80 Day Obsession: Day One

80 Day Obsession Coach

Today marks day one of my 80 Day Obsession journey. 80 Day Obsession is a brand new workout program from Autumn Calabrese (creator of 21 Day Fix, 21 Day Fix Extreme, Country Heat and Hammer Chisel). The program targets your abs and booty over the course of 80 different workouts spread out over 13 weeks (6 workouts each week), along with a detailed timed-nutrition plan. I have been actively watching the results from coaches who were in the first test group over the last few months, and they've really inspired me. I can't wait to jump into something completely new and challenging to kick start this year.

80 Day Obsession resistance loops

That being said, I'm pretty nervous! This is completely outside my comfort zone - longer workouts, targeting my most challenging area (my core), 80 different workouts, the longest fitness program I've done, along with the timed nutrition plan. Thankfully there is lots of delicious, nutrient-dense food on the plan, but it does require some time and prep to make it happen.

I was like a little sponge this week, learning everything I could about this program - printing off my materials, reading and highlighting, watching videos and reading blog posts. I'm already obsessed! The workouts use resistance loops, sliders and weights, and thankfully I've gotten a bit of practice with all of the equipment doing 5 days of a prep workout. 80 unique workouts for an online fitness program is unheard of, so it's going to be really cool to see how the workouts progress over time and become more challenging.

The meal plan is a huge part of the program and it's going to take some getting used to. I spent the weekend getting ready by grocery shopping, meal prepping in addition to taking before photos and measurements.

zucchini noodles meal prep

I'm not normally a huge meal prepper. I'm good at planning meals and grocery shopping, but I don't usually set out time in advance to get things ready. That being said, the times I have done some prep, it's been a huge help to my week! So for 80 Day Obsession, meal prep is just going to be a part of my life, and it certainly was this weekend.

80 Day Obsession meal prep

Following the advice of the test group participants, I did my best to follow the nutrition plan as written, keep things simple and choose foods I enjoy. I added in a few new recipes to try (including some quinoa egg cups for easy morning meals) but there's really nothing fancy on my plan for the week. To give you an idea of what my meal plan looks like, here's a sample day for my first week.

80 Day Obsession Meal Plan B


It feels exciting to be kicking off the year with a brand new program and an amazing group of people doing it with me! I'm part of an epic coach test group with more than 40,000 coaches taking part, and I've got a small and mighty group of gals who are jumping into the program in our own private group. I'm already so inspired by their motivation and commitment to the program - it's going to be an awesome journey with all of them. I'm planning to share my journey with the program here on the blog and through social media. I want to inspire others to feel their very best this year and hope that it will be an additional way for me to be accountable.


I'm ready to see some changes in my body, get stronger and truly go outside my comfort zone with this program. The workouts are going to be tough and they will progress over time. The nutrition plan is going to require some dedication in addition to all the planning (did I mention there's no booze or much sugar happening during this program!?) I'm doing it to prove to myself that I can, and hopefully achieve some awesome things in the process.

Over the course of the next 13 weeks, I'll be documenting my journey, nutrition and things I learn along the way. If this program piques your interest and you're not already working with a coach, please send me an email and we can chat about your health and fitness goals.

It's time to get obsessed!

Oui Fresh Beauty Box Review

I have been following Elsie and Emma from A Beautiful Mess for years - through their blog, social media, their apps and books. I was very excited a few months ago when I saw that they were releasing a subscription box through their Oui Fresh brand that was all about natural beauty care!

I went back and forth over whether I should get the November box, and before I knew it, it had sold out! I didn't want to experience the same sad feelings and so in December I took the leap and subscribed. I decided that it would be a sweet way to practice some self care over the dreary winter months. It took a little while to reach me here in Toronto through the holiday craziness, but last week I got a notice from the post office and got to fetch this beautiful, yellow, sunshine-y box of goodness from Oui Fresh.

Oui Fresh beauty box

Each month the Oui Fresh beauty box features an awesome selection of non-toxic makeup, skincare, bath and body, and wellness brands curated by the Oui Fresh team. They score the items through the Environmental Working Group Skin Deep database, which is a great place to check out ratings for beauty care products. If the item doesn't meet their standards, it doesn't make it into the box. It's not just about including products that are "all-natural" (which is such a loosey-goosey term) - the items in the box will never have artificial fragrance, sodium laurel sulfate, parabens, phthalates, or any known carcinogens (like formaldehyde, mineral oils, ethylene oxide, and crystalline silica). With all of that in mind, I knew I was in good hands!

Oui Fresh Beauty Box subscription

The December beauty box did not disappoint!

Each box comes with a couple full sized products as well as some samples, along with a cute print that doubles as a little menu with descriptions for the items in the month's box. This box had 3 full sized products and 2 samples, with a theme of treating yourself and helping to achieve a gorgeous glow amid the stress of the holiday season.

I've already given each product a whirl, and I'm in love!! My absolute favourite is the Bless Beauty Balm by Leahlani. This was one of the full sized products and a little bit goes a long way. It's beautifully moisturizing and nourishing - perfect for this winter season. I've been using it as a nighttime moisturizer and my skin is happy happy happy. My skin tends towards dry, with a bit of sensitivity and is has felt amazing each time I put it on. I've already investigated where I can find this product in Canada, and it looks like it retails for about $61-$67 in Canada, which is more than what I paid for the whole box!

I'm also really stoked about the Oui Fresh gloss in Cosmic Brownie. This is a shade that I love and is perfect for everyday wear. It's moisturizing while adding a sweet hint of colour, and has already become a staple in my purse. I was very curious about Bioessence Squalane + Peptide Eye Gel and have started using this bad boy each day. To be totally honest, I'm the WORST at regularly using skin care products, but it's something that I'm hyper-conscious of as I get older. I've only been using it for less than a week, but the stats on it sound great, so I'm trusting the process! The Oxalis Feel Good potion is another item I've stashed in my purse for moments of stress or anxiety, and I've been loving the blend. It's very comforting and soothing. And the Kaia Naturals bamboo wipes were a great addition because they're a product I know and love! I love them for travel, they're very hydrating (unlike a lot of other wipes) and they biodegrade in 70 days if you plant them, which is very cool.

As a Canadian, a lot of other boxes I've seen have just seemed too expensive once you factor in the currency conversion and shipping - but the Oui Fresh box proved to be pretty reasonable for the value that was offered in the box. The subscriptions vary from $20-$30 USD depending on the length of subscription that you commit to, plus shipping which was just over $10 USD. With the conversion, each monthly box works out to around $42-$45 CDN, which felt reasonable to me for a monthly self-care treat. I haven't researched the value of all the products to purchase in Canada, but this box would have been well over $100 to buy them individually.

I just got notice that my January box is getting ready to ship and I can't wait until it comes in the mail! I had been contemplating a jade roller in my life and lo and behold there's one for me waiting in there. If you're thinking about grabbing one for yourself, be sure to get yourself on the waitlist so you know when the new box is released. The last few have sold out within 1-2 days of the contents being posted.

I'm glad I took the leap on this subscription box and am looking forward to this sweet treat over the next few months! The Beauty Balm is a new staple for me and I'm so happy to have discovered it. I likely won't do an unboxing for each, but if you follow me over on Instagram, I'll be sure to share the goodness on my story when I receive it. Hooray for self care!

Do you receive any subscription boxes? What's been the best product you've received?


My Hong Kong Travel Adventure


Before 2017, I can't say that Hong Kong was ever on my must-see travel list. I didn't know a lot about Hong Kong or what to expect from travelling there. After spending two weeks in Hong Kong in October, I can say with certainty that I love it and I'm so thankful that I had the chance to experience it! (And can't wait to go back!)


Looking back, we did so much over the span of 2 weeks in Hong Kong, but these were certainly some of the highlights.

The Flight

When I told people that I was going to Hong Kong, the first thing that they often asked about was the flight. How long would it be? Had I ever taken a flight that long? What would we do?

Before Hong Kong, the longest flight I had been on was 6-7 hours when I went to Europe in 2006. Since then, my travel experiences have been full of shorter flights throughout Canada, the US and Caribbean, so I honestly didn't know what it was going to be like to be on a plane for 14 hours nonstop.

Our flight left Toronto at 2am on a Saturday morning and arrived in Hong Kong around 5am on Sunday morning thanks to the time difference. We flew Cathay Pacific and they were awesome! I found out that I was able to request a gluten free meal, which meant that I was able to enjoy safe food on our lengthy journey, and that I got served first on a huge aircraft - not bad! On the way over I was able to sleep for 6-7 hours, watched TV and movies, chatted and had snacks.

To be honest, neither flight was that bad. 14 hours is a long time to be seated, but I felt well taken care of, took breaks as needed and the reward to arrive in Hong Kong especially was worth it!

The City

I instantly felt very comfortable in Hong Kong.


Even though it is densely populated, I loved how efficient everything was. The subway system is fast, clean, cheap and easy to navigate. They have Octopus cards that you use for transit (and even small purchases) which made it very easy to get on and off the subway. You can grab one at the airport so you can easily take transit into the city. Taxis were also really inexpensive, but traffic in Hong Kong is unlike anything I've ever seen before! I slowly got used to making the conversion from the Hong Kong dollar to Canadian (dividing by 6 based on the conversion). Most signs were in English as well as Cantonese, and as a city gal, I loved the lights along with the hustle and bustle.


Best Eats

I think everything I ate in Hong Kong was delicious, from the yum cha lunches (Cantonese tradition involving tea and dim sum) to random snacks on the street. Some of the highlights included the Dim Sum Library for an awesome yum cha lunch, Green Waffle Diner for gluten free waffles, The Cakery for gluten free vegan cupcakes in unique flavours like black sesame (they also do a gluten free high tea that I really want to try the next time I'm in Hong Kong!), nood for fresh organic juices and raw chocolate, and Zuma for champagne brunch and phenomenal food.





I also got to visit the Hello Kitty Dim Sum restaurant, where everything was Hello Kitty themed from the food to the decor. It was pretty epic!


It has closed since our visit in October, so I'm especially glad that we had the chance to visit while we were there.






We ate delicious meals with Paul's family when we were at home, and I loved picking up some treats at the grocery store when we were there. Marks & Spencer had gluten free crumpets (!!!) and I found an awesome, local, vegan ice cream called Happy Cow with amazing flavours like green tea, salted caramel swirl and chai. I found it very manageable to avoid dairy and gluten in Hong Kong, while still enjoying all sorts of delectable food.

Favourite Sights

As a big city kid, Hong Kong felt like a big playground to me. I felt like I do in Toronto or New York - at ease. The skyline is phenomenal and it's very cool to see it all lit up at night. My favourite view was from OZONE, which is atop the 118th floor of the Ritz Carlton hotel. We enjoyed some cocktails and the spectacular view!


Our days included fun excursions to the tea museum, the botanical garden in Hong Kong Park, great shops, markets and a local artisan market.


Best Adventures

We spent quite a bit of time on Hong Kong island and in the central district, but we did take a couple of day trips as well. The cool thing about Hong Kong is that there are a number of places that are within a short ferry ride.



We went to Lamma Island for a day to have lunch and explore. It's a 30 minute ferry ride from Hong Kong and a stark contrast to the hustle and bustle of the city. It's very laid back, much less crowded and very cute to explore. There are tonnes of little restaurants with great waterfront views, adorable shops with wares from local artisans, shrines and places to hike and explore. We enjoyed a delicious lunch and I picked up some cute, inexpensive souvenirs. It was quite hot outside the day that we went, so it was nice to be on the breezy waterfront.



I had been told that Macau was like the Las Vegas of Asia and it did not disappoint! It was an hour ride to get there, and has a totally different vibe and feel than Hong Kong, as it was a Portuguese territory until 1999. I loved seeing the Portuguese influenced architecture and signage everywhere. When indoors, it really felt like we were in Vegas - the casinos, the vibrant art pieces and vast amount of shopping are very similar.


We had drinks at the Wing Lei Bar in the Wynn Palace which was absolutely stunning and enjoyed an incredible meal at El Gaucho. There's also a really cool cable car ride into the Wynn that made our visit that much more spectacular.


Best Shopping

Hong Kong is full of luxury shopping, from watches to handbags and high fashion clothing but you can also find some very inexpensive shopping in the night markets that pop up - it's a really interesting contrast! We had fun exploring the night market and the ladies' market, as well as some of the fancy shops and department stores.



My favourite shop ended up being a stationary store called kikki.k where I spent a lot of time and got a VIP card on my first go. (They don't have a presence in Canada but I just learned that some of their merchandise is available online through Indigo - dangerous!!)


I got a beautiful 2018 day planner, a journal and an amazing purse that has a phone charger built inside. Everything is beautifully designed and many of the items have the option to have your initials embossed on them.

I also enjoyed the stationary options at LOG-ON, fell in love with Brown the bear at Line Friends, and was treated to some fantastic kitten earmuffs from Kate Spade.


I don't even feel like this post begins to cover everything else in Hong Kong - the amazing time we spent with Paul's family, great conversations, fun times swimming and playing tennis, our various ukulele duets, a trip to the Hong Kong cinema complete with sweet popcorn and time spent relaxing and watching Netflix. I felt very spoiled, happy and loved.


I'm grateful that I had the chance to visit Hong Kong, meet Paul's family, and enjoy a tremendous vacation. I had so much fun travelling with Paul and experiencing his hometown. I can't wait to go back and explore even more!




Mary Jane - for my mom on her birthday

When I was in the sixth grade, Alanis Morissette's Jagged Little Pill album was everything to me. It was one of the first cd's I owned, I knew all the words to all the songs and sang along with them (much to the dismay of my mom at times - she politely explained that it wasn't a great idea for me to belt out all of the words to You Oughta Know...) It was an iconic album for all of the girls in my class, and we bonded over creating new lyrics to Ironic to share some of our elementary school problems.

I grew up listening to a lot of music in our household. My parents introduced me to Motown, Diana Ross, Tina Turner, Madonna, Bob Marley, Sheryl Crow and more. Alanis made her way into the rotation, and I was proud to share the same musical tastes as my mom.

There was one song on the album that we disagreed about: track nine - Mary Jane. At that time it was probably my least favourite and I would skip over it whenever we were listening to the cd. If my mom was around, she would ask me to go back and play the song. I didn't understand why she liked it so much, and hadn't yet come to the realization that perhaps it was the song on the album that she most related to. I would oblige and let the song play out.

The year that album became a favourite in our house was a tough one for our family. We were living two hours away from Toronto, almost all of our friends and family were back home, my dad was commuting back and forth for work, and my mom was especially unhappy. It was really hard on all of us, and I know an especially bad year for my mom's depression. We lost her less than two years later.

After my mom's death, Mary Jane had new meaning.

It's a long way down
On this roller coaster
The last chance streetcar
Went off the track
And you're on it...


What's the matter Mary Jane?
Tell me...

Spending time reading her journal and examining the time leading up to her death gave me new insight into how she may have been feeling, and why this song resonated with her so deeply.

This will be the 20th time I've watched her birthday pass on the calendar since her death.
In February it will be 20 years since she's been gone.
I still wish we were celebrating her birthday together. 

I've sang Mary Jane many times since my mom died - on my own, in the shower, in rehearsal and in shows. It holds a special place in my heart, because I know it was a song my mom really enjoyed. I wish she too could have watched me sing it onstage. While the rest of Jagged Little Pill holds a lot of nostalgia for me, Mary Jane is on another level. 

I never skip track 9 anymore.

Happy birthday mom xo




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Vocals:
Ashley Gibson Piano: Tara Litvack Guitar: Brandon Wall

Recorded at the 120 Diner by Chris James. Special thanks to Jeni Walls

Weekly Adventures 10.20.17

I'm back! And managing jet lag and the post-vacation blues.

leaving Hong Kong

My flight home was pretty normal, except for the fact that I experienced my first typhoon. It was a level 8 typhoon and Hong Kong was hit with some pretty intense wind and rain, but the city seemed mostly unfazed by it. Our flight boarded on time and left the tarmac about 40 minutes later than we were scheduled. I made it home in under 15 hours while managing to sleep a bit and plough through season one of The Good Wife. 


This weekend I'll be working on a full post (or two) with the full details of my Hong Kong trip. As I mentioned before, I loved being there and just soaked up everything there was to offer. My last few days were a lot of fun and it's been quite a shock to my system to head back to work and wear layers because autumn has certainly arrived here in Toronto.

Hello 123 lettuce wrap paleo party

I've been fighting the post-vacation blues with lots of sleep, downtime, getting back into daily workouts and catching up with friends. Last night I went to Hello 123 on Queen West for the first time and really enjoyed it. Really tasty vegan menu that's almost entirely gluten free. I enjoyed the Lettuce Wrap Paleo Party and it was an awesome mix of things that was super delicious! It looks like it's already becoming a bit of a hot spot, so try to get there early or maybe stop in for lunch so you don't have to wait for a table.

rupi kaur the sun and her flowers

Oh, it's beautiful and heartbreaking just like her first book.

I love hearing Esther Perel talk about relationships, so this podcast that gives you an insider perspective to some of her sessions with couples is next level. 

I hope you're all staying cozy as we head into autumn! Any tips for beating the post-vacation blues? Seems to be the most popular one is to start planning the next vacation...