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fitness, inspiration, reflections

How to Make Health(ier) Choices

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There is a lot more to life than salad and spin class.

There is art that alters your perspective on the world. Travel that alters your perspective on yourself.  Music that makes you feel things (drake). Work that if you’re lucky fulfills you. Friends who enrich your life. Loves who make you feel timeless. Families who support you and give life meaning.  I am of the opinion that a “healthy lifestyle” can and should include all these elements. But not to the detriment of self-care.

Eating well and moving your body deserve to be prioritized as well. Different but equal. The older you get the more you’re forced to accept that. So if you’re the type of person who tends to prioritize work, friends and relationships over self-care (me! me! me!) here are a few tips that have helped me over the years to strike that tenuous balance.

  1. Drink a little less
    I’m SUCH a deb, I know. Drinking = friends = fun, right? I don’t entirely disagree. I think drinking is a great thing to do sometimes, but moderation is key. Drinking multiple times a week means you’re home less which leads to a messy apartment and no groceries. It means you blow money on overpriced drinks at the bar instead of saving that money or spending it on other more meaningful aspects of your life. It means you spend less time hanging out with close pals, more time with acquaintence-type psuedo-pals (boo!). Cutting back on drinking (even just 1-2 nights less than usual) is one easy way to free up time, money and energy so you can foster other interests.
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  2. Wake up a little earlier
    Now that you find yourself drinking less, you may notice that you’re waking up earlier (even on weekends!). And what are you going to do with this extra time? Productive stuff that’s what! No one cool is up early in the morning so there’s no one to hang out with. Mornings are the time to do things like catch up on your credit card payments, skype your mom, do your laundry, cook a batch of healthy food to eat all week long, tidy your apartment, make something, go for a walk, etc. Who knows? You might actually start to meet other “morning” people who have cool morning-person interests that you might be into as well.
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  3. Eat a lil something for breakfast
    I know I’m not breaking ground by suggesting that a healthy breakfast is essential for a healthy lifestyle, but I do think it’s important and it definitely changed my own approach to eating. A little something in the morning boosts your energy and keeps your hunger in check for the rest of the day. I always notice I’m a lot more “snacky” in the evenings on days when I postpone breakfast. Some simple favourites of mine include overnight oats, oatmeal, green smoothies, poached eggs on whole grain toast or my healthy banana oat pancakes.IMG_2220.JPG
  4. Eat a few more vegetables

    I’ve said this before, but I am of the opinion that it’s better to focus on adding things to your diet rather than eliminating them. And the easiest and most obvious addition to your diet should always be to just EAT MORE FREAKIN VEGETABLES. Like double what you’re eating now. For me this looks like serving my lunch on a big bed of arugula, adding vegetables to my snacks or doubling up on side dishes at dinner time (salad AND green beans). Your body will thank you for all the extra nutrients and the fibre.
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  5. Move a little more
    Doesn’t matter what you do. Aim for 30 minutes a day. Walking, biking, yoga, weights, skipping, crossfit, whatever. I’m not going to tell you why because you know why. It feels good. Short-term bad, long-term good. Make the time.
    You betta wrrrrrk
fitness

Why I Love Bodyweight Workouts

IMG_0690.PNGToday I wrote a guest post over at Pure Transformation on my absolute all time favourite way to stay fit – bodyweight workouts. I’m super proud of this post because I’m such an advocate for equipment-free exercise. It’s cheap, challenging and it’s what got me into fitness as an adult. I’m also proud because think I think the guys over at Pure Transformation are really inspiring. They are definitely healthy hipsters – they eat like normal people, go to shows, get outside and generally live full balanced lives…and they’re personal trainers. Their whole MO is designing workouts that are simple and accessible to help their clients lead healthier and more active lives. And they do it all outside the box (aka the gym).

Check out the full post here.

My go-to Bodyweight workout
Courtesy of Satch from Pure Transformation

40 Mountain Climbers
15 Regular Pushups
30 Bodyweight Squats
1 min Plank

100 Jump Rope
45sec Wall Squat
15 Tricep Dips
40 Single Leg Stretch

20 Jump Squats
20 (steps) Walking Lunge
15ea Side Plank Crunch

– Move quickly from one move to the next in each circuit, then take a 30-45sec break. Move onto the next circuit.

– Once all three circuits are done, rest 1.5 – 2mins and repeat for total of three sets.

– Cool down and stretch

fashion, fitness

Gear up: Style your workout

There was a time when I wouldn’t be caught dead in athletic wear. In high school I would have waved a copy of Adbusters in the face of anyone sporting a swoosh. In college I would have scoffed at the very idea of athletic anything…while finishing my tallboy. Nowadays I wear my nikes out dancing, and my crop tops to the gym. Sure I still have a problem with the awful labour practices of these big companies. So I usually buy my branded gear second hand (a lesser evil in my mind). But in general I’m pretty supportive of how mainstream fashun has adopted comfortable kicks, curve-positive leggings & all of the 90s crop tops.

Today I thought I’d share some of my favourite gear and in true hipster style none of it is over $50.

Lipstick & hoops optional, but encouraged.

b&w workout style

fitness

Long Weekend Workout

Hey pals!

As we gear up for a long, luxurious weekend I thought I’d share one of my favourite equipment-free workouts. It’s tabata-style which means that you complete each activity for 20 seconds then rest 10 seconds and continue this for 8 rounds. To learn more about the benefits of tabata-style workouts check out Gina’s post on the topic here. Love that woman.

I like to move back and forth between each circuit for 1 tabata round, then move on to the next circuit.

Hope you guys are as inspired by this sexyweird pic of shia as I am. Ahem…Consider it my belated April Fools joke 😉

 

shia

 

Enjoy!

fitness

HIIT IT

No words today.

Just this fantastic new HIIT workout.

Perfect for the treadmill or the pavement. Obvs I’m happiest in the outdoors but I live in Canada and I’m a bit of a wuss, so it’s good to have something that works both ways.

Feel free to swap out some or all of the light jog sections with brisk walking. Just pick it up for the runs and it’ll still kick your booty into 2013.

Enjoy it!

Sweat about it!

Then tell me how it goes.

fitness

Worknight Circuit Workout

Hey there pals.

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A heavily moustached hipster (because it’s Movember of course!) with a brand new workout to share!

Life lately, you ask? Well things have been busy as ever and I have barely had time to water my miniature cactus let alone blog.And fitness? Jeez. If I make it to the gym once or twice a week, maybe fit in a nice outdoor run now and then, I’ve been a happy girl.

Keeping my expectations realistic has been keeping me sane. 

But since the clocks have changed and the days have gotten shorter, I’ve been making an effort to up my activity level just a bit. Getting moving always improves my mood and regulates my sleep schedule, two things that I tend to struggle with during the many many winter months we have here in Toronto.

I’m sharing my workout with you today because it was a great mix of cardio and strength but didn’t totally knock me out. In other words, it was perfect for squeezing in at the end of a long work day. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did!

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And remember, even when I’m not blogging, you can always find me on pinterest and twitter!

Have a great night! TGIalmostF!

fitness

Sweat About It

With yesterday marking the official first day of summer it seems only appropriate that we’ve been hit by a real honest to goodness HEAT WAVE. And for all you Americans who don’t believe we get heat up here in the North country, how does 35 degrees outside but feels like 40 (aka. 95 but feels like 104?). Toronto ain’t playin around.

So obvs I can think of no better topic for today’s post than SWEAT itself. Or more specifically, how I’ve been workin up a sweat this week.

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Pras on the ‘Pod, Plenty of Hydration & Lots of Sunshine got me in my sneakers for some pre 8am sweatyness.

It’s been a while since I’ve posted a workout so I thought I’d share my new HIIT routine. It can be done in the gym using a treadmill, elliptical or bike but I am currently all about using it when I run outside. It starts off fairly easy but definitely builds in intensity as you go which is why I have dubbed it…

The Slow Starter HIIT Workout

It goes:

3 minutes moderate
1 minute fast
1 minute slow

Repeat x 5.

A few notes:

– During the moderate sets try to maintain a pace that allows you to breath comfortably and carry on a conversation if you really had to. Your heart is pumpin but you’ve still got your wits about you.

– During the fast sets you are working hard, your chest is pounding and the occasional profanity is probably the only language you could muster. You’re still not in an all-out sprint because you need to maintain it for a minute but you’re pushing yourself.

– During the slow sets you are relaxed and returning your breath to normal. This should not cause you any strain at all.

*If you’re looking for some suggested MPH on the treadmill I usually do around 6-6.5 moderate, 8-9 fast and 3.5-4 slow. When I track my pace outdoors using the Runkeeper App it’s virtually identical. I’m a shorty though so pay attention to your own bod and breathing to find the pacing that’s right for you.

What are your favourite ways to get sweaty in the summer months? I’m open to any and all creative suggestions! 😉

diy, fitness, inspiration

“Yoga Freelancing”: A Guide to Self-Led Practice

I know I’ve been mentioning my heart-on for yoga lately so I thought it was about time I discussed exactly what that looks like for me. Much like my flexitarianism, my relationship to yoga is highly personalized and often awkward to explain. However I think I hit the nail on the head lately when I told a friend: I’m definitely not a yogi …more of a yoga freelancer.  

What I mean by that is that I love to practice yoga but I do so without a set studio, instructor or schedule. Don’t get me wrong, I do enjoy the typical yoga studio experience but it just doesnt always suit my lifestyle, namely because it tends to be:

Costly.

No matter how you slice it, boutique yoga studios are expensive. And because yoga often supplements other forms of activity, the costs are typically above and beyond your already maxed out “fitness” budget.

Competitive.

I know many yoga studios now focus on a “non-competitive” atmosphere, but it’s still challenging not to compare yourself to others in the class. No matter how zen I get, there’s still a little Type-A voice in my brain telling me I should be going for that headstand…especially when that scrawny blonde over there is doing it and she could barely manage the proenza  bag she walked in with.

Inconvenient.

As far as timing goes, I’m never sure quite where yoga practice fits into my day. Evenings are already so busy and while early mornings would be ideal, there are virtually no studios near my apartment. **My neighborhood is still in those awkward early stages of gentrification where like, I know where to go for an almond milk latte but my bike’s still gonna get stolen while I’m ordering.

While these things could have put me off the mat completely, my new MO is to apply my DIY philosophy to my yoga practice which brings me to the main event here…

The Healthy Hipster’s Guide to Self-Led Yoga
(which you can practice at home, in the park or under a nearby waterfall…Im looking at you Portlanders…Portlandians?)


Note: It is important to attend guided yoga classes prior to practicing at home to ensure you understand how your body should be aligned in each posture. This will be important for avoiding injuries.

BASIC TIPS

1)      Set a time frame: How long do you realistically want to practice?

2)      Set specific physical goals: How do you want your body to feel at the end of your practice?
Eg. I want my core to feel stronger. I want my shoulders to feel more relaxed.

3)      Set an intention: How do you want to feel mentally at the end of your practice?
Eg. I want to feel

4)      Find a space where you feel comfortable completing your practice.

5)      Move through a basic routine, adding or adapting postures to meet the physical goal you’ve chosen for that day.

ROUTINE TEMPLATE
(Click to Print)

Adapted from here
For tips on additional poses or images of the ones I mention below Yoga Journal is a great resource. 

Warm up:

Seated deep breathing and move into cat/cow postures to stretch out your back.
Move through 5 rounds of sun salutations. On the last round remain on the ground.

1) Standing postures.
Choose 2-3 then repeat leading with your other leg.

Push up into downward facing dog, then step forward into a lunge. Raise arms above your head and hold this deep lunge for 5 breaths
Move into Warrior II, hold for 5 breaths. Move into reverse warrior hold for 5 breaths. Back to down dog.
Repeat on the opposite side.

2) Balance Posture:
Choose 1 and repeat on both legs.

Step forward and return to tree pose then move into a standing balance posture (opening your hips and resting your foot above or below the knee of the opposite leg, holding your foot then extending your leg out in front of you, etc.). Hold for 8-10 breaths.
Repeat on other leg.

3) Back Bends, Folds and Inversions
Choose 1-2 back bends followed by 1-2 folds and 1-2 inversion postures.

Use a sun salutation to bring you back to the floor, move into baby cobra and hold for 5 breaths releasing. Then full cobra and hold for 5 breaths.
Push into child’s pose for 3 breaths.
Transition from child pose to a seated forward bend. I like to hold for 5 breaths then release 3 times to really fall deeply into the stretch.
Extend and stretch your body along the floor then bring your legs up and over into plow pose (make sure you protect your neck and back by placing your arms on your lower back). Extend your legs up into the air if you feel comfortable doing so.
Add  wheel pose for serious strength and stretching.

4) Twists. 1-2, repeated on both sides.   

Laying on your back bring your knees down to one side, keeping your shoulders on the floor and gazing in the opposite direction. 5 breaths. Repeat on the other side.

Come into seated and move into a seated twist (my favourite one is called half lord of the fishes….it also has the best name)

Cool down:

5 minutes of savasana or relaxation pose.

And that’s it!

What are  your thoughts on self-guided yoga? Too intimidating? Or worth a shot? 

6 x 6 SUMMER SHAKE UP CHALLENGE, breakfast, dinner, fitness, inspiration, photojournal, snacks

INSPIRATION & RANDOM ACTS OF NEON

If last week felt like carefree summer in Toronto, this week felt like nose-to-the-grindstone fall. The weather turned grey and drizzly, work got busy and hectic and the city went into a bit of a miniature hibernation. Despite my love for all things hustle bustle, it is often during these downtime days/weekends/weeks that I get the most inspired creatively. Perhaps that’s why I’ve almost exclusively chosen to live in grey, rainy cities (Amsterdam/Halifax/Prague/Oviedo/etc)

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Here’s a little rundown of how I channeled my creative chutzpah this week…

1) DIY PROJECTS: NEON ACCENTS

Vintage Granny Chair + DAYGLOW PIPING

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Neutral Colourblocked Vase + SAFETY ORANGE

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2) SIMPLE, COLOURFUL, BALANCED MEALS

Loaded up on kombucha.

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Oatmeal bowls made for me and my dad (topped his with organic yogurt, mine with extra nuts and berries)

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Lentil hummus and roasted veggie stuffed chard wrap with a pile of squash and sweet potatoes (possibly ate half of these directly off the baking sheet) and a redundant side of greens and chopped apple for crunch.


Baked salmon served on a mountain of roasted veggies (potatoes, squash and brussel sprouts)

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3) YOGA x A MILLION


One of the things I’ve enjoyed so far about my 6 x 6 plan is that it has encouraged me to listen more attentively to what I actually want to do rather than mindlessly following some fitness schedule. Some days this means hauling ass to the gym in the middle of my workday to sweat like. Other days it means leaving the gym behind and going for an evening walk with my bestie and her pup.

This week my body was craving yoga almost every day and I was more than happy to oblige. Of course by early Sunday morning it became clear why I’d spent the week in stretchy/gumby/relaxation mode…

6 x 6 Update

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Monday: 1 hr yoga class
Tuesday: ZILCH. I had no energy all day and couldn’t put my finger on why…
Wednesday: 75 minute super sweaty gym session. Full of beans. Random.
Thursday: 1 hr walk with my pal and her pup.
Friday: 1 hr Hot Hatha Yoga.
Saturday: 30 self-led morning yoga. 30 minutes cardio LIFE (hoofing it back to the city carrying 2 gigantic bags of laundry I did at my dad’s place…cause I’m a grown-up like that)
SUNDAY – MONDAY: Surfin the Crimson Wave (TMI?). But it explained all my wacky energy changes as well as my need for serious yoga/stretching time. Both of these days I put my plan on the back burner and gave my bod the rest it needed.

I did however complete multiple sets of the following circuit workout, which I highly suggest you try:

1) Dip a big piece of banana in almond butter
2) Dip nut buttery banana in vanilla coconut yogurt
3) Dip nut buttery, vanillafied banana in brown rice crispies
4) Douse in cinnamon
5) Nommmmm…..

Repeat this circuit to tummy fatigue.

Does dreary weather inspire you to get productive or does it leave you in a funk? How are you channeling your creative energies this week?