We are very excited to welcome the newest Belly Bootcamp trainer, Kara Stewart-Agostino, to our team!
Kara brings a lifelong passion for fitness and women’s health to the Belly Bootcamp team. Since becoming a mommy, Kara has turned her passion into a career and now works one-on-one with personal training clients as well as putting an upbeat & creative spin on her Belly Bootcamp classes. Kara is a Certified Personal Trainer and Certified Prenatal/Postnatal Fitness Specialist with the Canadian Association of Fitness Professionals, and holds a B.A.
Whether playing baseball or golf, boxing or weight training, Kara loves to beat the guys at their own games! Kara is passionate about inspiring women to be the best they can be, and coaches her clients and Belly Bootcampers to strive for physical strength while staying down-to-earth about society’s expectations.
Most importantly her goal is to share this love for fitness with her two active kids. When Kara’s not teaching a class, you can find her playing soccer with Sebastian or jogging with Mia in the stroller. When they’re in bed, she’s dreaming up new exercises!
Whether you choose to feed your new baby the bottle or the breast, you’re probably spending a lot of time doing it. That means several hours a day in the same position: shoulders turned in, head down, with your arms in front of you, cradling your little one. As special as the time spent nursing is, it can also take a toll on your body! Many new parents seek massage therapy to ease the stiffness and muscle pain felt in their neck, upper back and wrists, but many more can’t find the time for themselves. These three stretches will take less than five minutes to do, and can help to prevent and relieve tension, especially when done regularly.
Start by holding your arm out in front of you, palm facing up. Keeping your elbow straight, bend your wrist back so that your fingers point toward the floor. Use your other hand to increase the stretch by pulling back on your palm. Hold for 30-45 seconds, then repeat on the other side
Simply position yourself in an open doorway, with your elbows bent to 90′ and at shoulder height, so that your forearms are resting along the frame with hands pointed toward the ceiling. You can choose to stretch both sides at once, or relax one arm at a time . Step ahead and lean through the door, keeping your arms in place, until you feel a comfortable stretch across the chest.
Sit comfortably and side-bend your neck so that one ear drops towards your shoulder. Hold this position for about 30 seconds if you feel a pull. Complete the stretch by rotating your head so you’re looking towards your armpit, then slowly lift your chin (back-bend the neck) until a stretch is felt along the front and side of your neck. Continue to hold for 30 more seconds, then repeat on the other side.
Thank you to Alycia Duff-Bergeron, Registered Massage Therapist, for this contribution. Alycia is a respected massage therapist with more than 6 years of experience treating women and men, including pregnant & postpartum women and Belly Bootcamp clients. Babies are welcome alongside mommies in Alycia’s private clinic, Anatomica Massage Therapy.
We love BBQ season as much as the next Canadian family, but some days in spring are still cool enough to open the windows and fire up the oven. Case in point: spring 2013. Which – basically – has sucked. Yesterday it was cool and rainy and the perfect chance to turn what was going to be BBQ beef burgers into another equally cheap, filling & kid-pleasing dinner: meatloaf! This meatloaf is like a meal all in one - loaded with protein, gluten-free, high-fiber and packed with vitamins & antioxidants. (more…)
It has not been the fairest of springs in Toronto this year. I know some of you from other, more northerly climates are rolling your eyes right now but for those of us who are chasing a lovely stroller fitness season (or running, or hiking, or cycling), a cool, rainy spring feels a bit discouraging. You can put a rainy day to good use, though, if you know a few tricks. Get outdoors and work some killer legs. The cool temperatures will feel great after just a short warmup and you’ll be amazed how energized you will feel at the end of a rainy day workout. The best part? No sweatiness!
In just a couple of hours I will head out in the wind and rain, on wet and muddy grass, to whichever die-hard mommies choose to come out and get their asses kicked over curling up on their couches with a cup of tea. Have I ever mentioned how much a personal trainer is actually inspired by… her clients?
So what does a trainer do on a rainy, muddy, cold day? When the grass is too wet for push ups, kneeling work, and definitely, definitely, anything that involves lying on one’s back?
Simple. You do legs. Throw on a warm jacket and maybe a light toque and gloves. Pull out last season’s sneakers… you won’t care if they get a little muddy.
Give yourself 4-6 weeks to really tone up your legs while you enjoy this preamble to summer. This kick-ass (kick-leg, kick-hip, kick-calf, kick-abs) workout can be done 2-4 times per week, with or without a stroller. Leave a day in between these leg workouts for just walking, running, yoga, etc. Adjust the length by adding more cardio and save time by restricting the cardio to just warm-up and cool-down.
Warm up: 5-10 minutes brisk walking or light jogging
Pause your walk or jog in a safe spot and perform each of the following for 30 seconds:
Squat & Front Kick: if you’ve got a bench available, face away from the bench and tap your butt on each squat. Squat, pushing butt behind you and keeping weight in heels, until thighs are parallel with ground or you tap the bench, then stand and kick high with right leg. Repeat on left and continue alternating for 30 seconds.
Walking Lunge: with or without stroller, step forward into lunge position so back heel is lifted and weight is on front leg. Lower until front thigh is parallel with ground (push butt back so front knee doesn’t push beyond front toes) then press up to standing. Swing rear leg forward into front position and repeat. Continue alternating for 30 seconds.
Jump Squat: squat, pushing butt behind you and keeping weight in heels, until thighs are roughly parallel with ground, then explode upward and jump up (use arms if needed, to propel you). Land softly and return down to squat position to repeat immediately. Continue for 30 seconds as quickly as possible while still squatting low between each jump.
Butt Kicks: jog forward, with or without stroller, keeping good posture while you kick your heels up. Take lots of small steps and focus kicking all the way up to tap your butt with each kick. Continue for 30 seconds.
Cardio: 5-10 minutes brisk walking or jogging.
Repeat the leg circuit & cardio intervals as many times as you have time for. One circuit alone will give your legs a good jolt; 3-5 circuits will give your lower body an amazing endurance workout.
Cool down: 5 minutes easy walking.
Take advantage of the cooler temperatures, which not only force your body to burn more calories while you exercise than you would indoors, but keep you from overheating and actually help you last longer! Besides, you can decide when summer starts for you by enjoying what we’ve got. It could be worse. It could be snowing… Get outside!
Apparently, if you want to live a “full life,” the most important elements are not worrying about money, and not worrying about what other people think of you.
Seriously, if I could never again worry about money or what other people thought of me, I’d be a happy ameobic blob, floating around the city of Toronto with bare feet, eating from the Smoke’s Poutine truck and returning home to drink wine when the sun went down. OK, so that is the single person version of what I’d do. With kids it might look more like spending the entire day laying in my bikini in the wading pool with a book (complete disregard for adolescent lifeguard’s disdain, of course…), rolling over once in a while, and returning home to drink wine when the children finally passed out in the grass. Anyway, you get the drift.
British researchers recently polled 2,000 English people about the behaviours and achievements they considered essential to happiness. The list is not as far-fetched as you’d think. Less “jump out of an airplane,” more “have a pet” than I would have expected. Also interesting and affirming – the list is much more about experience than material possessions. So the goal of “not worrying about money” (living on poutine is optional) is not necessarily the same thing about never HAVING to worry about money. It’s a state of mind, not a lottery win we’re talking about.
Sadly, only 23% of those polled considered themselves to be living their lives to the fullest, despite the fact that they could specifically name the things that could make that happen.
The averaged person polled has done only 8 of these 50 things. Read the full list below & tell me how many YOU’VE done!
Then, think about how you can choose 5 for this year that you can either achieve, or start planning to achieve. All night drinking session, anyone?….
1. Stop worrying about money
2. Stop worrying about what other people think
3. Take two holidays a year
4. Enjoy little comforts in life
5. Experience different cultures
6. Work to live rather than live to work
7. Pay off all debts
8. Be true to yourself
9. Concentrate on what you have instead of what you don’t have
10.Use money on experiences rather than saving for a rainy day
11. Make time for family and friends
12. Try all types of food
13. Find true love
14. Travel to at least 25 different foreign countries
15. Go outside more
16. Learn a new language
17. Be well thought of by family and friends
18. Help a member of your family out when they really need it
19. Lose a stone in weight
20. Treat each day like it’s your last
21. Visit all of Britain’s historical landmarks
22. Book an impulsive last minute holiday
23. Volunteer for a good cause
24. Take up a challenge
25. Go on safari
26. Blow a load of money in one shopping trip, just because you can
27. Learn a new instrument
28. Be married for longer than 20 years
29. Have enough money left for the grandchildren to enjoy
30. Start a family
31. Earn more than your age
32. Have a pet
33. Drive a really fast car
34. Travel alone
35. Be able to keep the kids on the straight and narrow
36. Meet strangers
37. Move away from home to an unfamiliar place
38. Have a one night stand
39. Pass your driving test
40. Get a degree
41. Rescue someone so that you’re a hero for a little while
42. Date someone exciting but completely wrong for you
43. Get a promotion
44. Reach the desired career peak by age 40
45. Have an all-night drinking session
46. Perform something on stage in front of others
47. Snog a stranger
48. Plan a surprise party
49. Embark on adrenaline packed activities such as sky diving or bungee jumping
50. Spend time with children even if they aren’t yours
How many of these have you done? Comment below! Plus, did they leave anything out?…
This is a protein-packed breakfast or lunch that is not only delicious and simple, it can help you slim down for summer and avoid sugar cravings later in the day.
How do I know?
1. Your mother told you that breakfast is the most important meal of the day and, as you know, mothers are always right.
2. I have used my body as a human laboratory of sorts for 13 years and have discovered that a fat- and protein-rich breakfast makes a HUGE impact on my late afternoon and evening energy levels and snackiness. Yes, that is the correct term.
3. A 2005 Study in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition found that women (anywhere aged 25-60 in the study) ate considerably fewer calories later in the day and felt less hungry throughout the day when their breakfasts contained eggs, compared to those who ate the same number of breakfast calories in the form of a bagel.
Now, I know getting eggs first thing in the morning is not always easy. Weekends are egg territory for most of us and on weekday mornings we tend to live in carboland, where lovely coffee-accompanying treats like bagels, cereal, toast & peanut butter (or toast + butter + peanut butter + honey if you are pregnant Dara – let’s not go there…) are quicker and easier when you’re on-the-go.
I am going to fix that! I leave the house between 6:00-6:30 a.m. most days and I neither have time nor appetite before leaving home to cook and eat eggs. So I have included in my Sunday routine just 20 minutes to prep a batch of these delicious muffin-cup frittatas. I vary the content depending on what is in my fridge, waiting to be used up.
I grab two of these with a piece of fruit and I have a fantastic, filling, whole-food breakfast that’s packed with protein and gets me through to lunch, after Belly Bootcamp. When I don’t have them for breakfast, I’ll often reheat a couple of these frittatas with some kale, spinach or other veggies for lunch. They are also a great nighttime snack and an easy addition to your kiddo’s school lunch. Enjoy!
Fluffy Muffin-Cup Frittatas
- 1/2 pound chopped ham, bacon or other leftover breakfast meat from the weekend (optional; organic, low-sodium and/or nitrate-free are preferable)
- 1 – 1 1/2 cups veggies, sauteed lightly
- 9 large eggs, beaten
- 1/4 cup milk
- 1 tsp melted coconut oil or olive oil
- 1/2 tsp baking powder
- 1/2 cup crumbled feta or other cheese (again, optional)
- sprinkle oregano
- salt + pepper (easy on the salt, as cheese and meat, if using, will add salt already)
1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F and brush muffin cups with olive or coconut oil. Do not skip the oil as frittatas will stick otherwise. 2. Saute chopped vegetables and cool briefly. 3. Combine eggs, oil, milk, baking powder and any seasoning; beat until frothy. 4. Divide meat & veggies equally among muffin cups and top with cheese. 5. Divide egg mixture among cups – cups should be about 3/4 full. 6. Bake 15-20 minutes, depending on doneness preference for eggs – in my oven, about 17-18 minutes is plenty. They will puff up and then flatten once removed. 7. Remove and cool in pan 5 minutes for easier removal, then use a butter knife to slice around each frittata and remove to baking rack to fully cool, or eat warm!
Now, the real question is… ketchup? salsa? sriracha?
And here are a few of my other eats – I haven’t posted a “What I Ate Wednesday” for a couple of weeks, so here are a couple of bonus pictures for meal inspiration! Enjoy!
This spring marks our 5th Belly Bootcamp outdoor season. I can’t believe it’s been 4 full years and already onto the 5th. We’ve had the pleasure of training so many amazing women that I rarely go to a park, farmers’ market or family event without running into at least one of our Belly Bootcampers. I’m always amazed to see their little ones’ growth, as I tend to keep their babies frozen in my mind at whatever age or stage they might have been when we first met.
Seeing other people’s children grow up makes me realize that my children, too, are growing older.
Seeing my children grow older makes me realize that I, too, am aging.
This Friday my first baby, and favourite girl in the world, will turn six years old. WTF?
6 is so beyond the baby stage that I feel my head is spinning. Didn’t she just start JK, and now we’re onto actual grades this fall…? Screw that – Didn’t she just ARRIVE? Where has the time gone, and have I used it the best that I could? Have I loved enough, taught enough, cuddled enough, played enough, sung enough, disciplined enough, modelled enough?
While you may not be celebrating a birthday this week, I am sure most of you will be celebrating Mother’s Day. Maybe even your very first Mother’s Day. I hope you will be kind to yourself and enjoy your special day, and reflect on your own mother through the understanding eyes of one who loves her child.
I know now, six years in, that time flies with our little ones but motherhood never stops.
I know that I appreciate my mother more than ever before in my life. I know she must wake up sometimes and wonder where the last 32 years went, just as I marvel at the passage of 6. Motherhood doesn’t stop just because a child reaches 18 years, or has her own child. At least I hope not, because I plan to hold onto my babies a lot longer than that.
I love this beautiful poem by Guillermo Pena of Spain, and the gorgeous photo that was published with the poem.
Love and hugs to you and your babies and mothers.
Letter from a Mother to her Daughter
My dear girl, the day you see I’m getting old, I ask you to please be patient, but most of all, try to understand what I’m going through.
If when we talk, I repeat the same thing a thousand times, don’t interrupt to say: “You said the same thing a minute ago”… Just listen, please. Try to remember the times when you were little and I would read the same story… night after night until you would fall asleep.
When I don’t want to take a bath, don’t be mad and don’t embarrass me. Remember when I had to run after you making excuses and trying to get you to take a shower when you were just a girl?
When you see how ignorant I am when it comes to new technology, give me the time to learn and don’t look at me that way… remember, honey, I patiently taught you how to do many things like eating appropriately, getting dressed, combing your hair and dealing with life’s issues every day…
The day you see I’m getting old, I ask you to please be patient, but most of all, try to understand what I’m going through.
If I occasionally lose track of what we’re talking about, give me the time to remember, and if I can’t, don’t be nervous, impatient or arrogant. Just know in your heart that the most important thing for me is to be with you.
And when my old, tired legs don’t let me move as quickly as before, give me your hand the same way that I offered mine to you when you first walked.
When those days come, don’t feel sad… just be with me, and understand me while I get to the end of my life with love. I’ll cherish and thank you for the gift of time and joy we shared.
With a big smile and the huge love I’ve always had for you, I just want to say, I love you… my darling daughter.
Original Text in Spanish and Photo by Guillermo Peña.
Translation to English by Sergio Cadena
Are you ready to play? Come join us at Toronto’s best stroller fitness classes! We can’t wait to launch the 2013 Belly Bootcamp outdoor season – our Bellies & Strollers postnatal fitness classes have caught the attention of BlogTO, CTV, Today’s Parent and numerous online publications.
The BEST results. The MOST fun.
This year is going to be better than ever! Come to a park near you to join us for a trial class and see for yourself why Belly Bootcamp is Toronto’s hottest fitness for modern mommies.
High Park (west): Enter the park at Bloor St./High Park Ave. and meet at the cluster of picnic benches directly between the north and south parking on the ring road. By TTC, exit at High Park station and walk across Bloor St. to enter the park. Parking is available for free at the first lot as you enter from Bloor St.
Trinity Bellwoods/Fred Hamilton Park (central): Meet at the northwest corner of Trinity Bellwoods Park, at Dundas St./Shaw St. By TTC, take the Dundas Streetcar to Shaw St. or take the Queen Streetcar to Strachan and walk to the north end of the park. Parking is available for free along both Shaw St. and Dundas St.
Cedarvale Park (midtown): Meet on the large field next to the Phil White Arena, at 443 Arlington Road, in the center of Cedarvale Park. By TTC, take the subway to Eglinton West station and walk south through the park to the arena, or St. Clair West station and walk north through the park to the arena. Free parking is available at the arena.
Jimmie Simpson Park (east): Meet at the southeast corner of Jimmie Simpson Park, at Queen St./Booth Ave.. By TTC, take the Queen Streetcar to Booth Ave. Metered parking is available along Queen St. E. and free parking is available on nearby side streets.
Woodbine Park/Measurement Park (east): Meet at the northeast corner of Woodbine Park, in the area marked “Measurement Park” near Queen St./Eastern Ave. By TTC, take the Queen Streetcar to Eastern Ave./Kingston Rd. Parking is available for free in the large lot just south of the Green P lot (enter from Eastern Ave.).
We provide the equipment and expertise. Please bring the following items for your use:
- Clothing in layers so you can remain warm or cool as needed, with a supportive bra
- Comfortable, supportive athletic shoes
- Sunscreen/hat/insect repellent, if desired
- Garbage bag to act as “mat” in case of dampness
- Infant carrier in case baby becomes fussy in the stroller
- Medications/orthopaedic supports you might need
- Snacks/toys/diversions for baby, plus a blanket or mat for baby, if you wish
We run rain or shine! A few notes regarding weather:
- In cases of truly inclement weather, you will receive an email the morning of your class to inform you that class has been cancelled. Cancellations are only in cases of unusually extreme heat, lightning, unusually heavy rain and hail. If you have not received an email, class is on! Make up classes are not awarded in cases of regular summer coolness and/or rain.
- Don’t rely on the morning weather when you wake, or on the forecast. Many times we have seen forecasts of rain or rainy early mornings that turn out to be beautiful sunny workouts, or pleasant, cloudy and cool workouts. Your Belly Bootcamp trainer is armed with an arsenal of effective exercises, even when the ground is muddy and wet.
- Don’t underestimate yourself! Often the cooler days are the easiest on which to exercise – less sweat, less heat. Put a rain cover on your stroller, throw a hat on your head and wear a windbreaker. Within 5 minutes you’ll be warm!
- Don’t wear your best workout clothes to Bellies & Strollers. Whether rainy or dry, dirt, dandelions and grass all await you. Save your most fabulous gear for a walk with your girlfriends or your indoor classes.
- Keep a black garbage bag or two stuffed in the bottom of your stroller. When the ground is a bit damp or just dirty, a garbage bag can act as a “mat” to perform core work and will spare your expensive yoga mat from park mess.
There are a few spots remaining in Bellies & Strollers, although registration is always open and our is expanding soon. Know someone who might like to join you at Bellies & Strollers this spring? Refer a friend to Belly Bootcamp and you’ll receive a free week when she signs up!
See you at Bellies & Strollers!
The sun is shining and it’s finally starting to get warm in Toronto, and for some reason that made me want greasy fried things… So I drove past the McDonalds that sits 3 blocks from my house and came home to make this bowl of yumminess for lunch. This is a spin on fried rice that is packed with protein, fibre and healthy fat! (more…)