Need some inspiration? It’s closer than you think.

In need of some inspiration? Some days we feel like we can conquer anything we put our mind to, and other days it takes everything we’ve got just to keep our heads above water.  When you’re in the middle of trying to lose weight or make healthy changes those tough days are the ones that can really test your resolve and push you to your limits, and it’s also those tough days when a little inspiration can go a long way. Sometimes inspiration can come from a famous athlete, or an Instagram personality, or even something you see on TV, but sometimes you can find inspiration from the people closest to you when you weren’t even looking for it.

My daughter Audrey has a very stubborn nature and if you tell her she can’t do something she will turn the world upside down trying to prove you wrong. While most of the time this can be extremely frustrating when managing the day-to-day, last Sunday I was remained of an important lesson, that when you put your mind to it, you can accomplish anything.

After watching her older brother master his roller blades a couple of years ago (he is a hockey player so this came pretty easy for him) Audrey was determined to get an older pair of his roller blades on and learn how to skate on wheels. I was discouraging her because I really wasn’t sure she had the patience to learn, she can skate but roller blades are a whole different animal. She started slow and fumbled around and I was sure she would get discouraged and give up, then she took a few good wipe outs and after wiping the tears and putting some band aids on her newly scraped legs, I was sure those roller blades were coming off.  I was wrong.  She turned the garage over looking for old hockey equipment to put on to save her knees and elbows and hands. When she was ready for battle she started practicing again, and was doing really well, until she took too much speed going down the driveway and actually caught air and fell, hard, on her hip/side. I was sure that was going to be it, at least for the day. I was wrong again.

Now I will admit, I’m not one to coddle my kids, when you have three, you get pretty good at being able to decipher which falls/cuts/scrapes are being blown out of proportion and which need actual attention. But when I saw her take the fall down the driveway and catch flight I knew that must have hurt. I almost wanted her to take the blades off, and told her maybe to take a break.  She looked square at me and said, “Mom, I’ve spent too much time practicing to give up now”. Wow…I was in awe of her, BOOM…right there, inspiration where I had not been looking for it.

I told her to go for it, (maybe just side step down the driveway until she felt more comfortable with going down full tilt).

She spent hours on those roller blades on Sunday…then again on Monday and by Tuesday she was going around the neighbourhood on her blades while we rode our bikes. That unwillingness to let fear stop her, and to keep going when she was a little bruised and shaken, made me so proud of her.  I was inspired by her tenacity and perseverance to master this new skill and her “can do” spirit. I thought it was a good lesson to start the week with, as I myself have been feeling a little beat up by my own training for my upcoming triathlons.

So I started Monday with her “no quitting” mantra in my mind, and started to tackle the day knowing that inspiration can come from anywhere, but sometimes when you least expect it, you can find it from the most wonderful of places, like your children.

Be well everyone.

 

It won’t be easy, but it will be worth it.

This is such a great saying, and its so true. We often have to go through the struggle of losing weight, or getting healthy by ourselves and while we might have support along the way it is often the small struggles or battles that we face alone daily that make the journey so tough.  There will be no applause when we decide to pass on the desert and just have a coffee, or when we push out that last rep at the gym (even though it was really hard), or when we run just a little further than we did yesterday.

All the daily struggles we face when making big life changes add up to big successes eventually, we just have to be willing to give it time to see the results.

Nothing can be more challenging than facing a long weekend full of busy events, family time, BBQ’s, eating out, drinking, and trying to stay on track. One of the best things you can do is plan out your weekend of eating, and activities so you can anticipate where you will need to have a bit more resolve to stick with your healthy diet plan, or have alternatives available so you don’t fall off your plan. Also just because you are going to be busy, don’t forget about your workout routine, shoehorn it in or do body weight exercises/or go for a brisk walk or run if you will be travelling. Ask anyone who exercises regularly and they will be the first to admit that they feel awful after not moving for a couple of days, so get out there and do something to get your heart rate up or break some sort of sweat. That light beer will taste better later on when you know that at least you did something to be active.

If you are in situations with little control over food choices, do what you can to stay on track. Try burgers with lettuce buns, or half the bun, load up on grilled veggies and salads with oil and vinegar, stay away from any kind of salad with made with mayonnaise, eat lots of fresh fruit, skip the appetizers (except the veggie tray…there is always a veggie tray = lifesaver) and keep your calories for your meal. Choose lighter aperitif’s like vodka soda’s with lemon, light beer/low carb beer or sugar reduced wines. It’s so easy to lose track of calories when you drink them that before you know it you have had two or three drinks and drank half your suggested calorie intake for the day. Skip the frappacino’s, mochacino’s, iced cappacino’s….these drinks are nothing but sugar and do NOTHING for you.  Best you can do, ask for coffee over ice with a splash of milk/light cream/almond milk or coconut milk.

No one said it was going to be easy to get healthy, lose weight or reach fitness goals, but ask anyone who has come out the other side and survived long weekends without ruining their healthy living plans, and they will tell you it can be done, and it’s TOTALLY worth it.

Have a great long weekend everyone…stay safe and stay on track!

Be well everyone.

Never give up, never quit – get up and try again.

 

This quote jumped out at me because it’s the air bubble I imagine floating above my head as I keep falling off my new road bike (I bought for my triathlons) in front of my house, more importantly,  in front of my neighbours houses on the court where I live. I have been tirelessly trying to practice clipping in and out of my road bike pedals only to fall mercilessly to the ground because I can’t unclip in time to catch myself. I am bruised, a bit battered and scrapped up and unlike the childhood freedom I first felt from cycling again (with my mountain bike), I now feel the childhood frustration of being unable to master what should be (so I’m told) a fairly easy task. I have had the pedal tension adjusted and the cleats (clip in part of the shoe) tightened, I have practiced in between doorways in the house and on the grass…but I still find myself crashing to the ground…like a tree.

All of the struggles I am having with trying to learn this new skill remind me that changing your life and making the decision to eat healthy and exercise is EXACTLY like trying to ride a bike with clip in shoes….your going to struggle, you are going to fall down and you are going to think of quitting but if you keep trying and you don’t give up, you will do it (at least that’s what I keep telling myself). I struggled with my weight for so many years, going up and down, never really mastering the partnership between diet and exercise. If I counted all the times I successfully lost weight only to gain it back it, it would easily be between 5-7 times…until four years ago when I finally made that magic connection between food/fuel/exercise/and healthy living. So in comparison I am hoping if I keep trying to ride using clip in shoes, it will become like second nature, something I don’t even have to give much thought to, something that comes naturally, the way healthy living does now.

It might take someone 5 tries, 10 tries or 20 tries to lose weight or get healthy and maintain that lifestyle, but it can be done and it will be worth every second of the struggle. Quitting would be easier, going back to eating poorly and not moving (or back to simple pedals) would seem less daunting, but I’m not going to give up and I hope you won’t either. If you fall off your plan, get up, dust yourself off, (in my case maybe grab a band aid…or two) get back on and try, try again. It will happen.

Be well everyone! (and if you have any riding advice for clip in shoes I would love to hear from you!)

When you step out of your comfort zone…something incredible happens.

I thought this quote was very fitting for the message I wanted to share today, seeing as it has the bicycle in the photo.

I have to admit that I have questioned my sanity a few times on this new endeavour of mine to complete (and hopefully do well) two sprint triathlon’s this summer. It’s funny that I would choose a sport with a component (racing a bike) that sincerely terrifies me and I’d like to think that I’m pretty willing to try anything that will put me out of my comfort zone. I mean seriously, I’ve done a 1/2 Marathon, I’m a Tough Mudder Legionnaire, and I got on stage in almost nothing and competed in a fitness/bodybuilding competition. Ever since I lost weight and changed my life, I made the decision to never let the fear of failure stop me from trying something I wanted to do, and I’ve been rolling the idea of completing a triathlon in my head for a long time. It was the road racing element of sport that always deterred me.

I’m pretty sure it’s being vulnerable without any protection on the road that scares me to death. When I was a kid riding around the neighbourhood it was fine, but when I moved to a much bigger city I was too intimidated so I stopped all together. While my kids all ride bikes, it’s never been something that I’ve been eager to make a family affair….I have on many occasions ran behind the kids while they ride…that has been a great compromise.   I’ve heard too many stories and know too many people who are cyclists that have been the victims of accidents because of careless drivers, so while the goal of completing a triathlon has been there, its been overshadowed because of my fear of racing on the bike, or at least training on the roads. So when I was done with the fitness show and I was trying to decide what I was going to do next, training for a triathlon was the clear choice and diving into my fear, facing it head on was what I was going to do.

So here I am, knee-deep in training and I have had to make the transition from the stationary bike to the road. I’ve been out twice now for long rides and I want to share this….something inredible has happened. The fear I had of being on the bike and riding on the street has been replaced with the feeling of pure joy…a feeling I had forgotten that came from when you were a kid riding around with the sun on your face, chasing your friends, not being afraid of going too fast, like you can race the wind…its an exhilarating feeling. Now I will say that in order to ease back into cycling, I’ve had to combine riding on the trails (which I prefer) and less busy roads, but I’m absolutely hooked. I’m super excited to get back out for my next ride and I’m in the process of looking for a new bike that is better suited for road racing and triathlon’s. The bike allows you to see the world around you in a whole other perspective while providing a great workout. I’m not sure if I’ll ever try to navigate my way around the streets of downtown (Toronto) on my bike, I might stick to the trails, paths and less busy streets around the city for training and leisure riding, but no matter what I have found joy in something that I was afraid of. I think that’s pretty amazing, and I hope you will be open to allowing yourself a chance to do the same, whatever fear it might be that’s holding you back from accomplishig  something you want.

Be well everyone.

Crock Pot Chicken – Super Easy and Super Versatile!

I’ve posted this recipe on my food for fuel page, but was recently asked about it and happened to be making it last night so I thought I’d share it again on my daily blog.

(Originally From FOOD FOR FUEL PAGE)

So I’m not sure if this actually qualifies as a recipe, more of a time saver, however the quality of the chicken is amazing and the taste is so versatile, plus we use so much chicken in our house that I usually make it a couple times a week.

Take 5-6 Chicken breasts, cut them into halves (I cut them into thirds so that I can get more flavour on them), place them in the crock pot. Add 1-2 table spoons of EVOO and whatever seasoning suits your fancy, mix it up and turn the crock pot on high for 4 hours.

 

When its done, you can shred it, cube it, dice it…use for taco’s, wraps, pasta dishes, salads….whatever, just keep in fridge and I wouldn’t worry too much about it going bad beaucse it won’t last that long.


In a Pinch Pt. 6 – From the Park!

When your out at the park or as part of your walk/run route, do these anytime/anywere exercises to get a workout in when your crunched for time. Many of us with kids spend a lot of time at the park when the warm weather comes, and the park has lots of great space and equipment you can use to get a good workout in while the kids have fun.

IN A PINCH WORKOUT Pt. 6

Perform each circuit 3 – 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.

2-30 Box Jumps (whatever height you can find at the park)

20 Walking Lunges with Knee Raise

20 Superman Deadlifts

20 Tuck Jumps

20 Bench Dips

10-20 Incline Push Ups

20 Trunk Twists

20-30 Woodchoppers

60 Second Plank Hold (or 30 plank leg raises)

It’s not selfish to make your health & happiness a priority, it’s necessary…..

 

All too often we put others needs ahead of our own and forget about our own health and happiness. I can’t tell you the number of times I have heard people tell me they just don’t have time to make lasting changes in their life (which could improve the quality) because they are so busy and they are taking care of others. Unfortunately it might take a real health scare to wake someone up to realize that not only is it NOT selfish to take time to care for their own well-being, its necessary to make it a priority. Now I realize that’s easier said than done, and if I hadn’t been there myself, overweight, unhappy, completely worn out and dealing with health issues, I would sound like a hypocrite, but I’m not. I know what it’s like to feel like you have put your wellness on the back burner only to find out that no one is going to put it back on the radar for you.

Change is hard, but often the hardest things are the most worthwhile doing. Starting small, making little changes, will add up and soon small habits will become big ones…life changing ones. You will see your health improve and when you feel better on the inside that will permeate to other areas of your life. The joy you had for certain things will return, passions you had long given up will reemerge and soon enough other people will start to notice the changes.

When it comes to losing weight and getting healthy, that can be tricky because putting our health first can sometimes lead to hurt feelings from others, or a lack of understanding and support, even from those closest to us.  Not everyone will understand the changes you are making in your wellness, not everyone will support you or encourage you…that’s ok. The fact of the matter is, it’s your health, it’s your wellness and if they can’t get on board then they need to at least step aside and let you get to work. The kids visit to the park can wait until you get a run in, the shopping trip with your mom can be done without a trip to the food court, the anniversary celebration can include lots of healthy options that will appeal to everyone. At first the balance will shift, it will make others uncomfortable, then it will even out and you will be able to navigate every aspect your day around your new-found journey to wellness.

Since making some pretty big life changes four years ago, I know not everyone understands my new way of doing things. I have friends and family who have been super supportive and encouraging, asking me what alternative foods they could prepare to make sure I was included in “get togethers”, or what grocery items I might need if I was heading up to my parents cottage or going away with friends/family. I’ve lost count how many times I have said no thank you to desserts, alcohol, junk food, and a million other temptations, or been asked to skip a workout, run or a gym session because “It wouldn’t hurt to have one bite/drink or miss just one workout”…but it would. That’s the part about making lasting changes, when they stick, people want to know what the magic was, what did you do that hadn’t been thought of before….I’ll tell you right now. There is no magic. Disappointed? The magic is in the simplicity…put your needs first, and for me that meant making big health changes like eating less, eating to fuel my body, moving more, moving with purpose, trying new things, and for my wellness, it was spending time rediscovering things that brought me joy, being active with my family, and challenging myself with new projects or passions and doing it…EVERY SINGLE DAY.

Putting oneself first is hard, but once you do make the decision to do it and the shock waves from others wears off, the guilt you might feel/felt goes away too and you being to wonder why you cared what anyone thought in the first place and why you didn’t make your health and happiness a priority sooner.  The changes you make to improve your quality of life by putting your healthy and wellness first will be worth it and you will be successful, just stay the course, and remember you only go around once…so you might as well be your best self doing it.

Be well everyone.

Super Easy & Super Tasty Energy Bars!

You see them everywhere, Lara Bars, Cliff Bars, Bounce Balls, Kind Bars…the list is endless. Some are better for you than others and some taste better than others, one thing they all have in common is they cost a fortune! Make your own using my easy recipe and you can change-up the ingredients as you like.

 

Super Easy & Super Tasty Energy Bars

Ingredients

12 Large Pitted Medjool Dates

1/4 cup Honey

1/2 cup Rolled Oats (whatever kind you prefer)

1/4 cup Mini Chocolate Chips or Cocoa Nibs

1/3 cup Chia Seeds

1 Scoop Chocolate Protein Powder (whatever kind you prefer)

1/2 Cup Wow Butter (safe for school snacks) or 1/3 Cup Natural Peanut Butter

1/4 Cup Unsweetened Coconut (optional)

2 Tbsp Unsweeetned Cocoa Powder (optional)


Place all ingredients into a food processor, (or dough processor option on a blender like the NINJA). Blend on dough setting, scraping down the bowl every few seconds.

One desired consistency is reached, scrape the mixture into a lined baking pan or glass dish which will allow you to shape the mixture into a large square/rectangle.

Shape mixture into a square, with at least a one inch thickness of the mixture or it will be too thin to hold its shape. Put into the fridge and let set for 30 mins to overnight.

Once removed from the fridge, cut into squares or bars.

Wrap up the squares individually to keep fresh and use for lunches or quick energy snacks on the go! Enjoy!

 

 

 

 

Getting back to basics!! It’s not too late to feel better for Summer!

 

So the countdown to warm weather is here and there is still LOTS of time to make healthy changes so you can feel better about yourself and your wellness. It’s hard for many of us to stay on course over the Easter festivities, but now is a great time to refocus and put our energy into making those changes we need to make, to help get the weight off and to reach our fitness goals.

Helpful tips to get back to basics:

  • Plan your meals and snacks – you can’t be successful if you aren’t prepared. Coming home from work or the gym hungry without healthy food ready to go will lead to snacking on things you shouldn’t. Veggies, humus, pita, fruit, nuts, and protein/energy bites are all good snacks to have ready to grab on the go. It’s also really important to have your meals planned out so you know what you are eating and you can shop accordingly. If you don’t have the ingredients ready to make your healthy turkey chili, you will probably grab whatever is easy and that might not help you to stay on track. Lastly, make your lunches ahead of time. Brown bagging it will not only save you money, it will be KEY in helping you reach your health and wellness goals.
  • Carve out time for exercise – 20 minutes, 1 hour…whatever you can make the time for – do it. Try something new if you are getting tired of your old routine and try to break a sweat at least once a day. Getting moving will help you relieve stress, allow you to refocus and you will always feel better after a workout, even if it’s a quick 20 minute run.
  • Drink lots of water and go easy on the caffeine and unnecessary drinks. Coffee and regular tea are diuretics which go through your system quickly, so you need to drink an additional amount of water to replace the fluid you will lose from those drinks. Save the latte’s and specialty drinks as a treats and keep to water most of the time. Try infusing your water with fruit, lemon/limes or cucumbers for added flavour, or use a home water carbonater to make sparkling water. The amount every person needs to drink to stay hydrated is different, but every person needs to stay hydrated to perform at their very best, whether it’s at work, at home or in the gym.
  • Sleep…Sleep…Sleep – this one is hard for me too. It’s usually the first thing I will sacrifice when trying to fit everything into a hectic day. However, it’s the most important and your state of overall wellness is greatly impacted by your quality of sleep and your quantity. Try to go to bed around the same time every day and sleep for the same period. I need 6-7 hours of good sleep to function. Any more than 7, I actually feel groggy, any less than 6 and I’m tired. Everyone has their magic number and its good to figure out what your optimal number of hours are to perform at your best. Try to unplug before bed,  no phones, no TV, (especially the news…stay away) – music, reading, meditating – all good options before you finally close your eyes for the night.

The summer will be here before you know it and by making these changes you will be improving your health and losing a few unwanted pounds along the way. It takes time, but it’s not too late to feel and look better for the warm weather! Put those easter chocolates away and get moving… be well everyone!

Delicious Shrimp & Fried Cauliflower Rice

Delicious Shrimp & Fried Cauliflower Rice

Ingredients

1 Large Head of Cauliflower Grated (use a grater or food processor)

1-2 Bags of Shrimp (Large in size 31-40 count frozen) or 2 Pounds of fresh shrimp (whatever kind)

1 Cup Broccoli (chopped into  bite size pieces)

3 Stalks of Celery (Chopped finely)

1 Bunch Green Onions (chopped)

2 Medium Carrots (grated or chopped finely)

1 Cup Sliced Mushrooms

1/2 Small Onion finely chopped (optional)

Large Egg or Egg White Substitute

2 Tbsp Fish Sauce (low sodium)

2-3 Tbsp Soy Sauce (low sodium)

1 Tbsp Coconut Oil

1 Tbsp Minced Garlic

1/2 cup vegetable broth (optional)

Sea Salt & Pepper to taste

Pure Sesame Oil (optional to taste)

 

Use a large frying pan or wok and on high heat start with coconut oil, garlic and chopped onion. Let brown for a minute or two then add much rooms, vegetable broth or water, bring temperature down and let mushrooms sweat until softened.

Next add in the grated cauliflower, keep the temperature medium/low and let the cauliflower rice soften.

 

Next make a hole in the middle of the pan and add in the egg/egg substitute, leave for a minute and then once it starts to cook, scramble, then add into rest of rice.

 

Add in 1 Tbsp of fish sauce and 1 Tbsp of soy sauce, mix and then add in carrots and celery and let soften.

 

Once soft, stir the vegetables into the rice and then add in the shrimp, sea salt and pepper to taste.

 

Once the shrimp is cooked add in the broccoli (I usually microwave the broccoli for a few seconds so it’s almost already cooked).

Then add the remaining Tbsp of fish sauce and soy sauce, stir the contents of the pan and then let sit and simmer for a minute or two.

Transfer to serving plates, adding some green onions on top for garnish and a (very light) drizzle of pure sesame seed oil on top.

There you have it! A super healthy, incredibly satisfying dinner that is great for Good Friday or any day of the week. Feel free to sub out the shrimp for chicken or tofu, or just make without the meat as a side for a great addition to any meal. You won’t even miss the “real rice”…the cauliflower is so good.

Enjoy and be well!