5 Easy Tips To Eat Less

5 Easy Tips To Eat Less

5 Easy Tips to Eat Less

In today’s world of consumption we could all learn to want a little less, and this is especially true with food.

The abundance of choices and readiness of prepared food products is unparalleled. No other generation before us has had so much food available to them, and for so cheap.

This availability has come at a price though, and it’s our waistlines that have paid for it.

The Stats

The average number of calories a person eats in a day is 3,900. Back in 1965 that number was 3,100 calories. That’s an increase of 25%.

This increase is not with fresh fruit or vegetables either. Instead, we are eating more packaged products (see graph below) which are full of sugar, salt and bad fat.

This deadly trio, in turn, makes us crave more sugar, more sodium and more fat. It’s a revolving door that will just keep on this treadmill of addiction if we don’t start making some changes.

Breakdown of money spent on groceries - Fitness with PJ

Too Much Of A Bad Thing

How did we gain all this weight? Because it is not fathomable that a 25% increase in calories in the last 50  years has lead to an almost 50% North American obesity rate.

Weight gain is not exactly what we used to think it was, a calories in versus calories expended model. Science has confirmed that we do not process all foods the same.

Take for example almonds and a chocolate bar. The body processes the calories and macronutrients of both very differently.

The candy bar, if eaten on a regular basis, will lead to weight gain, whereas the nuts will not (unless you are my loving husband. Damn him. He eats a candy bar everyday and has not gained a pound in the 24 years of being together.).

Instead, experts are warning us that excessive over eating of the wrong foods (ie. high in sugar, sodium and bad fat), will lead us to gain weight faster because of leptin resistance in the body.

Leptin is a natural occurring hormone that tells our brains when we are full.

When we eat healthy whole foods, in the right amounts leptin does its job wonderfully and secretes messages to our control centre (the brain) telling us when we are full and when to stop eating.

But, years of bad choices with foods, accompanied with mindless over eating, breaks this system and we are now resistant to the one hormone that is there to help us.

sugar-consumption-Fitness with PJ

Do This First

So, my first piece of advice on how to eat less is to start eating real food for as many different meals as you can and eliminate added sugar from your diet.

Plan and prep your meals ahead of time and implement these five tips to help you eat less.

 5 Easy Tips to Eat Less

1/ Hide the food.

Studies have shown that we eat more food if the food is left out on the table. So, once you have plated your meal put the dishes back in the kitchen, or even better the fridge.

On the flip side, when storing your food in the fridge or cupboards put the good stuff in clear view of your eye sight.

For instance, place your vegetables right smack in the center of your fridge and hide the processed, bad foods in the crisper. Out of sight, out of mind.

2/ Trick your brain.

Trick your brain by using smaller plates and taller glasses. Yes, we can really pull one over on ourselves.

You see food looks like way more than it is on smaller plates, creating an “illusion” to our grey matter that we are eating more. This trick even works with glasses. Choose glasses that are taller and not the wider and your brain will think there is more volume.

Here’s a good example, take a look at the picture below.

How to eat less - Fitness with PJ blog

Each dot is the exact same in diameter, but doesn’t the one on the left look bigger?

So, if this was a plate of food it would also seem bigger to your brain and your brain would physically “think” that it’s eating more food than it really is -therefore telling our stomach to shut up and be satisfied.

Yep. It’s that easy to trick ourselves!

3/ Eat protein for breakfast.

Experts suggest eating at least 30 grams of protein (that’s 2 eggs and some cottage cheese) to help come out of the fast that you have done through the night and to replenish your protein stores. This is important so that your body does not start drawing on your own muscle tissue to feed itself.

In addition, wholesome high protein foods will also help regulate your appetite for the day, filling you up for a longer period. This equals to less snacking and more focus and energy through your morning too.

4/ Serve yourself 20% less.

It’s been proven that our margin for mindless eating starts after 80%. That means that after we have eaten 80% of our plate, the remaining 20% is mostly mindless.

The body does not need it for survival; we are simply eating it because we have stopped being aware.

Push yourself away from the table before this happens. Leave satisfied, but not full.

Science says this is the best workout to lose belly fat.

How to eat less - Fitness with PJ blog

5/ Drink water.

Our body cannot distinguish whether it is thirsty or hungry. Rather it has one signal that it releases when it craves either, and in my experience people are usually dehydrated before they are actually hungry.

TRY THIS: When you get the “signal” from your stomach have a large glass of water and wait 10 minutes. Stomach still grumbling? Have another glass and wait another 10 minutes.

I also do not want you to drink your calories either. Recent studies have found that the calories we consume in liquid form don’t “register” as food in the brain’s satiety centres.

Water is the only liquid that will “fill us up” – anything else is simply extra calories to our waistline.







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

Women and Strength Training

Women and Strength Training

Hippocrates once said, “That which is used develops, and that which is not used wastes away”, which translated in today’s 21st century speak means “if you don’t move it, you lose it”.

Both quotes are very relevant and fitting when it comes to the human body or, more specifically, our musculoskeletal system.

How is Muscle Built?

Most people believe that it is when they are exercising that their muscles are building and getting stronger, but technically it is after the workout that the construction party begins at a cellular level.

While you’re performing your favourite squat exercise you are creating small microscopic tears in the tissue.

It is only when we are done with our strength training session, and resting that the cells go about repairing these tears, this time making the damaged fibers stronger. Stronger fibers equates to bigger and more physically powerful muscles.

Can’t I Do the Same Exercise Every Week?

Once you start your strength training routine, it will only take the muscular skeletal system about two months to adapt to that particular training routine. Once that adaptation has occurred (and if you continue with that same exercise program), you will eventually encounter an “exercise plateau”.

You are now maintaining instead of developing.

What’s the answer you ask? Variety! Variety is so important to any fitness program, whether that program is a strength-training program, a running program, a swimming program or an exercise class. You need to keep the muscles confused and the mind stimulated.

Try this awesome ladies-only Abs & Arms Workout.

But, I don’t want big muscles?

The main hormone needed, for these big muscles that a lot of women are fearful of putting on, is testosterone and testosterone is produced in small quantities in us ladies.

The only way to get big muscles like a man is to be, well a man. So, if you have a penis, then yes you will most likely gain muscle. If you don’t, then you won’t. It’s that simple.

Please, do not be afraid to pick up the heavier dumbbells as you get fitter. They won’t turn you into a muscle-bound freak. I promise.

What if I take a break from strength training? Will my muscle turn to fat?

Taking a break will not turn your muscles into fat. Instead, they will turn into a self-ticking bomb ready to detonate at any time.

Just joking. Kinda.

When we stop training the muscles start to atrophy. This refers to the actual loss of muscle mass within your muscle tissue. Our muscles begin to decrease in size and we lose that “toned” look about them.

This is why a lot of people mistakenly believe that muscle turns to fat. Because where there once was a beautiful firm muscle, is now a flabby pile of, well, flab. And, the flab got there by the muscles shrinking and your fat mass invading in on their territory.

This decrease can, surprisingly, start in as little as 72 hours, depending in how often the muscle is used in real life. So, the muscles in your legs will probably atrophy slower than the ones in your back, because we use our legs everyday.

We can dot it!

Some tips to keep your program fresh and interesting:

  • Subscribe to my YouTube channel. I am constantly uploading different workout routines, and as a subscriber you will always have first access 🙂
  • If you are over 40 (and new to exercise) begin my 6-week online fitness course: Over 40 – Becoming a Fat Burning Machine. This will literally build you up from square one and turn you into a workout machine by week 6.
  • Increase the weight that you lift  5-10% every 1-2 weeks. This will constantly stress the muscles and bones, without leaving you sore the next day.
  • Hire a personal trainer. I never give my clients the same workout twice. I am constantly mixing it up so that they can learn new exercises that they can take with them.
  • Workout to music. Studies have proven that music will enhance your exercise performance as well as improve your adherence.
  • Instead of pumping out the same 2 sets of 12-15 repetitions each week, try advanced training techniques such as:
    • Drop sets (note, there many variations of this): as you progress with your sets, add more reps while you “strip” the weight down. Example: shoulder press using 15lb for 10 reps, set #2 use 12lb for 15 reps and set #3 use 10lb for 20 reps.
    • Circuit training: perform each exercise, one after another, with little rest in-between. This is how a lot of my YouTube videos are filmed. I love this technique because I get the best of both worlds, weights and cardio. Try this workout.
    • Super setting: alternate between two different muscle groups for a set. Example: perform a set of squats and then immediately follow that with an upper body exercise, like a chest press. You can also super set opposing muscle groups, such as the biceps and triceps, or the quadriceps and hamstrings, or the pecs and lats. Try this workout.
    • Eccentric training (also called negative sets): on your last set emphasize the lengthening of the muscle, for each rep. Example: take 2 seconds to lower into your squat and then 5-6 seconds to come back up to a standing position.
    • Diminished-rest interval training: time the rest you take between sets in your current workout then in each subsequent session, try to perform the same total number of sets and reps, but reduce your rest periods by five to 10 seconds each time. I do this with my classes a lot – just don’t tell them.
    • Tabata training: perform big muscle moves, like squats and lunges, in 20 seconds intervals of hard work to 10 seconds of rest for 8 sets. Try this workout.
    • Single-sided training: train the left and right sides of your body separately to develop muscle balance and symmetry. Some examples: perform a seated row one arm at a time using a D-handle, chest press a dumbbell one arm at a time or squat one leg at time.
    • Ladder workouts: take two exercises and alternate between the two. Start at 10 (or more reps) and work yourself down, or ladder down, to 1 rep. I love doing this with burpees. Try this lower body ladder workout.

So, if women with muscles look like men, men with no muscles...

Women and Strength Training 


  • 2-3 times a week working at 50-60% of their repetition maximum (take the amount of weight that they can lift once and multiple that by 50-60%).
  • Begin with easy movement patterns to create body awareness.
  • Areas to target: core, postural muscles
  • Try this workout, No Gym Required


  • 2-4 times a week at 60-75% of their repetition maximum.
  • Begin with a circuit workout to include the cardio in the strength program.
  • Areas to target: glutes, postural muscles and core.
  • Try this workout, Best Butt Workout for Women


  • 3-4 times a week at 60-90% of their repetition maximum.
  • Try a split routine, training upper body one day and lower the following.
  • Areas to target: core, upper body (especially the pectoral muscles)
  • Try this workout, Upper Body and Abs for Women


  • Loss of muscle mass and strength start to occur in our 40’s (Kravitz, 2007) so a strength training regime is a must for this age group m(which is precisely why I developed this!).
  • 2-3 times a week at 60-90% of their repetition maximum.
  • Incorporate balance tools with your strength routine.
  • Areas to target: core, upper body strength
  • Try this workout: Tank Top Arms

Fifties and Beyond

  • 2 times a week at 50-75% of their repetition maximum.
  • Women in this age bracket tend to see more success when working with a trainer or attending group classes geared for their age group.
  • Areas to target: balance, posture, core, shoulders
  • Try this workout, Hamstring and Hip Opener

Looking for some tough love training? I’ve got small group classes, one-on-one appointments, and online personal training. In other words – everything you need to get started! Check out my website here.

For more healthy living tips, recipes and workouts please subscribe above to this blog

You can also find me on Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and Instagram.

If you are really interested in getting started on your own weight loss and fitness journey, shoot me an email!

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PJ ox

How To Bounce Back From Failure

How To Bounce Back From Failure

Stopped Working Out? How To Bounce Back.

Having been a trainer for over two decades now (wow, I’m getting old. When the hell did that happen?!), I know there are a lot of people who have a hard time getting fit and losing weight.

In my 20-plus years of being “in the trenches,” I have found that most people can find the energy and enthusiasm to start a fitness plan, or a new eating plan. We make a commitment to ourselves and we start.

No problem.

Where the challenge lies is in staying committed to those goals on an ongoing basis.

I’m Starting… Next Year

Think about how many times you have triumphantly told yourself that “today is going to be the day!”, only to have that same enthusiasm wane as the days pass.

Or, how many of you have promised yourself, “I will start on Monday,” only to have Friday come and everything we promised ourselves, and were kicking ass doing on Monday and Tuesday, is slowly starting to fall to the “not so important anymore” category in our daily lives.

All these broken promises to ourselves can leave us feeling resentful, frustrated and angry with ourselves.

We wonder, why we can’t do this? What’s wrong with me? Will I ever succeed? Ha, trust me, there nothing is wrong with you.

You are human and we ALL fall and slip with our health goals. I even fall prey to this. There are some weekends where pizza, cookies and rum dominate my Saturday and Sunday nights and then Monday comes for me too.

How To Bounce Back 

Now, first off I want you to know that making poor choices with your health, when you promised yourself that you wouldn’t, is not failure. Failure is9, not even recognizing that you need to change your lifestyle.

Ignorance is the biggest indicator to failure.

Whereas admitting that you need to change some (or a lot) of things in your life to feel better, and then falling on your face every so often, is completely, utterly human.

So, what can you do next time you fall off the wagon? You have three choices. You can:

A) Crawl back into bed and throw the covers over your head,

B) Yell and scream and blame everyone else for your slip up

C) Dust yourself off and bounce back

While A can be tempting, and B we may do at times, it’s C that’s the clear winner – dusting ourselves off and bouncing back is the only way to bounce back from disaster and failure.

5 Steps to Bouncing Back

To successfully pick ourselves up takes:

  • Strength from within
  • Support from those around you
  • Responsibility on your part
  • An ability to embrace challenge and change
  • A never-stop-bouncing back attitude

First, strength within happens through self-love. You have to convince yourself that you are worth it, that even if you are starting over again you are still way farther ahead than you would be if you didn’t.

You need to remind yourself that you are making better choices in your life – for your life.

To help accomplish this new love affair with yourself you may need to reframe your thinking. Instead of thinking of exercise as a form of punishment, think of it as a choice you are making because you love your body. Sounds corny eh? But, it works.

Case in point, would you rather do a workout if someone said to you “This is going to hurt like a motha and leave you crippled for days”.

Or, “You are going to feel amazing after this”. Person A would get a punch in the throat, I am positive.

Yet, this is how we talk to ourselves all the time. We either guilt ourselves into doing something, or we take the most negative aspect of it and focus on that.

Your grey matter can play a huge roll on whether or not you put those runners on.


Second, lean on those around you. Don’t feel like a burden; get help from your family, your social circle and even social media. The more people that know you need help staying on track, the more people can help. And, who knows, maybe one day they may need your help too.

Third, take responsibility for your actions. This is a tough one. It can be a hard pill to swallow, but recognize that you are completely and utterly in control of your actions.

No one is stopping you from exercise (example, you are the one creating the “I am too busy…too tired… too unmotivated…too sore…too old…” excuses that stop you from getting those runners on), and no one is stuffing bad choices down your throat in the form of burgers and beer.

Take responsibility, learn from your mistakes, bounce back up and move on.

Finally, it’s important to embrace the challenges and the inevitable adjustment that has to happen to change the direction of your health.

Don’t put up stop signs (such as “I’m too busy… too tired… too unmotivated…too sore… too old…”). If you want to make a change, start – and then get the hell out of your way and let the changes happen.

Work on those little grasshopper, and then you will find that you can bounce back, come back and live through anything.







PJ ox

The Beginner’s Guide to Strength Training

The Beginner’s Guide to Strength Training

The Beginner’s Guide to Strength Training

There are many different goals that people tell me they want their fitness programs to achieve. However, the one goal that is most often cited is increased muscle tone and strength.

And, as a strength training coach and trainer I love to hear that, especially from my over-40 crowd.

After the age of 40 our strength begins to decline (they call this atrophy), and continues on that downward spiral to hell 8 to 10 percent, per decade, thereafter (Baltimore Longitudinal Study of Aging).

Now, this decline in strength not only affects our ability to move and our strength in general, it also has serious consequences on our metabolism.

Our metabolisms are what dictates how many calories we burn throughout the day. A higher metabolism, the more calories we will burn. The more calories burned, the better our chances are for a slimmer, trimmer body.

How do you keep your metabolism running as quick and agile as a bunny?

You can start by holding onto those muscles that are slowly disintegrating with each passing year.

The more muscle you have, the more calories your body needs to support that muscle (a pound of muscle at rest burns about 6 calories, while a pound of fat burns about 2).

You see, it requires more calories for the body to keep a pound of muscle warm (because the body loves staying in a homeostasis state of 98.6 degrees Fahrenheit), than it does a pound of fat.

Intense strength training can also increase your BMR (Basal Metabolic Rate) and your EPOC (Exercise Post Oxygen Consumption). Both of which can lead to some serious calorie burning.

In fact, fat loss studies have proven that high intensity strength training can burn fat faster than traditional aerobic exercise. So, say good bye to running and hello to the bench press if you are looking to lose weight.


What else can strength training do for me?

Strength training is the only means of fighting that age-related business of muscles wasting away (atrophying).

In addition, strength training: increases bone strength, decreases resting blood pressure and lowers individuals’ risk for type 2 diabetes.

And, as mentioned above it is also a champion when it comes to burning fat.

As a beginner how often should I lift weights?

Every day and twice on Sundays.

Just joking. If you are just starting to lift weights you are in a fantastic place. Beginner’s ALWAYS see gains, and quickly. It’s because the moves and exercises are a new stimulus to you and your body is going to respond in a positive and happy way!

I recommend, to all new exercisers, a twice a week strength training routine, working all the major muscle groups of the body, with at least a day’s rest in-between lift days.

From there, as you get stronger and more accustomed to strength training, progress to 3-4 times a week.

This change in frequency will usually have to happen by month three, as you start to plateau. However, a simple tweak to your intensity and how often you lift will get you over that hump so that you can continue to see change and growth.

Is it safe to strength train at any age?

You betcha! Strength training will help improve balance, (therefore decreasing the risk of falling), sustain a longer independence in life and reduce the risk of osteoporosis.

In a recent study, researchers found that walking by itself was not enough of an overload to stimulate bone-building cells. Weight training and impact-type exercises were found to be more advantageous.

Try this Beginner’s Strength Workout 


How many reps should I do?

There are two primary types of muscle fibres: slow twitch and fast twitch.

Slow twitch muscle fibres move more slowly and have more mitochondria (structures located within the muscle cell that contain enzymes needed to metabolize food into energy sources). This means that they have a higher aerobic capacity and are less resistant to fatigue.

On the other hand, fast twitch muscle fibres are characterized by their fast speed of contraction but lower level of aerobic capacity. Since we carry both sets of fibres, I always recommend periodizing a strength program of:

  • 4-8 weeks of high reps (1-3 sets of 13-20 repetitions) at a light load. This should address the slow twitch muscle fibres.
  • Then, for the next 4-8 week period, switch your program to a heavier load of 8-12 reps for 1-4 sets. This type of programming should avoid exercise plateaus and address both types of muscle fibres.

Are machines better than dumbbells?

Machines. Suck. Period. All right, I’ll be a little generous; they are kind of good for beginners and those coming back to the gym after an injury.

This is because they support the individual and help dictate the plane of motion to lift in. However, that’s precisely why I hate them too.

We should be learning to support our own bodies and move through our own range of motion, and not that of a machine. I prefer dumbbells, barbells, kettlebells, tubing, TRX, cable machines, pulley systems, stability balls, the BOSU, the Rip Trainer, medicine balls and wobble boards.

Try this TRX & Dumbbell Workout.

Suggested workouts for beginners:







PJ ox

Muscle Imbalances and How-To Fix

Muscle Imbalances and How-To Fix

Muscle Imbalances & How to Fix

Muscle imbalances are something that I see a lot of in my business. One shoulder sitting higher than the other, one arm stronger than the other, one leg more dominant than its counterpart.

It’s a common occurrence with the human body, and one that does more harm than good.

Gray Cook, a physical therapist and leader in the field of functional movement (www.graycook.com), claims, “left-to-right asymmetries seem to be the most common problem associated with the risk of injury.”

This holds true for the athlete as well as for us mere mortals working out in the gym.

In addition to contributing to injury, muscle imbalances can also cause day-to-day pain.

For instance, weakness in certain muscles of the abdomen can create back pain because the muscles of the stomach need to be strong to help to support the back. The same holds true with the knee.

If the muscles of the front of the thigh (the quadriceps) are more built up than the muscles at the back of the leg (the hamstrings), then you may be making an appointment with your physiotherapist in the near future.

One tip to remember when training at the gym:

  • When you workout one muscle group, be sure to train the opposite muscle group immediately after.
  • For example, a chest exercise in my gym equates to two back exercises (because most people tend to have poor postures related to daily living), a bicep curl is always followed with a tricep extension, an abdomen crunch with a low back extension, and a quadricep driven exercise is always followed with at least two (and sometimes three) hamstring and glute exercises.

Why so many glute and hamstring exercises, you wonder?

The front muscles of the leg, in most people, usually tend to be stronger – while the poor muscles of the posterior are neglected and left out. This leads to everything from back pain, knee pain, and hip pain, to poor core instability and inefficient knee tracking.

All nasty little things that will put an end to your workout.

Another trick I recommend to offset any imbalances is to train each side of your body individually:

  • Perform your chest press one arm at a time.
  • Use a D-handle for your lat pulldown and work each side independently.
  • Instead of a squat, do a one-legged squat.
  • A hamstring curl becomes a one-legged curl.

One Dumbbell Workout

Give this workout a go to work out any muscle imbalances you might have. All you need is one dumbbell and 30-minutes.







PJ ox

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