Breakthrough Health and Fitness Plateaus

Have you been eating healthy and working out hard, yet find yourself stuck at a certain number on the scale or fitness level and cannot understand why? You may have hit a plateau. Here are a few effective things you can do to get out of it and reach that health and fitness goal you’re striving for!

Calories Count!

Don’t get me wrong, I am the last person to count calories, but they do come into handy when trying to break a plateau or lose the last 5 to 10 pounds. Even when eating a healthy, whole, plant-based diet, you need to burn more calories than you consume to lose weight. Pay attention to the types of calories you are eating. Fats can be a calorie culprit. 138 calories for a tablespoon of oil can easily add up. While it’s not healthy to cut out all fats (fat is essential for brain development, healthy skin and reducing inflammation), keep your eye on exactly how much you are consuming on a daily basis. Try consuming more plant-based fats, like nuts, seeds and avocados, which are more filling than other oils, and focus on eating mindfully.



You’re at the gym, day in and day out. Working harder than ever—yet you still can’t seem to lose weight. While there can be many factors at play, there are two main points to consider. First, are you taking breaks? If you’re over-training and not giving yourself active rests, your body may be producing too much cortisol (stress hormone) which will stop weight loss and strength gains in their tracks. Take breaks and switch up your routine. Try switching up your workout by trying new machines and repetitions, or attempt to do a functional workout like squats, push-ups and plank using your own body weight. If you need inspiration, find a good personal trainer to help you get more creative.


Getting enough rest and time to recover is essential when losing weight and breaking plateaus. Not getting quality sleep may lead to an increase of the stress hormone cortisol, which can contribute to weight gain.

  1. Get into a healthy sleep routine. Using an eye mask or earplugs may come in handy if you live in a noisy area. 7 to 8 hours is an ideal range of sleep, depending on your own body chemistry.
  2. Hitting the sheets 10:30 p.m. or earlier, if possible, will allow your body to reach its natural delta-phase, which is deep, quality rest. You will feel more energetic and uplifted the following day—I promise!

Overall, it’s evident that breaking a plateau and reaching your goals takes planning and effort. Identifying which area of your routine may need a little more focus and planning is crucial. The combination of sleep, proper food intake and mixing up your exercise routine will allow you to bust through your plateau, reach your goal and thrive! Share your experiences below (before and after using these tips) and identify which element you found helped you best!

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  1. Kondracki NL. (2012). The Link Between Sleep and Weight Gain — Research Shows Poor Sleep Quality Raises Obesity and Chronic Disease RiskToday’s Dietitian 14 (6); 48.Accessed 8/20/13 from
  2. National Sleep Foundation (2013). How much sleep do adults need? Accessed 8/20/13 from

5 Unhealthy "Health Foods"

Just because it’s found in the health food section, doesn’t necessarily mean it’s healthy! With so many fancy words and phrases—such as “gluten-free,” “low calorie,” and “fat free”—it’s easy to assume that many of these so-called health foods are beneficial to your body. Here are the top 5 seemingly healthy foods that may be contrary to your best efforts to eat clean!

1. Rice Cakes: 

Although these “healthy” cakes are labelled as low calorie and low fat, they are your blood sugar’s worst enemy—especially if they are the caramel covered variety. With no fiber or fat, these cakes are digested by your body into glucose and cause a spike in your blood sugar levels, ultimately leading to a crash, which leaves you hungry soon after. The key to weight and energy management is sustaining a balanced blood sugar level. If enjoy rice cakes, it’s ok to have them  in moderation. Just be sure to add nut or seed butter to them to bring down the glycemic index of the food and balance your blood sugar.

2. Vegan Dessert: 

Just because these sweet treats are labeled vegan, doesn’t make it okay to consume them on a regular basis. They are almost always full of sugar and high in calories. I definitely abide to the 80/20 rule—consuming treats 20% of the time—but beware of labelling. Yes, most vegan foods are healthy, if they are whole and unprocessed! Try making your own dessert, something simple such as almond butter stuffed dates sprinkled with cinnamon!

3. Salad Dressing: 

While browsing the salad dressing aisle last night during a grocery haul, I noticed that almost all salad dressings on the shelf were full of preservatives, colors, sugar, artificial flavoring and even dye! Rule of thumb: if a dressing is “low fat”, it’s most likely full of sugar, to make up for the missing flavor or feeling of satiety (fullness) that would otherwise be contributed by the missing fat! I recommend making your own dressing with an Vega Antioxidant Omega Oil, apple cider vinegar, garlic, spices, sea salt and lemon juice. Quick, easy and yummy! Ditch the bottled stuff!

4. Granola:

I must admit–I do love a bowl of granola from time to time, but it’s difficult to find a healthy one! Most granolas on the shelves of the grocery stores are jam-packed with sugars, sweeteners and dried fruit. When selecting granola, look for one lower in sugars (especially if you’re adding fruit to your granola), or better yet, make your own version. Granola is a healthy food that can be taken to the extreme in a not-so-healthy way. Look for simple, natural, low sugar (or naturally sweetened) versions.

5. Nut/Seed Butter:

I also love almost any type of nut butter. It is so versatile, delicious and can stabilize your blood sugar levels and ward off hunger. But choosing the right type of nut or seed butter is very important. Most generic nut butters are full of hydrogenated oils, sugar, color and preservatives. Yuck! I highly recommend looking for natural, organic nut/seed butters that have fewer than three ingredients. Making your own nut butter is simple and easy, but if you’re on the go or are looking for  a quick fix, choosing raw, non-hydrogenated nut/seed butters with no sugar added is the way to go!

Here’s to making smarter choices at the grocery store. What are some of your favorite healthy snacks?

Written by: Jessica Morris

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4 Simple Swaps for a Healthier Life

Whether you’re dining out or eating in, making a healthy substitution to your meal or snack can make a huge difference in your health, in both the short and long-term. Knowing what common foods can be swapped with superfoods or nutrient dense options is key to making healthy substitutions.

Swap out: Mayonnaise

Mayonnaise is known for being low in nutrients and high in cholesterol. Even if you are attempting to be healthy and go for a low fat version, you will see that it contains even more sugar added than the original! Steer clear from all that, and try using hummus for a boost of fiber, protein, healthy fat and carbs. Hummus is filling, plant-based and tastes delicious—try adding garlic or red pepper for a flavor kick. 

Swap out: Cooking oil

Instead of using tradition sunflower or olive oils for stir-fries, which are not stable in high heat, try using extra virgin coconut oil. Coconut oil is a multi-use oil that is stable in mid to high heat. It can even be used as eye makeup remover and body moisturizer! Coconut oil is made of medium chain triglycerides, which can be used as a fuel source, similar to carbohydrates. Try it instead of margarine on toast, or pre-workout, try it paired with dried or fresh fruit.

Swap out: Chips

Potato chips tend to be cooked in hydrogenated oils, and are usually packed with salt, unpronounceable ingredients, and calories. Try making your own kale chips in the oven by separating bite-size pieces of kale and seasoning them with sea salt, pepper, and nutritional yeast and slowly bake until crispy. Now that’s what I call a nutrient dense crispy chip!

Swap Out: Candy gummies

If you’re looking for a sweet and chewy sensation, try noshing on some dried fruit. Mango, pineapple, apple, figs and other dried fruits are sweeter than fresh, but still full of fiber and nutrients with no added sugars, colors or flavors. Dipping them in natural nut butter will give them a delicious, sweet-and-salty taste.

Eating healthy isn’t difficult if you have the tools and knowledge to do so. Making healthy swaps can not only save calories, but it can save your health—by avoiding artificial and processed ingredients that aren’t good for you. If you follow the 80/20 rule of eating wise 80 percent of the time and enjoying treats 20 percent of the time, you will not feel deprived. 

Written by: Jessica Morris

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Pre-workout Energy Bar Recipe

Need a quick bite before you run out the door? Make a batch of Pre-Workout Energy Bars to store in your freezer!


  • 10 dates
  • 2 tsp coconut oil
  • 3 Tbsp shredded coconut
  • 1/2 cup crystallized ginger
  • Sea Salt, to taste


  1. Place ingredients into food processor and process for 30-45 seconds.
  2. Shape into bars and place in shredded coconut and lightly dust with sea salt.
  3. Place into the freezer for a chewy and delicious bite anytime!


Written by: Jessica Morris

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Glorious Green Smoothie

Do you crave a taste of the topics, but still want to maintain a glorious, nutrient-packed green smoothie? This recipe is a sweet and fresh way to start your day! Don’t let the green color fool you, this recipe will leave your taste buds wanting more of the tropics without buying a plane ticket!


  • 1 ½ cup coconut water (coconut milk may be used as an alternative)
  • 1 cup frozen pineapple
  • 1 handful baby spinach
  • 1 Tbsp unsweetened shredded coconut
  • 1 serving Vega Protein Smoothie Viva Vanilla


  1. Add all ingredients to a high-speed blender and blend until creamy smooth.
  2. If you desire a lighter consistency add more coconut water or coconut milk!


Written by: Jessica Morris

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PB&J Concord Grape Smoothie Recipe

A new twist on a classic favorite! Try this mouth-watering, satisfying smoothie that will bring back childhood memories. This nutrient dense smoothie may taste like a peanut butter and jelly sandwich but is gluten-free and full of plant-power!



  1. Combine all the ingredients in a high speed blender (liquids first).
  2. Blend until smooth.


Written by: Jessica Morris

Originally published on:

What matters more for healthy weight loss?

Are you ready to be the best version of you? Whether you’re a fitness guru, or a fresh face to world of health and movement, this column is your new home (gym). You can expect articles, photos and videos on sports nutrition, optimal weight and energy! As a certified nutritional practitioner and personal trainer who has worked with professional athletes, Olympians and celebrities, I’m ready to share my unique approach to health and fitness to help you thrive. 

A very hot and debatable question I hear in the health and wellness field from many of my clients is: Which matters more—fitness or diet when it comes to sustainable and healthy weight loss? Can we out-exercise a poor diet, or is food our foundation?

With so many controversial fitness and diet trends and theories such as clean eating, paleo, and juice cleanses (to name a few), it’s easy to be confused on what is best for sustained weight loss, or optimal weight. So what is my take on which is more sustainable for weight loss? Glad you asked

Sustainable versus short-term goals

While short-term fad diets and crazy workouts may work for a few people who need to get fit quick (for a fitness competition or bikini body), I will be discussing sustainable, long-term fitness and nutrition goals and how to reach them.

I believe that sustainable weight loss is a happy marriage between food intake and exercise output, I also believe that the quality of the foods you eat and the quality of your workouts play a key role to achieving sustainable goals. Studies have shown that while both food intake and exercise have individually been proven to be effective with weight loss, the combination of the two is most effective for long-term goals.

Fitness for weight loss

If you’re looking for a way of exercising that is sustainable and healthy, choose an activity that you enjoy. I know it sounds simple, but many people join fitness groups or activities that they absolutely dread because it’s the latest craze or they want a quick fix and will do whatever it takes. The downfall to this is that it’s unsustainable. I recommend taking a month to try as many different forms of activity a possible and see what you enjoy the most. Maybe you sample yoga, weight training, running and Crossfit to name a few. Once you find your fit, make a schedule and stick to it. Finally, find friends who can join you in your exercise routine, which in my opinion will excel your progress as you’ll be more likely to work out if you have the extra support!

Nutrition for weight loss

Sustainability doesn’t just apply to a successful workout routine, it also applies to what you eat. Notice that I never use the word diet? This is because I don’t ever want anyone to think they are on a diet. Rather, I encourage people to find a way of eating that is a happy medium between being pleasurable and beneficial to their body and the way they look. I believe and educate clients that eating whole, natural foods, and mostly plant-based, is optimal.

Every body is different and has different needs, but the one consistent rule of thumb when it comes to choosing foods for your grocery cart or your plate, is eating simply: fresh (local, organic when possible) foods from mother nature. The term nutrient density should be top of mind. Eating foods that have high amounts of vitamins and minerals should be a priority.

Food rotation and variation is also important. So many people are in zombie-mode when grocery shopping. Choosing your favorite foods every week (even if they’re healthy) can actually turn out to be stagnant in terms of nutrient variety. In order to get a well-rounded balance of nutrients in your diet, eat the rainbow! Select a variety of different fruits and vegetables and challenge yourself to try a new fruit or vegetable every week. Mix it up!

If you’ve ever heard the saying “70% of how you look is what you eat and 30% is exercise,” you will understand the importance of nutrition when it comes to optimal weight. As a personal trainer, I can see this in my clients. No matter how hard the work in the gym, if their food intake isn’t on point, it shows. This isn’t to say that exercise doesn’t have its benefits! Exercise, whether or not your goal is weight loss,  improves mood, increases energy and promotes better sleep. 

Both are extremely important in their own right, but it’s the proven combination of the two and how you approach them, that will help you reach your weight loss goals faster.

Bottom line: you cannot out-run a bad diet!

Written by: Jessica Morris

Originally published on:


  1. Wu T, Gao X, Chen M, van Dam RM.  (2009). Long-term effectiveness of diet-plus-exercise interventions vs. diet-only interventions for weight loss: a meta-analysis. Obesity Reviews 2009; 10(3): 313-323.
  2. United States Department of Health and Human Services. (2008). Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans. Accessed on 9/8/2014 from:

Diabetes Month: How I turned a "negative disease" into a positive lifestyle change

My health journey began at the tender age of 11. After losing a dramatic amount of weight in a short amount of time, and feeling off for several weeks, alongside frequent thirst and fatigue, my mom decided to take me to my family doctor. I remember sitting in the room and getting my finger pricked to test my blood glucose (or sugar) levels. With a result of extremely high blood sugar levels, my doctor immediately diagnosed me with type 1 diabetes—I remember seeing my mom’s eyes swell up with tears, looking extremely upset. I, on the other hand, had no idea what was happening or how my life was about to change.

11 years of eating and drinking whatever I wanted, whenever I wanted was all about to change, dramatically.

Living with the diagnosis of type 1 diabetes

I was quickly entered into a whirlwind of education, learning everything about food, my body, my blood sugar levels, insulin and what diabetes meant. Without a doubt, it was a lot to take on as an 11 year old, but I didn’t know any other way. I knew I had to make a choice: either participate, learn as much as I could and live a healthy and happy lifestyle, or say “screw it” and let diabetes take over my health, and ultimately my life.

For those of you who may not know, diabetes is classified into two types: type 1 diabetes, usually diagnosed to people under the age of 18 which has been linked as a genetic disorder, and type 2 diabetes, usually diagnosed during adulthood which has been linked to lifestyle factors (such as obesity and poor dietary choices).

I remember having to adjust to my new routine of testing my blood glucose levels 4-5 times per day, and taking insulin injections 4-5 times per day. Having to inject myself with needles throughout the day sure made me tough, real quick!

How nutrition helped me manage type 1 diabetes

I met with a dietitian who created a meal plan for me that was based on the Canadian Food Pyramid. My meals consisted of all macronutrients (carbohydrates, fats and proteins) which seemed like a good idea until I started to feel sick. Almost every meal had a slice of bread, and a glass of milk alongside the main course. Little did I know, I was lactose-, and gluten-sensitive, which drained my energy. Soon after feeling constantly low on energy and bloated, I decided to take matters into my own hands.

After months of reading nutrition books and trying many different styles of eating, I discovered the power of eating plant-based. Filling my plate with veggies and pseudograins, while ditching bread and milk, made me feel like an entirely new person. I regained my energy levels, and ultimately my happiness.

They say “you are what you eat” and I truly believe in this quote. I can personally see and feel how different foods effect my blood sugar levels, mood and weight, very very easily. While over the past 14+ years I have experimented with almost every way of eating out there, I can definitely say that eating a diet that is rich in whole foods (mostly organic and plant-based) has made me thrive. Soon after studying at University of Toronto, I became a personal trainer, indoor cycling instructor and holistic nutritionist, which all helped me control my diabetes and help others regain their health.

I refuse to let diabetes run my life

Most people who meet me, don’t realize or know that I have type 1 diabetes until long-after we get to know each other. This is because I don’t let diabetes run my life. Many people think if you are living with the disease, it takes over your life, that you are restricted to many things—such as foods or activities—but I am here to let you know that this is simply a myth. I like to show people first that I live a normal life, then tell them I have diabetes. I always find it humorous to see their shocked faces and answer all their questions.

Even though I was diagnosed at an early age, my outlook on dealing with this life-threatening disease, has helped me to take care of myself. 

Whatever may happen to you in your lifetime, it’s all about your attitude.

When challenged in life, you always have the choice on how to handle the situation. Although sometimes staying positive may seem like more of an effort, I can promise you it is worth it in the end.

Today, I continue to eat well, exercise six times per week, and surround myself with like-minded friends. Support and positivity have led me to turn what may have seemed like a negative disease into a positive lifestyle that can hopefully encourage and help other people to take charge of their health and be the best versions of themselves.

Written by: Jessica Morris

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