Archives for December 2013

5 tips for making holiday fitness fun

With so many fun and exciting activities to participate in over the holidays, it’s no wonder that fitness often takes a back seat to concerts, parties, shopping and dinners out.

While I’m a firm believer in “less is more” at Christmas time, I also know that abandoning my fitness routine until the new year will definitely turn me into fitknitGRINCH.

Why not give those fun holiday activities a little friendly competition for your time? Make fitness fun!

5 tips for making holiday fitness fun

  • add a holiday theme to your regular workout. Once a year, I treat my step class to holiday-themed choreography. It’s always fun to see the looks on their faces when they finally figure out what I’m up to. If you’re a step aerobics instructor, feel free to borrow the pattern below. Make sure not to tell your participants what’s up and let me know how far into the pattern you got before the ‘lights came on’ in your class!


  • create a seasonal playlist. Music can make or break a workout. Sometimes a new playlist is exactly the motivation I need to get myself to the gym. How about a seasonal playlist? I love the songs on this one!
  • participate in a holiday-themed fitness event. Every year, on January the 1st, my community hosts a Penguin Plunge; a quick, or not so quick, dip into the waters of the inlet to celebrate the start of the new year. If you don’t live seaside, look for a Jingle Bell Jog or Reindeer Run in your community.
  • take friends and family to the gym. When family and friends come to visit, it’s often difficult to justify leaving them home alone while you head to the gym. Why not take them with you? It’s just as easy to get caught up on adjacent ellipticals as it is plunked on the couch in front of the fire. And personally, I find cardio time to go by much more quickly when I’m distracted by good conversation!
  • dress in festive fit gear. Most of you probably already know that dressing for fitness is always a good motivator. Treat yourself to a new workout top in red, green or sparkly silver (the perfect colour to go straight from the gym to a dress up event; don’t forget to slap on a little deodorant first…).

And if all else fails,

Wishing you and yours a healthy holiday and a fitness-filled new year!

There’s still plenty of time to register for the New Year’s session of my online group training for women over 40. I’d love to help you reach your 2014 health and fitness goals!

Burn the Fat, Feed the Muscle | A book review

Disclaimer: I don’t normally post on Wednesdays, but today I’m making an exception.

Yesterday was the launch of a fellow fitness professional’s newest book, Burn the Fat, Feed the Muscle, and as an about-to-be-published author myself, I completely understand the importance of getting those reviews up quick! Although Tom Venuto sent me a pre-release version of his book free of charge, as always, my thoughts and opinions are entirely my own.

Ten years ago, personal trainer and fat loss expert Tom Venuto published an e-book based on a training and nutrition system he’d tested for over ten years on hundred of his own clients. The original Burn the Fat, Feed the Muscle was an instant success and is known in fitness circles as a ‘bible’ of sorts.

Gratuitous selfie

Yesterday, the first ever print copy of the book became available for purchase (except, of course, for the pre-release version I was privy to!) and I suspect it too will be widely read and followed by a new generation of fitness enthusiasts looking to create their own ideal of a lean and muscular physique.

Not just a exercise and nutrition program, Burn the Fat, Feed the Muscle includes detailed discussions on goal setting, training your brain for success (I love a well-trained brain), calorie and macronutrient intake, cardio for fat loss and breaking through plateaus (we all hit them at some point or other).

A quick look at the cover might make you think that book is intended primarily for body builders and figure competitors. Certainly the nutrition and training protocols are heavily influenced by the way these types of athletes eat and train. However, every day athletes (like you and me!) can also benefit from the wisdom within;

Progressive resistance training – namely weight lifting – is the single most powerful body transformation tool you can use. A weight training program combined with proper nutrition will burn fat and re-shape your body faster than any other single form of exercise. If you’re ever in doubt about how to start working out, start with resistance training. Add cardio and other types of training from there.

The are four main elements to the program; mental training, nutrition, cardio and weight training. While you could follow the program to a T (and get amazing results), the thing I like most about this book is how easy it would be to just focus on the one element that you’re currently having the most difficulty with (and probably still get amazing results).

For example, many of my age 40 and over female clients are struggling with hormonal imbalance. Their own unique nutritional solution to balancing hormones and reducing belly bloat often requires a significant reduction in starchy carbohydrate intake. Following the  nutritional guidelines in this book would help them tremendously, probably more so than the fairly traditional strength training plan outlined later in the book (although strength training is extremely beneficial for women in this age group, most of my clients get stuck on the nutritional piece).

3 things I love about Burn the Fat, Feed the Muscle

  1. All facets of the program are completely customizable. This is not a one-size-fits-all book.
  2. The program is appropriate for both women and men alike. The basics of nutrition and strength training are not gender specific.
  3. The nutrition plan does not require the elimination of any particular food group. Processed foods are not a food group 🙂

3 things that would make me love Burn the Fat, Feed the Muscle even more

  1. A bit more science; especially in the chapters about nutrition. I’ve found that when people have an understanding of how foods affect their blood sugar and energy levels, they’re more willing to make healthy choices.
  2. Illustrations of the exercises. Although photos of all the exercises are available on the book’s website (, I’d like to have seen them in the book as well. Newbies to weight lifting may need to refer to photos the first few times they try the exercises; this is hard to do when they’re only available online.
  3. A discussion of working around injury. Almost every athlete I know has been sidelined by an injury at some point in time or another. Providing instructions about what to do in the event of an injury would be particularly helpful.

Bottom line? If you need a great primer on strength training and nutrition for fat loss, Burn the Fat, Feed the Muscle is the book for you. Order it today and it might just be delivered in time for help with your New Year’s Resolutions 😉

Disclaimer: I was sent a pre-release version of the book and asked to share my thoughts about it with my readers. I was not compensated for this post.


Swap holiday food traditions for holiday fitness traditions

‘Tis the season when all good health, fitness and weight loss bloggers share their tips and tricks for “making holiday treats healthier”, “staying on track with your workouts” and “avoiding seasonal weight gain”.

There have already been so many fantastic posts written on the topic, that I honestly don’t feel the need to write yet another. (If you haven’t yet had your fill, I’ve included links to some of my favourites at the bottom of the page :)).

Instead, I’d like to share my thoughts about creating healthy holiday traditions.

holiday fitness traditions

I grew up in a family with many wonderful holiday traditions, many of which revolved around food.

My mom, aunt and grandmothers were enthusiastic bakers, creating dozens upon dozens of our favourite holiday treats; Nanaimo bars, Hello Dollies, shortbread, sugar cookies, peanut butter marshmallow treats, Bits and Bites, pecan pie, cranberry tarts, almond bark and plum pudding. I have fond memories of the three-tiered dessert plate that they’d happily fill and place on the table after each and every holiday get-together. Because we had a large social circle, there were many such celebrations!

On Christmas eve there was always an after-church meal of cheeses, cold meats, pickles, breads, pop, chips and wine.

And Christmas day? A decadent brunch of ham, bacon, fresh fruit, home-made muffins, quiche or scrambled eggs, croissants and toast with a few hours of recovery before the traditional turkey dinner was served. Always accompanied by at least three difference versions of bread stuffing (my mom’s, each of my grandmother’s and sometimes my aunt’s as well; my family loves its stuffing!).

New Years Eve and New Years Day were a repeat of Christmas. More food, more alcohol, an attempt to ‘finish up the holiday baking’ and a lot of pushing away from the table completely stuffed.

Don’t get me wrong. I love the memories that I have of my family’s holiday traditions. I’m just choosing not to replicate them in their entirety with my own family.

We’re working on swapping holiday food traditions for holiday fitness traditions.Creating memories around activity rather than food.

When my children are adults, in addition to recalling their favourite Christmas treat, I want them to fondly remember the experiences we created for them at holiday time.

Of course we still enjoy holiday baking (in moderation, and the children participate fully in the process; I’m not the Grinch, you know…)

holiday fitness traditions

and a turkey dinner with all the trimmings (although only one of my three children eats stuffing so I only prepare one kind…).

But we also enjoy a broad range of  holiday fitness traditions including:

  • evening walks around the neighbourhood to see the lights (we started this tradition when the children were so small that the youngest could be carried in his Baby Bjornn and the middle child was still in a backpack; they would often fall asleep on these walks, mesmerized by the beauty of the lights)

holiday fitness traditions

  • the annual Santa Skate (instead of taking them to the mall and lining up for hours to sit on Santa’s lap, we all enjoy an afternoon of skating with friends, family and Santa at our local skating rink)

holiday fitness traditions

  • a Christmas Eve-day trip to the pool (indoors of course; there’s nothing better on a cold, blustery day than playing in the warm water. And since we’re unlikely to have snow over Christmas, the water slide substitutes for sledding around these parts)
  • a trip up a local mountain for a winter wonderland hike or snowshoe or toboggan or ski (the best thing about living in Vancouver? The ability to spend the day on a snowy mountain, then drive back down to sea level and head to the beach!)

holiday fitness traditions

  • and this year, we’ll even be able to kayak over the holidays (no not in Vancouver, silly, somewhere much farther south…)

Try creating some holiday fitness traditions with your family. I promise that if you combine them with the tips and tricks shared by the bloggers below, you’ll have a happy and healthy holiday!

  • Evil weight gain doesn’t stand a chance from the ever-energetic Gigi Eats Celebrities
  • Healthier holiday treats from my friend and fellow personal trainer Pamela at Thrive Personal Fitness (I love that she shoots straight from the hip and says “Say no to the crap”)
  • A thought-provoking post about our society’s difficulty with Eating In Moderation from  Heather, who blogs at Dietician on the Run (Enjoy the quotes from Malcolm Gladwell and Seth Godin!)
  • Some great suggestions for taking time and reducing holiday stress by Gifting Yourself from Carla at MizFitOnline (not writing a ‘how to avoid holiday weight gain’ post is my gift to me!)
  • No-Bake Gingerbread Pumpkin Snowballs – they’re grain free, that makes them healthier, right? Just one recipe in a series of Healthy Holiday Recipes that Fit Foodie Lee is sharing with her readers.
  • And a post I wrote 2 years ago about Finding Holiday Balance by Making Less More

Does your family have any holiday fitness traditions?

Share your best tip for staying healthy and fit over the holidays!

40+ Female Online Group Training Round 2 | Registration now open

online group training

  •  Are you a 40+ female?
  • Struggling with weight gain and muscle loss?
  • Usual workouts and nutrition plan stopped working?
  • Get up and go, got up and went?
  • Carbohydrate cravings out of control?
  • Looking for answers, accountability and support?

Let me help via Online Group Training

Join my 10-week, online group training program specifically designed for women dealing with the challenges of mid-life hormonal change. Exercise programs, nutritional advice and healthy living tips are all based on the most recent scientific research; research based on fabulous, real, prime-of-their-life women.

That’s ten weeks of workouts, nutrition and life-style change tools to help offset the havoc hormonal fluctuations can wreak on your energy levels, body image and physique.

Group Training is appropriate for all fitness levels and for gym-goers and home exercisers alike. (They’ll even be options for the Achilles-tendon-challenged 😉 ). Answers to frequently asked questions can be found here.

Note, if you’re looking to ‘drop 2 dress sizes in 2 weeks’, ‘lose 20 pounds by spring break’, get ‘buns of steel’ or ‘6-pack abs’,  stop reading NOW. This is NOT the program for you! 

What does the 10-week 40+ Female Group Training program include?

  • bi-weekly, individually customizable workouts (including modifications for varying fitness levels and abilities)
  • access to a participants-only video exercise demonstration library (so you can make sure you’re doing the exercises properly)
  • membership in a private Facebook group (to get quick answers to questions and to provide accountability and a sense of community)
  • goal setting, nutrition planning and fitness assessment tools (and other assorted homework; yes, there will be homework!)
  • summaries of the latest scientific research about fitness, nutrition, lifestyle and hormonal change (translated into every day language 🙂 )
  • 24/7 e-support (or as close to it as I can manage given that one of the most important tools for dealing with hormonal issues is adequate sleep!)
  • weekly prizes from a variety of healthy living brands and sponsors (confirmed sponsors include North Coast Naturals and Holy Crap Cereal)

How much does it cost?

  • Cost: $70  for 10 weeks (that’s only $1 a day…)
  • Payment via PayPal only

When does it start?

  • Program dates: Sunday, January 12th through Saturday, March 22nd, 2014.
  • Registration dates: Monday, December 2nd, 2013 through Wednesday, January 8th, 2014

What do past participants have to say about it?

I completed the program feeling stronger, rejuvenated and just plain healthier. I also made some wonderful connections with like-minded (with similar struggles) women. We cheered each other on, laughed at our slips and groaned together about our newly discovered muscles. I highly recommend this program to any woman over 40, looking for a new, healthier and happier outlook on her health.

I have been doing strength training for years so I did not use the videos as much in the begining, but did when I was unfamiliar with certain exercises. The videos were nice and clear, loved that! I was really surprised at how much I enjoyed the facebook group, I need more motivation, input and support then I realized. It felt good to hear others with the same challenges..I am NOT alone in this journey…this program was incredible and VERY valuable. Thanks!!

I loved this course! My main goal at the start of this program was just to feel better. Goal achieved! I was so tired of feeling run down and “out of it”. I exercised regularly coming into this program, but knew that my diet needed some work (ok, a lot of work!). For me personally, I was focused mainly on the nutritional aspect of the program. The information you provided was great and really helped me be more conscious of what I was putting into my body and how what I ate affected my hormones and ultimately how I felt. I’m still working at “being the detective” and this program has laid the foundation for doing that. The workouts great as well. My main form of exercise coming into this program was running. The workouts you provided helped guide me back into a strength training routine that I had gotten out of. I used muscles I had not used in a long time and have rediscovered my enjoyment of strength training! There really are no words to describe the Facebook group…what an awesome group of ladies! The motivation and support I found there was worth the price of admission!! I feel blessed to have been on this journey with each of them. And last but not least, thank you Tamara for putting this program together. You have a vey well laid out, very balanced program and I am very happy with my results. The motivation and support you provided throughout this program was amazing! Awesome job!!

This was a great program and I would highly recommend it to friends who are ready to put in the work.

How do I sign up?

All you need to do is fill out your contact details below and click on through to PayPal to secure your spot in the program. (Apologies for the ‘captcha’ code; it saves me a lot of sorting through spam replies if you take a minute to confirm that you’re a real person 🙂 ).

Once your payment has been verified, you’ll receive a confirmation e-mail with additional detailsEasy-peasy.

If a past participant referred you to this program, make sure you include her name on the form (she’ll get a discount next time she registers for one of my programs).

Are you as excited as I am to get started?

Registration for this session is now closed. Keep your eyes open for details about the dates of the next session.