New Year Mindset and Moves By Andrea Merucci

Guest Blog, Health, Motherhood

There is something so fresh and inspiring about the New Year and many people see it as an opportunity to set new goals and maybe tackle some old goals that didn’t get followed through on in previous years. No worries, the beautiful thing about a new day and a new year is you can always start again.

When trying something new, especially with fitness or setting new goals, mindset can make a huge difference in whether you will be successful or not. My number one tip I always give to my personal training clients is to ditch the all or nothing mindset. Many of us believe if we cannot do something perfect we will not even start at all or even attempt a new goal. Many of my clients have believed in the past that if they cannot workout for a full hour they will not see results. Why can’t we exercise for just 5 min a day to start? We need to break up our new goals into smaller manageable pieces. What is your big goal for the new year? Now take the big goal and break it down into smaller steps, now only start with one or two of those steps and do them daily. This is how you will build routine and then it will build into consistency then you will see achievement with your goals. We too often get caught up in the excitement of our new goals and forget to make realistic ones instead. So this year I challenge you to ditch the “all or nothing” attitude and just try to improve a little bit more each day. You will be amazed at where you will be by next year.

I have created this simple and straightforward mini workout for you to try. All you have to do is take the first step to propel you into something bigger and my wish for you is that this workout can inspire you to move more this year, day by day.


(1) Squats with Alternating Side Kicks

This is a great glute strengthening exercise with a cardio element built into it that will be sure to get you sweating and your heart pumping.

  • Get into a wide stance and bend your knees while keeping your chest lifted and extend your arms out in front of you.
  • As you lower you should be inhaling, then start to exhale as you come back up then as you stand kick out one leg to the side balancing on the other leg. Repeat again alternating back and fourth on both sides.

Complete 20 total kicks, 10 each side and repeat 2-3 times

(2) Alternating back lunges
This is another great exercise that focuses on the glutes, beginners should performed this exercise without weights and lower reps.

  • Standing with your legs shoulder width apart step backwards with your left leg allowing the left ball of your foot to land on the ground
  • Then bending your knee down towards the ground so that both your front right knee and left back knee are both at 90 degree angles, makes sure both knees are tracking in line with your toes.
  • Step your left foot forward to the starting position and repeat on the right leg.

Complete 20 repetitions total, 10 each side and repeat 2-3 times


(3) Side Plank Crunch
Not only does this exercise target your deep core muscles and obliques but it also targets your shoulders and arms.

  • To begin this exercise lay on your left side with your forearm directly below your shoulder, make sure your body is lifted and your hips are not sagging towards the floor. – – Body should be lifted and legs straight out or you can bend the bottom leg and rest on your knee for a modified position.
  • Then bring your top elbow and top knee together in a side crunching motion and continue to bring your knee and elbow together for the noted amount of reps.

Complete 20 repetitions total, 10 each side and repeat 2-3 times

(4) Glute Bridges or Hip Thrusts
This exercise is a must for all exercise routines it is great for glute and lower body strength but if you combine it with deep core breathing it can also be a core exercise as well.

  • Start by lying on your back with your knees bent and shoulder width apart, arms beside your body.
  • Inhale to prepare and as you start to exhale engage your core and press your hips all the way up engaging your glutes.
  • Hold for 2 secs and inhale as you lower your body back down to the floor.

Complete 20 repetitions and repeat 2-3 times

5)   Modified Push ups
Push ups focus on the the muscles in the chest and back and arms, it is a great exercise that many women and mothers can benefit from, especially if you are carrying children or infants for long periods of time

  • Start on all fours and have your hands directly below your shoulders and your knees should be behind your hips and your back is angled and in line with your neck. You should be looking slightly in front of you. As you bend your elbows to lower your body down, and inhale as you lower. Go as low as you can then exhale and push back to your starting position.

Complete 10 reps and repeat 2-3 times

Have an amazing year


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10 tips to help reduce veggie battles with your children


Hi! I am Noelle. I am a mom of three boys and a registered dietitian. I have a private practice, teach at Brescia University College and have an Instagram feed dedicated to all things food and motherhood (@motherhoodandmeals). I am delighted to share monthly tips and recipes with you on Suzanne’s blog over the coming year. I thought I would start with 10 tips to help reduce veggie battles with your children. I hope they are helpful! And please feel free to comment below with any questions you have. Thanks for reading!

Tip 1: It takes up to 20 exposures to a food before a child knows if they actually like it.An exposure can be seeing the food on a plate, helping to prepare the food, touching the food, tasting the food, and/or actually swallowing the food. For example, a child may help to tear spinach leaves up but never ingest any…this is an exposure. A child may pick up a piece of broccoli and touch and top feeling soft and spongy and the bottom feeling firm. This is an exposure. I child may lick a piece of watermelon but then set it back down. This is an exposure. Continued exposures in a safe, non-pressured environment are is one of the best practices that will lead to a “well rounded eater”.

Tip 2: Do not get caught up in meals vs. snacks.Ideally we will capitalize on our children’s hunger and offer veggies at their “hungriest/most alert” times. Put a veggie tray out mid-morning while you play and enjoy some veggies with them. Or have one ready for when they come home from daycare or school and you may find that more veggies are consumed than ever would be on their supper plate. Perhaps your children are hungry in the car on the way home from school or day care…this is a perfect opportunity for some diced peppers and sliced cucumbers!
Tip 3: Include your children in grocery shipping and meal prep.There are a lot of fun ways for children to help in the kitchen and many of them surround veggie prep. You can see a more extensive list here.

Tip 4: Offer dips.Children LOVE to dip. Whether it is hummus or Greek yogurt or tzatziki  or your favourite homemade salad dressing…kids LOVE to dip! This is also a great way to add both nutrient and caloric density into your child’s intake.

Tip 5: Help your child sort their thoughts out. When you child expressed that they do not like something, it could be more that they are worries what it will taste like and or feel like and do not feel safe to take the risk of trying it. We have had lots of fun in our house with “Today I tried…” which creates a non-pressured adventure of trying new things. You can find out more about that here.

Tip 6: Recognize “normal” behaviour. Food jags will occur and are expected. This means that young children love a food one day and hate it the next. This is most typical from ages 15 to 36 months, but certainly can still happen in pre-school years. It is part of normal development and one of many ways that these adorable tiny humans can drive parents crazy by exercising their autonomy and reaching to see where limits lie. The truth is that the best thing we can do is support our children in this journey. The “division of responsibility” is key to dealing with food jags and “picky eater” behavior in general. It is our responsibility as parents to offer healthy food throughout the day. It is the child’s  responsibility if they will eat it or not. child’s responsibility if they choose to eat. That means ideals no filler foods like gold fish and puffs and ideally no “short order cook”. Children will soon learn that no other options are coming, so they may want to eat what is in front of them. This process can take time, and there may be some meals that end up in the garbage, but overall it leads to well-rounded eaters and that is the ultimate goal for well-rounded nutrition.

Tip 7: Please do not use food as a reward or give punishment around food.A child who is lead to believe that they are “good” or “bad” with relationship to food may end up on the path of emotional eating. If a child does not eat their broccoli, this is not grounds for punishment. And if they do, this is not ground for “deserving” a brownie. When it comes to eating healthy food, a kind word of encouragement is great but there is never need for feelings of guilt of reward.

Tip 8: Lead by example. Are you eating vegetables in front of your kids? Are you reaching for them while you make supper? Are you sitting with your children at lunch and eating a salad? Even if it does not seem like it, your children are watching EVERYTHING you do. Whether it is putting your coat away, making exercise a part of each day, eating your vegetables, or sitting down to pray. They see it all and the best thing we can do to teach our children is lead by example.

Tip 9: Try smoothie bowls.This isn’t a direct means of having the child eat the whole food, but it is still a way to introduce flavours and increase a child’s intake of new foods. Trying a green smoothie bowl may help the child feel more comfortable to try other green foods.

Tip 10: Last but not least, realize that every child will have a few “I don’t like foods”.I know I do and you likely do as well. Just keep offering all foods and over time it will become obvious which ones are starting to stick and while ones may be “off the table”.

So, in summary…we are looking to offer veggies at times when are children are most hungry; avoid taking up space with “filler foods”; involve children in meal prep; keep meal times low stress and focus on the bigger picture; offer all members at the table the same foods (no short order cook); and last but not least lead by example. And please…DON’T GIVE UP…you are doing a great job!

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