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6 x 6 Update: The Week I Walked My Keds to Shreds

So last week I made a plan to incorporate a moderate amount of physical activity into my daily life (approximately an hour, give or take) 6 days a week for the next 6 weeks. I have no rules beyond that and I am completely open to whatever form that activity takes. I’m excited to see how these “workouts” progress and change as the 6 weeks go on but here’s my rundown of Week 1

Monday: Walking, 45 mins (4.2km).

Last Monday was a holiday here in Canada and I wasn’t about to spend my day off getting sweaty in the gym but this ended up being the perfect activity to start off my plan! I ended up going to check out the UK film Stud Life at the Inside Out LGBQT Film Festival at the Bell Lightbox Theatre (the swankiest spot to catch a flick in the city when and if you get the chance) and I was so glad I did. Even when it was a little over the top it was charming & one of the characters spent the whole film wearing a green carnation. CUTE!

T’Nia Miller in Stud Life.

As I left my house I made the decision to walk rather than take the streetcar. Just a simple switch but one that allowed me get moving and enjoy the unseasonably warm evening hours we had this weekend. It also set the precedent that the next 6 weeks aren’t about strict athletic (or aesthetic) goals, but about enjoying the physical and emotional benefits of a little activity everyday!

Tuesday: Quickie Run & Mini Workout, 30 mins.

I had to pop over to gym to sign up for the membership I got for free with work (perks!). I didn’t have much time and I knew that I probably wouldn’t feel comfortable using the equipment the first time around, so I just threw on my running shoes and jogged (which for me is usually intervals of sprinting and quick walking) there and back. I did a few bodyweight excersizes on the mats when I was there too but not a whole lot. The juiceheads scared me off.

Wednesday: Stretching, Cardio & Strength, 1 hr.

This was my most conventional workout of the week. I hopped over to the gym at lunchtime and got my sweat on with a warm-up, some short intense intervals (20 mins) and then weighted squats, lunges, planks & pushups.

Thursday: Walking, 50 mins (3k +)

I thought maybe this would be my off day but after 2 afternoon walks during my coffee and lunchbreaks and meeting my friend to help him shop for clothes after work I realized I’d covered some serious pavement.

Friday: Skipping warm up & bodyweight strength training, 40 minutes.

A few minutes of skipping to warm up followed by 30 min bodyweight strength training before work using this video by Zuzka. (Note: I am not a fan of the bodyrock videos for reasons I won’t get into but I do enjoy the ones ex-bodyrocker Zuzka produces on her own now. Sure she’s a total babe and the videos are ridiculously hypersexual, but I don’t have a problem with that. I find her motivating, fun and easy to follow plus these videos are great on days you can’t make it to the gym).

Saturday: EPIC WALKING, all day (5km+)

I spent the whole morning casually strolling through the Beaches in the East end of the city, stopping along the way to enjoy some local colour (caffeine) and soak in the sunshine. Then I took public transportation all the way West to The Junction and somewhat unintentionally ended up walking back home from that neighborhood. This part of the walk alone was 4km. My legs were jelly by the end of this day.

Sunday: OFF! Grocery shopped, cooked, watched GIRLS. Aka. the essential components of life.

And that’s that!

How’d you fare?
Get in any new or unconventional workouts this week? I’d love to hear how you got movin this week!

6 x 6 SUMMER SHAKE UP CHALLENGE, fitness, inspiration


Good morning, lovelies!

While it might look like and feel like summer outside, in my mind we’re not in the thick of it until July 1st when the temperature skyrockets and the city air turn that familiar hazy yellow. So, in anticipation of the summer months I’ve decided to embark on a new SUMMER SHAKE-UP CHALLENGE. Notice how I said SHAKE up and not SHAPE up? That’s because while I’ve borrowed the 6 week countdown idea from all those beach-body/eat-nothing-but-steamed-cauliflower-til-september workout plans, that will be as far as the similarities go.


To move my CONSCIOUSLY move my bod in new and challenging ways 6 DAYS A WEEK for 6 WEEKS leading up to the summer season!

  • Time: No set time. I will aim for 60 minutes/day, but am already resigned to the fact that an hour will not always fit my schedule. If 20 minutes is all I have, it is enough and it is excellent.
  • TypeDiversity is CENTRAL to this plan. Since my body is always happiest when I am doing a mix of strength, cardio & stretching I will work on balancing these areas throughout the 6 days. I will continue with the activities I currently enjoy but try to add in some new ones for fun and variety. As it stands my plan will include a happy blend of the following:

bodyweight strength training (at home and/or at the gym)
– yoga
– HIIT style cardio in the form of sprinting and skipping (at home/outside)
– kickboxing
– freeweights (at the gym)
– sports
– walking/hiking.


This sounds too easy, why choose this approach as opposed to a more detailed workout schedule?

In my experience, consistency keeps me in the best physical and mental shape when it comes to my workouts. If I start getting too goal-oriented aroundexactly how much cardio I get in or how intense my workouts should be I always end up feeling disappointed and often bail on workouts out of frustration. BUT when I set flexible, attainable goalsjust a little something everydayI actually enjoy what I’m doing and the motivation to push myself naturally follows.

What do you mean by moving “CONSCIOUSLY”? I thought you said you were a “hipster” not a “hippie”!

Touche. But let me explain. We all move our bods a little bit every day but we don’t always think about these actions as contributing to our overall health or fitness. Walking around the office, making breakfast, running to the bus, etc. are all physical (Cardio LIFE as I often call it) but we overlook them because they seem mindless and incidental. On other hand, a “conscious effort” is a physical activity we participate in for no reason other than its benefit to our bodies and health. I believe that the feelings of satisfaction, self-worth and empowerment we derive from fitness are as much a result of the decision to act as they are from the action itself. So in the end it doesn’t matter whether your decision is to take the stairs to your apartment or to the top of the CN Tower, once you’ve made that decision and follow through, you’ve won. At life.

I’ll do my best to keep you posted on all the movin and shakin I’ve been doing, the eats that will be fueling all this newfound activity chutzpah & of course keep writing about other important stuff too, just to keep it all in perspective.

I’d love to have some partners in crime! 

CLICK HERE to download a printable worksheet so you can follow along and fill in your own 6 x 6 challenge updates!

brown baggin it, cooking tips, dinner, fitness, snacks

In-a-Hurry Lunch/Dinner/Workouts/Life

I have worked a lot of jobs in my life (barista, waitress, tap dancing instructor, teacher, au pair, web designer, researcher, marketing consultant, etc.) but until this week I had never actually worked in a 9-5 office environment. But bright and early Monday morning I started a dreamy dream job working for an non-profit I really believe in doing work that I love. But the hours behind a desk, the office culture & my ears popping every time I take the elevator? All that will definitely take some adjusting…

This week I was far too busy getting mentally prepared for my new job to do much planning for things like food or fitness but I’ve been just barely getting by by cutting corners wherever possible.

1) Workouts

I’m currently between gym memberships so it’s been all about the outdoor running lately. For cardio I have lovingly found my way back to this pyramid interval run because it is super quick and always leaves me panting. And while I’ve been pretty light on strength training due to my lack of gym access, circuit workouts like this one (jotted down on a random envelope?) are definitely doing the trick.

Repeat this circuit for 10-15 mins for a short and sweet (and by sweet I mean suprisingly hardcore) workout!

2) Dinner/Lunch Combo Prep

 Seriously people, even if you don’t have time to do an epic weekly meal prep on Sunday afternoon, you can always prep your lunch while you make your dinner. Such a simple idea but one that has totally saved my dress-pant-wearing butt this week.

Tonight, for example, I whipped up a quick little dinner of one-pot curried cauliflower & pumpkin stew (topped with some pan fried haddock, basil & lime)

This isn’t a full on recipe but in case you’re interested…


Sauteed a handful of chopped carrots, a chopped celery stick and 2 cloves of garlic in sesame oil. Once fragrant add 2 cups cubed fresh pumpkin, 2 cups cauliflower & 2 cups of veggie broth  then simmer until all the veggies are very soft and you can lightly mash them with a fork. Finally season to taste with curry powder, soy sauce, ginger and a little squeeze of agave…then top with basil, lime & siracha for the perfect one pot dinner!

And now on to lunch…

Since those ingredients were already out of the fridge and handy I decided I would whip up a second dish that I could use as the base for my lunch tomorrow…

You’re shocked, I know. It’s a kale salad. What can I say? I’m easy to please! This salad is dressed in sesame oil, soy sauce, ginger, lime juice, flax oil & agave then topped with sunflower seeds and chopped carrots. All the ingredients used in the previous recipe just repurposed with lunch in mind! A simple way to save time prepping lunch (or money buying it!)

Do you work in an office? How do you usually prep for the busy week? 

coffee, fitness, gettin critical, reviews

Fitness Apps: Help or Hindrance?

What a beautiful morning it is here in downtown T.O! The sun is shining brightly, the skies are a vibrant blue & I am double fisting coffee and kombucha like a post-rehabed, pre-weirdfaced Lindsay Lohan.

Peculiar beverage combinations aside, I wanted to take today to nerd out a little and discuss Fitness Apps. 


For a good long while I thought that using applications on your phone to track fitness goals was a waste of time for someone like me, considering I am not in training for anything in particular nor do I have a desire for either weight loss or a substantial amount of weight/muscle gain. However I realized over time that certain apps actually would make my life a little easier and (just like everything in the health/finess world) I could take advantage of those good helpful bits and ignore the other stuff.

So I’ve compiled a little list of the apps I really do use on a regular basisand the ones I haven’t found so useful…

First up…THE HELPS

1) Standard Stopwatch.

No downloads necessary. Just use the straight-up stopwatch that comes with your phone to measure cardio, interval or strength excersizes that go by time as opposed to reps.

2) RunKeeper

Don’t be scared off by the name, I use this free app all the time even though I’m not a “runner” because it has some really useful functions including:

  • GPS to map your runs or walks when and if you do run outside.
  • Detailed information about your distance and speed (much more accurate than you’d get on a treadmill)

  • And (my personal favourite): The  Coaching function. It lets you set interval workouts  in advance, then gives you verbal cues about when to switch as you go. I use this for indoor and outdoor cardio as well as during strength training as an easy a hands-free timer!

3) Fitness Pro

I recently discovered this app but so far I’ve really been enjoying it. It’s totally free and has a massive library of exercise suggestions AND instructions so you can put together a customized plan that works for you. Customization is crucial because your workouts will vary a lot based on what equipment you do (or don’t) have access to.

It also has a whole anatomy section where you can choose which muscle groups you want to work and it will provide you with suggestions for what to incorporate into your routine. Very informative. A great way to break out of a workout rut and mix things up a bit!


1) Calorie Counting Apps. 

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. Food tracking is a slippery slope and one that I don’t recommend for anyone, even those with weight loss goals. I genuinely believe food restriction is an addiction and one that we are all highly susceptible to. Becoming mindful of serving sizes and enjoying balanced meals and snacks made with unprocessed foods is a much healthier and infinitely more sustainable approach…And sadly there ain’t no app for that.

2) One Size Fits All Workout Apps. 

These include things like the Women’s Health Magazine app, the Nike Fit App & basically anything preset. In my experience the suggestions are good but too rigid and don’t take into account what your personal needs are. Plus you usually pay for workout apps like this and there are typically a limited number of workouts to choose from. And you guessed it….new workouts come at a cost! Better to find your workout inspiration online (for free!) then manually input it to a customizable app.

So…what do you think about fitness apps?

Do you have any faves? Would you consider trying one of these?
Or is the whole thing just too nerdy and not worth the effort? 

budgeting, fitness, get strong on the cheap

Finding Stability: At-Home Yoga/Strength Fusion Workout

This was just one of those weeks for me where everything felt like it was in upheaval. I’ve been apartment hunting, job hunting (I love what I do but am searching for something more permanent and stable), spring cleaning and even re-evaluating friendships. My family members, though loving and endlessly supportive, are each facing their own set of transitions right now, which leaves me without that “home base” feeling that others rely on in times of change. In other words life, as of late, has lacked any semblance of stability.

Oh and then I cut off all my hair…. 

Ignore my pouty expression, I actually love it. 🙂

In times like these, developing my physical strength, flexibility and balance reminds me that these are qualities I inherently possess and I can trust that (with a little patience) my life will manifest them as well.

So today I am sharing a stability-promoting, at-home, equipment-free, totally empowering and energizing Yoga/Strength Circuit Workout. It takes around 20 minutes and is structured in a pyramid, “superset” format.

  • Pyramid because you work your muscles hardest in the middle but begin and end with lower impact yoga postures
  • Supersets because you complete two excersizes in the same muscle group back to back with no rest between.
  • Fusion because each superset is made up of one yoga-inspired move and 1 strength-inspired move

If you require instruction on any of the exercises I mention here are some useful links:

Basic Sun Salutation
PlankBicycle Crunches
Side Plank
Warrior 2
Donkey Kicks

Do you find comfort in physical activity when life leaves you reeling?
What are some of the most “empowering” yoga poses or strength training exercises you do? 

fitness, inspiration, vlog

Top 6 Winter Workout Tips: VLOG!

Hey folks,

The weather here in Toronto has been pretty bleak lately and yesterday was especially brutal. It was grey, windy and cold and I had NO motivation to leave the house, let alone squeeze in physical activity. But I made it happen using a few strategies I developed to keep myself motivated. Since I know I’m not alone in this predicament I thought it was time that I share my Top 6 ways to Beat the Winter Workout Slump.

Sorry the video is a bit dark but at least it gives you a good sense of what it is I’m talking about 😉

OH! And one more thing REALLY IMPORTANT THING I forgot to mention in this video…

When and if these tips don’t get your butt in gear:  Please, please with a cherry on top avoid  punishing yourself! Not mentally by feeling guilty or being overly critical of yourself/your body/your “will power”/etc. And DEFINITELY not physically by restricting yummy food or treats. This is irrational and unnecessary plus it will deplete you and make it that much harder to get going the next day.

Instead, enjoy your rest and engage in some form of self care. A nice long bath, a tea date with a friend, an hour with a good book, etc. This will help you recharge for a fresh new start tomorrow!

So…do you think these tips would work for you?
What do you do to stay active and keep on track with your fitness goals even in the yucky, dark, chilly winter months?

coffee, fitness, snacks

Strength, Stretching & Snacking

Was it just me or was today an absolute whirlwind? I have been so busy since getting back from Texas the days have started to blur and the fact that Wednesday is almost over blows my mind.

After waking up way too early to hit the gym I discovered I was out of both almond milk and coffee. BLERGH. Fortunately I prepped my breakfast yesterday so I didn’t need milk – it was basically a repeat of this not-so-pretty bowl of oats from Monday except I skipped the smoothie and just stirred  Sun Warrior Protein Blend into my oats along with a hefty scoop of peanut butter and berries. Sounds weird but it worked in a pinch. To get in my caffeine hit I sucked back some disturbingly strong Irish breakfast tea mixed with a little stevia. Again, I worked with what I had… Cause I’m zen like that 😉

Okay onto the good stuff: today I wanted to speak very briefly about stretching. It is no secret that I am a big advocate of strength training on the blog, in whatever form that might look like for you. Whether its weights, yoga or pilates…dog walking, baby carrying or grocery hauling…I just love to see strong ladies (and gentleman) using their muscles. But if you want to see and feel your best you need to remember to fit in stretches before and after your workouts.

It might seem like a pain at first but trust me the real pain happens when you don’t stretch.

Here are some of the stretches I do every day, workout or no…

Back Stretch

Leg Stretch: Step on your Hands!

Shoulder Stretch: Give Yourself a Pat on the Back

My workout this morning looked a little something like this:

20 mins cardio
Treadmill: 1 min run/1 min incline walk, about 15 minutes
Track: 5 minutes very random interval running. Sprints, jogs, walks, etc. Closest thing I can get to outdoor running in the chilly winter months.

20 mins strength
I loosely based my workout on Julie’s Legs and Ab Circuit only she is a machine and I am not. So I tweaked it a bit for myself. Ended up looking like this:

10 pushups
50 squats (with a 6lb weight)
50 bridges (with a 6 lb weight)
10 pushups
30 side lunges (15/side)
30 side plank hip lifts (15/side)
50 bicycle crunches
20 mountain climbers
10 push-ups
50 seconds plank hold
30 squat jumps
30 jumping jacks
20 sit-ups (with 6 lb weight overhead)
10 pushups

It’s been a while since I’ve done a full circuit workout like that and OOF is all there is to say. Glad I fit it in though since I have a busy week ahead and may or may not have quality gym time to spare.

My food today was a bit all over the place – a big snacking plate of salad dressed in flax seed oil and balsamic, sweet baby carrots, sauteed chicken breast, Mary’s flax crackers, light cow cheese and 1/2 an avocado doused in sea salt…

PLUS 2 big bowls of crunchy millet rice cereal topped with almond milk and about a zillion blueberries and raspberries…
Neither the first bowl or the refill lasted long enough to have its picture taken. 🙂

 And in case you’re worried about me, I finally squeezed in a coffee today…around NOON (eegads!)

Do you stretch try to stretch every time you work out?  Once and a while? Or avoid it completely?

breakfast, fitness, recipes, snacks, travel

The Green Smoothie Morning: Finding Balance in a Sea of Breakfast Tacos

Good Morning, Austin.

While every day spent here in Austin has been different from the last, my mornings have been pretty consistent. I wake up, do some work (yes I’m working from home even while I’m on “vacation”…thats what you get for going out of town right after the holidays right?) and of course I start each day off with big healthy breakfasts. And what signifies healthy start to the day more than a green smoothie? Drinking one of these bad boys before 8am makes you feel like a superhero not only because of the sense of accomplishment you feel chugging down something so strange looking….but because all those B vitamins provide you with the energy you need to deal with whatever your day/night might have in store for you (even if that includes a whole lot of tequila & tacos…)

Simple Green Smoothie

  • 1 small frozen banana
  • 1/2 cup frozen mixed berries
  • 2 big handfuls of spinach
  • 3-4 ice cubes
  • 1 scoop raw vegan protein powder (optional)
  • cinnamon, vanilla & honey

And because I am not a “smoothie for breakfast” type of girl (aka. give me complex carbs in the morning or suffer the consequences) I rounded out my morning meal with 1.5 slices of Ezekiel toast topped with almond butter, mashed banana & cinnamon.

Another thing I’ve been doing since arriving here in Austin is trying my best to squeeze in some type of physical activity before noon. Nothing too strenuous since I want to save my energy for adventuring around the city, but at least a little something. So far I have enjoyed strolls around the neighborhood, light yoga and (on this particularly ambitious morning) a short run to and from the local park.

On this day I went through my favourite interval run. Its a pyramid style workout that is perfect for the outdoors because you can tailor speeds and intensity to match your environment and energy level. It looks something like:

5 minute warm up
30 seconds quick run
1 min brisk walk or jog
45 seconds quick run
1 min brisk walk or jog
1 min quick run
1 min brisk walk or jog
90 seconds quick run
1 min brisk walk or jog
Repeat this series in reverse (Run 1 min, then 45 seconds, etc.)
5 min cool down

Enjoyed some local scenery along the way….

I love how the residential areas in Austin have a bit of a country vibe to them. Maybe its all the succulents in their landscaping? The lawn flamingos? Random windowpanes hanging everywhere? Whatever it is I like it.

Following up that morning activity with some tasty eats at home (making sure to leave some room for my ritual mid-day taco feast)…

Mixed greens & Kale topped with diced red peppers, zucchini, crunchy edamame, almond cheese (my new obsession…more on that later), 1 leftover slice of organic turkey breast & roasted kabocha squash. Plus a side of my favourite ginger kombucha. 🙂

Have a lovely Monday, folks!
Stay tuned for upcoming posts on Free Music Week & the Austin Farmers Market (SWOON!)


90s, fitness, inspiration, travel

Non-Boring Cardio at the Summerside Wellness Centre

This morning I was up with my grandparents at 630am (which is 930am in Senior’s Standard Time) and by actual 930am I was already fed, showered, on my second coffee and out the door to join them on their daily trip to the Wellness Health and Fitness Centre in Summerside PEI.

20111108-120835.jpgMorning Coffee & Paper. Apparently The Guardian newspaper “covers Prince Edward Island like the dew.” Amazing.

The Wellness Centre is a massive building with loads of natural light and I loved how it drew such a mixed crowd of people there for all sorts of reasons. From the morning coffee & conversation crowd…20111108-120919.jpg

To the folks on the track, which is clearly a hotspot at the Centre. I swear, only Canadians could get that excited about circling repeatedly around an ice cold, unused hockey arena. But I don’t know that I’ve never encountered a happier, chattier bunch.

And then of course there were the friendly gals (not a lot of bros in the room…a nice change for me) in the fitness room. 20111108-120946.jpg

The decor was slightly hilarious…full of Clip-Art style decals that kept making me giggle…I kept expecting the couple from Body Break (ahem…Hal Johnson and Joanne Mcleod) to jump out from beside the treadmills and give me pointers.


I have been pretty light on the cardio lately…just haven’t been feeling it as much but after reading this Step Up Workout from the lovely Angela at Eat, Spin, Run, Repeat I totally got inspired. She is a fitness instructor and always posts seriously awesome workouts, but once I saw this one I got super jazzed. I only modified it a little bit but I thought it was very unique and ramped up in a way that was totally fun and kept me on my toes. My slightly modified version looked like:

  • 5 min slow warm up
  • 3 min at a steady moderate pace followed by 1 min walking (x2)
  • 2 min at a steady fast pace followed by 1 min walking (x2)
  • 1 min at a very fast pace followed by 1 min walking (x4)
  • 5 min slow cool down

You can do this on a treadmill, bike machine, outside, inside, wherever you like! Its guaranteed to cover you in sweat like the dew on PEI….sorry couldn’t help myself…gross.

Stay tuned tomorrow when I’ll be sharing my recipe for tonight’s dinner – a super delicious & budget friendly casserole dish that was a total throw back to old school comfort food. Get excited…

breakfast, fitness

Getting Grouchy at the Gym + Quick n’ Dirty Cardio

Woke up this morning and dug into a purple smoothie parfait. I blended up the usual suspects of frozen banana, blueberries, ice cubes and protein powder but added some new twists like a a bit of maple syrup, some instant coffee and a big ol’ handful of SPINACH. Then I layered it with my favourite cereals and sliced banana. Stupid tasty!

As I am currently on an all important rest day from the gym, I got to thinking….No matter how much I try to have a positive attitude about it, sometimes going to the gym makes me grouchy. And not for the reasons you’d think. I’m all for getting my sweat on, its gym culture I can’t handle.

Top 5 aspects of gym culture that totally grind my gears:

  1. Too Costly
  2. Too Time Consuming
  3. Appearance and Weight > Health and Fun
  4. The Skeevy Guys (GTL, Bro!)
  5. The Type-A Girls (Tracy Flick on a Treadmill)

How I have been avoiding the grouch as of late:

  1. Go to the Y. Its affordable plus they use a sliding scale for those who need it. I’ll sweat for equity anyday. Check.
  2. Work up a Quick n’ Dirty Sweat: See Below
  3. Workout with a body-positive friend. Don’t spend a lot of time chillin in the change room or mirrored areas. If you hear people engaging in negative self-talk, don’t sweat it. Just roll your eyes, let out a sigh and don’t be afraid to relocate!
  4. Head straight to the weight room and don’t get intimidated. Push yourself as much or as little as you want to, and if they say anything douchey to you, tell them their bronzer is running.
  5. DO NOT ENGAGE. If they look you over with judgement in their eyes, just imagine how hard it must be to live in their self-critical brains for a day. Then picture how much happier they’d be eating a peanut butter and jelly sandwich.

Quick n’ Dirty Cardio Workout

One of the best ways to avoid spending too much time at the gym is by using your time efficiently. I use this pyramid interval workout all the time because its super fast, flexible and works great on any cardio machine.

High Intensity = About 80-90% of your full tilt exertion (aka. biking/running/climbing as fast as you can)

Low Intensity = About 40%-50% exertion, slow enough to let your heart rate really come back down (aka. brisk walking).

  • 5 minute warmup
  • 30 seconds high intensity
  • 1 minute low intensity
  • 45 seconds high intensity
  • 1 minute low intensity
  • 1 minute high intensity
  • 1 minute low intensity
  • 90 seconds high intensity
  • 1 minute low intensity
  • 1 minute high intensity
  • 1 minute low intensity
  • 45 seconds high intensity
  • 1 minute low intensity
  • 30 seconds high intensity
  • 5 minute cool down
What are your biggest pet peeves about gym/workout culture? How do you make it work for you?