Friday, October 21, 2016

Five Things Friday: Cozy Fall Edition

Happy Friday party people! We've got another round of five favourite things on the blog today. If you missed last week's round up, I was chatting about my favourite wellness books lately. Be sure to check it out if you need some new reads!

Let's get into the weekly roundup of favourite things this week.

Nala and I managed to sneak out for some time on the trail when the rain held off long enough. I enjoy this time with her where I can just tune out with a podcast and take in the fall scenery along our route. Plus, it gives us both some exercise and it's always nice to have a napping puppy after : ) So snuggly!

Every time I see a rainbow it signifies, for me, that my cat Oreo and family dog Malibu are looking over me. Malibu passed away nearly five years ago now, and Oreo (my most favourite cat in the whole entire world) passed away in fall of last year. So, it always puts a smile to my face when I see a rainbow : )

Last weekend was stormy on the island which made for lots of time spent curled up on the couch reading, blogging, and drinking peppermint tea. On Monday I spent a good amount of time on the blog planning and brainstorming new post ideas. This time is always so relaxing for me as I can just get into my zone and start jotting all the ideas down that pop into my head. Since October is #Blogtober here on the blog, I am in the midst of planning out November. Hinty hint: it's about money. Kind of. Stay tuned for more about that!

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince which is a new read, considering when I last read the series this book wasn't out yet. My goal is to finish the series by Christmas which I think is doable! I am also loving this notebook, as it's where I write everything down in. All of my to-do lists, blog ideas, brainstorming, notes, and everything else. Even grocery lists!

Candles, candles, candles. I am all about candles, especially in the fall time as it creates such a cozy and inviting environment. The candle on the left is from last year at Home Sense, and the candle on the right is a Himalayan pink salt candle holder where I just use a plain soy wax tealight. I used to be obsessed with Bath & Body Works candles, but do your research people! I'm all about having the wax as natural and organic as it can be, and B&BW just does not fit the bill. Plus, there are too many icky chemicals in there that float up into the air and cause me to sneeze and feel wheezy. Not cute, so soy and beeswax is where it's at.


What are you loving this week?

Any exciting plans this weekend?

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Ladies: 5 Reasons Why You Should Lift

There seems to be this old tale that women who lift weights are manly and will have ginormous muscles. Well, today I wanted to chat about WHY it is important for women to lift weights, and more importantly, lift heavier than they think they can lift.

There are so many benefits to weight lifting. We will get into that, and also chat about how to get started.

So, you're ready to start lifting but have no idea where to go? If you plan on attending a gym, it may be worth booking an appointment with a personal trainer to at least get familiar with the strength training area. At my gym they have it separated by cardio equipment, strength training machines/dumb bells, and another room with another rack of dumb bells and things like yoga mats, foam rollers, resistance bands/tubes, and kettle bells. Having someone show you around the gym will not only answer any questions you may have about the facility, but make you feel more comfortable. Being comfortable is HUGE in starting a strength training journey (or any health journey for that matter), as you will be more inclined to stick to it if you don't feel awkward or out of place.

That's not to say that feeling awkward won't happen, because I can guarantee that it will happen! However, getting your bearings will help make things easier in the long run.

To get started means to simply put on your work out gear and get going. If buying a new exercise outfit will motivate you to take the first steps, then by all means, do what you need to do. That being said, in order to begin a program you just have to START, so start now, whatever that may look like for you!

When it comes to strength training, having a plan will allow you to visually see what you need to do in the gym. A plan tailored to your specific needs will also alleviate that, "OMG what do I do today!?" feeling that can arise. Start small to start - say two times per week - and build up as you start to feel stronger in the gym. Soon enough, you will have a work out split (another word for plan) that can target multiple parts of your body.

For me, my workout split looks something like this:

Legs twice per week, shoulders/triceps twice per week, and one day for back and biceps. Occasionally I will mix in some back/biceps on my shoulder days, but it is completely up to you. Every 4-6 weeks I switch things up (providing I am seeing results), and I mix some cardio in there as well because I love me some running! : )

Again, your first steps into strength training may be at-home YouTube videos, and that's okay, too! Do what works for you and what makes your body feel good.

So, WHY should women strength train?

I'll tell you why I personally do it. I strength train for mental clarity, for challenging my body, so I can withstand day to day activities with ease, so I can age gracefully (or so I am hoping anyway), and so I can be a better me.

You can tell when I haven't worked out because I am grouchy, irritable, and I won't be as in tune with my body or my mood. This is important to me as I want to be present and mindful in my interactions out there in the world, so working out can set the tone for a great day.

However, some other reasons why women should strength train are listed below.

1. You will burn more fat. Strength training builds muscle, and muscle burns more calories and fat while resting. Sure, you burn calories after a run, but not nearly as many as you would after a good strength training session!

2. You will practice the art of mental strength. Yep, you can do one more rep. Yep, you can lift a little bit heavier. Yep, you can do one more squat. Strength training (and athletic training in general) helps train your mind in that whole, "mind-over-matter" sense, which can translate to so many other areas of your life.

3. You'll strengthen your bones, as strength training helps your muscles, bones, ligaments, and tendons adapt under pressure. Your bones will become stronger and more dense, which will help stave off age related degeneration.

4. You will lean out. Yes, weight lifting (combined with a clean diet, OF COURSE) will help your jeans feel looser and make your shirt less tight. This is because muscle takes up less space than fat. Sure, a pound is a pound, but a pound of fat is more voluminous than a pound of muscle. So while you may still weigh the same weight (which I don't recommend going by the number on the scale anyway), you probably look a little slimmer since your body is increasing muscle and decreasing fat.

5. Your HEART will seriously thank you. Strength training and cardiovascular exercise is a God-send for your heart. As you get into better shape, your heart actually doesn't have to work as hard to send blood throughout your body. Exercise reduces blood pressure, and we all know high blood pressure ain't cute.


If you are a woman who has a strength training routine, what does this look like for you? Let me know in the comments! Any AMAZING moves I should try in the gym!?

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Healthy Morning Habits to Start Now

Does anyone else LOVE mornings? I especially love them on a Sunday or Monday when I have the whole day to myself. Easing into the morning can set the tone for a happier day. Whether you are a late riser or an early riser, I hope you can find a few takeaways from today's post to help create some more healthy habits. Of course, you don't have to do these just in the morning. They are all great no matter what time of day they occur! However, some of them are especially effective the morning to get the day started when your body is freshly awake. Let me know in the comments if there are any morning habits you like to do!


1. Hold the phone. One thing that is important in the morning is allowing yourself to wake up on your own terms, without being inundated with social media first thing. I know how tempting it can be to check your phone right away. Trust me, been there all too often! However, I wait until I've been up for an hour (give or take) before I finally check social media. It can be so overwhelming for me in the morning to be bombarded with what everyone else is doing, so keeping my phone aside while I am going about my morning business helps me feel more engaged in what I am feeling and doing to get my day started

2. Lemon water, lemon water, lemon water. I LOVE lemon water so much. Lemon water in the morning (especially with warm water) is a gentle way to "detox" your body and flush out any toxins in your system. It kickstarts the digestive system, rehydrates the body, and can help energize you for the day ahead. BUT - that doesn't mean ditch the coffee. Drink your lemon water first, girl! Hydrate before you caffeinate is my rule of thumb.

3. Get moving - or not. Some people love to exercise in the morning. I am one of those people who enjoy working out in the morning to get my sweat-sesh out of the way, though at the same time I also enjoy working out in the evening to sweat out the day's stress. That being said, exercising in the morning can help wake you up and aid in better dietary choices throughout the day. On the other hand, some people love starting their morning on a more quiet note: meditation. Meditation doesn't have to be sitting on your yoga mat for an hour saying "Omm" one hundred times. I ain't got time (or the patience) for that. However, even meditating for five minutes can be beneficial at calming your nervous system, clearing your mind, and setting positive intentions for your day. Find what works for you and go with it!

4. Journal or read. I am a book lover at heart (maybe that's why I enjoy blogging so much!) and whether you are reading a biography, a fantasty novel (Harry Potter say heyyyy whaaat), or writing in your journal, the act of reading and writing can not only be therapeutic, but it can also help reinvigorate your mind. Waking up with an interesting article is a nice way to pass time as you're having your morning lemon water, too!

5. Eat breakfast. If you aren't a big fan of breakfast foods, eat something. If you think about it, you wouldn't drive your car without putting gas in it, right? So why would you start your day without fueling your body? My go-to breakfast is oatmeal, though I have been switching it up lately with eggs and berries a few times per week when I want some more protein in the morning. Not interested in cooking in the morning? There are tons of yummy recipes out there for healthy breakfast cookies and muffins, that way you can grab, go, and be on your way. Alternatively, a smoothie is another great way to get some nutrients into the system! Having breakfast ensures that your brain and body have the nutrients required to perform at it's best.


Now, off to get my coffee! Have a fantastic day everyone : )

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

BYE BYE Mainstream Deodorant!

Hey, so I have some news for you guys.

I am ditching mainstream deodorant.

Yep, you heard that right.

Let me get into the (seriously) dirty details about mainstream deodorants and why I have decided to branch outside of the drugstore.

First things first, let's talk about ingredients. As you guys know, I like knowing how to pronounce my food ingredients, and now I am moving onto skincare, too. Your skin is the largest organ, and the thought of slathering a bunch of unknown substances on myself gives me the creeps.

And so does sticking chemicals under my arm pits. I was doing some research about these ingredients and this is what I found:

- ALUMINUM is disgusting and it's one of the main ingredients in deodorant. This helps block your pores and stop your sweat glands from doing their job - sweating! Sweating is so, so important at flushing out your body of toxins. Additionally, aluminum has been linked to breast cancer in women and linked to an increase in Alzheimer's.

- Parabens are part of a larger group of synthetic preservatives and are found in EVERYTHING. I have started buying shampoo with no parabens and sulfates for the sake of my hair and skin health. Parabens are said to disrupt hormone balances, organ toxicity and even birth defects. YIKES!!

- Propylene glycol is a petroleum based material that makes products soft. In deodorant and antiperspirant, this makes it spread easier under your pits. Too much propylene glycol is said to damage the central nervous system in large quantities.

- Phthalates, like parabens, are part of a bigger, ugly class of chemicals that help dissolve other ingredients, create a lather in cosmetics like shampoo and hair products, and have been connected with SO many health issues. These health issues include hormone disruption and cell mutation. Ew, ew, ew.

- Triclosan is used as the actual odor killing component in deodorants and antiperspirants. While it does have anti-bacterial properties (ahem, so does coconut oil), it is technically classified as a pesticide. Nothing better than putting some pesticides under the pits!

SO, here's the question you guys probably have for me now. What the heck are you using? Nothing? Going completely granola and not having any kind of underarm protection?

No, no. No.

I am currently on the hunt for the perfect natural deodorant, but this is what I have been using lately. It isn't as slick as, say, a swipe of Lady Speedstick, but it does the trick. It is free of aluminum, parabens, and synthetic fragrances. Winning.

I haven't used it during extremely sweaty workouts. The thing is, this isn't going to stop me from sweating as it is still allowing my sweat glands to breathe rather than blocking them altogether. One thing I like about this deodorant though, I must say, is the smell. It is feminine but not sickly sweet, and has a little bit of a masculine touch to it.

I am in the midst of looking for another natural deodorant to try out as well. Any others that you would recommend? Looking forward to sharing my reviews of them on the blog!

Monday, October 17, 2016

My Food and Diet Philosophy

Disclaimer: This is my personal experience with food and diet labeling. If you are struggling with an eating disorder, I strongly recommend consulting a professional as I share my experiences only.

Vegan, vegetarian, paleo, pescatarian, gluten free, dairy free, soy free, sugar free, low fat, high fat, raw til 4, raw vegan, clean eating, macro counting, WHATEVER!

I am done.

I am done with labels when it comes to food and diet. I fell into this trap years ago, and it has taken me just as much time to get to a place now where I am label free when it comes to my diet. I have been from one extreme to the next, and now I am finally at peace.

Let me rewind for a little bit. My food labeling began when I was in high school. I was visiting a naturopathic doctor to get to the bottom of my battle with eczema. It was getting to the point where I was so self conscious of letting anyone see my skin, and it was taking a huge toll on my self esteem. During this period (which was about three/four months, give or take) I was put on an elimination diet where my daily food choices basically consisted of green vegetables, some beans, berries (with the exception of strawberries), kamut grains, quinoa, and goat dairy products. My hormones were all over the place, my period was way shorter than normal, and my energy felt low due to my low caloric intake. Since my food choices were so limited, I eventually cut out animal products of all sorts as I found that (at the time) it was working for my skin. It wasn't until I started incorporating foods back into my diet that I realized that the elimination approach was not working for my body. I lost a ton of weight at this point, and was starting my running journey at this time, too, which further exacerbated the weight loss. 

Rewinding even further, in my earlier years in high school. I was 40 pounds heavier and had no idea about a healthy lifestyle. You can read more about my journey in this post about body image. Two complete ends of the spectrum, and here I am somewhere in between.

I was vegetarian for about 5 years, and it wasn't until this last year that I started incorporating animal protein back into my diet. For those five years, I always identified myself as a vegetarian. I did my research on how to get my protein and vital nutrients, though after my bikini competition in June of 2015, I made the decision to incorporate meat back into my routine. The thought of roasted vegetables and quinoa didn't fuel my appetite anymore, and I wanted to broaden my horizons when it came to eating out in restaurants and at peoples' homes. On that note, one of the things I truly struggled with when I made the decision to eat meat is that I felt like people would judge me so much for making the switch back. I had spent so much time looking into the benefits of a plant based diet and educating people around me on the importance of fresh foods, but eating meat? Unheard of. That can't be possible! Once I overcame this hurdle, I began to enjoy myself more and feel more freedom when it came to my choices.

It wasn't until I released this thought that, "Oh, everyone is judging me for eating chicken now," that I truly dropped the labels. I wasn't vegetarian, I wasn't pescatarian, I was just me, eating what I wanted. Food labeling is something that has become increasingly popular in the last few years. Food companies are making big money off of marketing these labels, there's blogs dedicated to veganism (and every other way of eating under the sun), and online communities built on these labels. Don't get me wrong. I think it is great to know your body and what it likes, but if you are forcing yourself to be a raw vegan even though you know your body needs a change, then that is when it can become dangerous. For the sake of your own health, eat without labels and enjoy your life.

So, what is my food philosophy? I eat when I am hungry, and if I want dessert, I'll have dessert. If I want a glass of wine and a chunk of chocolate after dinner, I will, but I don't go overboard. Food is meant to be fuel, and it took a while for me to grasp that. Some days I want oatmeal for breakfast, and some days I want salad for lunch. On other days, maybe I'll want eggs for breakfast and chicken for lunch. I try to keep my food choices as healthy and whole as possible - meaning, I don't gorge on processed foods, but if I slip up during one meal, I try my best to make my next meal a healthier option. Life is all about balance, and although that word is seriously overused in the blogging world, I have to say, it's true in this case. It is so FREEING to eat without labels now and actually enjoy food without worry. Life is too short to restrict yourself in a box, so if you are feeling stuck I highly recommend either reaching out for help (if it is serious enough to do so) or at least expand your horizons if you feel you are able to.


Thank you guys for reading today's post! Food is such an interesting topic as everyone has their own relationship with it. Let me know what your food philosophy is in the comments below : ) Would love to hear your thoughts!

Sunday, October 16, 2016

What Goes Into a Blog Post?

Happy Sunday, friends!

I am so happy to have had the chance to sleep in this morning. I am kicking off the day with a little bit of insight as to how I make a blog post.

This is just a very simple infographic, though I wanted to get into some more details as it's a lot more than snapping a few pictures, writing a bunch of stuff & callin' it a day.

So, here's (generally) what I do!

 1. BRAINSTORM! This is so, so important for me to get those creative juices flowing. The other night I was sitting at the table with a glass of wine with no idea what to write about. It wasn't until I started putting pen to paper that things started to happen. In my notebook I try to elaborate on each subject as much as possible and jot down key points that I want to talk about. You can imagine how full my notebook is with all the Blogtober posts!

2. Photos. This is the hardest part for me as I struggle taking pictures just on my iPhone. Sure, the quality is okay, but it's not as great as I would like it to me. So, my next step is investing in a good camera that will allow me to take crisp, concise photos. Depending on the blog post I am writing, sometimes I will take a couple hours on a day off to set up all of my props and items that I'm taking pictures of. Then, it's time to edit and upload to the computer!

3. The writing. The fun part! Now I grab my notebook and put my keyboard to good use. If I have brainstormed my blog post ahead of time it is generally pretty easy to get a post done. However, you also have to incorporate pictures in there to disburse the copy and revise, revise, revise! I hate spelling mistakes, so this is MAJOR for me. Grammar police!

4. Now it's time to make the post published to the world. I will revise one more time around, preview my blog post and how it looks on my website before hitting publish. If I have several posts ready to go, I will schedule them on different days to make sure I have content spread out and organized for the coming days.

5. Last step is to utilize my social media accounts to get my post out there. I have just recently started pinning my blog posts, and they are always posted on Facebook, Twitter, and I post on Instagram daily ; ) 


I hope you guys enjoyed today's post! It is something a little bit different, but I thought it would be fun to give you guys a little bit of background info on how things go behind the laptop. Have a great weekend!

Saturday, October 15, 2016

Why I Will NOT Be Competing Anytime Soon

Hey party people!

The weekend is officially here, and I am kicking it off with a little posty-post about the bikini competition world.

Yep. If you don't know, in June of 2015 I competed in my first ever bikini competition, which was the IDFA BC Classic in North Vancouver. Super cool experience, I won third place, it was glitzy and glamorous and definitely something I had never dreamed of doing, but that's it.

That's it.

Nowadays, I think it is supposed to be some trendy thing to be a bikini competitor. It seems like everyone and their dog is doing it. Seriously, if they had a dog category I'm sure there would be some weird team duo entering that. Nevertheless, I wanted to chat about why I will not be competing anytime soon.

And when I say anytime soon, I mean within the next one to two years. I'm not looking further than that - although, that being said, looking further than that I don't see that in my vision - and I wanted to share my thoughts on it.

I'm all about pushing my body to the limit. This is why I run half marathons for fun, do leg day on a long run, do yoga and stretch my body in weird positions and up until recently, trained for my first bikini competition.

However, if you read my post about body image, you will know that I wasn't shy about talking about my issue with body image post-bikini competition. It is seriously a mind F and something to consider before you even sign up for the competition. This is something I kind of sort of thought about, but probably didn't take enough time to truly grasp how it would impact me. That being said, I do NOT regret for one second my choice to enter a bikini competition. I learned so much about myself in the process, and fortunately I was surrounded by SO many supportive people. Bless Ryan and my family for being all, "OMG YEAH! Sounds great! You can do it!" to all of my psycho ideas. You guys are the real MVPs.

In the next two years, there are a few things that I want to do that do not include training for another bikini competition. Competing takes so much of your time and energy. If you think preparing your mind and body for the stage is just a matter of doing cardio in the morning and strength training in the afternoon, you are wrong. If you think the diet part is all about simply cutting out processed food, you are wrong again. There is SO MUCH that goes into it. I cannot stress that enough, and I can't stress enough about the STRESS itself that competing can put on your mind, body, relationships, and people around you. Do your research ahead of time, find a coach who shares the same views as you, and find your WHY (why are you doing this) before you sign up.

Let's rewind and get back to what I was saying, though. In the next couple years, I plan on running my first marathon. Marathon running and bikini competitions do not exactly go hand in hand. On that note, though, I feel more in-tune with running at this time as opposed to devoting so much of myself to competing again. Yeah, it was fun, but what happens when it's all over? What if you don't place? What if you trip on stage or fall out of a pose? Personally, I feel like my heart is not in competing for the long haul, whereas running has been my go-to, die hard, day in and day out, even when I was training for my competition.

Don't get me wrong. I loved my body throughout my competition prep and I still love it after. While some may think dieting for the stage is a quick process, it is a strenuous month long commitment that, for me, lasted almost 8 months. My body does not want to diet for that long. My body does not want to do cardio every single day for that long. While competing is an extreme end of the physical activity scale (picture a line with "sitting on the couch" on the left side and "body building" on the most right point), it is for one day only and you shouldn't look at pictures wishing you could be bikini lean all year round. Sure, for some it is more maintainable and body building is their life, but in the grand scheme of my life, my picture of health and wellness looks different than muscles and a tan!

So, when it comes down to it, the reason why I will not be competing anytime soon is because mentally I am in a different place than I was a year and a half ago. LOVING yourself at every step along your health and fitness journey is so important. That's not to say I didn't love myself during competition prep - because I did, don't get me wrong - but I am living my life with more freedom and more comfort than ever before. Oh, my thighs jiggle? I'm sorry. I don't care. Oh, my tummy has a roll when I sit down? Oh, I'm sorry. I don't care. I have legs that will power me over 21.1km (or more) and strong muscles that allow me to hug the ones I love and get in a killer strength training work out. Plus, the thought of stepping on stage half naked and literally having my body judged by strangers who don't even know me is kind of a crazy thought! After all, it is the heart that matters, not the body : ) And at this time in my life, I am honouring what my heart wants as much as possible, and if that means a bikini competition in five years, then fine, but for now, I am happy just running along through this journey without all the glitz, glam, and spray tans : )