Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Insanity Max:30 - Beginnings

Last week it felt like Christmas when my Insanity Max:30 package arrived in the mail!!

Insanity Max:30 with Shaun T

I've been really excited about this program since it was announced and knew that it would be my program of choice as soon as I was done with PiYo.

PiYo with Beachbody Coach Ashley Gibson in Toronto

Doing PiYo was awesome. Chalene is great and I really enjoyed the focus on functional flexibility and the lack of jumping. I needed a break!! I saw some changes in my body, losing another 4 and a half inches in total and I enjoyed the change of pace.

I've decided that I'm going to vlog my way through Insanity Max:30 for some extra accountability. The first one is all about my journey with weight loss and fitness and my feelings about starting this new program. I'm really looking forward to sharing my thoughts each week, and am excited to engage with others who are doing this program!


Since it's Tuesday, I've gotten through my first 2 workouts and let me say that it's totally intense, but I love it!! On day one I maxed out at 3:16 - lots of room for progress there!!

Insanity Max:30 Day One with Beachbody Coach Ashley Gibson

But that's part of the joy of this program, that each week you can constantly see your improvements just by aiming to get a high max out time. In next week's vlog I'm going to talk more about the different workouts, but I will say now that I'm super thankful for the modifier for each and every exercise!! Shaun T has not held back with this workout and there are some DOOZIES in there!

I'm looking forward to the next 58 days with this program (you can remind me that I said this!) and continuing to challenge myself physically and mentally. My goals with this program are to be improving on my Max out times each week, focus on my nutrition by working on my macronutrient consumption (I'm LOVING the nutrition guide that was included) and be consistent with my workouts and get through the full 60 days!

Anyone else out there doing Insanity Max:30? Anyone looking for a challenge in January? Comment below!!

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Uncommon Goods Gift Guide + Giveaway

How's your Christmas shopping going? I don't have a tonne of people to buy for and I'm thankful that I got a bit of a head start on a couple items when we were in NYC. It's hard to believe that Christmas is actually two weeks away. Yup, you read that right. 2 weeks left!

I probably do about 50% of my Christmas shopping online, and I'm always looking for fun and unique gifts for the people on my list. I was stoked when the folks at Uncommon Goods connected with me about creating a Holiday Gift Guide because I fell in love with the company's mandate and so many awesome gifts on their site!

Uncommon Goods is a Brooklyn based company that works to feature unique and handcrafted gifts that are created in harmony with the environment, without harm to animals or people. They take great care of their workers, place emphasis on products that incorporate recycled or upcycled materials and half of what they sell is made by hand. They support causes close to their heart and donate $1 from every purchase made to non-profits like RAINN, American Forests, Women for Women and Reach Out and Read with their Better to Give program.

And even though they're an American retailer, they've made shopping really easy for Canadian customers. All prices on the site are shown in Canadian dollars, duties and taxes are automatically calculated at the checkout and they guarantee the landed cost, meaning there won't be additional charges once your items are delivered, which is always a bonus! Do note that not all items are available to ship to Canada, but the site makes it really clear which do and which don't. It's a bit of a bummer, but at least you know right away that the item isn't available to you before you get too excited about it.



There is an amazing assortment of stellar gifts for the gals or the guys in your life (here and here!) and some really sweet stocking stuffer ideas as well (here!). I fell in love with a bunch of things, and needed to continuously remind myself that I'm working on Christmas shopping right now, not self rewarding.

For the ladies, I really loved the selection of curated jewelry that they carry. While I love checking out sites like Etsy, I can find them overwhelming to navigate when I don't know exactly what I'm looking for. I especially loved this "She believed she could, so she did" bangle (one of my favourite quotes) and the B.U. collection by Mary Steratore, including this Quiet Courage necklace. I'm also a little bit obsessed with these owl bowls - so cute!! Everything tastes better in an owl bowl, it's just a fact.

I find it more difficult to shop for the men in my life and really enjoyed the ideas that Uncommon Goods offered because they were unique and a little outside the box. I don't play guitar, but this pick punch makes me want to start just so I can make cool picks out of old cards and badges. I definitely wish this beard pack was available to ship to Canada because I know a handsome, bearded man whose gifts I'm still working on!! I also really enjoyed some of the stocking stuffer ideas to fill stockings or use as smaller gifts. I know a bunch of people who would get use from this flavor infuser water bottle (to make fancy spa water on the go) and think that the Awkward Moments card game sounds like way too much fun to play . Maybe after Christmas dinner?

I'm excited to be familiar with a "new to me" great site with some incredible gift ideas for Christmas or year round that will easily ship to Canada.

Now for the giveaway!!

In the spirit of giving, the cool peeps at Uncommon Goods have offered to give at $25 gift certificate to one of my readers! You can use it for some last minute gifts or indulge in a little self rewarding (GO FOR THE OWL BOWLS!!!)

How to Enter:

Check out the Uncommon Goods site and leave a comment below with one gift you'd love to give or receive this holiday season, along with your email address. You can earn an extra entry by sharing this post on Twitter - just be sure to tag me @ashleydtl. This contest is open to Canada and US residents and will close on Wednesday December 17, 2014 at 11:59pm EST. I will be emailing the winner directly so they can claim their prize - so be sure that I can get in touch with you. Happy shopping!!

This is a sponsored post brought to you by Uncommon Goods. All opinions are my own, especially my fondness for the owl bowls. 

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

12 Days of Accountability - December 2014

We are well into the holi-month and I can't believe how quickly December is flying by! I'm off to 3 events this week (including HoHoTO on Thursday), a family event the following weekend, squeezing in some great visits with friends, finishing my shopping and then BOOM, it's going to be Christmas!!

With parties, family events, work gatherings and increased social activity, it's not easy to stick to a normal eating routine and workout plan. There are treats EVERYWHERE, alcohol freely flowing and so many priorities to manage. One of the reasons I've come to love working out at home is because it makes it a lot easier for me to fit in my workout during those insanely busy weeks. But it's still not a walk in the park!

Because it can absolutely be a difficult time and I want you to be getting a head start on your 2015 goals (and/or continuing with your 2014 ones!) I'm going to be running a free accountability group to keep you on track and motivated right up to Christmas Eve!

The 12 Days of Accountability will open up this weekend and officially start on Monday. There will be all sorts of tips to keep you on track over the 12 days, a daily assignment, a meal and workout planner, bonus workout and meal ideas and a stellar group of gals alongside you pushing through the same challenges as we gear up for the holidays together! And of course I'll be there every step of the way for support, encouragement and motivation!

Does this sound like something you could use this holiday season?
Don't let the holi-month sabotage your efforts!

Comment below with your email address or connect with me on Facebook to secure your spot in the group!


Monday, December 8, 2014

3 Ingredient Pancakes

Gluten free.
Dairy free.
3 ingredients.

Who says pancakes need to be a big production?

I was introduced to these pancakes when we were visiting friends in Ottawa this fall. Genevieve was so sweet in planning Ashley-friendly meals while we were staying with them. For breakfast one morning she made us a version of these pancakes and EVERYONE at the table fell in love with them!!

I've made them on my own a couple times since our visit and love that they're becoming a regular part of my breakfast rotation.

gluten free pancake recipe


3 Ingredient Pancakes
Serves 1: Adapted from various sources

2 eggs
1 very ripe banana
1/2 tsp baking powder

  • Add all ingredients to a large bowl. 
  • Using an immersion blender, food processor or blender, mix ingredients until very well combined. 
  • Heat a non-stick pan over medium-high heat. Coat pan with oil of your choice (coconut oil works well here)
  • Using a ladle, scoop pancake batter into the pan and cook in small batches until they start to bubble and hold their shape. Carefully flip the pancakes and cook for 30-40 seconds more. 
  • Serve with toppings of your choice! I opted for coconut cream and cinnamon last week, but also really enjoyed them with maple syrup & fruit previously
Tip: You'll need to play with the temperature of the pan to ensure that it's hot enough to cook the pancakes, but not too hot to burn them. My first batch were a little burn-y, but once I found the optimal temperature, they turned out perfectly! You'll just need to play a bit and gauge the heat on your stove. 

gluten free pancake recipe

So easy! So delicious! And I love that you can make them with ingredients you've likely got on hand. They're a great use for any super ripe bananas. 


What are your favourite pancake toppings? Are you a classic maple syrup kinda person or do you like to branch out?

Friday, December 5, 2014

NYC 2014: The Fun

We've been back from New York for almost a week and I am still filled to the brim with the city's infectious energy.

Our trip was wonderful. I mean, I always look forward to visiting and have a lot of fun planning our time there. Corbin managed to get around okay on his crutches and we were able to pack in SO MUCH in just five days. Rather than give a play by play of our days there, I've decided to break down the trip into two posts "the fun" and "the food".

A big part of why I love New York includes the incredible theatre scene. Between Broadway, off Broadway, off off Broadway, amazing concerts & cabarets and classes galore, I always leave feeling inspired and enthusiastic about my job as a performer. There are so many wonderful and intriguing things playing on Broadway right now, it was really tough to choose what we would see! We managed to squeeze in 4 shows in 5 days, which was awesome.

Honeymoon in Vegas | broadway


Of the 4 shows that we saw it would be difficult to pick a favourite because they were so vastly different. BUT Honeymoon in Vegas may have taken that spot for me. It was already special to see even before it started because Corbin and I got to hear some of the songs from the show last year when we attended Jason Robert Brown's concert at 54 Below. It was very cool to hear how these songs had evolved and see them in the context of the show. It was really, really funny with a stellar cast and great music. It's only in previews right now, but I would really love to see it do well. So good!!

Pippin Broadway

Since we were there over Thanksgiving, Broadway's schedule was a little different than usual and on Thursday night (Thanksgiving) there were only a few shows playing. Pippin was one of them and I managed to score us some rush tickets in the morning (as we navigated around the parade in a car!) Pippin was visually stunning with a cast who had an amazing set of tricks. Carly Hughes was divine as the Leading Player. Josh Kaufman, less so. He was the winner of The Voice - season 6 so he could sing well... but that was about it. I'm glad that we saw it, but overall I was underwhelmed.

Disenchanted NYC

Disenchanted was the reason we chose to go to New York in the last week of November, because my friend Bobby was playing in the band and the show was beginning previews after a run in Orlando. Bobby had been telling me for months how funny the show was and how great the cast was onstage, so I was really stoked to see this one (and him!). It did not disappoint!! Disenchanted tells the untold story of 10 Disney princesses. It's smart, funny and the music is catchy. The 6 gals in the cast were ridiculously talented and each of them had so many great moments in the show. I especially loved Lulu Picart as Hua Mulan Pocahontas and Princess Badroulbador, Alison Burns as Belle, The Little Mermaid and Rapunzel and Becky Gulsvig as Cinderella. The costumes were perfect and the show had a good message. I couldn't help but sit for the duration of the show thinking "Can someone PLEASE do this show in Toronto?!?" They officially opened last night and I really help they have a good long run in New York.

I was having trouble choosing our final show for our visit. There are so many incredible shows and finally I decided on The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time. I loved the book when I read it a couple of years ago and I was intrigued by how they would adapt it for the stage.

It was phenomenal.

They did an amazing job with the adaptation, capturing the feeling of the book and giving the audience an inside view into what it could be like to live with autism. The creative team accomplished this with an awesome cast (especially Alex Sharp as Christopher, making his Broadway debut) and an impeccable set, sound and lighting design and incredible choreography. I was seated in the very back row of the balcony (rush tickets again) and I loved that I had a perspective of the entirety of the stage. It's playing both on Broadway and in London's West End and highly recommend that you see it if you have the chance.

NYC tip for tickets: Check out to see if the shows you want to see have a rush ticket policy. You can potentially score great tickets for $35-$40 on the morning of the show at the box office. We did this for both Pippin and Curious Incident. Also check out the TodayTix app for iPhone or Android. Lots of great deals on tickets (same day and a week in advance). Feel free to use the referral code LRLJJ to get $20 off your first order. It's awesome to save money on tickets and both options save you having to wait in line at TKTS!

In addition to all of the time we spent on Broadway, we also navigated to the Nassau Coliseum for a New York Islanders game!
 

New York Islanders vs Washington Capitals


 
New York Islanders fans
We had so much fun when we went to the game last year and it's crazy how affordable it is to go to a game in Uniondale vs. going to one in Toronto. For the price we paid for 2 GREAT tickets on Stubhub, a car rental, gas and tolls, we would barely be able to get ONE ticket to see the Leafs play in Toronto. And the Islanders fans are awesome! People can afford to bring their families, they sing songs about their players and when the game was tied with 4 minutes to go, people were on their feet cheering the boys on. The energy in the stadium was ELECTRIC and the Islanders ended up winning with 23 seconds left in overtime with a sweet goal by their captain, John Tavares.

When we weren't navigating New York State freeways or hanging out near Times Square, we spent our time checking out some of our favourite places including some great restaurants (details in my next NYC post), heading to some of my favourite stores (such as Harney and Sons), getting to know the Lower East Side, driving through Central Park and partaking in a little bit of Black Friday shopping. I scored some jeans for $7.80 at Forever 21 on Black Friday eve, some great new bras at Victoria's Secret and we paid a visit to the 24 hour Apple store for Corbin to get a new iPhone. Nothing crazy (like the people who were camped out in tents at Best Buy!!) but fun to splurge a little bit.

NYC remains my very favourite place and this trip certainly satisfied my craving to visit once again. I left feeling inspired, giddy, even more in love and happy about life!!

Ashley Gibson and Corbin Smith in NYC