Transcendental Meditation

Through my Yoga practice, I find that even just the postures and stillness of the room brings me a level of peace that I desperately need in my life. Suffering with panic attacks is NOT fun, anxiety where not understood, is something hard to live with in every day life.

I am not a student of Transcendental Meditation, but I have meditated off for years. I have observed Korean, Japanese and Western methodologies and have been exposed to Indian meditative processes as well.

I really am enjoying the last year where I have been applying a more “western” twist to my mindfulness to be able to tap into my calm even while out and about.

I noted one day on Facebook that an old acquaintance of mine from the Dance world had been following this type of meditation for some time. I thought I would pass on the information she posted to you all.

Do you subscribe to meditation practices? Have you every tried Transcendental Meditation?

Try this TM Meditation I found & let me know what you think!

  • Close your eyes, wait a few seconds, and then start thinking the mantra. It is thought repeatedly only in the beginning of meditation.
  • After a while you should “let it go” and “allow the mantra to change in any way it wants”. Whether it gets louder or softer, faster or slower down, clearer or fainter, we just take it as it comes. Its is more of a “hearing” of the mantra than repeating it, and that is why TM movement calls the technique “effortless”.
  • Allow thoughts to come and go along with the mantra. There is no attempt to push thoughts out of our mind or use the mantra to override them.
  • When the mantra disappears and the mind goes off on thoughts we quietly come back to it. This means that all we have to do is become (aware) that we are no longer hearing the mantra and the awareness of that will be quite sufficient to bring the mantra back to us.
  • At the end of meditation stop thinking the mantra and wait about 2 minutes before opening the eyes.

And the list of mantras can be found here: http://minet.org/mantras.html

CLIENT SPOTLIGHT – Commit to be fit. Finding motivation with Amanda B

My relationship with Amanda began as a lot of my client relationships do – online.

When we met she was struggling with time, illness, kids….(3, not 1) and prioritizing life. After a false start, she came back resolute and stronger than ever. This year, at Pittsburgh VegFest we actually got to meet face to face – what a light that radiates from her. I was even able to meet her charming hubs…..after hearing “you changed my fricken life”….I was smitten.

Amanda has done SO well and is such a vibrant example of strength to her family. If you’re struggling with time, motivation and more, please read her interview for inspiration.

Amanda is a fit worker, wife, mom and most of all ~ independent woman who knows the value of self care. Rock it lady – you’re inspiring more people than you know.

Love you girl, so proud.

xx

S

Compared to 6 months ago, how does your fit life look?

It has changed dramatically-20 lbs will do that!! The motivation I have to find out what I am capable of doing. Ex- I was not able to do a push up in April and now I am doing them-a real one LOL!

 What do you think were your biggest challenges as it relates to fitness and nutrition?  

TIME! The first 30 days I was DO or DIE-my neighbors were like “where are you” Im like over pressing tofu cooking broccoli. I had to keep away from social events just to get my mind right, check in after check it -it ALL paid off!

 If you took a break from staying fit at all in your past, why do you think this occurred and what value do you put on fitness now?

After my 2nd child I dropped the weight and was “fit” working out and that was just my lifestyle-was in nursing school and life was good, then FULL TIME job really diminished that “fit” life-I worked nights and had 2 kids and NO time for me. Then the 3rd babe came along and I was like I’m gonna just do this beautiful chaotic life and roll with the punches 2 years pass and I was mentally and emotionally ready to commit to getting back into fitness.

Why did you decide to look for a coach to help you with your goals?

I went vegan about 1.5 years ago…didn’t lose weight. Vegan processed food will do that, I was working out but no CHANGES and I felt defeated I knew I needed the accountability I needed someone checking in, cheering me on but letting me know where I was fudging up the plan.

 Do you think that having a support system (online or otherwise) is integral to your ability to stay on track?

YES! People ask “ what are you doing” I got a coach-she made them plan-I followed the plan! My husband is  a smart man, he wasn’t going to say “You think you need to eat that? Or did you work out”.

What is the most surprising part of your journey so far?

What 30 days of pure commitment will do, my focus and mind set has changed completely.  I allowed myself to have free days in July for sanity and summertime. I follow the set pan the rest of the days. My performance in the gym and my endurance has improved beyond measure. I even wore shorts and went swimming this summer which has not been a thing since 2013.

 What is your biggest challenge between work/family/self care?

Time again!! Just making sure I have my meals readily available, I do a batch cook day, press my tofu, cook the veggies, I always have frozen vegan meat and veggies on stand by. 

What is the biggest positive impact on your life since you undertook a healthier nutrition / fitness outlook?  

Hearing my 10-year-old say “Mom you are so strong” The fact that they are watching, they are seeing what hard work does and that girls are strong and working out is about being healthy! This journey also opened my eyes up to the relationship I had with food-my life revolved around food or socially drinking on most occasions. My mental and health goals became inline with my social life.

How do you keep progressing and set goals for yourself?

Just remembering how I feel now compared to how I felt on April 26 2018, when this journey started. I put away my “big” clothes and don’t ever want to bring them back out!

What/who keeps you accountable?

My tribe of 5, husband- Ryan, kids- Aiden, Chloe and Jaxon!

 

What are your top 3 favourite foods to eat (good or bad) and do you have a new or interesting food item that helps you with any unhealthy cravings you may have?

Salsa/guac and chips I love crunchy salty foods!! So Ill do guac and salsa with carrots or cukes. Also, pizza, that’s my weakness in food life. To get my red sauce kick ill sauté spinach with grape tomatoes and sprinkle on nutritional yeast.

Tell us a little bit about what you see for your future goals.

I plan to just keep improving in my performance at the gym and in my overall outlook on my health. I feel great and am so proud of myself for making ME a priority. This alone has improved my relationship with my husband and children. They understand that mum just needs her hour to herself to workout and the day will carry on, it has made me a better woman, wife and mother. I have rolled around the idea of some sort of fitness competition…who knows!!

If you could give a solid piece of advice to anyone who may have been in your same position who just “doesn’t have time” to take care of themselves, what would it be?

YOU ARE WORTH IT-you get one shot here on earth, one body to do life in-WHY not feel good in that body!

 

 

Going Vegan for Hashimotos – With Ash D.

SUCH a beautiful soul!

I first met Ash in 2017 after her main squeeze came in overall champ at an OCB event. My husband, Jeff and I gave away FREE fitness shoots to of all the top athletes from the show. We did a great shoot with Isaak  & Ash who drove in to Pittsburgh from Ohio.

After meeting these two, we thought so much of them and really enjoyed seeing how much they loved the sport & each other.

Later, Ash contacted me to talk about getting some mentorship with switching to a Vegan diet to help with a recent diagnosis of Hashimoto’s Disease. 

Ash, thank you so much for being open and honest about your struggles with your health & for being the motivation that others will undoubtedly need to make a positive change for a better life! And hey, if YET ANOTHER bodybuilder can go vegan – I’m excited for the animals & the planet too.

xx

Your main challenge in seeking out nutritional advice was the discovery that you had been afflicted with Hashimotos disease. How long did this take you to discover?

I had been suffering from intense migraines for a year and a half before I decided to seek help. I had visited the eye doctor and got prescribed glasses and still didn’t experience relief from the migraines. As a last ditch effort I went to my OBGYN to get my hormones checked. It was then in my doctor visit she palpated my thyroid and said it was enlarged. From this point it took 2 more months before I could get into the  Endocrinologist she referred me to. Within moments of him reviewing my blood work he diagnosed me with Hashimotos.

Can you tell us a bit, in your own words, what Hashimotos is to you?

Hashimotos to me changed my life for the better. It made me over analyze everything I used or put in my body. Just the slightest amount of the wrong thing throws my body into such a funk because what is happening when I am not fueling my body correctly, my thyroid produces too much hormones and in turn my body views my thyroid as a foreign object and attacks itself.

With a laundry list of sensitivities under that umbrella, how did you find what foods negatively impact you personally?

I clearly KNEW I wasn’t feeling good so when I switched to a plant based diet I started feeling a way I haven’t felt in two years , which was feeling good. Having energy and no symptoms of a migrane. I am a bodybuilder and on Saturday evenings I always provided myself a cheat meal, it was upon this I discovered gluten was my worst enemy. Avoiding animal products/dairy is a choice and have discovered that those items don’t effect me as negatively as gluten does.

 Did you try anything natural/holistic on your own first?

I had and still use essential oils and herbs for the migraines prior to my diagnosis. Meditation/reiki/color therapy and yoga has also helped along this journey. Strengthening my mental health as well as my physical health has changed the game .

How long have you been suffering with the symptoms of this disease?

I recall my symptoms appeared during my first show prep in 2015.

How did this impact your training? Are there any supplements that you are no longer using because of their negative impact on your body?

I overused pre-workout because I always felt fatigued and in turn I have discovered that too much caffeine also gives me the same side effects of gluten.

Clearly STILL #Veganstrong here <3

Are there any medications that were recommended to you? If you can share with us which ones, did you agree to take them or are you trying a natural approach?

They prescribed synthroid and I declined that and have opted to take Naturethroid. It is a natural thyroid medication that is derived from pig thyroids. On top of this I also take a vegetarian supplement called Thyroid Support.

How did you originally come across the information noting that a plant based diet might help you out most?

I read an article in a magazine one day about a woman who was diagnosed with Thyroid cancer. She decided to switch to a plant based diet and within a year she reversed the effects on her body and was placed in remission. My thoughts were my story is not as intense but why couldn’t this work for me? I figured it wouldn’t hurt my body any to try!

What is the biggest hurdle you feel you face in your day to day life with this issue?

Eating the right things to avoid feeling fatigued.

What does shopping for groceries look like to you or how do you think it differs from a “regular” persons grocery shop? –

It starts in the produce section and the organic area. The only products I pick up in the aisles are almond milk, tea, certain vegan/gluten free cereals and breads. Other than that I avoid the rest of the grocery store. I believe other people do the exact opposite of my method. Only shop in the aisles and avoid the produce section.

 What are your pet peeves when dining out? 

That plant based diets are not popular in my area so I have to stick to the “sides” section and opt for a salad.

How has your family reacted to your huge nutritional lifestyle change?

They have been so supportive and have encouraged the change. They have noticed the difference.

What is the one food you desperately miss, or do you miss any foods at all?

Sometimes when cravings hit I miss ice cream and donuts but there is a gluten free bakery in my town and they make dairy free ice cream now so I’ve found things to implement.

If you could give 3 pieces of solid advice to those suffering with Hashimotos, what would they be? 

Change your diet!

Once you start “feeling” better, get your mind right .  Strengthen your mental health.

Get a good sweaty workout in daily

Please share with us any of your favourite foods or recipes!

Black bean burgers with sweet potato fries

Zucchini noodles and home made marinara

A note: 

Look at this girl that you have helped me blossom into! thank you from the bottom of my heart for providing the stepping stones and all the tools to transition into this lifestyle change. 

So much Love,
Ash

Tips for keeping training exciting

Who doesn’t selfie between sets?

Motivate my workout! When you train day in, day out with no end in sight, it can get overwhelmingly – blah.

Without a show date, high school reunion or vacation booked we can easily lose our drive for keeping the gains train going. Have a look through these simple tips for keeping the fitness flame alive for you all here.

Momma didn’t raise no quitter!

Add some “Flix” to your kicks.

Cardio can really beat your brains especially when it’s always indoors and monotonous. If you have the data or wifi, try watching a new series or a movie in pieces while you pedal, step or jog.

Sign up for classes in advance

Commit to be fit! Using apps like Mindbody for yoga, pilates or group fitness classes allow you to sign in before the class goes on, often several days in advance. Book your fitness like you do your haircuts and mani pedis, it’s a necessity.

Create mini goals

An additional 5 lbs, another 1/2 mile, getting down half a pant size. All great mini “now” goals to keep you pushing the envelope on a daily basis.

Get outside

If you’re not a competitive bodybuilder you don’t need to get all of your training in at the gym. If you live by mountains, hike and ski. If you live by lakes, swim and paddle. There are so many fun ways to get your fitness on without the clanging of metal on metal.

Revive your radio

Playing the same old tunes every session can get super repetitive. Now that the world doesn’t run on HMV it’s much easier to sample new music all the time. Cool streaming stations like Spotify even allow us to “discover” music they think we will like.

For something new, check out this personalized playlist on Spotify HERE. 

Fitness is a blessing, remember that many do not have the ability to train as freely as you do. Use it to elevate your mood, your heart rate and your outlook on life.

Keep on trucking.

XX – S

Burning those unwanted calories

Losing body fat is all about creating a energy balance (calories are energy). If we create a deficit we lose weight. I’m sure you’ve all heard me say this/post about this 100 times! Create an excess of calories and gain weight (good for creating muscle mass if done accurately).

Here are the ways we burn calories

Metabolism – physiological & biochemical processes

Non-exercise activity – regular daily rituals like brushing teeth, combing hair, standing up and sitting down

Thermic activity – Eating and digesting a meal (digest/absorb/process)

Exercise – Weight training, yoga, cycling, running (though endurance activity burns far more kcals)

Burning Cals Wisely – 2 methods discovered

Massive calorie deficiency and over exercising can lead to failure and metabolic breakdown if you aren’t careful. This is NOT good in any way shape or form. This is why we reverse diet from contests and big events like my FML Fat Fry program.

Exercise

The best way to fire up your fat burning engine is with HIIT. This raises your heart rate quickly and creates an oxygen deficit. You also create an after burn effect (EPOC/Excess Post Oxygen Consumption) where you continue to burn calories even after training – for hours or days. Woop!

How to get ripped quickly? Move more. On average a healthy human should aim for 10k steps per day.

It doesn’t necessarily matter WHAT exercise you do, only that you’re creating a caloric deficit. But then again, who wants to be at the gym all day? Endurance athletes shoot glares my way now!

The amount you burn is dictated by volume and intensity – the longer you train (volume) the more you burn. The harder you train (intensity) the more you burn. If you can do both in one session OR double up – you will burn a massive amount of calories.

Thermic effect in food

Eating 4-5 small meals throughout the day instead of 3 (or fewer) has an inconclusive effect on your beltline. So the benefit here might not be to lose inches necessarily. What this does do, is stop you from getting hungry between meals and making bad decisions on snacks. This method will also keep your blood sugar more stable.  Ensuring you incorporate protein in every meal will increase the thermic effect your body will go through.

I personally subscribe to a 6 day per week training plan where I lift and complete HIIT cardio as well as MISS cardio. It’s all about variety, fun and hard work.

If you’re looking to fire up your routine and burn some extra fat or put on some lean gains, you know who to call!

Xx

S

The Fit, Vegan Foodies guide to Maui

Hike Views on the Lahaina Trail – Photo By Jeff Williams – JJW Photography

 

If you’re heading to Hawaii there is no better island than Maui. I might be biased because I’ve only been there and Oahu a few times.

This year, we took 14 days to explore the island and chill out. I was supposed to be mid-prep for a June show and was stressing out over how to balance hard work and play – then I pushed off competing until winter (has it even left us yet?) so I could relax more about my food.

We are lucky to have a close friend with a condo in Kihei (thanks Mark & Vanessa) so we scored a great ground level, ocean view 2 bedroom unit right on S. Kihei road at The Maui Banyan.

Fully equipped kitchen & outdoor BBQ facilities – YES. As well as 2 pools, 2 hot tubs and the sound of the ocean to put you to sleep – pinch me.

Though I wasn’t on prep for a show I still wanted to make sure that I stayed (mostly) on track so, as usual I found a gym to train at while away as well. The Maui Powerhouse is the only gym I would go to on this part of the island. It was biking/driving distance away from us and amazing. There are more details & links below.

Have a great time on the island ~ do your best to enjoy all the fresh food & drinks. Practice Aloha!

Here we go!

First stop ~ Fork & Salad

Refreshing, light & full of options. They have tofu as an adder so you can create pretty much whatever you like. This place is owned by the people at Three’s (see below).

Second stop – Maui Powerhouse Gym

SUCH a great gym. I cannot say enough about this spot. We trained all but 1 day while here, every morning and it was perfect. Kind of sad to be leaving this one behind because there wasn’t too much fighting over equipment and the ownership is great. Good location with lots of parking and right next to Fork & Salad as well as a coffee shop and a bunch of other infrastructure.

How to eat like a Vegan on Maui

If you want to eat, you’re going to need to stop by these places to at least try something out. As a vegan it can be tough to eat anywhere on the island if you’re not in the know.

I hit up Vegan on Maui on Facebook to ask the group for ideas before I left as the last trip to the island a few years back wasn’t as successful.

Kihei: 

Three’s 

They have tofu first of all, so this will make it easier on you to add some protein to dishes and modify. I had the Kale salad, sans cheese. Jeff had a rice/curry dish and added tofu as well. WIN. The space is nice, we sat outside and their Lime & Coconut drink is TDF (to die for).

Hawaiian Moons

Most of our trip we prepared our own meals at the condo. This is the BEST place for all things vegan and healthy. This is NOT the best place for saving cash on foodstuffs so beware. They also have a food bar where they make smoothies, açai bowls, pitaya bowls, sandwiches and salads etc… expensive but nutritious and clean.

Freds

Ugh, this place is THE WORST but I’m mentioning it because they did accommodate us UNLIKE upstairs at Moose McGillicuddy’s where the staff is aloof and the menu options are next to none. 

We shared vegetarian fajitas and the beach view which was really the only reason we went back here – we were there in 2014 and disliked it then as well.

Rice & refried beans are NOT cruelty free but they do have black beans and white riced which are. Found out after that the vegetables were cooked in butter (not oil) and felt ILL – I’m not sure they have a non-butter option.

Other: 

Mentioned by my non-vegan folks: Tiki Bar {Pizza} – my parents noted that the menu said vegan options available but weren’t sure exactly what the options were.

Lahaina: 

Baya Bowls

Great little Food Truck located just a couple of blocks off of Front Street. They appear on Yelp as well as google searches.

Captain Jacks

We only had a couple of drinks on the lanai and people watched from this spot BUT the waitress did let us know that all of the sauces were vegan & that they had Beyond Burgers.

Kaanapali: 

A’a Roots

This was a suggestion from the Vegan on Maui FB group (closed group). It was sort of worth the drive from Kihei (under 20 miles) but, it was pretty outrageously priced (as is everything in Hawaii). Service was quick and they had a lot of “to go” options as well. Lots of Raw vegan, juices, desserts etc…

Kula:

O’o Farm

This was a return trip for us this year. They added tofu to their luncheon menu which was not the case a few years back. Imagine traveling up country into the clouds, eating unripened coffee fruit, touring beautiful gardens and foraging for your own lunch with the  rest of the guests!!

It’s a great way to spend a few hours & to support a sustainable practice. The owners are from Quebec City and Montreal (didn’t know that before) and they also own a restaurant in Lahaina as well as a Luau which is always packed. It’s the “Feast at Lele” and was booked for weeks in advance. Call ahead to pick the luau you really want to attend.

Paia:

Mana Foods

Grocery store with a hot/cold food buffet section. Very hippie, very organic, very GMO free…lots of choices. Not entirely vegan but you cannot find any crappy food here. It’s a great pit stop on the way to Ho’okipa beach to see the turtles sunning themselves and catch some surf.

Cafe Mambo

Meh. They had tofu & lettuce and it wasn’t over the top priced or entirely disgusting however, the service was aloof at best. I’d rather pack a picnic lunch from Mana and skip the crowded streets of Paia all together.

Activities: 

Kihei/Wailea/Anywhere: 

Luau ~ we went to the Grand Luau in Wailea and were almost tricked into it because the name had changed! I think this one is “ok” and hosted by the Waldorf Astoria. I really wish I would’ve gotten to the Feast at Lele (see above). They had about 4 vegan options there which was ok….but it’s a lot of salads at best. Vegetarians & pescatarians would do better here.

Boogie Boarding ~ nearly free if your room comes equipped with one! We picked up a used board at a garage sale in Lahaina as well. Stores sell these things everywhere but they’re a bit over the top (sensing a theme here??). Most beaches are naturally equipped with shore break however, the lifeguards will advise when it’s not safe to swim. Places like Big Beach in Makena State Park have neck breaking shore break that have killed – be careful.

Surfing ~ again, you can rent or get lessons. I’ve surfed in Kaanapali and Kihei where there are rentals and lessons abounding. Best times are early morning but the water is FULL of people – be prepared that at smaller breaks there are beginners and a lot of traffic.

Walks ~ sidewalks in Maui are all in great repair. You can walk the beaches (which have lava rock pouring out to sea), sidewalks and ocean front paths in front of most hotels and resorts.

Beaches ~ no limits here. Makena State Park has a tonne – even nude ones! Imagine the shoreline as your oyster, bring a typical “Tommy Bahama Beach Chair & Umbrella” and hunker down pretty much anywhere for the day. There are many pullouts along the highways that allow for picnics, surfing, boogey boarding etc…even camping!

Bike ~There are a lot of cool places to ride bikes by the seaside and bike paths are plentiful. There are sweet Electra cruisers and more!

Snorkel ~ with $10 per day rentals on all the gear you need you must snorkel and see all the beautiful fish. Just be sure you do not wear too much of your sunblock (opt for a shirt) which damages reefs/fish habitat. We rented from Boss Frogs in Kihei. Also, be sure to check for shark closures – real & can throw a wrench in your day if you pull up to a beach that’s closed.

Hike ~ We completed one HOT hike between Kihei and Lahaina The Lahaina Pali Trail with a goal for reaching the wind turbines and the views. The return trip is about 10 miles. We drove to the trailhead on Lahaina-side and did 50% of the hike to the Turbines and back. Great views – bring good shoes!

Lahaina: 

Walk ~ Front street is the typical spot to walk and look in all the shops. There are a few other side streets you could hit for Shave Ice, surfboard rentals and even Harley bikes!

Art~ Peter Lik & more have claimed a storefront here now. Hawaii has been taken over by photo prints placed on metal. It’s kind of nauseating after a while and Front street is definitely a tourist trap for Cruise goers let out on their usual 2 hours from the ship (sad sad sad)….I’d really do it once and forget about it. There is also glass blowing and if you head to the big Banyan Tree, you might see some handcrafted pieces by the artists themselves.

Food trucks ~ Vegan, tacos, fish and more. You need to try some of this and get away from the VERY over priced commercial mess of front street OR go enjoy the views from Cheeseburger in Paradise…just skip the meat!

Paia:

Walk ~ the crowded streets looking at overpriced nicknacks.

Ho’okipa Beach ~ beautiful turtles, washrooms, showers, big surf. It’s a great place to catch some rays and relax next to some seriously big waves at times.

Roadtrips: 

Road to Hana – First of all if you’re going to do this one you need to download Shaka Guides . 

This $7 app will take you all the way around the trip pointing out everything you’ll want to know and allowing you to skip things you don’t want to see. We chose to do the road in a full circle and I think that you should too.

To be honest, there are some great sites but we were moving in a car so I didn’t get many shots at all hence these poorly uploaded blurry images of what could be water AND some power lines.

If you’ve ever seen massive waterfalls in other countries/places you might be underwhelmed. Being from Vancouver, not one of the sites was epic – sorry to ruin your day. Also, IMHO, spending 8 hours on this trip is kind of a waste. If you’re around at a particularly dry time, you will not see much water at all. Plan to check up on this.

Black sand beaches are just that. Black sand. They are a limited edition so its a good idea to see them before they are gone however, do not be expecting to have your boobs knocked off by them. Sorry. You can see them at the Waianapanapa State Park.

7 pools is a TOTAL BUST. Do NOT do this, honestly. Unless you are going to go up to the Haleakala Crater for sunrise or sunset, then you can use the $25 admission twice – within a 72 hour period.

My FAVE stop was Coconut Glen’s on the Road to Hana. VEGAN ice cream stop with wild chickens, kittens and really groovy, colourful decor. Totally off plan, totally worth it at just past the halfway mark! Bring cash on this journey because there are a lot of food stops that are cash only. Fruit stands, banana bread stands, coconut water etc….don’t miss out because you relied on plastic!



Hana~ Meh, we were here on a Sunday and there was literally nothing to see ~ sorry I cannot be help. There is a red sand beach that can be hunted down but we didn’t do it. If you’ve got bank, fly into the Hana airport from Kapalui and stay the night at the Travaasa Hotel for a night or two.

Kaupo ~ Desert land appears and so do the cliffs! There is one token stop at an old shop here. The Kaupo Store. If you cannot afford to take a chopper around the island (I’ve done it once with Blue Hawaiian and it’s worth EVERY penny) you can see some cool Lava Tubes & cliffs here for FREE.

Maui Winery ~ stop here. Do a tasting or three and play a round of cornhole under some seriously huge trees. Such a nice treat at the end of a long drive. We did one flight of wine and enjoyed the grounds. There are washrooms here as well – you’ll need them!

O’o Farm ~ I cannot brag more than I have already. Enjoy this place & learn about coffee roasting in their roastary. BYO bottle of wine to have with lunch as well as some warmer clothes in case the clouds roll in – which they do. You will need reservations so call ahead!

Wrapping it up

There are SO many more things that I have done on this island but just cannot remember so, if you have any questions, feel free to post them here and I’ll do my best to answer them all.

My greatest joy this trip (almost) was finally committing to playing the Ukulele ~ got my very own!

Happy (cruelty free) travels.

xx

S

Photography by Jeff Williams ~ check out his instagram page/work here: @PIXBURGHER

Day 15 – LISTENING TO YOUR BODY {our final day}


Well, here we are at the end of our 15-day journey. What have you been able to apply to your daily routines so far? In this last instalment we will look at how to listen to your body and understand what it can tell you.

Doctors talk about the “symptoms of disease” and prescribe chemicals to suppress those symptoms. If you have pain, they prescribe painkillers. If you have high blood pressure, they prescribe chemicals to artificially lower blood pressure. This practice of detecting and then suppressing symptoms is called mainstream medicine.

Have you ever thought that maybe our bodies are telling us things long before we actually become ill? What if the messages they were sending actually contained important information about your health?

Medications and their impact on you

Conventional medical doctors have been trained that symptoms are things to be suppressed, negated or destroyed.

If you sprain your ankle playing frisbee, for example, your body sends you a pain message. This message contains important information: “This tissue is injured. Do not use it until it is repaired.” If you heed the message, you will allow your ankle time to heal. Once it’s healed and safe to use again, the pain will disappear. It is now safe to put weight on your ankle again.

Pain is an intelligent regulator of your activities. It can direct you to avoid further injury. Pain killers dull the pain and artificially block pain messages. They allow you to keep playing on an injured ankle to the point where you are likely to cause further injury, resulting in even more suffering and perhaps permanent damage.

What your skin and nails are telling you

Your skin is also a messenger. What’s happening with your skin is a reflection of what’s happening with your internal organs. If you have acne on your face, for example, you have much the same thing happening in your digestive tract. Facial acne is a sign to clean up your diet, eliminate all animal products for a while (dairy, meat, etc.) and detox with a plant-based diet.

If your skin is dry, itchy or flaky, it’s a sure sign that you’re deficient in omega-3 fatty acids and possibly some other key vitamins or nutrients. Increase your intake of omega-3s through fish oils, marine oils or plant-based sources like chia seeds, and add superfoods to your diet to cover any vitamin deficiencies you may have.

Your fingernails can tell a lot about your health, too: Misshapen or discolored fingernails point to chronic nutritional deficiencies in minerals and certain vitamins. If your fingernails have ridges, cracking, discoloration or any other symptoms, get yourself to a naturopathic physician right away. Fingernails, you see, indicate what’s going on with the rest of your body because your nails are, of course, grown out of your body. If you have nutritional deficiencies or chronic organ problems, they will be revealed in your nails.

What goes in must come out

To pay even closer attention to your body’s symptoms, observe what’s coming out of your body:

• Do you have body odor? If so, your diet is unclean. Too much milk, butter and meat.

• Does your breath smell bad? Same problem: Unclean diet or poor digestive health possibly an infection in your dental work or gums as well.

• Are your stools too hard, too soft or not healthy looking? Check with a naturopath — the health of your stools indicates the health of your digestion.

• Does your urine smell strange? It will after eating asparagus, of course, but normally your urine should not have an offensive odor. If it does, go visit a naturopathic physician for some advice.

• Are you hyperventilating at times? It may be a sign of consuming a diet that’s too acidic. Or could also mean pre-diabetes. Check with a naturopath.

What comes out of your body is a very accurate indication of what’s going on inside your body.

Listen to your cravings

Your body will also tell you what it wants through cravings. These are little subconscious messengers that direct you to eat something your body needs. Most people, however, misinterpret those cravings and end up eating something bad for their health instead of what the body actually craves.

If your body craves salt — real salt, not the processed sodium found in junk foods — you may feel an urge to eat a salty snack food. But that urge is often just a craving for full-spectrum salt. Try eating some fresh nuts dusted with full-spectrum sea salt and see if that takes care of your craving.

Cravings for chocolate may often be just your body crying out for magnesium. Your body sends you the message, “Eat more magnesium!” but your conscious mind mistakenly thinks you just need more chocolate. The processed, store-bought chocolate on the market today has little or no magnesium left in it. Buy real chocolate if you want it to contain the minerals it’s supposed to. I make chocolates at home that are AMAZING. With real Cacao.

Is your body crying out for water?

Dehydration can cause all sorts of symptoms that are often misdiagnosed as other diseases. Chronic dehydration can appear as all the following symptoms or diseases: Asthma, high blood pressure, hunger, kidney disorders, heart problems and constipation.

Drinking more water on a regular basis (and avoiding dehydrating beverages such as sodas) can solve these underlying problems, and you may actually see many of those symptoms vanish within a few days, weeks or months.

What’s beneath the symptom?

If you receive a diagnosis from a western doctor, you can often take that diagnosis home and do something useful with it. For example, if your doctor says you have high blood pressure and recommends you start taking toxic blood pressure drugs, the best thing you can do for your health is to always get a second opinion. You can use nutrition and natropathic medicine as well.

Use the symptom as information

Never be tricked into taking a medication that masks the symptom. Use the symptom as a clue to look for root causes that can be corrected through more natural means. This is how you can listen to your body and interpret its messages in useful ways that lead you in the direction of health.

Your body is yours to take care of for the rest of your time here on earth. Which method of care will you choose, and when will you start listening to those all too important signals?

Source: Natural News

DAY #14 – Heal with movement.

Don’t keep aging, start “youthing”. Part of growing younger of course is exercise, the best kind happens outside and is NOT boring. Just the opposite actually, it’s fun. What’s fun about it you ask?

The most fun exercise is the kind that doesn’t feel like exercise at all. The kind where you are distracted by what is around you. Nature, conversation etc. It all comes down to your FOCUS.

Here are two easy hints to help you or keep you healing your body with exercise without feeling like your slaving away joylessly.

Exercise in nature.

Walk, run, swim, ski, swim and hike..not to mention sail, surf, spin,climb and dive.

Be playful.

As adults, we no longer think it’s “mature” to skip along in a game of hopscotch on the sidewalk or toss a Frisbee in the park. By keeping the ability to be playful, we can take out some of the “work” aspect of exercise.

Remember that it isn’t important about what other people think of you when you’re having fun. Looking stupid isn’t part of the equation. Elitists in any crowd are just plain annoying! Jealousy comes in all shapes in sizes, don’t let it take away your “youthing” energy!

SOURCE: Natural News

Client Spotlight – Couples Who Go Vegan – Norm & Michelle

I had the pleasure of meeting Michelle at a Bodybuilding competition in Vancouver, BC, Canada a few years ago. It was her first show and she was SO nervous…just a sweetheart. We bonded that day and have been long distance friends ever since. I was super honoured to have Michelle and her husband Norm join my Vegan in 60 program and I’m super delighted with their results in both body and mind.

If you’re curious about what going vegan looks like, these two have some sage words here for newbies…..any time is the right time to go whole food plant based.

Love you both & thanks again….P.S. – I love this snap of you two…you might hate me for it but your fur baby is there and you’re tubbin’ in the snow which is one of my favourite pastimes (before moving to Pittsburgh).

You both rose to the challenge of trying out converting to veganism over 10 weeks, what made you dive into this challenge as carni’s?

We dove into this vegan challenge because it was exactly that a challenge. To be honest it was not something either of us would have considered trying ….until You said challenge….who doesn’t like a Little challenge.

What have you learned about veganism that has struck you as the most impactful? Ie: it’s health benefits, cost, animal rights issues etc…

 What has stuck with us so far are the health benefits. We both had wondered how going vegan would impact our health. So far it’s been great i really notice a difference when I removed dairy products from my diet. Michelle says now she is very aware of where our food comes from now and eating this way is pretty cheap.

Do you find that your working together on this initiative has brought you closer or created more stress at home?

Well it definitely has not added any stress ….has had is working together in searching and planning out our meals …snacks and as team Thiessen we hold each other accountable.

How do you tackle the questions asked of you by family, friends & others who may want to know a bit more about your new nutritional goals?

Family and friends have been supportive.  They ask questions and we fill them in on what we have found out. Most are interested in trying to be more plant based …not going vegan but being more responsible. It would seem our friends will make healthier choices after hearing our choices when we are out for dinner or such . Also creates interesting conversations.

What is the hardest part of being a new vegan?

Stress of finding new things to eat ….find recipes…choosing the options…shopping for the food…preparing the meals ….being new to veganism we don’t have easy go to dishes …yet.  Of course its stressful Try ing to fill our protein macro and keeping down our carb macros.

What is the easiest part of being a new vegan?

Making a vegan dish usually has lots of left overs. You get to grab healthy foods .

Are there any changes (physically) that  you have experienced that are super amazing that you want to share?

Ok some changes I’ve noticed is the bowel movements…2 to 3 times a day . Waking up alert and ready not needing a coffee to clear the morning cobwebs. No bloating( once I’ve adjusted to the beans).

What is your favourite vegan food so far?

For taste Mexican is our favorite . Seitan for the protein. I like to slice up my seitan and fry it in hot sauce.  Mmm mmm.

 Do you think you will go back to eating animal products, if so, why?

Yes I believe we will be going back to eating animal products . Our meal will no longer revolve around the meat. Things like cheese and honey are greatly missed . BUT we will be very mindful where we are purchasing our animal products from …the farm to table idea. With all the new ideas and recipes we have learned it will be way easier to keep our plant based diet most of the time. As Michelle has mentioned some cooked meat has effected her negatively as she has cooked it . I’m pretty sure that meat will be removed lol. By doing this challenge our eyes have been opened to a lot of different aspects of veganism….some we agree with and support others not so much but that’s ok we have a great base of knowledge now and will be more aware moving forward .

Michelle may want to add more as our time goes on.
Norm and Michelle Thiessen

What the heck are macros?

What Are Macros?

This is a common question with a simple answer that not everyone “gets”. IIFYM has been a phenomenon for ages however, until recently, it was typically only bodybuilders making the most of their macros. I wrote this post to help the beginner derive an understanding of what macros are, which should make choosing the right foods for your body a whole lot easier.

There are four macro nutrients.

Here they are in the same order you will find them on all packaged food nutrition labels.

  • Fat
  • Carbohydrates
  • Protein
  • Alcohol

These 4 macros are the sole origin of calories.

A calorie is a measurement for a unit of energy. That is the simple way to put it. Calories are not something you can touch or see or feel.  In order to measure a calorie you literally have to burn it or set it on fire in a lab. As they relate to macro nutrients, calories from the four above each have a specific value. Carbs and Protein each have 4 calories per gram, Fat has 9 calories per gram and Alcohol has 7 calories per gram. These numbers are what we pay attention to when calculating macros.

What is the argument for counting macros versus calories?

Calories dictate fat loss or gain. If you eat too many calories you store they are stored as fat at the body will use them later on to burn as fuel. Weight loss measurement = calories. Fat loss, hormone balance, muscle preservation = macros.

Focusing on macros as opposed to calories ensures that we can put a target on what the body needs to preserve muscle, burn fat, recover, maintain a healthy metabolism etc…calories can come from anything, say, bread for instance. So, 1200 calories from bread are entirely devoid of actual nutrients. This means that your body is not running optimally and you cannot manipulate it’s response to burning fat and storing muscle. This could add up to “skinny fat” syndrome aka “the kids who look thin but not so hot naked”. Conversely, a macro nutrient ratio of 150g Protein, 100g Carbs and 45g Fats will limit the speed at which we burn fat far less.

Finding out your macro target is my job, or you can choose to go it alone. You can find places online to help you out in this and they are generally free. If you’re looking for a bit more precision with items like carb cycling, refeeds, cardio & weight training etc…that will compliment your macros. Find a coach who’s good with this style of nutrition and get help.

Ideal nutrition

In the grand scheme of things, a food scale is the way to go in terms of accuracy. If you measure out a TBSP of nut butter with a regular spoon you can be far too generous with yourself. This could only be a few negligible calories however, over the span of a day, it could add up to a lot with all your other less accurate measurements. Over time, this will take away from your efforts. Accuracy is key. Intuitive eating can be great for some however, my intuition says “eat all the pizza all day”…..not what’s going to get me stage or beach ready.

There is no room for error with a digital scale and they are as cheap as $20 online. Invest in yourself and your goals and avoid “food failure”.

Staying on track

In order to maintain your goals you need to record your nutrition. Yes, it’s a lot of work at first however, once you become a pro you might actually be able to eyeball what 3 oz of tofu looks like. Programs like MyfitnessPal and Chronometer have free options and will help immensely. I recommend them to all my clients. If you’re recording 100% of the time you should have a high success rate. Less commitment, less success.

Hydration

Water is key to our survival and is key to keeping our systems running well. I cannot stress enough how important taking in the right amount of water is. Women should strive for 3 litres of water per day, Men 4. Thirst can feel like hunger and this is an area where a lot of people will choose to get snacky instead of slamming a glass of H20. Choose wisely.

Plateau

You have to know that after a period of eating a certain way you will no longer benefit from the effects of the diet that you so loved. Totally normal. If a plateau has been reached, track your macros for another week and see if you haven’t had some water retention or stress create a bump in the road. If you have in fact reached your maintenance calorie level, you will need to weigh in and readjust. Should progress still not move along, you need to consider if you’re putting in the work 100% or not or that your metabolism might need a reboot. I prefer to leave this tinkering to my coach!

Getting past the basics and moving on.

Now that you’ve got a grasp on macros you only need to remember a few things:

1 – Meal prep like a boss

2 – Eat out healthfully

3 – Move your body every day

4 – Sleep more

5 – Stress less

6 – Download my free macro cheat sheet HERE

The rest of these items will hinder your goals if you let them. If you have more questions or want your own customized plan, contact me.

To your health!

xx

S