Monday Motivation

So as mentioned last week after two consecutive weeks in a row of forgetting my weekend round up I thought it would be more fun for everyone to receive some motivational posts on Mondays.

I personally find Mondays to be extremely important in setting the tone for my week. Although I am no longer the type of person who waits until Monday to start something (clean eating, a new exercise plan, a book, etc.) I do still find that what I do on a Monday helps to set me up for the rest of the week. This is why I make sure to follow through with my meal plan selection and hit the gym/yoga studio before the day is up.

So I thought providing you all with some motivation on Monday would help maybe give you that little nudge to keep you striving for your goals.

It is important to know that when it comes to a lifestyle change or a health and fitness journey motivation is often for much more than simply exercise. We all need to stay motivated to keep ourselves moving towards our dreams, our aspirations in life. Never stop doing because every choice, every success, and every hiccup helps to mold us into the people we are and the people we want to be.

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Week 3 in the Jungle

Today marks the beginning of my third week of living in the jungle. This past week has been challenging emotionally, physically and mentally and knowing that I completed it and didn’t give up is so satisfying.

This past week was likely one of the most intense weeks ever. We were learning how to instruct and assist the first half, so for most yoga flows the standing and balancing postures, of a 90minute class. As the week went on finding your own works, knowing how much pressure to apply, finding someone’s hips for that matter all became much more natural. The fear of making a mistake slowly melted away and the feeling of excitement when finding words that were comfortable to your own style became more frequent.

20131117-084812.jpgHaving the opportunity to practice with so many others and if you were like me having the luck of picking the same partner a couple of times was an amazing experience. You are given the opportunity to test out new things, pick up new queuing and make your own little basket of tools to build on.

Although the week had my brain a little broken, I left the house three times without shoes on having to unlock my million locks to get back inside to properly equip my feet for the jungle, as well as needing a bit more alone time than normal it was one of the most fulfilling weeks I have had the opportunity to experience. It was a chance to truly push myself to my limits.

On top of all of this yesterday was a full moon here. I am sure you are all think whatever a full moon, but never have I seen something like it. First it started with one of the most amazing sunsets I have ever witnessed with half of the sky turning orange and the other half a bright pink.

20131117-085553.jpg20131117-085607.jpghe moon then lit up the sky like a giant night light cutting a massive circle of darkness out of space and filling it with light. It was so bright my cabin was lit up as though the lights were on all night long. Unfortunately photos of this didn’t turn out so great. So if you ever make it out to Costa Rica look up at the full moon.

My Sunday has started with a 6am yoga class and then what has proven to be my favorite breakfast right now (coffee protein shake with a bowl of fruit), this blog post and then I am off to the beach until our evening session.

20131117-085942.jpgI hope you are all having an amazing Sunday and have had a great weekend so far.

Getting Sweaty – Lunch Time Workouts

I have been working on this little cardio number for a while now. I have been testing various combinations of exercises and lengths of time to find something that will be challenging, quick and accessible for people to try out when they don’t have an hour for a full workout. Finally, I came up with a great combination that will kick your butt and get you back to your busy life in no time.

Before starting this workout do about 5 minutes of warming up, I would recommend that your warm up is filled with some walking in place to get you moving, dynamic stretching to loosen you up, jumping jacks to slowly get your heart rate up. Just remember it is a warm up not the workout so don’t over exert yourself you just want to loosen yourself up and get warm before getting into everything.

dontSo now that you have warmed yourself up here is the Cardio Explosion workout! This work is an interval workout, each exercise is done 4 times for 20 seconds with a 10 second break in between. Besides the 10 second pause there are no additional breaks, the workout itself takes less than 20 minutes so push yourself and power through to get the most out of it. If you are feeling like an extra challenge or you have a bit extra time on your hands go ahead and do two rounds.

Let me know what you think. How do you normally workout when you are pressed for time?

Happy workout Thursday everyone!

*criss cross tuck jump is just a modified version of a tuck jump.  Before going into the tuck jump you hop your legs apart and then hop them towards the middle criss crossing your legs in front of each other and back to centre before doing the tuck jump. Switch up which leg goes in the front each time or each set, just make sure it is even**

 

10 Tips to Managing Stress

I have done a lot of work on myself when it comes to eating habits and exercise, I have even thrown in a large amount of effort in the time management department (it was the only way to squeeze in all the stuff I wanted to do). But to this day I still struggle with stress management. I mean I am getting much better at it, but as much as I would like to hope that one day I will just wake up and be a zen master to think I am one now is pretty unrealistic.

I have over time been able to realize my stress triggers and I am much more capable of realizing that I am stressed, however I haven’t really spent much time working at learning how to manage said stress. Although I seemingly haven’t done much to learn how to manage my stress levels I am very proud of myself for becoming more mindful and capable of realizing normal tiredness from times where I want to hide out because of stress.
wolfI would say that since I last wrote about stress I have gotten much better at identifying my triggers and reactions, which is a great step in the right direction.

This all leads me to the question of “how do I manage all of this stress?” Like anything in the area of health and wellness it is very individual when it comes to how each of us deals with and manages our stress levels. Although it is different for each of us there are some hints or tips that all of us can test out until we find something that works for us.

stress10 Tips to Managing Stress:

  1. Watch something funny. Laughter is great for your whole body, it helps to relieve physical stress, while helping to release endorphins, boost your immune system and lower blood pressure and improves blood flow. Something as simple as your favorite funny movie can help you to relax from stressful situations and will help you to start feeling more relaxed in no time.
  2. SLEEP! For some reason this one keeps coming up over and over again, I guess it is pretty important. Some people when they become overly stressed might end up lacking sleep. It is important to allow your body a rest period each day so that it has the energy and strength needed to take on tomorrow. Be sure you are resting up and getting enough Zzzz’s.
  3. Spend some time with friends. Now we are all busy people with work obligations, exercise, family, home renovations etc. but sometimes all we need is some time with our friends. Spending time with a good friend gives you the chance to blow off some steam, laugh (see #1), and leave the rest of the world behind. Spending time with friends will provide you with the support and feeling of belonging that you need to help cultivate strength to overcome stressful situations.
  4. Acknowledge what upsets you and then move on. It is important to acknowledge what is upsetting you, whether that means writing it down or making a mental note, it is essential that you realize what is stressing you out. Without acknowledging what is stressing you out you can’t address the issue. Once it has been acknowledged create a plan of attack; Do you need to schedule more time for food prep so you don’t need to worry about it throughout the week? Do you need to enlist the help of others? Do you need to schedule yourself a bedtime? whatever it is you need to do to address the issue, make a plan of attack and then move on. Don’t dwell on your stresses.
  5. Meditate. Now this is one that I know is super beneficial but I myself have the HARDEST time with it. Which probably means I should be putting a bit more effort into it. There are various forms of mediation (seated, standing, walking, etc) and there are so many sources out there, such as podcasts and classes, to help walk you through the process. One thing my trainer told me that has helped me with my meditation practice is to do your best to keep your mind focused on one thing; an image, a memory, or a mantra. When your mind has wandering thoughts acknowledge them and then visualize plucking them out of your focal point to come back to once your meditation is done.
  6. Change something small. When feeling overwhelmed and stressed out it can sometimes help to change one small aspect of your routine. It is kind of like a miniature jump start for your brain helping it to focus on something other than your impending stress. This one small thing can be changing the route you walk to work, changing your running path, adding a different spice to your chicken for supper. What you change might seem insignificant but it might just be what you need to kick you out of a rut.
  7. Be grateful. Now I am not saying you aren’t, I am sure we are all grateful at one point or another, what I am suggesting here is to be consciously grateful. Take the time to go over your day and identify one thing that you are grateful for. It doesn’t have to be huge it could be that you are grateful for your bike ride home from work, your first cup of coffee or the sunny weather. Whatever it is, identify it and acknowledge why you are grateful for it. Mentally reviewing your day looking for the positive instead of the negative will overtime help you to focus on the good in life instead of dwelling on the bad.
  8. Exercise. Yes, exercise is a form of physical stress and yes it can add to your overall stress levels, but overall it is a great way to manage your stress levels. Exercise helps you to focus on something else while releasing those wonderful endorphins. The exercise you take part in doesn’t have to be an intense 10k run, it can be a nice peaceful yoga practice, just do what you can to get moving. Not only will it help to release some feel good endorphins but you will probably sleep better too because of it.
  9. Sharing is Caring. Sharing your kindness and helping others is a great way to relieve some stress, if only for allowing you to focus on others and not on your stresses for a second. The act of giving not only helps to make the giver and the receiver feel great, sharing your special talents and abilities helps to create a more positive community for all of us to live in.
  10. Clean up your fridge. What you are eating plays a huge role in how you are feeling. If you are fueling yourself with healthy, whole foods you are more likely to be happier and less stressed out. There are lists and lists of “stress reducing” foods on the internet and not a single one of those lists includes deep fried or high sugar anything. We get what we put in, if you are filling your gas tank with sugar it is likely your body won’t be as efficient if you had filled it with fresh green vegetables, whole grains, organic proteins, etc.

I hope these tips are something you are able to apply to your life when you are feeling a bit overwhelmed and stressed. I know that making sure I have a never ending supply of tasty healthy snacks and being sure to keep up my regular exercise routine helps to keep me feeling happy, positive and relatively stress free. So test them out and find out what works for you.

Happy Humpday everyone!

What do you do to manage your stress? Do you have any tips to share?

 

Let’s Get Sappy – Some Inspiration

I love to share my health and fitness journey with all of you, and I will continue to share with you the things I learn and what works out for me.  One of the things that I have learnt while on my health and fitness quest that has been integral to my learning and growth is how very individual’s journey is personal and unique.   I really love hearing from others about how they are doing, what they are doing, and why they started to focus on their health, fitness and happiness, and for me it is actually one the most motivating reasons to keep going and keep pushing myself.

While on my own journey I have had the great opportunity to be introduced to so many wonderful people, at my gym, in our Gingersneezes Run Club, during our Gingersneezes Anniversary, at the Farmer’s Market, etc.  There are so many wonderful people out there who are just emanating positive energy and I think the more you are able to find that positivity in yourself the more other positive people seem to come out of the woodwork.  You get back what you put out right?

I have had the chance to meet so many amazing and inspirational people I wanted to take a moment to highlight one of them today.  She helped me to caringly  nurse my knee back to a healthier state about a year ago, is a dedicated running buddy and a pleasure to have beside me in a yoga class, she has even helped me to experiment with the workouts I post on this blog. Her name is Susan and I would like to take today to talk about how awesome, inspirational and dedicated she is.

I feel like I need to start off with saying Susan has always been completely amazing, her awesomeness is not new; she is loving, caring, supportive and would go out of her way to do anything for anyone else, she is adventurous and for as long as I have known her has done what she could to stay active.  Like anyone else she has had ups and downs in health and fitness, and for the past several months has become very dedicated to building her own happiness, health and fitness.

Instead of just gushing about Susan for 10 pages I figured I would put her in the hot seat and ask her some questions about how she feels her journey has been going. She has been sweet enough to share her struggles and successes throughout her journey. So here we go with my interview with Susan:

1 – When did you start focusing on your health and fitness?

Like many people this has been a long ongoing battle for me. During my last couple years of University and shortly afterwards I was very into running, ate relatively healthy for a young 20-something, and I was comfortable with my body. This balance lasted for a few years, I maintained my weight and exercising half-heartedly, then life started to change. I started dating someone and my focus went into building that relationship, as it does sometimes.

As my relationship progressed I slowly started to forget about myself.  I didn’t take the same time and effort to take care of myself, putting personal goals on the back burner and slowly stopped doing many of the things I enjoyed. The combination of lack of activity, making poor food choices and my decreasing self-esteem culminated into gaining a great deal of weight, losing myself more and becoming isolated from those I had once been very close with. After a couple of years the relationship ended, but even then it was incredibly hard to pull myself out of that negative space (mainly because I can be a little stubborn and guarded at times and well I wasn’t emotionally or mentally ready to try to change).

Eventually I started to do things for myself again, I decided to go back to school and started to focus on my health and fitness a bit more. Once I started back at school I was active here and there throughout the year, but having been out of school for 5 years getting back into the routine was a bit of a struggle and I found it difficult to find “me” time.  Once school was done, and I was working a job to pay the bills while looking for something in my field I realized I was frustrated with my situation.

One day I just got to the point where I was so sick and tired of feeling so awful, physically and emotionally and I decided I no longer wanted to feed into the frustrations and negativity around me. I slowly started to get back into running, and eventually Brittany and I started back up as running partners. I was also doing some at home workouts and focusing on eating healthier. These small changes added up and made for some incredible differences and then winter hit.

It was this past spring when something clicked – I didn’t want to keep living my life feeling uncomfortable and unhappy and it was within my power to change these things I got to work. I have to say the past couple of months have been truly amazing, I’ve been running with great friends, participated in a bootcamp with an amazing trainer, and am getting hooked on eating clean, wholesome foods. This has been an incredible and eye opening experience and I am so happy with the changes I’ve noticed so far (emotionally, physically, mentally). It is a great beginning.

2- What inspired you to focus on finding a positive balance of happiness, health and fitness in your life?

It was a switch to wanting more positivity in my life once I made this decision I found that balance sort of naturally began to occur in my life. After a 2 week cleanse/ personal “experiment” to find out what (if any) food sensitivities I had, my mind felt so much more clear and it just felt easier to focus on the positive.  I have found that when I focus on my health and well being I’m happy and feel wonderful, and when I’m happy I want to put that effort into maintaining it.  The balance or cycle of health and fitness I have found for myself helps to perpetuate my happiness and I feel pretty lucky because I have found something that works.

3 – What are all the crazy things you have tried?  And out of all of it if you could save someone the trouble what would you recommend?

While I’ve tried several fad diets (South Beach, Fat Smash, The 4-Day Diet) and they all result in a few lbs lost quickly, that didn’t last. Luckily I’ve always been too freaked out to try over the counter diet pills – those things can mess your body up.

The best thing I have ever done is take the time to figure out what foods work for me and my body (even if it means having to drastically limit wheat from my diet now) and focusing on giving my body clean, whole foods.Since cutting out processed foods it has been crazy to see how I feel when I eat highly processed foods (feeling bloated, low energy levels, etc.). Now this is not to say that I won’t be having some wine or pizza any time soon, but for me it’s about creating a balanced lifestyle.

So, my advice would be to give it a try and cut out the overly processed stuff and eat real foods to see if you notice a difference.

4 – What motivates you to keep going?

Seeing results has definitely been a huge motivator to keep going. The longer I am into this way of living, the more I love it. I want to surpass where I was last month, whether it’s holding my plank longer or running faster and not feel like I’m dying, achieving these goals makes it easier to stay motivated (and a little bit of competition never hurt anyone).
Susan WorkoutAlthough seeing results is a big motivator the changes have been beyond the physical ones, and it is these changes that are a big deal for me. It’s often very easy to get swept up in the negative (and who doesn’t from time to time – jobs, relationships, families, finances can all be very stressful), but it is just more pleasant to feel happy –  who doesn’t love being happy?

5 – What is your favourite clean food?

My favourite clean food – now that’s a tough one. There are just so many tasty things that come to mind. I’ve been semi-obsessed with oatmeal, banana and peanut butter for breakfast or as my evening pre-workout meal (yup, oatmeal for dinner – it’s that good). I’ve also made some delicious falafel patties to have on salads, or throw in a wrap, or as a snack. I could literally eat them every meal, every day.

6 – If you are going to indulge what would you treat yourself with?

If I am going to treat myself I will likely grab some pizza – that cheesy goodness is too hard to resist. Top that off with a glass (or 3) of wine and I’m a happy girl. 

7 – How do you deal with setbacks? Is there anything you do to keep your mindset positive?

Setbacks can be extremely frustrating and depressing, but I think the most important thing is to remember that everyone has them and you are not alone. Surrounding yourself with supportive and positive people has been extremely helpful. Taking the time to talk to a friend or family member has been something that has always helped when I feel like I’m in a “not-so-great” place. It’s taken me a good chunk of my life to learn to let people help, and it has been so incredibly worth it!
Susan InspirationI am also a super cheeseball and love all things motivational. I post them around my apartment (note my inspiration board above), I also post them as the background on my computer and my phone. I will even write a little post-it and put it on the mirror so I can see it as I start each day. Sometimes all it takes is a little reminder to remind yourself of just how wonderful and amazing you are.

8 – Out of all the things you do to keep you healthy and fit, what is the one thing you don’t think you could live without? The one thing that you feel helps you stay on course.

The one thing I couldn’t live without when trying to stay healthy and get fit are my people.
Susan's PeopleI’ve said it already, but having a great group of people who have been encouraging, supportive, inspiring and are just all around awesome has made the most difference in my life. Going through anything alone can be trying, having those people in your life just makes it so much easier. They are there to talk to whenever you need it or even if it’s just let out a little cry, they can help see you through to the other side or just quietly offer some tiny bits of motivation. I am so thankful and grateful to have such wonderful people and they are definitely what helps keep me going!

Susan Before and AfterIn Conclusion…..For the past two months Susan has been busting her butt to make herself into the happiest, healthiest, most optimal person she can be.  She continues to work hard to find a happy balance between life, fitness, nutrition, happiness and self-appreciation.  In just two months all of this hard work and perseverance has turned into the incredible loss of 13.5 inches and 11 lbs. Besides her incredible loss in weight and inches she has also developed an amazingly positive outlook, she can’t seem to stop smiling, and she is always up to find new challenges.  Her mental and physical changes have been amazing and I am so happy she decided to share her ups and downs with us today.

Can you relate to Susan’s story?  Has health and fitness been something you have been improving yourself?  How do you keep yourself motivated?

Food Friday – Kale Express

This Food Friday I figured I would get back to something I have been ignoring for a while. And I have been ignoring it for no other reason than I just didn’t feel like cleaning the machine.

So I sucked it up, got the groceries required and made myself and my husband some delicious juice. The juicing experience has been an interesting one ending up with some complete disasters but for the most part we have been able to find some tasty combinations. Mostly anything that you put carrots, pineapple, apple or beets in turn out pretty decent.  However I have found that foods like ginger and celery (although amazing and super tasty)  take a bit to get used to and find the right balance for yourself.

So today I figured would be a great day to make us some juice seeing how we will be spending a fair amount of our day driving so I figured it couldn’t hurt to get some extra vitamins and minerals in us.   The batch I made could easily be for one person, however I split it in half to be “snack” sized for my husband and I.

Green Machine:

Kale and Pinapple Juice

4 Medium Organic Carrots
1 Bunch of organic Kale
2 Organic Celery Stalks
1/4 Organic Lemon (peel removed)
1 to 1.5 cups Pineapple

  1. Clean carrots, kale and celery by soaking them in a large bowl or sink filled with water and 1 tbsp of apple cider vinegar.  Soak for 5-10 minutes.  Scrub the veggies clean with your hands or a scrub brush and rise them thoroughly.
  2. If needed cut your vegetables and fruits so that they will fit into your juicer.
  3. Feed all vegetables and fruits through the juicer.  Once it has been turned into juice, stir and serve.  Drink it as soon as possible to get maxim health benefits.

I hope you all enjoy the juice! It was tasty and refreshing.  It definitely has a “green” flavour to it but that is to be expected of anything that has kale in it, in my books at least.

I hope you all have a great weekend. Happy Friday!

Canada Day Recap

Oh goodness a wordpress glitch. This was supposed to post yesterday. Luckily that just means you get two posts today.

Tuesday I decided to take a day off from looking at a computer screen and figured I would do my Canada day update today Tuesday. It was actually pretty refreshing to get away from looking at the glow of a computer screen even if only for one day.

Canada day was a great day. It started off with a run club meet at 9:30am. I personally really enjoy getting in a run or some type of physical activity before a day or event that I know I will be letting my hair down a bit more. It makes me feel better about indulging a little bit and gives me a nice boost of energy for the rest of the day.

After the run I headed home to help my husband set up for our BBQ. There were about 12-14 people coming and going throughout the day and tons of tasty treats for everyone to indulge in. Some healthy, some not so healthy, but it was a celebration after all.

canadabeaver

After missing one year of BBQ hosting on Canada day due to our honeymoon last year, we decided that it would be fun to go all out with the party prep. We headed on over to our local party supply store and just went nuts picking out anything that fell within the parameters of “red and white stuff”. Having all of the decorations and so much red and white definitely made the whole BBQ feel much more festive.

canadabeaverOnce our guests started to show up, the little ones definitely stole the show in all of their miniature red and white outfits.

canadabeaver

After supper, dessert and some more mingling the little ones had had their fill for the day and were all ready for some R&R. Those of us who were left waited for it to get dark to head on down to see some fireworks. On Canada day the best part about living downtown would likely be the fact that there are so many places other than directly on Parliament hill that you can see the fireworks without feeling completely claustrophobic, and they are all just a short walk away from my front door.

canadabeaver

We saw some fireworks, played with some sparklers, mingled with friend and ate delicious food. I think all in all it was a pretty great day. Now it is time to get back on that horse and to start filling myself with healthful nutritious foods and top that off with some good old fashioned physical activity.

Speaking of physical activity check in on the blog tomorrow later this afternoon! I will be posting a new butt kicking cardio and core workout. It takes less than 30 minutes and it really helps you to get your sweat on.

I hope you have all had a great Canada day and are settling back into regular life.

Happy Wednesday!