Friday, October 10, 2014

Friday Favourites

I think fall has to be my favourite season! As much as I absolutely love summer, I also love the atmosphere that comes with fall and the beauty in the leaves changing colours. I also love everything that comes with fall--sweaters and boots, apple cider, Thanksgiving, and more! Here are a few of my fall favourites and a couple other things as well.

1. Outfits containing plaid shirts.


2. Drinking hot apple cider on cold days like these.


3. The Maze Runner! Both the movie--which I just saw last weekend and loved it--and the book-- which I read a few years ago and also LOVED!



4. Enjoying Thanksgiving dinner at a campsite with my family and relatives. We may be unique, but I've always loved camping during the Thanksgiving long weekend. Unfortunately, I'm working this weekend and can't spend the night, but we will be going for the day!




5. Davidstea! Especially Organic Blueberry Jam. I've been drinking it almost every day this week because it's so tasty!



Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Wellness Wednesday: Clean Eating

I'm excited to write this week's Wellness Wednesday post after creating a few "before and after" posts of myself recently. It's funny because I didn't put either of these sets of photos side by side in order to emphasize a change in weight or overall body shape.

I created this first comparison photo to see the difference in muscle definition and to see if or how much muscle I lost after taking some time off from lifting heavy on a regular basis. What I did notice was although I did lose some muscle definition, I have also slimmed down and toned up quite a bit over the past eight months.



I put these second photos together to see if there has been a change in my shoulders over the last couple of years. This comparison was the most shocking of the two! My body shape has done a complete 180. I don't even look like the same person! Another thing that shocked me was that I'm pretty sure I weighed about 5-8lbs LESS in the first photo than I do now. Crazy!



So what can I attribute to all of the changes to my body that you can see in these photos? Fitness, yes. But that isn't the sole factor. My training regime has transformed from purely long-duration cardio which gave me spindly arms and a big belly, to almost purely strength training which packed on the muscle but also stressed out my body and caused it to pack on the pounds, to a more holistic approach to fitness which has helped me to lean out and lose the stress belly.


There is another area of my life that has significantly impacted both my body shape and my overall health--FOOD (obviously)! When I was younger, I lived off processed food. I simply had to have anything labelled "diet" or "low fat". I focused far too much on calories and not about the quality of the food I was eating. Organic wasn't even something that entered my mind when I went into the grocery store. I was in a constant state of discomfort and chronically bloated.


It wasn't until the last year or so when I started really focusing on cleaning up my diet and focusing on eating more whole foods. I cut out almost all of the processed junk I used to eat on a daily basis and I started buying organic whole foods as often as I could. Now, I eat roughly 80% clean, organic whole foods and 20% not-so-clean foods. Everything in moderation!

I don't like using labels to describe what I eat. When I'm preparing my own meals or eating on my own, I stick to a primarily plant-based diet with some eggs and fish. I will eat meat from time to time mainly to keep my blood iron level from plummeting. I also try to stay away from gluten as often as I can, but I'm not afraid if I eat it every once and a while. And then there's the obvious--I avoid processed foods, refined sugars, anything artificial, chemical additives and preservatives...the usual crap that you conveniently no longer have to worry about as much when you eat whole foods!


I could go on for days talking about how much food as changed my health and healed my gut. For the sake of time, I just want to say that I have never felt better than I do now! My digestion is functioning better than it ever has, I no longer have indigestion or bloating like I used to, and for once I feel connected to what I eat and the world around me. I finally eat with purpose and love how food nourishes my body!


Monday, October 6, 2014

Workout of the Week

I'm back (again) after being off during a very busy weekend. I'm excited to revisit one of my favourite cardio warm-ups or cardio interval workouts of all time! This is a treadmill workout that is a great way to get your blood flowing before a strength day or even a great cardio session on it's own if you need to get a big burn in little time. Enjoy!

The Workout
Equipment Needed:
  • Treadmill (with incline ability) 
Complete the Following:
  • Warm Up - Start at a brisk walking pace with no incline for 2 minutes (or longer as needed).
  • Alternate between 2 minutes of "sprint sections" and 2 minutes of "hill sections" for a total of 20 minutes.
    • Sprint Sections - Set the treadmill to zero incline and increase the pace to the fastest you can sprint for 2 minutes (the actual pace with vary from person to person). You should be ready to quit by the end of the 2 minutes!
    • Hill Sections - Set the treadmill to its steepest incline (typically 15 degrees) and return to a brisk walking pace. Really focus on pushing with hamstrings and glutes as well as with your quads during this section. This should be an extremely active rest phase and shouldn't allow you for much of a chance to catch your breath!
  • Cool Down - Finish at a brisk walking pace with no incline for 2-5 minutes or as long as needed.
The screen on your treadmill should end up looking something like this once you have completed this workout.


I swear by this workout when I'm really looking to kick my cardio up a notch and get the most out of 20 minutes. You will be absolutely beat by the end of this workout; however, listen to your body and take it slow or take breaks as you learn which speeds work best for you.

I hope you enjoy this workout and are able to try it out sometime this week!


Thursday, October 2, 2014

Wellness Wednesday: Saying No

It feels so good to be back to blogging again. After a crazy week last week and working over my usual overtime, I had to put something in my life on hold...which turned out to be blogging.

I've decided to use this opportunity to write a (belated) Wellness Wednesday post about learning how to say no!

It may seem like a simple task, but sometimes saying no can be one of the hardest things to do. I struggle a lot in this area because not only am I a people-pleaser and hate feeling like I'm letting people down by saying no, but I also push myself pretty hard and often bite off way more than I can chew.


I think learning how to say no is a bit of a learning process for everyone and it's something that can be practiced. It does seem to get easier but just like a muscle, you need to keep strengthening it regularly or it can become more of a challenge!


I have learned over time that it's really important to prioritize areas of my life in terms of most important to least important. In turn, this means I also have prioritized my life into areas that I can easily say no to, such as blogging (sadly), and areas that are more difficult to turn down, such as work.


One of the biggest struggles I face on an ongoing basis is learning how to put my own needs first. For many of us, our personal well-being is not always at the top of our priority list and often gets set aside as we say yes to other opportunities. Areas of my life that tend to get neglected when I am focusing too much on other things include sleep, exercise, my diet/meal planning/eating properly to fuel my body in general, and areas of self care in general.


I always know I need to take a good hard look at what areas of my life are getting way more attention than others when my nails need to be done and when I let my apartment become a disaster. Typically at this point, I have already seriously neglected sleep, health, fitness and other areas of self care without even noticing.


This happens more often than it should, but I'm trying to detect the signs early enough so I can start saying no to things lower on my priority lift before I start to sacrifice my own well-being. I hope you can all try to do the same!


I challenge you to try and prioritize areas of your life over the next couple of days and pinpoint any areas that really don't need to get as much energy as they do. I also encourage you to take a good look at your own self-care routine and improve on any areas that are lacking!


Monday, September 29, 2014

Workout of the Week

Oh my goodness! Last week was beyond busy and I didn't have a spare minute to sit down at my computer to blog at all. I can't wait to get back to blogging this week!

The weather has been so gorgeous lately that I simply couldn't stay inside for my workout today. I ended up going outside to complete a bodyweight workout in the park using a bench. I loved it so much that I've decided to make it the workout of the week!


The Workout

Equipment Needed

  • Park bench or picnic table

Three Sets of 12 Reps
  • Decline Push Ups
  • Box Jumps
  • Tricep Dips
  • Bulgarian Split Squats
  • High Knees with Toe Taps
  • Oblique Plank Dips (R+L=1)
  • Step Ups with Knee Thrust
This was such a great workout and a nice way to get my sweat on outside of the gym.


I hope you have a chance to enjoy the beautiful sunshine and perhaps take a workout or two outside this week!

Monday, September 22, 2014

Workout of the Week

Since I've been stuck in bed for the past few days and unable to get in an actual workout since the middle of last week, this week's post is going to be a little less of a workout and more of a workout highlight.

Being sick and now recovering from a nasty cold, yoga has really helped me get moving and flush out my system. There are a few poses that I really enjoy doing on a regular basis. It took me a while to get comfortable with these poses, but now that I am I find that they are each quite a full-body workout!

I also love that each of these poses incorporate strength, balance and flexibility. Instead of working on one of these areas at a time, it's so nice to be able to incorporate all of them into a workout. Without further ado, here are some of my favourite poses!

Grasshopper Pose


Crow Pose (Bakasana)


Side Crow Pose (Parsva Bakasana)


Mermaid Pose (Pigeon Variation)


Various Tripod Headstands (Sirsasana II)


I hope you have enjoyed this workout-less Workout of the Week post. If you are currently practicing yoga, perhaps you do these poses regularly and know how beneficial they can be. If not, maybe they are something you can work toward as you build strength, balance and flexibility!


Sunday, September 21, 2014

Friday Favourites

As I have been laying in bed the past few days trying to recover from this awful cold, I have had a lot of time to think about some of my favourite things this week. Unfortunately, it comes a few days late so it's more of a Sunday Favourites rather than Friday, but I guess better late than never!

1. Essential oils for recovering from a cold! A few of my favourite oils include peppermint for sinus headaches, eucalyptus for congestion, and lemon and melaluca for their antibacterial properties.


2. My acupressure ball for relief from tight muscles and trigger points, especially after a good workout or when I'm feeling particularly stiff.


3. Organic coconut water, particularly when it's pineapple infused. My favourite brand so far is Coco Libre.


4. Podcasts! I don't know where I would be without my podcasts to listen to on my hour drive to and from work 6 days a week. It's a little overwhelming to be on the road for that much time, especially when I prefer to be up and moving instead of sitting still. However, these podcasts have helped make the drive much more bearable and have helped me learn a lot along the way!


5. Fitting in a few more hacks before hacking season ends. I'm hoping this milder fall weather will hang around a little while longer, but I know summer will be really over when hacking season is finished. Only a few more weeks to go, but I'm going to keep going as many times as I can until then!



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