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

The big 4-0- A decade in review

 

When I thought of turning 40, my inner voice said “I want to be in the best shape of my life”…. And that manifested itself as looking a certain way that meant “the best” to me. What I’ve come to realize in the last 6 months is that what I SHOULD have been aiming for is to be in the best MENTAL shape of my life.

We live so much of our lives online. I do at least. I am there as a mentor, a businessperson, a private citizen, and as a voyeur. We watch others, we watch them watch us…it puts us into places mentally, physically and emotionally that 15 years ago didn’t exist. We compare ourselves, a lot.

In understanding my own struggles with being happy with whom I am, I am dedicating my online efforts to the truth – cool or not. I am dedicating this year of 40 to finding my spiritual, emotional, mental health, whatever you want to call it. Making the stuff between my ears make sense, lighten up and really LIVE.

2008 – I turned 30

October 2008 I turned 30 in Las Vegas. I was a jellyfish. I can clearly (ha ha) remember this.

I was hopeful, but jaded. I had a LOT of friends…who later turned out to be {mostly} horrible people. I was living with my fiancé in a condo in Yaletown, working my job in Commercial Real Estate, making money but working 7 days a week & all hours for people who didn’t really care about anyone really.

I had been moonlighting with my health & wellness business for about a year and was on the fence about where my heart was in terms of going all in or giving up.

My father-in-law was dying of Cancer, my fiancé was goalless, my friends were high or drunk most of the time……so I dove deeper into training & yoga to try and make some sense out of my life.

I started collecting certifications in Thai Yoga massage, Herbalism, Vegan cheffing….I needed to find my way – I was finally NOT a 20 year old anymore and to me that meant it was time to grow up.

2009 – I turned 31

This was a year of happy endings and harsh awakenings.

I was living in a great condo in Yaletown with my 2 Shiba Inu’s and my (then) boyfriend. I was working at a job I mostly hated but I was making a lot of money. And I thought that would make everything better.

I traveled to 100 Mile Ranch for our annual Thanksgiving trip, was also in Toronto Italy, New York and Hawaii to name a few.

I got married, for the second time

2010 – I turned 32

Grown up and ready to take on the world I decided I needed to have the house of my dreams. So, with a lot of searching and fighting with my husband, we found the perfect little blue house on Charles Street off Commercial Drive in East Van.  It was such a gorgeous home. Decorated with the original stained glass windows, interior renovation, yard, white picket fence and a steal at just $1.02MM.

This same year my husbands’ father died and that created a tectonic shift that we couldn’t ever recover from.

In my mourning for the lost family, the lost love I dove into things that could feed my soul. I pursued both my Permaculture & Herbalism certifications that year.

I held the first Halloween/birthday party at Charles street that year. My birthday has always been somewhat of a “thing” for me and I just love being surrounded by happy friends having a good time…with the help of some amazing witches brew that appeared on both years.

I did a great hiking trip to the Kootenays, completed an over night at Golden Ears summit, a snowy summer hike up the Lions, Cypress & the  Stawamus Chief.

I decided that in honour of my husbands father we should travel to China to see where his life began as a doctor.

2011 – I turned 33

This was a transitional year and my marriage was suffering. I thought that a fall trip to Spain & Morocco might ignite some lost feelings of the way life was when it was “good”.

This year was also a holding pattern for me. I didn’t realize that my husband would become a distant drunk. That I would grow to hate him, that everything I thought growing up was, for me, was a lie.

I didn’t have the ability to give anymore of myself to anyone. I didn’t want to work for the sexual predators I had been. I quit my “day job” and went full time into educating on plant-based nutrition and healthy living. I was so happy.

My husband was devastated by my choice to quit a 10 (plus) year career in commercial real estate. “But you used to make so much money”…was one of the last things I can remember him saying to me.  I was gutted by the lack of substance in my life.

2012 – I turned 34

The onset of  2012 was supposed to be great. A family trip to Russia & Scotland…but I knew in the fall of 2011 that my trip was shadowed with my impending split from my husband.

We had spent months living in separate bedrooms, working opposite schedules, having no days off together. Enough was enough after a year of alienation at least. I truly believe to this day I was used as a pawn to gain access to a trust fund. I think our marriage was a show of maturity to his ailing father.

By March I had filed for divorce. It was all too much. We agreed to separate amicably; I’d take less than my share in cash and our dogs. Nothing else. I slept on couches at friends houses on weekends to clear my head.

While the separation was happening I reconnected with my (now) husband Jeff. It was just good to talk to someone who actually gave a shit.. We had known each other for 10 years and though he was in Calgary and I was in Vancouver, we always stayed in touch.

I went to visit him at the start of April, with no expectations at all. We were both getting divorced at the same time and needed company we could trust and be ourselves with.

In July, after returning from Russia & Scotland, I moved to Calgary to get out of the sad place that Vancouver had become for me then. We spent my 34thbirthday in Waterton lakes at a cabin, played cards and hung out and hiked with the Sheebs.

2013 – I turned 35

We bought a house, together in Bragg Creek., the Canadian Rockies. We were part of a 100 year flood that devastated the rural Rockies and Calgary. I became a stepmother to Anastacia who was battling Cancer and finished chemo that year. We threw her a big party at an Equestrian Center that I planned.

We took an amazing family trip to Disneyland and California theme park.

We spent my 35thbirthday in the most incredible place – The Resort at Pedregal. We talked about life and goals and I decided on that trip that I definitely would NOT be having children.

We brought Frieda Montgomery Jane our beloved German Shepherd home from up north. My sweet angel Tetsuo was taken by something wild in December of this year.

I felt like a princess in a dream this year – we had everything we wanted.

2014 – I turned 36

We made a LOT of money this year in our business. We spent HEAPS of it on child custody wars. We were busy in business, in court, just really fucking busy and times were going by so fast.

We traveled a bit through Nicaragua, bought a few nice things but mostly worked SUPER hard and tried to spend time together as a family hiking , camping, snowboarding and quadding. Things felt STABLE and I just kind of leaned in and took on that life.

We spent my birthday at Capella resort in Ixtapa, Mexico.

2015 – I turned 37

This was the year I became fired up about bodybuilding contests. We traveled to San Franciso, made our first trip to Pittsburgh for work and we made a final trip down to Cabo to The Resort at Pedregal for my birthday, we spent Christmas in Panama as a family.

This was also the year that we arrived home on December 24th to -25 temperatures and started to let the reality of an economic collapse sink in. Our people were being laid off, we were bailing on an office lease, still embroiled in lawsuits and child custody woes, we were overwhelmed.

I’m still shocked we didn’t implode.

2016 – I turned 38

We really dug deep this year. January we spent 3 weeks traveling through India by motorcycle while trying to cling to what was left of the clients who were surviving the blows being dealt by the oil and gas industry.

We got engaged in Philly that year after a second recon trip to Pittsburgh. We were married in August at home in Bragg Creek  and let everyone know we’d made the decision to move to Pittsburgh Sept 30th.

We spent our Honeymoon driving from Las Vegas to Denver…hitting the “four corners”, Antelope Canyon, Horseshoe bend, Aspen…SO many beautiful sites.

There were a lot of lawyers this year, for immigration and child custody. We had been fighting and swimming up hill for going on 5 years.

We drove across Canada. We saw friends along the way, parts of the country we’d never seen and parts we’d not want to see again any time soon. We spent a week in Montreal on an immigration delay that was intensely stressful and costly but, by October 17thwe were crossing the border at Niagara Falls to Pittsburgh.  I celebrated my birthday with no running water in a run down house we rented in the Hill District.

We traveled to Orlando and had a great time being kids at Disneyworld, sat by the sea and got really excited for the future of our business.

2017 – I turned 39

2017 turned out to be a pretty so-so year for business, which is always worrisome but we really pulled through alright.

We still had some major legal battles with custody but those were getting sort of stale and really poisonous and covered in lies. Anastacia contracted another Cancer during the winter of that year.

We traveled to Georgia and Vancouver for bodybuilding contests and to visit friends and family. I spent 7 entire months out of Canada – the longest ever in my life. We ran off to Cozumel for a week to recharge our batteries.

I decided to take a year off from competing that spring and aimed to enjoy my family and all the sights of the tri-state area.  I felt I was coming into my own…and I blogged all about it – which I’m grateful to have to look back on.

We drove my motorcycle 3000 miles from Calgary to Pittsburgh stopping in some pretty amazing places and some really gross places too.  In my opinion, Mt. Rushmore and Deadwood were the best part of that trip.

We went to Chicago for Riot Fest and my parents came to visit us in PGH.

By October we had to wrap up our next pack of legal plans to cross back into Toronto to apply for another Visa – this time for 5 years. Of course, it was a bungle and we were stuck in Toronto with our fur kids for nearly 3 weeks.

I celebrated my birthday in Toronto, downed a bottle of champagne at George restaurant. We got our Visa approval on November 1stor 2ndand were right back in the jeep heading home to Pittsburgh.

2018 – I turned 40

 Ahhh, this year.

This year we gave up the fighting. We had conceded to the child custody war, our legal tangles with the government for Visas was on pause for almost 5 years and there was some breathing room created.

Our renters moved out of the house in the spring and we decided to sell our house to cut down on liability and free up our cash. It was such an emotional undertaking but needed to happen.

We got in the jeep and did a two week family trip down to Hilton Head, SC and the Outer banks in NC while work had died down. We really fell in love with the countryside we were getting to explore. America is so vast and multi-dimensional I’m sure you’d never see it all in one lifetime.

In the spring my Granny died and we raced down to New Mexico via El Paso Tx, to try and sort out her affairs. It was sudden and she planned for nothing. That made for five days of sheer confusion. But New Mexico is absolutely stunning and we were happy to see a new side of life – the full time RV community. Wow what a shocking eye opener. You see, my Granny had been living in an RV for nearly 10 years I think – at first we were appalled, but then intrigued.

We went to Maui for a couple of weeks to meet up with my parents for a get away.

We headed back to PGH, put the pedal to the metal and started to win US clients over, not as quickly or as many as we would have liked, but there was real progress that we could measure.

Our friends came to visit in the Spring which was exciting. We went boating, sent a container of all our things across the border from Canada, sold our house, sold our things in Canada and started the importation process of our Jeep.

My parents came again in the summer and we went to D.C. to check out the city and catch the Stanley Cup parade.

After a summer trip back to Calgary and Vancouver we talked a lot about what our future was going to be. We felt locked down in PGH as a lot of our potential clients offices were located in Texas, Kansas, etc…we knew the cost of doing business development by plane was going to be far too costly to commit to.

We had to make some clear business and life decisions with the 4 years we had left on our visa as there are benchmarks we need to meet in order to be eligible for another 5 years.

After a few months of research, planning, consideration and dreaming, we decided to move into an RV. Since we had stopped the insanity of child custody we were free to travel full time to see clients, staff, complete field trips and adventure when we weren’t working.

In August we purchased an RV, we headed to Lisbon for our anniversary to celebrate and when we came back we headed down to Maryland (more than we wanted to) to pick up “Evgeny” our new home.

Now, here I sit,  on my 40thbirthday on the beaches of  the Dominican Republic reflecting on all that I’ve done over the last decade.

A LOT. By anyone’s standards, even my own. I’m totally uncertain how everything in life will roll out. I’m not entirely sure I haven’t lost my mind. But as death creeps closer every year I AM sure that I am living my life, balls to the wall and (mostly) loving every minute of it.

 

 

Makeover your medicine cabinet – with holistic options!


This medicine-cabinet makeover will replace your conventional cures with healthier options. Whether you’re plagued by headache pain or only occasionally bothered by a case of the sniffles, your medicine cabinet is probably the first place you turn to for relief. But are its contents the best choices for your health?

Consider replacing some of those myriad pills, sprays, and bottles with natural alternatives. Some can reduce unpleasant side effects, save you money, or simply give you a leg up on your own wellbeing. Read on for tips on what to keep, what to toss, and why. Be sure to consult your health-care provider before you change your regimen, and always disclose everything you’re taking, whether natural or not.

Pain Relief ~ Headaches

Before: Analgesics, including acetaminophen (Tylenol), aspirin (Bayer, Bufferin), and ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin, Nuprin)

After: Analgesics, magnesium, riboflavin, feverfew.

Why: Aspirin and ibuprofen are tough to beat for rapid headache relief, so hang on to them for emergencies. But natural approaches can help prevent migraines. That’s good news, since overreliance on analgesics can make the brain’s pain sensors overly receptive and cause rebound headaches. For migraines, the National Headache Foundation says two dietary supplements may be helpful: magnesium (500 to 750 mg daily) to relax the brain’s blood vessels, which swell during headache, and riboflavin (400 mg daily) to reverse energy loss in cells during migraines. In addition, feverfew, a member of the daisy family, is believed to stave off migraine attacks; try a starting dose of 50 mg a day.

Common Cold

Before: Sprays (Sinex, Afrin, Dristan), tablets or caplets (Sudafed, Actifed, Drixoral).

After: Eucalyptus oil, neti pot, echinacea, homeopathy (Zicam), Vitamin C.

Why: Traditional nasal sprays can be useful in the short term, but when their effectiveness wanes, you’re likely to spray more often, creating a cycle of dependency. Pseudoephedrine, the active ingredient in most oral decongestants, has a lengthy list of potential side effects including nervousness, restlessness, and trouble sleeping. For a safer alternative, add a few drops of eucalyptus essential oil to a bowl of steaming water. Drape a towel over your head, then breathe steam deeply to gently clear your nasal passages. Or try a traditional nasal wash: Make a warm salt-water solution, lean your head over a sink, pour the water into the palm of your hand and inhale through the nose, one nostril at a time (or use a neti pot, a teapot-like device especially made for nasal irrigation). Spit out any remaining solution and gently blow your nose. The herb echinacea can help shorten the duration of colds, as can Zicam, a homeopathic zinc-based nasal gel.

Vitamin C for the common cold: Dr Andrew Saul (teacher in Food Matters) recommends Vitamin C megadosing for the common cold. The key is to start early, so when you first start to feel blocked up and sniffly, take Vitamin C supplements until you reach bowel tolerance; take 1 gram or 1000mg of Vitamin C (Wholefood or Ascorbate) in powder form or tablet form every 15 minutes until you start to feel loose in the bowels. As he says ‘take enough C to be symptom free whatever the amount might be.

Try this Eucalyptus Tea Recipe

Allergies

Before: Antihistamines (Allegra, Benadryl, Claritin, Zyrtec).

After: Quercetin, stinging nettle, butter bur.

Why:  Antihistamines can relieve a runny nose and quell a sneezing fit, but they do little to convince your body that a peanut, mold spore, or whiff of pollen is not, in fact, an invader.Although more studies prove allergies can be removed by eating an allergy-free-diet, quercetin supplements (500 mg twice daily between meals beginning one month before allergy season) may certainly help prevent allergies. If symptoms have set in, try butterbur (75 mg twice daily) or stinging-nettle capsules (3 g twice daily). These herbs can ease symptoms without the drowsiness associated with many antihistamines.

Digestion

Before: Liquid treatments (Pepto-Bismol, Bismatrol, Maalox, Mylanta).

After: Ginger, probiotics, digestive enzymes.

Why: Try chewing a quarter-ounce piece of fresh ginger or grating and steeping it in just-boiled water to make tea. Probiotics may also help with nausea and aid digestion by restoring the balance of bacteria in the intestine. Similarly, digestive enzyme supplements may help natural enzymes in nutrient absorption and limiting gas or discomfort.

You can try using fermented foods for their probiotic richness too ~ try my recipe for homemade Kraut!

PMS

Before: Extra-strength analgesics (Midol, Pamprin, Premsyn).

After: Calcium, pine bark, and Agnus castus (chaste-tree fruit).

Why: Analgesics use additives such as caffeine, pyrilamine maleate (an anesthetic), and pamabrom (a diuretic), all highly artificial approaches to help alleviate PMS-related cramps, bloating, backache, and fatigue. More natural approaches like calcium (1,200 to 1,500 mg per day from food or supplements) can help fend off aches. Pine bark is also promising: A recent study in the Journal of Reproductive Medicine found that women who took 60 mg of pycnogenol (pine bark) each day for three months reduced their cramps and breast tenderness by up to 100 percent. Similarly, 20 mg per day of Agnus castus (chaste tree) fruit extract has been shown to be more effective than widely prescribed fluoxitine (Prozac) in treating physical symptoms of PMS.

Try this recipe for PMS tea!

Muscle Strains and Bruises

Before: Topical rubs (BenGay, Icy Hot, Deep Heating).

After: Arnica gel (derived from the perennial alpine herb Arnica montana), capsaicin ointment (from hot peppers).

Why: Natural approaches, arnica in particular, are gentler yet can be just as effective as the menthols and methyl-salicylates (chemical cousins to aspirin) found in conventional ointments.

This is my favourite Arnica Gel.

Cuts and Scrapes

Before: Antibiotic salves (Neosporin, Bacitracin).

After: Tea tree oil 

Why: Most cuts and scrapes heal on their own, antibiotics can help speed the process. Using a “triple antibiotic” cream for minor cuts is like using a sledgehammer to crack a walnut. A simpler alternative is tea tree oil, distilled from the Australian Melaleuca alternifolia plant, applied straight to the skin as a natural antiseptic, germicide, antibacterial, and fungicide. A recent study published in the Journal of Hospital Infection found tea tree oil as useful as standard antimicrobial soap for healing wounds caused from infections from the antibiotic-resistant hospital superbug Staphylococcus aureus.

My fave Tea Tree oil (from pure sources) is HERE.

Sunburn and Stinging

Before: Commercial Aftersun lotions.

After: Aloe Vera plant

Why: Aloe vera is applied topically for relieving sunburn, minor burns and other skin inflammations. It’s taken from the fresh leaves of plants or is available as a commercially prepared gel or lotion. If commercially prepared, the percentage of aloe vera should be in a very high concentration order to be effective.

Check out my favourite Aloe treatment for sunburn relief HERE. 

Remember, plant medicine is still alive and well within Western Medicine. It gives us powerful compounds for pain relief, mental health assistance, blood thinning and so much more. By going “back to basics” with your at home regimens, you’re really adopting the most pure form of medicine into your routine. Your body will be able to recognize and more safely process these medicines and dangerous overdose is very limited.

It’s a win for everyone.

Yours in health,

Xx- S

Sources: www.wholeliving.com

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!

 

 

Eating for the season AND the environment.


I’m sure you have all heard of fruits and vegetables being “in season”. This mainly relates to the foods that can be grown/farmed in your local areas. One good example is CORN. Corn of course is available for harvest and sale in the warmer (summer/early fall) months of the year. When you buy from a local farmer you are supporting your local vendors which cuts down on so many harmful side effects to our economy, health and environment.

The top reasons for shopping locally are:

Taste local or regional and hence fresher, food.
Enjoy mouth-watering, tasty delicious foods that are available in-season only.
Buy a variety of specialty foods that will impress your dinner guests.
Discover a wide variety of “new” specialty products that offer new tastes and flavours.
Enjoy foods produced with fewer chemicals thus protecting the your health and the environment.
Support farmers who are committed to the humane treatment of animals.
Seek out foods produced in a unique way.
Meet the farmer who grows your food and ask them for details on how the product was produced.
Pick up some cooking tips and recipes from Chefs and Producers.
Purchase foods at the market and support the future of family farms and food security in British Columbia.
Reduce your carbon-imprint by walking or cycling to your community farmers’ market.
Connect with your neighbours and community.

WHAT SEASON ARE WE IN? – SEE BELOW:

What’s In Season
“To Everything There Is A Season”
What’s in season in November?
Apples, Brussels Sprouts, Cabbage, Carrots, Cauliflower, Garlic, Leeks, Onions (cooking), Pears, Rosemary, Sage, Thyme, Turnips, Winter Squash.

What’s in season in December?
Apples, Brussels Sprouts, Cabbage, Garlic, Pears, Rosemary, Sage, Turnips, Winter Squash.

What’s in season in January?
Apples, Cabbage, Pears, Rosemary, Sage, Turnips, Winter Squash.

What’s in season in February?
Apples, Cabbage, Pears, Rosemary, Sage, Turnips.

What’s in season in March?
Apples, Pears, Rosemary, Sage.

What’s in season in April?
Apples, Chives, Pears, Rhubarb, Rosemary, Sage, Spinach.

What’s in season in May?
Apples, Chives, Radish, Rhubarb, Rosemary, Sage, Spinach, Turnips.

What’s in season in June?
Apples, Cauliflower, Cherries, Chinese Vegetables, Chives, Cilantro, Lettuce, Peas, Potatoes, Radish, Rhubarb, Rosemary, Sage, Salad Greens, Spinach, Strawberries, Thyme, Turnips.

What’s in season in July?
Apricots, Basil, Beans, Beets, Blueberries, Broccoli, Cabbage, Carrots, Cauliflower, Celery, Cherries, Chinese Vegetables, Chives, Cilantro, Cucumbers, Kale, Lettuce, Peas, Peppers, Potatoes, Radish, Raspberries, Rhubarb, Rosemary, Sage, Salad Greens, Spinach, Strawberries, Summer Squash, Swiss Chard, Tomatoes, Thyme, Turnips.

What’s in season in August?
Apples, Apricots, Basil, Beans, Beets, Blackberries, Blueberries, Broccoli, Cabbage, Carrots, Cauliflower, Celery, Chinese Vegetables, Chives, Cilantro, Corn, Cucumbers, Currants, Garlic, Kale, Lettuce, Melons, Onions (sweet), Peaches, Pears, Peppers, Plums, Potatoes, Radish, Raspberries, Rosemary, Sage, Salad Greens, Shallots, Spinach, Strawberries, Summer Squash, Swiss Chard, Tomatoes, Thyme, Turnips.

What’s in season in September?
Apples, Basil, Beans, Beets, Blackberries, Blueberries, Broccoli, Cabbage, Carrots, Cauliflower, Celery, Chinese Vegetables, Chives, Cilantro, Corn, Cucumbers, Currants, Garlic, Kale, Lettuce, Leeks, Melons, Onions (sweet), Onions (cooking), Pears, Peppers, Plums, Potatoes, Pumpkins, Radish, Raspberries, Rosemary, Sage, Salad Greens, Shallots, Spinach, Strawberries, Swiss Chard, Tomatoes, Thyme, Turnips, Winter Squash.

What’s in season in October?
Apples, Beans, Beets, Blackberries, Broccoli, Brussels Sprouts, Cabbage, Carrots, Cauliflower, Celery, Chives, Cilantro, Corn, Cranberries, Garlic, Kale, Lettuce, Leeks, Onions (sweet), Onions (cooking), Pears, Peppers, Potatoes, Pumpkins, Radishes, Rosemary, Sage, Salad Greens, Swiss Chard, Tomatoes, Thyme, Turnips, Winter Squash.

Product Season
APPLES AUGUST – JUNE
APRICOTS JULY – AUGUST
BASIL JULY – SEPTEMBER
BEANS JULY – OCTOBER
BEETS JULY – OCTOBER
BLACKBERRIES AUGUST – OCTOBER
BLUEBERRIES JULY – SEPTEMBER
BROCCOLI JULY – OCTOBER
BRUSSELS SPROUTS OCTOBER – DECEMBER
CABBAGE JULY – FEBRUARY
CARROTS JULY – NOVEMBER
CAULIFLOWER JUNE – NOVEMBER
CELERY JULY – OCTOBER
CHERRIES JUNE – JULY
CHINESE VEGETABLES JUNE – SEPTEMBER
CHIVES APRIL – OCTOBER
CILANTRO JUNE – OCTOBER
CORN AUGUST – OCTOBER
CRANBERRIES OCTOBER
CUCUMBERS JULY – SEPTEMBER
CURRANTS AUGUST – SEPTEMBER
GARLIC AUGUST – DECEMBER
KALE JULY – OCTOBER
LETTUCE JUNE – OCTOBER
LEEKS SEPTEMBER – NOVEMBER
MELONS AUGUST – SEPTEMBER
ONIONS (SWEET) AUGUST – OCTOBER
ONIONS (COOKING) SEPTEMBER – NOVEMBER
PEACHES AUGUST
PEARS AUGUST – APRIL
PEAS JUNE – JULY
PEPPERS JULY – OCTOBER
PLUMS AUGUST – SEPTEMBER
POTATOES JUNE – OCTOBER
PUMPKINS SEPTEMBER – OCTOBER
RADISH MAY – OCTOBER
RASPBERRIES JULY – SEPTEMBER
RHUBARB APRIL – JULY
ROSEMARY YEAR ROUND
SAGE YEAR ROUND
SALAD GREENS JUNE – OCTOBER
SHALLOTS AUGUST – SEPTEMBER
SPINACH APRIL – SEPTEMBER
STRAWBERRIES JUNE – SEPTEMBER
SUMMER SQUASH JULY – AUGUST
SWISS CHARD JULY – OCTOBER
TOMATOES JULY – OCTOBER
THYME JUNE – NOVEMBER
TURNIPS MAY – FEBRUARY
WINTER SQUASH MID SEPTEMBER – DECEMBER

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

Love in many places

There are a lot of times when you can doubt yourself. Doubt your choices and even doubt your friends. Not everything has a deep dark and hidden agenda, but some of us choose to go to that place with life. Some people cannot be trusted and don’t have your best interests at heart, but we may be cosmically connected to them anyway.

Life is a tough nut, and going at it alone may be one of the hardest things to do.

Being a very independent person myself, I rarely put a hand out for help, advice or comfort. When I do, it’s usually in a critical time of need. I’ve learned through the years that going to certain people to hear certain messages is futile at best. Do we stop going there? Probably not. Why? Well, lately I’ve discussed this at length with friends and it seems to be because we are ever hopeful that perceptions change, lights go on, attitudes shift, veils lift. Do they for everyone? Not a chance buster – but that’s ok too.

I’ve had the pleasure of making a lot of friends in my life, they represent vastly different pieces and parts of me. I am made up of so many people based on my experiences, at times I have tried to reject rather than embrace the octopus of my being – out of fear of not be accepted I am sure.

Hitting 33 pushed me into a different dimension, one where I wasn’t willing to make excuses, take less than I deserved, accept being treated like everyone else, tolerate being made to feel like less of a person, agree to shut up and be part of the machine. I woke up, I took that pill and I decided that from that day on there was no going back.

I’m causing rifts, shaking the ground I stand on and in some ways, lighting fire to my old “do what the man says or else” self. My future is bright, my outlook is positive and I’m at the most vulnerable place I’ve ever been in life.

At the end of a day where I manage go back and forth on the opinion I hold over my own choices, it’s nice to know that there are people out there thinking about me. People who find real depth in my character where I myself have only noticed a shallow, muddy and uninviting pool of person.

Today, I thank and honour one of my friends, who sent me this beautiful email out of nowhere, right when I needed it. I value every day you are here my friend, thank you for seeing what my spirit needed – without me having to ask!

Via an email entitled: WTF is in Sasha’s Future?

Dear Sasha, I have been thinking about your situation and have come up with the following silly thoughts.

1/ not sure if you realize how lucky you are. To be in your shoes right now. Think about the fact that you are one of the rare few who actually has ” Choice” . Seldom does it happen that one has a choice , at your age of 30 , about which direction you take in your career. Treasure this as there will not be many more opportunities like this.

2/ Whatever happens, happens. It does not matter what you decide because no one is going to die or starve or be homeless as a result of your decision. One gem I picked up year ago…..
” It’s not so much that you make the right decision, it’s making the decision be the right one”
Meaning, if you go out on your own new path, it will be up to you to make that the right decision, something I truly believe you can do. Again, you are so lucky to be surrounded by safety nets.

3/ review the negatives. Look at the list you sent to your head hunter. If, and it’s a big IF, they come up with solutions to every one for you, would you still want that ” job “??………maybe it’s time to do a Positive/Negative scenario that applies to a new career, a career of Raw Food/ Workshops/ Massage/Rocket Science / yoga……do that list and send to me. ( ok, you might substitute pole dancing for the rocket science one )

4/ I think you are a kind , intelligent , level headed ( when you try ) person. You have a huge heart hidden inside. I have seen you happy….mad…..sad…frustrated…..and frankly, my vote is for the happy Sasha.

5/ Values. What are your core values? Honesty….Integrity….Family…..Relationships…..Think of all of the things you hold dear, things that you can’t live without and which career path serves those values the best.

I remember the day after you quit your job, your face said it all, the glow in your eyes and smile on your face, something I hadn’t seen for a long time. The hug you gave me was full of purpose. That day, in Meghan’s class, you were on fire, you had the energy back that your job had sucked out of you. And I thought to myself, my god, even I had not noticed what your job had done to you.

Trust in your instincts, success will follow.

Not sure if any of this drivel was of much help, happy to discuss more in future.

I wish you the best of luck in whatever you do, Your friend, Paul

Client Spotlight – The Vegan Converts & Making a baby with Gio & Casey Weeks – baby Luca now too!!

A beautiful, fit family who conceived by incorporating veganism!

Sometimes clients become friends, but in this case an “old” friend of mine – Giovanna – became a client. Giovanna and I met in elementary school in Maple Ridge, BC, Canada over 25 years ago. We actually went to different schools but both attended Catachism (click it if you don’t know it) where we met and eventually ended up at the same school. Giovanna has always had a light shining SO brightly within her….but she never had that Knight in shining armour that deserved her until…..Casey. Wow, what can I say. From the minute I first saw an image of these two together with their gorgeous smiles on display, I knew it was love. Casey seemed to be such a positive and loving force in Gio’s life.I’m so thankful that the two of you met and made a family -the world needs more true love like yours.

Happily settled in Houston, Texas, these two and their two pooches just added one more to their tribe; baby girl Luca – sorry folks, I didn’t get an image I could use here….and Luca was just born this past weekend of April 14/15. Congrats to the two of you. All my love and so much more and thanks SO much for taking the Vegan in 60 mentorship program on, I really hope it did help you with your little one.

So much love.

xx

S

How did the two of you meet?

Casey was a spin instructor at a studio and I had a huge crush on him and went to all his classes till he noticed me J

Did you plan on having a family early on in meeting and did age play a factor in this?

We both wanted kids one day but at the time didn’t think about it until I went to the doctor about a year after dating and she told me I had to see a fertility doctor.

How long were you trying for a baby before you went vegan and can you share any part of your personal story with our readers about WHY you decided to a make the change?

I had been doing fertility treatments for over a year. 4 Iuis and 2 IVF cycles and after getting pregnant on the last try but losing it right away I needed a break. Casey ended up watching some documentaries on Netflix that really opened our eyes to going vegan. I took about a 3month break and we went very strict vegan and I felt so great. I was working out again and not thinking about treatments and we really did feel healthier. I didn’t think it would has any effect on fertility at first just wanted to get healthier after all the hormones that were in me.

What have been the best and worst parts of trying to conceive – hee hee?

The worst was all the treatments for sure, not having control. The hormones they inject in you. The weight you gain with all of it. The stress of it. The best was when we took a break and just relax and were able to just do it the old fashion way and it worked! We could enjoy each other finally again and with being vegan I even lost weight so I felt better about myself too.

Once you became pregnant did you decide to go back to a carni lifestyle?

I have been back and forth, only because the first 3 months I was very sick and some things I could not keep down. We still try very hard though but as soon as the baby is born we are committed to going back to vegan again. I just know I felt amazing and even though I love this little baby, it has been a hard pregnancy. So I am so excited to be going back and I know Casey is too.

We know this has to be our lifestyle now, not a back and forth.

Is there anything you have learned in the process of becoming pregnant that you didn’t know veganism could impact positively?

I actually think that if I stay strict vegan I would have had less “problems” and that a lot of it was in my head. I know how healthy I felt before I was pregnant and I really think my body fixed itself becoming vegan. It made me a happier and less stressed person to, I really believe that. So now that I will be a parent I want to get back to that frame of mind and I know veganism with help me.

What is the best advice you have for couples having trouble conceiving?

Even though I hated hearing this so much, letting go and not stressing about it really is the key. Being a healthy, happy person is more important and I think that will help you so much more than stressing about what you need to do to actually conceive. Your partner and you should love just being with each other and not make it a chore to have a baby.

What was your fave and least fave vegan meal of all time?

I thought actually that quick oats for breakfast would have been my least fav but I really loved it. I don’t think there was anything I didn’t like. I really enjoyed all the vegan items we ate. Well…my first attempt at a falafel was probably my least…but if someone else makes them I love them.

Would you raise your child vegan – why/why not?

Casey and I have talked about this just a bit. We will teach them about being vegan but I think we will let them ultimately make the choice in the end.

Please let us know your best vegan recommendations for your best meals in Texas or abroad!

Ripe Cuisine is great! they are a food truck right now but opening a restaurant. Also Local foods is doing a good job of vegan items as well.

If there is anything lingering in your mind about this whole process, please feel free to share it now!

Thanks so much for all your support on this!

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

Client Spotlight – The Vegan Runner with Tess J.

Introducing the witty, funny, one-of-a-kind athlete in my life – Tess Jones.

Tess is a mom of one VERY darling little girl as well as a step-mom and wife. She’s such an inspiration for working moms out there who want to keep a life of their own and be an outstanding parent – ain’t gonna lie, she makes it look kinda easy but she might have something to say about that.

I met Tess in 2017 online, helped her out with a meal plan for her non-competitive time as well as helping her with endurance nutrition. I also had the pleasure of spending an afternoon with her and her little nugget helping prepare meals for her busy life. She’s got health and wellness as a priority in her home which is SO refreshing. You’re amazing Tess.

If you’re in Pittsburgh looking to run throughout this beautiful city check out this running link HERE from Fitt Pittsburgh. Also, if you’re in the hood AND in need of some help with your gear, please head over to Fleet Feet and see Tess for the best of the best service.

Thanks for being an inspiration for vegans, runners and moms, Tess.

xx

 

How long have you been running?

My Dad has been a runner his whole life and started me when I was 13. I am now 32 and have been running ever since!

When did you discover that running was your “thing”?

I realized I was good at running in high school as I was winning a lot of local 5K races. Once I started training, I realized I could be a solid runner. I went to college and competed on my Division III Cross Country team.

Why did you decide to go vegan?

I have always been mostly plant based as it just made me feel better. I had a lot of stomach issues when I ate dairy and meat so doing a lot of trial and error to find what worked for me was helpful. Eliminating animal products made me feel better overall.

 Do you notice a difference in your abilities running as a vegan?

It honestly took a while for me to adjust. I had an eating disorder in high school and in college, so going vegan really made my family worried that I was restricting again. I initially lost a lot of weight and was really tired all the time. It took me a while to figure out the right combination of Macros and supplements to make sure I was fueling myself properly so that I could keep up the mileage. Once I did, I was able to be a good runner and a vegan athlete.

What is a typical day of training for you?

It really depends if I am in marathon training mode or I am in an off season. I usually run 5 days a week and do 1 day of strength training and one off day. Usually a day of speed work, a day of long distance and then moderate distance the rest of the time.  

What are your favourite pre and post workout foods?

I love a good banana and toast pre-long run. The carbs are great for longer distances. I love a smoothie post-run, it is cold and feels so good and is easy to digest!

When did you decide you needed nutritional coaching for optimizing your training, and why?

Veganism is wonderful, but hard to navigate sometimes. There is so much information out there and I wanted to be sure I was getting enough nutrients. As I said, with having had an Eating Disorder, it is easy for me to go back to my restrictive tendencies. I really had to focus on getting the proper coaching and guidance.

What is the biggest hurdle you feel you face in your day to day life that running helps you to overcome?

I think running is my best therapist! I really can unwind and relax and just be me. I have a 5 month old daughter so having the time and space all to myself is really helpful for my overall health and wellness.

What are some of your favourite places to run and why?

I love running throughout the city; Pittsburgh is a beautiful place to run! So many trails that are just absolutely breathtaking. I love being out with nature!

If you could give three pieces of solid advice to those considering taking on running, what would it be?

Like anything else, start slow and ease in. Don’t try to start off running 8 miles if you have never ran before. Know that it might  not be fun to start, but the benefits are endless and it can truly be a lifetime sport if you do it safely.

Is there anything that you are personally passionate about that you would like to share with FML clients, friends, readers?  

Having a plant diet is doable while being an athlete! You just have to plan, be smart and work hard!