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Pregnancy & Exercise with France: 9 weeks and counting

2013 November 13
by admin

We women are told to work on our kegel muscles throughout our lives, but it is here most important during pregnancy for two reasons.

First, these muscles help us to push out our baby, so getting them as strong as we can is truly important for birth day.  Secondly, and most importantly, these muscles help to keep our pelvic floor muscles  up and supported, preventing later bladder leakage and allowing us to continue with a normal, active lifestyle after pregnancy.

So start working on those muscles ladies!  Two ways to get it into your day without much thought is pull up mid flow when your going to the washroom and especially, work on it when your driving to and from work.

The more the better ladies, START KEGEL-ING .

How to: Pull up gently on you the pelvic floor muscles without squeezing your bum or abdominal muscles. You should feel a slight tightness form in the lower part of your abdomen. It isn’t easy to get it right, but keep at it and before you know it , it will work.

Are You Getting Enough Protein?

2013 November 4
by admin

Recent evidence indicates protein needs are higher than Recommended Dietary Allowances (RDAs)

Evidence presented at the 2013 International Congress of Nutrition indicates current dietary recommendations for protein substantially underestimate actual needs. The symposium “Protein requirements for optimal health throughout all life stages” brought together leading experts to explain the latest developments in protein nutrition. These latest developments suggest protein intakes much higher than the current Recommended Dietary Allowances (RDAs) are needed to help promote children’s healthy growth and development and to help older adults age well.

Three speakers presented evidence that suggests health professionals rethink advice on protein intakes for optimal health. Professor Rajavel Elango (University of British Columbia) showed how estimates based on nitrogen balance data (used to set the current RDAs for adults and children) underestimate actual protein requirements by more than 30%. Professors Nancy Rodriguez (University of Connecticut) and Caryl Nowson (Deakin University, Australia) reviewed how increased protein intakes can help adults maintain better muscle and bone mass and improve strength and daily functioning as they age. This in turn is critical for reducing the risk of falls, fragility fractures, and physical disability in our aging population.

Experts estimate that higher protein intakes in the range of 1.1 to 1.5 g/kg/d will contribute to better muscle and bone maintenance, and improve people’s ability to age well. Children have even higher protein needs for growth; for example, school age children (6 to 10 years) may require protein intakes of at least 1.55 g/kg/d. Researchers recommend that at least two meals (ideally three) a day should contain 25 to 30 grams of high quality protein from whole nutrient-rich foods for optimal health.

This protein nutrition symposium was filmed and can be viewed here.

           - Brought to you by via Registered Dietitian Helene Charlebois

FHF Personal Trainer France is Expecting!

2013 November 4
by admin

Are you pregnant, or know someone who is?   Functional Health & Fitness personal trainer France is expecting her second baby in June 2014 and wants to share daily and weekly fitness tips with other pregnant women.   Our weekly blog updates will include workouts, important foods and belly pictures.   Women looking for daily quotes and a 5-minute daily workout should like our Facebook page or follow us on Twitter.   Pregnant women interested in joining a small group personal training class being offered on Wednesday afternoons in a Centretown studio should email or call 613-237-4609.

As a personal trainer, France wants to educate and inspire you to believe in yourself, helping you surpass everyday challenges, as well as the challenges being presented by the changes in your body throughout your pregnancy.   She specializes in core training, functional exercise and postural correction to improve form, functionality and performance.

Congratulations France!   Thank you for sharing this experience with us and the broader public.

What Are Man Foods Anyway?

2013 September 19
by admin

 Myth or reality? Men’s testosterone levels start to drop off by 1% per year starting at age 30. (1) What to do?  Introduce some ‘Man Foods” to you daily diet; some testosterone boosting delicacies.

Disclosure: Most of the research has been done on rats but human trials are on the way.

Zinc it in! Zinc appears to play an important role in maintaining prostate health. The highest zinc content in body tissues is found in the prostate (2). It is unknown on its exact mechanism in the prostate but it is known that a low zinc levels can lead to lower testosterone levels and impotence.

Bring on those oysters! Not only an aphrodisiac but oysters are the power food for zinc content. Simply eating one medium size oyster (12 mg zinc) a day will give you enough zinc for the entire day.

Daily Zinc needs for men = minimum 11 mg per day but to a maximum of 40 mg.

Other high zinc containing foods: (approximate ranges from

  1. Proteins: beef, pork, lamb, venison, liver, turkey and chicken (8.6 to 0.8 mg per 75 g serving)
  2. Other proteins: pumpkin and squash seeds (4.4 to 2.7 mg per 60 ml serving)
  3. Baked beans & other legumes (lentils) (4.3 to 1.9 mg per 175 ml serving)
  4. Nuts, especially cashews, peanuts, pine and almonds (2.2 to 1.1 mg per 60 ml serving)
  5. Dairy products and eggs (1.0 to 2.0 mg per serving)
  6. Grains; fortified cereals, wheat germ, bran & wild rice (2.4 to 1.2 per 60 ml/125 ml serving)
  7. Fruits and vegetables: not very high in zinc but to balance out a meal, cabbage and all the cruciferous vegetables are the highest. Bring on the SLAW and eat your brussel sprouts!

Where’s the beef!

Men seem to be naturally drawn to this high protein source. And there’s a reason why? Protein in adequate amounts daily (minimum 1 gram per kg body weight) will boost testosterone levels. (3)

Protein sources can be higher in fats, both the good fats (nuts) and the not so good fats (lard, tallow marbled in). These latter should be kept to a minimum.

Protein intake is usually not a problem in North America except at the breakfast meal. Try to strive for at least 15 grams of protein to start your day.

RECIPE: For a great testosterone booster first thing in the morning, try some greek yogurt splashed with some zinc containing pumpkin seeds and wheat germ and add some fruit for added taste.

Meat is not the only source of protein. Don’t forget the other protein poppers such as nuts, seeds, dairy products and legumes. Most are loaded with good fats and are high in fibre.

How to cook this chunk of protein? Always use low fat cooking methods such as bbq’ing. Cutting the fat off the meat prior to cooking will lower the fat content of the eaten portion.

Keep the Blood Flowing!

Blood goes everywhere in the body. It needs to be flowing to feed all the ‘vital organs’. Artery clogging saturated fats, cholesterol and trans fats should be kept to a minimum while eating more of the artery cleaning omega 3 fatty acids and fruits & vegetables.

What about omega 3 fatty acids?

These fats will naturally clean up your arteries and keep the blood flowing strong.  Try adding more fish to your diet, 3 times per week should do it; the darker the fish, the higher in omega 3s.  Try some omega 3 eggs and foods fortified with omega 3s.

Bulging at the Wrong Place!

Excess body fat and less muscle mass may decrease your testosterone levels, especially as you age. (4)  Try to reduce your waistline; even a small weight loss with some increased muscle mass will do the trick.

Here is a great  BBQ meal chock full of protein and zinc.

BBQ sauce: mix it up in a food processor with canned smoked oysters and slather it on.

Starter: raw or smoked oysters

Fire up the grill: Cook a piece of lean beef, pork, lamb, chicken or turkey (liver is high zinc but not a favorite) or salmon/cuddle fish. Wild game such as venison is also a great source of Zinc.

Side: Coleslaw topped with pumpkin seeds PLUS a side of spicy baked beans.

Dessert, the final touch: yogurt and fruit topped with roasted squash seeds.




2  Zinc status and serum testosterone levels of healthy adults. Prasad AS, Mantzoros CS, Beck FW, Hess JW, Brewer GJ. Source: Department of Internal Medicine, Wayne State University School of Medicine, Detroit, Michigan, USA.

3  J Appl Physiol. 1989 Jan;66(1):498-503. Effect of testosterone on muscle mass and muscle protein synthesis.

4  Int J Obes. 1991 Nov;15(11):791-5. Effect of testosterone on abdominal adipose tissue in men.

- Brought to you by Helene Charlebois, R.D. O’Connor Health Group


2013 September 18
by admin

Summer is done and you have prepared your backpack for school.  As the kids have been in school for a couple of weeks, are they complaining about their backpack, or about a sore back?  Let’s review some guidelines for backpacks.

It can be a real puzzle to fit everything in that small bag but remember your kids will have to carry that bag and too much weight can be damaging.

Most people think that only an adult can have back pain, but in fact 50% of kids will experience at least one episode of low back pain before they are teens. There are a lot of causes to this problem including inactivity, excess weight and bad posture.  A bad backpack, a heavy backpack or a badly adjusted back pack have an influence on their posture in long term. Remember your kids bones are still growing and changing. for their young back.

Here are few good tips to remember when choosing & using a bag:

  1. Choose a bag made with light fabric and a stuffed back for comfort
  2. Make sure that the shoulder strap is at least 5cm wide
  3. One-shoulder bags are terrible for everyone especially for kids. They create a rotation of the spine and an improper posture
  4. Make sure the bag has a strap to the waist and if possible at the chest level as well. These ties help to better distribute the weight on the body
  5. Favor a bag with multiple compartments, it helps distribute the weight and prevent swinging of the back pack.

Filling the bag

The total weight of the bag should not be over 10% of your child’s weight. Make sure you just include what is necessary for the day.  Put all heavy stuff close to the back and all irregular objects in front of the backpack.

Putting on and adjusting the bag

  1. Bend your the knees to pick up the bag and put it on a chair or a table the height of your kids’ waist.
  2. The bag should not be higher than their shoulder nor lower than their low back and it should certainly not lie on the buttocks.
  3. Straps should be adjusted every time to make sure that the bag is close to the back and  not moving side to side.
  4. Finally attach the waist and chest straps.

Showing all these tips to your kids is a good way to have them do the right thing for their spine health.

-Contributed by O’Connor Health Group Chiropractor, Dr. Gabrielle Pomerleau

Smart Ways To Finish Your Workout

2013 September 18
by admin

After working your muscles even moderately hard for 30 to 60 minutes, how  you finish your workout can enhance the benefits that  the exercise provides to your body. The discomfort  and stiffness most of us have experienced after a  workout can be reduced by proper cool-down and  muscle stretching techniques at the end of the  exercise session. Further, replenishing the protein  and carbohydrate stores immediately after a workout  will help to energize and build the muscle tissue to enhance exercise/sport performance.

Performing easy, low-impact aerobic exercise for five to seven minutes at the end of a workout provides increased blood flow to muscles and reduces post-workout muscle soreness. Use of myofascial release aids like a foam roller or massage stick will also help reduce muscle tightness and the knots which may occur with exercise. Gentle stretching of major muscle groups for at least 30 to 60 seconds each will also assist with recovery and prepare your muscles for the next workout.

Recovery foods and beverages are useful for refueling and helping to build desired muscle tissue. Research has shown that maximum benefit is gained by taking in carbohydrate and protein within a 30-minute period following exercise. Ideally, recovery foods or beverages combine carbohydrate and protein in a 4:1 ratio. Generally, 60 to 80 g of carbohydrate and 15 g to 20 g of protein will suffice most individuals’ needs. Immediate post workout hydration with an electrolyte rich beverage is also important, to replenish sodium and potassium lost in perspiration as well as maintain optimal blood flow and delivery of nutrients to the muscles.

Dietitians on Stand By to Answer Your Calls

2013 July 15

Do you live in Ontario?  Do you have nutrition questions about weight loss, gluten, diabetes, feeding your baby or young child, supplements, sports performance, and more?  Call EatRight Ontario where Registered Dietitians are standing by to answer your questions.  And it’s free.

Almost 100% of callers say they would recommend EatRight Ontario to others.  Join the growing number of Ontarians using the service.  Give the toll-free number a try — you’ll like what you find!

About EatRight Ontario
EatRight Ontario provides FREE advice from Registered Dietitians to everyone in Ontario. Connect with EatRight Ontario in 3 ways:

  1. Call 1-877-510-510-2 Monday-Friday.
  2. Email a dietitian from the EatRight Ontario website
  3. Visit for articles, recipes, nutrition videos and menu plans.

- Contributed by FHF Dietitian, Helene Charlebois, information from the Dietitians of Canada

Summertime Employee Engagement

2013 July 2
by admin

If a Captivate Network report from 2012 indicates that “workplace productivity drops 20% during the summer months”, how do you encourage employee engagement during this wonderful Canadian season?

While you do not want to discourage employees from taking their hard-earned vacation time, you do want them be engaged and productive when they are in the office. Here are some ideas:

Food & Beverage Perks:
• Add fresh lemonade to the lunchroom fridge
• Stock the freezer with frozen fruit bars
• Brew a couple of pots of coffee and leave them overnight in the fridge; colleagues may be hot, and traffic heavy on the way into work, but they will be thrilled to find iced coffee waiting for them
• Host a strawberry social, especially at this time of year

Weekly or monthly health & fitness programs:
Who doesn’t want to look good and feel great on their summer vacation? So many people start work out programs in the spring just for that reason. Workplace health & wellness programming can impress upon staff that your corporate culture supports their health and fitness.
• Weekly yoga in your boardroom or courtyard
• Have on-site showers? How about morning boot camp?
• On-site, individual employee health & fitness assessments
• Lunch ‘n Learns on topics important to your staff/workplace

Summertime provides an excellent reason to provide programs and little benefits to show staff you value the contributions they make to the organization.  Talk to us about how we can help.

Workday Stretches

2013 June 13
by admin

Functional Health & Fitness personal trainer, France, demonstrates a number of stretches your can do at your desk, to improve your posture and remove tension.

Book a member of our team to do on-site workshops or fitness in the Ottawa-Gatineau area.  A wide range of programs are available to suit the health and wellness needs of staff.

Follow the link to see sample images of stretches from our “Stretches for the Desk Jockey” workshop.

My food mantra: Eat as close to the farm as possible. If it comes from the farm, eat it; as it leaves the farm, judge it!

2013 May 29


Helene Charlebois, Registered Dietitian & Nutrition Consultant with Functional Health and Fitness & the O’Connor Health Group

I ask my clients: “Why don’t you eat more  vegetables?”   The answer is always the same, “They take too much time to prep and cook; when I get home at suppertime I’m tired and pressed for time”.

The key to this dilemma is to pre-prep your veggies.  How?  Once you get home from the grocery store, don’t put them in the fridge, pre-prep them.  Here are my recommendations:

Cauliflower: Cut the foot off, break into 4 pieces and rinse under cold running water. Store.

Broccoli: Cut the ends off, cut into a few large pieces. Store.

Celery: Cut the 2 ends off, place in a colander under cold running water, brush lightly.  Store.

Ditto for green onions and lettuce.

Tomatoes: Simply leave these out on the counter.

Cucumbers: Do not clean until ready to eat.

How do you store your veggies?

In the refrigerator, of course, but roll the pre-prepped veggies into a few wet paper towels, place them in a plastic bag and fold the bag over. Do not close the bag tightly as veggies need room to breath so they do not grow mold.   They will store in the plastic for up to one week if air circulates in the bag.  ENJOY!

Eat Your Veggies – Recipes

Do you have salad dressing in your fridge? Use this as the perfect zip to add to steamed veggies.

Thai Green Beans

1)      Use frozen or fresh green beans.

2)      Put in the microwave to soften.

3)      In a nonstick pan, pour 1 tbsp. Thai Ginger Salad dressing, a splash of canola oil plus 1 tsp. garlic (more fresh ginger can also be added).

4)      Toss the softened green beans in the dressing.

5)      Add the peelings of a carrot in long thin filaments.

6)      Add fresh ground pepper.

7)      Toss until tender and ready to serve.

*BBQ bonus: once it is all mixed together in the fry pan, throw the whole veggie mixture in a BBQ veggie basket and grill to perfection.

More Veggie Tips for the fry pan and BBQ basket

Use Sun-dried Tomato Dressing with softened cauliflower; add a sprinkle of feta cheese before serving.

Use Caesar Dressing with softened broccoli; add a sprinkle of Parmesan cheese before serving.

Use Tomato Basil Salad dressing with softener yellow beans; Caesar dressing is great too!