Friday, September 26, 2014

Do's and Don'ts for Working Out at Home

Before doing Insanity, I had never really consistently worked out at home.

I've dabbled with other DVDs, but for the most part I've done them on a fairly casual schedule or stuck with them for a couple of weeks and then put them on the shelf to collect dust. I think that was one of the scariest things about committing to Insanity this time around, was giving my word that I was going to continue the program for 9 consecutive weeks. I'm nearing the completion of Insanity and getting ready to dive into PiYo when I'm done. I'm committed to creating a healthier lifestyle with my workouts and love how I feel as a result.
Beachbody PiYo workout

Now that I'm in the home stretch, I've learned a thing or two about doing consistent workouts at home, and I thought I would share some Do's and Don'ts

Do choose a workout that's right for you

Choosing a workout that is right for you based on your goals, likes, preferences and tastes is going to be key to your consistency and progress. Think about your goals - are you doing this to lose weight, build muscle, tone or just get healthier? Is following a fitness regime new for you or are you a seasoned veteran? Are you a cardio junkie or do you prefer to take things at a bit of a slower pace? All of these factors can you help determine the right workout for you, which will help you to be consistent and get great results

Don't be a hero

Don't choose a program just because it seems like everyone else is doing it. If something is too extreme or not your kinda pace, it's unlikely that you'll want to stick to it. I'm all for pushing boundaries, but be honest with yourself. You could also start with one thing and build up to another more intense program down the road! The idea is that you're working towards creating a healthy lifestyle change, so there will be time to build things up as you go!

Do set a time to workout

Treat your workout like an item on your agenda or a class that you're heading to. Choose a time in your day that works for you and remember that it doesn't need to be exactly the same time every day. You just need to make sure it's at a time that works, feels good for you and that you show up! My schedule changes from day to day, so my workout time changes. Sometimes I do it in the morning before days I start work or rehearsal early, other times I do it later in the day after getting things done. It all depends on you and your schedule.

Don't fly by the seat of your pants

If you don't make your workout a priority in your day, it's not going to happen. If you wait until the very end of your day and realize you still have a workout to do, you're NOT going to want to do it. TRUST ME. And then that's an extra thing to fight in order to get it done. If the end of your day is the only time you can complete it I totally get it, but make sure you're being intentional with your workouts.

Do listen to your body

Sometimes you're going to need to modify a workout to accommodate your fitness level, body or any injuries you may have and that's totally cool! Always monitor yourself to ensure you're following the correct form and listen to what the instructor is saying about how to accomplish that. Your muscles are going to be sore and that's totally normal. If it's joint or bone pain, adjust your form and be sure to see a doctor or physio if you do injure yourself.

Don't listen to your brain

Your brain is going to be the first to tell you that you can't do it, that you should give up and just quit. Put that voice on ignore, my friends. You are capable of SO MUCH. And that nasty, negative self talk has got to go. Push yourself (while still listening to your body, of course) and be amazed at all that you will be able to accomplish if you put your mind to it. This is coming from the gal who started Insanity at least 3 times before and never got past week 3. I told myself I didn't have time, couldn't do it, it was too hard, blah, blah, blah. This time around I've proved those nasty demons wrong and have some incredible results to show for it. You CAN do this. I know you can.

Do take care of your body

Creating a healthy lifestyle change isn't just about exercising or eating right. It's about looking at the full picture. Once you bring regular exercise into the mix, it's time to assess everything else. Are you eating well and fueling your body? Are you drinking enough water? Are you getting enough sleep? All of these factors will contribute to your success and ensure that you're taking the best care of your body.

Don't take extreme measures

While you may be keen to make fantastic progress, undereating isn't going to help you reach your goals. Neither is working out way above and beyond what your program calls for. Same goes for not getting enough sleep or drinking enough water. Not only could any of these scenarios be detrimental to your success, but they could also be the thing that gets you off the wagon when you feel deprived or frustrated. Balance is key to consistency. Trust in the program and your eating plan. The progress will come.

Do find ways to be accountable

Working out at home means it's all on you to schedule in the workout and actually do it. There's no class attendance to check in with or personal trainer to see for an appointment. It's all you! So it's important to find ways to hold yourself accountable, whether that be through a friend who is also working out, connecting with a Coach, being a part of an online community or even talking to your bestie or partner about your goals and action steps. Having someone to hold you to your commitment will definitely help you to stick with it.

Don't go at it alone

While you may be doing your workouts by yourself, you don't need to do this on your own. And through personal experience and the journeys of others around me, I've seen what a difference having support around you can make. You don't need to go broadcasting to the world that you're starting something new or that you're working on creating a healthier lifestyle, but by letting even one person into your journey you're not only gaining a cheerleader to help you stay accountable, you may inspire someone else to make some healthy changes in their life. And that's HUGE.

Do track your progress

The first thing I'm going to say about tracking your progress is to ditch the scale. Or at least put it away for awhile. Weight loss can be a great measure of success (especially when you have a lot of weight to lose), but it's certainly not the only one and in my opinion, it's often not the best one. It can be so easy to become obsessed with a NUMBER.  You're a human and so much more than what the scale says! So weigh yourself at the beginning and maybe a couple times on your journey, but leave it in the closet the rest of the time. Start by taking a before picture and measurements when you start and take new ones every 2 weeks so you can see your body changing. Then measure your progress based on those measurements, clothing sizes, your energy level, how long you're able to go in your workout before taking a break, your mood, how you FEEL or whatever metrics are most motivating for you. Set mini goals for yourself and track them as you go. This is YOUR journey and you get to choose how to watch it unfold.

Don't give up when things get tough

It's so easy to get caught up with instant gratification and want to give up on reaching our goals when we're not seeing IMMEDIATE results. Or when we listen to our brains and allow that negative self talk to creep in and convince us that we're not capable. When the scale isn't moving. When something feels too difficult. When we don't feel like we're making progress. When you cry because something is so overwhelming. Is it going to be easy? No. Is it going to be worth it? Yes. There are going to be times on this journey when you want to give up, but if you stick with it, you're going to feel incredible. And the magic happens when we step out of our comfort zone. Having some mini goals and ways to measure your progress will help. So find a way to push through, persevere and keep going. It WILL be worth it.

I am so proud to be nearing the end of my Insanity journey (9 more days!!) and feel confident that this list helped me to stick with it, persevere and reach my goals. I'm so excited for what comes next: PiYo, helping to lead my own Support & Accountability group as a Coach and continuing to feel amazing, healthy and strong!! If joining an online Support & Accountability group sounds like something you'd be interested in, please connect with me and we can talk about your goals!

For those of you who do work out at home / independently, did I miss anything? What helps you to be successful and accountable?

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Brene Brown - The Power of Vulnerability

"When we were children, we used to think that when we were all grown up we would no longer be vulnerable. But to grow up is to accept vulnerability. To be alive is to be vulnerable."

- Madeleine L'Engle

I started reading Brene Brown's book Daring Greatly last week and I've become completed engrossed in her research, teachings and philosophy. So many people view vulnerability as a weakness, and in her book she dispels this myth and argues that it is actually our most accurate measure of courage. Her ideas resonate deeply with me and I can't wait to keep reading. 



In this TEDTalk she discusses her research of wholeheartedness and the power of vulnerability. Pretty incredible stuff. 

"Vulnerability sounds like truth and feels like courage. Truth and courage aren't always comfortable, but they're never weakness"

-Brene Brown

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Vegan Eats in Ottawa

Two weeks ago, Corbin and I took a little road trip to Ottawa! I really wanted to visit because my best friend Mel is moving across the world this week, and I wanted to give her a hug before she left. Some sweet friends of Corbin's also just moved to Ottawa, so the whole thing seemed like a great excuse for an adventure!

We spent a lot of time visiting and catching up with our friends, and planned a couple fun meals out to enjoy some highly recommended vegan restaurants. On the Saturday night we headed to Zen Kitchen with my friend Laura for dinner.

Zen Kitchen is a gourmet vegan restaurant that recently reopened after undergoing a change in owners. I started drooling over their vegan and gluten free friendly menu for about 24 hours before we actually arrived - everything sounded so good!

We decided on the black bean cakes and crispy mushroom appetizer to start.


The black bean cakes had good flavor, but were a bit dry. They came with a really tasty side of corn chips, salsa, guacamole and cashew sour cream which we really enjoyed. The crispy mushrooms were a hit! The dipping sauces made them even better. I wish I could eat these all the time.


For our mains, Laura had the Caesar salad (complete with polenta croutons and tofu), Corbin had the Royal Zen Burger and I got the lemon scented gnocchi. While everyone's meals looked, smelled and tasted delicious, I won the dinner round. The gnocchi was sublime. From the well cooked veggies, to the mushroom-leek cream sauce, I was in heaven. I loved every bite, especially since gnocchi isn't something I get to eat very often!

The dessert menu looked awesome, but the peanut butter and chocolate pie had caught my eye when I was perusing the menu on the drive up to Ottawa. All 3 of us decided to get it and we were not disappointed. It was absolutely delicious!! Unlike many peanut butter and chocolate desserts, this one was more peanut butter than chocolate, which I really liked. It had a great gluten free crust and was topped with coconut cream. I want to go back just so I can eat this pie again!



Overall it was a really lovely meal. The service was great and they were very diligent about my gluten intolerance, which I really appreciated! Definitely a fancier dinner out that we would normally do, but certainly nice as a treat with amazing company.

We had plans for brunch with Mel and her partner on Sunday morning and she suggested we go to Cafe My House.



I understand that they recently moved to a new location on Wellington Street West and I loved everything about the decor. It was so cute inside! Since it was a nice weekend, we scored a sweet table on the back patio for our brunch.


This was another menu I had been checking out in advance, though I still found it difficult to choose because everything sounded amazing! I started with the Cacao Latte, which was really good, though a little sweet for me.


I decided on the Chipotle BLT mostly because it had a waffle bun. Holy wow.


It was AWESOME. Also, gigantic. But so good. I loved every bite.



Everyone else enjoyed their meals and I would certainly love to go back there to try the dinner menu sometime.

Over dinner the night before, Laura had mentioned a vegan bakery where she had enjoyed the most amazing cupcake and we decided to check it out! Auntie Loo's Treats is Ottawa's first 100% vegan bakery. They have an amazing selection of cupcakes, donuts, squares and buns with a small selection of gluten free items. We had a great visit to the shop and scored some treats for the ride home.




We spent the afternoon in the sunshine at a Provincial Park and I got to give Mel all sorts of hugs. It's been awhile since we've lived in the same city, but this move is going to be a HUGE change and because she's my best friend I want the best for her. I'm so glad we were able to sneak in a visit and have some lovely time together before she left. Love that girl!

The vegan scene in Ottawa is up and coming and it's neat to try out some new places each time I visit. It was an incredible weekend with some wonderful people and some really delicious food!

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Insanity - The Day I Almost Quit

Monday started off as an amazing day.

I had just gotten back from a lovely trip to Ottawa with Corbin to visit some of my favourite people. In the morning, I took my measurements and Corbin shot new progress photos and I was super excited by what I saw!



In the two weeks since the last photos I could already see more changes in my body, especially in my waist, stomach and shoulders and was down inches as well! It was a testament to my hard work and seeing the changes in my body was really encouraging.

I got down to doing my Fit Test and KILLED IT. Increased in 7/8 exercises and saw huge change from where I started 5 weeks ago.

Then I pushed play on my first Month 2 workout, "Max Interval Circuit". As soon as I turned it on I knew there was going to be a problem, as the workout was an hour long. I had just worked my tail off over the last 25 minutes in the Fit Test, so another TOUGH 60 minutes seemed unbearable.

About 2 minutes into the warm up I started crying.And didn't stop.For the WHOLE workout.

In addition to crying for the duration of the workout, I was mentally beating myself up. Thoughts like "You'll never be able to finish this program", "Why did you ever think you could do this?", "You're better off just turning off the DVD", "You're so weak" and "Quit now" ran through my brain on a constant loop. I probably did three quarters of the workout because I was crying so much (which isn't really conducive to breathing), I had all these horrible, negative thoughts running through my head and it was really hard!!

I was really close to quitting SO. MANY. TIMES. It would have been so easy to just walk over and press STOP and forget the whole thing. A previous version of myself definitely would have. The one thing about working out at home is that it feels like it's really only you holding yourself accountable.

Except that's the reason I didn't quit. Because I have so many others holding me accountable to on this journey:

My Coach,
My accountability group.
Corbin.
My friends.
Those on the Internet who care to read my blog / Facebook / Twitter / Instagram.

I promised myself that I would finish Insanity this time around and so many people have been an incredible support network to help me do just that. I've been reminded that being this active on a regular basis is as much of a mental challenge as it is a physical one. It's up to me to schedule and do my workout each do. It's up to me to give it my all and push myself. It's up to me to support my efforts by nourishing my body and taking care of myself. If I quit now, I would feel like I was letting down a whole bunch of people, but really I would be letting myself down and I think that would be the toughest thing.

I said when I started this journey that I would be sharing my ups and downs, and I'm divulging this story because it's real. It's so easy when we see things on the internet to imagine someone having a perfect, little, easy existence without really knowing what's happening when the camera isn't on or the blog post is done.I could have just carried on with the week and acted like Month 2 of Insanity is a breeze. But in reality, it's not always pretty, it's certainly not easy and often there bumps in the road. It's about embracing the mental component in conjunction with the physical one, while being dedicated, motivated, determined and consistent. Your reasons for making a change or embarking on a journey like this one need to be strong and they will help you stay on track.

Insanity


Looking back, I'm so glad that I pushed through and kept going, tears and all! Tuesday and Wednesday's workouts have been tough as well but I'm happy to report that there has been no crying (progress!!), just lots of sweating and the occasional swear at Shaun T. I have reminded myself of how great I felt on Monday morning seeing all the progress I've made and feel really proud of how far I've come already.

I know that the next four weeks aren't going to be easy, but I truly believe that it's going to be worth it to prove those limiting beliefs and negative thoughts worthless and to be able say that "I did it".

inspiration, motivation, Mark Twain


Friday, September 5, 2014

Toronto's Vegetarian Food Fair 2014 - My Top Picks

Since my first glimpse into veganism back in 2009, Toronto's Vegetarian Food Fair has been the standard way I spend the first weekend in September after Labour Day. I am sad to be missing the Food Fair this year as I will be heading to Ottawa for the weekend, but if you're in the city here are the things you should definitely see, do and EAT this weekend to celebrate the Fair's 30th anniversary!!

Learn a thing

There are some amazing speakers joining the lineup this year including Bryant Terry, Ricki Heller, Terry Hope Romero and my sweet friend, Meghan Telpner. There will be lots to learn from the politics of veganism, how to ferment things and previews of all sorts of yummy recipes. Be sure to pop inside or check out one of the stages to see what's happening.

See one of my favourite local bakers in action

It's no secret that I love Bunners, so I think it's awesome that Ashley Wittig will be sharing some baking secrets in her demo. (Also maybe, samples?!) And if you miss that, check out their cookbook - I'm slowly working my way through it and LOVING it!! Can't wait to post my review very soon!

Eat tasty treats

While I've noted the lack of vegetables in previous years at the Food Fair, I enjoyed a great dinner from Green Zebra last year (with kale!!) and there is certain to be no shortage of delicious treats for you to enjoy! Be sure to check out Sweets from the Earth, Bloomers and APiecalypseNow.

Cross something off your bucket list

While you're in Toronto, you might as well check out the rest of the city and some of the incredible vegan offerings our city has. My lovely friend Lisa has put together a sweet list of Toronto's Best Vegan Restaurant Dishes to help get you started! I've only tried 28 out of the 100 so far, but was stoked to cross Boreal Gelato's Vegan Salted Caramel gelato off the list last week. Holy yum!!

Boreal Gelato Toronto

The Food Fair begins tonight and runs until Sunday evening at the Harbourfront Centre, 235 Queen's Quay West. Happy Food Fair-ing!!!