Home Stretch

Just one week left everyone! Not that I am eager for the 50 day challenge to be over, but it will be nice to go back to a regular one treat meal a week kind of situation. Besides missing regular treat meals I have really quite enjoyed this challenge, it has been tough at some points, but it has mostly been super encouraging for me.

I found the challenge to be motivational. I was able to notice myself making new habits, like actually going for a piece of fruit when I wanted something sweet, to getting into the regular habit of preparing my food for the week on Sundays. Or instead of sitting on a patio with a drink I would lace up and go on a run, head out for a walk or get on my bike and enjoy the nice weather in a different way. The challenge simply encouraged me to make more of a commitment to myself and my goals over the past 50 days.

I have suggested that we all take this time to go over how we felt the 50 day challenge went for each of us and create two things 1) an inspiration board and 2) a list of goals or guidelines we would like to continue after the challenge. So I figured seeing how I am asking you to do these things I would share what I have put together for myself.

Personally I find it helpful to reflect back on challenges like this so that you can receive maximum long term benefits. I also find that by writing something down will help to remind you of all of the things you wanted to continue.

So here it is *drum roll* my inspiration board.

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I have tried to capture images of how I have been feeling over the past what 43 days(?) I also plan on making this my computer background so it is somewhere highly visible to keep me on track and motivated once the challenge is over.  Creating something like this extremely fun and it gives you a chance to reflect on how the experience made you feel and to focus in on some key words that will continue to motivate you in the longer term. The words I chose for my inspiration board were the following:  Power, Strength, Pride, Health, Happiness, Accomplishment, Possibilities, and Perseverance. Where will your inspiration come from?

The second thing I recommended we all do is to write down some guidelines or goals that you would want to incorporate into your life once the challenge is completed. Once I sat down and put pen to paper I couldn’t stop writing! I had to go back and pick out the ones I figured would be the most beneficial to me and to my health and fitness journey that would also respect and encourage a happy and positive mindstate. So as awesome as it is that I had a page long list it is important that you go through your long list and choose the items that are most important. It is better to focus on a few key things than attempt to do everything all at once.

I was able to narrow down my page long list to 6 key things.

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1. Only eat out as a treat. I often struggle with this one. If I don’t prepare my meals properly for the week, or I don’t have the fish thawed for supper time I am a serial pizza orderer. What this challenge has taught me is that it really isn’t so hard to motivate myself to put the extra effort into planning regularly and when I haven’t planned as long as the house is properly stocked with healthy food it isn’t that hard to figure out how to throw together something simple. So eating out should be used only to treat myself not as a tool of convenience.

2. Continue to find time to be active. I have noticed that I have been putting much more effort into finding time and being more amenable to later evening workouts than I had been prior to the challenge. There is no reason not to keep making time for activities in my day to day life, so I want to keep this up.

3.Food is just Food. Alright, I feel like this one might have upset some people. So I just want to clear up that it isn’t that I don’t believe that food isn’t meant to be pleasurable because it should be; food should be social, fun and it of course should be tasty. What I am saying here is that food is only food, it shouldn’t be used as a tool to satisfy an emotional response. We have all had a bad day where it feels like the only thing that will make us feel better is a plate of greasy food, followed by a chocolate bar and a bottle of wine, but you know what is probably more effective? the healthy meal you had planned for yourself and maybe a little physical activity. Food won’t make you feel better so it is better to deal with what you are feeling instead of trying to fix it with food.

4. Stop calling them “cheats” they are treats name them appropriately. This might seems silly, but about halfway through the challenge I became annoyed that I had called the three breaks “cheats”. I didn’t put them in the challenge to make anyone feel like they were being a rebel or that they were cheating themselves. I put them there to remind us all that we all need our treats now and then, just probably not as frequently as we would like to give them to ourselves.  Basically I don’t think you should feel like you are “cheating” you are making lifestyle changes not adhering to a diet and in life you should treat yourself. So just call them treats and stop associating a negative connotation with your slice of cake, glass of wine, or fancy dinner out.

5. Don’t dwell. It is life and in life there are ups and there are downs, so do your best. Sometimes that might mean “slip ups” but just acknowledge that it happened and get right back on that horse. Don’t wait until “next Monday” to start again, and don’t let one slip up completely derail your day, weekend or week and most importantly don’t beat yourself up for it. It happened there is no undoing it so just move on.

6. Learn! The only way to stop making the same mistakes over and over are to learn from them. When you have slip ups do three things; 1) write down what you were feeling at the time, 2) write down how you felt after your slip up, 3) if you were given the opportunity again would you do anything differently? I find that by answering these three questions you give yourself the opportunity to explore the situation without being judgemental and it allows you to learn from the situation instead of just putting yourself down.

I hope me sharing this helps you to develope your own inspiration board and your own goals or guidelines for once the challenge ends. Remember to send them my way if you want to share them. I would love to hear from all of you.

Happy Wednesday everyone!

Clicking-In

I think to date my favourite part o my health and fitness journey is that starting to really understand all the things I had been telling myself for years. Things like “nutrition is important” “food isn’t the enemy” “you are awesome” and so on. It feels silly sometimes how eye opening it is and how all these little “clicks” seem to come in packages here and there. It seems that they have each waited their turn to present themselves to me in a way that I would finally click-in and understand the words that I had been repeating to myself all these days, months and years. I believe Oprah calls these moments “Aha Moments

The 50 Day Challenge we are currently doing has been one of those things that has helped click-in simple ideas for me. So far the biggest, maybe ridiculous, things have really been are that nutrition is important and forming and breaking habits doesn’t have to feel impossible.

Nutrition is Important:

You are probably thinking “Oh geez didn’t she know about nutrition? The woman is constantly going off about healthy this and that” and well yes. Yes, I was aware that nutrition is important to a healthy and happy lifestyle but sometimes it takes that extra little kick to show you just how important integral something is to the whole process. Also feeding myself healthful and nutritious foods hasn’t always been one of my strong suits. So it may have taken time, it may have taken a lot of trying but I would like to think that I am finally getting there.

Protein Collage

I have been lucky enough to have individuals coming to me with questions about various food items, possible preservatives and healthy alternatives to their favourite foods which gave me the extra push to look into solutions and really finding out what is in my own food. For me helping and learning for others, and inturn learning for myself, has definitely helped to open my eyes about the different nutritional challenges I face but also the various nutritional challenges of others. It has also been somewhat comforting to know that I am not the only one with questions and that we all have learning to do no matter what stage we are at in our journeys.

Forming and breaking habits doesn’t have to feel impossible:

Encouraging healthy habits and curbing less healthy ones isn’t something that needs to be constantly forced. Of course you will have to motivate and encourage yourself towards change, but it doesn’t need to feel like an eternal struggle with yourself. That being said I am not saying this is super easy either, it is still a change and with change there is often a struggle. I guess what I mean here is that we don’t have to make it as hard on ourselves as I think most humans tend to do.

I have found that in forming new habits we first have to acknowledge what and where our old, maybe not so great habits, live and what they are all about. It is only once you understand something that you can change it and then at that point it is about progressively making small changes that fit into your lifestyle and challenge you to progress.

zenI have been working on this one for some time now. It is something I was luckily able to address with some outside help (enter my personal trainer Alannah and my naturopath Ramila). I often like to believe that I can do everything on my own and if you were to poll people who know me they would likely all agree that I have a certain “stick-to-it-ness”.

Mule SNout

Personally I think my stubbornness helps me to stay on course and keep trying no matter how many times I slip up. However it was from outside perspectives that I learnt that when I am struggling more than usual it has been because I was face to face with an old not so great habit and my brain is challenging me on why I want to choose a different path. It is with softness, self-understanding and positive self reinforcement that these faceoffs get less challenging/difficult and eventually you start to feel like they are hills instead of mountains.

I hope that you are working on your list of things you have learnt about yourself on the 50 Day Challenge, along with a list of things you want to keep up once the challenge is over. If you feel like it I would love to hear from you and see your lists! You can please send an email or share them on the Gingersneezes Facebook page!

Happy Thursday everyone!

Let’s Get Jumpin’

So today marks the first day of the last two weeks of the Gingersneezes Eats Clean Challenge.  I hope you have all really been loving it, although I am sure there were parts you struggled with, like meal prep or resisting the urge to have a beer on a sun filled patio but all of the choices we have been making to this point are secretly helping each of us to form new habits.  This habits will hopefully stick with each of us even once the challenge is over and hopefully you will have a whole arsenal full of new clean recipes that you love and wouldn’t want to give up just because some challenge is over.

At this point in the challenge I would encourage each of you to document (in a dairy, with an inspiration board, a point form list, etc) all of the parts of this challenge you have really enjoyed and to list all of the things you want to keep at and incorporate into your day to day lives once the challenge is over.  Planning ahead of time like that can help you to stay focused on continuing with the healthy choices you have been making and it can also help to motivate you to kick it up a notch once you don’t have a challenge to be accountable to.  So keep up all of your amazing work, you are in the home stretch!

I also have a fun new workout for everyone.  After testing it out on my running partner during my rest week I have made some modifications and I feel that it is now a really great bodyweight workout with a touch of cardio. So like with most of the workouts I post do 2-3 rounds (ideally 3 rounds) and only take a minute break in between each round. Try and push through and go from one movement to the next without stopping other than to set yourself up for the next posture, this will help you to get the most out of it.

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If you don’t have a skip rope no problem, just simulate jumping rope.  So keep your arms moving and hop as though there is a rope in your hands and passing under your feet, you will get the same effects.  Let me know what you think of this workout. 

I hope you are all having a great week so far. Happy Wednesday! 

Weekend Round Up

Hello Monday! Does anyone else feel like this weekend was eaten up so quickly, it was like the blink of an eye! But here we are Monday again and back in our cubes for another week (hopefully not all of you work in cubes). Anyways…this weekend probably went by so quickly because it was a pretty great one.

My husband had his maniversary (basically just a boys weekend at a cottage) so some girlfriends and I had made plans and I had a couple of house projects I wanted to try and finish.

The one project at the top of my list was to finish making my home yoga space. Sometimes it can be challenging to find a class that fits into my schedule so I will do something at home. The only thing is when I have to move half a room around in order to feel comfortable to practice I find that I end up losing a lot of my motivation to actually get on my mat. So this weekend was perfect for me to finally make our spare room into a dual space and turn it into a little oasis at home. I am so excited with the way it turned out, and so shocked at how just a couple of little cheap things could change the space so drastically.

Seeing how this isn’t a design blog and I am in no way shape or form a decorating guru I am just going to do a quick before and after, mostly because I am so happy about how nicely it turned out.
Before SpareAfter Spare CollageI am so excited to practice, mediate, read, learn my banjo or just anything in this room. With the addition of 6 new plants and mellow colours and patterns it is just so serene, definitely a happy place.

Besides doing some stuff around the house, it was also Vélo Festival this weekend. Only little hiccup in that plan was the torrential downpour that occurred Saturday evening. After picking up our tags and bike lights, as well as ridiculous amounts of glow sticks to decorate our bikes the rain ended up being a huge deterrent. We ended up deciding to dry off and not to attempt the 20km bike ride in the rain at night.
Spare Room 004However as it turned out the rain ended up clearing up for the bike ride and I heard back that it was actually a pretty decent ride, besides dodging some puddles here and there. I guess we’ll just have to plan our own 20km night ride to make up for bailing on the ride.

Gingersneezes Eats Clean Update. I used a cheat. I went into the Gingersneezes Eats Clean challenge with the mind set that I would not be using a single cheat, I would get through the 50 days without any type of break. After much thought it occurred to me that I have a tendency to do things in an “all or nothing” approach to things. I mean for the most part this approach helps me out, gets me motivated and allows me to stay focused. But it can also make it more challenging for me to apply the healthy habits I am cultivating to real life once the challenge is over.

After some thought I decided it would actually be more challenging for me to use a cheat (I had some drinks with girlfriends) and then to go back to my healthy eating. This is challenging for me because on weekends when I do go out for some drinks with friends or with my husband I have a challenging time the next morning not wanting to go out and have poutine for breakfast or not stuffing my face with super high fat, high carb, high grease filled foods for the next 24 hours.

So I figured allowing a booze cheat would give me the opportunity to reinforce in my mind that just because I drank the night before does not mean that my eating goals go out the window for the next 24-48 hours. So Saturday evening I had some drinks with girlfriends and Sunday morning I could not have felt more wretched. I think the feeling awful actually motivated me to make sure my eating was super clean the next day, also I wasn’t craving things like poutine, chips, or a greasy breakfast so it was definitely encouraging.

All in all I had a pretty fabulous weekend, I am happy I gave myself the opportunity to find out I am stronger than a hangover when it comes to getting back on track and making healthy life choices again. And I am so excited to start spending more time in my yoga room. I hope you have all had wonderful weekends and to everyone doing the 50 day Challenge we are in our home stretch there are only 16 more days!

Happy Monday everyone!

How did you spend your weekend? How is your challenge going?

Clean Eating – Giveaways

So folks it is finally here Gingersneezes’ very first giveaway!  I couldn’t be more excited especially because of who is donating the prize!  Seeing Gingersneezes is doing a 50 day Clean Eating challenge the prize is completely perfect!  The generous people over in Tosca Reno’s shop have donated an AMAZING gift filled with a bunch of clean eating essentials!

I figured now would be a great time for a giveaway to help pump up all of your motivation to stay on course.  I find that generally speaking heading into week three of something can be pretty challenging.  Week one you are all full of motivation and energy to succeed, week two you are starting to feel some positive effects of your lifestyle change, and then week three sinks in.

It is a point in a lifestyle change, a cleanse, or some type of challenge where your motivation may have dwindled a bit, you might be struggling with overcoming a barrier you haven’t ever had to face. You may be feeling like you have been so good so you deserve your sugary, processed food you normally have on Friday nights. Or that perhaps just a couple drinks won’t be so harmful to all the progress you have worked for.  I find it is at this point where you really need something to keep you going and keep you focused on what you goals are, why you started this challenge and why you wanted to commit to it 100%.

_DSC0141This giveaway is inspired by the Gingersneezes Eats Clean challenge but it is open to any of my readers and hopefully this will inspire you to try the challenge for yourself, we are 16 days in but it is never too late to start!

_DSC0141I have made you all wait long enough, what could you win? Well you could win an Eat-Clean Diet and Raw Elements Inc sponsored goody bag!  The goody bag includes Tosca Reno’s favorite Sunwarrior supplements, a special recipe from Tosca and two titles from Tosca Reno’s best selling Eat-Clean Diet series!

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And now for the important part…How do you win?  It is simple, in the comments below answer the following questions….What is your favorite clean eating treat? or What processed food do you find yourself missing the most?

The winner will be selected at random on the 31st of May, the winner’s name will be posted on the site so that I can get in touch with them for shipping information.  Although the grand prize will be selected at random I may be giving away some extra little goodies for originality and enthusiasm. I can’t wait to see what you have to say!

Happy Thursday Everyone! I hope you are all gearing up for a nice May 2/4. 

*I have not tried any Sunwarrior products as previously mentioned in a post, so you will have to get back to me on what you think of it.

Sugar – What a Sneaky Little Guy


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We are in our last day of the first week of the Gingersneezes Eats Clean Challenge, things are probably starting to sink in now, and perhaps grocery shopping has become a bit more frustrating because of infamous sugar. Going down the shopping isle picking up products whose packaging promises health and fitness only to find out the first, second or third ingredients is processed white sugar or better yet high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) can become a little exhausting. So you are probably quickly finding out that sugar and HFCS is in pretty much everything, even things that you wouldn’t consider sweet.

So why the heck is this stuff in everything we want to eat? I am not even going to get into the addictive nature of excessive quantities of these items, instead I am just going to focus on what they are good at (besides being kind of delicious). Sugar is a great preservative (shelf life extender) and where sugar can’t take the lead HFCS will definitely get the job done (in products that have been artificially sweetened generally speaking). And most importantly that shit (normally I wouldn’t swear but it was the best word to sum it up) is cheap making it pretty attractive to commercial producers to use it.

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It is in everything from ketchup to bread what do you do? My first suggestion to you would be, if you didn’t have the chance to go through your pantry and fridge before the challenge began, to do it now. See what you have lingering in there, you might be surprised to find out how much of the “food” you have is full of HFCS and/or sugar, plus a bundle of other chemicals, additives and preservatives.

Secondly, I would recommend getting familiar with your kitchen. Cooking your own food and making your own sauces will seriously help to not drive you bonkers looking for food without sugar in it and there are a bunch of great books, magazines and web resources out there (heck Gingersneezes is one) that can help you find great recipes that will for sure satisfy even the pickiest of palates.

If you aren’t the cooking type there are brands out there that can help you out, but it might take you reading the ingredients label for many products before finding something that doesn’t have some form of processed sugar in it. A general guideline could be for looking for whole grain or sprouted grain products when looking for breads, stay out of the snacks and chip aisle (it will only bring you heartache), and try to sweeten things using fruits, raw honey or pure maple syrup.

It is so difficult how do I keep going? So if you are a bit new to reading ingredient labels (I am not due to allergies) it might feel a bit overwhelming when you are doing your groceries, and you might feel like for every 10 products you pick up you can only actually bring home one of them. Well that feeling might be based in fact, but don’t lose hope.

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The first 1-2 weeks of anything (new diet, new workout regiment, new practice schedule, new sport) is always the most challenging. You are swimming against your natural instinct to grab something that is “easier” or “familiar” so it is going to feel a little rough, but you can take solace in knowing that it will definitely get easier. Soon you will have a better idea of what is out there, what to avoid and soon enough you will be a master of your kitchen (if you aren’t already).

So what do I take away from this? Well I think the best approach is to remember that this is a challenge. There should be points during the next 44 days that you feel like things are difficult/challenging, just try to remember that at those points you have the option to make several different decisions. You can decide that it is too tough and throw in the towel, you can decide that you will find a solution, and if you are feeling like your soul really needs it remember you have 3 cheats that you can use at any time if you have to. This adventure is supposed to be challenging not destructive or painful, it is supposed to push you and encourage you, not deflate you. So remember at every point in this challenge to listen to yourself, and to encourage yourself and most importantly remember why you started it in the first place.

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Sugar is pretty tricky so I really hope this post helps you navigate a bit. My best suggestion would be to stop picking up the boxed foods unless it is absolutely necessary. 9 times out of 10 a prepackaged food item will not conform to a clean eating diet, and won’t fit into this challenge so it is better for your brain (at least it is for me) to just avoid those items for now.

Happy Tuesday Everyone.

Let me know what you are struggling with maybe we have the same vice and we can support each other.

Weekend Round Up – So Sunny

This weekend was glorious, not only did it mark the end to my week without being allowed to exercise (doctor’s orders), it was also my hand balancing class and the beginning of the farmer’s market and it was the first weekend during the Gingersneezes Clean Eating Challenge! With so much going on I wasn’t quite sure where to start, so I figured the beginning would probably be best.

Friday night started off with me heading on over to the gym to solidify some training plans. After 6 months of regular personal training I am really enjoying continuing my workouts solo, and having a lot of fun pushing myself. However after getting really hooked on strength training/ functional training I decided to keep my progress moving in a forward motion and to get some personal training session to keep me motivated and progressing. I won’t be doing personally training three times a week like I was but instead I will just have a couple of sessions at the beginning of each phase to set me up and keep me on track.

When Saturday rolled around I was up and out of bed before 8am (I suck at sleeping in) and I started my morning off with a spinach and plumb smoothie, followed by renting a cargo van for two purposes:

  1. to get a new futon
  2. to clean out the over cluttered garage (totally blanked on taking pictures of this, we were way too in the groove to stop and snap shots).

Saturday CollageAfter braving Ikea on a Saturday we successfully escaped after selecting a new futon for our smaller spare room. Then it was time to get rid of some trash, which included the old run down futon, and about 5 years of clutter that we had collected in our garage. Now you can actually see the floor! It is pretty fabulous. While my husband headed over to the dump with our van full of trash, I decided to see how difficult building the Ikea futon was going to be, turns out not hard at all. Took me just about an hour to put the whole thing together on my own, and it was quickly approved by Lola.

Hand Balance Collage

I finished building the futon just in time to pack up for the yoga workshop on hand balancing. The workshop was really interesting, not what I was expecting but completely awesome anyways. I am someone that has yet to learn how to feel comfortable upside down, so it was a really interesting course. It was great because the yoga teacher came at it from a bit of a different angle which was refreshing. She spoke of functional training exercises and the need to find a balance between yoga flexibility and muscular strength in order to find a healthy balance in a handstand. There were a lot of exercises that I was totally not expecting, but all in all a great way to spend 2 hours on a Saturday.

Once I finished up my workshop I went home to get ready for a nice date night with my husband. We had some delicious brown rice sushi for supper, followed by some fun movie watching. It was a perfect ending to a bit of a busy (but fun) day.
Sunday CollageAnd then SUNDAY!!! Normally I am not a huge fan of Sundays because well that means the work week is about to start and that is never a fun thing, but this Sunday was the first Farmer’s Market of the season! I was so excited to get out there, buy some locally raised, hormone free meat, and whatever produce were available, luckily we found some AMAZING looking asparagus, I can’t wait to eat it. Before heading over to the farmer’s market, my running buddy Susan and I decided to lace up our shoes and go for a nice long run. This is something we started doing in the fall last year, and it is a welcome addition to my weekend routine that is for sure.

run So Susan and laced up and headed out for a 10.75km run, it was our longest of the season so far and it felt amazing. It was one of those runs where at the end I felt like I could just keep going and going, although I am sure my legs are super happy today that I did stop when I did.

R&R Collage

The rest of the afternoon was spent doing some food prep (clean eating BBQ sauce! so tasty), stretching, some more stretching and then just some hanging out on the patio taking in the sun and the warmth. The weather is starting to get me excited for the summer! I hope the beautiful weather keeps coming!

Last little thing before I end this novel of a post. Congrats to everyone who made it through their first weekend of clean eating! It might have hurt to not have a beer and sit on a sunny patio but I am sure you body is happier for it. I for one am bursting with energy today! After some yoga and running and fueling up with delicious fresh and healthy foods my body and soul couldn’t be happier and hopefully you are starting to feel some really positive benefits from this challenge (less bloated, skin clearing up, more energy, etc.) also.

I hope you all had some wonderful weekends, and those of us going back to work today, I hope it isn’t too rough. Happy Monday!