Are toxic products in your home hindering your health?

by January 9, 2022

Exposure to toxic products in our homes are harmful to our health and wellness. BPA, Dioxins, Perchlorate, PFASs and Phthalates (to name a few) are found in our food, cosmetics, clothing, furniture and food packaging and are all thought of as endocrine disruptors.  

An endocrine disruptor is a chemical compound that interferes with the normal functioning of the endocrine system, including the reproductive and other biological processes regulated by it.

As we age, the impact of toxins gets harder on us, especially if we’re heading into menopause and beyond! Perimenopause is already a time of hormonal fluctuations, so exposure to endocrine disruptors found in your home and food won’t be very helpful.   

Most of us are exposed to toxins in micro doses, however scientists suspect that even low doses can add up over time and affect all of our physiological systems (including respiratory, reproduction, nervous, endocrine, circulatory etc.) which can lead to other health problems down the line.

Our exposure to chemicals in toxic household products/food can occur in three ways; inhalation, ingestion and contact with the skin. Once the body has been exposed to chemicals it could reach the liver via the blood stream. The liver and kidneys will do their best to excrete any harmful substance, however the body may not be able to remove all of the toxins, causing them to build up over time.

HOW CAN YOU REDUCE TOXINS IN YOUR HOME? Read onwards to my 3 steps to eliminate toxins in your home!

Environmental toxins are all around us. From the food we eat and water we drink to the products and energy we consume. Toxins have been found in beauty products, household cleaners, carpets, furniture, mattresses, house dust…Being surrounded by chemicals on a daily basis can have some harmful effects on your health.


Melissa Young, MD

What toxic products are lurking in your home?

According to a report by the David Suzuki Foundation, most chemical ingredients in cosmetics have never been tested for their effects on human health and the environment and although Health Canada has created a list of many prohibited or restricted ingredients it does not enforce it.

CBC did a fabulous collection of articles recently including a documentary about the cosmetic industry and its affect on our health including 5 surprising facts that you probably don’t know! According to an article written in the Guardian, there are many ways we can reduce our toxic exposure.

What’s in your cupboard?

Take a look at the household products that you use every day, such as conventional toothpaste, personal care products, hair products, skin care/cosmetics, laundry/dish detergent, household cleaners and air fresheners.

In addition to toxic household products, we also have to consider the toxins in processed foods (including conventional oils/margarine), off gassing from new clothes or furniture, conventional produce that contain pesticides/herbicides, medical devices, non stick pans and more. Those micro doses now seem a little bigger than they were before, so let’s start with what we can control – replacing household products with non-harmful ones. More on that further down.

Check out Adria Vasil, Canadian eco blogger with some great suggestions for how to reduce toxins in your home.

Making changes to products you’re used to can be hard, but all of this can be done little by little. Each step you take to replace toxic household product with a safe one can improve your health. Here are some simple steps to help you: 

3 Steps to reducing toxins in your home
STEP 1 – Identify the Products

Write down the products you use daily or weekly, such as:

  • oral/hair/skin care
  • cosmetics
  • dish/laundry soap
  • nails
  • room fresheners
  • household cleaners
STEP 2 – Research the Products

This can be done super quickly so don’t shy away from this step. The Environmental Working Group has created a huge database for home and health care products. All you have to do is plug in your item and find out more.

STEP 3 – Find Better Products

Shop your local health food store, get to know local businesses who make healthy homemade products or make it yourself. Here is a sustainable guide to cleaners!

Need some help? I can help you find alternative products that are safer for your body and home.

Once you’ve cleaned up your cupboards it’s time to go back to supporting your health as you age.

How can you achieve better overall health as you age?
  • Reduce stressors – avoid, eliminate or find strategies to get through challenging times (talk, write, breathe)
  • Eat smaller meals more often – reduces stress on the digestive system
  • Minimize time spent on the computer – get up and move when possible
  • Get outdoors and breathe the fresh air – don’t rush, walk and enjoy the journey
  • Add more exercise to your week – this can be as simple as going for a nice brisk walk
  • Drink good quality water or beverages (herbal tea) through the day – keeping hydrated is important for healthy skin and weight
  • Set a good sleep pattern – important for repairing and rejuvenating the body

About the author

Cindy is a registered acupuncturist, Pilates instructor and holistic nutritionist. She has been researching and educating others for over 10 years about the affect environmental toxins can have on our body and overall wellness.

Top 5 exercises for perimenopause

by November 1, 2021

To get what your body needs, it’s important to know that during perimenopause, you don’t need to “shred your body” or “feel the burn” each time you workout at the gym. When you’re in perimenopause you can get huge value from simple daily movement. Even if you aren’t a gym person, my top 5 exercises for perimenopause will help you stay healthy as you go through some of the things you’re beginning to experience. Keep moving – get out and walk every day. Go with a friend – make it part of your daily routine, just like brushing your teeth.

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Exercise during perimenopause keeps a few things in check. Stress is one of the big ones that can have a large impact on our perimenopause journey and exercise can help to minimize and manage the adverse effects it creates…which is an important step to protecting our overall health as we age.

According to Harvard’s Menopause Makeover, exercise can help reduce your chance of heart disease. Aerobic exercise can elevate your good cholesterol and lower your blood pressure. Exercise during perimenopause can improve your metabolic ability to burn calories, relieve mild depression, and reduce hot flashes.

Top 5 Exercises for perimenopause

**These are general recommendations of exercises for overall health and wellness as you go through perimenopause. Every woman is different as well as her abilities and movement background. 

  1. WHOLE BODY STRETCHES – add Pilates or yoga stretches to your perimenopause workout to keep your body limber and your spine mobile. Perimenopause can affect the suppleness of the spine, so keep moving, because movement mitigates that process.
  2. BALANCE WORK – this isn’t complicated, simply stand on one foot and count slowly to 10 or 20 once every day, on each foot. This will improve your balance – super important for women’s health as we get older.
  3. PELVIC FLOOR STRENGTH – sit on a chair and contract and lift the area around your sits bones. Check out Pelvic Floor First for some how-tos, and why this is so important to start doing early, even before perimenopause if you can.
  4. LEGS, LEGS, LEGS – bridges, mini squats, leg lifts to the side, and long slow lunges are great for maintaining strength in the front, side and back of your legs. Perimenopause can make many women feel a lack of energy, these leg exercises strengthen you, and build back your energy when you do them regularly.
  5. ARM WORK WITH A BAND – You can work all aspects of your arms and upper body just by using a TheraBand for bicep curls, deltoid lifts, chest extension, and overhead pulls. Perimenopause can begin to weaken your muscle mass, these exercises combat that, and strengthen you.

I have included a little video with a few arm/band exercises you can do at home – the best part is it works on balance and legs too! Just scroll down the page Menopause & Beyond and you’ll see the free video! Or try a class on my Pilates Mat Videos on Demand

Don’t overdo exercises that make you sweat – what you want is to work efficiently and effectively. You can set physical goals with the help of a trainer or Pilates instructor like me (if needed). Challenge your body and mind to meet those goals, and work at the level you are at now in your perimenopause journey. Don’t be under pressure to work at a level that your body was at before.

When your body has decided it is no longer time for reproduction, it starts to conserve the energy once spent on menstruation and ovulation, to now support your bones, brain, heart and other organs. That’s the brilliant part of the process! The not so fun part, is that your perimenopause journey can take some twists and turns that can leave you feeling ungrounded, anxious and dizzy. As our sex hormones jump and fall out of sync pesky and uncomfortable symptoms arise. Sometimes you may feel you don’t have enough energy, definitely not the energy you used to have. These top 5 exercises for perimenopause will help you build back your energy.

“Your current body is the only body that can take you to your new body — so be kind to it.¨


Elaine Moran, author

Exercise during perimenopause can help with sleep disruption too. One of the biggest issues for women experiencing perimenopause and menopause is sleep deprivation. Exercise can help us sleep better. When we sleep better, we think better, react better, feel better and look better, and why wouldn’t we want all that?

Find some more helpful tips to support your sleep in insomnia and menopause.

Going through major changes in life, like perimenopause, can be challenging (to say the least), but when you arm yourself with good information and tools you prepare your body for healthy aging. During perimenopause and menopause, some days can be better than others, but the more you focus on simple exercises like these, the more likely you are to have great days ahead. Remember that exercise isn’t the answer to it all, we must support our whole body’s health – eat well, work on reducing stress and nurture your mind and spirit. 

About the author

Cindy Willems has been a Pilates instructor for 15 years with her own practice in the Toronto area. She uses her holistic nutrition and acupuncture training to treat and guide her clients through perimenopause and beyond. If you are in the Toronto area and would like to book an appointment contact her at info@myfitover50.ca.

Breast health as we age

by October 14, 2021

Last night we had a terrific chat about our breast health with Dr. Melinda Wu, a family physician and Oncologist at Women’s College Hospital and Princess Margaret Cancer Centre in Toronto. Dr. Wu provided such an informative presentation (which you can see in the video below) that I think you will be inspired to take more time for self care, especially for the health of your breasts.

Did you know your breast tissue changes when you go into menopause?

As soon as I turned 50, my family doctor encouraged me to get a mammogram and this was the first time anyone had ever mentioned something about my breast health. October is Breast Cancer Awareness month, so I invited Dr. Wu to be part of the conversation around our breasts, because we shouldn’t wait for our doctor to say something about it.

As Dr. Wu says in her presentation, getting to know about your breast anatomy and any changes that may be occurring in the tissue (especially as we get older and estrogen drops) is very important. We are the ones who can sometimes see and feel when things have changed in our breast tissue, so never wait to talk to your health provider or doctor if you have concerns. 

“We should have a good understanding of these bodies that carry us through our lives”… Dr. Melinda Wu.

Lifestyle factors for breast health

(taken from the video)
  • minimize alcohol – one glass of alcohol a day can raise your cancer risk
  • focus on fruits and vegetables – these will provide valuable nutrients and antioxidants
  • eat fewer saturated fats – like cheese, red meat, butter and curred meats
  • take vitamin D – speak to your provider about how much is best for you
  • work towards a healthy weight – especially around the belly area
  • exercise at least 30 minutes/5 times a week – you can split this up in your day if needed

Much thanks to Dr. Wu for sharing her time and such great information with a kind and compassionate heart. If you are looking to donate to breast cancer research and support you can go to the Canadian Cancer Society.

More information about treatment and programs for women’s cancers in the Toronto area is available.

Peter Gilgan Centre for Women’s Cancers

In this video you will learn a couple of really simple exercises you can do that can help support your breast health!

About the author & speaker

Guest speaker Dr. Melinda Wu

Dr. Melinda Wu is a family physician at Women’s College Hospital and a general practitioner in Oncology at both Women’s College Hospital and Princess Margaret Cancer Centre. In addition to her clinical work, Dr. Wu is the Clinical Education Lead for the Peter Gilgan Centre for Women’s Cancers. She is engaged in medical education and administration, and is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Family & Community Medicine at the University of Toronto.

Cindy Willems, host

Cindy is the creator of My Fit Over 50 and a practitioner in two clinics in the Toronto area. She is a registered Acupuncturist, Certified Pilates instructor and Holistic Nutritionist. Cindy is very passionate about helping others support their body’s health & wellness, especially as they get older. 

Top 8 ways to support your brain health!

by August 20, 2021

Brain health has been a hot topic over the last 20+ years, as more of the populations around the world grow older, dementia and Alzheimer cases also grow. I know personally my memory has been waning as I hit menopause and that is something that researchers are looking at now, but will that lead to memory issues as I get older? Menopause and the loss of estrogen has been found to be a major player in dementia – that may be why more women are diagnosed more than men?.

According to the Alzheimer society, our global population is seeing a drastic change in age, so it is important for us to try to understand aging and learn how we can support our body and our brain health. We recently had a conversation with the Alzheimer Society of Durham about MEMORY, which was great, so here is the video for you all to watch again or for the first time. Please note this is not for diagnostic purposes only educational.

https://vimeo.com/589887531

Top 8 ways to support your brain health

Here are some of my top ways to support your brain health, while supporting your whole body health too!

FIBRE rich foods – helps to keep things moving

Fibre (such as ground flax seeds, vegetables and fruit) help to slow down the breakdown of our carbs to ensure balanced blood sugar levels and it helps support elimination! Super important ladies as we get older.

Eat regularly – your brain gets hungry

Our brain needs food for energy and when we get hungry there is a tendency to choose things that are not always that nutritious for us. Eating regularly helps to keep our blood sugars balanced and helps you to make better food choices.

Essential Fatty acids are great!

Foods rich in omega 3 fatty acids have been shown to provide the nutrients needed by our brain and nervous system. Oily fish (wild salmon, sardines, mackerel, herring), nuts/seeds (walnut, hazelnuts, almond, flax, chia, sunflower, pumpkin) are great options to add daily.

A Mediterranean diet is a perfect for this!

Colour Colour Colour – can’t have too much!

Having a colourful plate with fruit and vegetables (green, orange, yellow, red) will help provide nutrients that support our whole body, with valuable vitamins, minerals and antioxidants!

Amino Acids within a balanced meal – yum

Nuts, beans, whole grains, seeds, vegetables, fish, eggs all provide us with valuable amino acids which our body needs to create neurotransmitters used by our brain. They help us feel happy, relaxed and sleep well!

Exposure to environmental toxins – not good for our brain

Try to avoid pollutants in your home – no artificial scents or air fresheners (try essential oils instead), avoid using conventional laundry/dish detergent, parabens and chemicals in your shampoo, soap, creams, toothpaste and makeup. (see www.ewg.org for more info)

Avoid things that are bad for you

This is easy, we know the things that aren’t good for our body – smoking, pollution, too much caffeine/alcohol, dyes/artificial or processed foods, sedentary lifestyle and processed white sugar.

STRESS management – you can do it!

Even though this is last, to me it is the most important for most of us. Stress is becoming the new normal way of living, but research has shown too much of it can be detrimental to our health – meditate, exercise, deep breaths are always helpful.

Please speak to your doctor if you or someone you love is experiencing memory issues or loss.

As a holistic nutritionist, I work with clients to improve their dietary intake, but that’s only part of the work we do, there are many factors that affect our health and many of these we have the ability to change and improve. If you can’t do this on your own, talk to your practitioner or contact me and we’ll get you started.

About the author and guest speakers


Cindy is the creator of My Fit Over 50. She is a holistic nutritionist, registered acupuncturist and Pilates teacher. To contact her email info@myfitover50.ca

My memory isn’t what it used to be…

by August 2, 2021

I noticed my inability to sometimes quickly recall the name of simple objects in my late 40’s, but didn’t think too much about it because I had always been a little bad at remembering names and dates throughout my whole life. Now in my 50’s (at times) I experience “brain fog” and it has become a bit frustrating to not recall the name of a toothbrush or stapler right away, when I know it’s sitting right there on the back of my tongue ready to come out. What feels like minutes is actually only seconds, but that inability to remember quickly was disconcerting until I started to learn a little about my brain and what was going on.

I work hard to strengthen my body with good nutrition and exercise but don’t always think about my brain health and I am starting to learn that it should be an important focus as we get older. Sadly, women see more of a cognitive decline with age than men which includes our ability to think, speak, judge, remember and learn new things.

Why do women have more cognitive issues as we age?

Having difficulties recalling things is often typical of menopause and it is our declining estrogen levels that can affect how our brain functions. Thank goodness, I thought it was just me! Now that’s not to say if you are having cognitive issues you should just chalk it up to the decline of your hormones and that’s that…if you are concerned about your ability to not only recall but make good decisions or recognize things please seek the help of your doctor.

Here’s the other part of our brain health as we age women…sleep disturbance can become a major player from perimenopause onwards and that will also have an influence in how we feel and recall in our day. If you just don’t sleep well you’re probably going to feel grumpy, unfocused, irritable or depressed. Again, we can blame the drop of our hormones for this disruption, but following good sleep habits is super important to help support not only our sleep but our brain health. Find out more about the connection between insomnia and menopause.

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What can we do to improve our brain health?

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My Fit Over 50 hosted a conversation with the Alzheimer Society of Durham about MEMORY as we age, check out the recording on my new blog post!.   You will also get my top 8 ways to support your brain health list! 



About the author

Cindy is registered acupuncturist, Pilates instructor and holistic nutritionist. She is an educator and health professional, aiming to inspire all women to be their best as we age reaching maximum vitality!

Juicing up your skin – a conversation

by June 17, 2021

On Wednesday June 16th our guest speaker Louise Camilleri from LC Natural Health & Beauty joined us to talk about Juicing and its affect on the health of our skin. It was such a great event I wanted to offer the video for anyone to view, to inspire and encourage everyone to take part in your own health care. Juicing is just one simple thing we can do to support the health of our body as we get older and it can be simple or as complex and nutrition packed as you’d like. Louise offers suggestions for great juices with ingredients you might not normally think to add in!

You can juice for general health & wellness or for the maintenance of good body weight, but don’t think of juicing as a weight loss approach. If you are wanting to lose some weight, take a whole body approach that includes eating a whole foods diet (with some juice added in), exercise, make good lifestyle choices, follow good sleep habits and reduce stress. 

Need some help with your nutrition during Menopause? Contact me here

Here are a couple of quick tips for successful juicing:
  • Make a list before you shop – take a look online to find a recipe or two that you’d like to try and go for it!
  • Prepare all your ingredients – cut, slice, chop and put it in the fridge or freezer for quick access
  • Keep the ingredients low on the glycemic index – the higher the sugar content of a fruit or vegetable the bigger affect it has on our blood sugar
  • Drink your juice at room temperature if possible instead of cold – this will be easier on your digestive system
  • Thicken your juice with 1/2 an avocado, some nuts or seeds and gain valuable omega fatty acids too!

(click on the pic for a free green juice recipe!)


Watch our virtual conversation here

Louise offers her approach to Juicing and Menopause, which involves the 4 ”M”s and great information about choosing a well balanced juice for yourself…
  1. Mindset or mindfulness, which helps you to combat stress. We want to lower Cortisol levels and raise Endorphins!
  2. Movement, which controls stress and helps the body to produce less fat storing hormones. With movement comes better elimination of toxins from the bowel and the pores of the skin!
  3. Meals, which help control calories and assures good nutrition. Juicing also gives the internal body a rest (when you rest you repair) and allows for better digestion.!
  4. Metabolics, the is the stuff that stimulates and moves our metabolism like exercise and supplements. Our metabolism is like a stress barometer and it needs to be taken care of and BALANCED.!

Directions for a well balanced Detoxifying Juice:

Choose a base liquid

You can use 1 to 2 cups of filtered water, raw coconut water, unsweetened almond milk or hemp milk, fresh apple or orange juice, herbal tea, green tea, unsweetened kefir or kombucha

Choose your base ingredients

Add 2 cups of fresh or frozen fruits or veggies, like apple, orange, kiwi, melon, berries, beets, cucumber, pineapple, mango, or peaches

Add some creaminess

Banana, avocado, coconut meat, unsweetened natural yogurts, blanched almonds, or almond butter, walnuts and cauliflower all add richness and creaminess to smoothies

Add some greens

Next add 1 to 2 cups of spinach, romaine, or radish greens; 1 cup kale, bok choy, Swiss chard, collards, beet greens; or 1/4 cup arugula or dandelion greens

Boost the nutrients

Choose one or more of the following: 1 tablespoon of chia, hemp or flax seeds; 1 tablespoon of coconut, flax, or hemp oil; 1 teaspoon to 1 tablespoon of superfood powders like açai, pomegranate, camu, goji, wheatgrass, or broccoli sprouts; 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon Spirulina or chlorella; or add 1/4 cup frozen raw broccoli or cauliflower. One of my favs…Hibiscus flower powder

Add some magic

Inspire flavour with spices! Add a pinch to 1/8 teaspoon of cayenne, red pepper flakes, turmeric, or curry powder, or 1/4 to 1 teaspoon of ground cinnamon or fresh ginger. Or try fresh (not dried) herbs like 1-1/2 teaspoons of rosemary, or 2 tablespoons to 1/4 cup of parsley, cilantro, basil, or mint. Lift the pungency of earthy root veggies or leafy greens with 1 teaspoon to 1 tablespoon of lemon or lime juice and 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon of lemon or lime zest

Blend

Throw all of the ingredients into your blender, and blast on high for 30 to 60 seconds until smooth and creamy

Would you like to get some great juicing recipes? Try Louise’s Top Juicing Recipe ebook chocked full of nutritious and delicious juices!

(just click on the pic)


Happy Juicing!

About the authors

Cindy is a registered holistic nutritionist, registered acupuncturist, certified Pilates instructor and health educator. She is the creator of My Fit Over 50, working to empower women before, during and after menopause!

Louise Camilleri, founder, and CEO of LC Natural Health & Beauty has been an Entrepreneur for over 10 years working in her business as a Natural Health Practitioner, Beauty Food Advisor, Skin Care Consultant, Holistic Skin Care Formulator, Natural Perfumer, and Author. Find out more about Louise here.

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