simple tips and I guarantee you’ll be feeling healthier and happier in no time!

What is Meal Prepping?

Maybe you’ve heard the term meal prep floating around and have been wondering if its something you could be doing.

In my opinion… YES! It makes healthy eating sooo much easier.

Basically meal prepping is exactly how it sounds.. Preparing your meals in bulk for the week.¬†Maybe¬†you are thinking this is time consuming…¬†But when you cook in bulk it actually saves a TON of time and effort and you only need to cook once, which for me is the best part!

There are a few different ways you can prep your meals, and this is an example of what I typically do for a week (I should mention that I don’t generally get sick of foods and typically eat the same thing everyday, so you could be more exciting than me):
1.) Cook up 5-8 chicken breasts in the oven for 20 minutes
2.) While they are cooking make a big pot of quinoa or cook up a sweet potato or two
2.) Cut up and store a bunch of vegetables in a container in the fridge
3.) Make 2-3  smoothies and store them in the freezer
4.) Portion out some nuts/trail mix in little bags
5.) Pre-make a giant salad without the dressing.

This usually takes me less than an hour on a Sunday and then I ALWAYS have a healthy option to reach for during the week and never need to reach for fast food or unhealthy options!

Once I have everything ready- the night before bed I just mix up my overnight oats (see previous post for breakfast ideas), put together a salad with chicken and dressing on the side, grab a protein bar and some pre-portioned nuts and my smoothie; and I am totally prepared for the entire next day! When I get home from work I was usually exhausted and despise cooking-¬†¬†so all I need to sautee some veggies (that are already chopped) and warm up some chicken and quinoa. ¬†ūüôā

Give this a try next week and I can almost guarantee you will lose weight from being so prepared!

Another way to meal prep is make your favourite recipe and either double it (or if you live alone like me, usually one regular recipe makes 4 meals) and portion out the recipe into whatever the serving size is into containers, store in the fridge or the freezer. Ready made meals for lunch or dinner that all you need to do is heat up!

This is one of my favourite recipes- it’s extremely versatile, easy and heats up well! You can substitue veggies, leave out the cheese for a lower calorie version; and I also substitute greek yogurt for the sour cream ūüôā

Let me know if this was effective or helpful for you!

On a final note: One of the services I offer is meal prep help. If you feel lost in the kitchen and the grocery story- I can plan meals for you, take you grocery shopping, help you cook and set you up f0r the week. I charge 50$ for this service! If you are interested you can reach me on my facebook page, Training by Tara Brunet.