Registered Kinesiology and Regulated Healthcare in Ontario – Part One


If you have had a chance to read my most recent post, you would know that I am a graduate of kinesiology and health science studies and, that I am a registered health professional practicing kinesiology in Toronto, Ontario, Canada – the first governing province in the entire world to regulate the profession of kinesiology. By regulating kinesiology, the public is in a safer position to use kinesiology services as they are bound to a governing college with strict guidelines, policies and ethics. Kinesiology services in Ontario, in this regard, are also a tax deductible service as a medical expense in the province of Ontario and, are covered by several health plans including Manulife, DesJardins and Great West Life.

As “exercise is medicine” is becoming a household phrase, so too is “kinesiology”.

Kinesiology by definition, is the study of human movement, or in other words “exercise” or “physical activity”.  Because of this simple definition many may still understand a degree in kinesiology as just that – a degree in physical activity, exercise, recreation and sport — and not as a science degree. The title of the degree which I achieved from Toronto’s York University in 2005 includes not only “kinesiology”, but “kinesiology and health science” and, for good reason.  What I studied goes beyond physical activity, fitness, recreation and sport. My degree includes the study of science, physiology, nutrition, anatomy, skilled performance and motor learning, statistics, research and data collection, biomechanics, chronic disease, neuroscience, endocrinology, epidemiology, bone and joint health, psychology, behaviour, counselling , and more.

Is exercise without the science easy, nonetheless? 

One may think so.

Is physical activity simple provided one is motivated to get active?

Even still, if plain old exercise were so easy, everyone would be doing it and not only that, doing it properly (dose, intensity, time, type) so that they were reaching all of their goals without hitting any obstacles or getting sick or injured along the way.

What if you have a chronic condition or disease? How about an eating disorder? What if your child is diagnosed with diabetes? Would you be curious as to whether or not he/she still be allowed to play soccer? Whom would you trust to send your child to see about this besides your family doctor?

The more physical activity and similar studies have evolved over the years, the more closely the relationship has become to not just limit the department of kinesiology and health science studies to sport and recreation, but to branch out into studying health and chronic disease as they relate to exercise. In fact, kinesiology and health science studies have been focusing on heart disease, diabetes, acquired brain injury, stroke and spinal injury as they relate to exercise and movement for many years now.

One main focus of such studies often pertains to “dose”.  Similar to pharmacology the “dose” of exercise is different for each individual. Both the type and the intensity may be varied depending on the physical pharmacondition of the person. The timing can be precise depending on not only the current medical condition, but it can also be customized to work with a person’s current medical prescriptions, chronic ailments and adjoining side-effects from one or the other. The duration of the exercise session can also be curtailed to elicit a precise response in order to treat a condition and to potentially heal it. This all requires expertise and years of study to properly define, prescribe and monitor.

Thus, a kinesiologist knows the ins and outs of the body and how it functions and dysfunctions. With regard to myself, I have both a strong knowledge and broad background of chronic disease and psychology and the various medications that go with such disease and how they may be affected by movement. I also understand various common ailments and of course, injuries related to sport, physical activity and work.

During my four year course of study, along with the 48 credits of core courses that focused on the study of the basic ins and outs of the body and mind as it relates to physical activity and health, 52 of my other credits were electives.  Some examples of the electives I chose to were exercise and addictive behaviours, which focused on disordered eating and physical activity habits and their relationship with correlative mental health conditions. I chose to learn more about phyiscal actvitiy and chronic disease which delved into post traumatic stress disorder and using exercise as an adjunct to cancer and stem cell therapy in order to improve symptoms of depression.  I also very much enjoyed my practical course in African and Caribbean Dance, in addition to the specialized Coaching Certificate Program I enrolled in, where I received my National Coaching Certification Program Level 3 Therory designation in my favourite sport, triathlon.

Historically speaking, kinesiology and health science degrees are relatively new.  The University of Toronto only changed the name of their program from Physical Education and Health to Kinesiology and Physical Education in 2012.  Previous to the 1990’s most schools were offering only physical activity or physical education degrees, not kinesiology and health science degrees.

As the study of sport science and physical activity continues to evolve, many schools have come to the realization that they are no longer studying just sport and physical activity, but that they are on to something much broader and more encompassing.

As a result, the popular title “kinesiology and health science” was born and continues to grow today. In fact, most – if not all – Canadian universities (and many more around the world) have changed or, are in the process of changing their outdated undergraduate “sport and physical activity” programs to “kinesiology and health science” studies or similar.

So, if you’ve reached this point you know a bit more about me and a lot more about kinesiology. But, I need to help you understand one more thing.  That is how one practices kinesiology and how the practice of kinesiology fits into the regulated healthcare model in Ontario, Canada.

First of all, I will inform you of the scope of Registered Kinesiology in Ontario:

The practice of kinesiology is the assessment of human movement and performance and its rehabilitation and management to maintain, rehabilitate or enhance movement and performance. 2007, c. 10, Sched. O, s. 3.

In layman’s terms as redefined by the Ontario Kinesiology Association, the scope is as follows:

 The practice of Kinesiology is the assessment of movement, performance and function and the rehabilitation, prevention and management of disorders to maintain, rehabilitate or enhance movement, performance and function, in the areas of sport, recreation, work, exercise, and activities of daily living.

This is where things may get confusing, or how I more like to explain it in terms of “overlapping” scopes of practice. Whereas, no single health profession has exclusive ownership of a specific skill or health service, different professions may provide the same health services. A Kinesiologist in this way may seem similar to a Physiothersapist or a Chiropractor. Let me explain the differences.

Chiropractors and Physiotherapists are classified as Health Practitioners and can diagnose disease.  As a Kinesiologist, I am classified as a Health Professional and can make a clinical impression.  

A clinical impression is not to be confused with communicating a diagnosis of a disease.

To further explain,

Chiropractors are authorized to (Chiropractic Act, 1991):

  • Communicate a diagnosis identifying, as the cause of a person’s symptoms,
    • a disorder arising from the structures or functions of the spine and their effects on the nervous system, or
    • a disorder arising from the structures or functions of the joints of the extremities.
  • Move the joints of the spine beyond a person’s usual physiological range of motion using a fast, low amplitude thrust.
    • Put a finger beyond the anal verge for the purpose of manipulating the tailbone.

Physiotherapists are authorized to:

  • Communicate a diagnosis identifying a physical dysfunction, disease or disorder as the cause of a person’s symptoms.
  •  Treat a wound including by cleansing, soaking, irrigating, probing, debriding, packing or dressing the wound.
  • Administer, by inhalation:
    • i. oxygen, or
    • ii. a drug or substance that has been ordered by person who is authorized to do so by the Chiropody Act 1991, the Dentistry Act, 1991, the Medicine Act, 1991 the Nursing Act, 1991 or the Midwifery Act, 1991.
  • Putting an instrument, hand or finger beyond the labia majora or the anal verge for the purpose of assessment or treatment.

Kinesiologists are not currently authorized to perform any of the controlled acts outlined (above) and in section 27 of the Regulated Health Professions Act, 1991.

While most of these controlled acts are relatively easy to recognize and are clearly defined, the first controlled act, referred to commonly as “communicating a diagnosis” is an area that often causes confusion for regulated health professionals.

Let me explain.

In a comprehensive and consistent process, kinesiologists assess their patients’/clients’ movement and performance for the purposes of rehabilitation and enhancement. Kinesiologists base their clinical decisions on this assessment, and may offer professional opinions, appropriate interventions and recommendations. In this way, they are making a chartingclinical impression. This clinical impression can help the kinesiologist treat you right away provided it is appropriate, and it may also help to serve any other health professional involved with your treatment, either to enhance their own clinical impression or to assist them with making a diagnosis should they be authorized to do so.

The kinesiologist may also discuss findings with the patient/client, inculding a plan for follow-up with the appropriate diagnosing professional. In this process, it is essential that the kinesiologist provide the patient/client with an explanation of the nature of the problem that includes providing a label or name for the identified dysfunction (e.g. Hyperlordosis, reduced proprioception, Trendelenburg gait, etc.). This is considered by the College to be communicating a dysfunction, not a disease or disorder, and therefore does not fall within the definition of the controlled act of communicating a diagnosis.

Let me recap.

Outside of a communicating a complete diagnosis, the administration of oxygen, treating an open wound, moving joints beyond their normal range of motion and lastly, internal pelvic examinations – the many services that are provided by your various health care professionals may overlap.  This is to your benefit, as it only gives you more options to choose from during your Ontario healthcare service journey.

Below is a list of services your Registered Kinesiologist is authorized to provide in Ontario:



  • Gait Assessment
  • Musculoskeletal Assessment
  • Biomechanical Assessment
  • Postural Assessment
  • Ergonomic Assessments/Work Station Analysis


  • Therapeutic/Remedial Exercise
  • EducationFascial Stretch
  • Cardiac/Stroke Rehabilitation
  • Work Hardening
  • Work Conditioning
  • Modalities including, ultrasound, TENS (Biofeedback, Surface EMG), laserhttp://kine.info.yorku.ca/
  • Assisted Devices UtilizationManual Therapy
  • Corporate wellness programs
  • Work Design/Re-Design/Adaptation
  • Treatment Coordination/Communication
  • Manual Therapy
  • Myofascial Trigger Point Therapy
  • Soft Tissue Therapy
  • Sport Massage
  • Injury prevention and rehabilitation, including taping
  • Exercise with Special Populations
  • Chronic digeriatricsease prevention and management (e.g. Cancer, Diabetes, Arthritis, Heart Disease, MS, Fibromyalgia)
  • Acute illness recuperation
  • Exercise and fitness programs for weight loss, cardiovascular training and muscular conditioning/development
  • HydrotherapyRock Tape
  • Cryotherapy
  • Movement disorder therapies
  • High performance training
  • Occupational Health and Safety
  • Personal Fitness Training
  • Fitness and health related mental health and addiction programming

So, how does all this relate to how Registered Kinesiology fits into the current regulated healthcare model?

A Registered Kinesiologist is your healthcare expert on exercise. Although many other health care professions prescribe and monitor exercise and may even involve themselves in exercise programming, this is secondary to what their profession is primarily trained to do.  On the flip side, if your Registered Kinesiologist is providing manual therapy, or using modalities such as laser or ultrasound for a few examples, this is secondary to what they are primarily educated to do. Neither scenarios are wrong, or better or worse that the other. Getting the two to work together in order to get you moving better faster is key.

So how do we do this? How do we all fit into the regulated healthcare model in Ontario?  And, by all  – I mean not just the health professionals themselves, but YOU – the patient!

Stay tuned for Pahealth professionalsrt 2 of Registered Kinesiology and Regulated Healthcare in Ontario.

#kinesiology #regulated #ontario #registered #rehabilitation #sport #medicine #physiotherapy #chiropractor #manual #therapy #therapist #health #fitness #healthcare  

Masks and energy output – fatigue, inefficiency, risk of bacterial build-up and the benefits of specific training to overcome these barriers and more.

By Lynn Tougas, RK

Registered Kinesiologist and Founder – Whole Heart Whole Health

Photo by cottonbro on Pexels.com

Since Ontario’s Allied Health Care Professionals resumed back to regular work post the COVID emergency lockdown, many eager professionals immediately filled up their schedules in excitement to recapture financial losses suffered.  In addition to recapturing monies lost and covering past rents due, the sheer joy of human touch and the allowance to resume real-life interactive treatments was enough for anyone to be overly joyful to fill up their schedules and immediately dive back into a regular treatment routine.

But, then came the challenges with PPE.

On one forum I was privy to, the discussion was about the battle with increased symptoms of extreme fatigue. One practitioner asked if this could be related to cognitive related stress and the additional thinking involved in preparing for work now with all of the additional recommended protective gear? Possibly, however I wasn’t fully convinced this was all that was going on. With my health and safety work history that involved mask fit testing at one of our city’s most established tuberculosis treatment centres, I felt I should put this experience to use and do some further research.

I’d already been posting on my private social media my concern with the use of masks while outdoors exercising or simply enjoying a walk where proper distancing was in abundance. My take on the subject was that in these situations not only was a mask not necessary to reduce anyone’s risk to COVID, it is in these very situations that the mask wearer is putting their own self at increased risk of dehydration and amplified fatigue due to hyperventilation from the mouth covering which increases oxygen usage. Should the hyperventilation and dehydration continue for long periods, there are many other health risks one must be aware of. In more extreme cases, low carbon dioxide levels resulting from the increased oxygen use can lead to narrowing of the blood vessels that supply blood to the brain. This reduction in blood supply to the brain can further lead to symptoms like lightheadedness and tingling in the fingers. Moderate hyperventilation can lead to fainting and severe hyperventilation can lead to a complete loss of consciousness.

Back to the fatigue inquiry from my forum of freshly back-to- work Allied Healthcare Professionals. I had many questions boiling inside my brain. Were these professionals given guidance on how long to wear a mask? How about what type of mask is best for their current ventilation? More important, how about the possibility of bacterial buildup on the mask? Is there a difference between fabrics and bacterial contamination? Can we and how should we best re-use a mask? Are we closely monitoring their PPE usage for any symptoms related to hyperventilation, increased fatigue and bacterial build up?

I was determined to answer all of these questions, and if there was any room for a debate, I’m just as determined to keep this discussion as alive and healthy as we wish our businesses and healthcare practices to be during this restart of our economy.

Guidance on how long to wear a mask: In one study on surgeons and surgical masks, it was found that after 2 hours bacterial contamination was evident.[i] Recommendations were made in this study that included monitoring the duration the mask is worn – less than 4 hours with 2 hours most optimal; improving the mask wearer’s mouth hygiene, and the use of double-layered high filtration masks. Now I know we are not all surgeons and we are not wearing surgical masks, but that is what makes this area even more up for debate. We are in unprecedented territory with many of us using substitute cloth masks made of a combination of many different materials not studied in this format at all. I recently questioned a mask being sold at the checkout of my local Shopper’s Drug Mart. The label was all written in Chinese. The fabric was unknown to me as I couldn’t understand the labeling, but from what I could see clearly with my own eyes is that it certainly wasn’t in the least a healthy organic cotton material nor a medical grade mask material.

Guidance on what type of mask is best: In a collaborative paper of research on PPE during the initial SARS breakout in Canada during the early 2000’s, it was determined that even proper mask fitting could not assist with improved PPE compliance.[ii] Suggestions were made to allow the healthcare provider to trial several different face coverings throughout the shift until a comfortable face covering was determined. Emergency front line workers who need to wear respirator masks for extended periods should be provided tactile training and/or build up to full day use. In order to effectively overcome the increase in oxygen usage and build up one’s cardiovascular efficiency, a gradual planned acclimatization is necessary.

Not only are many of us not being mask-fit tested as independently employed Allied Healthcare Workers, once again we are in unprecedented times in terms of available research on the outlined purposes of each of our individual PPE usage guidelines. We must protect ourselves, as well as we must take precautions to protect our patients and clients. However, we have limited research on what is best for each of differing roles.

Guidance on bacterial build-up: My interest piqued on this subject after I read a circulating Facebook post by a British Columbia woman claiming a retail worker had been admitted to hospital with the doctor  stating that the reason for the worker’s admittance and illness was bacterial build-up on her PPE causing a lung infection. First of all, I am not sure if this was true information. The post was not tagged nor blocked in anyway, yet there was no further information provided regarding the type of mask or how long the worker was wearing the mask. What the story did for me in the end was it fueled my interest in researching mask usage one step further than what I was finding was currently available to Allied Healthcare Professionals as well as the general public.

Back up to the first study, where I mentioned about length of wear of surgical masks and bacterial buildup, I can only say that there may be some room for discussion here regardless of the quality of the Facebook post I read that lead me into looking into this further.[iii] Mouth hygiene has not been discussed on any current mask guidelines. With this new information in mind, coupled with the older research completed on surgeons and surgical masks, I believe it should be.

Guidance on the healthiest way to store and reuse a mask: According to this study, the reuse of asks in non-emergency situations has been recommended for decades.[iv] Based on my above research, proper hygiene is important, as well as reducing the risks of hyperventilation. The brown-bag method is a best-case scenario for mask re-use along with proper hygiene before and after use. [v] Further, the “CDC recommends that a respirator classified as disposable can be reused by the same worker as long as it remains functional2 and is used in accordance with local infection control procedures.” For best practice, one must thoroughly wash or sanitize their hands before removing and replacing the mask to be re-used. The mask is said to be best stored in a breathable container and that a clean brown paper bag can be the simplest form of such a container. It is recommended that storage containers should be disposed of or cleaned regularly.

If you are an Allied Healthcare Worker looking for guidance on mask use and re-use, the above information is helpful for when you schedule your breaks, consume food, or use the toilet. A key word here is schedule. Following a strict schedule with regard to breaks, mealtimes and toilet times will only assist with enhancing your overall mask usage as PPE experience. Building up to a fuller capacity day as you adjust to your new environment is also said to help. Taking more scheduled breaks in the beginning of your return-to-work may be essential for the most optimal outcome. Having several fresh masks available to you throughout your day is also highly recommended.

When do I need to where a mask the most and are there any situations where a face shield or no covering at all is safe? A key way to comprehend whether or not a mask is justified is to analyze the Japanese coined 3 C’s. The 3 C’s –crowded spaces, confined spaces, and close-contact. The 3 C’s  are a helpful way of knowing in non-emergency situations when a mask may be most beneficial to reduce risks.

There will no doubt be a continued inconsistent use of masks relative to one’s natural and intuitive ways of working within these confines. As we have seen, many lay people will shop around town, eat a bite of a snack or take a sip of coffee and continue to wear the same mask, continuing all day to pull it up and down between sips or bites. In the case of dehydration risk and the Allied Health Professional, one will certainly need to hydrate frequently during their work day. At the present time, folks are taking breaks with their mask left hanging around their necks, or they are getting into a similar habit of pulling the mask down to communicate more effectively or sip a drink only to pull it back up straight after. Who knows if this is the same mask they practiced these same behaviours with the day previous? We must be more aware of these types of behaviours and remember that hygiene is important for proper, safe mask usage.

Food for thought.

Personally, I will continue to focus on appropriate surface and hand hygiene first along with being hyper-cognizant of the 3 C’s. At which point I am aware I cannot control my 3 C’s I will wear a mask. If I can control my 3C’s I may choose not to wear a mask, whereas I may safely remove my mask to take a break in a quiet open space. I would then carefully store the mask accordingly using the paper-bag method described above. I would also continue to monitor my mouth hygiene by brushing or gargling after food and drink. If I’m in a situation where I will need to wear a mask for an extended period of time, I will monitor any symptoms of hyperventilation including the very first signs of dehydration – one being that I might feel a little more fatigued than usual. Last, I will likely only wear a medical grade mask during the entire COVID pandemic as this is the style of mask the bulk of reliable research has focused on. Of course, I may not wear an N95 respirator for daily use, but I will continue to wear my surgical masks.

With a little more training and awareness, all us can have a better pandemic post-lock down experience getting back to business. As the saying goes, practice makes perfect. Ongoing research would be of most benefit to this cause and I am more than happy to assist with this.

[i] https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S2214031X18300809?fbclid=IwAR0rcbJZvPl6t5QilARsGnBs1QTqWk6d-cIwHdK0sqc1CXNvF4_NyJ037dU

[ii] http://www.phsa.ca/Documents/Occupational-Health-Safety/ReportProtectingtheFacesofHealthcareWorkers.pdf?fbclid=IwAR0Sty7TUyl0Uxfper5tMY_kZjrwv4Qfq6ZFfqDwltqd0jr2yCC5eFetpl8

[iii] https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S2214031X18300809?fbclid=IwAR0rcbJZvPl6t5QilARsGnBs1QTqWk6d-cIwHdK0sqc1CXNvF4_NyJ037dU

[iv] https://www.cdc.gov/niosh/topics/hcwcontrols/recommendedguidanceextuse.html

[v] https://www.cdc.gov/niosh/topics/hcwcontrols/recommendedguidanceextuse.html

Knee Health and Virtual Exercise

The new reality of this ever changing COVID lifestyle has definitely brought with it something that may be here to stay its course in the long term – virtual exercise. As soon as we are able to get back to real-life interactive exercise classes, the majority of us will be lining up with our mats and gloves in hand — but a smaller percentage of us may indeed have happily adapted to a sound daily dose or two of virtual exercise and be more inclined to stay away from all of the crowds, loud music and line-ups.

Not only will this bring with it a possible upset in the continuation of the current fitness related small business loss and disruption, it will also bring with it what has already began to rise – virtual exercise related injury.

Virtual life during COVID has forced me to reach out to connect with friends and family. As a result, I have been trying many different interactive apps including one called “House Party”. At first, this app appeared to be just what it sounds like – a virtual house party of pow-wowing COVID woes over a few cocktails in the evening with old friends. What it has become however, in my circle of old friends, is a means for a daily check-in as well as an evening stage for cocktails and COVID related rant.

Some of the friends I have been connecting with more regularly now on the House Party app are friends I haven’t been in touch with since high school, which for me was thirty years ago! A lot has certainly changed in thirty years. As we catch up and learn more about what it is we are currently doing with our lives, I’ve been able to offer support with virtual exercise related injury and discomfort. Just the other day, I found myself in a discussion with an old friend with a “trades-related” bummed-out knee.

My initial inventory captured that my friend feels his knee pain started as a result of his working in the construction trade. He had consulted with a doctor and was simply told to rest his knee and take anti-inflammatory meds. Over the years, since his knee began giving him trouble, this is what he has been doing. More recently, my friend told me since he’s been laid off during COVID he has been indulging in various virtual exercise classes and that his knee pain is back in full-force. He showed his bottle of meds. I told him what it is I do for a living and began to talk about my own chronic knee pain and what I do to help reduce my knee-related pain.

All of a sudden, the virtual chat became very interactive as my friend pulled out his old dusty foam roller while I guided him as to how to self-massage his tight quads and hip-flexors. Almost immediate relief to his on and off years of chronic knee pain was a result from our chat, along with a renewed sense of why the knee pain may have started in the first place. I happily educated my old friend on proper knee alignment during squatting with the addition of some common key squatting warm-up techniques he could do before his virtual exercise sessions. I also told him that keeping up with the instructor should not be his main goal right now, but that his main goal should be to maintain good form and proper alignment — even if this means he is behind a few sets and reps for now.


All in all, I enjoy what I do very much. I was never a huge fan of virtual life and/or technology, but I am a fan of rolling along with the constant ebbs and flows of daily life — especially as I strive to make the best of this new pandemic lifestyle we’ve all been inducted into. I may not partake in much of the virtual exercise offerings currently available myself, but I have to admit I’m grateful to be able to connect with old friends using the same interactive tools. Day by day I am becoming more adept in using today’s growing list of interactive technology options, and as such I’d like to remind you that my services are currently available online. I am confident I can help you in your current virtual journey and I invite all of you to reach out to me with your virtual exercise and related healthy movement inquiries.

Lynn Tougas, Registered Kinesiologist is licensed to provide advice and programming in the area of virtual exercise and virtual human movement related activities. Lynn is very well-connected to other fitness and health related professionals, including Physiotherapists, Chiropractors, Naturopaths, Ergonomists, Massage Therapists, Older-Adult Specialists, Dieticians, Body Building Coaches, Sport Coaches and Occupational Therapists (to name a few) whom will gladly join in on a call with us, in the case that your issue requires assistance and advice outside or over and above of her scope.

Your first 15-minute inquiry is always FREE and depending on your current financial state, future programming and or advice can be pro-rated or priced using a sliding-scale method. All inquiries are confidential.

My Top 10 for 2016

Proper diet and exercise not only help in recovering from illness or injury, but can also help prevent cancer, heart disease, hypertension, diabetes and many other common conditions. 

Kinesiology places a strong emphasis on prevention and enhancement, and utilizes exercise and improved movement to achieve a better quality of life for individuals.

As a Registered Kinesiologist, I am classified as a Regulated Health Professional in the Province of Ontario, Canada.

Please enjoy my Top 10 list for 2016 and enjoy a healthier 2016 as a result.

For more information on the practice of kinesiology in Ontario, please visit The College of Kinesiologists of Ontario and/or The Ontario Kinesiology Association

10. Cod Liver Oil – Good old fashioned fish oil that grandma forced mama to take when she headed out the door to walk several miles to school in the blistering cold and snow of the eastern coast of Canada. Cod Liver Oil has historically been taken because of its high vitamin A and vitamin D content.

Vitamin A is involved in immune function, vision, reproduction, and cellular communication. [National Institutes of Health, 2013]

Vitamin D is produced endogenously when ultraviolet rays from sunlight strike the skin and trigger vitamin D synthesis, so during the long cold and dark Canadian winters where sunshine is scant, supplementing in Vitamin D is a necessity.

Vitamin D also promotes calcium absorption in the gut and maintains adequate serum calcium and phosphate concentrations to enable normal mineralization of bone and to prevent hypocalcemic tetany. Vitamin D sufficiency prevents rickets, osteomalacia and together with calcium, vitamin D also helps protect older adults from osteoporosis. [National Institute of Health, 2014]

TAKE HOME MESSAGE: Cod Liver Oil is an often cheaper alternative to more expensive fish oils and with its naturally high Vitamin D content, there is little need to supplement with additional Vitamin D.

* Daily upper limits of Vitamin A are over-reached by 36% in one tablespoon of Cod Liver Oil. A high intake of cod liver oil by pregnant women is associated with a nearly fivefold increased risk of gestational hypertension. Therefore, if you are pregnant, nursing or if you have concerns about your Vitamin A levels, it is recommended that you talk to your doctor first before taking Cod Liver Oil.

9. Sleep 8 hours every night on a regular schedule. Sleep deprivation adversely affects the brain and cognitive function and causes weight gain.

Chronic dysregulation of sleep leads to weight gain, impulsivity, slower thinking, and other physiological and behavioral changes in mice, similar to those observed in people who experience shift work or jet lag. Several studies including this one continue to support the regulation of sleep for improvement of conditions such a bipolar disorder.[National Institute of Health, 2012]

People experiencing short-term sleep restriction process glucose more slowly than individuals receiving a full 8 hours of sleep, increasing the likelihood of developing type 2 diabetes.

Beware that you may not know you are experiencing short-term sleep restriction if you have a condition called Sleep Apnea, for one example. Sypmtoms of Sleep Apnea are excessive daytime sleepiness and fatigue. Chronic snoring is a great indicator along with a proper diagnosis that includes:

  • being male, overweight, obese, or over the age of 40
  • having a large neck size (greater than 16–17 inches)
  • enlarged tonsils, enlarged tongue, small jaw bone
  • gastroesophageal reflux (GERD)
  • allergies, sinus problems
  • family history of sleep apnea, or deviated septum causing nasal obstruction
  • alcohol, sedatives and tranquilizers also promote sleep apnea by relaxing the throat

Also notable, in two studies [Wikepedia – Sleep Deprivation[59][60]], a sleepless week down-regulated 444 genes, and up-regulated 267. Genes that were affected are related to circadian rhythms, metabolism, inflammation, immune response and stress.

TAKE HOME MESSAGE: Do everything you can to ensure a regular good night’s sleep. Move out that bedroom TV. Turn off your devices and completely cover any LEDs. Invest in blackout curtains and/or a quality eye mask.

8. Reduce EMF (Electromagnetic Field) Toxins. This is a relatively new area of research focusing on the toxic by-products of power lines, televisions, household electrical wiring, appliances and microwaves. EMF toxins come in all forms including those from cell phones, cell phone towers and wireless Internet connections.

Electromagnetic fields (EMF) have been shown to influence a range of bodily functions. The intermittent recommendation (until more research is complete) is that the public should follow the precautionary principle and limit their exposure as much as possible. [Advances in Biology, 2014]

Here are some helpful tips to reduce EMF toxins:

  • Children should always avoid using cell phones
  • Reduce your own cell phone use
  • Use a land line at home and at work
  • Reduce your use of other wireless devices, such as tablets
  • Use your cell phone only where reception is good
  • Avoid carrying your phone on your body
  • Don’t assume one cell phone is safer than another
  • Use safe headset technology

TAKE HOME MESSAGE: Reduce your wireless and electronic usage.  You may like to invest in a Himalayan Salt Crystal USB Lamp for your computer. The lamp may help reduce toxins. You may also like to try a MAS Mat treatment to counter balance your exposure at Ontario’s very own Grail Springs Spa located in Bancroft.

7. Compassion for not only others but for oneself. The origination of the term compassion is of Latin decent, and translates to co-suffering. More involved than simple empathy, compassion commonly activates one’s will to alleviate another’s suffering.  However, in eastern culture and Buddhism, compassion is taught specifically as co-suffering with one’s own self as well as with others.

In North American culture, we often don’t give our own selves a fighting chance. Over-working and depriving ourselves of sleep and noticing the negative consequences is all too common, e.g. weight gain and moodiness is one example.  Not feeding ourselves well enough with nourishing healthy food and experiencing ill health and a weakened immune systems is another common failing.  Not exercising our bodies regularly and ending up with debilitating joint problems and other chronic disabilities is yet another.  Overindulging in gossip, negative self-talk, alcohol and stimulants such as coffee and energy drinks are in this category as well. Adjust your ability to know why you need to indulge and ask yourself what it needs to heal.

TAKE HOME MESSAGE: Starting now, please begin to pay attention to how compassionate you are toward your own self. You will reap the rewards and — others will too, as it is also well known in Buddhist culture that the one who’s heart centre whom is not nurtured is not ready to take care of another’s. Once you have nurtured your own self, you are ready to take on the world!

6. Cold Showers. Hydrotherapy (water therapy) has a scientific evidence-based effect on various systems of the body. [National Institute of Health, 2014] Hydrotherapy is the most basic method of treatment used in the system of natural medicine, which includes water therapy, aquatic therapy, pool therapy, and balneotherapy (therapeutic bathing in mineral water). Bathing in water in various forms and temperatures can produce different effects on different system of the body.

One study showed that “regular winter swimming significantly decreased tension, fatigue, memory, and mood negative state points with the duration of swimming period; significantly increased vigor-activity scores; relieved pain who suffered from rheumatism, fibromyalgia, or asthma; and improved general well-being in swimmers” [International Journal of Circumpolar Health, 2004..

TAKE HOME MESSAGE: New Year’s Day Polar Dips are not only fabulous fundraisers, they are good for you! There are several Polar Dips in the Greater Toronto Area. Mark yours on the calendar now.

5. Find your Dr. Quiet. “The best doctors are Dr. Quiet, Dr. Diet and Dr. Merry”, Chinese Proverb. 

Dr. Quiet is simple quiet time. Yes, there is meditation, but for now let’s just focus on quiet time. Turn off the tv, the phone and the lights. Enjoy the sights, sounds and smells around you — whatever they may be. Of course, all of these may be more fruitful if you are on a mountain ridge out in nature, but you can make the most of your own dwelling.  Aromatherapy and visualization may be helpful. Investigate which scent(s) pique your fancy at stores like Sage Natural Wellness.

Find an image of a beautiful place you have been or wish to go. Keep both with you and when you need a break — a visit with Dr. Quiet, find a suitable place to settle for a few moments. Pull out the photo and the scent and away you go. Dr. Quiet may make you smarter. “Not only can meditation prevent brain cells from dying, which typically happens as we age, it can boost a person’s brain size in several crucial regions. Furthermore, researchers have concluded that meditation can actually make a person more intelligent.” [Psychology Today , 2013]

TAKE HOME MESSAGE: Finding your Dr. Quiet may make you smarter!

5. Don’t diet. I mean it.  Dr. Diet doesn’t want you to starve yourself or avoid whole food groups. Dr. Diet wants you to take care of what your put in your body. Learn to nourish yourself to bring your body back into balance, naturally.

Once your body has everything it needs, the cravings will cease and your weight will stabilize. I highly recommend working with both a Naturopathic Doctor and Nutritionist with regard to Dr. Diet.

A Naturopathic Doctor can help to identify specific food allergies and/or sensitivities. He/she can also specifically address nutrition as it relates to your current medical condition(s) and prescribed medication(s).

A Nutritionist can more precisely put together both a mirco and macro eating plan for you to follow on a day-to-day, month-to-month basis with individual progressions or regressions depending on your goals and condition(s).

TAKE HOME MESSAGE: “Everything in moderation” is not cliche. Diets create imbalances.  Yo-yo dieting slows your metabolism.  Learn how to bring your body into balance naturally. Start by moderating just one indulgence today. Re-evaluate in 28 days and if you were successful, add another. If not, it is time to consider booking an appointment with your local Naturopathic Doctor or Certified Holistic Nutritionist.

4. If it hurts, move it! Of course, this is to your primary physician’s discretion. But the current trend in research is to keep moving.  Sometimes this means to move through some pain. Here is a great online resource, “10 Exercises for People in Pain”.

A review of literature regarding chronic pain found that “patients who believe they can control their pain, who avoid catastrophizing about their condition, and who believe they are not severely disabled appear to function better than those who do not”. [Pain, 1991]

Another later study on chronic low back pain noted “exercise therapy that consists of individually designed programs, including stretching or strengthening, and that is delivered with supervision may improve pain and function in chronic nonspecific low back pain” [Annals of Internal Medicine, 2005].

TAKE HOME MESSAGE: Keep moving! Find a registered professional  like me, who can help you understand your condition better to ensure proper technique/recovery.

3. Reduce or avoid alcohol. You are best to consider reducing or avoiding alcohol especially if heart disease or osteoporosis runs in your family.

Significant magnesium deficiency occurs with chronic alcoholism [Alcoholism, Clinical and Experimental Research, 1986.] This significant magnesium deficiency may contribute to the increased incidence of osteoporosis and cardiovascular disease seen in this population [Alcoholism, Clinical and Experimental Research, 1994].

With concern to chronic pain and magnesium research, should you suffer from chronic pain, it is worthy to consider reducing or avoiding alcohol altogether as well. Magnesium blocks your brain’s receptors of glutamate, a neurotransmitter that can cause neurons to be hypersensitive to pain. Therefore, if you are lower in magnesium, this may be why you are experiencing more pain.[Kaplan, DO., Dr. Gary. Total Recovery. A Revolutionary Approach to Breaking the Cycle of Pain and Depression]

From a purely preventative point of view, I recommend moderation. Never drink alone. Try to keep your alcohol consumption to at least 3 alcohol free days per week. Mark your consumption on a calendar to see your progress.

TAKE HOME MESSAGE: The human body understands alcohol as poison. You are best to moderate your intake. Learn more about healthy limits.

2. Practice mindfulness.  So I spoke of Dr. Quiet.  And yes, he and mindfulness are distant cousins of sorts.  Compassion and mindfulness also compliment each other very well. So what exactly is mindfulness, and how does one practice it?

By definition, mindfulness is described as “a mental state achieved by focusing one’s awareness on the present moment, while calmly acknowledging and accepting one’s feelings, thoughts, and bodily sensations, used as a therapeutic technique.” [Google Definition, 2015]

How do we practice mindfulness?

  • Breathe and smile. Relax. Take a moment to let go and just be. Enjoy it.
  • Do standing meditation, while waiting in line for a movie, bus or train. Just stand there, breathe, and awaken.
  • Whenever you sit down or stand up, stop and appreciate a moment of change, of freedom.
  • Whenever you cross a threshold, go through a doorway, or enter a room, see it as entering a temple and do so with empathy.
  • Walk barefoot in the grass or thick carpet and feel fully each sensation with your toes and soles.

*The above excerpts are copied herein directly as they read in Lama Surya Das’ book Awakening the Buddha Within: Eight Steps to Enlightenment”. I highly recommend this book.

TAKE HOME MESSAGE: Try just one of the above mindfullness exercises and see what happens.  The here and now is a beautiful place.

1. Dr. Happy. Exercise your belly without doing crunches. 

Laugh! Smile! Fake feeling good for no reason at all! Revisit watching those old favourite comedies from years gone by. Browse through your local bookstore, library or your very convenient online book retailer’s selection of joke books.  Find a few simple items, such as photos or comic strips that make you chuckle. Then copy them and keep them with you or hang them up at home or in your office.

According to the Mayo Clinic:

  • Laughter enhances your intake of oxygen-rich air and stimulate many organs such as your heart, lungs and muscles, and it increases the feel-good chemical endorphins that are released by your brain.
  • Laughter activates and relieves negative responses to stress.
  • Laughter soothes tension.
  • Laughter can also stimulate circulation and aid muscle relaxation, both of which help reduce some of the physical symptoms of stress.
  • Laughter can improve your immune system by boosting positive thoughts that actually release neuropeptides that help fight stress and potentially more-serious illnesses.
  • Laughter can relieve pain by causing the body to produce its own natural painkillers. Laughter may also break the pain-spasm cycle common to some muscle disorders.
  • Laughter can make it easier to cope with difficult situations. It also helps you connect with other people.
  • Laughter improves your mood and can help lessen your depression and anxiety and make you feel happier.

TAKE HOME MESSAGE: (Please see cartoon below.)

one-last-treatment tickle

Happy New Year everybody!  All the best for a most healthy, happy and prosperous 2016!

Always check with your doctor first before taking any new medication, reducing or going off any medication, embarking on new fitness program, or when adding or changing the does of any natural supplements in your health plan.


All material on this website are provided for your information only and may not be construed as medical advice or instruction. No action or inaction should be taken based solely on the contents of this information; instead, readers should consult appropriate health professionals on any matter relating to their health and well-being.

The information and opinions expressed here are believed to be accurate, based on the best judgement available to the author, and readers who fail to consult with appropriate health authorities assume the risk of any injuries.

What I learned at SWIS 2015

swis weightI was honoured to attend the Society of Weight Training Injury Specialists Symposium here in Toronto, November 13-14. With over 40 sessions scheduled over the weekend in the four categories of training, treatment, rehab and nutrition, there was plenty to learn. I am very thankful for my team at Totum Life Science for inviting me to this event.

I started my Friday in the Treatment stream in a course on “Neurostim”.  This course highlighted the use of light therapy to treat scars that have been turning off muscles since the initial injury, causing dysfunction and often pain. Following this I went on over to the Training stream and settled in to learn about “Strength Correctives, Building Armour for Your Athletes”. This interesting course went over a selection of specific correctives for basic exercises like the squat. Whereas an athlete may not be able to squat right now with full range of motion, there are many ways to get him/her there eventually.

Following an afternoon break, I made my way over to the Rehab stream where SWIS rehab presenter delegates were having an open panel discussion demonstrating their favourite rehab techniques for specific weight training injuries. Not only is a panel discussion like this great for weight training injuries, many of the injuries discussed can be sustained during sport or any other activity like triathlon training. On the panel were Dr. Dale Buchberger, Dr. Rob Rakowski, Dr. David Leaf, and Dr. Jerome Rerucha.

In the late afternoon, Paul Check, a holistic practitioner from California presented on “Athlete Management – The Four Doctors”.  This course was also under the Rehab stream.  The four doctors are “Dr. Happy, Dr. Quiet, Dr. Movement and Dr. Diet”.  According to Paul Chek, these are the last four doctors you’ll ever need.

This course was a great review on the fine art of creating a balanced training schedule for your athlete that addresses items not normally considered but highly important, like sleep, stress and meditation. Interestingly enough, three of the four doctors are in this Chinese Proverb,

“The best doctors are Dr. Diet, Dr. Quiet and Dr. Merryman.”

Just before the first day of SWIS 2015 ended, one of my favourite nutrition experts, Dr. John Berardi spoke about “Nutrition for Injury Recovery”. I have shared this talk before in previous posts and will share it again here . For example, did you know that you should be eating more calories while recovering from an injury?

Saturday, was another fabulous day of learning. I fit in an early morning weight training session before the day began with my super-duper awesome client “J”, who has come along way with her weight training. “J” is a mother of two, age 48 who has chisled here figure down substantially while working with me over the past year. “J” has lost over 3% body fat with heavy weight lifting and proper nutrition. “J”s program includes a quite a reduction in her overall weekly alcohol consumption. If you were able to read “My Top 10 for 2015” article, reducing your overall alcohol intake is number 10 and by reducing your overall alcohol intake, you can significantly improve 1 through 9.

At 7 am on Saturday morning, “J” and I completed a 3-set full body continuous 12 rep circuit that included squats, push ups, stability ball core work, horizontal pull ups, followed by prone posterior chain and related mat-based core work.

Following my morning weight training session with “J”, I started the SWIS sessions in the Treatment stream with Dr. Jerome Rerucha who discussed “Treatment Modalities – Laser Percussor/Adjustor for Weight Training Injuries”. Being trained in Cold Laser Therapy myself, I found this course useful. Treating the main pain centre may not always be best route was the premise here, as treating the area causing the dysfunction may be better a better place to start.

Following Dr. Rerucha, I fit in a lunch session of cycling intervals for 40 minutes followed by the SWIS buffet of chicken breast, veggies and sweet potatoes.

After lunch, Paul Check completed his “Four Doctors Approach” in the Rehab stream, and following this I popped into learn about “Advanced Nutritional and Biochemical Applications for Muscle Hypertrophy and Fat Loss” with Dr. Daryn Willoughby in the nutrition stream.

Did you know that if working out a night puts you to sleep then you most certainly have adrenal fatigue issues and/or high cortisol and should not be working out at this late hour? 

Dr. Daryn highlighted the many mistakes we make when trying to gain muscle and lose fat, when really it can be quite simple.

The last presentation I attended at SWIS 2015 was Charles Poloquin’s “Individualization of Strength Training through Neurotransmitter Dominance Profile”. This was also in the Nutrition stream. Poloquin is most widely known for his BioSignature Modulation. He has now gone on to develop training methods that correspond best with our individual neurotransmitter prototypes. Poloquin believes “the greatest determining factor of an athlete’s physiology is their Neurotransmitter Profile”

This was particularly convincing to me when Poloquin touched upon the fine balance of the Acetyl-Choline athlete, which I  most closely resemble. As an Acetyl-Choline athlete I am witty, highly creative and quick thinking. I respond best to a variety of training intensity and volume and have a tendency to over train very easily if volume is excessive.  I feel there is some sense here, so I’m going to look into these neurotransmitter training methods into further detail.

It’s a wrap. Once again, thank you to my team at Totum Life Science, without whom I would not have been introduced to the SWIS 2015. And of course a huge thank you to Dr. Kinakin for bringing all of the experts together under one roof and putting on such a great event.

Please feel free to contact me regarding any of the new learning I have discussed above.  I am always happy to share!



Race Reports: Gravenhurst Olympic, Dublin Ironman 70.3

arrrr braveheart
arrrr Braveheart!

With my new coach  Lesley Paterson and her racing team Braveheart, I continue to reach new limits in my triathlon adventures.

That’s me second from the left. Third place finish – Gravenhurst Olympic.

At the Gravenhurst Olympic Triathlon, I had another super smooth swim leg, followed by a speedy bike leg and a hang tough run, altogether placing me third out of twenty-seven in my age category and sixth place overall out of 118 women.

Swim ready
Ready to be dropped off the Muskoka Segwun into Big Lake M!

It was a hot and humid day that reached 29 degrees Celsius which certainly affected my asthma on the run.  But the humidity wasn’t the only thing that affected my breathing and my slower than expected run for the 10k hilly distance.

I had had my iron levels checked on July 2, two weeks before the race, as my asthma had begun to worsen. My gut instinct was that my ongoing struggle with breathlessness is not 100% asthma related and that in large part it is being caused by low iron stores. My gut proved me right.

When I received the results of my blood tests from July 2, my iron levels had dropped quite far from the baseline results I had from October the year previous.

Here is the breakdown:

Hemoglobin 134 down to 128

Ferritin 51 down to 19

Iron 23 down to 17

Iron Saturation .44 down to .31

I received the results July 9th and on Friday, July 10th my “Project Iron” was instated.  I put myself on a daily diet of red meat once a day, everyday and, I doubled up the iron supplement I was already taking once daily – Platinum Naturals Easy Iron Soft Gels. All of this in preparation for the season’s biggest event, the one I have put all of my strength and energy into, the Dublin Ironman 70.3.

With only thirty days until race day, most research would see it as impossible to make any great changes to one’s iron status in such little time. Although, there were a few hopeful articles mixed in that stated one could bring the levels up to a considerate level within two to three weeks time.  With my aggressive “Project Iron” approach of eating red meat daily along with doubling up my supplement, I felt I could make some headway.

I was retested on July 24.

Here are the results:

Hemoglobin 129 up from 128 (Baseline 134)

Ferritin 27 up from 19 (Baseline 51)

Iron 23 up from 17 (Baseline 23)

Iron Saturation .43 up from .41 (Baseline .44)

I made some great gains bringing both my iron and iron saturation back up to baselines or near baselines.  With my training at close to 20 hours per week, I did not expect to make any gains on my hemoglobin, and am happy to have made any gains at all with my ferritin. All said and done, let’s move on to my race report for the Dublin Ironman 70.3.  This is where we see the boost in iron levels shine their light!

My goal for the Dublin Ironman 70.3 was to complete the race in 5 hours and 15 minutes for a tribute to one of my favourite bands, The Who and their song 5:15. However, as the spectators roared at me whilst coming up the final steep hill of the 90 km bike leg into Phoenix Park, “first female, first female, you’re one of the first females”, I looked down at my timer and quickly put two and two together that even if I walked the 21 km half marathon off the bike leg, I would still have plenty of time to reach my goal of 5:15! Hello, iron stores!

I would finish the inaugural  Dublin Ironman 70.3 event 3 minutes and 50 seconds ahead of schedule for a final time of 5:11:10. This time would place me 5th in my extremely competitive age category out of 87 others, 21st overall female of the day out of 435, and 312th overall out of 2480 male and female competitors altogether.

ironman dublin finish
Running down the red carpet to my faster than plan 5:11:10 finish.

Whereas two out of the top five in my 40-44 age category placed within the mostly pro ranked top 10 overall group of females, I am very impressed with my official finish time and 21st overall placement. Onward and upward to continuing to work on the swim and run!

As for my overall Dublin triathlon racing experience? I enjoyed it very much! In particular, I found swimming in the Irish Sea a brilliant experience, especially the wavy part where I felt like we were all in a big washing machine. All I could think about during the swim was fish and chips, mostly because every now and again I would take a breath and swallow a bit of salty water. The bike went very well.  I did feel it was a bit technical with lots of tight turns and a few speedy downhills, but nothing my skill level couldn’t handle. Lastly, the run was a three lap course within Phoenix Park and I did find the second lap a bit of a downer as I wished we were out in the city with some varying scenery to pass the time. The finish was indeed “grand” as they say all over Ireland though!  I just wish I could have found my relatives at the finish line as I was in need of a big hug! Nonetheless, we met up later on for a little celebratory dinner!

My trip to Dublin and the race was a direct tribute to my deceased brother Terrance (Terence) MacCarthy, who would have turned 44 on race day, August 9, 2015 should a dark turn with drug and alcohol addiction not have taken his life.

A big thank goes out to all of you who supported my tribute and the start of my new sport therapy company in Terrance’s memory.

With your help I was able to raise $3,336 toward the race event that started it all and the company’s trademark and website. I will continue to fundraise through various local events leading up to the official start of the company, whereas the goal is to take a select team of very special people struggling with drug and alcohol addiction to Ireland every year for the Ironman event, in addition to many other exciting public speaking and sporting events across the globe in the years to come.

Click here to learn more about Tri for Terrance.

#triathlon #ironman #imdublin703 #iron #athlete #swim #bike #run #triforterrance #addiction #mentalhealth #sportsaveslives #kinesiology

Race Reports and other Tidbits – Milton Sprint, Toronto Triathlon Festival, Bike Fit, Drills and more…

With all of my training for the Dublin 70.3 Ironman event in August, I have had very little time to settle down and write.  My apologies.

third place milton
Third Place – Milton Sprint

On June 7, I completed my first triathlon of the season, the Milton Sprint. This event is sprint triathlon featuring a 750 metre swim, 30 km bike, followed by a 7 km run. The bike boasts an approximate 1 km 9% incline hill on the bike and quite a hilly run that includes a few hills.

I had set a pre-race goal of around 1 hours and 41 minutes, hoping for a 1:56 per  hundred metre swim and a 4:46 or so minute per kilometre run.  I ended up finishing in my goal time, but did this with a faster swim than planned, lucky for me as I suffered a little bit on the hilly run.  My finish landed me third place in my age category, 8th female overall for the event and my 36 km average bike split was the fastest women’s split of the day.

On June 21, I completed the Olympic Toronto Triathlon Festival event in a time of 2:28:02, achieving my pre race goal on the nose. Again, I had expected a better run, but this time ended up with both a faster swim and bike than last year.  The swim improvement was a no brainer as last year my goggles were knocked off by another competitor in the first 200 metres of so causing me to miss the draft and swim the whole course alone in the waves! I did not expect such an improvement on my bike split, but I will take it as my run did not improve at all, in fact I lost about 30 seconds. Funny thing is, I felt like I was going faster than I was but my Garmin told me the sad reality – I needed to push on the gas a little!

ttf 2015
Slicing four minutes of my last year’s TTF Olympic time deserves a candid photo.

With the idling cars on the Lakeshore and fairly humid conditions, my asthma got the best of me and I resorted to stopping a most water stations to get my will back enough to finish strong.  My efforts placed me second female on the bike overall, fourth in my age category for this event and 16th overall female, all considering elite age group athlete and several time both junior and adult world champion Kristie Kniaziew not only cleaned up in our age category, she won the whole TTF Olympic event in a world-class time of 2:07:23. Keeping this in mind, I can’t complain as I made a four-minute gain on my last year’s time which was already an Olympic distance personal best for me.

My next event is the Gravenhurst Olympic on July 18.  I am once again hopeful for further improvements on my overall Olympic race time and am considering a goal of 2:26 for this event.

Now on to some other tidbits which I mentioned I would be discussing throughout this season as a reflection on my last year’s performances, including my sub-optimal performance at the 70.3 World Championships. One was bike fit.

I had made two changes to my bike fit at one time in and around May of 2014 in hopes of becoming more “aero”. I did consult with my trustworthy bike fit professional Heath Cockburn of The Eleven Bike Shop, and he was a bit skeptical of the changes, nonetheless we went ahead with things. The two changes were to lower my handle bars approximately two inches, and to switch from my Specialized Oura saddle to the Adamo Attack.

After the two fit changes above, including another new addition of my Giro Selector helmet, I posted a 2 min improvement over my previous year’s time at the Toronto Triathlon Festival Olympic event.  Considering this, I felt the changes we had made to the bike fit were ideal. However, my glutes became more inhibited as the season wore on as did the overall appearance of my hips.  My hip flexors had become so shortened! I had speculated that the Attack seat would be too narrow for me and my back-in-the-saddle road cycling style. I had also tried my handle bars lower in the past and this did not fair well for my spine health.

All of this is obviously looking back in hindsight. I was only slightly aware of these issues as they began to unfold. My training was also different than it had been in the past to add a third variable, with the addition of my new coach Erik Seedhouse of Triathlon Pro Racing Team.

I had used Erik for one month in 2013 leading up to my all time best 70.3 finish at the Muskoka event which qualified me for the 2014 World Championships. Based on these fabulous results, I continued to use Erik’s assistance for the 2014 season leading up to the World’s in September 2014.  However, Erik’s approach contained too many non-specific miles. By non-specific, I mean drills were pretty much absent, even in the swims whereas many of the workouts were as simple 2 x 1500 metres. My body became lazy and bored and had completely forgotten good form in all of the three disciplines.

When my hips began to give me more trouble leading up to the World’s, I tried everything I could but came up short in the end and can only look back now and reflect on things.

Since the World’s, Heath and I changed my bike seat back to the Specialized Oura and we also raised my handlebars back to the higher position. After having made these changes, I posted the top female bike time at the Milton Sprint and the second female bike time overall at the Toronto Triathlon Festival, bettering my last year’s time once again by another 2 minutes. Definitely feeling at home on the bike this season!

I have since dropped Erik Seedhouse and Triathlon Pro Coaching in favour of my new female coach X-Terra Triathlon Pro World Champion and Pro 70.3 distance triathlon several time top five finisher Lesley Patterson and her team Braveheart. Lesley’s workouts include such an abundance of drills and a great varietal overall.  My body is very pleased and I am already seeing the results.

I am stoked for my upcoming race at Gravenhurst on the 18th of July and can’t wait to see what all my hard work brings me in Dublin.

To find out more about why I have chosen the Dublin 70.3 as my “big race” this season, please visit: 


My Top 10 for 2015

P1070556As a Registered Kinesiologist, I am classified as a Regulated Health Professional in the Province of Ontario, Canada.

The scope of practice of kinesiology, as defined by the Kinesiology Act, 2007, is as follows:

“The assessment of human movement and performance and its rehabilitation and management to maintain, rehabilitate or enhance movement and performance.”

This definition reflects the idea of kinesiology not just as rehabilitative, but preventative and promoting general wellness. Kinesiology places a strong emphasis on prevention and enhancement, and utilizes exercise and improved movement to achieve a better quality of life for individuals. Proper diet and exercise not only help in recovering from illness or injury, but can also help prevent heart disease, hypertension, diabetes and many other common conditions.

I care deeply about health. Enjoy my top 10 list for 2015 and enjoy a healthier 2015 as a result. For more information on the practice of kinesiology in Ontario, please visit The College of Kinesiologists of Ontario and/or The Ontario Kinesiology Association

1. Get hydrated. Give up pointless other beverages for plain old water.  It does the body good and it is FREE.  Water

  • Keeps your temperature normal. So, if your metabolism is slow, you may just need more water.
  • Lubricates and cushions joints, and as such plain old water may be helpful to those with arthritis.
  • Protects your spinal cord and other sensitive tissues. If you suffer from back pain, good old water may be just what you need.
  • Gets rid of wastes through urination, perspiration, and bowel movements. If you are regularly constipated you may just be dehydrated.

Shoot for at least 2 litres per day. Especially if you are active.  Aim for closer to 3 litres if you are a bigger person or a very active person, closer to 2 litres will do if you are smaller and less active. Aim  for more if you drink a lot of coffee or tea (including Green Tea). If you are not near drinking 1 litre of water daily now, progress slowly by increasing one more 250 ml glass of water into your present regime every few days until you reach your desires amount.

2. Get more sleep. And if it is regular sleep (going to bed at relatively the same time every night) – all the better. You’ll be more alert and therefore more effectively productive.  You will also get all of the human growth hormone output your body needs to be the optimally best you. On the contrary, depriving yourself of adequate sleep wreaks havoc on your hormonal system and stress levels and as a result directly causes weight gain, mood swings and unnecessary food cravings for sugar and fat to say the least.

3. Get more fibre.  Time and time again I hear folks wanting to shed pounds, get healthier and get fitter.  But instead of seeking more fibre they want to drop carbs, perhaps depriving themselves of vital nutrients their bodies need – or they seek to add more protein – often the animal kind which causes the body to become more acidic.  Take the easy route to a slimmer, fitter and healthier you and start adding chia to your morning cereal, smoothies, lunchtime salads and soups. In “Fat Flush for Life,” certified holistic nutritionist Ann Louis Gittleman, Ph.D., names chia seeds as one of the world’s most fiber-rich foods. Unlike dietary fiber from cereal grains, the soluble fiber content of chia seeds takes more time to travel through the intestinal tract, which helps add bulk to the stool and provides a slower rate of glucose absorption making it great for diabetics. Soluble fiber can also reduce the absorption of cholesterol into your bloodstream

4. Spice it up. Move over salt and pepper. ** Spices like turmeric, ginger and cayenne have a lot to offer and are easy enough to add to soups, stews, salads and smoothies – adding flavour without the drawbacks of adding too much sodium.  Turmeric has been researched as having powerful anti-inflammatory effects and is a very strong antioxidant. Current research on ginger possesses numerous therapeutic properties including antioxidant effects, an ability to inhibit the formation of inflammatory compounds, and direct anti-inflammatory effects – including alleviation of gastrointestinal distress like gas and bloating. Cayenne, is a powerful compound with many uses in alternative health practice, that may include: boosting metabolism, neutralizing acidity, reducing inflammation, aiding digestion, and migraine headache relief to name a few.

5. Lift heavy.   At some point in your 30s, you begin to lose muscle mass and function, a condition known as age-related sarcopenia or sarcopenia with aging. People who are physically inactive can lose as much as 3% to 5% of their muscle mass per decade after age 30. Even if you are active, you will still experience some muscle loss. Adding more weight to your lifts can also help you remove more fat from your body.

6. Get outside. Exposure to green space improves well-being both immediately and over time. In other words, don’t eat lunch at your desk every day. You could also decorate your office with plants which has been studied as having similar effects as getting outside on improving overall well-being of office workers.

7. Meditate. When we think of meditation, we think of relaxation and de-stressing.  However, one study has gone further into unfolding the many benefits of meditation.  A range of disease-fighting genes were active in relaxation practitioners that were not active in the control group in a study by Dr Herbert Benson, associate professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School. After two months, the meditator’s bodies began to change: the genes that help fight inflammation, kill diseased cells and protect the body from cancer all began to switch on. More encouraging still, the benefits of the relaxation effect were found to increase with regular practice: the more people practised relaxation methods such as meditation or deep breathing, the greater their chances of remaining free of arthritis and joint pain with stronger immunity, healthier hormone levels and lower blood pressure.

8. Exercise every day.  I mean it.  Every day. I once had a client argue with me that this could not possibly be safe.  Our bodies are built to move.  I am not asking you to play vigorous tennis or football daily, but to get moving enough to break a slight sweat every day has many benefits from boosting your mood, stabilizing your blood sugar, protecting you from disease, to improving your sex life. Do some dips during commercials today and some push ups before heading out the door tomorrow.  Ab work is great before bed.  Prop your feet up and crunch away! Park your car far and take the stairs instead of elevators and escalators.  Give up online shopping for a mall walk.

9. Detox. Not just with juices, fasting and sweating – although these may be great on their own, but be sure to include along with your physical detox a detox of your mind, negative thinking, redundant habits, clutter and excessive chatter. I recommend keeping a daily “Gratitude Journal”, which is best done first thing in the morning.  Simply open up a page in a notebook and start a sentence with “I am grateful for” and let the rest flow.  Some days you might just be grateful that you got out of bed without pressing the snooze, other days you might find more to be grateful for. What the “Gratitude Journal” does is it sets the tone for positive thinking throughout your day, which many studies have shown to be beneficial for overall health and wellness.

10. Well they say if you want to get your point across,
keep it simple, emotional, truthful, real and valid. To say it, say it again and then repeat it at the close. So hear I go, with my most simple, emotional, truthful, real and valid of my list. Drop the booze.  This will ensure you get through 1-9 with sheer ease. Dropping the booze or in the least reducing your intake to at least 3 alcohol free days per week will insist you be more hydrated as alcohol is a diuretic. Alcohol is known to disrupt sleep. Alcohol has no essential nutrient content whatsoever and it is only a sad cousin to the well known evil “sugar”. Alcohol may be spicy at times, but on the contrary to ginger, turmeric and cayenne it causes cancer, increases inflammation and causes the body to be overly acidic – making it easier for you to get a host of diseases. Alcohol is empty calories and as such causes unnecessary weight gain. Alcohol is a depressant and may make you housebound and unmotivated to get outside and move your body in a healthful way. Lastly, your body sees alcohol as a poison, or at least as something it doesn’t actually want inside it. Limit your intake and like I said, 1-9 will be as easy as 1-2-3.

Happy New Year everybody!  All the best for a most healthy, happy and prosperous 2015!

*Always check with your doctor first before taking any new medication, reducing or going off any medication, or when adding any natural supplements to your health plan.

**This is not a reference to mega dosing with spices and is only suggesting to a sprinkling an appropriate amount of spices on your food throughout the day. If in doubt of allergy or food-medication interaction or contraindication to any of the spices I mention herein this article, please check with your doctor.


All material on this website are provided for your information only and may not be construed as medical advice or instruction. No action or inaction should be taken based solely on the contents of this information; instead, readers should consult appropriate health professionals on any matter relating to their health and well-being.

The information and opinions expressed here are believed to be accurate, based on the best judgement available to the author, and readers who fail to consult with appropriate health authorities assume the risk of any injuries.my logo smaller

Race Report – Ironman 70.3 World Championships 2014

The Subaru Ironman 70.3 World Championships 2014. Up the last hill toward the finish line. No wonder I am smiling!

Well, there has been a delay in my writing this report – mainly because the Ironman 70.3 World Championships 2014 was not my best performance. I must however, keep things in perspective. It was only two seasons ago that I got back into the sport of triathlon after taking quite a bit of time off.  After only ever competing one Half Ironman 70.3 distance race back in 2000, qualifying for the World Championships in this long distance endurance event on only my third try at the distance since getting back into the sport, is a great feat all on its own.

Finishing at the top of the last quarter of my category at 88/115 was not what I was shooting for at the 70.3 Half Ironman World Championships. My planned time, which I  felt ready ready for, should have placed me somewhere around the 50th percentile. The competition was steep, but I don’t believe this was the root cause of my not so stellar race.

As with anything that does not go as one had planned, there is an immediate feeling of defeat followed by an emotional roller coaster of resentment, anger, sadness, depression, etc.  I know one thing for sure as I reflect on my “big day”, I had put too much pressure on myself to accomplish my goal at the World Championships and as such I lost grasp and focus of the big picture.  Essentially, I simply tried too hard!

Anyway, in short the swim is the first leg of any triathlon. At this event, the swim wave start times were in my opinion set up too close together. My wave (Women 40-44) was fourth, which was a bit of  a problem considering only three minutes behind us were Men 35-59,  followed by Men 19-24 another three minutes behind this group – leaving only six minutes between all 500 swimmers which evidently ending up colliding and literally swimming over top of one another in order to get form point  A to point B.

Not a happy camper right now! GET ME TO MY BIKE!
Not a happy camper right now! GET ME TO MY BIKE!

Needless to say, I had a hard time during the first part of my race getting swum over and swatted by just my own group of 115 swimmers not to mention by the two groups of men each that followed my group. My goggles got knocked off in the first 100 metres. Panicking when the men came upon me, I spent a short time hanging on to a designated kayaker. It was crazy out there and I was only about 600 metres out.

Following the lead of a lone swimmer from my group, I swam off course on the inside of the markers only going around to two red markers in order to safely complete my swim.  I am not the fastest swimmer, but I am not the slowest either. When I raced this exact swim course in mid-June, I had no problems and held strong with the middle pack of swimmers. This time around, I was most definitely at the tail end of my group.

I later learned we were allowed to swim inside of the yellow buoys making sure to go around the red markers at the far end in the case of a safety issue which I certainly had. This was not clear to me before the race even though I did bring the wave order issue up to the race director by email two weeks beforehand.

All said and done, I ended up swimming an extra 160 metres, according to my Garmin GPS device. I did not know this as I had the device set to show time only on the swim screen, so when I exited the water not only did I physically feel defeated – when I looked down at my watch I lost my mental focus immediately. If I hadn’t have worn my Garmin at all, I would known where I stood.

Because of the swim panic, my had begun to act up, so I used my Ventolin in the first transition (T1). This was my second dose of the day as I had taken a preventative dose pre-race. My asthma had begun to bother me earlier in the week when the sudden little late summer heat wave began about 6 days prior to the event, and it had gotten progressively worse upon my arrival at Mont Tremblant on the Thursday before the race.

Out on to the bike course, I started to feel myself again – as if I had a competitive chance to have a good race. Until the huge packs of men came charging along riding in full on peltons. Drafting and all – which is not permitted on the Ironman circuit!  It is dangerous due to our aerodynamic handle bars for the most part. In the Olympics, the triathletes ride very similar to bicycle racers in large groups, but if you take a look at their bikes, they do not have the long aerodynamic handle bars us long distance folks do on their bikes  – and for good reason. If there is a crash, the longer bars could really hurt someone.

Anyway, I got caught in one of these large groups and had to take it upon myself and my good biking skills to brake the group up. I was feeling very unsafe, especially when the only other girl caught in the group had tried to exit unsuccessfully. She veered out into an oncoming group and then subsequently veered back into our group.  When she did this, our group became unstable. We were travelling close to 45 km per hour at times. So, what I did was gear up and pull out at a safer time – getting out of the saddle as I charged to the front (and then some)  – “chicking” all of the many sorry men in the group. Well, let me tell you this group dispersed like a flock of birds at the sound of a hunter’s gun!

Bike warrior!
Bike warrior!

Onward and upward as they say. I was now in a safer and legal position on the bike, but I probably dusted my legs from having the best possible bike I could have by getting myself here.  I had to use my Ventolin again (for the third time) as we head back into the hills of Mont Tremblant during the last 15km of the bike leg, and again the feeling of mental defeat poured upon me.  I decided I’d go a little easier on these hills so as not to “ruin” my run.  Poor decision looking back in hindsight, more for mental reasons.  If I had of kept striving to do my best no matter what, I may have had a better ending to my race. Hindsight is 20/20, you know.

Heading out on to the run course, I felt alright the first little bit. I held back the first couple of kilometres, but the hills hit me anyway.  Basically about half a kilometre in, the climbing begins and does not end until you reach about 5 km.  Then you kind of come back down but then have to go up once again directly through the ski village on even even steeper terrain. Several many athletes threw up during this stretch of the race.  Normally, the 70.3 Mont Tremblant does not do two loops of this hilly mess, but for the World Championships, the decision was made to take out the “flat trail” at the back end and keep this world class event challenging and hilly. Yes. Challenging it was.

Let’s just say the first loop was a complete struggle. I did not want to use any more Ventolin. But, I resorted to using THREE more doses the second loop out of sheer desperation to just get her done! Either my asthma was genuinely put off with the warm front/seasonal allergies, or my rib cage was off put with my scoliosis OR my lower iron may have been causing the breathing issues.  Regardless of what made this such a trying day for me, making it to the finish line in one piece with my happy face on was by far one of the most challenging things I have done in a long time.

Not my best race. Period. But I am ready to learn from my mistakes and beat ‘er down next season!

Showing off those shiny whites!
Showing off those shiny whites!

Time for reflection.

Please stand by for my subsequent blogs where I will discuss:

  • the importance of  power and comfort vs aerodynamics
  • a few changes to my bike and bike fit that may have been counterproductive,
  • compression race gear or no compression race gear,
  • the uber importance of weight training – especially for someone not so biomechanically gifted,
  • shoes
  • over training/racing/race planning,
  • nutrition and supplementation – specifically iron and the female athlete,
  • meditation, yoga and relaxation.

I may have missed the boat on some of these this season.

Done and done and done! Thank you MasterCard, 2XU, La Bicicletta, Steve and his team at Du Tri and Run, Genuine Health, Eon D'Ornellas - who is always there at the most important races with last minute quick fixes, and all of my colleagues at Totum Life Science who helped me through a tough season.
Done and done and done! Thank you MasterCard, 2XU, Heath the 11th and La Bicicletta, Genuine Health, Steve and his team at Du Tri and Run, Eon D’Ornellas – who is always there at the most important races with superbulous last minute quick fixes, and all of my colleagues at Totum Life Science who helped me through a tough season.

Sharp: The “A” Race Taper

“The details can be extremely complex, but when it works you get into a wonderful state, one that can linger for a couple of weeks. You feel quick, alert, full of energy. You find yourself snapping awake and hitting the floor running, on a roll with regard to much more that just your sport. Sharp.” ~ John Jerome, The Elements of Effort: Reflections of the Art and Science of Running


I am now in the final week of my taper for the Ironman 70.3 World Championships.  The race is exactly seven days away. Not much can go wrong at this point. Keeping the body sharp, and in fact – enhancing the sharpness is key. My workout volume was at its highest the week before last at 14 hours.  It dropped to almost half that this past week. This final week I’ll be spending about 1/3 the time I usually do training.

I am feeling quite machine-like I have to admit. Sharp is a good way to describe how I feel. I hit the ground evenly on each foot.  I hit my pace on the bike without a problem.  I know how my pace both sounds and feels. 1-2-3-4, 1-2-3-4, 1-2-3-4.  It is sweet music to my ears.

Although, I am not the fastest swimmer – I am swimming very strong. 2 km is nothing. I am not fatigued as usual after my swims. This is a very good sign. To finish the 1.9 km swim as if it was nothing and prance to T1 ready to charge on the bike is worth a lot no matter if I lose 8-10 minutes over some of my faster competitors.

tempo 5s
Zoot Tempo 5.0 – by far my favourite longer distance race shoe

I’ve had many confident visualizations of hitting my pace on the bike and dancing up the final 15 km of rollers feeling light as a feather as if carried by my own personal magic carpet; feeling super light as I hop off the bike, into my Zoot Tempo 5s and onto the run course. I do feel like “home” in my good old Tempo 5s.

The run course has been changed from the original 70.3 Mont Tremblant route – out and back the rail trail, to a two loop route that turns around twice at the falls behind the old village Hotel Mont Tremblant – and we chute twice down the steep hill through the new village. This part I am a bit skeptical of as downhills don’t fair my old hip very well.  But, my feeling is that there will be enough pent up “A” race-day adrenalin floating around to flush out any immediate pain that will impede my ability during this race.

I actually like the fact that the rail trail has been omitted.  I found it quite lonely and complacent. I didn’t like the new asphalt. So, bye-bye rail trail and hello to my new motto “what ever goes up must come down”.  This is a mantra I have been re-assuring myself with while enduring some good rolling hill tempo runs the last couple of weeks. There is no need to charge the hill, because the net on the down will keep my race pace goal on par.

“The taper is an attempt to supersaturate the body with recovery.”  ~ John Jerome, The Elements of Effort: Reflections of the Art and Science of Running

Two time IM 70.3 female race winner for 2011 and 2013, Mellissa Hauschlidt has a lot to say about rest and recovery As quoted in the latest issue of Triathlon Magazine Canada, two times per week she gets in a Bikram Yoga session. “It’s a great sweat, simulates hot climate races and provides added flexibility for all three disciplines.” Mellissa goes on to give her best advice regarding injury prevention, and that is not to push through a “small niggle” as this can lead to a more serious injury.  Taking a day or two off won’t cause one to lose all of their fitness.

That said, I am down on my Bikram Hot Yoga sessions whenever I can fit them in and I have completed two sessions so far this taper, with one more to go tomorrow at Bikram Yoga Yonge.

toe stand
Toe Stand

I highly recommend yoga as a means of not just building upon your current flexibility but as a means to get to know your body and all of its little idiosyncrasies. For example, I was able to get into “toe stand” well on both sides this past Friday, as opposed to last Friday one side was noticeably harder to maneuver.

I am also down on rest. Today, I did not run due to poor air quality.  According to the Air Quality Index, yesterday’s air quality in downtown Toronto was moderately poor.  I am asthmatic and I felt this during my morning final brick (bike-to-run) session. I cut the session 10 km short and still faired okay, but probably did enough damage to make anything I tried to accomplish today not worthy of a decent confidence booster/race day bench mark at all.  Feeling this way upon waking, I decided I’d take my workout indoor and complete Thursday’s swim I had missed.  After coughing up several “hairballs” I had to alter this workout and made the decision not to complete today’s short tempo run.

When in doubt, rest is best. 

Alas, a bit on the “application of pain”. After all, this is what the taper is intended for. Limber the body up as best we can so as to be able to get out there and give it our best and then some.

“Once you know the pace for a given event, you just hit it and hold it — and then try to squeeze a bit more out of it.  The pain comes once — early — and, basically stays. You try to hold it steady.  You know that if it gets too bad you’ll tie up and be out of the race, and if it gets too easy, you’ll be left behind.” … “Some athletes deal with pain by considering that they’re applying it not to themselves but to their competitors.”

“Racing finally taught me that finding that cusp — the point where the pain is continuous but bearable, where it’s just short of stopping you — is the object of the game. But when I learned that also finding it and riding it — keeping the pressure on, discovering that you can not only continue but can squeeze it a little tighter — is the best thing that happens in competition. I don’t know about you, but I found that to be a bigger thrill than winning.” ~ John Jerome, The Elements of Effort: Reflections of the Art and Science of Running


The Elements of Effort: Reflections on the Art and Science of Running by John Jerome
The Elements of Effort: Reflections on the Art and Science of Running by John Jerome


Personal Photo Credits: Iden Ford Photography 2014