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Monthly Archives: March 2017

First Product Review – BEAUTY COUNTER

When my cousin Jenny asked me to sample some products from Beauty Counter (for which she is a Director in Western Canada), I was somewhat skeptical because like most people, I have my favourite products I love and I am usually hesitant to try anything new. Then it dawned on me, opportunities like this are EXACTLY why I started this blog – to offer tips to others looking to live healthier lifestyles and if you are familiar with Beauty Counter, that is exactly what they are all about (click on the link to read Beauty Counter’s Mission Statement, Story and Company Values) http://www.beautycounter.com/en-ca/our-story (from their pamphlet) “OUR MISSION IS TO GET SAFER PRODUCTS INTO THE HANDS OF EVERYONE”. So I figured why not give a couple products a try and capture it for you to share with me.

Now I think it’s important to note I am not a sales consultant for Beauty Counter, I am not receiving any promotional fees (other than the samples which were provided) to promote or advertise these products, and should someone be interested in purchasing beauty counter products in the future – I will not be receiving any portion of the sale. This is strictly a fun exercise in “try before you buy”.

There were quite a few small sample sizes of numerous products to try to I thought it best to use a couple and see how I liked them. Too many products at once would make it hard to tell which ones I actually liked or benefited from. I started with the Balancing Face Mask, along with the Peppermint Lip Balm. I followed it up with the Rejuvenating Night Cream and Rejuvenating Eye Cream.

I absolutely loved the mask and night cream. My face felt fantastic with both of these products, super soft and (it might sound cheesy), but radiant. The results with the mask and face cream were immediate so I liked that I could see the effects the products were having on my skin right away and that I went to bed with my face feeling so fresh and clean. The eye cream was ok, however I am aware that the benefits of an eye cream might take longer to notice and it really is the ingredients and safety of the products that might draw a person to purchase them. I will admit I did not enjoy the lip balm that much. It smelled wonderful but ended up needing to be re-applied in order for my lips to feel soft and once it had worn off, they almost felt chapped.

I would absolutely purchase the mask and try the night cream as part of my evening regimen, they were both big wins for me. I encourage you to check these products out at http://www.beautycounter.com/en-ca/skin-care.html, and find out more about how they might be best incorporated into your skin care routine.

If you are interested in finding out more about these products or Beauty Counter please feel free to contact Jenny Hubbard at http://www.beautycounter.cam/en-ca/jennyhubbard in Canada, or http://www.beautycounter.com/jennyhubbard  in the US.

Hope you will keep watching for my next Product Review coming soon!

 

Amazing Asparagus Guacamole…so good…so healthy!!

 

This recipe is AMAZING, and I’m not saying that just to say it. It is by far one of the best takes or healthier versions of a recipe that I have tried making in a long time. Guacamole can be eaten in so many ways, as a dip/spread/sauce or just as it is. I fully believe that avocado’s are a superfood, however, they are high in calories, so when your craving something to snack on or add to a meal, its hard to sometimes work in the extra calories if your are monitoring your intake. With this recipe, you don’t even need to worry about it. I have never heard of anyone gaining too much weight from eating asaparagus, and if you know someone, please I’m all ears!! I hope you enjoy this recipe and please know that I couldn’t create a video on this because the entire bowl lasted about 10 minutes with my family! I hope yours will enjoy it too.

Recipe inspired by http://www.today.com/recipes/healthy-guacamole-recipe-t107585.

 

Ingredients

2 Bunches of Asparagus (I cut a good 3rd off the bottom)

Juice from 1 Lime

1/4 Medium Red Onion chopped into very tiny pieces

1/2 cup Chick Peas

1 Medium Tomato

1 Tbsp Garlic (paste/minced)

1 Serrano Pepper (seeded and chopped)

1 Jalapeno Pepper (seeded and chopped)

Fresh Cilantro ( I use the quick use ones that are flash frozen) about 1-2 tbsp to taste

Sea Salt & Ground Black Pepper to taste

 

 

First steam the asparagus however you like, I usually add water and microwave in a glass bowl for 3-5 minutes until the asparagus is tender, but not mushy, next add them to a food processor or similar type of appliance. Add the chick peas to the asparagus and blend/chop until its completely combined and the texture is smooth.

 

Next add garlic, lime juice, chopped peppers, salt and black pepper. Blend again until smooth.

 

Next combine the mixture from the food processor to the chopped tomato, red onion and cilantro.

Combine well and add salt or pepper to taste and serve with whatever your in the mood for! It is also extremely versatile so you can spread it on toast, use it on chicken/fish or serve it up on top of salads. Keeps about 5 days in the fridge. Enjoy!!

 

 

It is NOT a diet…it IS a lifestyle change!

Dieting IS awful, that’s why when you are setting weight loss or fitness goals your really need to look at it as making life changes, that are permanently going to be part of your new way of living.  This way when you need or want to indulge, or it just happens, it wont be so hard to pick up your healthy habits again because they will be the “norm” not the other way around.

It’s the start of another week and maybe your coming back from being away for March Break or perhaps you just did some fun stuff with the family, or it might just be another Monday for you and you’re trying to start fresh after a weekend of eating poorly or having a few drinks. Whatever the case, it’s getting back to basics that will save your routine and get you back on track. Those little things, the habits and choices we make throughout the day that will keep us motivated to continue trying to fight the good fight and realize that a bad weekend doesn’t have to turn into a bad week, or a bad month and so on.

Habits to remember like:

  • Drinking enough water
  • Cutting out or cutting back on sugar and sugar substitutes
  • Getting enough good protein
  • Listening to your body, and eating until your full, not until your plate is empty
  • Packing lunches and eating at home
  • Opting for good snacks that will sustain us like apples with peanut butter, humus and veggies, boiled egg with cucumbers, or some almonds with berries, are all good choices that should get through to meal time.
  • Getting moving, whatever you can handle, a short walk, some yoga or stretching , a light jog, short bike ride, or exercising at home (see In a Pinch workouts on my blog page for some ideas), are all ways you can get back into the swing of things if hitting the gym seems a bit daunting to start the week.
  • Making sure you get a good nights sleep. That is the beauty of PVR/on Demand…watch it later your mind and body will thank you.

Remember are only human and we’re not perfect, everyday is a another opportunity to make healthy  decisions and continue with our fitness or weight loss goals. It’s a process and it works if you are consistent. One day, one week, it won’t matter, you need to make the changes for the long run so you can get back up and continue on the journey to healthy living. Be well everyone.

 

 

In a Pinch Pt. 3 – Exercises you can do anytime/anywhere!

Here is another instalment of an interval circuit you can use to supplement your workout when you need to get your heart rate up and your squeezed for time or can’t get to the gym. Happy moving!

IN A PINCH WORKOUT Pt. 3

Perform each circuit 4 times or as many rounds of the circuits you can in the time you have i.e. 30 minutes. Minimal rest in-between exercises and 1 minute rest between rounds.

30 Front Squat Kicks 

60 Seconds Skipping

30 Curtsey Lunges (with or w/o leg raise)Split Squats

20-30 Jumping Lunges

30 – 60 Second Front Squat Hold

1 Set Push Up Pyramid (perform each arm position 5 times) 

30 Plank Rotations

30 Reverse Crunches

30 Leg Raises

All the right moves…in shoes!

I am not a foot pathologist or a orthotics expert, I am however an expert when it comes to testing out athletic shoes and putting the miles in them to see if they are worth the cost or not, and if they live up to their credibility.

An athletic shoe should be looked at like an investment. You wouldn’t put just any old tire on a Ferrari, so why would you wear any old shoes on your feet? (yes we should treat our bodies like Ferrari’s…and support them accordingly).  Your feet, which support your entire body when performing any activity rely on the structure and design of a shoe to help you through the moment and minimize/ prevent injury.

This is extremely important when exercising and not all athletic shoes are created equally!! It doesn’t mean a good shoe has to cost a lot of money, it means it has to be designed well and you should use if for the activity it best suits you for. For example, the Nike Fly Knit is designed for running…I hate running in them, I actually loath it, but I love this shoe for everything else I do in the gym. I need a more supportive runner, and the Fly Knit just isn’t built for me…for running, but I had to try it out and not force myself to run with that particular shoe just because it is marketed as a “runner”.  Athletic shoe fit, for me, is a lot of trial and error. I need to have a good run in a shoe to find out if it makes my foot go numb, or if it has poor support for my back. I look for different sole heights and thickness because thicker soled runners are disastrous when performing motions like box jumps or bench hops. The same could be said of light weight sole when you need the support on rough terrain or hard cement when running, you need more support so a thicker sole is preferrable.

Before heading out to buy the next awesome addition to your fitness arsenal, check out this helpful link from Consumer Reports  http://www.consumerreports.org/cro/athletic-shoes/buying-guide. A little research will go a long way in saving time, money, shin splints (from running) and shin dents (from box jumps)! Happy shopping!

Fasule (Bean and Vegetable Soup) – Totally Healthy, Totally Hearty Comfort Food

 

So this warm weather one day and freezing weather another is insane!! It’s cold and snowy here in Toronto and so today I am making one our family favourites (recipe adapted from a family recipe) Fasule – Bean and Vegetable Soup. It’s traditionally made with lamb (with bone) and beans, however the kids and I don’t eat lamb and so  I started making this with beans and vegetables instead and it is always a huge hit (plus its full of fresh ingredients and heart healthy nutrients!) Serve it up with some warm bread (whatever kind suits your fancy) and a nice salad and you’ve got gold. (substitute organic wherever you like)

 

INGREDIENTS

1 907 g bag of White Kidney Beans

I Red Bell Pepper – chopped into small pieces

1 Tomato – chopped into small pieces

1 Medium Onion – chopped into small pieces

6 Stalks Celery – chopped into small pieces

4 Large Carrots (or 6 Medium) – chopped into small pieces

2-4 Tbsp powered or gelatin Chicken Broth or Vegetable Broth / OR 1 900 ml box (use organic or regular, whatever you like) 

2-3 Tbsp  Salted Butter 

2 Tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Spices to taste – I use about 1 – 2 Tsp of dried Paprika, Garlic Powder, Oregano, Sea Salt and Pepper

 

Put a large pot of water on to boil. I use a large 7.5 quart french oven. While waiting, sift through beans and discard any black or bad beans. Then place beans into a large bowl and rinse with room temp water (tap water is fine) and then strain. Repeat this step 4 times (this is apparently the magic step to the beans cooking properly). Place the rinsed beans (x4…lol) into the boiling water, once at a rolling boil, remove the pot from the stove top and strain the beans again.

 

Add the chopped vegetables to the pot, lower the temperature and place the lid on to soften.

Once the vegetables are soft, add the butter, EVOO, spices, beans, broth (liquid or powder) and fill the pot with water with enough  water so that it is full with room for boiling without spilling over. Once the soup has come to a boil, lower to a simmer and wait….and wait a little longer.

This soup needs to simmer for around 3 hours, until the beans are tender but not mushy. It also needs to be stirred every so often, perhaps every 15-20 minutes to make sure the beans don’t stick to the bottom of the pot. You might find you need to add some water to thin it out a bit if it does get too thick after simmering for so long. Just add a bit at a time as needed, if needed.

This soup is a bit of a labour of love, but totally worth the effort and time. You can adjust the spices or veggies as desired and it makes a ton so you can freeze the leftovers, if there ARE any left overs. Serve it with some warm bread (or not if watching your starchy carb intake) and salad/veggies to make a super healthy meal that will totally make you feel cozy on a cold winter day. Enjoy!!

 

In a Pinch Pt 2…Exercises you can do anytime/anywhere.

Here is another instalment of an interval circuit you can use to supplement your workout when you need to get your heart rate up and your squeezed for time or can’t get to the gym. Happy moving!

 

IN A PINCH WORKOUT Pt. 2

Perform  each circuit 4 times or as many rounds of the circuits you can in the time you have i.e. 30 minutes. Minimal rest in-between exercises and 1 minute rest between rounds.

 

50 Fast High Knees Jumping 

30 Russian Sets Ups (15 – 20 each leg, don’t alternate, leave foot on the bench/box)

30 Split Squats (15 – 20 each leg, don’t alternate)

50 – 60  Butt Kicks

10 Push Up Crawl Out’s 

30 Second Push Up Plank Hold 

20 Push Press (use weights, water bottles, or nothing)

30 Sit Up Cross Punches 

50 – 60 Flutter Kicks

Eating out tonight? Don’t panic…5 tips for staying on track when dining out.

DON’T LET THIS

CAUSE THIS

When you are trying to lose weight, there are certain habits you need to learn to change, eating out is one of them. My friends tease me that they are going to get me a sign I can wear when we eat out that reads “The Modifier”.  Yes that’s right, I am every server’s worst nightmare….seriously.  I rarely order anything as it is on the menu and will tip extra if the wait staff and kitchen get my order right, no joke. I realize that some might find this annoying or rude, but when you are trying to maintain your weight (or especially when trying to lose weight), and keep some semblance of a social life, you need to be able to make smart decisions when eating out and not be afraid to ask about food substitutions or omissions.

A few months ago, when I was training for my fitness show, it was my birthday and the family wanted to take me out.  I was two weeks out from the show, so at this point I was pretty much eating fish or chicken and asparagus with mustard…like 4 times a day. Its kind of tradition that we go out for a Birthday dinner, so although I tried to sway the family into postponing my dinner out until after my show, the kids weren’t taking no for an answer. We headed to our favourite family spot Jack Astor’s, because the kids can be kids and its a fun place for families, food is decent and  by modifying and asking for substitutions I know I can stick within my healthy food plan. So for my birthday dinner, I simply asked the server if I could have a grilled chicken breast with a side of steamed asparagus on some spinach or mixed greens…no dressing or sauce, just mustard on the side. To my absolute delight he actually asked me if I was doing a fitness show… (must have been the request for mustard, since this is a fitness competitor’s best friend come crunch time). So when my glorious birthday dinner came, I did not care that everyone else was having a cheat meal and enjoying their favourite foods, I was happy with my meal, because I got to spend the time with my family and stay on track with my meal plan.

My point to this story is that, you have to be willing to make the changes and stay the course even when you might be tempted otherwise. Excuses to stray from your diet and make poor eating choices will come up ALL THE TIME, you need to be able to make smart food decisions when eating out and not be afraid to ask the wait staff to make changes to suit your needs. I recognize that there are some restaurants and establishments that actually have it written in their menus or on their websites that they do not make ingredient substitutions etc. so it’s easy –  don’t go to these places. I’m serious, there a million other places that will happily sub out dressing for salsa, or just grill the salmon and leave out the fried butter. Especially in the beginning you need to make the best choices for your success and the people you are going out with should try to be supportive of you.

Here are my 5 helpful tips for surviving eating out while trying to lose or maintain weight loss.

  1. Google the restaurant before hand and check out their menu to see what options you will have when ordering to stay on track. Chains with over 20 locations in Canada are now required to list their calorie count for each meal, this is amazing information to have when looking to see what healthy options are available to you.
  2. Try to have something light before going like some raw veggies, 1/2 a protein shake, or some fruit, and a large glass of water. If you go out hungry, your resolve will falter when your stomach starts to rumble at the smell of all the great food coming from the kitchen.
  3. Don’t be afraid to ask the server about healthier cooking options, like baked not fried, or grilled not sautéed in butter and always ask for dressing or garnishes to be removed or on the side. Ask for healthy substitutions like salsa or Pico de Gallo instead of salad dressing or a fresh chutney instead of butter or cream sauces. If you’re not comfortable asking in front of the guests at your table, ask the wait staff in private. I will guarantee you are not the first person to ask them to make a change and you will not be the last. Do not blow your awesome day of healthy eating because you didn’t want to remove the blue cheese dressing (from an otherwise fairly healthy Cobb salad) for fear of putting out the server or the kitchen. That is why they are there, that is why you are PAYING for your meal. Make them earn your business.
  4. If you know your going to be eating a meal out, it’s really important you don’t skip any regular meals. If your going out for lunch, make sure you have a good breakfast, if it’s going to be dinner out then don’t skip breakfast or lunch. Make sure your regular food choices are the same during the day so you feel like you have a good day of healthy eating under your belt, it will help to discourage you from falling way off the wagon while out later on. If you throw in the towel at breakfast and grab a McGriddler because you figure the whole day is a wash since your going out for dinner anyway, you will never give yourself the chance to change your habits. If you’re at a kid’s birthday party on a Saturday afternoon and you know you are going out for dinner that night, eat before you go to the party and skip the terrible kids pizza and piece of buttercream cake so you can enjoy something you really want later. Remember, it’s about learning new healthy habits and applying them every day, all the time.
  5. Lastly, don’t be too hard on yourself if you do end up indulging and eating something that might not have been the best choice. After all we are only human, however, try to minimize the damage by going for a walk later in the evening or incorporating an activity like bowling or skating after dinner that will keep you from just ending up on the couch. Also, if you are going to indulge try to plan for it and make sure it’s worth it. If there is something you have been craving or thinking about having all week, add a bit of extra activity to your regular schedule that week to burn some extra calories, or decrease your intake of calories by just a little each day to give you a bit of a buffer so when you have that amazing steak, you can enjoy it without guilt. On this note, try not to drink your calories. If you are going to be indulging in some “spirits” keep to the lighter drinks like a lite beer, wine spritzer or vodka soda. There are hundreds of empty calories in the sugary cocktails and creamy concoctions, keep the calories and enjoy them in the food you chew.

Learning to adapt healthy eating habits and make them part of our every day lives takes time, but its critical to our long-term success in maintaining weight lose and continuing our goal of healthy living.  Birthdays, anniversaries, and social gatherings are not going to stop because we are trying to change our eating habits and get healthy. Modifying, planning, and making allowances for eating out will take the stress out of the event and allow you to incorporate your healthy lifestyle so you can enjoy the moment.

What’s for breakfast? My “Jacked Up” Protein Shake

 

 

My “go to” Breakfast – Jacked Up Chocolate protein Shake

1 scoop whey or plant protein powder

2 tbsp unsweetened coca powder

1 tbsp milled flaxseed

1/2 avocado

1 cup almond milk

1 tbsp cacao nibs

1 cup of baby spinach

ice (to taste and consistency)

Put ingredients into blender and mix well…serve…amazing!!

 


 

I’m often asked what I eat for breakfast to maintain my weight, keep fit, and get fuelled up. My constant go to is a protein shake which I have almost every morning, even on the weekends.

I do agree with the premise that you should chew your food, and I’m pretty good for doing this for all my other meals. For me, the mornings are crazy and I need to be able to grab something easy and healthy that will get me through a tough workout later on. I usually eat 2 hours before I will be working out, unless I am running first thing in the morning (for runs I have a drink of bcaa’s and eat when I’m done). By the time I get to the gym, my shake has digested, I feed powered up and it leaves me enough time to have a pre workout drink without having my stomach too full.

Since I am a sweet tooth I usually choose a chocolate based shake, and I will use plant-based or whey protein as the anchor depending on what kind of workout I plan on doing. Mainly weights will mean I typically use a whey protein, a more cross training type workout where there will be lots of plyometrics, I will usually choose a plant-based protein powder because I find it easier on my stomach and digests quicker.

You can change it up and use whatever ingredients you like, it’s really a matter of preference, but a protein shake with the added bonus of healthy ingredients like avocado, flaxseed, almond milk, is very much a meal and you are hitting your nutritional requirements without having to do much cooking or prep work…easy, which is good when life is so busy.  Also as a time saver, on Sunday’s I will often measure out the dry ingredients and put them into individual containers or baggies and store them in the cupboard so I can just add the spinach, almond milk, avocado and ice.

So that’s what I east for breakfast, give it a try you might find that a healthy “Jacked Up” protein shake is just what you need to start your day off right and keep your weight loss/or fitness goals in check.

 

Hitting the wall…and moving forward

At some point everyone will hit “the wall” in their wellness/fitness journey. The start of a new fitness plan or regimen is usually encouraging and the momentum of a new challenge can carry you on for quite some time. But after the initial weight loss or fitness goals are met, and the results seem to stall or slow down, it will seem like you are spinning your wheels. Working hard but not getting anywhere, all the efforts of changing your eating habits, changing your lifestyle have been for nothing….like you have hit a wall.

This is the point where many people will just give up or keep doing what they are used to because they don’t know any better, this is when moving the goalposts becomes critical for your continued success.

“Nothing in the world is worth having or worth doing unless it means effort, pain, difficulty… I have never in my life envied a human being who led an easy life. I have envied a great many people who led difficult lives and led them well.”
― Theodore Roosevelt

When you hit this wall, and trust me, you will (probably more than once throughout your journey before you reach your goals), the natural reaction will be to question yourself and the whole idea that you could actually do this, change your life, get healthy, get fit. What you decide to do next will be the most important step you take in the journey to change your life. You can either give in to the negativity and accept defeat OR you can dig a little deeper, accept that the journey won’t be easy and commit to making it work….and then change it up. I remember hitting my first wall around 3 months in, after reigning in my eating habits, starting back at the gym and making healthy living my new lifestyle, the weight loss slowed and I was feeling frustrated with the whole process. So I looked inwards and told myself that failure was not an option, I was not going to fall back into old habits…I was going to do this, I was going to succeed…I was going to CHANGE MY LIFE.

At this point I was ready to try anything to kick-start my plan again, this is when I discovered a passion for running (see my ABOUT ME page from my website to read more about my running journey http://wp.me/P1jEOq-f5)

Throughout the past four years I’ve had a few walls that I’ve had to scale over or plough through and throughout your journey you will to. Self improvement and change is never easy but it’s SO worth it. You just have to believe in the process and believe it will work, and not give up on yourself or your goals. One day at a time, one meal at a time, one workout at a time….just keep moving forward, you got this.