Have you ever noticed how things that are good for you also tend to be good for the planet?

Like riding your bike instead of taking the car, eating organic food, and choosing cosmetics with fewer chemicals in them.

When I taught Personal Training students about the circulatory system, I always make the analogy that the aorta is like the trunk of a tree, the arteries are like the branches, and the capillaries are like the leaves on a tree.

The similarity is even more striking when you look at the respiratory system.

I love these images because they remind us that we are not separate from our environment but a small part of the larger system.
I bring this up because the holiday season can be hard on our bodies and hard on the planet (not to mention hard on the wallet).
There is an expectation for mass consumption: of food, booze and STUFF.
So I thought I’d present some alternatives.
Instead of starting next year feeling fat, broke and guilty about contributing to a future landfill, here’s a Gift Guide to giving Less Stuff, More Buff:



I’ve mentioned before that I used to be a Personal Chef.  For Christmas one year, I made up huge batches of healthy soups and casseroles and marinated protein. I packaged them in individual servings, labelled them with reheating instructions and froze them.
personal chef
When leaving for a holiday party, I’d grab one of each and make a pretty package with a bottle of wine.
I think they were the most appreciated gifts I’ve ever given.
Here are a few links with healthy, freezable meals to get you started:
Other food ideas:

      Give them a trial of any food delivery service.

In Toronto, I like Mama Earth Organics.

      Show a farmer some love:

Order your friend a CSA box or a share of a cow for local grass-fed beef.  I can personally attest that Green Being farm does wonderful things in Newstadt, Ontario.

2. Give inspiration

We all know someone who wants to get in shape but needs a little push.
Don’t be tempted by one of those as-seen-on-TV fitness machines that are guaranteed to be gathering dust in a year
twistInstead, give some real inspiration

Like a Badass biography:

Does your friend want to be an active grandparent or great-grandparent?

Get them What Makes Olga Run, about my favourite nonagenarian athlete, Olga Kotelko.

Or maybe they want to complete the  Pacific Coast Trail or walk across England.

Someone out there has done it and written about it.

If you want to be super green, you do what my awesome friend Kirsten does:

order them up from the library, wrap them beautifully and tell them you will be by to pick them up in a few weeks (and maybe have a cup of tea).


Turn it up to 11!

Nothing is more likely to get people moving than a sweet beat.

My clients know how deeply I believe in the power of my Confidence Mix.

(and I rock out to it in this 20 min workout I accidentally posted streamed live to my Facebook feed.)

Check this baby out:

Screen Shot 2015-12-07 at 11.23.51 AM





Give fitness classes/horseback riding lessons/a race entry

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: social support is a strong predictor of being successful in reaching your exercise goals.

Sign your friend (and yourself) up for one of our online Transformation programs, a month of yoga, or an early bird race entry for a ridiculous obstacle race this Summer.

3. Give time:

The number one reason people say they don’t exercise is because they don’t have the time.

This would be the most appreciated present (and maybe the hardest to give).

How do you give time?


Giving parents coupons for free babysitting is like gold.

(* IMPORTANT NOTE: there is a small risk that the parents will NOT use this time to exercise, but that’s a risk you’ll have to take.)

    Help them with a project.

You know your friend who read The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up and keeps talking about how they are going to finally get rid of all their 90’s Spice Girl shoes and Wilson Philips CDs?

wilsonspice girls








Tell them you are coming over with garbage bags (and a sweet Youtube Premium mix featuring lots of Spice Girls and Wilson Philips.)

Shovel a neighbour’s walk/de-ice their car/ drag their compost bins to the curb

I’ve often lamented all the human energy that is wasted at the gym instead of working towards some greater good.

Can you imagine if someone gave you the gift of car scraping?

It might seem insignificant –

but I’m convinced that the first time you de-ice your neighbour’s car at 7am while they are warm and asleep, you have made a tiny step towards world peace (and oh look, you also have toned tricep muscles, no big deal).

So, what did I miss?

Can you think of any other ways to give Less Stuff More Buff?

Which healthy gift idea are you going to steal?

Leave a comment below and let me know! (and share this post if you love the idea of giving less stuff!)

Ho ho ho!

Like this post? See the expanded version in Oonagh’s new book, Healthy As F*ck.