“Small Change, Big Gain”

Last month I wrote a post on my Top 5 Wellness Favorites.  Included in that post, was mention of the company Elysium Health.  Elysium is all about the small, daily habits that lead to a healthier and better life.  And since my post, the team at Elysium has come up with a great infographic and included quotes from some wellness sites – MINE INCLUDED.  (That’s me at the bottom – NSFitBitch.)

ElysiumSCBG

Thank you Elysium for providing this great infographic and for including my post.

~FB

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Healthy Pumpkin Spice Latte

I am a huge pumpkin spice fan.  Huge.  In fact, I look forward to this time of year – all the time!  I am obsessed with everything pumpkin and I love me a good pumpkin spice latte.

Pumpkin-Spice-Latte

That being said, although I love a good PSL, they aren’t the healthiest option and are loaded with sugar (and who knows what else!).  So, if I deem myself favoring one, it is definitely a treat.  In the meantime, if I feel like I want to partake in the seasonal goodness, I make my own healthier version of a Pumpkin Spice Latte (I made one this morning).

Here’s what you need

  • 1 cup milk of choice (I used unsweetened vanilla almond milk)
  • 1-3 tbsp pumpkin purée (I went on the side of 3 tbs)
  • 1 tsp of pure vanilla (not vanilla extract)
  • ⅛ tsp ground cinnamon
  • tiny pinch ground nutmeg
  • tiny pinch ground ginger
  • ½ cup strong coffee
  • *1-3 dates
  1. Add the milk and pumpkin to a small pot. Heat over medium-low heat, stirring constantly with a whisk, until the mixture begins to simmer. Add in the vanilla, cinnamon, and nutmeg (*if you like your latte a bit sweeter, this is where you add the dates. Let them simmer in the wet mixture and they will literally sweeten the pot). Whisk the mixture until it becomes frothy.
  2. Add the coffee to a large mug, and pour the milk mixture on top.
  3. If you fancy yourself a Frappuccino type, let both the pumpkin mixture and the coffee cool (make the night before and let sit in the fridge), toss in the blender or Bullet with some cubes of ice and blend away.

If you want to make your drink even fancier by adding whipped cream, make this healthy version:

  1. One can of full fat coconut milk (Put in freezer to freeze). Once it’s frozen, remove and let sit in room temperature for 30 minutes.  Flip the can upside down and open from the bottom.  The coconut water separates from the milk (you can save the water to drink or for other recipes).
  2. Dump the coconut milk into a mixing bowl (or blender) and whip it on high until you get a nice whippy, fluffy consistency. Add in a little vanilla (or a dusting of Stevia or teaspoon of date water if you prefer it a bit sweeter) and continue whipping.
  3. Add the whip to your drink and dust with cinnamon.

~FB

Whole 30 Experience – Days 5, 6, 7, & 8

Day 5 

I managed to stay up this morning and get my walk in.  In fact, I was up before my alarm was due to go off.  Even better.

For breakfast I had my regular coffee, 2 eggs, and the last slice of the prosciutto.  You likely won’t hear my talk about the prosciutto anymore.  I only bought it on a whim because it was on sale.  😝

Once I got to work I sipped on a black iced coffee from McDonald’s. and at 10:30 I had some coconut chips to munch on and a little after 11am I had half a blueberry smoothie.

For lunch I had mixed grilled veggies and chopped up hamburger patty.  There were Timbits floating around my office but I steered clear.

After a Friday afternoon gym sesh I headed out of town for the weekend.  My beau and I picked up a small rotisserie chicken for dinner and I had some watermelon and plantain to go with it.

Day 6

Today was rest day so aside from my coffee I didn’t bother to eat until later – for brunch I had 1 egg, 1 sausage round (compliant), and a small salad with garlic olive oil.

For dinner my beau took me out for anniversary dinner and I had pan-fried haddock, mixed veggies, and some home fries.  Thank goodness white potatoes are compliant (now).

In the evening we had a movie date and while popcorn was going around, I snacked on some plantain chips and salsa.

Day 7

This morning I had breakfast of two eggs and some prosciutto (look at that, more prosciutto) and, of course, coffee.

I hit the gym early afternoon and then spent the next few hours at my BFF’s working on new videos for my online boot camp (starting September 4!).  I was super exhausted and struggled to get through the video exercises and then realized I hadn’t had any carbs.  Whoops.  So bestie grabbed us each a pear to chow on.  Thank goodness because by that point my sugars had also dropped and I was dizzy.

For dinner I made a pork burger (aka I chopped a pork chop in half) on a sweet potato bun (complete with avocado, dill pickle, and tomato {I forgot the lettuce}) with a side of cauliflower mash.  It was so delicious.

Day 8

Whoot!  Made it thru week one with no cravings.  Although, I did have some really bad belly bloat that lasted most of the week that I’ve never really experienced before.  I’ve heard about people having issues with bloating and other things while getting thru the first week or so of Whole 30.  But this was my first time.

After a 40 minute walk this morning, for breakfast I had two eggs and some prosciutto (I swear I only got it again because it was still on sale!) and coffee.

A little after 11am I had 6 cherries to snack on.  I still feel hungry but I’m trying to hold out for lunch.

Lunch today is leftover cauliflower mash and a 1/4 chopped up pork chop (leftover).  I snacked a bit throughout the afternoon on a combo of plantains and cherries.  And about an hour before teaching my boot camp class I shoved a banana in my face. #fuel

For dinner I made – FROM SCRATCH – coconut chicken tenders (slice a b/s chicken breast into strips and dip them into melted ghee and then into coconut (I also added in a bit of salt, pepper, and garlic & herbs) and zucchini noodles.  I also made a dessert/snack of sweet potato brownie:  sweet potato (cooked and scooped from the skin shell), melted coconut butter and nut butter (I used almond-hazelnut), and cocoa powder.  Mix it all together and pop it in the oven.  I made enough for a single serving.  It was actually really good and tasted like a warm, gooey brownie.  I know I’m not technically supposed to be having dessert, but, I’m recovering and refueling.

~Cheers

 

 

If It’s Too Good to be True…

My social media feeds are sometimes flowing with sales pitches for things like skinny wraps and magic teas and this and that – all for the benefit of losing weight.  Let’s be real people – if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

Most of these products want you to either eat or drink nothing for days, all while boasting “you’ll lose 10 pounds in one week!” or “Drop a dress size over night!” <– WTF??  Seriously?  This one’s not gonna happen.

BULL SHIT

This post was in my Facebook feed a while back and the so-called story behind it is that she spend hundreds of dollars on skinny wraps and greens and all that jazz and ended up like this.  I.Call.Bull.Shit!

Whatever happened to not putting all kinds of shit in your mouth and actually working for your weight loss.

Put down the cookies.  Put down the beer.  Get up and go for a walk or to the gym or to a class.

Those “magic” products aren’t really going to guarantee you lose weight AND CERTAINLY aren’t good for your health.  (And let’s be freaking honest – any weight that you may lose is going to be water weight – especially if you’re drinking teas or sweating if off in wraps! You’ll gain it right back.).  And those products that boast “cleansing” or “detoxing” – um, you have a liver for that!  Seriously.  Don’t waste your money.

Skinny Wrap

No, airhead, you should have not eaten that whole bag of chips and laid on the couch all day – you SHOULD HAVE gotten some exercise and had a healthy snack.

Instead, look at YOURSELF as an investment and if you really want to slim down or get healthier, invest in yourself – whether it’s money or time or effort.

Remember when Oprah said there is no such thing as a magic pill to make you lose weight because if there was she’d be on it.  Well – she’s right.  There is not.  You have to work for it. And working for it means watching what you eat and making better decisions about your food choices and finding the time to exercise.  Even if it’s for only 20 minutes a day.  How many times do I have to say it: twenty minutes a day can change your life!

The next time you’re inclined to spend some hard earned cash on a quick fix wrap or tea, reconsider.  Use your money wisely.  Invest in yourself and make some real changes that will benefit you long term – not just for the quick fix.

You’re worth it.

~FB

 

Whole 30 Experience – Day 1

Since I am a huge fanatic of the Whole 30 program, and have blogged and bragged about starting the program this week, I have decided to journal my experience with it. As you may know, this is not my first rodeo with the Whole 30. And, of course, results will vary each time and for each person. But I am stoked about this time around and could not wait to get started. (Don’t think, however, that I didn’t ram my face with some chocolate last night.)

Meet-Fruits-Vegitables-Nuts

Day 1 – My alarm went off this morning at 6am and I jumped out of bed to get rolling for my morning walk. Already was filled with excitement about my food path for the next 30 days. Once I returned home, I started my morning brew and once I was showered, I drank my coffee with a little unsweetened almond milk, and cooked up 2 eggs. Just plain. Fried in a pan. Simple and delicious.

By 11am I was starting to feel a little hungry. This really is nothing new for me. Since I’m up so early and work out so often (I hit the gym yesterday morning for an hour and a half, then went on an 8.5 k walk like night, and up early this morning for a 3 k pre-work walk), I’m usually hungry all the time. Instead of stuffing my face with something, I settled my stomach growls with another cuppa joe (with almond milk). I also drink water consistently throughout the day.

My lunch consisted of a small portion of chicken breast and some mixed veggies which I made in advance. One sort-of challenge about Whole 30-ing is that I do find I have to actually meal prep. Especially if I am going out of town for a night or two. I can’t just skip down to the deli to grab a quick meal as almost everything is processed (breaded or sauced or mixed). So, last night I made a nice, healthy meal for lunch. My coworker and I also went on a good walk during out break (which I thought I might collapse from heat stroke, but alas, I made it) and I did stop at the grocery store to grab a few things…including a peach for a walk-back snack.

Yesterday was about 34 degrees with the humidex and our AC was spazzed out at work. I had to teach boot camp after work so around 4pm I ate an apple. I needed something cool and fresh and carby. After my class (where I guzzled about 7 gallons of water), I ate dinner of small pork chop and a cauliflower pancake (riced cauliflower, one egg, garlic).

cauliflower-pancakes1

I had also meal prepped for the next few days since I’ll be out of town and made my first batch of cabbage rolls (recipe to follow). And, once they were finished cooking and since I was still quite hungry, I had one.

And that completes day 1 of my Whole 30.

~FB

My Top 5 Wellness Favorites

wellness

I was asked recently about favorite personal wellness tips and as I’ve been reflecting on my regular routine, I’ve been able to narrow them down.  Here are my top five favorites:

1.

Exercise and nutrition/clean eating.  Obviously I have a passion for fitness and good basic nutrition.  They have become such a huge part of my life that it is more than apparent that they would be number one on my list.  And, since I believe fitness and nutrition go hand-in-hand, I have joined them as top rank.  I am a huge lover of cardio, but for the past 8 months, I have been completely obsessed with my strength training and have been focusing most of my gym time on that.  I would encourage everyone to add a strength training routine to their regular fitness regime.  I’m also a cheerleader for clean eating and following the Whole 30 program.  I am not a clean eater 100% (I literally just ate a handful of salted caramel chocolate chips), but I often try to stay away from processed and junk and fast foods as much as possible.  In fact, I am gearing up for a Whole 30 in a few weeks.  I also love starting my day off with some form of exercise.  It used to be a crazy Insanity workout or other form of cardio, then it was yogo, and this summer it has been early morning walks.  I am so in love with my early morning walks for a few reasons but the biggest one is the solitude in the mornings.  It’s usually just me out there and I love the stillness and the quiet and the fresh air in my face.  I also love the little feeling of accomplishment in the mornings and the walks have been giving me that.

2.

Water.  Lotsa water.  I love water.  It’s my favorite drink.  In fact, aside from a morning coffee or the occasional glass of wine, it’s the only thing I drink.  And I drink a lot of it. Water is essential in every day life – you can read here a past post on why water is important.  I love water and I constantly have a glass of it on the go, whether I’m at work or working out, I try to continuously guzzle.

3.

Sleep.  Sleep is right up there with water – it’s essential.  And it’s a big part of how I’m going to function.  I hate not getting enough sleep.  About 5 years ago I had a bad bought of insomnia for months on end and it was terrible.  I was barely functioning.  I was a walking zombie.  I’ve written two posts previously on sleep and I stand by my word (you can read them here and here) and there’s also plenty of research being done by companies, like Elysium Health , on the science behind sleep—you can learn more about their findings on cellular health and NAD+ and their connection to sleep here .  I love sleep.  I try to get as much as I can but it doesn’t always work for me.  A good night would have been sleeping 7 hours but most nights, according to my FitBit, see me sleeping anywhere from 5 to 6 hours.  Eventually, when I’m exhausted enough, I’ll manage a good 7 or 8 hours, but I will always strive.

4.

Me Time.  It’s really important – no, make that crucial – that every person take some “me time”.  Although my morning walks and other workouts can often be accounted for as me time, I like to find time during the day just for me.  Time far away from chaos and hustle and bustle and social media.  This me time is usually my reading (or writing) time.  I am an avid reader and become completely enthralled in my books.  And I look forward to curling up under the summer sun or before bed to leave where I am and, instead, get lost in the words of my book.  I urge everyone to take 20 minutes (at least) each day to themselves.

Sparkles

5.

Quality Social Time.  I am a social being.  In fact, my nickname has always been social butterfly.  Just as it’s important to take me time, it’s also important to have social time with other people.  I love spending time with my family and my friends and my co-workers and my workout buddies.  Getting out and enjoying the company of others (and allowing them to enjoy your company) is very important to maintaining good mental health.  And mental and emotional health are just as important as physical health.  Having fun or having a good cry (if required) are important to keeping us healthy and balanced.  And this means getting social in person – not hopping onto Facebook to chat.  Your mind, body, and soul need you to interact with other human beings.  So, whether you go to a fitness class or a Bible study or book club or just get together with your friends or family, ensure that you do it.  Often.

mind-body-soul_design

So, that’s it.  Those are my personal top 5 (I’m sure there are more) favorite wellness tips to living a healthy life.  What are yours?

~FB

 

Push-up Challenge

PushupsHappy 1st day of August! To celebrate the start of a brand new month, I’m challenging you all to the 20 Push-ups a Day Challenge. It’s pretty simple – you commit to doing 20 push-ups a day for the next month. Easy peasy. You can do any variation, so modified push-ups are fine. Comment below “I’m in” or inbox me to let me know the challenge has been accepted – and away we go!!

Why Push-Ups? 

Push-ups are one of the basic and most common exercises for the human body.  They are great for your chest, and help defining your abs, triceps, shoulders, and torso.  They are an incredible exercise for overall strength improvement.

Push-ups can be performed no matter where you are and don’t require any equipment or gym. The benefits of push-ups are plentiful.  They will improve muscular endurance within the upper body, strengthen both muscles and bones, create lean muscle mass that raises your metabolism and, of course, help keep you fit and healthy. 

~FB

Start

Happy Monday Morning!!

Today is the start of a brand new day…and week.  So why not make the decision that today will be the day you change your life.

Bad Workout

Deciding to start a fitness program or healthy lifestyle does not mean you have to commit to running a marathon or hitting the gym every day or signing up for an intense boot camp class (though, you’re more than welcome to come to mine!).  You can start your brand new life by going for small walk around your block or adding in the Commercial Break Workout to your TV watching routine or even, since it’s summer, going for a swim.

Just do something.

I promise you that if you started adding a little fitness (and healthier eating) into your life your body will thank you.  And soon enough, your body will crave it.  Chances are you will feel more energized and happy and excited…and proud.

So, Happy Monday!  Make today the day you change your life.

~FB

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pet Fit

Living an active lifestyle is, as you know, important for heart health, keeping us trim, and able, and young.  But, it’s also important for our pets to keep active as well.

dog gym

I am the first to admit that I have a big, fat cat.  My boy is an inside house cat, and therefore he is definitely not as active as he should be by nature.  Therefore, I do my best to have exercise time with him.  This includes playing hide-and-seek (he loves to pounce on me) and also taking him outside on his leash during the Spring, Summer, and Fall (in Nova Scotia winters the poor guy would disappear in the snow!).

Winston Outside

*sigh* Sometimes he strolls, sometimes he sits there and glares at me. #attitude

In addition to my cat, I am also Auntie to a friend’s dog (remember Dora from my last post?).  Dora and I have been hiking and walking quite a bit since the Spring and her dog, Layla, now associates me with walk time.

Three Amigos

The Three Amigos: Dora, Layla, and me on one of our evening strolls

It’s actually really sweet.  Whenever I step onto the threshold of Dora’s house, Layla goes crazy, jumping around, scattering around the house, and jumping as high as she can to give me kisses before we head out.

Hike dog

Sweet Layla

Dora and I make as many dates as we can through the week to get together to walk Layla. We have a great time, and in addition to Layla getting some workout time in, Dora and I get to improve our fitness as well.  Layla also gets walks in the morning before Dora heads to work.

Besides walking the dog, Dora is certain to include Layla in her other fitness adventures.  As I mentioned, they go hiking, and swimming, and running on the beach.

Beach Dogs

Layla and a friend on the beach

There are so many ways to incorporate your pets into your fitness regime.  And this doesn’t just go for dogs.  If you have a cat, and depending on its personality, you can take your cat hiking, walking, and sometimes even swimming.

My Aunt Donna can attest to this.  If you recall, Donna did a guest post for me last year. Donna had her second spinal surgery just a few weeks ago.  After her first spinal surgery several years ago when she was living in Vancouver, she got herself a new kitten, Ms. Coco Chanel.  Coco was and is very much a therapy cat.  When Donna returned home from the hospital post-surgery, to ensure she would get up and out, instead of remaining sedentary, she started taking Coco for walks.

Little Coco

Little Coco

These walks have become a way of life for both Donna and for Coco.  Coco loves her strolls and her hikes and they keep both her and Donna active.  Even when Donna is having a high-pain day, she turns to Coco to ensure they both get out for their stroll.  Coco has climbed trees and hiked trails and strolled beaches.

Blue Coco

Blue 2

Coco loves nature and she always stops to smell the roses Lady Slippers

There are many other things to do with your pets to keep them active:  throw balls or a Frisbee, use a laser light or other toy, chase them (Layla loves this!), you can even invest in pet fitness equipment.  My boyfriend’s father takes the dogs for at least one swim a day during the summer.  And the dogs love him for it.

There are so many ways to keep your pets active and doing so can help improve their health, longevity, agility, and overall life.  So, the next time you’re heading out for a hike, why not leash up your buddy and take him with you.  Or include him in the family swim.

And, in the meantime, check out PuppySpot. They’re a community of dog lovers who place healthy puppies into happy homes. They were kind enough to provide this awesome infographic for you all.

puppyspot_fido_fitness_x2_v02

~FB

FitBit Cat-Fight

Earlier this week I posted an article about not cheating in FitBit challenges and that you should earn your steps.  I’ve been in tons of challenges and have won some and lost some. I’ve been in challenges with people who bust their butts in order to keep them active and moving, and I’ve been in challenges with people who do whatever they can to earn first place…including cheating.  These people freely admit that they cheat (well, some of them freely admit it) and find it humorous to knock each other out of first place on an ongoing basis.  I really couldn’t care less if I’m in first or second or seventh place, as long as I know I’m doing what I can do to keep my activity up and earning my place – wherever it may be.

Unfortunately, I’ve received some backlash in relation to that post, and one woman in particular has taken great offense to the post.  A woman I have never met, do not know, and likely will never meet in my lifetime.  Here’s what happened:  I created a challenge earlier in the week.  I invited a friend (we’ll call her Bonnie) and she invited a friend (Clyde) and Clyde invited this woman (we’ll call her Jane).  When I shared my post to my Bonnie’s Facebook wall she tagged a few of her friends so that they could also read it.  I got a lot of positive feedback from her friends, as well as from others I shared the post with (and from the blog itself**). However, this one woman, Jane, commented something along the lines of “no cheating here if that was implied”.  Since I don’t know Jane I did not respond.  My post was shared with Bonnie and others simply because we were currently in a challenge together and thought it might be of interest for her to read.  I should also note that Bonnie is a BeachBody coach and inspiring people with her own fitness journey.

Shortly after her comment, Jane removed it and added something else about her weight loss – which I commend her for.  From there, it seems all hell broke loose.  As I continued on with my day, my step count continued to go up.  My coworker and I have been walking on our lunch break since the winter.  I will note that my current coworker Boo Boo is filling a maternity leave for my BFF/coworker Spanky and for a good portion of last year and thru most of her pregnancy, Spanky and I would run on our lunch breaks – so lunchtime fitness is nothing new.  In addition, since the start of the summer and since I began physio for my ongoing back injury, I have been dragging my butt out of bed bright (not quite) and early every morning and walking several kilometers before getting ready for work.  Since race season is starting back up, I need to condition myself to get back into running after stopping for several months to allow my back to heal.  And in addition to all of this, I have been doing a lot of dog-walking/hiking with another friend Dora since the Spring when there was still snow on the ground.  This is all on top of my regular gym time and teaching boot camp and fitness classes.  Therefore, my step count each day is pretty high.  That’s just my life.

When I went to bed Wednesday night, I had a high step count.  I had gotten in several walks that day, taught my boot camp class (in 34 degree heat, mind you) and finished the night off with a near 10k hike with Dora, not arriving home until after 10:30.  I don’t keep data turned on on my cell phone and I turn it off at night (I have a house phone) , so when I turned my cell phone on in the morning, I was about 10 or 12 thousand steps ahead of Jane.  Apparently, Jane did not like that my step count was higher than hers as she posted in the challenge that I was a “looser” (eep! Loser?) and a cheater and then she quit the challenge.

But Jane took it further.  She called me out, indirectly, of course so that I had no way to defend or explain myself.  She posted some nasty stuff about me on her private Facebook page – naming me specifically, calling me a cheater and saying it was disheartening because I’m a fitness coach and saying that I didn’t like that she had blown by me, etc.  Of course, since I don’t know, therefore am not friends with Jane, I had no way of seeing these posts publicly – until others starting sending me private messages with screenshots of her post and comments.  My blood pressure went through the roof!  Thankfully, severally people came to my defense stating that perhaps I don’t sync my steps at night and yadda yadda yadda.  And, Bonnie and Clyde totally defended me and shamed her for her comments about me.  They both commended me on my abilities as a trainer and as a fitness professional and that her very public comments could hurt my credibility as a trainer.  (Thank you lovely ladies for that!)

Jane also made comments that I joined the challenge and took it over and that she never would have joined if she knew it was all trainers.  Clyde responded that Jane was wrong – that I, FB, created the challenge and that she, Clyde, invited her, Jane, and that it wasn’t all trainers.  In fact, I, FB, had only invited a few people – most of us who have sedentary jobs – in order to motivate each other to keep moving.  It wasn’t until Jane had joined the challenge that it turned into something so freakin’ dramatic.  I believe Bonnie or Clyde may also have pointed out to Jane that she had had no problem with this challenge and the step count while she was in the lead and it wasn’t until that morning with my additional 10,000 steps that she had lost her cool.

I also want to mention that, after Jane called me a “looser” and a cheater that I sent her a message stating that I work my ass off each and every day to achieve my fitness goals and that I had not cheated and I invited her to spend a day with me so she could see first hand how I earn my steps.  Of course, however, I received no response.

It’s unfortunate that a FitBit challenge and a blog post could cause such hoopla.  And, admittedly, perhaps my article comments went too far, but I meant no offense to anyone and if anyone took offense to my writing, then for that I apologize.  That being said, Jane was the only person from the many my WordPress stats show who’ve read the post who became defensive.  My theory on that is if you’ve done nothing wrong (ie. cheat), then why are you getting so upset.  Again, if I am wrong, I sincerely apologize.

Any challenge I’ve created as a fitness professional – or just as a regular Joan – FitBit Goal Days, Boot Camp Bingos, etc, have been meant to be kept lite.  They’re supposed to be fun ways to motivate yourself and each other to stay on track and get up and move.  They’re not meant to bring anyone down.  For Heaven’s sake – it’s a FitBit Challenge!! I shouldn’t be receiving hate comments (I expect those only in my boot camp classes and only in jest).

So, for those of you who’ve defended me, thank you.  For those of you who’ve participated, thank you.  And for those of you who continue to support each other, thank you!

Keep it lite, folks.

**One positive outcome from all of this incredible drama is that it caught the eye of a company in the US and they have asked me to write a guest post for their online site.  Stay tuned later this week for the upcoming article.

~FB