The truth behind the language used to sell health products


Companies in the fitness and nutrition industry are not always interested in your health, but instead, in relieving you of your hard-earned money.

Everyone wants to lose fat; get a six pack; have more energy; look younger, and live longer. The fitness and nutrition industries are keenly aware of this human angst, and so they advertise their products or services with words and phrases that get our attention. More often than not, these words or phrases do not mean anything; they are either hollow, or are irrelevant to the product being sold to us.

The top five most meaningless words and phrases which companies use to convince us to hand over our money:


    Everyone wants long, lean, and toned muscles. Few people want to be short and bulky. Companies that sell services in yoga, Pilates, or dance often dangle the promise of “long, lean, and toned muscles,” to convince people to spend money on their programs. People can definitely derive health benefits from any of these programs. However, the unfortunate reality is that if you have the genetics for short thick legs, there is nothing you can do to lengthen them.

    When such promises are made, the term “long” is often interpreted by the consumer to mean an actual lengthening of the extremity. Companies’ claims about these services actually mean that the flexibility or range of motion may increase around a particular joint. Muscle length will not change, but there may be change in the amount of joint movement. However, the message, “Come to our Pilates class and increase the range of motion in your hip flexors,” does not have quite the same ring, or selling attraction.

    The term “lean” refers to the amount of body fat. The most effective treatment for fat loss is to follow a nutritious diet, comprised mainly of plant-based sources, with the calories not exceeding the energy you expend daily. Exercise, though helpful, plays a small role in fat loss, as compared to diet. It takes five minutes to eat an 800 calorie piece of cheesecake, and up to two hours of intense exercise to burn it off.

    When people hear the term “toned,” they think “lean with muscle definition, but not bulk.” Tone simply describes the state of your muscles; specifically, the state of tension in the muscle. “Normal muscle tone” means that there is a right amount of tension in the muscle at rest, and that the muscle is inherently able to contract when commanded to do so. “High muscle tone” means the muscle is tense and tight, even though it is not doing anything. When high muscle tone is present, arms and legs become tightly contorted, as in the case of patients with cerebral palsy. “Low muscle tone,” on the other hand, means muscles at rest do not have enough tension, and consequently have a mushy, slightly sloppy feel to them.

    Thus, the tone of your muscles is involuntary, so you cannot change it by lifting weights. However, you can shed the layer of fat covering your muscles, and with strength training, give your body more definition, thereby achieving a “toned” look.


    Companies that sell vitamin-rich energy drinks and supplements often advertise their products by promising you will be less fatigued and more invigorated by the consumption of these drinks. In reality, vitamins do not give you energy, because they contain no calories. Energy drinks contain some calories in the form of sugar which are quickly absorbed and used up by the body. The stimulants in the drinks, such as caffeine, have more of an effect on your nervous system. After consuming one of these drinks, you may feel more alert temporarily, but this effect soon fades. Moreover, side effects, such as an increased heart rate, blood pressure, and adrenalin—attributable to the stimulants in these drinks—can have a long term negative impact on your body, if consumed in large quantities.

    Rather than relying on energy drinks, you can increase your energy in these three ways:

    Sleep eight hours plus, per night, to allow your body to recover and de-stress from daytime activity. Proper sleep allows you to recharge for the following day by balancing hormonal levels.

    Improve your cardio-fitness and muscular strength through exercise, so that regular every day activity and sport feels easier to perform.

    Eat a diet which contains healthy carbohydrates, so that you have the calories necessary to fuel long, hard, intense work.

    “Exercise, though helpful, plays a small role in fat loss, as compared to diet.”

    “Detoxify” and “cleanse” are probably the two most common words used today to sell you useless products. You can find books and goods selling month-long cleanses, 14-day detoxes, 7-day cleanses, and even one or two-day programs—if you are in a real hurry. Companies which sell detoxes and cleanses usually focus on juicing, fasting methods, and/or drinking concoctions such as distilled water with lemon juice and cayenne pepper. Supposedly, this will help clean out your organs. Currently, no research exists to support any program, drink, or fast that detoxifies or cleanses your body. Nor are experts able to identify any specific toxins that are removed through these cleanses. The human body has organs—mainly the liver, kidneys and intestines—that do the job for us. If you eat a mostly plant-based diet (75% of your entire food intake); drink water; sleep well, and go to the bathroom regularly, you are as clean and toxin-free as you can be.


    The word “vitality” is used to sell numerous products, mostly in the form of supplements. Products that claim they can help delay the aging process use this word. Many people have no idea what vitality means, but they want it anyway. It generally relates to having more strength, energy, a feeling of being healthy, and a zest for life. Hearing the word vitality in the context of supplements leads people to believe that these goods can replace healthful living. Hope in the possibility of a product which is a panacea consumes us all, and makes us gullible to the dubious claims of advertisers. Good genes; not smoking; sleeping well; regular exercise; eating a healthy diet, and being around people you love will give you all the vitality you need.


    Your “basal metabolic rate” refers to the calories you expend at rest. Many people, products, and even respected TV programs and hosts try to sell you the promise of leanness by boosting metabolism. Products such as green tea, spices, and coffee beans have all been touted to boost metabolism. At this time, other than products containing ephedrine and caffeine, there exists no research that reveals a direct correlation between a product and a significant boost in metabolism that would have a long term effect on fat loss. While pills containing ephedrine and caffeine do work, their use is accompanied by dangerous consequences, such as increased heart rate; increased blood pressure; irritability; anxiety; stress on adrenal glands; stroke, and possibly, death. And, once you stop taking these pills, your metabolism reverts back to your norm.

    Effective ways to increase your metabolic rate without exposing yourself to the risk of death are to:

    Add muscle through weight training— about 6-8 calories per day for every pound of lean tissue added. Results can be significant when 5-10 pounds of lean mass are added over time.

    Engage in high-intensity exercise. You get a temporary metabolic boost for 1-2 hours post-exercise, (not 36 hours, like some fitness scam-artists claim).

    Eat a bit more protein. You expend more energy digesting protein than by eating fats or carbohydrates.

    Most of us desire to lose weight, slow the aging process, increase energy, and acquire long-term health. We so want to believe that there is a special pill, workout program, or drink that will make this dream of a younger, slimmer, fitter body a reality for us, that North Americans will spend over 100 billion dollars this year trying to achieve these objectives. History tells us that, so far, pills and potions do not work. We are an increasingly overweight society depending on medicine to keep our sickly bodies alive. Instead of wasting money on the magic bean, spend your dollar wisely on healthy food you cook yourself, fitness and active vacations with your family, and do not feel bad about enjoying the occasional treat.

    “‘Detoxify’ and ‘cleanse’ are probably the two most common words used today to sell you useless products.”


You may think you are getting enough sleep, but are you?Office life

Are you getting enough sleep? Is your spouse getting enough sleep? Are your kids, your co-workers and your friends getting enough sleep? I only ask because it may be the most important question you can ask yourself.

You see, the amount sleep you are getting and quality of your sleep impacts every aspect of your life.

It’s estimated that 60 percent of Canadian adults are not getting enough sleep. We’re averaging 6.9 hours of sleep a night, which is well below the recommended eight hours. Research also indicates that 30 percent of adults are getting less than six hours of sleep a night and 40 percent of children are not getting enough sleep—impairing not only their growth and development, but also their ability to learn.

In the health and performance world, there are strong links between sleep and brain function, as well as mental health and obesity. Sleep has strong links to colds and flu, heart disease, performance at work, sport performance and injury rates.

To give you an idea of how missing sleep might impact you and those around you, here is some compelling sleep data:

  • After a night without sleep, our ability to memorize word lists drops 40 percent.
  • After a night of quality sleep, memory improves 20 to 30 percent
  • Virginia Tech researchers did a study on what causes car crashes. They allowed subjects only four hours of sleep for five nights. Researchers were stunned to find a cumulative impairment in the subject’s ability to think fast, to react quickly and to remember things. The impairment started immediately upon missing the first period of sleep.
  • Not sleeping for 20 hours is the equivalent of having a blood alcohol level of 0.08 percent—well over the limit where a driver is classified as legally impaired.
  • Food or Sleep? Starvation is fatal in two weeks, but sleep deprivation has been shown to be fatal in only 10 days.
  • Humans are the only mammals on the planet who self-induce a sleep deficit. 

We know there are many circumstances that may lead you to lose sleep. So, should you be worried about how much sleep you are getting, or not getting on any given night – no not at all. Missing a few hours of sleep on one or two nights is very manageable.

Block Your Sleep

Take your nightly amount of recommended sleep and look at it from a weekly perspective – a weekly block of sleep. For example, if you require eight hours of sleep in a night, over seven nights you will need to get in 56 hours of sleep. If you find yourself missing a few hours here or there, no problem, make it up by adding a few extra hours of sleep the following night or plan strategic naps. The end game is to get your 56 hours of sleep in over the course of the week.

Naps and Sleep Extension

Napping may be one of the best ways to keep your sleep strategy on track. For our performance programs we schedule a regular daily nap time whenever we can, but napping has to be done correctly.

If you want to nap like a pro, plan your nap time between 2:00 and 4:00pm, it’s an optimal time to boost energy and alertness in order to finish the day strong and its early enough in the day not to interfere with night time sleep patterns. Your nap should be 15 – 30 minutes in length and this can vary from person to person so you may need to experiment to find out what works for you. If you find you have extended grogginess or disorientation after your nap, a condition called Sleep Inertia, you may want to adjust the time of your nap and/or the length of your nap.

A good nap can be all powerful. In fact a NASA nap study on military pilots and astronauts revealed that 40 minute naps improved observed performance by 34 percent and alertness by 100 percent.

“A lack of sleep has a major impact on how our bodies process and utilize food and energy.”


Sleep extension

Sleep extension is another strategy for boosting performance. Very simply, plan for more sleep. If it is recommended that you should be getting eight hours of sleep, so plan for 10. This strategy for sleep management can also be very powerful.

The benefits of sleep extension have been shown time and time again by researchers at Stanford University, who increased the sleep periods of varsity athletes to at least 10 hours a night for a duration of five to seven weeks. The extra sleep and rest resulted in personal best performances, faster sprint times, improved shooting accuracy and improved ratings of overall physical and mental well-being.

Naps and sleep extension strategies can be used by everyone, the important key here is to have your foundation set up in a daily and weekly sleep plan. Your foundation will provide the guidelines for you to make proper adjustments in your sleep strategies.

Could less sleep be contributing to the epidemic of obesity?

As we work to uncover the secrets of what exactly happens when we sleep, it has been found that a lack of sleep has a major impact on how our bodies process and utilize food and energy. Strong evidence has been found linking lack of sleep with increased weight gain and obesity.

In one sleep study, healthy fit adults were only allowed four hours of sleep for six nights. The findings showed:

  • Subjects were in a pre-diabetic state
  • They were more hungry, despite having plenty of food
  • Glucose metabolism slowed 30-40 percent
  • All of which can result in increased fat storage

Here is a list of things you can go through to help you get the good nights sleep you need:

Block your Sleep: Take your recommended amount of nightly sleep and put it together in a weekly block of sleep time. This way you don’t have to worry about missing an hour or two from day to day, just remain focused on your weekly sleep goals.

Keep a Sleep Log: Write down the amount and quality of your nightly sleep. This will allow you to balance and plan your weekly sleep strategy. Keeping a detailed sleep log for a minimum of 10 days can reveal sleep patterns and habits that may be keeping you from getting a quality sleep.

Set Your Routine: It’s important to wake up and go to bed at consistent times each day, even on the weekends. Also, give yourself plenty of time to wind down and relax before bed. Reading in soft light with relaxing music can be very effective

Avoid Technology: Put the phones away! Yes, it has been shown that the light from smart phones and laptops can interfere with the onset of melatonin (sleep hormone). But, it is the activity in the brain that may be even more detrimental to getting a good nights sleep. So shut down the texts, Candy Crush, Gods of War or whatever game you might be playing two hours before you go to bed – this is mandatory for all of our high performance athletes.

Environment: Make your bedroom a good place to be. Keep it cool, dark and comfortable. Invest in a good mattress and great pillows: no work desk; no television; and no workout equipment. Your bedroom should be set up for only two things—sleep and sex.

Exercise: Regular exercise will help you sleep better, but remember don’t exercise too close to your bedtime. And whatever you do, do not cut into your sleep to get in a early morning workout – sleep is priority number one!!

Trouble Sleeping: If you have made and followed a sleep plan and are still having trouble getting a good night’s sleep whatever you do, do not start to self-medicate using sleep aids to sleep or stimulants to stay awake. This often turns into a vicious cycle of sleep deprivation. If you are having sleep issues don’t hesitate to see your doctor or seek out a sleep professional.

Sixty percent of Canadians are not getting enough sleep.”

So, get your sleep. Get the right amount of sleep and the right quality of sleep.

Good health and top performance for all.

How Much Sleep Do You Need?

The National Sleep Foundation Recommends the following Guidelines for the general public:

New Born

0-3 Months

14-17 Hours


4-11 Months

12-15 Hours


1-2 Years

11-14 Hours


3-5 Years

10-13 Hours

School Age

6-13 Years

9-11 Hours


14-17 Years

8-10 Hours

Young Adult

18-25 Years

7-9 Hours


26-64 Years

7-9 Hours

Older Adult

> 65 Years

7-8 Hours


For athletes and active people, due to the extra stress of training and competition, Canada Sport for Life has ingenuously set age related Sleep Guidelines for optimum recovery and recuperation:

Active Start

0-6 Years

13-16 Hours


Females 6-8 Years

Males 6-9 Years

10-11 Hours with 30 min

nap between 2-4 pm

Learn to Train

Females 8-11 Years

Males 9-12 Years

9.5-10 Hours with 30 min

nap between 2-4 pm

Train to Train

Females 11-15 Years

Males 12-16 Years

9 Hours with 30 min

nap between 2-4 pm

Train to Compete

Females 15-21 Years

Males 16-23 Years

8-10 Hours with 30 min

nap between 2-4 pm

Train to Win

Females 18+ Years

Males 19+ Years

8-10 Hours with 30 min

nap between 2-4 pm

Active for Life

Any age Participant

7-9 Hours with 30 min

nap between 2-4 pm



Which stage will you fit into?


Have you ever wondered how other people live and eat compared to yourself? Human beings vary quite extremely in the amount of fat they carry on their body. The quantity of fat affects our health and fitness. In the 25 years I have been working in the personal training business I have seen patterns of behavior and lifestyles that are consistent with varying body fat levels in people. From that, I have identified five levels of health and fitness that most people can categorize themselves into. The goal is to first be aware of your habits and what new behaviors you must gradually develop to move up to healthier stages of existence.

Stage One: Couch Potato

Individuals in this stage have a dislike or even slight fear of fruits and vegetables, mostly vegetables. It would be similar to trying to get a healthy person to eat a worm. In my experience a couch potato sees pan fried mushrooms, tomato sauce in pizza and french fries as vegetable servings. They will typically eat at a fast food restaurant daily and order food delivery for dinner almost every night. Men and women in this stage typically take less than 2,000 steps per day. The only daily movement is walking to their car, the bathroom, the fridge and you guessed it, the couch. They have no awareness of what an elevated sustained heart rate feels like. If they did start exercising the experience of a hard beating heart would feel like an alien is trying to burst through their chest. The couch potato watches an average of six plus hours of TV/computer at home. Most people in this stage often have accelerated disease and are morbidly obese (BMI 35+).

Stage Two: Sedentary

Individuals in this stage consume at least one piece of fresh fruit daily. They may even venture and have lettuce and tomato on a sandwich. Trips to fast food outlets and ordering in typically happen four to five times per week. Packaged food and convenient frozen dinners typically make up the other meals in the week. There is no structured exercise, but some light movement occurs with housework and maybe walking the family dog a couple times per day for 15 minutes at a time. People in this stage walk up to 5,000 steps per day. Television and computer time is at least four hours plus per day at home. People in this stage are often obese (BMI 30 +).

Stage Three: Lightly Active

Individuals in this stage consume two to three pieces of fruit daily and make a point of eating a salad with one of their meals two or three times per week. Fast food and ordering in typically happens a few times per week as well. Leftovers from dinner prepared from scratch at home make up the other meals of the week. In this stage, structured exercise begins with three times per week consistency on alternating days and 60 minutes in duration. Activities chosen are moderate in intensity, such as group classes, yoga, pilates, walk/jog. Television and computer time make up for two or more hours at home. People in this stage walk up to 8,000+ steps daily. Even with this amount of movement people are often overweight in this stage with a BMI of 26-29.

Stage Four: Active

Lifestyle habits in this stage include having some form of fruit or vegetable at every meal. Fast food is consumed on rare special occasions. Dinners are made from scratch with weekends used to go out to restaurants. Lunches are premade the night before and brought to work so that poor eating choices are more difficult to make. Structured exercise (five times per week) with specific fitness goals exist to help with keeping focused and consistency. The intensity of exercise varies from moderate to high. Television and computer time is kept to only when a favorite show is on, usually one or two hours maximum per day. People in this stage take over 10,000 steps per day and have a normal health weight with a BMI 20-25. 

Stage Five: Very Active: Very Fit, Very Lean

People in this stage consume 75 per cent of their diet from plant-based sources. They view fast food and processed food as toxic to the body creating disease. Individuals exercise daily and create active adventurous weekends and holidays. Television is rarely watched and computer time is mostly just for work. These people take over 15,000 steps daily, seemingly always moving. Engagement in some form of competitive sport is common in this stage. People in this stage are muscular and lean and may even have a higher BMI due to the extra muscle they are carrying.

Most individuals can identify with one stage more than any other. It is also very easy to share characteristics of two or even three stages. The questions you need to ask yourself is “How much are you willing to change your lifestyle for a leaner, fitter and healthier body?” At the beginning it seems like some of the sacrifices are too overwhelming. However, once enjoyable healthy habits are formed and a leaner fit body is created, it no longer feels like a sacrifice.



With so many vitamins, supplements and minerals out there, which ones are essential?


Let’s talk about supplements. Are you confused when you see walls of pill bottles with various letters of the alphabet on the outside from A to Zinc? If so, then a good comprehensive breakdown on what you need to take and why is a great starting point. Of course, you may have specific needs that will require personal attention but for now let’s concentrate on the basics for you, as a human, living in Alberta, Canada.

I am a bit of a fanatic when it comes to all things health and wellness. As such, I read everything I can get my hands on concerning the topic. I keep up with the latest medical journals, practically keep inventory at the local supplement stores and even use my own body as a testing ground for the newest Dr. Oz secrets revealed. Despite years of research, I still become overwhelmed. I can only imagine what it must be like for the non-fanatical shopper to go supplement shopping without being armed with information.

“Despite years of research, I still become overwhelmed.

Stores that specialize in supplements are staffed with people who are very helpful and knowledgeable. If, however, you shop at your local drug store or supermarket that sells vitamins and minerals alongside products made by Toshiba, Maybelline, Cuisinart, and Chef Boyardee, you will want to go in prepared with a shopping list.

Do you need a multivitamin? That depends. Let’s take a look at your diet. Are you eating a wide variety of at least seven servings of fruits and vegetables every day? That would certainly be preferable, which is why I advocate incorporating smoothies into your routine, however, I digress. Anyway, that is not always possible, so it is a good idea to keep a multivitamin on hand for less than perfect eating days.

There are many options from which to choose. Some brands even have specific blends for different age groups and genders. According to my personal experience, liquid multivitamins are best. They are easy to take and are readily absorbed. I can tell the efficacy by the strength of my fingernails.

On the down side, liquid vitamins are a pain when travelling or to take to work, as they need to be refrigerated. A fantastic option is an oral spray vitamin, especially if you hate swallowing pills or tend to get an upset stomach from them. Spray vitamins do not require food to be broken down and absorbed, whereas most other supplements need to be taken with meals.

Now for the must-have supplements in your arsenal. You will need a good daily dose of omega-3 essential fatty acid (EFA). It is considered essential because your body does not produce it on its own. You need to consume it. You can do this either in a plant based form such as algae, which is how fish obtain it, or in a fish oil supplement. Natural sources come from nuts, flaxseed, olive oil and fatty fish such as salmon. Even if you eat these nutritious foods, you are likely not getting enough and the importance of omega-3 in your diet cannot be overstated.

It reduces inflammation, helps prevent heart disease, boosts good cholesterol to help clear your arteries, helps metabolize fat, protects your eyesight, improves brain function, reduces depression, controls acne, reduces wrinkles, strengthens bones and preserves lean muscle. Take your omega-3 supplement as directed on the bottle.

“Even in the summer you are likely blocking vitamin D producing rays with your sunscreen.”

Finally, you will want to pick up some vitamin D. Though vitamin D is present in small amounts in some foods such as sardines, beef liver and egg yolks, it is not enough. Your greatest source of vitamin D comes from sun exposure, which, as an Albertan, can be tricky most of the year. Even in the summer you are likely blocking vitamin D producing rays with your sunscreen. Milk, orange juice and ready-to-eat cereals are generally fortified with vitamin D, but again, not enough.

This sunny vitamin is best known for developing and keeping bones strong. It is also boosts your immune system, improves muscle function, enhances lung function, controls appetite to help with weight management, and helps lower blood pressure. You will want to go for at least 600 IU per day. Again, I favour the liquid types for ease of taking and best absorption.

To easily incorporate taking your vitamins into your daily routine, attach the habit to another daily habit such as drinking your morning coffee or walking your dog. Situate your bottles next to your Keurig or Fluffy’s leash so you don’t forget. Soon it will become automatic, especially after you start seeing and feeling the benefits. You can expect a difference within a couple of weeks.


Supplement shopping list:

Multivitamin: Look for a liquid or spray version for ease of taking and best absorption.

Omega-3: Take in a plant based form or in a fish oil supplement.

Vitamin D: Take between 600-1000 IU per day



Poor hygiene could be holding you back from career advancement

He needs a shower

I often raise this question with leaders at training programs: “What is the one thing you most tend to avoid bringing up with an employee or team member?” More than 75 percent of the time the answer given is “poor hygiene.”

Poor hygiene can cover a great many things—everything from uncombed hair, to crumpled and soiled clothing, to body odour, offensive fragrances and everything in between.

It’s too bad that managers and supervisors are so reluctant to address hygiene issues because the truth is that the many employees with hygiene issues aren’t the least bit aware of it. Many managers also don’t see how it affects co-workers, customers and others in the workplace—not to mention how it can limit their own job and promotional prospects.   

When I was quite young and already supervising others, a situation arose which I found myself unprepared to deal with. Two ladies complained to me about the body odour of another female employee working in our open office. There were seven women altogether and the subject of the complaint sat smack dab in the middle of the group. And yes, I admit I had noticed and then ignored these odours when I was near her myself from time to time. I swallowed hard, overwhelmed with the thought it would be up to me, a young man barely half this lady’s age, to bring this embarrassing issue to her attention.

At the time I did what many supervisors would have done, and tried to deflect the complaint away from myself. I suggested to the ladies that it was within their right to mention this, “woman to woman,” to the offender. A few days later I looked at the workstations and saw that instead, each desk now had a large air freshener strategically located at the closest corner to this lady’s workstation. This seemed to have been their solution, and the snide remarks about this lady’s poor hygiene simply continued. 

I look back on this now and realize that while my intention was only to spare my staff member’s feelings, I had not done her any favours in the long term. I had not done my job and made things better for both her and the work group. For years she may have wondered why she was so unpopular within the group and organization.

After a great many leadership ups and downs, and in particular a lot of learning from mistakes, I’m confident that if a similar dilemma presented itself now, I would respond far more proactively.   

As an example, just a few years ago a colleague came to me to seek some helpful feedback about his hygiene that he very much needed. He had wondered why he’d been consistently overlooked for appointments to senior committee work that would put him together with some of our top people and clients.

In my view, he had some fairly evident hygiene issues and I felt these were holding him back. I found a way to give him some coaching on these issues which he later said had never been mentioned by his ‘up-line.’ They were all things I believed he’d find easy to remedy once brought to his attention, such as the telltale lunch stains often on his tie, the hair that was seldom trimmed and combed, the perpetual five o’clock shadow from not getting close enough to the razor in the morning, and the shirt that was always one or two neck sizes too small leaving the knot in the tie askew.

When looking in the mirror this fellow simply hadn’t seen what was so plain to others. Taken together, they were becoming career killers for him. Happily though, I recall that the very next day he stuck his head in the door of my office grinning with a closely shaved chin, sharp haircut and also wearing a crisp shirt and new tie. Wow! He looked like a completely different person!

What made our discussion work was that he could clearly see I was providing my suggestions only to help, and not to hurt him. This is the basis that we have to establish with everyone we are giving feedback to about things as personal and sensitive as their hygiene. And by the way, this gent did get the appointment he had so much wanted about a year later.

So my advice is not to wait for others to point out that you have a hygiene issue. Take stock of your hygiene and make improvements that happily are almost entirely within your own control. You can enhance your own potential in the workplace and on the team by being at your best and this includes reflecting a high standard of personal cleanliness and appearance at all times. Happy thoughts to you!

Top 10 Reasons To Maintain Good Hygiene


Taking care of yourself is the highest form of self-love. Caring for your hygiene shows respect and gratitude for your body and your life.

Sex Appeal

When you take care of your personal hygiene you smell good, dress well and bring a fresh air of confidence. No one is attracted to someone who is dirty, unkempt and smells bad.


Bad hygiene is an embarrassing and socially unacceptable quality. Others will be less likely to invite you to join in social activities and gatherings. Conversely, if you keep good personal hygiene others will feel comfortable around you and find you approachable.


Taking good care of yourself shows that you are responsible and self-reliant. Good personal hygiene also makes a good first impression on potential employers.

Mental Health

What happens to your body affects how you feel inside. Having a high standard for taking care of yourself gives you a sense of pride.


Maintain good hygiene to prevent bacteria from weakening the body by growing in unwanted places.


A clean mouth with brushed and flossed teeth is far less likely to have cavities and require dental maintenance. A clean body less likely to harbour viruses and bacteria.


Others can also be infected by diseases and illnesses you carry if you do not maintain personal hygiene. Viruses and bacteria spread quickly between people.


Setting a good example for personal hygiene will help your children incorporate it into their routine and make it a healthy habit for the rest of their lives.

Lower Costs

Brushing your teeth and keeping clean could reduce visits to your doctor and dentist, saving you money on prescriptions and extra dental procedures.



Edmonton Eskimos CEO Len Rhodes has opened up his heart and home to providing a service dog for those in need

Photography by Grant Olson

When Len Rhodes took over as President and CEO of the Edmonton Eskimos in 2011, he knew that giving back to the community at large was an essential part of his role. While he has been involved in many philanthropic ventures over the years, including raising money for amateur football, to sitting on various community boards to helping women’s shelters. But one community society in particular has seen Len and his girlfriend Maureen open up their hearts and home for the past two years to help train and love a service dog for someone in need.

Dogs With Wings is a local Edmonton organization that aims to assist people with disabilities by providing fully trained service dogs to people who are have either visually or mobility disabilities, and recently to children with autism as well.

Their puppies, usually yellow or black Labradors, are put through an intense two-year training program for each dog that relies heavily on the good nature of it volunteers to open up their homes, time and energy, and more. Eventually, through the work of foster parents, trainers and community representatives, these dogs become fully graduated to help serve others.

Rhodes was paired with Oakley for the past year in the second stage of her “career” training, where they formed an inseparable bond, spending 24 hours a day together.

“We take her to church, to restaurants and even grocery shopping. It takes twice as long to shop though because of all the people we interact with have so many questions when they see she is a service dog. I think it brings a level of conscientiousness for people to understand that some functions we take for granted, other people rely on an animal to perform certain functions,” said Rhodes.

“You do make a sacrifice, but you have to keep in mind the bigger picture.”

Oakley was being trained to assist someone with a mobility and/or agility challenges and it has been a long but rewarding challenge for all involved. Dogs enter the Puppy Program at eight weeks of age, and are with their puppy raisers until they are approximately 12 months old. During this time, they are taught basic obedience and are exposed to many different situations out in the community. If they have met basic criteria for health, temperament and skill, they enter the Adult Program. The second stage, in which Rhodes was involved with, lasts another six to eight months during which time they perfect their obedience and learn many specific skills useful later on.

“When Oakley has her coat on, she knows she’s on duty, but it’s also very important at the end of their assignment to let them be loose and just be a regular dog. When they are done working, you say the word ‘release’ and she knows then she can just have fun and be like any other dog. But these dogs carry tremendous responsibilities on their shoulders, and they are well trained to do so,” said Rhodes.

Oakley was just recently paired with a woman in a wheelchair. And while it was hard to say goodbye, he knew that was what he, Oakley and more had been working towards.

“You have to love animals and you have to love people. Because at the end of the day that will be tested – your love for the dog and the fact that you know you won’t have that dog forever. You do make a sacrifice, but you have to keep in mind the bigger picture. You can’t be selfish, so you have to let the dog go to help someone who is in need of that help,” says Rhodes.

His love for animals also saw him recently involved with the Edmonton Humane Society’s Pets in the Park event, where Len and Maureen helped raise $19,000 towards the society.

“We take her to church, to restaurants and even grocery shopping.”

But giving back to the community is something that Rhodes says just seems to come naturally to him and that it’s something he has always believed in and something he helps pass on to other Eskimo players and staff.

“I feel it’s very natural for me and part of my calling in life. Yes, I do what I do for a living, but in being part of a community owned football team there’s an understanding that we should do more in the community. Yes, we play football, but when I took this role I understood there was much to it than football and doing this was one of the most thrilling experiences of my life.”

To learn more about Dogs With Wings and how you can help, visit




Since opening in 2009, the Mazankowski Alberta Heart Institute has become one of the leading heart institutes in North America and has changed or saved the lives of more than 100,000 patients!

Unless you’ve actually been to the Mazankowski Alberta Heart Institute, either as a patient, visitor, or because you work there, you may not know what a tremendous asset we have right here in Edmonton.


Here’s a quick primer:

  • Named to honour the Right Honorable Don Mazankowski, former Deputy Prime Minister and long-time Conservative MP for Vegreville, Alberta, “the Maz,”as it’s fondly known, is the referral centre for the most complex cardiac patients from across the prairies, northern Canada and north eastern British Columbia.
  • Since opening in July, 2009, doctors and cardiac care professionals at the Maz have changed and saved the lives of over 100,000 patients; performed more than 6,000 open heart surgeries; and completed 284 heart, heart/lung and lung transplants.
  • The Maz is home to the largest heart transplant program in Canada and the largest lung transplant program in western Canada.

And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Edmonton’s history of setting a new standard in cardiac care actually goes back to 1948 when the first recorded cardiac surgery in Edmonton took place. This marked the beginning of an incredibly long list of “firsts” in the city’s history of excellence in cardiac surgery and cardiac patient care.

Case in point:

Did you know that the first open heart surgery in Canada was performed at the University of Alberta Hospital in 1956? That the first heart transplant in western Canada took place here in 1985? Or that the first baby born during emergency open heart surgery occurred here in 2008?

The Critical Role of Community Support

Donors to the University Hospital Foundation continue to support building and equipping the Maz with some of the most advanced medical and imaging technology in the world. To date, donors have contributed an incredible $65 million towards:

  1. Providing over one in four dollars to help build Western Canada’s leading heart institute;
  2. Fully funding the $6.6 million Cardiac Hybrid operating room, thereby providing a life-saving alternative for patients with health conditions so complex that traditional surgery is not a viable option;
  3. Donating $3 million towards the Jim Pattison Centre for Heart Health, a comprehensive cardiac rehabilitation centre designed to complete the continuum of cardiac care provided at the Maz;
  4. Contributing $1.4 million – including $1.1 million from the 2013 Festival of Trees, Edmonton’s signature kick-off to Christmas event – towards the expansion of the cardiovascular intensive care unit (CVICU) at the Maz, increasing capacity to allow 200 more surgeries to be performed every year, and providing more patients than ever before access to specialized care.

To read more about the University Hospital Foundation, visit their website at


Teamwork a Vital Ingredient

Advances in cardiac care have saved and changed the lives of thousands of grateful patients. Today, teams at the Maz face a new reality: aging patients who present a diverse range of serious health conditions. Often this means more complicated surgeries and prolonged, intense recoveries.

The Maz is the only heart institute in western Canada that offers the complete package of cardiac care, from advanced diagnostic imaging right through to surgery and rehabilitation.

Daily meetings are held in which doctors share the stage with social workers, dieticians, nurses, physiotherapists, rehabilitation specialists, pharmacists and other experts in related fields. This way, patients’ entire well-being and health is addressed by a multidisciplinary team.

Pushing the Frontiers of Translational Research

Imagine this: a world without waiting lists for patients in need of heart and/or lung transplants. Unfortunately it’s going to be awhile before that happens, but the dream is alive thanks to extraordinary research being conducted by cardiac surgeons and researchers at the Maz.

Other research projects are looking into the causes of heart failure, coronary artery disease and pulmonary hypertension, a rare but lethal disease, and many other research projects that will change the way hearts are mended around the world.

“The vision was to create a world class cardiac centre to serve the needs of people across western and northern Canada. The reality has exceeded the dream.” 

— Dr. David Ross, Head, Cardiac Surgery, Edmonton Zone, Alberta Health Services

Healthy Tips for Healthy Heart Living

by Kara Penney

Program Manager, NACRP, Jim Pattison Center for Heart Health and the Glenrose Hospital

  1. Eat a Heart Healthy Diet as outlined in Canada’s Food Guide. Look for the Health Check™ symbol when purchasing groceries.
  2. Modify your diet to reduce fat consumption; this can help lower your cholesterol.
  3. Participate in a variety of endurance, flexibility and strength activities.
  4. Practice good sleep habits.
  5. Accumulate 60 minutes of activity everyday. Add up your activities in periods of at least 10 minutes each. Start slowly and build up.
  6. Become a “self manager.” Take the attitude that “I am responsible for my health.”
  7. Plan using S.M.A.R.T. goals: S – Specific, M – Measurable, A –Achievable, R – Realistic, T – Timely
  8. Have an annual checkup with your family physician.
  9. Quit smoking. Seek appropriate medical help to ensure you are successful.


Change your mind set when it comes to cigarettes

Lungs made of black powder explosion isolated on whiteI smoked for 28 years and I finally did quit. But how? During that time I must have tried to quit a thousand times. In my mind each pack was my last explaining why I never did buy a whole carton. “What would I do with the other seven packs?” I reasoned.

As well, I openly admitted I didn’t smoke because I enjoyed it, but instead smoked because I was hooked, or addicted… and I never let go of the intention and the hope that I would one day quit forever.  It seemed like such an unreachable dream though!

Like many smokers I always looked at the prospect of quitting somewhat forlornly, as if it would be like saying goodbye to an old friend or something enjoyable that I would no longer have in my life. The truth of course was that what entered my lungs was not a friend, nor bringing me pleasure or any other form of benefit. I wasn’t as much sucking on the filter, as the butt was sucking life from me and I could feel it every day.

What changed things was hearing one day about the simple concept of “choosing not to smoke.” The wisdom in this went along the lines that one shouldn’t think of it as “quitting” but instead of simply “choosing not to smoke.” When someone asks if you want a cigarette for example, instead of saying “no thanks I quit” which can make you feel the pressure of a commitment that you may not be able to keep, you simply say, “no thanks, I choose not to smoke.” Say it again… do you hear the difference in that?  Your emphasis is not on any commitment or attempt to go “over the wall.” Instead you have stated something that is now, at this moment, completely doable.

“The truth of course was that what entered my lungs was not a friend.”

How that worked for me is that I was about to go to a spring meeting in the mountains where I knew that I would be with a number of folks in a social situation, many of them smokers (it was the early 90’s). It was a five-day event and I had the mindset that I would choose not to smoke for those five days and see how that went. With nothing in my mind but a long list of the many positives that would come into my life by choosing not to smoke, I got through it without too much angst and then thought, “hey, that was pretty easy, let’s choose not to smoke for the next five days also.” And so it went until 10 days became 20 and eventually 100 and 200. By now it’s been 22 years and I still tell people who offer me a smoke that “I choose not to smoke.”


As a leadership speaker and trainer, I always want to help people—it’s no different when it comes to smoking. When I get on an elevator with a smoker or get near them in a line-up at the coffee bar, I wish they could observe what others do about them. The smell or even stench of smoke in their hair and on their clothes is indescribable.

This is so unfortunate for smokers since it subtracts from the attraction they could otherwise have. Dating is a clear example: most smokers would not reject out of hand dating a non-smoker but the reverse is certainly not true! Do smokers see that their date may note their kiss is like tasting an ash tray? 

It is a negative in the workplace as well. For example, I recently had my hair cut and styled by a hairdresser I had gone to for the first time; and honestly, she reeked so bad of smoke that I barely got through the experience. She seemed unaware of how her habit was impacting her customers and her own career.

It’s the same with virtually all other forms of employment. The simple fact is that most employers faced with choosing between an employee who smokes and one who doesn’t smoke will consistently choose the latter. Whether correct or not, their view is that non-smokers don’t take as many breaks or at least when they do break, the breaks are usually briefer. As well they expect non-smoking employees will experience fewer sick days while being more alert and energetic on the job. Sorry smokers, but that’s the way many employers see it.

“The smell or even stench of smoke in their hair and on their clothes is indescribable.”

For me, I found it helpful to keep daily track of the many benefits that were now coming into my life as a non-smoker. That included marking off the days, weeks and months since I had last smoked. I also ran a total of how much money I was saving as a result of my choice to not smoke. The numbers added up pretty fast and I was impressed when each time I looked at my results on a sheet of paper it added to my determination to continue the next day with my choice not to smoke.

In closing I want to say that if you really do want to quit smoking, you will. If not this time, then next time or the time after that.

The smokers who never quit seem to be those insisting they smoke because they enjoy it… yeah right. The main thing is to not give up on yourself.

Top 10 Reasons To Choose Not To Smoke

1. Live longer.

2. Improve your health.

3. Have more energy.

4. Save a ton of money.

5. Be more attractive to others.

6. Breathe, smell and even taste better.

7. Reduce stress and facial lines.

8. Have more time in your day.

9. Provide a positive example.

10. Increase your confidence by feeling empowered.



Conquer your fear of change this year

House number

There is an old Garfield comic that I love. The thought-bubble above his head said, “I went on a diet for two weeks and all I lost… was two weeks!”

How many times have you said you are going to do that one thing or make that one change so you can be, do or have something different than what you have? Many people often set unrealistic goals, like losing 30 pounds, finding true love or earning a million dollars this year!

But I am addicted to change too! I have trained myself to embrace and harness the power of change to catapult the results I get in my life by doing this one simple, innocent thing: I take five! 

Like Garfield, I was a slow starter and preferred inertia and lasagna over moving and eating my greens. I needed a little trick to get me going.

Possibly, like you, each New Years Eve I set myself up with an exciting new thought process about how fabulous I will be when I (fill in your blank) then proceed to incrementally let myself down by not doing anything about it. I had become addicted to the feeling I got. Then I took a small step or made a change to my routine or my habits. I didn’t always like the feeling, but I’ve gotten used to it. Now I seek it out. If something isn’t working I have a point of reference and a simple skill I can act upon. 

“Even if you are at the office and John from the mailroom sees you, who cares?”


Make five changes that take no more than five minutes each. Do this for five months and then decide if it works, and if it does, then do it for five more months. Not four changes for 10 minutes for six months. Make one change a day, then two changes a day and then if it’s still working, make all five changes, but only for five months! It has to have an ending or it doesn’t work as well.


Here are some ideas that worked great for me and they will work great for you too.

1) Wake up five minutes later than you usually do for five days in a row, once a week for five months. You are either getting up before you want to and being grumpy or hitting your snooze button and rushing around anyway. Give yourself permission to get up at the exact time you say you will get up for five days. See how you feel after the first week. Do it again.

2) Add five percent more to your monthly savings account for five months. If you save $10 a month, change it to $10.50. If you save $100 a month, change it to $105. After five months, increase it again (the whole amount) to another five percent. Repeat this every five months and you will find a noticeable difference in your savings account.

3) Call or email five people (not Facebook friends) you have not spoken to or seen in over five years. You know who they are. You also know why you no longer are in contact. Take five minutes and think about who you would love to reconnect with and why, or if there is something left unsaid. If there is, just say it.

4) Add five minutes to your exercise program. If you do 10 minutes of walking, do 15 instead. If you are doing a 60-minute Zumba class, just add a five-minute stretch. If you don’t have an exercise program, start by doing five minutes of any exercise for five days in a row. Even if you are at your desk, or watching TV, you can do a sit-up anywhere. 

5) Close your eyes and focus on your breathing for five minutes everyday for five days. It doesn’t have to be at the same time of day. Even if you are the office and John from the mailroom sees you, who cares? You may inspire someone else to take five of anything in 2015.

“I have trained myself to embrace and harness the power of change.”

Taking five for 2015 requires no effort to get big results. Even a five-second delay before a habit kicks in or a five degree shift of a thought before doing something normal could be the beginning of something amazing.

Make 2015 your year to become addicted to powerful, positive change in your life five little steps at a time.



Human disposition, lack of time and bad habits cause obesity

Cape Town, South Africa - June 21, 2011: drive-thru

Starvation has killed more human beings in the history of planet Earth than from any other method. You can take war, disease, murder, old age, death by shark attack and add them all up. Starvation out does them all. It was not until post World War II that obesity became a recognized problem. Sure there were some overweight people before then, but they were the rich and royalty. What has happened in the past 70 years to create such an epidemic of fat when in the previous 70,000 years people died because they had no body fat?


Everyone knows eating spinach is a good nutritious food choice and doughnuts are an unhealthy option. People understand that daily exercise is a good idea and sitting on the couch all day long will not contribute to a fit, lean body. If we understand what choices should be made for long term health, why do most of us keep making the wrong choices? I believe it comes down to human predisposition to seek pleasure, a lack of time to devote to healthy eating and exercise, and big food companies taking advantage of these shortcomings.


Human beings have a “reward” part in the brain. There is an area in the brain where pleasure hormones are released which allows you to feel good. This section of the brain is important for the survival of man. It motivates someone to seek reward when discomfort is present. If you are cold you seek warmth. If you are hungry the search for food overwhelms your attention. The longer you go without a basic life necessity the more you desire it.

The problem with the modern reward brain is that it has become desensitized. We have hijacked our pleasure response by the abundant consumption of high fat sugary foods available to us. In the past, a piece of fruit would have been a rewarding high sugary treat that would make someone feel pleasure. Today a piece of fruit does not cut it. Today we need a hot molten lava cake with vanilla ice cream to get the same pleasurable release. This desensitization becomes even more pronounced if someone is stressed or depressed. 


The number one excuse/reason people give for not being active is time. Why is it that no one has any time? In my opinion it is mostly due to finances. Most people find it difficult to make the amount of money necessary to lead the quality of life they desire. In order to send your children to school, buy clothes, pay the mortgage and feed your family, you must spend anywhere from 8-14 of your waking hours working, getting ready to work and travelling to work. This does not leave much extra time for making quality food choices and physical activity.

People are sitting down most of their day in their cars, at work or at home. Next to lying down to sleep, sitting is the laziest position the body can be in. Very few calories are being expended which prevents body fat being used as a fuel source. Pre-WWII, many people made money by working with their body. Post-WWII people made their living working with their mind.

The fast food industry preys upon people’s time disadvantage perception. They make it almost impossible not to eat fast food. Why does the average North American family eat fast food three to four times per week?

– There are hundreds of thousands of locations, virtually on every city block.

– Food is cheap. You can feed a family of four for under $20.

– Food tastes really good. The high fat-sugar-salt combination satisfies the reward brain temporarily.

– It is time efficient. People can eat in minutes without ever having to leave their vehicle.

“If you are cold you seek warmth. If you are hungry the search for food overwhelms your attention.”


No one should completely deny themselves of all the foods they love. This can only lead to bingeing. Think of the “Law of Diminishing Returns.” The first two to three bites of chocolate are the best part. Each subsequent morsel tastes slightly worse than the previous. Once you have enjoyed the best part of your treat there is no deprivation. If you continue to eat into your 10th, 20th, 100th bite, you are doing it for other reasons than pleasure. Here are some scenarios:

– Maybe you are eating a whole bowl of nacho chips because you are hungry. In this situation you may not have done a great job eating earlier in the day, missing breakfast or lunch.

– You may eat an entire carton of ice cream in front of the television late at night. This is a habit you have formed over your lifetime. You associate eating with sitting on the couch and watching television. You may not even stop to think if you are hungry or even desire ice cream at that moment. You may be eating subconsciously. 

– Your marital/personal relationships may be suffering. To deal with the depression, chocolate peanut butter cookies may be your temporary feel good solution. Dealing with the root cause of the depression is the long-term solution.

There are a couple of approaches with the time obstacle. First, do not feel you need to set aside a full 30 minutes to get a worthy exercise session done. Particularly in obese people, three 10-minute sessions spread out in your day can be more beneficial. Someone just starting to exercise will have a lower fitness level. They would have a tough time keeping their intensity elevated for a full continuous 30 minutes. They would have an easier time exercising harder for 10 minutes at a time. The overall calorie expenditure would be higher for the same 30 minutes because more can be done in each bout.

Secondly, try to kill two birds with one stone. Spend your exercise time with your children. Take your family swimming, sledding, or kick a ball around. It’s quality time with your kids, exercise for you, and they see an active role model and are in turn less likely to be obese in their adult life. 

You know what the right choice is. Find out the obstacle preventing you from making the right choice. You may need some help from a trainer, friend or family support. It is not impossible to be lean for a lifetime, it is just hard. The hard is what makes it so worthwhile. It would be a shame if you lived an entire lifetime of obesity never knowing what your amazing body could have looked like or done if you just had the willingness and skill to give it a solid effort. 



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