There’s More to Fitness Than Muscles

Hello lovely friends 🙂

How are you all this week? I am finally recovered from Ryan’s birthday {week} celebrations. Does any one else believe in Birthday Week? One day just isn’t enough…. lol

photo 2

On Thursday we went back to Brewbaker’s, a favourite for special occasions. I was going to try their other vegan option, a couscous salad, but I couldn’t help myself and cracked for the Thai Vermicelli again… insert foodgasm face :0

Saturday night we had friends over for food, drinks & games and I wanted to do something to make Ryan’s bday more special that any ol’ Saturday night. I organized for group party shirts: “Out for a Birthday Swim”. Get it?

He was equally as surprised as embarrassed but I’m pretty sure he loved it 😉

photo 3

Today I’m talking about something that’s been a frequent conversation over the years: why I value fitness so much. Not just for myself, but for the people in my life as well.

We all know the main reasons why physical fitness is important: decreased risk of disease, reduced risk of injuries, feeling better mentally and physically, etc. But in addition to that, I am very attracted to a fitness-focused person and it’s not just because that type of person is physically attractive. Yes, a lean, toned body is definitely a plus, but there is so much more to it than that.

So what else do I see beyond the physical?

First let’s take a look at the definition of fitness. According to Google Define, fitness means “in good health, esp. because of regular physical exercise”. So I’m not solely referring to ultra-marathoners or bikini models; just your average Joe/Jane who lives an active lifestyle and eats a balanced, healthy diet.

Fit = Dedicated

“Fit” is state of being that must be achieved and maintained. It takes work, it takes time and it takes dedication. A fit person is probably not lazy and will be dedicated to his or her other obligations in life as well. I think anyone can agree that being dedicated is a great quality in career life, relationships, etc. No one wants a flaky friend or a partner with commitment issues.

Sneaks

Fit = Health Conscious

I am very concerned with my own health because I feel best when I’m treating my body & mind to the best of my knowledge. I love this life and want to be around to enjoy for a very long time. My number one wish for everyone on this planet is that they too can discover how amazing their bodies are designed to feel. We aren’t doomed to experience the illnesses or rely on the drugs that our society has come to accept as a part of life.

I appreciate my friends and family making health & fitness a priority because it gives me peace of mind knowing they are doing something to help keep them in my life for many years to come! I tell my mom all the time, “Drink your greens! I need you around for a while yet.” 😉

photo 4

Fit = Strong

Physically: A balanced fitness routine improves functional strength. This allows you to easily carry out everyday activities like lifting heavy objects without straining yourself. Cardiovascular training keeps your heart strong and improves endurance which allows you to take the stairs without losing your breath, keep up with your kids or pets, and enjoy outdoor activities.

Mentally: It takes focus and willpower to lift one more rep or continue running to your goal even after you think you’re spent. It also takes some serious willpower to make a healthy choice when your surrounded by fast, cheap, & convenient options. Yoga is the ultimate way to develop mental strength. It’s not easy for everyone to shut out their busy life for an hour to just “be”. In yoga, we focus on our breath to hold and transition into poses. This practice can be applied to everyday life to help deal with stressful situations.

IMG_3815

Fit = Happy

I would say 99% of fit, healthy people are generally happy with themselves and their lives. Exercise is known to improve your mood and reduce stress levels. Fit people are confident in the way they look, have good energy levels, and probably have regular sleeping and eating habits. When you are happy with yourself you can be happy for others and from that stems a whole lot of good 🙂

IMG_0136

There is so much more to fitness than muscles or being a certain size or shape. There are qualities that any of us would be happy to possess or to have in a partner or friend. If you haven’t already, check out my post on 6 Ways To Make Exercise a Habit. Set your sustainable goals to make fitness about dedication, health, strength and happiness 🙂

I’d love to hear from you guys…

Why is fitness important to you?
What qualities attract you to a fit and healthy person?

Liz xo

6 Ways to Make Exercise a Habit

Exercise.

Habit.

Two words that most people don’t see going in the same sentence. How can exercise be something you “just do”? If you’re not one of those people who enjoy exercise (there are more out there than you may think!) how can it ever not be a forced activity in your day?

IMG_2132

I remember when my workout felt like a chore. It was painful to drag myself to the gym (or in front of a P90X video) and get started. Once I did start it was fine, but getting started was the worst part of my day. I would so rather be sleeping, watching tv, shopping, eating, ANYTHING but working out.

But we all know that exercise is good for us. It’s not necessary to workout 7 days a week but according to the Canadian Society for Exercise Physiology, you should get at least 150 minutes per week (source).

Canadian Physical Activity Guidelines (18-64 years) #
To achieve health benefits, adults aged 18-64 years should accumulate at least 150 minutes of moderate- to vigorous-intensity aerobic physical activity per week, in bouts of 10 minutes or more.
It is also beneficial to add muscle and bone strengthening activities using major muscle groups, at least 2 days per week.
More daily physical activity provides greater health benefits.

So how can you make this a habit; something you just do without thinking about? Here are my 6 tips for making exercise a non-negotiable part of your day:

1. Have a Clear Vision

There is a difference between a goal to lose weight or be fit vs. losing weight or getting fit to reach your goal. I’m not exercising to lose weight or to look good for a specific event. I’m in it for life. I want to feel sexy and confident every day. I want to have energy and regular sleeping & eating patterns.  I want to live long enough to see my children’s, children have children. And I want to be the best possible version of myself so I can be my best for others.

I think being fit and healthy will allow me to be all of these things.

Having my priorities straight is what keeps me going back to the gym day after day. Shallow goals are too easy to make excuses for. For example, I strength train because I want to have functional strength for everyday activities. If my goal was to be able to squat 100 lbs, it would be a lot easier to put that off for another day, and then another…

photo 1

2. Plan Your Week

Every Sunday I take a look at the upcoming week and my work/personal commitments. I schedule my workouts from Monday-Saturday around those plans. For example, on a travel day I may need to work out a little later in the evening or if I have dinner plans with friends, I’ll hit the gym in the morning before work.

I have a to-do list for each day which includes my meals and fitness for that day. It doesn’t always have to be perfect; some nights are busy, canned soup nights (Amy‘s are the best!) and sometimes the best workout I can squeeze in is 30 minutes on the elliptical. Regardless, having a plan keeps me on track.

photo 4

3. Prep The Night Before

If I know I’m taking a yoga class the following day, my mat, towel & yoga bag are sitting by the door. If I’m working out in the morning, I’m sure to have an on-the-go breakfast ready like these vegan overnight oats!

Laying everything out the night before saves a lot of time and stress in the morning. Plus, you will be less likely to forget your socks or headphones and you’ll show up with the right gear! I’d prefer not to do BodyAttack in a Free-To-Be bra 😉

photo 3

4. Choose Workouts You Enjoy

If you hate spin (like me), don’t spin. Just because it’s amazing cardio doesn’t mean its for everyone. I’d rather do 10,000 burpees. If it’s a gorgeous day out and you’re dreading the gym, go for a run outside. When it comes to exercise, there  is something for everyone. Just to name a few:

  • Organized sports – Join a basketball team or a dance club
  • Casual sports – Have a tennis match with your bestie or go snowshoeing
  • Running/walking – Go solo, with a friend, join a running group, or go all out and start marathon training
  • Group fitness classes – Both Les Mills and the YMCA offer something for everyone who thrives in a group atmosphere
  • The gym – TRX, weight lifting, cardio machines
  • Home workout videos – Beach Body videos (i.e. P90X), Jillian Michaels, TIU
  • Online fitness – BlogilatesYou Tube videos

The list goes on…

IMG_2337

5. Commit to Friends

If you tell someone your going to be there, you probably will. When I was in university I always worked out with my friend Britt. I remember a lot of mornings wishing we hadn’t made plans to be at the gym first thing, but I wasn’t about to be the one to back out. Afterwards, I was always SO glad I dragged myself out of bed. Usually once our weekly schedule was set, we rarely missed a workout.

Meeting friends to workout can be a bit of a social thing too. I love having company for a yoga class or a circuit and you wouldn’t believe the cool people you meet through healthy living 😉

photo 1

6. Acknowledge & Celebrate Progress!

Of course doing something over and over will get frustrating if you aren’t seeing any results, but remember your weight is not the only indicator of progress. There are a number of factors that can prove you are making headway:

  • Body measurements
  • Body fat percentage
  • Blood pressure, blood sugar, cholesterol
  • How your clothes feel
  • Energy levels
  • Strength
  • Endurance

Remember to set realistic, sustainable goals (see #1) and celebrate even the smallest successes! If you beat your 5k time, maybe buy yourself a new pair of running shorts. If you’re at a plateau, reassess your routine and make some changes.

IMG_2968

Exercise needs to be fun and enjoyable or it will never be a habit. It can be all of these things if above all, you want it to be. You need to decide for yourself that you want to live a healthy, active lifestyle; that you want to be fit & healthy and are willing to work for it.

You are the only person who can make those things happen. Not your gym buddy, not your trainer, not Jillian Michaels… YOU! So get out your to-do list, plan your week, and pack your gym bag. There’s no time like the present… 🙂

Here’s to healthy habits!

Liz xo

Yoga, Beer & Balance

It’s going to be a FABulous February!

First of all, its the month of love ❤ It’s also my favourite guy’s bday & my girl Meag is home for 2 weeks! We had a great weekend together, hanging out and spending money doing girl stuff and this weekend we will be celebrating her birthday with dancing, drinks & vegan cupcakes 😀

Speaking of cupcakes, let’s talk about your 2014 resolutions (did you think I’d let you forget so fast?) Now that #JumpstartJanuary has come to an end, I hope you aren’t starting to stray from your commitments. I’ve said it a million times before, you don’t need a new year, a new week, or a new day to make a change. There is nothing any different about the first of February than the first of January when it comes to setting & achieving your goals.

jump-start january 2

Whether it’s health, fitness, personal, or career-related, do something today to take a step in the direction of achieving your goals. It could be as simple as getting up 10 minutes early or swapping your muffin for a green smoothie.

Make. It. Happen.

Because you’re worth it!

End rant 🙂

So my January was pretty amazing. I completed a 30 day yoga challenge which was actually 32 days since it ran from Jan 3 – Feb 3. I only missed 1 day out of the first 30 to attend the BodyAttack new release. I tried every class at Moksha Yoga (except Barre) and loved them all but my favourite is definitely Hot Flow. I love the quick-pace & challenging poses.

photo 2

I can officially say I moved my body every day in January which was our intention for JSJ when Georgia and I teamed up for the challenge. I loved finally getting to meet Georgia and enjoyed sharing the challenge with the lovely Brittany from My Own Balance. I had no idea she was going to be doing her own Jumpstart January series of posts but she did an awesome job sharing tips & workouts throughout the month to motivate others to get back on track with her in the New Year.

To keep the motivation rolling, I signed up for Brittany’s Find Your Balance February challenge via Challenge Loop. The only requirement is to do ONE thing each day during the month of February to work towards a healthier lifestyle. The details on how to sign up and participate are outlined in her post.

This balance-focused challenge couldn’t have come at a better time.

I was beginning to burn myself out with 6 days of group-ex classes and weight training last fall. I was also counting calories and macronutrients and driving myself crazy. I let go a little over the holidays, maybe a bit more than I wanted to,  and  I was totally surprised when I returned home to find… Nothing! Not a single extra pounds on my hips, rear or thighs (lol).

what to my wondering eyes

Mind you, I didn’t go eating everything in sight. I stopped eating when I was full and incorporated salads into most meals, but I happily indulged wine & beer, cookies & chips, and a few very fun late nights. Despite not writing down each morsel of food and being off my strict schedule, the world did not end.

So this past month I decided to do a little experiment. What if I didn’t do 6 days of crazy workouts and tried this yoga thing… What if I just ate when I felt hungry even if it was more calories than I allotted for? What if I just focused on eating a variety of healthy foods, mainly plant-based whole foods, but didn’t stress over a night of beer & appetizers with friends?

Games and Dip

And guess what happened…. nothing!

Nothing, except that I was way more relaxed and enjoyed the past month more than I’ve enjoyed myself in a long time.

I seem to flow in and out of this “balanced lifestyle” concept; feeling good for some time then feeling compelled to find that rigid structure again. But I think finding your balance takes time and experience. It takes trial and error and you have to experience both sides; balance and instability.

During Find Your Balance February I will be trying to keep my January mindset. Yes I want to be “on track” and treating my body to the next level kind of health it thrives on (kefir, anyone?), but I will be slowing down by keeping 2-3 days of yoga in my week, and enjoying my beer guilt-free.

I encourage you to sign up for the challenge and work toward finding your balance as well!

photo (10)

This month I will be keeping it clean for the most part during the week and saving my indulgences for the weekend (unless something fun comes up, of course). Like I said, this weekend is Meagan’s birthday and I am 110% percent positive there will be cupcakes.

In addition to 2-3 days of yoga, I will be getting back into BodyAttack once a week with 1-2 days of strength training and/or other cardio depending on my schedule. I will still be moving my body 5-6 days a week but I won’t be pushing myself to exhaustion. I never want to dread my workout. I love to love fitness!

So who’s with me? Find your balance, choose health, enjoy life ❤

End second rant 😉

Liz xo

Fit Friday: Stability Ball Plank Circles

It’s Friday, Friday, gotta get down on Friday 😀

And here I am with another Fit Friday move from the stability ball series. Sorry I just can’t help myself, the ball has so many possibilities!

Speaking of stability…

IMG_3818

Have you ever heard of a core balance cushion? Superstore (Loblaws) has a new line of yoga and gym gear called Jogi. They have everything from kettle bells to athletic gloves to yoga mats. This cushion is partially inflated and most comfortably used when sitting upright, with good posture. If you try to slouch you kind of fall off the side. It can be used anywhere but is recommended for yoga and Pilates to add a balance challenge.

A co-worker showed me this yoga “seat” last week and said she uses it to encourage active sitting at her desk. She’s had two hip transplants and gets really stiff after sitting for a while. Using the ball apparently really helps!

IMG_3823

Of course I had to try one out…

I’ve been a fan of my homemade stand up desk for a couple of months now but I can’t stand all day long. Now when I sit, at least it’s active sitting 🙂

—————————————————————–

Fit Friday: Stability Ball Plank Circles

AKA: Swiss, Balance, or Exercise Ball (Plank) Circles
Weight/Equipment: Stability Ball
Reps: 3 sets of 10-12 reps

IMG_2057

Method: Start in a low plank position, with your forearms on the ball, elbows directly under shoulders. Keep your back flat, hips down, & core engaged.

Begin to make a circle with your forearms, moving them to the right, out in front of you, to the left, then back to start. That’s one rep.

Nov 18 008 Nov 18 007

Keep your entire core engaged, and your knees locked to help your balance. Try making 10-12 circles clockwise, then repeat counter-clockwise. Perform at least 3 sets in sequence or as part of a circuit.

This is honestly one of the best core exercises you probably aren’t doing.

For more from the stability ball series check out these moves or head straight to the Fitness page:

Have a fit & healthy weekend 😉

Liz xo

Jump Start January

Cheers to 2014!

NYE Ryan and Elyse

I love the holidays but I’m always ready to get back to my routine afterwards; especially clean eating and regular exercise.

I’ve teamed up with the lovely Georgia from Georgia’s Trying Something New to commit to 30 days of movement in January to start the year off right.

jump-start january 2

Join us for Jump-Start January and do something to get your body moving every day for the next 30 days. “Moving” can mean anything from a challenging HIIT workout to doing 10 push-ups between laundry loads.

This challenge is not about weight loss, but about the many benefits of physical movement on a daily basis. Take it outside for a walk or run, grab a friend and try a new group-ex class or dust off your at-home cardio equipment. If you can’t get out of the house, try some of these no-excuse options to fit in a few minutes of movement at home:

  • 10 second up to 3 minute plank
  • 10 up to 100 burpees or push-ups throughout the day
  • 50 jumping jacks
  • 50 high knee runs
  • 30 bodyweight squats
  • 20 switch lunges

Check out my post on how to Fit More Fitness Into Your Day for more ways to get active without working out. Also, take a look at Boost Your Burn for tips on how to get the most out of your workout.

IMG_2337

We will be posting about our progress over the next few weeks and encourage you to check in with us by commenting on our posts and using the hashtag #jumpstartjanuary on Instagram & Twitter.

I’ll be taking part in a 30-day hot yoga challenge with Georgia; one of my 2014 resolutions. Nothing like starting the year off with a bang 😉

IMG_3728

So, how will you be starting 2014 off on the right foot?

Liz xo

 

 

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 🙂

027

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!

Veganomicon

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.

photo 2

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).

photo 4

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.

photo 2

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.

photo 1

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

Holiday Fitness Round-Up

merry fitness

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…

elf4health-tabata-nutty-for-life

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 😉

triple threat full body holiday circuit

3. Frost HIIT from Fitnessista

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

frost-hiit

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.

medicine ball pro ab workout

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.

holiday-butt-blaster-workout

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.

hol-fit holiday workout

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 😉

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 😉

Hot-Holidays-Workout

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

Merry Fitness my friends 🙂

Liz xo