Reflections & Resolutions

It’s New Year’s Eve!

And the first NYE I’ve spent in Cape Breton in so long. The past 4 years we’ve been sharing the holidays between my home and my bf’s home on opposite ends of the province but we’ve never spent New Year’s here. We don’t have anything crazy planned, just drinks & dancing with my parents, but its nice to have a little extra time at home ūüôā

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Like most people, this time of year has me reflecting on the events of the past year and making resolutions for the upcoming one. In 2014 I want to make some commitments I can see through. Last year, I decided it was the LAST year I would make weight-loss or dieting a resolution. I said I would reach my goal weight once and for all and it would be my healthiest year yet. And it was!

I am really proud of my 2013 and what I’ve accomplished. Here are the some of the health and fitness related highlights of my best year yet:

2013 highlights

1. Going Veg

On January 4, 2013 I watched Vegucated¬†(available on Netflix). I vowed that from that moment on I would be vegetarian and made it my 2013 resolution to become mostly vegan within the year. I would say I officially decided to quit all animal products on April 1 but took it slow and wasn’t too hard on myself when I had “accidents”.

I don’t miss a single thing about my pre-veg life and I’ve learned so much about the close relationship between health & food. I also found a new love for cooking. I never thought I’d be asking for kitchen gadgets for Christmas!

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2. Reaching my goal weight

My second resolution of 2013 was to reach my goal weight once and for all. I didn’t have a lot to lose but it was enough to keep me yo-yo dieting. I finally live the balanced healthy lifestyle I’ve always dreamed of where I eat cookies without guilt and exercise daily without excuse! Check out my post¬†Getting There¬†for tips on how to finally reach your goal.

3. Falling in love with juicing

After reading Crazy, Sexy, Diet I decided I wanted to do some type of cleanse but never thought I was capable of a 7-day juice cleanse. I decided I would buy a juicer and start juicing as part of my daily routine and it wasn’t long before I decided I was ready for a full cleanse. It was a Sunday afternoon in June and was headed to the grocery store and decided I was going to buy what I needed for the first 3 days of Jason Vale’s 7 lbs in 7 days program. The first few days went well so I kept going and I finished it. Then I did it again in September! Now I juice regularly for the health benefits and have a 3 day cleanse planned for January. For more on my juicing journeys check out the new Juicing page.

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4. Discovering the green smoothie

I was never big on smoothies until I started the Fitnessista‘s Smoothie a Day challenge in May. I decided I would replace breakfast with a smoothie for one month. I guess I fell in love with this too because I had breakfast smoothies every morning until the end of October! Somewhere along the challenge I tried a few green smoothies and realized it was the most delicious way to pack extra nutrition into my day.

Interested in a 30-day smoothie challenge? Check out Simple Green Smoothies for a schedule, recipes, tips & more. Also, check out my smoothie of the month features for more delicious recipes (link on right side bar of home page).

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5. Starting this blog

It’s something I’ve always wanted to do. I love everything about health & fitness and when I’m really excited about something I just can’t help but to share it! Though it’s just a small blog that I update as a hobby, I put my whole heart into these posts. I’ve said from the beginning, “If one of my posts can inspire just one person to live a healthier lifestyle then my intentions have been met”.

The blog is a way for me to keep myself accountable as well as motivate others by being a relatable source of information. When I see someone I know achieving their goals, it inspires me to believe I can reach mine too.

6. Incorporating yoga

I always thought yoga was a waste of time. I thought if I was going to put an hour into working out, it had to be intense, sweaty and challenging. Little did I know, hot yoga is all of these things. I prefer a flow or Vinyasa style yoga but still enjoy something less intense for a recovery day. I’ve been going once a week for several months now but would like to take a 30 day challenge in the new year. I want to get really good at arm balances!

As much as I love yoga for the physical challenge, I love how I feel mentally and emotionally after practice. I am kind of a high-stress person and yoga helps to bring me back down.

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7. Changing my focus

I truly believe the major turning point in my wellness journey was when my focus changed from weight-loss to health. I no longer count calories but focus on nutrition. I take a holistic approach to my health, ensuring my body is nourished with the best possible fuel I can get my hands on. If you want to reach your goals one and for all, focus on health first and the rest will fall into place ‚̧

If you’re thinking about your own resolutions, I encourage you to think outside of the usual weight-loss or diet-related box. Commit to something like volunteering more or keeping your closet organized. For health related goals commit to eating more fresh produce and eating less refined sugar. To increase the odds of success, put a number on it. For example, volunteering once per month or replacing 1 snack per day with fruit or veggies.

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My 2014 resolutions, some health-related, some not:

  1. Take a 30-day yoga challenge
  2. Cleanse once per season
  3. Start playing guitar again
  4. Think before speaking & listen more intently.
  5. Compete in Mudd, Sweat & Tears, Saint John
  6. Maintain bodyweight & continue to grow in knowledge/experience of holistic health & wellness!

What are some of your 2013 highlights?

Have you thought about 2014 resolutions yet?

Liz xo

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Fit Friday: Leg Death

Happy Holidays ūüôā

Did you all make it through Christmas alive?!

I’m sure more than most of us had one too many cookies (or one too many glasses of wine), so how about a killer leg workout to kick a few¬†a lot of those Christmas calories and make room for some New Year’s indulgences?

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When I say killer, I mean this workout will leave you spent. You know that feeling when you leave the gym and you know you worked hard? Yeah, you know. And you know its the best!

But don’t be intimidated… You can tame it down with lighter weights (I lift heavy)¬†or fewer reps to make it your own. On the other hand, if you want to seriously kick your own butt today, go all out!

Leg Death

*Note: For moves like lunges, do 10-12 reps on EACH leg.

For more workouts to get your sweat on over the holidays check out yesterday’s Holiday Fitness Round-Up. None of these bloggers will go easy on you!

Liz xo

Holiday Fitness Round-Up

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Let’s all take some time to rest and enjoy each other’s company this holiday season, but at the same time let’s not forget about our fitness altogether. I usually do really well for one week but if I’m off for two… well, things tend to get a little lax.

Thankfully I prepared a list of holiday workouts so I’m never without a plan during my vacation! I’ll be busting out some of these in my mom’s basement & at various gyms across the province. Pin or screenshot some of these now so you don’t fall off the wagon between Christmas & New Year’s!

1. Elf 4 Health Tabata from Nutty for Life 

Confession: I’ve never tried a tabata workout until this one! I think I found a new love…

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2. Triple Threat Holiday Circuit from Slim Sanity

If you follow my Fit Friday posts, you know I love Alysia’s workouts. I’m sure this circuit won’t disappoint ūüėČ

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3. Frost HIIT from Fitnessista

This is the perfect at-home workout: 100% bodyweight! No excuses!

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4. Medicine Ball Ab Attack by 9toFit

For those of you who hate doing ab work (that’s you, Cat!), just check out Elise‘s rock hard abs an you’ll be motivated to do this workout! Switch up the medicine for a weight if you don’t have one.

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5. Holiday Butt Blaster by Olive to Run

Legs & butt are my favourite muscles to work, especially when I’m pressed for time. These big muscle groups give the best bang for your sweaty buck, burning loads of calories and getting your heart rate up.

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6. Sweatin’ Under The Mistletoe by Hol-Fit

A great mix of cardio and strength to get your heart rate pumping. Check out the link for some tips on making a healthy holiday game plan.

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7. Fit and Fab Holiday Workout by This N That Cat

Every workout I’ve tried from Cat has been ridiculous. They always look a little easier than they actually are so I end up working harder than planned ūüėČ

This n that Cat workout

8. Hot Holidays Super Sweaty Workout buy PB Fingers

I’m sweating just looking at this one. You can perform the first box in sequence followed by the second, or alternate between the two. Try not to rest for more than 10 seconds between exercises and lift heavy to burn major calories and get back to enjoying the holiday fun ūüėČ

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Now it’s off to the gym to bust out one of these gems!

Merry Fitness my friends ūüôā

Liz xo

Holiday Recipe Round-Up

Happy Holidays ūüôā

As much as I enjoy sharing my own healthy recipes, I love sharing recipes from other bloggers that inspire me. Even before having a blog of my own, I loved recreating recipes & sharing my favourites with friends via email, pen & paper, or Facebook.

Here’s a list of must-try recipes I’ve been pinning & printing over the holiday season.

Holiday Food Collage

1.¬†‚ÄúChristmas Tree‚ÄĚ Veggie Plate with Hummus¬†from¬†Better Recipes

What an easy, healthy option to have for guests to snack on before dinner. I love creamy dips & bite sized h’ors doeuvres but its nice to have some lighter fare to avoid filling up before the meal.

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2. Holiday Meatless Loaf by Fat-Free Vegan Kitchen

This is one I plan on making for Christmas dinner. I love a plate full of delicious sides but am looking forward to having a special dish to look forward to when everyone else is swooning over the turkey.

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3.¬†Dad’s Vegan Wild Rice, Cranberry, & Pine Nut Stuffing (Gluten-Free Option)¬†by¬†Vedged Out

Stuffing has always been my favourite part of holiday dinner (followed by sweet potatoes, cranberry sauce & dessert of course). I’ve always been a fan of stove top but since I’ve become much more health conscious over the past year, I’m digging the homemade fare.

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4. Peppermint Hot Chocolate Bites by The Hummusapien

I needed a quick snack to take on the road for work and I wanted a change from my usual protein bar recipes. This popped up on my Facebook one day and I was sold. Festive and healthy? Count me in!

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5. Gingerbread Amazeballs by The Fitnessista

I have always loved Gina’s Amazeballs, especially the original chocolate chip, so I was super excited when she posted a holiday version. Usually these are rolled into balls, hence the name, but I love the cookie cutting option ūüôā

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6. Gingerbread Breakfast Cookie by Clean Eating Veggie Girl

A quick, easy & delicious way to wake up. Make this festive oatmeal cookie the night before to save some time in your busy day of shopping, wrapping & socializing ūüėČ

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7.¬†Peanut “Better” Balls by Oh She Glows

Wow… wordless. I made these for our Christmas Eve treat to snack on with our egg(less) nog & holiday movies. I made a batch a week in advance and froze them…. then I made a second batch, if you know what I’m sayin ūüėČ

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8. Chocolate Peppermint Bark by Vegan in the Freezer

I saw so many boxes of peppermint bark in the stores this season and could only wish for a vegan version. Here is the answer to my prayers! I’d like try some different modifications with nuts & dried fruit too.

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9. Pomegranate Spritzers by Making Thyme for Health

I love cocktails in fancy glasses with garnish (Appletini, mom?) but I don’t love the excess sugar & calories. This year I’ll be filling our martini glasses with this light cranberry cocktail to cheers guilt-free ūüėČ

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10. Vegan Eggless Nog by Liber Abyss

This is a quick & easy alternative to the smoothie versions I’ve been seeing, like mine, which require blending fruit or nuts. I’m sure it would be just as delicious with almond milk & rum substitutions.

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11. Nicer Krispie Squares by Dreena Burton 

Every year at our Christmas cookie bake, there is a huge demand for rice krispie squares. These were never my favourite but I do aim to please so I have this recipe bookmarked in my Eat, Drink & Be Vegan cookbook. I think it might be a little too pricey for mass producing on cookie day but I will be keeping them in mind ūüėČ

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For more vegan treat love, check out¬†Dreena Burton’s post,¬†The 12 Cookie of Christmas. I also recommend this 2013 Vegan Holiday Recipe Roundup¬†from Choosing Raw.

What holiday recipes caught your attention season?

Do you contribute a healthier option to dinners & parties?

Liz xo

My Holiday Vacation Plan of Attack

Good Morning!

Tomorrow is my last day of work before my Christmas vacation. I am super excited because
1. I’ve been saving up my vacation days all year for this
2. I love visiting our families and haven’t been “home” since last Christmas
3. I just love Christmas

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For anyone who knows me, you know I’m a planner. I always have lists & alarms set in my phone. It keeps me from stressing when everything I need to do is right there on paper. I once heard this practice called “brain dumping” but I don’t think I’ll be adopting that term… lol

So of course I looked into the weeks ahead and made a tentative game plan to keep my health & fitness in check during my holidays.¬†Yes I will have some wine & {vegan} sweets, and yes I will relax and enjoy myself. However, I cannot do those things and truly enjoy them unless I know I’ve been treating my body right beforehand.

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We will be spending the first week of holidays in my bf’s hometown so I will be working out at the local YMCA. The plan is to always have a healthy breakfast, lunch, & snacks to allow flexibility at dinner & in the evenings.

If you’ve read The One Thing You Need for a Healthy Holiday Season¬†you know how I approach dinners & parties, so when I mention my “food” plan, I’m sharing what foods I will be treating myself to or what I will contribute to dinners to be sure there’s at least one healthier, vegan option.

Saturday – Travel day

  • Food – Pack healthy snacks & meals for the road:
  • Fitness – OFF for travel

Sunday РAnnual Family Christmas Cookie Bake 

  • Food – Taking the advice of Victoria to not snack while baking. I’m bringing recipes from Eat, Drink & Be Vegan and definitely enjoying a few when the baking is done!
  • Fitness – Morning booty workout¬†via Ashlee

Monday РRegular day 

Tuesday – Christmas Eve

Wednesday – CHRISTMAS DAY!

  • Food- Christmas dinner! Taking a little bit of everything on the vegan menu (including dessert) but my one rule is no seconds. And no eating out of the pots. So two rules ūüėČ Contributions:
  • Fitness- OFF

Thursday – Boxing Day

  • Food- Regular eats
  • Fitness- Gym is closed; outdoor run.

Friday – Travel day to Cape Breton

…and we start all over again for week 2. Stay tuned for next week’s plan of attack on food & fitness!

Are you planning your indulgences wisely?

Will you schedule in your workouts or can you successfully play it by ear? 

Liz xo

Slow Cooker Apple Cinnamon Oatmeal

No need to dream of a white Christmas…

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And by the looks of the upcoming temperatures its not going anywhere for a while!

I’m feeling totally festive with the snow down & the presents all wrapped. I had the best weekend with Ryan, finishing our shopping & driving around looking at Christmas lights. Sunday we were snowed in and I think we listened to every Christmas song ever written and wrapped gifts until I ran out of paper! It’s so nice having him with me this season ūüôā

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If you live in the Fredericton area you HAVE to check out the Lincoln Light Show! It’s a sweet light display synced to music that you can tune your radio station to. The owners stand outside in the evenings for the 2 weeks before Christmas and collect donations for the Make-A-Wish Foundation. They raised more than $29,000 over the last three years, including $13,000 last year alone (source).

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Pretty amazing ūüôā

In the food department, my go-to breakfast lately has been oats… but not just any oats! I thought I’d eaten oats in every way, shape or form one could possible eat oats. I was wrong… oh, so wrong. There is nothing like steel cut oats in the slow cooker with apples & cinnamon.

I’ve heard tell of this slow cooker oatmeal for a long time before I gave it a shot. I just thought, why bother when its so quick to make my quick oats in the morning?

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Why bother?! Because these oats taste AMAZING and actually, they ARE much quicker in the mornings. You need about 10 minutes to prepare on a given evening, then you’ve got instant breakfast for 6 mornings or the next day for the whole family.

I have to thank my friend Jenna for sharing this recipe with me from Weight Watchers. I searched everywhere online for the recipe to link up WW but couldn’t find the version she gave me. So, today is your lucky day! From me to you, slightly adapted: the quickest, most delicious oats you can imagine. Merry Christmas ūüėČ

Slow Cooker Apple Cinnamon Oatmeal

Adapted from Weight Watchers 

Serves: Makes 6 x 3/4 cup servings
Calories: ~215 per serving
Prep time: 10 min
Total time: 4 hrs

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Ingredients:

  • 1 cup steel cut oats
  • 3 apples
  • 4 cups water
  • 1.5 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 cup raisins (or other dried fruit)
  • 1 cup almond milk
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup

Directions:

  1. Peel & chop apples into half inch pieces.
  2. Add oats, apples, oats, water, cinnamon & raisins to slow cooker.
  3. Cook on low for 4-6 hours, depending on how creamy you like your oats*.
  4. When finished cooking, stir in almond milk and maple syrup.

Transfer finished product to an air-tight container and pop a serving in the microwave or warm on the stove each morning for a quick breakfast. I also like to add in a little extra almond milk with each serving ūüôā

*I cooked my first batch for 5 hours and my second for 4. Both were good but I preferred the texture of the 4-hour batch.

Enjoy!

Liz xo

Boost Your Burn

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Now that the hustle & bustle of the season is in full swing, we may not have as much time for exercise as usual and our diets get a little more flexible. Knowing that, we need to make every second of our workouts count! I’m all about efficiency and I know a few secrets to maximizing your results.

Burn more calories in less time with these 5 tips to improve the efficiency of your workout. My keys to success are less rest time and more muscles targeted per workout. Hi-ya!

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HIIT 

High Intensity Interval Training, or HIIT, is the most effective form of interval training. HIIT sessions alternate between intense bursts of activity and fixed periods of less-intense activity or even complete rest (source). HIIT improves your athletic ability, boosts your metabolism and increases fat burn. These workouts can run anywhere from 4-30 minutes and haven been proven to be more effective than longer, steady state workouts.

Try my Arm Sweat HIIT workout on any piece of cardio equipment for a quick & sweaty 20 minute cardio session. The Daily HIIT (former BodyRock) is an awesome resource for at-home HIIT routines.

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Supersets

Performing two exercises back to back means less rest time which means a shorter workout. It can also result in extra calories burned if you’re achieving more reps per session. For example, maybe you can do 5 leg exercises and 5 arm exercises with supersets, where if you worked only legs, you’d be wiped after just 5 exercises. If you’re working the same muscle back to back, supersets also allow you to overload your muscle & increase intensity without adding weight.

Circuit Training

Circuit training involves a series of strength and/or cardio¬†exercises repeated two or three times with little or no rest between sets.¬†An all-strength circuit burns 30 percent more¬†calories than a typical weight¬†workout¬†and offers more¬†cardio¬†benefits (source). If the circuit includes cardio moves at max reps, you’re reaping the HIIT benefits as well!

Here is one of my favourite circuit workouts to sculpt muscle & burn fat!

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Two in One

Also known as four limb exercises, performing an upper body and a lower body exercise at the same time demands a higher energy output. Squats with a shoulder press for example works the legs AND shoulders, in addition to challenging your core to keep you balanced. Cut your workout time in half by doing two exercises in the time it takes to execute one!

Spiderman pushups¬†are one of my favourite multi-tasking moves ūüėČ

Change It Up

Your body is an efficient machine. If you’re doing the same thing day in and day out, your muscles get pretty good at it. Changing up your routine constantly challenges your body and prevents plateaus. Alternate between low rep, heavy weight workouts & high rep, light weight workouts plus incorporate a variety of exercises moves per muscle. Change up your cardio intensity with HIIT and steady state, try a new group fitness class or choose a different cardio machine.

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Cardio is great for burning calories & fat but strength training builds muscle that will burn calories when you’re at rest!

For more fitspiration, check out the¬†Fitness page¬†for exercise moves & workout routines. If you’re really struggling to find time to workout, check out my post on how to¬†fit more fitness into your day¬†without hitting the gym.

Merry Fitness ūüėČ

Liz xo