FIT Talk With Tania  

Did you get your D?

Vitamin D is important not only to support healthy bones and teeth, it’s also critical in optimizing our immune system and helping to fight off viruses.

For most of us, getting a “D” doesn't really cut the mustard. At least it doesn’t when we were in school. Or showing up on our kids' report cards. Even a high D was frowned upon.

But when it comes to health, a high D is something you really do want to have.

Vitamin D that is.

I've heard from a few new clients that they have been, or have recently started taking Vitamin D. And that's fantastic.

We should all be supplementing with it on a daily basis and the fact that we haven't heard more about this from our health officials prompted me to share.

Our best source of vitamin D comes from the sun. We absorb it through exposed skin. But not in the winter months. And not through sunscreen.

For those of us above the 37th parallel, it's not possible to get enough unless we supplement. And here are some great reasons why we should.

Vitamin D is needed for the body to absorb calcium for bone growth, health and strength. It's also key for muscle strength and helps prevent cramping as well as lowers the risk of tooth decay and gum disease.

Vitamin D can help to normalize blood sugar and some studies suggest it may help with hypertension, a pre-cursor to heart disease.

Those deficient in vitamin D, and also calcium, who have had a difficult time losing weight, often find improvements after supplementing with the two.

Just as the sun brightens up your day and makes you smile, adequate levels of vitamin D works to help improve symptoms of depression and is being looked at by the National Cancer Institute as preventative for some cancers.

Lastly, but most important, in my opinion, is that keeping your D levels up to snuff improves immune system function and is highly effective at preventing viruses from taking hold.

An article published June 2020 in Health online shared that Yale Medicine hematologist, oncologist and nutritionist, Barry Boyd, MD, pointed to an analysis in the esteemed BMJ, British Medical Journal, which found that,

“...vitamin D reduced the risk of acute respiratory infection with either daily or weekly vitamin D supplementation, particularly in individuals who were deficient in it.
“We now are seeing a similar pattern with higher mortality rates in COVID-19 infections, though more research still needs to be done to determine whether the link is causal or merely a correlation.”

Fast forward a few months and research was completed. In November, the highly respected and peer reviewed Nature, published a paper on a study analyzing the effects of vitamin D on both asymptomatic and critically ill COVID-19 patients.

Here is what they concluded.

“Vitamin D deficiency markedly increases the chance of having severe disease after infection with SARS Cov-2. The intensity of inflammatory response is also higher in vitamin D deficient COVID-19 patients.
“This all translates to increased morbidity and mortality in COVID-19 patients who are deficient in vitamin D. Keeping the current COVID-19 pandemic in view authors recommend administration of vitamin D supplements to population at risk to COVID-19.”

The number used to determine deficiency in this study was a blood level of vitamin D measuring less than 30ng/ml. As with all things health, teetering on the edge isn't really where we should aim to be.

Let's face it, none of us ever saw that A on a report card without putting in some extra effort. And why would we do it? To not just pass the course, but to have that buffer should something go sideways in an exam. Or another course didn't go so well and bring down the average.

Hovering in the lower grades all year was a precarious place to be if you wanted to move forward. Same principle applies to health.

According to osteopathic physicians Dr. Sherry Tenpenny and Dr. Mercola, in order to optimize your immune system, D levels should ideally read between 60ng/ml and 80ng/ml.

And as always, quality of your supplements count. A few tips.

  • Know your source
  • Avoid brands that have a lots of extraneous ingredients in them that you cannot pronounce.
  • Make sure what you are buying is bio-available (that means your body can use it right away and without wasting it).

If you don't know something, ask at the store where you're purchasing. If they can't tell you, push to find out. If they won't find out, go elsewhere. It's your health, you have a right to know.

More often than not, you will get what you pay for. Some of the more popular brands are not necessarily as popular for their efficacy as they are for the price.

For more practical tips and information on how to thrive through life, join Tania's 8 Weeks is All it Takes group on Facebook.


Why some don't do healthy

You've likely heard these quotes at some point:

  • “When we know better, we do better.”
  • “No one fails to plan, they simply plan to fail.”

I remember hearing these quotes, and others like these, almost exclusively at business events, personal development seminars and books. But it makes just as much, if not more, sense to apply these principles to our health and wellness as well.

It’s fine and dandy to focus on business, but what if:

  • Your health takes a dive and no one can run your business or you can't show up to work
  • You've worked like crazy to amass great financial wealth, plan for a comfortable retirement – or even early retirement – only to have the spending of that wealth be dictated by your lack of health.

Definitely food for thought.

We are creatures of habit. We like routine, and change for a lot of people is overwhelming and often scary. Even when a person suspects or even knows something is “bad” for their health, many still do not take action.


Three reasons.

  • There are no red flags — or they're not recognizing red flags — prompting them to make a change.
  • People often see change around food and lifestyle as all the things they're giving up rather than asking themselves, “What will I gain?”
  • They simply don't want to. If any of these three is you or someone you know, stick with me here while I dive into each one.

When we think about red flags in relation to health, most people think of red flags as something super serious like a heart attack, stroke, diabetes, cancer, etc.

Heads up, these are way beyond simple red flags. These are more like four alarm fires that need putting out immediately. The absence of disease does not equate to good health.

Red flags are small indicators — things that may not even bother you on the daily, but that are upsetting nonetheless. Heartburn is a great example. It might not happen too often (or maybe it does), so you put it down to “something I ate” or “guess I'm getting old...”

But heartburn, acid reflux, excessive burping, gas, bloating, etc., are often indicative of digestive issues and leaky gut. Left unchecked, rising stomach acids damage the esophagus, and the poor gut environment damages the stomach lining, allowing things to pass through that shouldn't.

The body identifies “foreign invaders” even though they came from our own bodies, and goes to war trying to eliminate they. This is how autoimmune conditions are triggered.

Anyone who's ever been on a diet knows the feeling of giving up favourite foods. Some people would say being on a diet means they have to give up all foods they love and enjoy.

They sacrifice to get through the diet, stumble across the finish line and then celebrate their weight loss by indulging in the very foods they gave up a few short months ago. How's that working out? It clearly doesn't.

When we go into something believing we will be deprived and miserable, there is no way anyone will stick to it. Statistics say that less than one per cent of people who start a diet will stick to it for life.

But when we decide to make healthy changes around food and lifestyle by replacing an unhealthy item or habit with one that we find enjoyable and yet also serves to improve health and add value to our lives, we're not giving anything up.

In fact we're gaining benefits in spades. Just as Rome wasn't built in a day, your excess weight and issues that go with it didn't show up overnight.

It was the small things done, or not done, consistently over time that got each one of us to where we are now. And the same principle works for reversing the damage and taking back control of your health.

What about those people who just don't want to make any changes? We all know at least one. It's difficult to fathom anyone who wouldn't be sick and tired of being sick and tired, but they're out there.

You might even be thinking of someone in your family. And although we get to choose how to take care of our health, those who choose not to, are making the choice to infringe on family and friends when he/she is no longer able to take care of himself/herself.

More food for thought.

For those who have succeeded in improving health, having more energy, reversing disease, becoming stronger, losing weight, etc., you are the example.

I often think of that quote by Mahatma Gandhi, “Be the change you wish to see in the world,” followed closely by Jim Rohn's, “Let's go do it.”

Do the good stuff, be the example and invite people to do it with you. When you walk your talk and point others in the right direction where they can have success, your good habits become infectious and contagious. In a good way. And the world definitely needs a super spreader like this.

To learn more about catching good health and spreading it to others, join the 8 Weeks is All it Takes group on Facebook. And, if you value good health, share this with your family and friends and invite them to join too.

Your body, your type

If you've been following along for any length of time, no doubt you would have heard me compare your body to a vehicle.

“Just like your car that drives you around town, your body is your vehicle that drives you through life.”

I've said that a lot. While I love that analogy when talking about overall health, when referring to the different specific body types, a bicycle is a much better comparison. Ride along with me for a bit and you'll see what I mean.

Although women tend to be the most vocal when it comes to talking — or should I say complaining — about their specific body type, men are still quietly concerned here too.

Whether you're a man or a woman, young, or a little more mature than you used to be, all of us at one time or another has likely commented on body type. Our own, and/or someone else's.

  • “I just look at food and gain weight!”
  • “It's so not fair. She can eat whatever she wants and not gain weight”
  • We both workout hard, why is he getting all the gains?”

Sound familiar?

Genetics does play a small role, but that doesn't mean you can't get results and feel good in the body you have. There are three body types:

  • Ectomorph
  • Endomorph
  • Mesomorph.

Ectomorph is that person who most refer to as naturally thin. They typically have difficulty gaining weight and can, literally eat whatever they want and not have to worry about the extra pounds. At least for the first few decades of their lives.

The endomorph is just the opposite. These are the guys and gals who, to their chagrin, seem to gain weight without even trying. And who have to work a little harder than most to lose, or maintain weight. And then there are those who fall right in the middle.

The mesomorphs. Someone who can gain or lose weight more evenly rather than the extremes.

So where does the bicycle come in? Glad you asked.

There are three popular types of bicycles out there:

  • Road bikes
  • Cruiser bikes
  • Mountain bikes.

A road bike is streamlined and made for speed. When you see someone going down the highway on a road bike, they are moving. Their goal is to get from point A to B quickly.

You've probably guessed by now this is the ectomorph. Should an ectomorph want to lose a few pounds or refine health, fitness and weight goals, their body responds and they see results in short order.

Cruiser bikes made a comeback a few years ago. A larger frame, bigger tires, and only one speed. And it's not fast. A description that also describes the endomorphs. Losing weight for the endomorphs is a much slower process.

And not to forget the mountain bikes. Larger tires closer to the cruiser style, but the ability to shift gears and change speed like the road bike. The best of both.

Picture this. You have someone on a road bike, someone on a cruiser bike and someone on a mountain bike all in a race together.

The person on the road bike would win by a mile. They're just designed for speed.

The person on the mountain bike would come in next — could be a close or a distant second as there's possibility for both.

The person on the cruiser would be bringing up the rear. Slow and steady, perhaps a few sightseeing breaks along the way, but eventually that cruiser would cross the finish line.

Likely after reading these different descriptions and the bike analogies, you know which “bike” you are. And therefore which body type as well.

The point of this analogy is to encourage those of you who might be wondering, “What's wrong with me?”, just because you haven't been able to get results in the same way you see others.

Now you know. We're all different. We say it all the time to other people for a multitude of reasons. But for some reason when it comes to weight loss, we really need someone to tell us. So I'm telling you.

Wherever you are with your health, wellness and weight loss, and regardless of your body type, you can reach your goals. It may not be fast. You may not be the first in your circle of friends to hit those goals.

But just like the cruiser bike, if you just keep pedalling along, you will cross that finish line. And really, that's all that matters.

If you want to learn more about how to get results with your body type, join the 8 Weeks is All it Takes group on Facebook.


Hot flashes are not cool

Something memorable or defining comes with every decade.

Hitting double digits for the first time, independence and adventure in that second decade, settling down a little in the 30s, finding a plan and purpose in the 40s, 50s finds you finally doing those things that always got put off.... This is as far as my personal experience goes so I'll pause here.

This past year notwithstanding, I'm finding the 50s to be my best decade, especially when it comes to health and all the things that can plague women in my age bracket.

Weight gain, lack of muscle tone, hot flashes, hormones out of balance, emotions running amok, sleep disrupted, are just some of the things women are told to expect when menopause hits.

Hot flashes tend to be the biggest complaint. But hey, it's “normal” so you have to just live with it — possibly 10 years according to The British Menopause Society. The Mayo Clinic concurs. This is so not cool. Nor should it be considered normal.

Although it's not entirely certain how hormones fluctuate, the Mayo Clinic reports it's this fluctuation that is responsible for all you ladies feeling like hot stuff. Literally. It's thought that when the body's estrogen levels decline, the hypothalamus in the brain – your body's thermostat – becomes oversensitive to slight changes in body temperature and reacts, triggering the personal heat wave.

If you're a smoker or overweight, the likelihood and the severity with which you will have them, increases. Not all menopausal women suffer from hot flashes, but there are many out there who do.

If that's you, keep reading. There are things you can do to decrease, and in some cases eliminate those symptoms.

If you're a veteran in the hot seat, you probably have a list of things that you know from experience make you a little hot under the collar. The things-to-avoid list.

If you're new to flashing, or rather flashes, you might have noticed things like eating spicy foods, drinking hot beverages or having caffeine, alcohol, and smoking tend to trigger that tropical feeling.

Obviously, avoiding those things that bring you discomfort is recommended. But aside from avoiding triggers and taking hormones, there are not a lot of recommendations about what you can do to:

Be proactive if you're not menopausal yet

Reduce and in some cases eliminate those nasty hot flashes and start enjoying life again. But there are things you can do.

If we know that when hormones are not balanced, it affects the hypothalamus; if we know the hypothalamus is the body's thermostat, it would stand to reason that doing something to balance hormones would be a good idea.

The way we do that naturally is to eat PFC every three hours.

Eating a protein, fat and a healthy, non-processed carbohydrate together, within an hour of waking and every three hours throughout the day, until about 1.5 hours before bed, puts your body into homeostasis.

Balancing your macro nutrients, (PFC) and consuming them frequently throughout the day does just that. Food quality, filling nutritional gaps, and reducing internal inflammation is also super important.

Eating this way stabilizes blood sugar, turns on the body's metabolism, releases stored fat, increases energy, lowers blood pressure and cholesterol, and, wait for it, balances hormones.

I have coached many menopausal women, one on one and in groups. I can't tell you the number of wonderful reports I've had from ladies who have adopted these principles are no longer feeling the heat.

For some, hot flashes were simply annoying and getting rid of them was a nice perk that came along with the weight loss. For others, it was truly life changing. Like anything, the more you do something, the better you become. Our bodies are the same. The longer you PFC balance and make those quality choices, the better it gets.

For all you ladies who are still cool as a cucumber and haven't experienced your own personal heat wave, getting a head start on these tips will definitely help when you do reach menopause.

Full disclosure here ladies, I'm coming up to 53, almost three years post meno, and no meltdowns. How? Eating PFC, supplementing to fill the gaps, making quality food choices and generally focusing on creating balance and health within my body.

I highly recommend it.

For more information on balancing hormones, losing weight and generally creating a healthy body, email Tania at [email protected] to book your assessment. And join the 8 Weeks is All it Takes community for support, tips, recipes, exercises, and inspiration.

More FIT Talk With Tania articles

About the Author

Nutritionist Tania Gustafson, owner of FIT Nutrition, has been active in the health and fitness industry since 1986 when she entered as a fitness instructor and trainer.

In 2011, Tania partnered with internationally renowned nutrition and fitness expert Mark Macdonald, and in 2017 officially earned the title of Master Nutrition Coach in conjunction with Venice Nutrition and the International Board of Nutrition and Fitness Coaches (IBNFC).

Tania is one of only five health professionals licensed and certified in Canada to deliver this proven, three-phase program of blood sugar stabilization, not dieting.Tania is committed to ending the dieting madness both locally and globally and educates her clients on how to increase health with age.

Tania is able to work with clients across Canada, the U.S. and U.K. to restore health and achieve their weight loss goals.Tania is a wife, mother of three adult children, global entrepreneur, speaker, workshop facilitator, writer, blogger, podcast host, travel junkie and self-proclaimed gym rat.

For more information and to book your complimentary health assessment go to www.fuelignitethrive.com. Check https://www.facebook.com/fuelignitethrive/  and https://www.facebook.com/groups/8weeksisallittakes/

The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

Previous Stories