Monday, November 9, 2015

Get a glimpse into coaching

After celebrating my one year coach-aversary recently, I elaborated a bit more about my journey with this video.

I've been getting lots of questions about coaching, so this week I'm hosting a 3 day sneak peek to share what it's all about! 

Beachbody Coach Toronto Canada

Have you ever felt curious about what this 'coaching' thing is all about? 

Maybe you've wondered what's up with all the food photos, sweaty selfies and quotes that I post.

This week I'll be hosting a 3 day glimpse into coaching where I'll be sharing what's involved and how it has impacted my life.

Things like:

- what do coaches actually do?
- how does it all work?
- how do you get paid?
- common hesitations peeps may feel (not wanting to be a salesperson, not being at their goal weight etc)
- what it would mean for you to be a part of our awesome, growing team

All in a private Facebook group that you can access when it's convenient for you.

Totally free. 
No pressure. 
No weirdness. 
Just honest answers from me (including why I was skeptical about becoming a coach in the first place!!) 

You might be thinking that it's not for you or not something you're interested in doing this very second, but I would love for you to hear me out. Get a peek of what this coaching thing has done for *my* life and how it could benefit YOU (and those around you!)

Would you like to learn more? Fill in my coach application and I'll add you to our group on Wednesday! 

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Making my Way Through The UnDiet Cookbook + Giveaway

Almost exactly seven years ago I was diagnosed with Crohn's Disease. It feels like a lifetime ago.

My doctor told me to eat a "healthy, well-balanced diet" and to avoid things like nuts and seeds that might cause problems. He offered traditional medicinal options including medication, surgery and hardcore, experimental medication -- none of which sounded like great options to me. I made the decision to see a naturopath, made major changes in my diet and saw incredible improvement.

Before my diagnosis, I knew nothing about Crohn's Disease and didn't know anyone who had it - so I did what any good person does and took to the internet! I searched for blogs and other folks who also had Crohn's. While reading the comments on a random blog post one day, I discovered the blog of a Toronto nutritionist who also had healed herself from Crohn's Disease.

Her name was Meghan Telpner.

I started religiously reading her blog and decided to treat myself to some of her cooking classes for my birthday. Gluten free, dairy free cooking was all new to me, so I needed all the help and inspiration I could get! I documented our weekly classes here on the blog and the recipes I learned from Meghan became staples in my new way of eating.

Meghan Telpner and Ashley Gibson

After the cooking classes ended, Meghan continued to be an important person in my life. I followed her blog, helped out at events, cheerleaded for her programs, took a life-changing adventure to St. Lucia and beamed with pride when her first book, UnDiet came out. While it was awesome that I could finally stop using the duotang of recipes and had them in proper book form, it was mostly so inspiring to see someone I admired so much reaching their goals and doing awesome things in the world.

This past March I was taken down with that horrific godzilla flu and was pretty much confined to bed for over a week. After a nap one day, I checked Facebook and saw that Meghan had posted a job description for an 'Executive Assistant and Director of Outreach and Customer Happiness'. I eagerly read through the job description and when I got to the bottom of it I thought to myself - that is the perfect job for me. I applied. I interviewed. And a few weeks later I had my first day in the kitchen, working with Meghan (and her small but kick ass team).

I knew that the UnDiet Cookbook was going to be coming out in the fall and Meghan and I discussed some of the plans leading up to the release of the book. Because of things that we were working on, I actually had a manuscript of the book (in a word document) on my computer before the book even came out. I started to peruse recipes and got really excited for what was to come.

The book included 130 gluten free, dairy free recipes including some old revamped favourites (from the duotang days) and a whole bunch of brand new, shiny ones! The first recipe I made from the Word doc was the Banana Berry Oatmazing Muffins - Corbin joked that they were muffins from the future since the book hadn't even been released.

The UnDiet Cookbook

He also said they were some of his favourite muffins ever.

They were incredibly easy to make, adaptable (depending on the type of berries you used) and didn't taste "gluten free" - they just tasted like a delicious muffin!! I brought them into the kitchen for Meghan and Maeve, and Maeve declared it one of her favourite muffins as well. Success!

However cool it was to have the word doc version, it was even better to get my hands on the actual book. The recipes themselves are amazing, but when you couple the recipes with the beautiful photography from Catherine Farquharson and Miya Visneyei and incredible food styling, it really is something else. Every photo is amazing, and that visual appeal is so important to me in a cookbook!

The book starts with an introduction to Meghan's story, what it means to live the UnDiet Life and provides some guidance on how to get started in the kitchen. From there, the recipes are broken into 8 sections, followed by an awesome Lifestyle section including beauty care recipes, entertaining, travel tips and some thoughts on how to live the very best, most vibrant life.

I have peppered my book with stickies, highlighting the recipes I want to make and have had a blast cooking my way through it. 

gluten free has brizzles

Gluten free pancakes from The UnDiet Cookbook

Gluten free dairy free quiche
I'm obsessed with the 'Begin with Brekkie' section. The Sweet Potato Zucchini Hash Brizzles are absolutely delicious and so easy! I paired them with poached eggs and it was the perfect combination. I also loved the Chocolate, Chocolate, Say it Twice Pancakes (which are like eating cake for breakfast) and the Vegalicious Quiche complete with millet crust!

Everything in the book is vegetarian / vegan friendly, and there are also options to make many recipes in the book nut-free, grain free or protein-powered. Meghan's UnDiet philosophy is all about breaking the rules and leaving the labels for tin cans - and advocates for people to eat what works for them while remaining open to the evolutionary nature of what our bodies need at different times in our lives.

Gluten free pear tart

Gluten free crackers
Everything I've made has been a success so far! Favourites include the Creamed Mushroom Love Soup, Flourless Ginger Pear Tartlets, Balsamic Roasted Vegetables, Golden Girl Citrus-Spiced Tempeh and the Let's Stay Together Crackers (which impressed Corbin immensely "you're making homemade crackers?!")

Even though I've gotten a pretty good head start with the recipes, with 130 in total, I still have a ways to go! I haven't even dipped into the beauty care section (homemade toothpaste? yes!!) and want to try my hand at making some of the condiments from scratch, like the Spicy Mango Chutney.

This book is beautiful.
The recipes are awesome.
And it's already a staple in my kitchen.

I may be a bit biased, but I truly mean it. Even if I weren't working for Meghan I would have bought this book on release day and be cooking through it just the same (just without the bootleg word doc preview maybe...)

Meghan was a person I needed to meet seven years ago and her recipes, enthusiasm, passion, drive and philosophy have played a huge impact on my healing and my life. Her story reassured me that I was on the right track with my own healing and everything else that has followed has been a big beautiful bonus! I'm grateful that I now get to go to work in the kitchen where so much changed for me and work alongside someone who has been such an incredible mentor, cheerleader and friend.


The UnDiet Cookbook is all kinds of awesome and I'm really excited to be able to give away a copy to one very lucky reader! (And since I see the author on a pretty regular basis, I can probably even get it signed for you!)

Congratulations to Faith!! I'll be emailing you to get your details so I can send the book out to you ASAP. 

To win your very own copy of The UnDiet Cookbook:

Leave a comment below with your name, email address + the recipe you'd want to make first from the UnDiet Cookbook (you can take a peek inside the book to get some ideas or see what other folks have been enjoying on the Virtual Book Tour!)

Contest closes at 11:59pm Thursday November 12. I'll pick a random winner from all comments received and notify the winner by email. Contest is open to US and Canadian residents.

Good luck!!

Monday, November 2, 2015

Lego Movie Costume DIY

For Hallowe'en Corbin and I were invited to a Will Ferrell themed party and it seemed like doing a costume together would be the most fun. I scoured Will's IMDB and found a lot of strong contenders but based on our mutual adoration for a certain movie, there was one clear winner:

Lord Business and Princess Unikitty from The Lego Movie.

This seemed perfect for us and a fun opportunity for some arts & crafts. I picked up some paint, brushes and bristol board and Corbin helped secure the right sized cardboard boxes and a 72 hour marathon of building and painting began!

DIY crafty fun

Corbin and I make a great team (probably because everything is awesome when you're part of a team) and it was a joint effort to bring both costumes to life. Princess Unikitty was outfitted with a hockey helmet inside to keep everything stable, while Lord Business had a fedora strapped to some cardboard to stay put. My tail was made from cardboard and bristol board and then attached to a belt for wearing. After building the structures we painted the faces and pieces and added costume pieces to bring everything together. The end result was pretty fantastic!

Princess Unikitty costume DIY

Lord Business costume DIY

Taking public transit in our costumes was maybe not the best choice (having peripheral vision comes in handy while trying to hold on on the bus), but we got to the party safely. Everyone loved our costumes and later it was funny to chat with people who didn't know that it was us inside. It was also humorous to observe people checking us out without realizing that we could fully see them doing so from inside the masks. 

There's more footage of Corbin dancing out there, but this will suffice for now. Side note: Part of the hilarious...

Watching Corbin dance as Lord Business was pretty epic and hilarious.

Lego Movie costume DIY

All of the work was definitely worth it and we had a fun night at the party. The walk home was also pretty great (we decided that taking the bus a second time was a bit too risky seeing that it would likely be even more crowded and by that time people would be more intoxicated and we weren't sure that we'd fit in an Uber with our giant heads + my tail) Folks who hadn't seen the movie would shout things like "LEGO MAN" and people who were familiar with the movie started losing their minds over Princess Unikitty, even singing to me about Cloud Cuckoo Land. Totally made my night!!

It was definitely a Hallowe'en to remember and I had such a blast creating our costumes with Corbin! That being said, I'm going to appreciate taking the bus this week without a massive head complete with 18 inch horn. So. Much. Safer!

I hope you had a super fun and creative Halloween!!

PS - If you haven't yet seen the Lego Movie, you should make that happen. 

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

21 Day Fix Extreme - My Experience

Back in the spring, I was really excited for the release of 21 Day Fix Extreme. Many of my fellow coaches and challengers had done the original 21 Day Fix and LOVED it, and I thought this would prove to be an awesome new challenge for me. It boasted:
  • 30 minute workouts, each with weights and/or a resistance band
  • variety in the workouts - plyo, upper body, lower body, pilates, cardio & yoga
  • modifier for every exercise
  • food plan, complete with portion controlled rainbow-coloured containers
  • opportunity to get shredded 
I was super stoked to do this program and had a group of gals all set to do it with me...
And then I got the godzilla flu. I was out of commission for 10 days complete with fever, no appetite, lethargy, weakness and fainting. It was AWFUL!! It took me awhile to get back into the swing of things and I definitely wasn't in shape to do the program (Heck, I couldn't even get out of BED for 10 days, let alone do jumping jacks with weights!!)

After I regained my strength and my health, I got back into working out daily. I did many of the 21 Day Fix Extreme workouts and dabbled in the program, but never completed the full 21 consecutively and NEVER embarked on the meal plan. 


Back in 2006 when I first decided to lose weight I counted points, which at the time was a glorified way of counting calories. It did a great job of helping me learn about portion and was instrumental in me losing 35 lbs, but it also created an obsession with numbers.

Be it points or the number on the scale, I was a wee bit obsessed and not always in a positive, helpful way. A lot changed - I learned more about healthy eating and real food.

I was diagnosed with Crohn's Disease and went gluten & dairy free.

I lost more weight in an unhealthy way after my break up then gained it all back + more. But I remained obsessed with numbers and the scale until I stopped counting points and banished the scale. I found freedom in not weighing myself and viewing all food as choices, rather than good or bad foods that had a number attached.

In doing so, I found a balance with healthy eating and finding those goods feelings inside myself - not based on any number. So I was resistant to try using the containers because I didn't want to feel restricted / inhabited / confined to numbers again.

In the 21 Day Fix system, the containers help with portions, focusing on whole foods and gives you a system to follow (each colour represents a food group). You count the number of each container you have each day, but those are the only numbers to follow. Watching my challengers and fellow coaches follow this plan and have super results was incredibly inspiring and I also wanted to really understand the program. Yah, I could read about and learn everything there was to know - but that's very different than actually DOING!

With all of the traveling I did this summer, I also had let a lot of treats creep into my daily routine. Treats are great and delicious - but they should actually be a treat, not a daily occurrence. 

21 Day Fix meal plan

So with all of that in mind, I declared that I was going ALL IN in October, committing to a full 21 days of the program and giving the containers a go. 

I loved all the variety in the workouts. There are 7 different workouts that you're doing, so over 3 weeks you only do each workout 3 times. I really enjoyed seeing myself get stronger each time I did a workout - be it with heavier weights, the ability to do more reps, use better form or not have to modify. I started out with 3, 5 and 10 lbs weights. I'm about ready to retire the 3's and need to pick up some 8's!! 

I find Autumn to be very motivating (and am also motivated by the handsome, bearded men in the workout - hah!!) She is fierce, but not scary. I want to work harder because of the things that she says!!
21 day fix meals for the day

I committed to the meal plan last week and found a few interesting things:
  • Planning is key- I knew that going in and do like to have a meal plan each week, but ensuring that you get the correct number of containers each day definitely requires some thoughtfulness and planning. If you have everything on hand, and can make a few big things to help you get through the week, you're golden!
  • There are so many snacks - I'm not usually a snacker, but in order to get in all of my containers for the day I was required to change that, which was actually awesome! My energy levels were stable and I felt like I was eating so much food. I also tried out a bunch of new, fun snack recipes and will be incorporating them into my routine. 

gluten free pumpkin muffin 21 day fix

  • I didn't feel restricted - I enjoyed having a plan to follow and I didn't feel like I was depriving myself because there was so much food. Counting containers didn't freak me out like I was worried it might and it was great to have a goal to work towards. 
  • More protein please - the meal plan forced me to focus on protein, which was a good thing! I was having protein at most meals and incorporating it into my snacks as well, which was great. 
  • Let's change things up a bit - I tried some new recipes that I really enjoyed. I made a bunch from the Fixate Cookbook and some from the 21DFX meal plan book. I haven't talked about this on the blog yet, but I started eating meat again back in the spring (it was part of my recovery after I was sick...) I'm focused on eating ethical meat from quality sources, and still eating a predominantly plant-based diet that is gluten & dairy free. It's been an interesting transition for sure, but I feel amazing. Cooking with meat is still foreign to me, so it's been good to try some new recipes and find new favourites. 

turkey chili 21 day fix

Some of my favourite meals included: Shakeology smoothies in the morning, big salads with tofu, hummus & lots of veggies, chili, taco salad, cashew & oat hot cakes and eggs with veggies & goat cheese. 

gluten free pancakes 21 day fix

Some of my favourite snacks were: sliced fruit with nut butter, plain (goat) yogurt with fruit & seeds, pumpkin muffins and pumpkin energy bites. 

gluten free pumpkin bites 21 day fix snack

I'm proud to report that on Sunday I finished Day 21 of the program and did a week of the container system. And as a result, I dropped 6 inches - not bad for 3 weeks!! I didn't take my own advice and didn't do progress photos -- I need to find a spot in my new house to take them! 

Autumn Calabrese bobblehead

I am proud to have completed all 21 days and am looking forward to more workouts with Autumn come the new year! I am going to be using more of the 21 Day Fix recipes (and continuing to play with the Fixate cookbook) and I think I will follow the meal plan hardcore again come January. 

If this sounds like a program you would like to try (either Extreme or the original) I would love to have you join me in one of our upcoming challenge groups! You can do anything for 21 days! 30 minutes a day at home + colour coded containers + support?? Totally manageable - and I'd be with you every step of the way! 

Where are my fellow 21 Day Fix-ers at? What is your favourite workout? Do you have a favourite 21 Day Fix approved recipe?

Friday, October 9, 2015

The Master's Hammer and Chisel

When I was in Nashville at Coach Summit (full rundown on that coming next week - finally!) we got to hear some pretty exciting announcements about a bunch of new products and programs coming to Beachbody in the coming months. One of those programs was The Master's Hammer and Chisel.

Beachbody Summit

What is the Master's Hammer and Chisel?

The Master's Hammer and Chisel is the expert workout system that delivers breathtaking, body-changing results in as little as 60 days. Trainers Sagi Kalev and Autumn Calabrese are sought-after experts at sculpting spectacular physiques, and they have shelves full of competition prizes to prove it! In the Master's Hammer and Chisel, they share their winning strategies in this breakthrough system of resistance training to shape powerful muscle, shed body fat, and build a ripped, statue-perfect physique.

As I watched the announcement, I remember thinking I wasn't sure if this was a program that would interest to me. With 14 intense workouts + the colour coded portion control system, I thought it seemed a bit too hardcore for me, but could definitely be the right workout for folks interested in heavy lifting, seriously building muscle and shredding (chiseling?) their bodies. I did really enjoy Autumn and the lifting that was involved in 21 Day Fix Extreme, but wasn't sure I wanted to do more than that or do another program with weights (rather than cardio focused)

Last week a sneak peek was released of two of the workouts on Beachbody on Demand - Total Body Chisel (with Autumn) and Iso Speed Hammer (with Sagi). I decided to give Total Body Chisel a go over the weekend, just to say that I had tried it.

I fell in love. 

It pushed me. I loved the weights. I loved the structure of the workout. I could see how I could make awesome progress whilst doing this full program and it made me really excited for a brand new challenge! I now know what I'm working towards doing come January and that motivation is fuelling me in my 21 Day Fix Extreme workouts this month. 

The first coach test group also just finished this week and I am so impressed with the results I've seen people have with this program. So inspiring!! 

(I also took the time to make this video as part of the #BeAMaster contest - and got to take advantage of the flexibility of streaming with Beachbody on Demand!)

If you love lifting
If you want to CHANGE your body
If you want to build muscle and lose major inches
If you're ready to challenge yourself

This is the program for you and I'd love for you to join me in January when I tackle this new beast! 

The Master's Hammer and Chisel will be released in December 2015 and the sneak peek will be running on BOD all month! 

Send me a message if you'd like to learn more about this program, Beachbody on Demand, Shakeology, monthly online challenge groups or you're just ready to make a change and you don't know where to start.