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

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

 

CLIENT SPOTLIGHT – Training the Vegan Man – With Greg H.

 

CLIENT SPOTLIGHT – Training the Vegan Man – With Greg H.

Greg is a cheery, happy-go-lucky client I met a Vegan event here in Pittsburgh. He is tall, slim and looking to add some mass to his frame. While it’s a lot harder to make gains on a slender frame (naturally) than it is on a medium build, Greg gets to enjoy a lot of healthy, whole foods. I mean a lot, no big time calorie restriction for his body type.

Thanks Greg for participating in this interview!

After understanding a bit more about “generally” eating vegan and eating vegan with a goal (for gains)…what can you say about the differences to you personally where it comes to meal prepping at home?

I’ve been vegan for 7 years now, so eating vegan isn’t an issue for me. I have become more aware of how I spend my time since I have to put time into meal prepping and training on top of work, social matters, and leisure time. Meal prepping has helped with my time management and organizational skills, and has given me an excuse to get more creative in the kitchen.

How does going out to eat meals look now as compared to before your gains goals?

Well, I do not eat out as much since it is easier (and cheaper) to cook for myself. When I do go out with friends or family, I have grown accustomed to gauging portion sizes. It is becoming more and more like an odd super power.

As a vegan who eats mostly whole foods, do you find getting enough protein a challenge?

I do not! I know that there are still people who believe in the myth that vegans do not get enough protein, but that’s all it is: a myth. I have found myself having to cut back on how much protein I consume on a few occasions.

What is your favourite type of protein?

Seitan is my favorite, especially when I fry it up with Korean barbecue sauce and some mushrooms. I usually reward myself with some good seitan at the end of the week.

Do you feel challenged as a man when it comes to cooking/meal prepping?

As a man, I don’t. I love to cook, and meal prepping has made me more efficient in the kitchen.

What meal is your fave/least fave?

My favorite meal must be my protein shake! I use 1 and ½ scoops of chocolate mocha MRM Veggie Elite – Performance Protein, almond milk, flax seeds, a banana, and some peanut butter. It’s like drinking a milkshake, and it’s amazing.

My least favorite is a salad. I have never been a salad fan – they are too boring for me. I have to really stack it up with veggies, seeds, fruit, and a bit of dressing for me to enjoy it, but I am too lazy most of the time to go all out!

 How do you fit in your training with a full time job?

I get up early to train before work, but if I need to catch up on sleep, I will work out as soon as I get home from work.

 When do you do your meal prep?

I meal prep Sunday nights while I make dinner, and I also prep either Wednesday or Thursday night, depending on how much I prepped Sunday night.

 If you could make one thing happen in your life that would liberate you to pursue your fitness goals 100% what would that be?

Work from home! I would love to work out in the morning, get ready, and not have to rush to work. The time I spend driving to and from work is more than enough time to complete a full work out.

 Do you have any advice for Vegan men looking to make gains?

The biggest piece of advice I can give, is to be patient. Noticeable gains do not happen overnight, so you need to stay positive, dedicated, eat right, and bust your ass every day, and you will notice a difference soon enough.

There are people out there who will tell you that you cannot pack on muscle on a vegan diet, but don’t listen to them because you can, and you will!

 What is your meal prep tip for guys with no clue where to start?

Start small. Pick two or three meals that fit your meal plan that don’t use many ingredients. Make a list before you go grocery shopping, and on Sunday night, get everything cut up, portioned, and into containers.

To save more time, buy frozen vegetables when you can: they’re already cut up and ready to be cooked.

 

Forged by fire.

I don’t know about you, but I’m ready for 2017 to end…and for some of you it already has ~ happiest of 2018 to you!

This last year has been FULL of everything. A lot of negative with a sprinkling of some positives that helped us to limp along to the finish line. I am grateful for all the new relationships I’ve made with friends and clients alike. I’m learning so much about who I am and what my position on this planet is and it’s empowering.

 

Shots in Rittenhouse

In January, I was in NYC solidifying collaborations & partnerships which was very exciting. We spent time back in Philly revisiting all of our favourite Vegan haunts and waxing nostalgic about our first time visiting Pennsylvania.

February, after an ass kicking bout of food poisoning, I was back in Calgary freezing my nards off and visiting my step-daughter Anastacia, who was re-diagnosed with a second childhood Cancer. Pretty rough start to the year while the clock was ticking down for us to “make 1MM or leave”.

 

March. I was in Savannah, Georgia, competing in a WNBF show where I didn’t do as well as expected and was generally miserable about it. I met new friends and will savour those relationships for life. I learned a lot about coaching BS during that trip.

Vancouver Vibes

April I regrouped and spent 5 weeks busting my chops for another kick at the can in Vancouver, where I came in first place & redeemed myself to myself. I got to see my besties and my family and couldn’t be happier because I released my first Vegan cookbook!

May, we took a 10 day trip back to Mexico to unwind & shoot a bit …then we moved from our shack in The Hill District to our home on the Slopes & secured a Studio lease on the South Side – exciting!

June we moved into our new home AND new office/studio digs and tried to settle in. Both of our dogs ended up getting Lyme Disease which required antibiotics and a lot of costly follow ups.

July, we rode from Calgary to Pittsburgh on my motorcycle which is NOT built for 2 and long haul trips. We also got to see Anastacia at the end of her surgery and beginning of new chemo. We saw a lot of cool sites on the way back home…South Dakota & Rushmore/Black Hills being the best of the best.

August, understanding our 1 year visa was running out we spend the entire month of August on the ground in Pittsburgh putting together our next 5 year petition. It was horrible, stressful & costly. We wanted to spend more time in Pittsburgh in case our Visas were denied and we had to move back to Canada. We spent a few days back in Manhattan for some work I had to do & had a good time in Jersey City. We celebrated our 1 year wedding anniversary.

Falling Water

September, back to the grind and finishing touches on our application. Another amazing month in Pittsburgh however, FULL of ticks outside. We traveled to Chicago for Riot Fest & fell in love with the city. My parents also visited this month. To date, the only people that have visited us in Pittsburgh at all. I was voted on of Canada’s Top Vegan Influencers and featured in a magazine spread. 

Chicago, baby.

October, the final countdown. I was asked to a complete an interview in The Native Society online publication alongside some pretty prolific positive influencers in North America and Beyond. Later in the same month we were crossing the border late at night with our dogs in tow and a roof rack full of clothes with no idea when we would be back home, if ever.

November, tick tock, November 1st arrived and we both had a 5 year approval to head back to the US and really dig in on Business Development for our Engineering company. My training business picked up a lot online this month as well as in person which was a great ego boost that I needed then.

December, all work & a little play with 6 days in Fort Lauderdale & another photoshoot.  Businesses ramping up and travel for next year is starting to roll out.

Pfew. Those are the things I rattle off the top of my head!!!! I’ve decided to leave behind the evil stress of the “Birth Mom” drama we’ve been under. If you know me, you know it’s sick and I don’t talk about it anymore.

I have faced adversity, I have nearly lost my mind, but all in all I am made of STEEL now. My marriage & training was the only thing that kept me going for all the days that were hell on earth.

The best thing to come out of 2017 is the forging of my relationship under fire – indestructible now, as the tests we have survived would have killed 1000 marriages by now.

Find your fire, walk through it and push on through 2018. I did it, you can do it.

XX – S

The last year of my 30’s & why I’ve decided to stop giving a F*&k!

Beach-side, the tropics. My safe place.

*Warning, explicit language*

Just a few short days before I enter into the last year of my 30’s I sit and think (as I usually do on each birthday) about the last year. I review my entire life as I remember it and ponder on what things are in store for my future. As a kid born in Regina, Saskatchewan to two teenagers with no big world experience things could have been far worse. I feel lucky to be able to be sitting where I am right now, and not at a cold and windy farm table in Saskatchewan somewhere. 

Me & Ronald McDonald on the Farm

To say the last year was stressful would be a gross understatement, an attempt to share all of it would take longer than I have the time to spare, not to mention the desire. This year, I think it would be more cathartic (the intended purpose of my bday blogs) to dish on the general areas of my reflection and hopefully inspire the reader to make changes that lead to a healthy, happy and fulfilling life.

With 40 fast approaching I’m ready to say Fuck It to so much that has had me so encumbered for so very many years. I’m freeing myself, finally.

Here we go!

Immigration and Entrepreneurship

September 30, 2016 we left Canada for Pittsburgh for a shot at a new life and new business opportunities. Impacted greatly by the Oil and Gas downturn, we decided to leave behind the flailing Canadian market (in part) and start up another Engineering office in Pittsburgh as well as focus on our other passions of photography, travel and fitness.

You can read all about our trip down south last year HERE. 

Our first weeks in Pittsburgh were distressing but I was so full of hope…as usual I blogged about my birthday experience. 

While this was equal parts hope and giant balls on our part, it was also strategic and by July 1, 2017 we had finally opened a storefront which holds our engineering firm as well as a small studio for personal training and photography. Luckily, Jeff has managed to finally find a worthy partner back in Calgary and we have been able to juggle both businesses as was required by our L1 Visa status.

Our humble little US beginnings the day we signed the lease!

6 or 7 months into our journey, I was quickly realizing that we were not going to meet the necessary criteria to retain another 3 year L1 Visa. One benchmark being the generation of revenues between 500k to 1MM in the first 365 days. Hundreds of hours of business development, several attorneys, two expired visas and one aimless road trip to Toronto with our dogs in tow and we are sitting waiting for the return of our passports so we can go home. 

This experience has cost us around $200K USD including about 15k USD for legal fees. At the end of the day, that’s what the start up and legal costs are to cross the border and essentially buy your way in to the US with your own business. We were given the sage and insulting advice to just “buy a pizza shop for $50k” to be a “shoo in”. Yes, because lawyer #2, we really just wanted to move to Pittsburgh, open a pizza by the slice shop and die.

We put together our own talents and managed to craft a package for the US Consulate that won us the maximum allowable entry time in our first shot at an E2 Visa. In 2 years we will be at the border again on some other “24 hours out of the country” bureaucratic red tape mission, but we plan on being settled in Central America before the 5 years is up cause, we have bigger fish to fry than engineering out of Calgary and Pittsburgh. 

Being your own boss and creating your own unique business is a beautiful experience. The highs and lows are quite simply,  soul punching experiences. It’s not like selling a house, car or product that exists on its own, or even contract work for anyone. In providing personal services as opposed to products or being a middle man, you’re literally selling yourself because what you’re providing is (to most) intangible. This means that the good days and bad days are “all your fault”. It’s how you choose to market your services, how good you are at your job and how creative you can be in tight times. It’s ALL YOU.

As a couple and business partners in so may ways, Jeff and I know that we will never choose to work for anyone again in our lives. We will never go back to living the 9-5 regular life. While the stress might kill us, we feel like our experiences on the day-to-day are genuine, real, felt and lived fully. We have freedom. The freedom to work from wherever we want in the world, the freedom to choose what country we live in, the freedom to say yes or no to any work that comes our way. The freedom to come and go as we please, never have to ask for a sick day and never, ever be dictated our days by anyone. Ever.

I will always do my best to stand up for my ideas and say Fuck it to convention. It’s not the easy road by any means, but it’s the path of freedom and at what could be the half way mark in my life, I’m not willing to give up any more precious time.

Kids and Cancer

I’m not entirely private about my private life. I know that there are others out there that can benefit from hearing about my struggles and what aren’t entirely unique experiences.

I chose to be with a man who had a child from a previous marriage, I didn’t know he had married a serial embezzler of the child custody payment variety. If there is one thing that has created the black spot on my life it has been this. Over the years I have learned to create healthy places out of the dark ones with an understanding that there will always be a cloud of lies and doom living over me as long as I let it. Now bring in the added fact that my step-child has been diagnosed with Cancer twice and the road stretches out even longer in front of me.

I never had my own children and never wanted them. Dogs are too damn much for me some days. But I made the choice to say “I do” to someone with so much baggage it’s hard to bear sometimes. On my 35th birthday I made the final decision to not have children. We sat in our private plunge pool at The Resort At Pedregal and I told Jeff that by the time the clock struck 12 midnight I would decide, and I did.

On that same trip, we decided that because Jeff was being prevented from seeing his child, before he signed any court documents finalizing any custody arrangements he would fight as hard as he could to attain as close to 50% custody as possible.

Read more about our battle from an old post HERE.

The last 6 years have been about laying out our financial status, education, lifestyle etc…for people to pick apart. They come after financial gain while we fight in the hopes that we would be able to be a part of my step-daughters life and give her the things she wasn’t able to have; the outdoors, pets, family nights with cousins around the campfire, life in the mountains, reading, good music and times that were valued not by their price tag, but by the priceless feeling it left inside you.

This, will always be worth it. We fought with time, money and energy we didn’t really have to give her balance and a chance at spending more time with us which cannot be hidden. We will never regret going through this turmoil but, in the end, we (and to a larger part me) had to say Fuck it.

Imagine having to defend the greedy claims of someone who made their money in a career of sleeping with married men (as well as getting impregnated several times and soaking the fathers of the resulting offspring) criticize your worth, abilities and income after receiving a University education and degree (or two)? Evil people like to project the worst parts of themselves onto others and that happened on a nearly daily basis through email for six years.

I have basically been barred from speaking about anything outright for years while watching this person spend hours per day stalking me and my husband on the internet, providing screen shots of our instagram accounts, Facebook accounts etc…and putting lies in sworn affidavits to the court system. Actual proven lies people, and THIS is the truly terrifying part of watching a child have to grow up in a house with no morals….it’s nauseating and gut wrenching. How I wish sterilization of “rotten apple humans”was a thing but, we all know sociopaths get around psych tests often.

Such an ugly person without morals bogged down my life and I let it happen. Such ugly people became a part of my life and I watched my step-daughter turn into one of them through no choice of her own. I spoke with a counsellor about it for a few sessions and they were blown away. I confirmed I did my best as a wife and stepmother, and I designed a structured way to say “fuck it” to that life without crushing anyone. You can only watch a car crash for so long before you have to turn away.

I made peace, I moved on as best I could.

The one great friend I made in all of this happens to be the mother of my step-daughters step-sister. In this relationship we were able to expose to each other both sides of the household and really, came to understand the utter lunacy in it all. The abuse in that house is at an incredible level including emotional and physical and the two of us, one day, hope to take all of our notes, emails, videos, pictures and court documents to create a documentary to help others in the same position fight for sanity and the true health and rights of their children. Thank you Marissa, you’re a strong woman and I know our friendship helped us both move on.

In leaving Canada and moving 3000 miles away from the centre of evil you can bet that the pressure in my body was relieved 100 fold. In finally finishing the court battle over money, it’s dead to me now. I have chosen to walk away from that entire horror show. Jeff and I are honest about it all and after a lot of gut wrenching discussion he understands why I just can’t be a part of it anymore. We did our best for 6 years to bring a happy, healthy and real life to Anastacia…it’s all being left behind now and we fear for her happiness and health, from a distance.

I felt obligations to be a parent of a certain variety, which were put upon me by over sensitive, soapbox loving 21st Century society and my own lack of balls.

We are not all the same. Our situations are not all the same; our desire to live and love does not come in one way, shape or form. If you’re given no choice but to fight the good fight, then one day find yourself ready to throw in the towel to retain your happiness and sanity, do it. You are the mother, father, stepparent, cousin, boss, friend that you are. If you aren’t intentionally hurting anyone, being greedy or selfish or crooked, go live out loud.

My freedom and intrinsic goodness will always be there for my step-daughter to see and learn and grow from. This should be the legacy I leave for her to understand, not one where I fought, for the sake of fighting or being right, was sad, lived with less for no reason, lived with lies and/or abuse.

Children should never learn to accept that as a way of living.

Fuck the people who judge, fuck the people who lie, fuck the people who cheat. I will stop living to those standards by engaging, I will live my one life. The truth always comes out in the end and if people would like to make my life decisions, they can pay my bills and take on all my worries too.

Holy matrimony

Ah marriage. For me, 3 times and I’m finally charmed. I still can’t stop looking back at the other two and shaking my head. I know now that I wasn’t surrounded by anyone who actually cared enough to slap me into reality with either of those decisions. But as of today, I’m leaving those thoughts in the dust.

I am in a relationship now where we can respect what the other person is going through, even if that takes a minute or twenty to digest and try to understand. That’s the best thing that I could ask for. I truly have a partner in life, and while it’s not always perfect, it’s not supposed to be. The point is to be able to live life your way and not resent your traveling companion for living the same way. When a piece of resentment comes up, we talk about it. We promised to never lie and, should another path cross one of ours that takes us away from each other, then maybe that might be the right thing. In our hearts and minds we are together forever. We are honest, happy and adventurous. We are sexually aware, affectionate and sensual people. We make our life about living hard and loving hard and 6 years in, I think it’s working out pretty well. Through thick and thin we’ve been together and better people would have broken up 10 times by now. We know we have something to cherish every single moment of.

The first day of forever after.

The first marriage I had was to a physically and emotionally abusive man I met and dated for almost 3 years before we were married. The first being a long distance relationship but this was where I was given the opportunity in 2002 to meet the love of my life.

He was a total piece of shit, destroyed my self-worth and made me fear going to sleep because someone may smother me with a pillow, made me scared of falling asleep on the couch while watching a movie because I’d get slapped in the face, yelled at and shaken to wake up – true stories. I had no idea how damaging that was and what that would do to me for years. I fought back, I yelled, one time when he was driving me to work in the morning and punched me (charley horsed) in the leg I spat a mouthful of chewed food in his face. I wasn’t an angel. I didn’t back down BUT in most cases, I really didn’t start or finish a fight.

I posted about this on Instagram, however brief HERE.

Which, then, leads me to my second marriage. 7 years together – that has to be a record for two people so fuelled up on drugs and alcohol that they didn’t know if they were coming or going. Not to mention the fact that he worked steady night shifts, I worked daytime work and we rarely were seen together unless it was at a club at 2am. Sometimes I’d have to set my alarm for midnight to get up and go meet him somewhere.

In the middle of all that and before we were married I became pregnant. My kid would be 10 by now. I decided not to keep it and that alone should’ve been a message enough to myself that I was in the wrong relationship. I never wanted kids BUT if I was to become accidentally pregnant now at nearly 40 with Jeff’s kid, you would bet that I would not make the same decision.

Eventually, going out and getting smashed became old news and I’d just be waking up to him stumbling into our back gate pissed drunk (sometimes pissing himself) leaving the doors to our 100K Mercedes wide open while it was filled to the brim with DJ equipment. He wasn’t a bad person he was just spoiled, selfish and directionless because he never had to have these skills.

Most recently during the long drive to the US in 2016, he went WILD after I was instructed by the bank to close an account I held (which in hindsight was a joint account for a mortgage we held together that he never changed) which impacted his mortgage payments. He actually sent threats and old video footage of me being wasted to my parents! More than 5 years after we split. He threatened to burn my things he still held….he threatened to “call my husband on me”….just a poor, angry, inept child. Still, I really hoped he would’ve progressed because by now he was a father to a child himself. I fear that kind of shit…. and can only laugh uncomfortably at his knee-jerk reaction of napalm death. So typical, and I’m so relieved I’m past that.

I chalk it up to the fact that through his own parents divorce he became a heavily damaged person and so was I by the time we met. The two of us together were like fuel and fire and though we didn’t fight a lot, we fuelled resentment and when his rich father died, he changed and became vacant.

When shit gets old its OVER. 

I documented my liberation with photographs.

There is just no time in life to stay in relationships that hurt you. No time to give people 100 chances. No time for therapy to try and “make it work”. If it doesn’t now, it won’t later people seldom change and if you meet one that truly has or can, you’re witnessing a miracle.

If you want to walk, walk. If you want to stay, stay. But mark my words; the choice is yours and caring about what your parents, friends or co-workers think of your life is an absolute copout. You create your own misery and happiness, which no one can judge you for if you don’t give a shit.

So what I was married twice before Jeff? I wish I could take that back but at the same time, I learned a lot and don’t regret the life lessons one bit…ok, maybe the asshole that beat me I could’ve skipped on before the real poundings started…..my point – Fuck it. It hurts to end a “thing” but when it’s damaging your being you have to go. NO questions asked.

Building my self-image and taking care of number one.

Winning feels really good, until you’re not winning anymore (inside).

I have to admit that while I believed that training hard for hours per day counted as taking care of myself, it really didn’t. I have largely been taking care of goals, but not myself in the way that I deserve.

I love to dance, did it my whole life and when I had to quit, it left a hole in me the size of a shotgun blast. This giant unexplored emotional issue is probably part of the reason that I turned to drinking and other things in my early twenties.

Once I woke up to the lie that fake friends and drugs/alcohol made out of my life I vowed to take care of myself, truly take care of me, before all else.

Well, guess what? I fell flat on my face on that one for the past nearly 6 years and I’m willing to admit it entirely. I have a problem with giving my entire self to someone else and forgetting all about me. I know that is true for so many. While there is nothing at all wrong with loving hard and helping out endlessly and enjoying watching other succeed, there is something wrong when you wake up every morning wondering what your own life’s purpose is.

I gave up my business when I left Vancouver for Calgary because of a few things; it would be too hard to kick off in a city I knew I would never permanently move to, it was more profitable to take a job in real estate management and acquisitions again at the time, then it was that we could afford for me not to work and to take care of our home in the mountains and all our animals, then it became that I was needed to monitor the volatility that was the admin/accounting/HSE divisions of our Oil and Gas Engineering business and then that never went away for three years.

I lost myself. I lost myself in being a wife, a worker, a 9-5 ‘er of sorts and while that sucked I thought that it afforded me a lot of awesome things like travel, freedom etc…what I think it really did was erase who I was, my dreams and made me settle for less. Our vacations have always been working vacations. Jeff never takes a day off, his attention is 50% at the best of times but that’s what entrepreneurs sign up for.

I blogged my first birthday away from Vancouver.

I found that bodybuilding put me back in a place that made me feel in charge of my life again and I slowly started to build the business of my dreams back up inch-by-inch, brick by brick. I’ve had to back away and say fuck it to the company that isn’t my baby and keep that at arms length too because, in all this, it was one more thing that could suck the life out of me and my marriage, no bueno.

It’s time to grow up and show up for myself, finally, at nearly 40.

Surfing Sombrio Beach.

There are beautiful things to speak of, thousands of them, but those feel like they need to be kept close to my heart and private right now. Cherished and loved for brining all the light into my life. I have friends, family, support and talents that I don’t give myself enough credit for. Most of all, I have grit.

I’ve been carrying all this negative shit with me for years. I’ve finally reached a place after 39 years on the planet where I don’t care about what anyone thinks of my life. I’m too old for that shit and I’ve seen way too much to keep my mouth shut. Cancer didn’t kill me and some humps in the road are not taking my happy days away from me. Fuck that.

I’m not a whiner, a sympathy seeker, I don’t internet stalk people or obsess, I don’t mope on and on about these things or obsess in unhealthy ways, but there is a piece of my life being stolen from me every day and these issues of my past are taking space up in my brain. I need to make space for new, happy memories now.

Today, I am going to celebrate the fact that I am able to recognize what change needs to be made to make my life a happy one, and that I have the ability to make those changes without regret. If I were at home (and not writing this from week 2.5 on the road from an AirBnB) I would start a fire and burn away all the negativity in some symbolic ceremony. Right now I’ll have to settle for hitting the treadmill harder than I have in the last while.

I’m choosing to acknowledge the hardships, maybe shed a tear or two about it and then press on. Unpacking the damaged pieces will take more than just hitting “publish” on this post, but it will be my daily intention to put my energy into things that are right, feel good and work for me.

So, I make my 39th year, the year of no fucks being given and no opportunities being left at the table…and hopefully that carries on for the rest of my life for, I only have one.

I hope for the same freedoms for us all.

 

XX – S

Staying Healthy & Happy On The Road

 

fit on the road
Prepped for travel ~ do it right!

Usually ~ USUALLY ~ I am a pretty dedicated advocate of disciplined living on the road. Good eats, plenty of exercise with a little fun peppered in. When you’re travelling it can be exceptionally hard to stay healthy and when you’re on the road for an undisclosed amount of time? This is a true challenge. I have found myself on the road now for two weeks, possibly two more weeks ahead and boy has it been rough.

With 8 hour driving days in the first week all I could do was eat right, drink water and try to get sleep as best I could – physical fitness went out the window. Week two however, was a game changer. Rented apartment with full services and an actual neighbourhood to live in equals thriving.

I’m writing this post for my gypsy friends, my workaholic brethren and for those of you who have no choice but to be in a constant state of travel/disarray/busy. You can still do right by your body and mind while taking it easy and staying sane.

Here are my top 5 tips for staying #FitOnTheRoad

  1. Stop Instagramming and get googling. Search out hotels or AirBnB locations with either a gym or yoga/fitness studio in the building or one offsite but close. Ensure they observe drop-ins and find one that fits your budget. In this day and age there is a studio you can visit that will at the very least get your body moving. No options? As in, stranded in a remote village? Make it part of your pre-trip packing to download equipment-free HIIT or Yoga videos to your laptop, tablet or smartphone. Try a couple of the apps below on for size:
  1. Myyogaonline.com
  2. Emily Skye (workout app)
  3. My Road Workout (workout app)
  4. Cody (yoga/pilates app)
  5. Yogify (yoga app)
  6. Daily Workouts FREE (workout app)
  1. Order pre-made meals or grocery delivery. There is nearly no way to get out of making healthy choices these days. You can utilize the services of an athlete meal prep company or “on the go” meal prep company to have your food delivered right to your door OR find an easy pick up location. Grocery stores can have a lot of healthy selection in their deli department as well – be sure to choose hotel rooms or rentals with refrigeration and microwaves if possible. No delivery? No problem. We’ve all been there before. If you’re on a shorter journey you can pack your own healthy meals with you in a well constructed carry-all designed to keep them fresh. My friends at Believe Fit Calgary have an amazing assortment of 6pack meal bags and other to go carriers you should check out as well!

 

My go-to meal delivery companies are:

USA – www.iconmeals.com , www.freshmealplan.com

CANADA – www.fuelfoods.ca , www.fitfood.ca , www.athleteskitchen.ca

 

  1. Cut the booze. Easier said than done sometimes however alcohol can cause us to have uneasy sleeps, rough mornings and also diminishes our ability to burn fat. Try curbing your cravings by flavouring your water with lemon, lime or cucumber, fresh juice with a splash of soda or a hot tea.

 

Try these cool “mocktails” out if you’ve got your own kitchen or a helpful server:

 

http://www.insonnetskitchen.com/healthy-mocktails-for-new-years/

  1. Stay true to your alarm clock. Nothing throws off a traveller more than time-zone changes. What’s worse is when we refuse to acknowledge that time change and remain all over the map with our sleep/work/living patterns. Set your clocks & alarms to get adjusted to your local time zone as quickly as possible. Feel free to cave for a 15-minute catnap as needed but do your best to adjust sooner than later. Major jetlag sufferer? Try a few of these tips:

A: use your flight time to reset – sleep to match your destination time-zone

B: don’t pull any all nighters before you depart

C: arrive in daylight if you can

D: avoid on-board alcohol

E: eat 3 meals for your time-zone – even if you aren’t hungry

F: stretch & exercise

G: get all the daylight you can – nap when you need to

  1. Hydrate & Meditate. You’re hearing it all over the news and in print; yoga and meditation are being recommended (along with plant-based diets) by so many health professionals now. Why? Well, it gets your mind right and without that, your body is sure to fail you. Hydration, or lack thereof is also key to travelling well, staying clear, focused and rested. Take this recommendation on your next travels and see how it works for you:

A: Before you open your eyes each morning use an easy meditation practice of noticing you are away from toe to head. With eyes closed, scan your body from foot to hair acknowledging them with a wriggle or squeeze once or twice as you move up your body.

B: Wake up each morning to a glass of room temperature water (buy a “real lemon” supplement if you have time to and add

C: Complete some easy stretches before hopping into a quick COOL water shower. Hot showers will keep you drowsy ~ we want to promote alertness.

D: Breakfast ~ make it count. Simple oatmeal and a few berries are GREAT and you can find travel sizes too. If not, be sure to pack some dried quick oats, dried berries and stevia as a sweetener. You can add hot water in your hotel room and voila!

E: Stay hydrated allday, use an earth friendly 1 litre/1 quart vessel that you can refill easily anywhere all day. Ensure you have at least 3 litres before bed – BUT not all at once in a rush. Being up all night having to go to the washroom isn’t good for your sleep.

 F: Be mindful and try walking or moving meditation. For example: if you are walking between long blocks to meetings, try breathing in and out to the beat of three paces – three paces breathing in, three breathing out.

Staying healthy and happy on the road takes a lot of effort and genuine desire on our part to achieve successfully. There is no one “way” to stay fit, stay rested or remain cheery while traveling – so do what you can in-part with these time tested suggestions to keep well.

You can follow my journey on Facebook, Instagram or my Blog to keep up with healthy eating, living and lifting tips regularly.

Bon voyage, a la prochaine!

XX-S

Vegan Rosemary Protein Flatbread

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I am always in the process of trying to get the cleanest, tastiest recipes developed to make my life (and hopefully yours) a little easier where nutrition planning is involved.

We have been working on a top secret product lately which has me in receipt of excess amounts of bulk protein. The ones I don’t like, end up in recipe testers like this!

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This week, I had enough time while packing to try out a reasonably tasty flatbread recipe. Because this is pretty much gluten free and totally vegan, it’s difficult to get the fluffy texture that glutenous & egg laden breads produce. However, it worked and is useable AND is protein packed.

Take that carb cravings.

Flavour it how you like or don’t flavour it at all ~ I tried Rosemary and Garlic Sea Salt for this batch – savoury with be the death of me.

Ingredients:

1 cup pea protein

1 tsp baking soda

1.5 cups quick oats

1/4 cup flaxseed meal

3 tbsp egg replacer

1 cup warm water

**dressed with Rosemary & Garlicky Salt

Method: 

Place all items into blender and blend thoroughly – this will be quite liquid as below.

Pour into cookie sheet that is preferably NOT bent – oy oy oy the issues when it isn’t level!

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Bake at 200 degrees for 1.5 hours checking every 30 minutes. I recommend either a) greasing with spray on coconut oil b) using parchment or c) use a silicone bread/cookie pan

Allow to cool for at least 10 minutes.

I cut this recipe into 12 pieces and here are the nutritional results: 

Nutrition Facts
Servings 12.0
Amount Per Serving
calories 74 
% Daily Value *
Total Fat 1 g 2 %
Saturated Fat 0 g 1 %
Monounsaturated Fat 0 g
Polyunsaturated Fat 0 g
Trans Fat 0 g
Cholesterol 0 mg 0 %
Sodium 410 mg 17 %
Potassium 14 mg 0 %
Total Carbohydrate 6 g 2 %
Dietary Fiber 1 g 5 %
Sugars 0 g
Protein 12 g 24 %
Vitamin A  0 %
Vitamin C  1 %
Calcium  1 %
Iron  13 %
* The Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet, so your values may change depending on your calorie needs. The values here may not be 100% accurate because the recipes have not been professionally evaluated nor have they been evaluated by the U.S. FDA.

 

IMG_2895
Added sliced “chicken”, Walden Farms Hickory BBQ sauce & some grilled yellow peppers which hit the spot!

 

Sunless tanners – good for you & our animal friends.

 

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I think Jeff took this picture to make me look like a beer drinking cigarette smoking lunatic. Be warned: these are not mine AND I don’t recommend you smoke either. <3

Summertime is here and I bet it’s travel season for most of you. You’re getting ready to hit the road AND be #Fitontheroad, right? Being “healthy” also  includes keeping your skin safe from the elements while trying your best to keep your abs safe from over indulgence. Keeping your skin safe could mean opting out of sun bathing entirely and going straight to a beachy bronzed glow without the hours spent roasting on the shoreline.

This quick post is in response to many requests from clients and friends for an outline of my favourite and highly recommended self-tanners.

I am a sun baby, worship that thing like it’s going out of style BUT I rarely (if ever) use a tanning bed. I use spray tan for bodybuilding competition & slather on a minimum of 6 on my body once I’ve built a decent base and 30 on my face to combat sun spots, wrinkles and obviously, skin cancer.

The tanners I’ve used for competition are NOT friendly for your body or the environment (never mind your bed sheets) and are of course ridiculously expensive. They are also not the most natural looking once applied and eventually showered off. The spray tan booths that I have had experience with also provide a tan that makes you look like a penny for a week and then you peel off a la “Magda” from the film “Something about Mary”.

If you don’t know Magda, here she is: 

 

MAGDA
This is Magda. Don’t be Magda.

While I don’t usually use sunless tanner regularly from home (because regardless of how they are applied I suck at it) there are a few brands that seem to actually deliver on the non-orange front. These ones also have the highest quality ingredients you can find in a sunless tanner. As always, you need to moisturize at least once per day and try to exfoliate at least once per day as well to keep tans looking fresh while attempting to slough them off evenly.

The last brand I used purchased from Sephora is called “Vita Liberata”. It’s a tinted mousse that worked out really well for a photo shoot I did in the winter. It didn’t do the classic spray tan melt off either.

Other items that I know are hard to find in Canada but cover all your bases (purchase online) are:

True Natural – organic product

Vita Tanz – these guys boast free radical protection.

Chocolate Sun – if you hate the smell of spray tans, these guys found the magical chocolate code to expel that.

As always, make sure you’re applying sun screen regularly when you’re out in the tropics but especially North of 49 where the sun is far more harmful to us than down south. The sun up here in Canada is far more cancer-causing, getting burned is never fun but the effects of our Northern summers on our skin can be devastating.

Another option is to protect your skin via the foods you’re eating. We can use food as sunscreen and as a sunburn cure ~ health is wealth so check out these nutrition-based tips:

Foods that help as sunscreen are loaded with anti-oxidants and protect against UV. Bye bye premature aging. 

  • Omega rich fish like Salmon, flax seed oil or chia seeds
  • Red & orange fruit and veggies
  • Dark chocolate or ground cacao beans/nibs
  • Cruciferous veggies (like cauliflower and brussels sprouts)
  • Leafy greens (like spinach, kale and chard)

Foods that help to soothe your skin after a sunburn: 

  • Cucumber sliced/mashed and applied topically
  • A dab of white vinegar (on non-blistered skin) is a pain reducer
  • Calendula – make or purchase a poultice and apply liberally throughout the day
  • Boiled lettuce water – boil, cool and then apply cool mixture to burned skin with a cotton ball
  • Aloe vera gel – directly from the plant un-died, unprocessed applied directly to the effected area

All of these tips don’t go very far if you’re not prepared. Wear a hat, use sunscreen and always remember to take care of the skin you’re in!

Enjoy your summer & be sure to pop by Believe Fit Calgary to chat if you have more to ask on this or any other health related topics.

XX – S

Becoming Little Miss Bikini – S3 Ep1 – What am I doing with my life?

Continue reading “Becoming Little Miss Bikini – S3 Ep1 – What am I doing with my life?”