…So I changed things – and everything changed. I focused on getting more good quality protein in my diet, more good fats, and less sugar. On the activity side, I added in more strength and high intensity interval training and eventually trained to become a certified Pilates instructor as well. I was leaner, my digestion was better – and so many of the nagging issues I had dealt with got better. …Read More
No two Mama's are alike - so keep that in mind when you are looking for the perfect gift for yours this Mother's Day. Now, of course, let me start by saying what your mom REALLY wants is to spend time with you. So make sure you do that above all else! But if you are also looking to get her a gift, I have some great suggestions based on her personality and needs - whether she's a gourmet, into glam, or just really, really needs a good night's sleep (hint: that's all mom's, really) I shared some great ideas on CH Morning Live (you can watch the segment here) and find all the links to the items below:
The Gourmet Mom
NESPRESSO CREATISTA UNO If your mom really loves GOOD coffee, this is the machine for her. The Creatista UNO, in sophisticated Black Sesame colour is the ultimate machine for creating espresso-based beverages. It produces café style quality right at home thanks to its fully automatic steam pipe to add a barista’s touch to your coffee. Plus, you can use the frothy milk to design your own latte art. Perfect all year round, especially for entertaining because the automatic steam pipe provides multiple milk temperatures for personal preferences and a self-cleaning setting (and who doesn’t love less clean-up, right?) Use with your favourite Nespresso capsules to create a perfect coffee experience.
VITAMIX A2500 ASCENT SERIES Let's face it - there are blenders, and then there is VITAMIX. For me, my Vitamix has revolutionized my time in the kitchen and upped my smoothie game ( because no one wants a chunky smoothie!) This particular model takes things event further so you can think beyond the smoothie. It has 3 settings – smoothie, hot soups, frozen desserts. Basically, this is an incredible all-around kitchen tool for anyone that loves to cook! It also has variable Speed Control and Pulse feature let you fine-tune the texture of any recipe. AND it features Built-In Wireless Connectivity - you can pair with the Vitamix Blend App that has 17 programs and over 500 recipes! It also has a built-in digital timer that removes the guesswork with recipes you process manually, helping you achieve the perfect texture every time. VItamix has a range of models and pricing as options as well, so you can find the one that's right for you!
The Glam Mom
TED BAKER Of course Ted is known for making incredible dresses (the gorgeous spring floral I wore in the segment, for example!) but if you are looking for something that's a little easier to gift, they make wonderful accessories as well. (And quite a few of them are on sale at the moment! This Parson Leather Cross Body Bag is the perfect finishing piece for your your Mama's outfit that is also super functional.
CHARLOTTE TILBURY CT just makes the ultimate in makeup luxury and formulations. Everything about her line is gorgeous. Brand new this season are here line of BEAUTY FILTERS, such as BIGGER BRIGHTER EYES, two palettes specifically designed to enhance eye size and sparkle (limited edition!). The HOLLYWOOD FLAWLESS FILTER is available in 7 shades, and acts like a primer, a highlighter and a filter all in one customizable product. Not to be missed is her range of always-perfect LIPSTICKS (at the great gifting price point of $39) in Matte Revolution or K.I.S.S.I.N.G. formulations - with tons of beautiful shades especially the most perfect reds and nudes.
TOWN SHOES If your Mama is a shoeaholic, you can't go wrong with adding to her collection this Mother's Day! (though be sure of her size first, of course!) These sparkly Glendi Mules by Kate Spade are not only on sale right now, but are the perfect mix of glam and practicality. If your mom is more into sneakers or heels though, Town has plenty of selections in both of those categories!
The Mom Who Loves Sleep (aka Every Mom)
CASPER You have likely heard about Casper's incredible line of mattresses that have revolutionized the industry. And while a mattress may be a super-big gift to buy for your Mom, you can explore their other products to make sure she gets the incredible sleep that she needs. Casper's Pillows are equally amazing, featuring a unique pillow-in-pillow system that supports side, back or front sleepers with the perfect blend of support and cushiness. Plus - their sheets are also a wonderful option: chic, 400 thread count supima cotton that breathes and feels wonderfully luxurious. All things that add up to extra zzzz's.
THIS WORKS Available exclusively at Sephora in Canada, this skin care line was developed by former beauty editors in the UK (you know, the people that test out ALL of the products out there, so they know what works!) And - this should come as not such a shock - what really works when it comes to beauty is getting more, good quality sleep. So in additon to their skincare products that help you get the most of your time between the sheets, they have also developed their DEEP SLEEP and SLEEP PLUS+ lines of pillow sprays, roll-ons, body creams, and a bath soak that work with properties of aromatherapy and microencapsulation to help your Mama (or you!) fall asleep faster, and deeper. Use (liberally), and repeat!
I’d love to be the person that can say that there are no picky eaters in my house, but I’d be lying. When it comes to breakfast, I prioritize healthier options (that don’t sacrifice flavour – so yeah, perhaps I’m a little high maintenance). But some days, I only feel like I have time for a superfood coffee or a protein bar, which isn’t always as satisfying as I’d like. My husband likes his morning meal a little on the sweeter side, more like granola and yogurt, but definitely not venturing into sugary cereal territory. And then there’s our two year old……and his preferences change ALL THE TIME, but I know with him that taste and texture are big priorities. If it isn’t yummy, it isn’t happening. There are days that are definitely a bit of a struggle to get him to eat much at all, which can be stressful, because I want to make sure he’s getting the nutrients he needs.
I’ve managed to figure out at least one option that works for ALL three of us, which is pretty amazing: overnight oats! They are a thing for many reasons, trust me. They are easy to prepare and totally customizable. Use your favourite oats – and of course I use Quaker Brand because it’s what I always use whenever I make hot oatmeal (or mostly oatmeal chocolate chunk cookies, obviously) and they have been trusted for over 100 years, so that works for me! Add any type of milk, yogurt or dairy substitute like almond or coconut milk. Then, you can mix in your favourite ingredients before putting your oats in the fridge (in a jar works really well!) to soak overnight. For more crunch or texture, you can set some toppings aside to add once the oats are ready in the morning – fruit, coconut chips, chocolate chips, seeds, nuts, or more. See why this is such a great morning solution? Because you’re doing these few quick steps the night before, and not fussing when you have a million other things to do to get out the door first thing.
Here’s one of my favourite overnight oats combos that I thought I would share with you, mostly because it’s Archer’s fave. Kiddo is crazy about both blueberries and bananas, so I feel like this one is win-win. If you’re looking for more recipe ideas, just click here for some delicious ideas from Quaker.
BLUEBERRY BANANA OVERNIGHT OATS
(makes one serving)
½ cup Quaker Large Flake Oats
½ cup milk of your choice
½ cup blueberries
1/3 cup bananas, sliced
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp honey
1 tsp chia seeds
- In a mason jar or bowl, add Quaker Oats, milk and vanilla extract.
- Add a layer of blueberries, a layer of banana, then top with chia seeds and a drizzle of honey, if using.
- Cover and refrigerate overnight.
Customize each jar with favourite toppings to make something that everyone will love! Toppings are totally flexible, use what you have or what you love to customize for everyone. Or go without toppings for a simple and delicious option!
For best results, let oats soak in the fridge for a full 8 hours. But if you’re short on time, a few hours will work too!
For a thicker, creamier texture, try using yogurt!
Thank you to Quaker Canada for hosting me at the #OvernightSuccess interactive workshop and for sponsoring this post. But of course, all opinions (and love of oatmeal chocolate chunk cookies) are my own.
I might be biased (I am a Stott Certified Pilates instructor, after all) but in my opinion Pilates is an essentail part of any fitness regime. Including yours. Yes, I mean you – whether you are a beer league hockey player, distance runner, Crossfitter, dancer, arm chair athlete or yoga enthusiast. I know this because of the profound difference it has made in my life, which is what led me to become an instructor. Now, it’s not the only thing that I do as a workout - I do HIIT, lift weights, run, and more, because variety is one of the keys to overall fitness. But - regularly incorporating some kind of Pilates into your life will contribute to greater strength, stability, and mobility for both women and men, young and old. Sure, I've heard that people say it's not a "real workout", but to that I respond maybe you haven't been doing "real Pilates." While it initially seem so subtle, Pilates is a form of training that has the potential to make make profound changes in how you look and feel.
Pilates is So Misunderstood
Before I go any further, let me clear up a little confusion. Pilates is not yoga. At all. While there are many exercises that involve work on mat and can help improve one’s flexibility, the similarities almost end there. So what is it? Originally called Contrology, then eventually renamed for its creator Joseph Pilates, it’s a system of exercises designed to improve physical strength, flexibility, posture, and enhance mental awareness. In the past 50 years or so there have been a number of schools that have expanded on these principles. Besides mat Pilates there is also equipment, known as the cadillac, chair, barrels, and my personal favourite, the reformer. What I love so much about it is the ability to work on strengthening the body and mobility at the same time, all while focusing on the body being in proper alignment – which is absolutely key for preventing or rehabilitating injuries.
A Strong Core…and More (wink, wink)
Working on a strong core really is (pardon the pun, but it’s just too easy) at the core of Pilates. While many spend a lot of time working on their so-called “six pack” muscles (rectus abdominis), we literally go deeper. The core is so much more than that. Perhaps of greater importance to your overall functional fitness and good posture are muscles known as the transversus abdominis, the obliques, multifidus (small but mighty muscles that run up your spine), the psoas and more. So while the six pack gets all the glamour, it doesn’t really do anywhere near as much for your strength, posture, and even the overall look of your body as much as these other muscles do. Then there are the muscles of the pelvic floor, which we work to engage in many exercises. Let’s just say there are many benefits to knowing how to recruit the muscles of your pelvic floor. As a new-ish mama, I know first-hand that Pilates is an incredible way to address some the physical challenges that can occur both pre and postnatal. And, just in case I didn’t already have your attention, strengthening your pelvic floor can definitely be a win for your sex life. So there’s that.
The Freedom to Move
Our bodies are capable of moving in so many different ways, but most of us get stuck in the same patterns of movement every day. Whether it’s sitting at a desk at work or even running or cycling almost every day, repetitive patterns of movement can take their toll and create imbalances in our body. Over time, these imbalances can add up to a lack of mobility and even injuries. Think runners with tight IT bands and weak glutes or desk-sitters with tight hip flexors, or even a dental hygienist that spends all day turned towards patients and finds that his or her obliques and neck are tighter on one side. Pilates emphasizes stability, strength, and mobility while working in proper alignment to avoid injury. A properly certified instructor can suggest exercises or modification to help you work out without contributing further to any imbalance you might have while working on correcting it.
While it isn’t spiritual in the way that yoga is, there is a definite mind-body connection required to perform the exercises properly. You really can’t zone out and be effective in this type of workout, because you need to concentrate on activating certain muscle groups while stabilizing others. That’s actually a really good thing. Most of us spend a whole lot of time disconnected from our bodies. Taking time to tune in to what is happening while working out is a great way to de-stress, because you can focus on the details of the exercise and leave that stressful day at the office/school/home at the door, for at least a little while.
Take it from the Pros
There are countless people that rely on their physical bodies to make a very considerable living that do Pilates, sometimes every day as part of their conditioning regimes. Athletes in the NBA, NHL, MLB, professional dancers, and more because they know it can up their game and increase their career longevity. Oh, and just in case any of the guys out there think Pilates is neither difficult or masculine enough for them, LeBron James is a fan and uses it as part of his training program. If it’s good enough for LeBron, you can bet it will do you a world of good.
As Joseph Pilates himself said, his method “is designed to give you suppleness, natural grace, and skill that will unmistakably reflect in the way you walk, in the way you play, and in the way you work.” If that sounds like something that pretty much everyone can use, you’re right.
Recently, I was presented with a pretty awesome opportunity: A day off in the country courtesy Canola Eat Well, touring a farm, talking and learning about good food, and enjoying lunch made by one of my favourite chefs, Victor Barry of Piano Piano restaurant. So obviously, I was totally ok with that idea. I also was lucky enough to invite people to come with me on this awesome day. One morning after one of my son's very early wake-ups (he's 18 months, so it happens quite a bit) while drinking a rather large coffee, I realized that no one needs a little vacation quite as much as mamas do. So naturally I reached out to some of the coolest mamas I know to join me on this little adventure.
On a rather summer-like day in October, we all set out to Link Greenhouses near Bowmanville for the day. We were joined by Ellen Pruden of Manitoba Canola Growers, and Jeannette Andrashewski, a Canola Farmer from Alberta. On our way to the farm, we had the opportunity to talk to them about the health benefits of Canola oil, as well as the process of farming in Canada. As I have worked as a weather specialist for almost a decade, much of that time covering weather in the Prairies, I have a good understanding of just how complicated life as a farmer can be. As Western Canada has already had snow so early this year, it very likely means a huge challenge for farmers. It was an enlightening conversation, and we appreciated getting to know some of the people that bring food to us on a daily basis. Once we arrived at the farm, owner Lisa Mulders took us on a tour of the facility, where we could see the process of growing lettuce, tomatoes, cucumbers and more in their greenhouses. As with Jeanette, I was impressed by her knowledge and passion for farming.
We also had the opportunity to do a little learning experiment known as the canola crush: the process by which the value of a canola seed crop is determined. By crushing a number of seeds and looking for the right colour (yellow, not green) and the amount of oil expressed, we could tell if the seeds were mature enough for harvest or not.
There are a lot of reasons why taking this little day trip appealed to me. I love food, and I love good food even more. I want to be connected to where my food comes from, and understand the process by which it is grown. I love cooking and baking, and since becoming a parent, I love it even more. In fact, my relationship with food and interest in health has continued to evolve for the better since becoming a parent, and I think the other mamas that joined me on the trip all felt the same. The stakes are even higher, now that we are responsible for the well-being of our little ones.
I did also mention that Victor Barry was making us lunch though, right? So there is also that.
Before we ate, we had the chance to hear a little more about the health benefits of Canola oil from Registered Dietician Erin MacGregor of HowToEat.ca. For example:
Then I had the pleasure of introducing Chef Victor Barry to the group. I've worked with him for the past three years at Taste of Toronto and I have a great deal of respect for him. He's an incredibly talented chef and like me, loves to talk about food and dining. It's so obvious that he loves what he does. It was great to hear why he uses canola oil in his restaurant, and at home when cooking for his family.
Then it was time for lunch. You pretty much know that's what I was looking forward to the most, right? (Back to that whole "I love good food" thing, etc. etc.) Not just any lunch - pizza, which is one of the most beloved things on the menu at his Piano Piano (and we had four to choose from!) , plus two of the best salads I have ever had, wine, and one seriously indulgent 77% Cacao Barry Chocolate Cake for dessert. All of the menu items - including the pizza dough, the flavourful salad dressings - were made using canola oil, which showcased its versatility for cooking.
Needless to say, it was a delicious meal, and we had a great time chatting about our families, food, and pretty much everything else. I feel lucky to have shared this day with a great group of friends (old and new) and have taken away with me a renewed appreciation for Canadian Farmers and food producers. They have an incredibly important job, and a very difficult one. It's important that we support what they do.
If you'd like to make a delicious pizza dough and sauce at home, here's a link to great recipes for both on the Canola Eat Well website. Have a glass of wine, make some pizza, and don't forget to invite me!
All photos by Jeffrey Chan courtesy Canola Eat Well.
Note: This post is sponsored as I was the host for the event, however all opinions and views are my own.
I absolutely love to travel. I love exploring new places, trying new food, revisiting old favourites, and getting a little bit lost. I even love airports. Really. Luckily for me, it’s looking like a good year for me for getaways. I visited California in the spring, am looking at heading to Taiwan again at the end of the year, and right now I’m all set to embark on a trip back to my favourite place in the world, Spain. I’ve been trying to plan what to bring for a while now, because to be honest I am not the world’s most efficient packer. However, I will say that I have learned some lessons in recent years about how to make my journeys more enjoyable.It all comes down to having the right things with you (this means leaving the clutter behind), being open to new experiences, and staying reasonably healthy.
I used to always travel in the closest thing to pyjamas as possible. Now, I like to feel good about how I look, even on the plane. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not going to dress uncomfortably or wear a bunch of makeup (ick) for a long haul flight. But a great jacket and a big pair of sunnies always help add a little polish to any situation. Having the right flight gear makes a difference too. I’m a sucker for a great set of luggage. Who wants to spend hours struggling with a rolling case that flips all over, or looking for the same old black suitcase with hundreds of others around a baggage carousel. Personally, I’m a bit in love with what Rimowa has to offer: colours and fabrications that will set your case apart, not to mention the functionality you need to travel a little more effortlessly.
Once you are outfitted with the right carry on, don’t be that person at security that has all those oversized bottles of skincare and whatever other liquid that is holding up the line. Please, just no. This doesn’t mean leave out the essentials. Get wise about travel size, and find yourself some minis. I’ve made a great find lately at Saje Natural Wellness with their Travel Safe Kit. A little bundle of all-natural products that combat minor traveller’s ailments: a chemical-free hand sanitizer (NOT that stuff full of triclosan my friends, NO WAY), essential oils that combat jet lag and tummy aches, and more. It’s nice to have because it’s hard to enjoy the journey if you’re not feeling so well.
As I mentioned, I like to try and stay as healthy as possible when I am out there in the world. So bear with me here….because here come the most important parts….
I need to move when I am on the move. Yes, I have totally been that person that works out while on vacation. Why not? Running can be a great way to check out a new city. A few laps in the pool will make you feel ready to relax even more. Now, of course if I’m doing tons of walking (which I often do) I will chill out on the cardio a bit, but I have been known to bring resistance bands with me to sneak in some conditioning exercises. I find all of this extremely helpful, because trying out all the wonderful new food is totally part of the joy of being in a foreign place. So I might as well achieve a little balance so that I can indulge.
But – what I don’t count as an enjoyable indulgence at all is the less than palatable and certainly WAY less than nutritious food that we often encounter when we are en route to our destination. I don’t want to eat that stuff, and you don’t want to eat that stuff. Trust me. This is why I have learned to be prepared so that I have something to eat that gives me the nutrients I need, without a ton of sodium or nasty preservatives, and prevents me from getting hangry. (I have had some seriously hangry episodes in the past when travelling – don’t ask my husband about our first trip to Barcelona.) Krave Jerky to the rescue once again. I’ve mentioned before that it is my go-to snack to stash in my gym bag. I also make sure that I bring it with me when I am travelling. I know that it’s a healthy choice that is a good source of protein, will give me the energy I need, tastes great, and won’t make me feel gross like the fast food at the airport or (eeek) whatever I might encounter at rest stops on road trips. Krave Jerky is also gluten free, so if that’s what you need, you know how tough it can be to find foods of convenience that are safe for you. Krave is widely available across Canada now in four tender and delicious flavours. It’s definitely something that I recommend checking out. There’s that whole balance thing again. A tiny bit of planning (as in stashing this in your purse or carry on) is all it takes to stay on track with having the fuel your body needs so you can really, really get lost. In the best way possible.
You can find KRAVE Gourmet Jerky in Canada at the following retailers: Shoppers Drug Mart, Walmart, Loblaws, Sobeys, London Drugs, Jean Coutu, Overwaitea Foods and Federated Coop. It retails from $6.99 - $8.99. Available in four delicious flavours: Sweet Chipotle Beef, Chili Lime Beef, Black Cherry Barbecue Pork and Grilled Sweet Teriyaki Pork.
This post was generously sponsored by Krave Jerky, but all opinions are, as always, my own.
It's one of the most innate, natural things that we do as human beings. Putting one foot in front of the other. So how can it be hacked? Can running evolve? It has in my life.Read More
My idea of an elevated snacking experience.Read More
......a few of my favourite things.....2015 style.Read More
Here's a (not really a secret) secret. I like winter or wintery conditions until January 1st. So that means I like the early dark nights, falling snowflakes, twinkly lights and pepperminty things of the holiday season. Then I am done. The problem is there is a whole lotta winter (if you live where I do, about 3 more months) to deal with the cold and damp and windy and generally unfriendly weather that goes with it. How do I deal? ........Read More
.......post-Labour Day days really are a wonderful way to reset, reevaluate, and resume (or replace) routines. Here's a few suggestions for staying end-of-summer glow-y even if your days are no longer filled with #eatsleepbeachrepeat.Read More
Don't blink, you might miss something!Read More
Yesterday I had the chance to preview the amazing Nike Women Village at Toronto's Harbourfront. You may recall that this massive Nike party of sorts is in town for the Nike Women 15K race being run on Toronto Island this Sunday June 14th. In addition to that, there are over 40 Nike Training Club classes being held in the Crystal Coliseum (pretty much a beautiful floating workout studio right on Toronto's Waterfront, an Expotique where you can shop Nike to your heart's content (including an early look at Fall '15 gear, and many Nike Running Club runs in advance of the main event on Sunday. There's so much going on, so head on down to Harbourfront or check it online here at Nike.com/Toronto. These pics show off just some of the fun I had at the sneak peek NTC class yesterday lead by Nike Master Trainers Eva Redpath and Marie Purvis.
When it comes to high intensity gym workouts, I'm always looking for something with that perfect mix of cushioning and support. This is especially important considering how much I love plyometrics and how easily a nagging left ankle injury of mine flares up. So when I find a shoe that does all that AND looks superfine, I am very excited. Exhibit A: the brand new Nike Flyknit Zoom Agility. Super lightweight, supportive, cushy and flexible all at once. These babies are designed for interval training, Boot Camp, or whatever gym workout you are doing that requires you to be fast and light on your feet. The one-piece flyknit upper is breathable and provides seamless training support - in fact, they feel a little tight at first around your midfoot than other Nike trainers might, but don't let that throw you off. Go with it. It's the flywire cables doing their thing. The extra spring (for things like my beloved jump squats and ninja burpees) comes courtesy of independent Nike "zoom units" on the sole (check them out - they're little hexagonal pillows of delight, really). I can't get over how much I love this shoe, seriously. They're my current go-to for all my NTC workouts - either with my weekly meetup group, or with the NTC App.
The Nike Women's Race series is finally landing in Toronto. Not really surprising - this is a city that LOVES fitness, and the surge in running crews in the past few years (Parkdale Road Runners, , Nike Queen West Run Club, The Food Runners, Nike Gridlock Runners, etc) has been nothing short of a phenomenon. Torontonians love fitness and, it seems, especially running - whatever the weather.
It only makes sense then that we are now a stop on the Nike Running Event tour, amongst a lineup of cities that reads like my to-do list (or been there, done that, like Taipei, London and San Francisco) of travel. On June 14th, women from around the world, and right here in the 6 will take on a 15K route on Toronto Island(s). If you're interested, check out the Nike Women's Race Series page because registration starts on Monday, March 9, 2015! (that's real soon, btw).
I've been training with Nike for a while now, at weekly Nike Training Club meetups with Nike Master Trainer Eva Redpath, and some pretty amazing running events as well. I love their focus on functional athletics for women, and really applaud them for that. As someone who is passionate about fitness and overall health and wellness (I'm also a Stott Certified pilates instructor), I love to see women learning how to get strong, and supporting each other in the process. I also am a big believe in mixing it up - and running is one of many ways to achieve fitness goals.
For all the latest Nike news, you can always click here.
If you have ever wanted to try a juice cleanse, but are intimidated by that whole "not eating solid food" thing, then Freshii has the answer for you! Recently I had the pleasure of checking out Freshii's Blogger Breakfast hosted by Sasha Exeter, where I learned about the new "Juice.Cleanse.Energize." program. Every day on the cleanse includes 4 delicious nutrient dense juices (Green Energy, Carrot Zinger, Red Power and my favourite, Mighty Detox) plus a Metaboost Salad. So, that means that whether you are doing a one, three, or five day cleanse, you get to end each day with actual, chewable food - and still get the benefits of cleansing.
In addition to the juices, we sampled a few items beyond the Juice. Cleanse. Energize. program like the delicious coffee from White Squirrel available at Freshii's Rosedale location, and breakfast items like wraps and yogourt parfaits. All healthy, fast options for breakfast on the go.
To find out more about Freshii's Juice. Cleanse. Energize. program, contact them at firstname.lastname@example.org.