A Trainer’s Weekly Menu – Week 8

A Trainer’s Weekly Menu – Week 8

Well, it has arrived. The start of my two-week vegan food diet. I am starting a vegan food diet today to see if my skin and energy levels improve.

Loving husband has called today ARMAGEDDON, and he personally asked me to bold the word and capitalize it (he will not be participating).

This Is Not a Cleanse or a Detox

My two-week vegan food diet is not a cleanse or a detox. I do not believe in cleanses. I feel (and so does science, read the research here, here and here) that the body is designed to filter out toxins efficiently enough.

There is no build-up of toxins that we need to get rid of.

Instead those cleanses you see in the health food stores, or on the internet, are pseudoscience and hype to grab your attention and your money.

However, if changing your diet temporarily is done because you are noticing:

  • Your energy levels are low (one BIG reason I am doing this 2-week change to my diet)
  • You don’t feel like yourself
  • You feel bloated and “heavy”
  • Your skin is acting up (second reason I am doing this)
  • Your body aches
  • You are experiencing brain fog

Or, if you need to:

  • Reset yourself back to a healthier eating pattern
  • See if you have allergies by eliminating food groups and then slowly adding one in at a time

Then you are doing it for the right reasons.

Why Am I Doing This

While I eat fairly healthy (however I will be the first to admit that I love spiced rum & Coke Zero, pizza and cookies), I am just not feeling myself lately and want to reset my eating patterns.

For one, I have been enjoying myself far TOO much on the weekends, and two I want to see if the meat and/or eggs, and the small amount of dairy that I consume in a week could be at fault for my lagging energy levels and dull looking skin.

I also know hormones are at play too, thank you Menopause fairy, and the weather (I think I suffer from mild seasonal affective disorder).

But, I have never been one to just stand still and accept the status quo.

Perhaps with a few more tweaks I can get rid of my symptoms completely? Or, perhaps not. But at least I tried.

Symptoms and Tweaks for Menopausal Blues

Because of what I eat, and how much I exercise, I have been fortunate to keep most of my peri-menopausal symptoms at bay. If you suffer from menopausal symptoms I recommend the following:

  • Take a long hard look at your diet (and at the very least eliminate sugar)
  • Walk everyday
  • Stretch everyday
  • Weight train three times a week
  • Meditate, or take just a few moments each and every day to just be still and breathe
  • Laugh more, frown less

All of these will help lower your cortisol levels, perhaps decrease (or eliminate) your hot flashes, stop the weight gain that happens with most women when going through menopause and assist in keeping you sane while your hormones are trying to get you to be otherwise.


Why a Vegan Diet

While I initially was planing to do a two-week raw food diet, after some research I decided against it. There are a lot of professionals, holistic nutritionists and Chinese Medicine doctors that warn people against a raw food diet.

You see we need to lightly cook, or steam, a lot of our vegetables in order to properly digest them. As well, a raw food diet is a HUGE commitment. I am talking about making every single meal, for every single day.

It just seemed completely unrealistic for my busy lifestyle.

Whereas a plant-based lifestyle is far easier for me to wrap my head around and it works well for people looking to have more energy (hello!), as well anyone interested in adding more nutrition to their diet.

And there’s the other two obvious pluses to a plant-based life – it’s better for the planet and kinder to the animals.

All around everyone wins… except loving husband.

Catch Up On Previous Week’s Menus

Notes about last week’s meals

  • Last week I implemented the apple cider vinegar hot drink every morning and within a couple of days I felt a positive difference, so I am going to keep on going with it.
  • The Blueberry Chia Pudding is awesome, I highly recommend it!
  • I am also a HUGE fan of the Loaded Sweet Potatoe (and you have to make the yogurt dressing too).
  • What I will probably not make again? The Tilapia Tostadas. Sorry Whole Foods, but they were kinda bland and boring. It was like a Saturday night without a drink.

Blueberry-Almond-Chia-Seed-Pudding-Fitness wth PJ blog Blueberry Chia Seed Pudding


  • Pre-Breakfast: 1 cup hot water, 1tbsp apple cider vinegar (from the mother), a sprinkle of cinnamon & a tsp of organic maple syrup (can’t do honey while on a vegan diet). Sip and enjoy before food.
  • Breakfast: Cinnamon Quinoa Breakfast Bowl with shredded apple, coconut, almonds and I will also add nutmeg (prep Sunday, make a double batch for 4 servings)
  • Snack: apple dipped in almond butter
  • Lunch: Spiced Lentil & Tomato Kale Soup with veggies and hummus as a side and a Mandarin orange for dessert.
  • Snack: Protein shake blended with almond milk, ice and a 1tbsp of peanut butter. I fear that I will not be getting enough protein on this diet so this mid-afternoon shake will help cover me. The powder I will be using is Vega Sport Protein Powder, in chocolate of course.
  • Dinner: Artichoke and Tomato Salad (from The 22 Day Revolution book)


Spiced Lentil Tomato & Kale Soup – Oh She Glows


  • Pre-Breakfast: 1 cup hot water, 1tbsp apple cider vinegar (from the mother), a sprinkle of cinnamon & a tsp of organic maple syrup. Sip and enjoy before food.
  • Breakfast: Cinnamon Quinoa Breakfast Bowl
  • Snack: apple dipped in almond butter, or an apple with some mixed nuts
  • Lunch: Lentil soup with veggies and hummus and my trusty orange for dessert
  • Snack: Protein shake blended with almond milk, ice and a 1tbsp of peanut butter
  • Dinner: Raw Walnut Tacos and cut veggies with hummus (from The 22 Day Revolution book  – and this recipe alone is worth the price of the book. I have made this before and I love, love, love it!)

WalnutTacos-Fitness with PJ blog Raw Walnut Tacos


  • Pre-Breakfast: 1 cup hot water, 1tbsp apple cider vinegar (from the mother), a sprinkle of cinnamon & a tsp of organic maple syrup. Sip and enjoy before food.
  • Breakfast: Cinnamon Quinoa Breakfast Bowl
  • Snack: apple dipped in almond butter, or an apple with some mixed nuts
  • Lunch: Lentil Soup with cut veggies and hummus
  • Snack: Protein shake blended with almond milk, ice and a 1tbsp of peanut butter
  • Dinner: DIY Burrito Bowls (prep in the morning for easy assembly when I get home from work + make a double batch to have for lunch tomorrow). I do not eat white rice, so I will use quinoa and loving husband can have the rice.

Vegan Burrito Bowl – Oh She Glows


  • Pre-Breakfast: 1 cup hot water, 1tbsp apple cider vinegar (from the mother), a sprinkle of cinnamon & a tsp of organic maple syrup. Sip and enjoy before food.
  • Breakfast: Cinnamon Quinoa Breakfast Bowl
  • Snack: apple dipped in almond butter, or an apple with mixed nuts (are you sensing a pattern with my snacks?)
  • Lunch: Vegan Burrito Bowl leftover from last night’s dinner
  • Snack: Protein shake blended with almond milk, ice and a 1tbsp of peanut butter
  • Dinner: Kale Salad with Tahini Dressing (make double batch so that I have lunch tomorrow), add more white beans and loving husband will have salmon on top of his.


Kale Salad with Tahini Dressing – Love and Lemons


  • Pre-Breakfast: 1 cup hot water, 1tbsp apple cider vinegar (from the mother), a sprinkle of cinnamon & a tsp of organic maple syrup. Sip and enjoy before food.
  • Breakfast: Blueberry Chia Pudding
  • Snack: apple dipped in almond butter, or an apple with mixed nuts
  • Lunch: Kale salad left-over from last night’s dinner
  • Snack: Pumpkin Pie Protein Shake. I also have some vegan vanilla protein powder so I am going to blend it up with 1/4c pureed pumpkin, 1tsp pumpkin pie spice, 1.5 cups of unsweetened almond milk and some ice. If it’s any good I will add this to my afternoon snack list for the future.
  • Dinner: Cauliflower Crust Pizza, loving husband: medium double pepperoni from Panago


Cauliflower Crust Pizza – Detoxinista


 Pre-Breakfast: 1 cup hot water, 1tbsp apple cider vinegar (from the mother), a sprinkle of cinnamon & a tsp of organic maple syrup. Sip and enjoy before food.


Zucchini Noodles with Marinara Sauce – The Iron You






PJ ox

Science Says: Best Workout To Lose Belly Fat

Science Says: Best Workout To Lose Belly Fat

Have you noticed, after the age of 40, that things shifted in the body? It is now easier to gain inches around the middle (and elsewhere!) than it is to lose them?

Why is that?

Well, if you are a woman you can thank the decline of the hormone estrogen (read study here).

This is a natural fat-burner for us and it also dictates where our fat is distributed, and now with middle-age upon us the distribution is happening around our mid-section.

And, if you are a man you can thank lower testosterone levels as you get older.

But, there are other factors involved as well and include:

  • Poor sleep
  • Eating crap (scientific term)
  • Eating too much crap or the good stuff
  • Stress (Our stress hormone cortisol loves to pack on the pounds around the mid-section. Now, it’s not being an a-hole, the body is simply doing what it is meant to do – protect us. And in this case protect our internal organs.)
  • Not exercising enough AND not exercising the right way (hence today’s blog)
  • Listening to Donald Trump’s over bloated ego while also watching his equally pretentious hair piece

Funny Donald Trump hair photo - Fitness with PJ blog

What Does Science Say

In a study released by Harvard researchers (Obesity, 2014) they found that men who did 20 minutes of strength training a day had a far less of an increase in abdominal fat than those who spent an equal amount of time doing aerobic activities.

Now, this study wasn’t all bad news for the aerobic group.

The men who performed the daily aerobic activity actually lost more total body weight than the weight training men did, BUT they were unable to stop their waistlines from growing. Their middle-age paunch kept on growing while they keep on running.

That is pretty darn interesting, wouldn’t you say?

Moral of the research: twenty minutes of pumping weights works far better on reducing the ol’ belly fat than twenty minutes of running does.

What About Us Ladies?

If you are a woman, you are probably thinking the same thing I did when I read the study “What about us?”. What about women?

Kathryn Schmitz, a professor at the Perelman School of Medicine of the University of Pennsylvania, performed a similar study with premenopausal women and found the results to be similar in women.

Great news.

More Research To Get You Lifting

Looking beyond losing belly fat the Journal of Diabetes Metabolic Disorder (April 2015) reported that a combination of diet and strength training was far more superior at losing body fat , than aerobic alone, or aerobic with diet.

This study included both men and women, ages 18 years to 69.

Strength training for weight loss just isn’t for us middle-aged folk either.

In a study published in PubMed (JAMA Nov 2014) it was found that a combination of aerobic and strength training was the best tool to fight adolescent obesity.

Why Is Pumping Weights So Good For Weight Loss?

One of the explanations as to why strength training is the best weapon against fat (when we get older), is because we have lost some of our muscle mass.

Losing muscle mass is a natural occurrence with age (as is losing our minds, our ability to read the small print and our inability to tolerate loud music in a restaurant).

Most of us will lose between 5-7 pounds of muscle each and every decade and ladies after the age of 30 we will also see an increase in our intramuscular fat (that nasty and dangerous fat that is located throughout the skeletal muscles and has been associated with conditions such as insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes).

Now, because of this loss of muscle mass our metabolisms decrease (significantly), and with that comes a body not able to burn calories and fat like it used to and followed after that is the middle-aged spread.

But, there is a very easy way to offset this.

How Do I Increase My Muscle Mass & Lose The Belly Fat

Perform a regular strength training program and I’m not talking about a workout par sae.

You want a full strength training program that addresses stability, core, balance and mobility, while also progressed each week so that you continue to see changes in your fitness and your body composition.

Need ideas? Check out my YouTube channel, www.yourtube.com/fitnesswithpj.

Experts recommend 2-3 times a week strength training (I recommend 3 times, especially if you are a woman over the age of 40 who wants to lose weight), accompanied with 2-3 times a week aerobic activity, and HUGE daily doses of daily walking, stretching and basically moving the body as much as you can, as often as you can.

However, if fat loss is your goal (especially belly fat) you want  weight training as your main activity.


Click here if you are a woman over the age of 40 and are new to exercise and want to start building a body you love.







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Total Body Meltdown

Total Body Meltdown

Total Body Meltdown

Wow, I am so proud of this Total Body Meltdown Workout and I am praying (well, okay, I don’t really pray… so let’s say I am hoping) that you love this workout too. My fingers and toes are crossed.

Now… yes, I know it is a long workout.

And… yes, I know that you need to really commit to do this workout.

But, I promise you that the results will be amazing and you will feel even more amazing after it’s done. Trainer’s promise.

Total Body Meltdown


A pair of light, moderate & heavy dumbbells

The Workout

Total Body Meltdown Workout - full workout







PJ ox

Meditation for Beginners

Meditation for Beginners

Meditation, it’s the new kale. It’s something everyone is telling us to do for better health and piece of mind.

But, where do we start? How do we begin, when most of us already stretched for time throughout the day ? And, what if we have one of those busy monkey brains and feel we just can’t meditate?

On today’s Blab Eileen Cruz dispelled the many myths surrounding meditation (like you DON’T  have to be a monk to successfully meditate), while also providing a TON of amazing tips and techniques to fit meditation in your in-between moments through the day.

This was such a special Blab!

Eileen-Cruz -Meditation-For-Beginners-Fitness with PJ

Eileen Cruz

Eileen Cruz is a BodyMind Coach. BodyMind Coaching is a process-oriented approach for those who want to “disrupt the status quo” in their personal and professional lives.

Her mission is teach and coach her clients to discover and sustain a BodyMind connection within as the foundation for designing their lives. There’s a certain context and environment that encourages this BodyMind connection to happen. Eileen creates this context and environment for her clients. It is a quieter form of coaching, almost meditative.

Eileen’s unique approach integrates her experiences and exploration in coaching, leadership, business, yoga, meditation and acting training.  She received her coaching certification and leadership training through the Coaches Training Institute. Eileen has been meditating for over 10 years since her first 10-day Vipassana meditation retreat in 2004.

Her objectives for today’s BLAB is to inspire people to take baby steps to meditate daily by making it fun and accessible to everyone no matter how busy they are and to give them an experience of the BodyMind connection within.

Questions Asked On Today’s Blab – Meditation for Beginners

What draws us to meditation?

What is Eileen’s perspective on meditation?

Why Eileen doesn’t even like the word “meditation” or “meditation practice”?

Why should I bother meditating? What’s the point?

Why Eileen believes we are all master meditators already…we’ve just forgotten?

Why does expecting certain outcomes from meditation create a roadblock to meditating from the start? 

How do I prepare myself to commit to a meditation practice? 

What’s the mindset needed to meditate? 

How can I meditate when my life is too busy?

When should I meditate?

How long should I meditate for?

What’s the best posture for meditating?

What should I focus on when I meditate?

What will happen when I close my eyes to meditate?

Why is it so hard to meditate? What are the obstacles to meditating?

How do I choose from all the meditation techniques out there? 

How will meditating impact my life?

How do I know if my meditation practice is working for me?

What is the ultimate goal to meditating?

Why Eileen believes meditation is something we need to embrace as a way of life and not just a practice?

Meditation for Beginners






PJ ox

A Trainer’s Weekly Menu – Week 7

A Trainer’s Weekly Menu – Week 7

The other night picky-loving husband and I were reading a blog about what to do as a couple in Vancouver. You see in the colder and wetter months we tend to go into hibernation and I suggested we get out and do something.

So, we did what any intelligent individual would do. We Googled it.

And here’s what we got:

  • Read
    • We both said no to this one as we agreed reading is really a solo activity and not one to be shared together on a Friday night. And, really, how pathetic is that? I can hear the conversation already “Hey PJ, what did you and loving husband do Friday night?”. Me, “Oh, it was so romantic. We both curled up on the couch, fire going while he read Craig’s List (he loves Craig’s List and reads it almost every day – true story), and I finished “Eating Animals” (which FYI I cannot finish because if I did I think it will to turn me into a vegan, which would be the end of my marriage).” Yeah, there is not a hope in hell I am playing that story out on a Friday night.
  • Give each other a massage
    • Um, no. He is a sh*tty massager and my philosophy is that life is way too short for crappy coffee, cookies and massages.
  • Play a card game
    • This one really came up with a Google search of things to do in our town – no wonder Vancouver is considered the no-fun town.
  • Cook together
    • A big no, unless – loving husband’s direct quote – “phoning Pango for a large pepperoni is considered cooking”. While I did laugh, cause it was funny, I shook my head no.
  • Menu plan together
    • This one had me astounded. Really? Menu planning your week ahead is a suggested thing to do as a couple, in Vancouver, on the weekend? I was both impressed (you know how I love me a good menu plan) and horrified. What if picky-loving husband wanted to help menu plan with me? Sh*t. He cannot be responsible for the food that we eat on a regular basis. We will die. But then a spectacular thing happened. He simply said “We don’t have to do that, you got that covered”. Whew, bullet dodged.

So, what did we end up doing together? Curling up on the couch with baby Bella and watching a movie. I know, way less pathetic than reading (haha).

Loving husband and Bella

Notes about last week’s meals

  • The Superfood Porridge from Oh She Glows is freaking amazing. You have to make it. I loved it! I got four servings out of her recipe and ended up, mid-week, making another batch. I have never done that before, that’s how much I loved it!
  • Kale and Apple Salad with Maple Balsamic Dressing  was also a keeper. However, I used less oil and maple syrup than she recommended and next time I will try it without the dried cranberries – I’m trying to cut back on my sugar intake (the natural sugar and chocolate chip cookie kind).
  • The Crockpot Black Bean Soup made me almost stab picky-loving husband’s eyes out. The recipe makes a huge pot and he had two bites and threw the rest of his bowl out. Sigh. I really am not sure what I am going to do with this man to get him to eat less meat. I thought it was pretty good, however it could have used a bit more spice. Nonetheless this recipe is NOT a keeper at my house.
  • The Chocolate Chip Cookies, well I don’t think I need to say more except bake them. They are amazing.

Catch Up On Previous Week’s Menus



  • Lately my skin has been acting up. I am breaking out, then the next day it is dry as hell and nothing is making it look or feel better. My energy levels are a little low too and I feel like a funk has settled over me. I know a lot of this has to do with hormones (thank you menopause, you b*tch), as well as the weather (I always get a little squirrelly when the weather turns to the worse). Then accompany that with the fact that I haven’t been hiking in a while (my favourite place to be is on a trail) will lead to me not feeling like me. But, I want to see if changes to my diet will help.
  • The first change I am going to make is to start having apple cider vinegar every morning. My recipe is: 1Tbsp apple cider vinegar (make sure it is “from the mother”), 1 cup hot water, 1tsp raw honey, cinnamon and a half a lemon squeezed in it. It is not that bad, I’m sipping it right now. Next week I will try a raw food diet for two weeks to see if that helps with everything too (loving husband is bracing for that).
  • Breakfast for the following week is going to alternate between these two recipes:
    • 2 hard boiled eggs chopped up in a bowl with a half of an avocado, cubed
    • Or, chia pudding: 1/2 cup chia seeds, 2 cups unsweetened almond milk, 1 tsp cinnamon, 1 tsp vanilla, 10-12 drops of stevia and a cup of blueberries. Mix it all up and put in the fridge overnight. This makes 2 servings.
  • PREP: I will hard boil all the eggs on Sunday and make two servings of the chia pudding (since it gets thicker and better as it sits in the fridge).


big ass salad - Fitness with PJ blog

  • BAS (big as salad) with spinach, grape tomatoes, snap peas, peppers, cucumber and then when I plate it I will add sesame seeds and roasted chickpeas for my protein. I will use the leftover dressing I have from last week’s Kale Apple Salad recipe (it’s really good!).
  • PREP: I will roast the chickpeas and make the salad on Sunday and store it in this awesome HUGE bowl I have that I got as a wedding gift from my amazing big sis Cindy. She used to be a Tupperware sales rep and got the bowl there. It is over 21 years old and is used almost every week and keeps on on going. Great bowl!



  • The weekend did not really go according to plan so the BBQ turkey burgers we were going to have last night we will have tonight. I won’t eat a bun, and instead of Tatar Tots (yes, this is what I am seriously making loving husband) I am going to roast me some brussel sprouts.
  • I absolutely love roasted brussel sprouts! All I do is toss them in some extra virgin olive oil, sprinkle some s&p and roast them for 25-30 minutes at 425 degrees.
  • Loving husband will also be made to eat some of BAS above (without the chickpeas or tomatoes), so I know I at least got one serving of veggies into his body this weekend (because sweet and sour pork and sweet and sour chicken balls do not count).


Stuffed-Sweet-Potato-Fitness with PJ blog

  • It’s Meatless Monday what could be the undoing of a very happy 21 year marriage. If you are new to my blog then here’s a quick synopsis of my life in the kitchen with my loving husband: I love fruit and veggies, loving husband does not. He has the tastebuds of an 8-year old boy and because I love him, and I want him to stay above ground for as long as possible, I try my hardest, each and every week, to find healthy recipes and foods that he will eat. And let me tell you these past few Meatless Mondays have been a bust.
  • Loaded Sweet Potatoe – by SkinnyTaste. I have made this before and it is really good, especially the yogurt sauce. Loved it!
  • Now loving husband doesn’t really like sweet potatoes so I will make him a regular potaote and we will also some of the BAS as a side dish.
  • PREP: I will bake both of the potaotes on Sunday, as well as make the rest of the recipe so we can just re-heat when I get home from work on Monday.


  • Wild Salmon Vegetable Salad with Lemon Miso Dressing – by Skinny Ms.
  • However, I will not be adding any nori. If a mushroom can send picky-loving husband over the edge I can only image what dried seaweed could do to the poor guy’s psyche. Read here about how a mushroom almost killed him, and if that didn’t I would.

WORKOUT TIP: Check out this HIIT workout. It is only 30-minutes and will burn a ton of calories, as well as work the core and legs and create a healthier more efficient heart.



Tilapia Tostadas - Fitness with PJ blog

  • Tilapia Tostadas – Whole Foods
  • As you can see by the last two recipes I like the Whole Foods website. They have some great recipes – and they are free! Unlike shopping there which will cost you first and last month’s mortgage.



  • I have a meeting at 4:30 that day and I have no idea what time I will be home, so we will either eat out, take out or just do our own thing.

WORKOUT TIP: If weight loss is your goal, do shorter, more intense weight training workouts. This type of training will get the pounds off way faster than aerobic exercise. Click here for an example.



  • I am not sure about Saturday. I would really love to get a on a trail (weather permitting), so I am crossing my fingers and doing a tribal “don’t rain dance” that this will happen.
  • If we do hit a trail I will throw together a slow cooker meal before we leave so that when we come home dinner is ready for us (I love that!).
  • Or, if we didn’t eat out last night we will do take out after the hike (we only eat one meal out once a week).
  • If we don’t hike, then I will use the day to get ready for my two-week raw food diet I will starting on Sunday.








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