Diet and Fitness: Look Great At Any Age

TEXT: Alexander Sauve

Every decade has its own set of hidden surprises and you have to be ready for them both physically and mentally. Watching your diet and taking care of your health are great ways to ensure you will have longevity and strength in the decades to come. Check out these five easy tips to help ensure you look great at every age.

Moderation Is Key

After basically trying every fad diet out there (and there are many, trust me), I realized that to a degree it’s not what you eat, but how much and when. It’s all about moderation. You can still enjoy your favorite high-calorie drinks and foods, but they should be limited. Some would argue eating small meals multiple times a day, while others would counter and say you should eat less. The trick is to a find your balance. Everyone is different, and your diet and lifestyle choices should reflect these differences.

Your Metabolism is NOT Working Against You

There is a big misconception that with age comes a sluggish metabolism. This is only partly true. According to an article published in the National Library of Medicine (NIH), although our metabolisms are far slower then they were when we were kids, much of the weight gain we experience as we age is due to becoming less active. Priorities and habits begin to change. Instead of heading out to a hottest party or a club opening, you opt to Netflix and chill. Careers and family will begin to take center stage, and so will pizza and ice cream.

Exercise Like the Beast You Were Born to Be

Similar to the body needing the appropriate fuel to keep it running; it also needs a moderate amount of exercise to maintain its strength, muscle tone, and flexibility. According to Men’s Fitness, a light to moderate fitness plan (with the appropriate diet) four times a week will keep your body lean and in good working condition. A few minor changes to any diet or exercise plan can make a world of difference. What’s important here is you don’t have to become a hardcore gym goer if you want to remain fit and healthy. It’s all about making the appropriate decisions.

Watch Out For Hidden Calories

If you’re on the right path to eating well and getting enough exercise, but still haven’t seen the results you were hoping for, the answer may lie hidden somewhere within your daily diet — juices, coffees, and sodas often have an alarming amount of hidden calories. These delicious treats are jammed packed with sugars, carbs and saturated fats. A Starbucks White Chocolate Mocha Frappuccino for example (my personal favorite) will set you back a whopping 550 calories. Adding an extra 500 or so calories doesn’t seem to be all that much, but with everything else consumed during the day it can add up quite quickly.

Waist Not, Want Not

There is no magical pill or potion to weight loss at any age. Yes, you can lose a ton of weight by dieting —cutting out this food, or that food — but what you’re looking for is long-term results and sustainability. When you really get down to it, and manage your way through all the fluff, a sensible diet and a moderate amount of exercise is the only way to maintain your health over a long period of time. But don’t forget to enjoy life a long the way. It can be rather dull otherwise.

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Spring Cleaning 101 (and we’re not talking about your apartment)

Don’t listen to whatever this disastrous blizzard is trying to tell you — it’s goddamn March. Which means fresh starts and ~spring cleaning~ is, for many of us, on the brain. But if you’re like most of us here at Novella, you probably crave more than just an apartment detox this year. In addition to purging all the clutter at home, we’re going to clean up the health and beauty departments of our lives, too.

Read on for our favourite ways to spring clean your self this year!


Saje’s all-natural remedies will change your life (and in a matter of seconds)



There are a lot of things in this world we should be concerned about, and among them are what we’re putting into our bodies, and what we’re putting into our planet. Knock both of those out of the park by making the switch to all-natural products.

If you’re a complete beginner, start with your beauty drawer. It’s easy to replace things like your deodorant, shampoo and conditioner, even your perfume. Most of your beauty essentials can be found at Saje, a Vancouver-based brand that’s recently touched down in Toronto. All of their scrumptious products are crafted with all-natural ingredients, mostly essential oils — which are well known for their wholistic healing powers.

A tip: make your first step by bringing home Saje’s Pocket Pharmacy, a little packet of their best-selling, all-natural remedies, including their famous headache fix (seriously, this thing beats out Tylenol any day, and in about 30 seconds).

And as for the home, if you want to start turning in your usual chemical-ridden products for greener versions, check out The Naturally Clean Home by Karyn Siegel-Maier (available in Toronto here). It gives tons of easy recipes and tips on how to DIY your own natural cleaning products using essential oils and other wholesome stuff.

GO VEGETARIAN FOR A MONTH (or, you know, forever)

There are so many reasons to try this. Whether you want to start caring about animals, or you want to do something genuinely cool for your body, or you simply want to find out if you have the willpower to break up with bacon, give it a go. It won’t hurt — believe us. Google “vegetarian meal plan,” hit up FreshCo., and you’re set. Easy as that. Even if you only last a week, you’ll feel better physically and emotionally — and who knows, maybe it’ll plant the seeds for a long-term commitment to the veg life.


We’ve recently discovered this miraculous facial cleaning device that’s basically a vibrator for your face. Seriously — it gives you, like, a face-gasm. Let us explain: it’s called the Foreo, a silicon pad that vibrates against your skin, digging deep into pores while it stimulates blood flow, making you squeaky-clean and glowy. Plus, for those who care, it’s got build-in anti-aging technology. What’s especially cool about the Foreo is you can customize your device based on your skin type, so it’s a personalized facial cleaning experience that leaves you as refreshed as you are clear-skinned.


Your “bikini bod” or whatever is starting to beckon for you. Only a few more months (*hopefully*) until it’s beach season, so now is the perfect time to start kicking your own ass into shape. Whether you want to lose a few pounds or gain some strength, challenge yourself by investing in a month of workouts. There are tons of awesome training studios in Toronto, but there’s one in the east end called Optimal Body Fitness (OBF) that has a really, really unique process for their month-long boot camps. Check it out! And stay tuned for our writers’ candid review of their experience during the OBF challenge.

A Voice For All: Jahmeelah Gamble

There are only so many hours in the day, and Jahmeelah Gamble makes every moment count. From her community involvement, facilitating programs for youth with disabilities, to hosting her own television and radio shows, she is the epitome of a superwoman.

1) First and foremost, can you talk about what you do? I was reading your website and it seems like you have your hands in everything, with a strong focus on disability and equality? How did you get into this and what is your background?

JG: I’ve been in the field for fifteen years, with a background in Developmental Services Working from Fanshawe College in 2010. Prior to that, I was involved in various day programs supporting children and adults with disabilities, and that’s when I decided to turn my passion into my career.

The way I got into it, well I really cannot say; I myself don’t have a disability, I don’t have a child or any family with disabilities. I’d like to say that God had a plan for me and thought that I would be a great asset to this field, so that’s how I got into it.Working in this field, I was trying to find different ways to be an advocate, but not be in the typical thick of things. Yes, I work for the School Board and I am an Education Resource Facilitator, but I wanted to go above and beyond that, so I started my own business, Ms. Jams. I consult with families, workshop facilitation, and community advocacy. There’s different organizations that have me come out, and I do workshops, whether it is parent empowerment or disability sensitivity classes with them, just to give them a really lighthearted and open perspective on how they can better understand disability awareness, and whether it is improving their business or just improving their attitudes, that is my goal when I go out and I support them. With parents I consult, especially with those first time parents whose first child is born with a disability, I help them understand the system and what the next steps are, and really remind them that they are first and foremost the expert of their child, and help them decide how they can be the best possible advocate for their children.

My show, A Voice For All, launched in 2014, and it’s hard to believe it’s in its fourth season. As I said, that wasn’t my educational background, but I did do an interview on Roger Television to promote Autism Awareness Month. The following year, I wanted to come back and talk about families, and that I was concerned that as a community, we didn’t do enough to help parents with children with disabilities feel welcome and understood. I wanted to pick which show I wanted to be on, so I thought that if I put my application in for Show Proposal, that that was me proposing to be on a particular show, and little did I know, I was asking to have my own show. I ended up totally winging an interview with a producer, explaining how I could have my own show and what it would be about, and next thing you know, I had a pilot then I had my first season, and I have not looked back since!

I am the host and the producer of the show. We proudly support people with disabilities, their support workers, the grassroots organizations that need more exposure, and most importantly, we provide support to parents. I have had parents come on the show and tell their stories, and it creates a sense of community for parents tuning in and they can learn from each other. What I love most about my show is when we have organizations like the Special Olympics come on, and there are athletes that rarely get mainstream television and they get ten whole minutes about why they are awesome, how they became the person they are, and regardless of what their disability or their cognitive level is, they made it work and they made it happen.

It’s been a rewarding experience for me, to better understand the organizations in our communities that really need our support, but also I’ve learned a lot about myself as an advocate. I’ve been doing this for fifteen years, but I still feel like I’m just getting started. The first couple years was me getting my feet wet and exploring who I am, and now that’s I’ve found this passion in media, whether it is magazines I’ve written for, my show, and I’ve recently launched my online radio program called Straight Up with Jam, where I talk straight up about disability issues and awareness within our community and around the world. The channel that my show airs on, Voices For Ability, is the only online radio show within the region that is for people with disabilities by people with disabilities, so I was honoured when they approached me about hosting a show. So I am speaking on the perspective as an able-bodied person, and identifying things that my fellow able-bodied people do that are not always right, but at the same time, trying to help the able-bodied community people with different abilities. We have various people from different organizations come around, and we talk straight up about the issues. It’s my way to contribute to an amazing group of people who are often misunderstood and I’m just doing my part.

2) What have been the struggles of doing this, as well as the rewards?

JG: The struggles of me being in this field of work is convincing people why they should pay attention, especially because I am able-bodied. I have been asked “Why are you so passionate about disabilites? You don’t even have a disability, and no one in your family is affected”. My answer to that is I have a heart, and my heart cares about individuals who do have different needs. When I go to different events, and especially mainstream events, my struggle is getting the platform to express to people to open their ears and their eyes and their hearts to what I am trying to promote. My struggle is a part of the story. When you have these setbacks, it gives you that fuel to keep going, and when I do come across these walls of people, that shows me that I need to work harder to promote the work that myself and other people are doing. There are harder days, when I am in the school system when I am seeing my students being misunderstood, I become sort of a mama bear, and showing people that they have a value and a purpose.

The rewards are the people I work with. I love my students, I really do. My previous student from last year was actually my flower girl at my wedding. She holds a very special place in my heart, so it was only natural that she be a part of our big day. I have had students and clients who have underestimated themselves. We have had big goals for them, and when we achieve that goal and I see that sense of pride on their face and their parents’ faces, that’s the biggest reward for me. Even with A Voice For All, and seeing how far it has come, that for me is a reward: having people understand what I am trying to promote. My work is my reward, every single day.


3) Tell me about your dance classes and how they started.

JG: I am not a classically trained dancer, I just happen to have some rhythm! For a couple years, I was a fitness instructor for the YMCA, and a previous colleague wanted to partner with me to do an event for individuals who have disabilities, especially adults. What the general population does not know is that typically when people with disabilities get to about 18 years old, they are essentially pushed off the cliff by the system. There is not enough funding and programs to support them, so they are left to their own means. We decided to launch EmpowerMe Fitness and Education about a year ago, which is a non-profit fitness program for adults with developmental disabilities. We took my fitness routines and modify them to each class; so for example, if we have an individual who is in a wheelchair or someone with autism, we completely modify the class so everyone is up and moving and everybody included. We rely solely on public donations and are now exploring government funding as well, because we need to have programs like this running consistently. It’s come together by need, with my background in Developmental Disabilites and dance, and her extensive background in Behaviour Therapy, to create something that a lot of people and their families were looking for. Some people weren’t even meeting us, they just showed up because there was nothing else like this available. We are always expanding and growing because the need is there. In the future, we hope to work with more classically trained dancers and get into gyms to help the staff working better understand and connect with members with disabilities. EmpowerMe not only aims to support people personally, within our program setting, but also the population and the community at large understand how they can better welcome individuals with disabilities.

What is next for you, in 2015 and beyond? What are you most proud of?

JG: I am hoping that we can take A Voice For All on wider platform to reach a bigger audience. I don’t believe in five year plans, because I really do not know. What I want is to continue to be healthy physically, mentally, and emotionally, so that I can continue to do the work that I do. In the upcoming months, I want to continue to learn more, become more passionate, and become a stronger advocate. I want to be involved in greater opportunities that allow me to further my experience, connect with more people, and strive to become a person who can create change and understanding.

With confidence, I can say I am self-made and that I am always looking for ways to grow. Yes, I am a Teacher’s Assistant during the day, but I have my television show, my radio show, I sit on committees, I do events, I do public speaking, so that to me is something I am really proud of. In such a short amount of time, I have accomplished so much, and I have grown, and helped people grow, and we are just getting started.

Stay connected with Jahmeelah by following her @MsJamPccs and keeping up with her at

Get Fit at Fly Studio: Ariel & Suspension Yoga

Article by Stephanie Smalls

I’m not one of those people who are all about fitness. I do not like exercise, by any means. I believe taking the stairs instead of the escalator in the subway falls under “exercise”. I believe the walk to and from brunch can and should count as “exercise”. I believe if I run to catch the bus that also counts as “exercise”.

I’m in shape as far as appearances go. People often ask me what I do to stay in shape and I tell them, I do nothing. I was very active as a child and into my teen years. Even as a young adult, I had a gym membership that I utilized daily, I ate well, went to bed at a respectable hour and limited my alcohol intake. Then came my 30s…

It wasn’t that I got older and cared less about exercise, ok well yes that actually was it, but also because I became more confident in my own skin. I became less concerned with what other people thought and made sure I was happy with myself. However, I do understand the importance of physical exercise for more than appearances and that is why I decided to find something that I actually wanted to do to get fit and be healthy.

I’ve always enjoyed Yoga, Pilates and Spin but I tried classes at my local gym and found that it wasn’t what I was looking for. I wanted something more relaxed; come in at any level and have some fun while getting fit together. That’s when I found Fly Studio, a boutique Yoga and Pilates Studio on Queen West. When I saw they have an Aerial Yoga class and the prices were affordable, I was sold.

I called to reserve my spot and spoke to Chris who was extremely friendly, answered all of my questions and explained Juan would be the instructor for my class. I arrived to a brightly lit, small studio with energizing music playing and a Reformer Pilates class in full swing. Chris actually remembered me from my phone call (uncanny) and showed me where to change. That’s when the nervousness kicked in. I hadn’t been in a class in so long, I couldn’t even remember the last time. What if I didn’t know the poses? What if I fell out of the fabric? What if everyone in the yoga class is a Yogi Master and I’m the uncoordinated one holding the class back? I took a deep breath and stepped out of the change room. My mouth was feeling dry from my brief anxiety attack and I noticed glass bottles of water hanging on the wall. Luckily for me, if you forgot/didn’t bring a water bottle; the studio has one for you. Bonus!

Juan was friendly and advised he wouldn’t pick on me, thankfully. The class size was small, eight of us to be exact, which I appreciated. Juan had time throughout the class to go around to each person, including myself, and assist with the poses or offer alternative ways to achieve the current pose. I befriended a couple of girls in the class, who are sisters, and we apologized to each other several times because you it’s common to accidentally nudge the person in front of you with your foot. We shared many laughs throughout the class and congratulated one another when someone achieved a pose. I was the first person in class to achieve the upside down “vampire” pose thing. I’m not sure what it’s called but that’s what we called it. Sorry Juan…

After class, you truly feel like you could be part of Cirque De Soleil, Ok maybe not but I did. Remember, I haven’t done anything active in years. Be as proud of me as I am of myself. I highly recommend Fly Studio for many reasons but personally, it’s affordable – they have pricing options to fit your lifestyle and budget, staff are friendly and welcoming – thank you Chris and Juan, they have a variety of classes to fit your schedule all at a convenient location in one of the hippest neighbourhoods in the city. So, have you signed up yet?

Strength in Beauty & Fit for Fashion

TEXT: Jennifer Bannon

Toronto-based model Jennifer Bannon

“You can be gorgeous at thirty, charming at forty … and irresistible for the rest of your life”.

 – Coco Chanel

In the world of all things fashion, there is always the craving for something more, something breathtaking. The difference between ordinary and extraordinary, is just that little ‘extra’. It takes an incredible amount of dedication and stamina for the Amazon-like stunners of today such as Adriana Lima, Gisele Bündchen and Candince Swanepoel to own that runway. Long before the hair and makeup, sweat is shed and muscles are worked in the active preparation behind-the-scenes. They are fierce. They are confident. They are strong. They are beautiful.

Gigi Hadid, named model of the year, jabs and punches her way to a fit figure at Gotham Gym in NYC. This model doesn’t just strike a mean pose, she also has a powerful uppercut. Behait Prinsloo lets us in on a secret that, “Every girl, after the fitting, is like, ‘OK, I can relax with the butt squats because it’s covered”. Yes they squat! No, it doesn’t come naturally (for most of them – some are just …. let’s just say blessed). Alessandra Ambrosio takes her yoga, Pilates and cardio barre practice seriously. Lima loves to box and you’ll always find a skipping rope by her side. Bündchen does a little bit of everything but her secret weapon is kung fu. For Swanepoel, it’s focusing on her swan-like legs using resistance while keeping it fresh between boxing and yoga. It’s all about balance and maintaining a lifestyle that will carry you into the next phase of your successful career, whatever that may be for you. Health is wealth.

Developing the endurance and nurturing the dedication it takes to attain supermodel status can be tough. The magic is in the progress to perfection. Being unhealthy to the point of developing eating disorders and sickly skeletal bodies is not as fashionably expected as it once was, thankfully. Top models and the high fashion world at large are realizing the long-lasting benefits of promoting health alongside beauty. The women (and men) of the fashion industry have a chance in the spotlight to make a huge difference guiding the next generation towards a new rubric of measuring up to top model status.

Peter Lim
Toronto-based model Peter Lim

Personally, I love heavy lifting yet my dearly beloved genes force me to mix things up to stay lean instead of oh-so-easily giving into the curves. I’ve found that apart from focusing on single-leg exercises during my leg day routines, yoga and HIIT circuit routines keep me in line with a longer silhouetted physique and more consistent symmetrical rhythm. I’ve also enjoyed training briefly at Mississauga Elite Training Centre (Dundas St East/Dixie) that delivers top quality training in Muay Thai, Brazilian jiu-jitsu, strength and conditioning and boxing. The facility is headed by Kru DJ Dallaire of D1 and Claude Patrick. Fellow Toronto-based model Peter Lim regularly mixes weight training and compound movements with rowing, stair-master and cycling HIIT for cardio. He is currently turning towards circuit training to transform his strong physique into one more suitable for fashion modeling. Anastasia De Lyon, who also hails from the GTA, loves to get her Zumba and RMP classes on for her go-to cardio with a combination of yoga practice for strength and flexibility. She will occasionally turn to lifting light weight to tone desired areas.

Anastasia De Lyon
Toronto-based model Anastasia De Lyon

Overall, the theme is balance. A model’s physique needs to be strong to endure all that is required at photo shoots and runway shows. All this takes its toll, mentally as well as physically, and the dedication that goes into consistent training is a powerful tool that aids in the development of a top model.

Now as Beyoncé says it “Do the scissor leg, touch ya heels touch ya toes … Do the Naomi Campbell walk, Naomi Campbell walk … Walk across the room like Naomi Campbell”.