Fitness Friday – Not Another Picture of my Weights

When I started this blog I wasn’t sure exactly what I was going to do. I knew I had some adventures to share and a big heart to pour out into the world. As I began to really come into the community I realized I don’t spend enough money on make-up or clothes to ever become a style blog and when I looked at a lot of the lifestyle blogs I knew I’d never be comfortable enough posing for pictures to be the aesthetically beautiful girl featured throughout those posts. In the beginning, I really struggled with what this blog was going to be and how it was going to look. All the helpful tips and tricks I read from more experienced bloggers empathized the need to find your niche and to build your audience from there.

And I did find a niche, but I’m not sure it’s the one I intended for this blog.

My wandering into the weight loss and fitness journey tags really came out of wanting to find inspiration and ideas from others who were in it for the long haul. Quickly I found that WordPress has a beautiful community of diverse individuals just trying to be healthier, stronger, and happier. The positive vibes from the community were equally matched by realistic bad days that weren’t sugar coated in you can do it mantras. All of this quickly appealed to me. I hit the follow button several dozen times and soon enough found myself within the community, blogging about the workouts I was trying, the meals I was prepping, and all that little things that make weight loss and fitness so challenging. As time pushed on more and more of my posts focused on my weight loss and everything that I was doing to achieve that.

But that was never the intention of this blog.

My tagline from day one has been “A girl learning to love herself and the world around her.” and while that does include learning to love my body by taking better care of it, that is not the centre of things. You see, there have been a few long stretches in my life where a great lack of mental health has led to me enjoying absolutely nothing. I was out of touch with the world and truly not interested in being part of it. My major battle in life is not what size of jeans I’m wearing, it’s making sure I don’t lose my love of life again and so that is what I’m going to focus on.

Going forward Her Story Continued will feature a lot more of me just living. This means sharing more of my adventures, whether they happen in the city or just around the house (I have a lot of board games to show off). I’m going to talk more about the people who inspire me, and the things I do in my life to bring meaning to it.

Now, just as the end of Tasty Tuesday didn’t mean I would no longer be posting about food, the end of Fitness Friday does not mean I won’t keep talking about workouts and different things I’m doing to power through a major motivational slump. I’m definitely not about to leave the community either, because reading your posts and following your journeys has helped me stick with mine. All this means is that you won’t be getting a post every single Friday that talks about workouts, gear, or anything else fitness related. Working to change my body and to improve my health is definitely still a big part of my life and it’s going to pop up but it won’t be a focus of this blog anymore.

You will still hear from me twice a week; I’m going to try Wednesday as a new posting day in addition to my regular Sunday posts. There’s lots more coming for you readers, I’m not going anywhere. And hopefully neither are you.

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Fitness Friday – Don’t Forget Your Own Lessons

We’ve taken to watching Bill Nye Saves the World on Netflix recently and one particular episode titled “This Diet is Bananas” had a panel discussion that really got me thinking about how I’m tackling this lifestyle change, as well as how I’m dealing with the physical exhaustion and the lack of motivation that I’ve been feeling lately.  The fact is, despite my positivity about moving forward I have been slacking a bit lately and while I’d say I’ve not fallen off the wagon, I’m definitely hanging off the edge.

On the panel the psychologist and the fitness coach had a bit of a disagreement about motivation; particularly about whether or not it was enough for people to change their bodies in a way that they want. The psychologist’s view was that motivation and will power do not last and while we can put our energy into these things, the fact is that even if we resist the bowl of M&M’s for a few minutes, hours or even days, eventually we’re going to put our hands into the bowl and undo everything our will power had done. This view is quite defeatist and suggests there is only so much we can change about our bodies since a large portion of weight (they suggest 70 some percent) comes from genetics and how you were raised.

The fitness coach on the other hand suggested that it is her motivation that gets her up every morning to work her ass off in the gym so she can maintain the way she looks (which was amazing by the way) and that doing that lets her know that sometimes she can give in and have a few M&Ms without undoing her progress.

The big part of me that wants to change my body sides with the fitness coach of course, because the other side very much leaves me with no chance of ever seeing the major changes I want to. But I do believe there is a lesson in what the psychologist says, and it’s something that I’m quick to remind other people of but still seem forget myself and that is that motivation is not a constant.

I don’t know about all of you, but I do not wake up every day pumped to work out and totally excited to be drenched in sweat. Many days it would be easier to lay in bed, to eat whatever you want, and to not worry about what you’re doing with your body. But other days we count every calorie, we put our all into a HIIT routine, and we truly do take care of ourselves. Some days you will feel ready to conquer the world and some days you will wish you could get off of it. That’s normal and I think it’s important to remember that.

I’m six months into this journey and I will admit I am really struggling right now. I’m finding it harder to meal plan and even more difficult to peel myself off the couch for a workout. Juggling my jobs has made me tired all the time and so it’s hard to find motivation to exhaust myself further when I’d really just like to take a nap. But rather than give up I’ve decided it’s time to relearn some of the lessons that helped me push through the hard parts in the beginning. Those lessons have brought me here to a place where I dropped a pant size and my clothes fit better over all. Sticking with these lessons has allowed me to become stronger and to see changes in my body that I didn’t know were possible. I believe these lessons can help me keep going if I just take the time to remember them. Maybe this will be a good reminder for some of you who are struggling as well, or it could even be a starting place for those who are about to jump in.

While I’ve learned many lessons over the past six months, there are three that really came to mind when writing this post:

Stay hydrated and be mindful of what you eat – I really believe that slacking off on my water intake has played a big part in why I’ve expired in the middle of workouts that I used to blast through. That, combined with the lack of tracking I’ve done with my food has meant my diet has not been as good which could be playing into my sluggishness. I had got to the point where I was doing fine without tracking but then I started to slip up so I think it’s time to go back to writing everything down to help myself stay accountable. Old habits of eating everything and anything can be a lot harder to break than you ever imagine but I find writing things down or tracking things through an app has always made it a bit easier to stay on track.

(This is not an advertisement for VOSS: that’s tap water, I just like the bottle)

One bad day doesn’t have to be a bad week – This is the lesson I definitely forgot this month. I missed a couple of workouts and then I more or less said “what’s the point?”. It was silly of me and I’m definitely paying for it.The same issue came up with eating where one slip up would turn into a week of bad habits. I’ve just got to remember that reaching into that bowl of M&Ms doesn’t mean I’ve failed, I just have to make sure I’m not doing it every single day. While I’m not about to lose all of my progress or anything, I have noticed certain workouts that I was doing regularly before take a bit more effort. I’ve got to train myself back up to the point where I was and then keep pushing. It’s why I’ve made a July calendar that is a little more balanced with light beginner workouts and some more challenging ones: all of which I have tried before.

Work yourself up to the harder challenges – I personally think this is why my June workout calendar failed. Some of the workouts (particularly the Fitness Blender Boot Camp) were too far past my comfort zone. It’s good to challenge yourself, to push past your limits a little bit so you’ll change but you don’t want to jump too far. I’ve said this about walking and of course it applied to workouts too. Choose a difficultly that makes you work but doesn’t make you want to vomit or pass out. I’ve made a new calendar for July that goes a bit easier on me and also lets me workout with Matt (on the days with the hearts) I’m hoping this will allow both of us to work up to some harder workouts again.

(Calendar template from The Girl Creative)

I’ve learned many more lessons over the past six months but these are the three that I’m really focusing on now that we’re into month seven. These are the things that I think will help me push through. We learn a lot in our lives but I think sometimes we forget to go back and review the material. We might have a vague memory of the lesson but if we’re not reminding ourselves of it after some time it may fade away. Take time to think about the things you’ve learned. It doesn’t have to be health or weight loss focused, it could be about anything really. It’s important to remind ourselves of the valuable lessons we’ve been taught, they’re what make our lives better.

If you’re struggling with something, anything at all, don’t beat yourself up. Be kind to yourself and take it slow. Even if you have to take a few steps back before you can move forward that’s okay. You are a work of art, one that no one could ever dream of recreating. Treat yourself well.

 

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Fitness Friday – Motivation Meltdown


I want to be quite transparent with you all this week: I hit a slump, a really unfortunate one. It started with a few unplanned treats and evolved into skipped workouts, binge eating, and a whole lot of slacking off from this lifestyle I’ve committed myself to. This slow fall began about two weeks ago when I let one night out become a whole bunch of nights stuffing my face.

Now, like many, I’ve been here before. I know very few people who have been on only one weight loss journey and succeeded right off the bat. Lord knows this is probably my fourth or fifth time though it feels more like the fiftieth. Since I have these past experiences I know that this is a make or break moment for me. It is one where I could easily allow myself to fall back into old habits and slowly but surely put the weight back on. That’s exactly what happened last year when I gave up the gym and ate a few too many meals at a theme park.

Of course I do not want to let that happen again but it’s become a little bit harder when I’m no longer feeling motivated. I hate taking that 30-60 minutes out of my day to work out, not to mention the fact that my time showering and doing laundry increases because of it as well. It’s exhausting trying to mentally force myself to say no to certain foods and to walk away from simple things like ice cream trucks. It would be so much easier just to say screw it and eat whenever I want. But of course I have to also think of the things that won’t be easier.

If I give up now it’ll be a hell of a lot harder to walk up the flights of stairs in my building.

If I give up now I won’t be fitting into that Eliza J dress I bought that was already a little snug.

If I give up now my health will continue to suffer and I’ll only increase my chances of getting sick.

If I give up now I’ll be unhappy with myself again, not just with the way I look but because I know I cut myself short.

So with all these reminders I got up today and decided a quick 20 minutes pilates workout with 15 minutes of dancing beforehand should be a good way to ease myself back in. It wasn’t like I was going to suddenly gain back all my motivation or anything but it was definitely a step in the right direction. I turned on an oldies playlist from 8tracks that I love and I just went for it.

I pushed through even though I didn’t really want to. Motivation isn’t always easy, it doesn’t always come naturally and sometimes you really have to fight for it. Sometimes you have to work without it at all. But you can make yourself do these things even when you don’t want to. It’s something I’ve shown myself time and time again when I’ve put on my sports bra and started a workout even when I really just wanted to be lounging on the couch.

If you’re ever hitting a slump just try to remind yourself that it doesn’t have to be forever. You can come back from a few bad days. You can come back from a few bad weeks. Hell, you can come back from a couple of bad years. It’s going to take work and you’re going to have to fight for it but you can do it.

So if you’re debating whether or not you really want to crush that workout today, then this is your call to action. Turn on whatever music motivates you and get to work. You’ve got this!

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Fitness Friday – Just Keep Swimming

Gosh, I feel like I’ve been planning on writing this post forever and yet other topics just kept getting in the way. Our pool has been opened since March and while I’ve mentioned it a few times I’ve never really had the chance to talk about how great it has been for my body. I know not everyone is lucky enough to have regular access to a pool (or even a lake / big body of water) but for those of you who do I thought I’d share some of my lessons and tips on making the most out of your swim time without having to swim laps. That being said, there’s nothing wrong with laps, in fact I believe they’re quite good for you and they’re a great source of cardio, but sometimes you just don’t want to swim back and forth, back and forth. So what do you do?

Water Aerobics

If you’ve never been to a water aerobics class as your local rec centre or something like that I strongly suggest checking them out. I know there’s this stereotype that it’s something only for older individuals but once you get out of that mindset you’re bound to have a lot of fun and to actually get in a really good workout.

While I haven’t been to any classes recently I have stolen a bunch of water aerobics moves for when I feel like bouncing around the pool. Some are a bit harder without a shallow end but for the most part it’s doable. These exercises are great for toning your muscles without putting too much pressure on your joints.

You can find lots of different articles with Water Aerobic moves online but by far my favourite is the “Wave Maker”, here’s what you do:

  • Position yourself facing one wall of the pool with your hands gripping the edge.
  • Bring your torso and legs up to a nearly level position just below the surface of the water.
  • Pin your knees and feet together and then kick out like a dolphin, trying to keep legs and feet under water the entire time.
  • Do this for 30 seconds or for as long as possible.

Pilates / Barre Inspired Moves

I’m sure this has been done before but for me it’s just something I came up with without any prompting. I have a love-hate relationship with the repetitive lifts and pulses of pilates moves because they’re a simple form of toning but they can hurt so much. Taking some of my pilates leg moves to the pool has allowed me to work with a different type of resistance that doesn’t make my muscles scream quite as much.

My method of taking pilates to the pool has revolved solely around working my leg muscles. I do front, side, and back leg lifts to the count of fifteen with an additional ten count of small pulses. All you’ll do is position yourself against a wall for balance and purposefully bring your leg up and down in the water (one side at a time) with your toe pointed while moving up and flexed while going down. After the fifteen count I pulse at the top of the motion for ten before repeating on the other leg.

It’s relatively simple but it does help work those leg muscles without so much pressure on balance or on your joints. It’s also a great way to really burn out your muscles if you’ve just finished a harder out of water routine. Just be careful getting out of the pool, sometimes you don’t realize how worn out you are until after you’re back on dry land.

Walking Around

By now I wouldn’t be surprised if some of you think I have an obsession with walking and perhaps you’re right. It’s one of the easier forms of exercise and it can still be incredibly beneficial. I think it’s extra awesome to take your steps to a pool when you have the unique situation of nearly feeling weightless while also working against resistance. If I’m alone in the pool I will legitimately just walk around, counting my steps in my head until I hit a number I’m satisfied with. It certainly helps that our pool is all the same height and that no part of it goes over my head so I’m not suddenly trying to walk under water.

In addition to getting new methods of exercise in, the pool has been a surprising great place for another area of growth in my life and that has to do with  my body image and self confidence. Perhaps this seems a little backwards because a bathing suit isn’t exactly a safe place to some people. To be honest, it was never one to me either. Putting my bathing suit on the first few times to go swimming in the new pool had me feeling anxious about walking through my apartment building for all to see. Even when there was just one other person in the pool area I felt myself shrink up a little bit at first.

But with time that has changed.

I’m now comfortable jumping into my swim suit and heading to the pool. I don’t hesitate to walk around the pool deck even though I know the folks on the treadmills in our gym have a straight shot of me. I don’t worry as much when the pool is crowded in the evening and I’m the only one there without a typical beach body.

And that’s because I’m continuing to understand that every body is a beach body.

If you want to wear a bikini, wear it, and equally as important if you don’t want to wear one, don’t.

For so long I focused my goals on finally being able to fit into a bikini because aside from my very young childhood days I have never wore one. In high school my bathing suits typically consisted of a pair of board shorts and a tankini top. Back then, I wasted too much time dreaming about the day I could wear a bikini when I probably should have just put one on. My self worth got wrapped up in whether or not my stomach was flat enough to look good with so little coverage and to be quite blunt it was incredibly damaging.

So I’ve switched my mindset and I’m no longer making one of my goals to be bikini focused because the fact is that it’s about so much more than a flat tummy or what size you’re wearing. There are individuals of all shapes and sizes who are comfortable wearing that style of bathing suit, just like there are individuals of all shapes and sizes who are not comfortable. It’s a body image and comfort level issue, not a weight issue. Right now I’m still learning to love my body where it’s at in addition to where it is going so I’m going to stick with my one piece suit, which suits me just fine.

So those are my thoughts on our no longer new pool. I know I’m spoiled rotten to have one right in my building but public pools and beaches can be just as useful. Try not to worry too much about how you look in a bathing suit (you look gorgeous by the way) or what people may think. Love yourself, love your body, and don’t let anyone stop you from having fun.

 

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Fitness Friday – Blogilates Beginners Calendar Review

If you’ve been keeping up with some of my posts lately you may remember that in May I decided to tackle the Blogilates Beginner’s Calendar which can be found here in full at blogilates.com. Cassey Ho and her Pop Pilates videos are something that my friend Keeragh turned me onto years ago but I never really had the drive or strength to complete them. I’m happy to say that that has changed.

As of Wednesday I finished up the 28 days of the Beginner’s Calendar and as planned I rewarded myself with one of the Kat Von D Everlasting Liquid Lipsticks that Emily Bett Rickards wore on Arrow this season. I’m feeling pretty great about finishing the whole calendar. While I didn’t make any of the rest day recipes I did complete all the videos in the challenge. One day I even doubled up because I’d missed a day and I didn’t want to cheat myself. Let me tell you, that was a lot of pilates. But I made it and because I did I wanted to share my review of the calendar by outlining what I think are its major strengths and weaknesses. So here we go!

Strengths

Set up – the fact that all your videos are set out for the day really makes it easier to jump right into a workout. There’s no chance of avoiding doing so just by searching for the ‘right’ video, you already have a set of videos that you have to complete so you may as well jump right in. This pro is actually what led to me making my own calendar for the month so I would have the same convenience with other workout programs.

Apartment Friendly – and house friendly of course. I was able to do all these videos in the small area in front of my front closet (a 7×7 space at most) and all I needed was a yoga mat. There was one day that involved stretches with a resistance band but I just went without. Overall this one is incredibly accessible and with the videos hosted online you could take them basically anywhere.

The coach – although I spent much of my time cursing and yelling at the beautiful and upbeat woman on the screen, the fact is that Cassey is a pretty great coach. Her upbeat energy can be annoying when you feel like you’re dying but she’s there to push you and to encourage you to keep going. She seems to know when people are ready to give up because her prompts to keep going almost always happen right when you need them. Some of her videos also have some great messages about loving your body and just doing whatever you can do to get stronger. I really enjoyed getting to know her a bit through these videos, even if I called her a few not-so-nice names.

The variety – if you’re someone who gets bored easily by repetitive workouts then the set up of the calendar will please you because there really is a mix of videos. A couple of the videos show up multiple times but not too often that you’ll  be annoyed by them. For the most part, almost every day has a new video in it with new challenges in-store.

Cardio and Strength – most people have a solid understanding that you’re not going to get a flat tummy just by doing a million crunches. You have to target the abs in different ways and you need to shed the fat on top of those muscles which you’re only going to do if you get that heartbeat up and suffer through some cardio. Cassey obviously knows this because while you’re not doing cardio every day it does pop up often. In addition to this many of her pilates videos move at a fast enough pace that you may just find your heart racing anyway.

Weaknesses

Is it actually a Beginners calendar? – reading into the comments before some of the videos you’ll find that I wasn’t the only one wondering this. A lot of people struggled making it through that first week. While some videos were good about giving modifications others were not and it could get frustrating when you just couldn’t handle the move. The moves can be difficult and it’s easy to mess up form or to expire quickly. It’s more of an intermediate level in my opinion.

No warm up / cool down included – it’s funny because this isn’t the case for all of the days, and there’s even a day where Cassey talks about how important warm-ups are but it’s not until late in the first week or early in the second. Either way there are certainly a good number of days that don’t have these included so you need to prompt yourself to find other videos / do them yourself. Forgetting to do so (as I did some days) can risk injury and make your body expire a lot quicker which is a problem.

Hard on the neck and back – pilates stance and I are not friends. Over the course of the calendar my form and my strength got better but I still found it quite painful to have my shoulders lifted so often. But it was the strain on the lower back in a lot of these videos that really got to me. I have a history of back pain so it’s definitely one of my weak spots. I found that overall there were not enough exercises working the lower back to compensate for the strain that some of the core moves put on it. Many times I would switch out a painful core move for swimmers or some other sort of back exercise just to find a better balance.

Overly core focused – while this wasn’t the worst thing for me, who’s lacking in core strength, it was something to note. Most of Cassey’s videos really target the core and are about slimming down that mid section. There’s a good selection of videos that target the legs but I found that upper body was often forgotten. I know sometimes as women we have a fear of bulking up on our arms and so we’re more likely to skip arm day than leg day but I really wish there had been more for arms and chest. Just doing half cobra to work the triceps seemed a little lacklustre.

Results

While I’ve decided to keep my progress pictures private, I will tell you that I did see some little differences after a month of using the calendar. Most of all I saw changes in my tummy. The little pouch I have that hangs over my belly button appears slightly lifted giving me the image of a flatter stomach in comparison to before. I also felt that my legs had toned up a bit more to the point where I randomly noticed when passing a mirror the other day. While I wouldn’t consider any of these changes major, I have found that month to month overall my changes are small but they’re making a bigger difference in the long run. Additionally, I can definitely tell I’ve increased my core strength, and that going through the calendar made me more cognitively aware of keeping my belly button pulled in and my core tight during other workouts as well. These might not be huge changes to some but any progress is good.

And of course, I’m quite happy with my more tangible reward.

In a lot of the videos Cassey really pushes you to keep going, to not drop your legs or your torso and to push further. Sometimes this is going to be what you need to make it through a few more reps or to hold on a little longer but I also think it’s important to remember that it is okay to stop and take breaks. There was not a single video in this calendar where I made it through the whole workout with a break here and there. I think the key here is to do what you can and modify when you need to.

Overall, I think a lot of these videos are good for people like myself who are just starting into pilates but I’m not sure I would classify it as an overall beginner program. I definitely think I would have quit the calendar within the first week if I had tried this a few months ago when I wasn’t active at all. The compact and repetitive movements are a lot more straining than you expect so it’s easy to underestimate how much pilates is going to hurt, especially if you’re lacking in core strength like I am. If you’re just breaking into fitness for the first time I suggest trying different programs first (like Fitness Blender’s level 2 videos or a handful of Fitness Marshall’s dance videos) before you jump into this one.  But if you’re ready for a challenge and need a starting point then I think this is a pretty good one. If you do give Cassey’s calendar a try at some point don’t be too hard on yourself: focus on form instead of repetitions. It’ll help your core strengthen and eventually you’ll be able to do more and more.

Have any of you tried pop pilates before? Are there any other instructors you’ve really enjoyed and videos that you think I would like to try? I always appreciate getting resources from others just so I can try something new that other people have liked in the past. Drop your links in to the comments below!

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Tasty Tuesday – Meal Prep Madness

Sunday was a crazy day for us, between the grocery store and Costco we were shopping for two and a half hours, and then we came home and cooked even longer than that. I know I’ve read stories from a lot of people who say eating healthy and meal planning is quick and easy but it really isn’t in our household. Sundays are usually reserved as a day to do grocery shopping and meal prepping, and the whole process usually starts at 9 or 10am and doesn’t end until after lunch. It’s still worth it but some days it’s incredibly draining and I think it’s valuable to be honest about that. It’s hard work but it pays out in the end.

Still, this past Sunday I made a huge mistake of taking on the task of trying to make four new recipes all in one day. Somehow everything turned out alright but it wasn’t without stressing and a few moments of panic where I really didn’t know what I was doing. Next time I will go with one new recipe and a bunch of others that I’m used to making. Maybe then it will not take the whole day to get our meals in the fridge.

While I’d normally share one recipe at a time with you, especially since I modified some of these, I decided that this Tasty Tuesday would be more of a show and tell of this week’s meals. I’ll be linking he recipes in case anything peaks your interest but I won’t be going to any of them in great depth.

I should start off by saying that I did not follow any of these recipes by the book. Instead, I used them to make my ingredient list and to get a basic idea as to what I was cooking. I modified to make things healthier (i.e. removing the heavy cream from the pork chop recipe and not breading my orange chicken) and other things were skipped solely because I was lazy. In the end everything turned out okay and I think that is an important thing to remember with meal preps: don’t be afraid to experiment.

Now, onto the meals

Chicken & Vegetable Stir Fry (above, left) – Sunday’s lunch was a delicious stir fry recipe I picked up from one of the lovely ladies I follow, you can check out her blog here. Sahar always makes my day with her kind comments and I was able to pick up this easy and delicious recipe from her. It’s simple because the stir fry uses minimal ingredients which include mostly frozen veggies and pre-cooked chicken. This is definitely a lighter meal since it’s not made with any of those sugar packed teriyaki sauces (which I love) it’s just a bit of soy sauce, lemon juice and honey. Couldn’t get much simpler than that! It was easily adjustable to Matt’s need for more calories by just placing it over a bed of rice while I had mine as is.

Three Ingredient Orange Chicken – I will be honest with you, I did not read the full recipe for this one before going to the store which is why I sort of blanked out on the fact that there would even be breading. In the end it worked out better because skipping the flour, eggs, and oil made this dish a bit healthier. The sauce is a simple combination of orange marmalade, bbq sauce, and soy sauce. I found it to be a bit heavy on the bbq taste (could be the brand I used) but overall it was pretty tasty. I threw in a bunch of asparagus, peppers and broccoli to get my veggie portion in there and then a small bed of rice noodles served as my carbs. Voila, another meal done.

5 Ingredient Coconut Chicken – this was the recipe I was the more disappointed in but I think it had something to do with the fact that I didn’t clean enough of the coconut milk off of the chicken when I took it out of the bag so they didn’t have the chance to crisp up in the oven. The marinade itself helped keep the chicken nice and tender but I would have liked some of the crispy golden bits that you see in the picture of the recipe. Perhaps someone else will have better luck giving this a try. Still, over another bed of rice noodles and veggies with a bit of Sriracha as a sauce, this was still a decent meal and prep was pretty easy.

5 Ingredient Cider Dijon Porkchops – I haven’t had pork chops in months because I find most of the time they just dry out in meal preps but the thick cut pork chops from Costco combined with the zinger of a cider sauce in this recipe turned out great. As I mentioned I swapped out the heavy cream and used milk instead so my sauce became more of a base to just fry the chops in than it was a glaze. They still turned out great and the milk and cider sauce helped keep them tender. These went with roasted asparagus, carrots and potatoes to make another filling meal. This is definitely the recipe I’d be the most likely to do again, especially because those Costco pork chops yielded lots of servings and they’re now tucked away in my freezer ready for next week.

So there we have it, four new meals that yielded six servings for each of us (they weren’t all done at the time hence why the picture only has four servings each). It was an exhausting trial but now we only have to worry about making dinners for the week which is really something because it’s a busy one.

On that note, it is bittersweet for me to say but this marks the end of Tasty Tuesday for a while. With my jobs and volunteering commitments I’m finding that it’s hard to really pull out new recipes and to take pictures of food worthy of sharing. I’ve come to realize that I need to take this off my plate (food pun intended) for the time being. My Fitness Friday posts and my regular Sunday check ins will continue as normal, I just figured it’s better to take a step back and lessen my workload in order to give you guys quality content rather than posts that are forced. But I promise, I’m not going anywhere.

 

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Fitness Friday – June Workout Plan

Two Fitness Fridays in one day? I must have the day off or something.

Anyway, as promised in my first post today, I want to share the details of my workout calendar with all of you just in case you’re interested in giving it a try or even just giving some of it a try. I shared the calendar in my other post but for the sake of simplicity here it is again:

I had to use short forms to make the workouts fit into the calendar and while I know what I’m referring o each day, I figured it would be easier to just provide some links. Not only is this handy for any of you looking to join me but it also gives me a one stop shop to pull up the videos I will be doing every day.

FYI: PP = Pop Pilates, FB = Fitness Blender, and FM = Fitness Marshall.

PP Day # – these videos come from Casey Ho, the creator of Blogilates and they can be found here in her beginners calendar.

FB Kickbox HIIT – the kickboxing routine that I’ve gone through many, many times now just had to make its way into this month because I’ve really missed it. It’s a good form of cardio with some killer arms thrown in at the end: check it out here.

FM Warm Up – Pick any three videos from the Fitness Marshall channel and use them to warm up. You can find his videos on his channel here.

FB Pilates – a newer FB video that I haven’t tried yet but my success with the Pop Pilates calendar made me want to check out some more pilates workouts so this one here is going to be an experiment.

FB Flexibility 1, 2, and 3 – making the most of my rest days I decided that while one rest day would be completely workout free, a 20-30 minute break in the other to work on flexibility wouldn’t hurt. So it’s back to that Fitness Blender Flexibility challenge again. Here are the links for day one, day two, and day three.

FM Sweat Set – these change every once in a while but it’s a preset playlist of Fitness Marshall videos that will last between 40 minutes to an hour and you can find them here.

FB Bootcamp – This is another Fitness Blender workout that I have yet to try. I really like lower body workouts but I like them even more when they mix cardio in, this workout here does just that.

Batgirls – I’ve mentioned this one before and I think it’s time to finally build my stamina back up to doing ten of them. I’m going to see if I can make it there this month.

PP Killer Legs – This is one of the videos I really enjoyed from the Pop Pilates beginners calendar and so I decided throwing it in to challenge myself to a burnout round after some harder routines. You can find the video here.

PP Sexy Arms – Before this video I didn’t realize my arms could ache after six minutes. This video is another quick one from the beginners calendar that I’ve tacked on to some days for a challenge.

Weight Lifting – this one is a build your own with whatever weights you want. I do the following circuit 5 times with minimal breaks between each round. On the last round I like to bump the reps up to 15 just to tire the arms out.

  • 12 lateral raises
  • 12 ventral raises
  • 12 rotating bicep / hammer curls
  • 12 tricep extensions

So there it is, all the links you (and I) will need to get through June. Lets do this.

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Fitness Friday – May Review

Well my lovely readers, I’m excited to say that May was very good to me. I am two weeks out from finishing some lengthy volunteer training I’ve been doing since April, I am now on the awards committee for the gala I am helping plan, and I started both of my part time jobs. It was definitely a month of big exciting things happening in my life, and even with everything going on I still managed to do pretty well on the goals I set for myself in the last monthly review.

Lets take a look, shall we?

Working Out

Goal: 5,000 steps at least five times a week

This is definitely the goal I did the best on. With my handy new Fitbit it became a lot easier to see how many steps I was taking in a day and it turns out it was a lot more than I originally thought. I had worried it would be hard to hit 5,000 steps most days but it turns out on many days I hit that number well before lunch time. I had no problem surpassing this goal and my Doors Open day with my family actually led to me smashing through it with 25,000 steps for the day. Apparently exploring the city can be just as effective as exploring the Magic Kingdom.

Since 5,000 steps was clearly not a big enough challenge for me, I have really upped the ante on this one. My first goal this month is to get 10,000 steps at least five times a week. This gives me a chance to have two days to rest to recover if I’m not leaving the apartment or if I just don’t have any big walking plans.

In addition to this goal, I also jumped into the Blogilates for Beginners Calendar and I’m just a few days out from finishing it (in which I will tell you all about my experience). It has definitely been challenging and while it wasn’t really my favourite in terms of workout structure it was something that really refreshed me and gave me some new motivation. With this in mind, I’ve created my own workout calendar to follow for the month. It overlaps with the Blogilates calendar since I started that one late but basically it lays out my workouts for me every day that way I don’t have an excuse not to do them. My goal is  to stick with this calendar for the month in addition to getting those 10,000 steps. I will be posting a part 2 of this Fitness Friday to go over this calendar in depth with links to each of the workouts just in case anyone feels like joining me.

Healthy Eating

Goal: Only indulging on planned days

For the most part this went really well, not perfectly but I’m quite satisfied because I only had two slip ups and it was because new plans were made. As I’ve said before, I’m not going to turn down an experience just because there is bad food involved. So one day I went out for sushi with my family which was definitely an experience because my grandfather had never been before. We ordered way too much and I ended up skipping dinner that day because I was still in a sushi coma. However, it completely cured the craving and I don’t think I’ll be rushing back for All-You-Can-Eat sushi any time soon.

The second slip up was this past Tuesday’s trip to La Carnita which was featured in my last post. Matt and Keeragh’s trip to the Jay’s game was a last second thing and while I wasn’t interested in going to watch baseball I did want to spend time with two of my favourite people. Naturally, dinner was the way to do that. I had gone in with good intentions of only having 2 tacos, a piece of corn, and water to drink but everything was so delicious that I ended up with way more than planned. I’m not too worried about it though, I’ve hopped right back in to healthy eating and this month I’ve decided to really challenge myself.

My goal is after today I will not have any candy, sweets or chocolate until at least June 20th when I have plans to meet my mom an her friends for dinner. I am also going to try and minimize eating out at this time, and when I do go out I’ll be making health conscious choices. Fingers crossed that this goes well.

Living Better

Goal: Leaving the apartment at least 4 times a week for an hour

Turns out, I had a lot going on in May so hitting this goal really wasn’t a problem. I did a lot of extra exploring before and after work-related outings so I had a lot of chances to be out of the apartment. I also spent two weekends back in my hometown and that kept me from being too cooped up. Overall, this challenge was just a great reminder that when I am feeling bogged down and isolated, all it takes sometimes is a venture outside. It’s a good reminder because I’m someone who tends to go hide in their bedroom instead, and while that is nice some days, it isn’t healthy to do all the time. Even if I have to drag myself out for an hour it usually make me feel better.

So June is going to be a little different for me because I’m no longer going to be sitting around in my apartment most days, looking for something to do. As of next week my two jobs will be going full force and juggling them alongside my volunteering commitments is really going to be my priority. Of course, life can’t just be about work so my living better goal this month is about once again self-care. I’m challenging myself to take one hour a day to do something for myself whether that’s reading a book, taking a bubble bath, or just having a little nap. My hope is to maintain some balance with my work schedule and to prevent myself from burning out. I’ve already kicked June off with a little treat of Injustice 2 and some home spa goodies.

So that was May for me, it was definitely a positive experience with some minor slip ups here and there. But hey, that’s life! Nothing is ever going to be perfect and I’m totally fine with that. A little bit of mess and a douse of the unexpected is fine by me.

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Fitness Friday – Dancing Queen

For those of you who don’t know me well enough to have been by my side while line dancing at a country bar or bouncing along to blasted tunes in a basement, I’ll tell you straight up: I’m a horrible dancer. I struggled through basic choreography in my elementary school dance classes (thank goodness that only lasted a year), I made sure I was in the back of the group during my high school’s flash mob, and it took quite a few shots of liquid courage to get me to even attempt learning any line dances. But despite my fumbling, my two left feet, and my overall lack of rhythm, I have still always loved to dance.

Now, when I say I love to dance I mean I love to bounce along to upbeat music or throw my hands into the air while screaming out lyrics to whatever catchy Taylor Swift song is blasting overhead. I’m not really one for learning choreography and getting the moves right but that’s never stopped me from hitting the dance floor. Which, most often, is just the hardwood of my apartment.

Random dance parties in the kitchen were a big part of my childhood and they remain one of the ways I like to blow off some steam. I like to turn on music when I’m cooking and cleaning in order to make it go by much quicker but more recently I’ve turned to dance parties as an actual form of exercise. For any of you who have spent a couple hours jumping around at a concert or shuffling about at the club, you know that dancing is a pretty damn good workout. I also have friends who are much more talented when it comes to dance and they’re big inspirations on how it can make you look good and feel good.

So with all this in mind, last week I turned on some tunes and danced my way around the apartment. You could call it a mix of contemporary, jazz and hip hop, but really it was just a mess of flailing limbs and me hoping the floors are thick enough that my neighbours won’t be coming to kill me any time soon. I put on three of DJ Earworm’s United States of Pop mash-ups and just went to town. By the end of it I had a thin layer of sweat on my skin and I was completely warmed up for the pilates workout I was going to do. And to top it all off, my Fitbit counted the dancing as over 1,000 steps.

Now that we’ve got the preamble out of the way, I’d like to officially announce a new instalment into my Fitness Friday routine. I really want this blog to be about more than just telling everyone about my experiences, I want to be able to provide useful tips and resources for others to enjoy and use as well. With that in mind, I have decided that random Fitness Fridays will feature a dance party mix. I will be sharing little clusters of feel good dance music that I use to warm up and dance it out. The playlists will be short (10-20 minutes) and are just meant to get you up and moving. Sometimes they will be themed, other times it’ll be a really random mix of songs that I just like to dance to.

So here’s Volume One:

If you have the time, why not get up and bounce around right now? You don’t have to make it through the whole mix but it’s never a bad idea to shake out your muscles and get moving. Little changes like dancing around every day can lead to big changes in the end, and you might just have some fun while you’re at it.

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Fitness Friday – You Can Change Your Mind

“Progress is impossible without change, and those who cannot change their minds cannot change anything.” — George Bernard Shaw

Back in January, I made a list of reasons why I believed getting a fitness tracker would not do anything to help my performance. I figured I would hit my goals and then use it as an excuse to stagnate for the rest of the day and I figured that I would only use the calories burned calculation as an excuse to cheat. These were real worries and at the time they accurately reflected where I was in my journey which is why I’m not here to criticize myself or to say I was wrong. Instead, I’m here to accept the fact that things have changed.

After much debating, last week I went out and grabbed myself a Fitbit Flex 2 since they were on mega sale at Indigo and I still had a number of gift cards just burning a hole in my pocket. This was a well thought out decision on my part as I’ve been looking at the trackers for over a month now. Here are the five thoughts that led me to eventually saying yes:

  1. I would be able to track my swimming in addition to my steps.
  2. I would be getting more accurate counts of my steps without carrying my phone all day.
  3. I would be continuing to track my food without the Fitbit to ensure I don’t start consuming extra calories just because I can.
  4. The calorie tracker would actually help me adjust my food intake on days when I worked out hard and need to consumer more. This would help solve my issue of under eating after workouts which often led to binging at night.
  5. If wearing the tracker on my wrist actually bothered me too much the Flex has the option of buying a necklace holder to wear instead so that worry could be taken off the table.

It has been over a week since I’ve bought the Flex and currently I’m quite happy with how I’ve been using it. It’s pushed me to get to 10,000 steps a day and it has been a good way for me to log my food in addition to the meal plan I keep in my bullet journal. My mom got one as well so we’ve been exploring the neat little piece of technology together and so far it’s been pretty great.

But this post isn’t meant to be a promotional advertisement for Fitbit or any other sort of activity tracker. Instead, I wanted to use my own little change to promote how important it is to be willing to adapt as you make progress. Whether you’re working towards a fitness goal, a weight loss goal, or something totally unrelated to the two, being able to flex and adapt as you move forward is incredibly important. You will find things that work for you and things that don’t, you don’t have to charge forward on the same path just because you think it’s the right one. It might be the right one for someone else, even a majority of people, but that doesn’t mean it has to be your path. Sometimes you will even find that the things that work in the beginning burn out over time and don’t give you the same results as before. It’s good to challenge yourself and to stick with things when times are tough but it’s also important to realize when a strategy doesn’t work for you.

In my case, I realized something I thought wouldn’t be beneficial for me had the power to be just that.

I have found my motivation again, not because of some tracker on my wrist, but because of some mixups I’ve made in my meals and my workouts, as well as the way I’m tracking my progress. I could have kept pushing through, dragging myself through workouts I wasn’t enjoying and eating meals that weren’t completely satisfying me but that increased the risk of me giving up. Instead I gave some new things a try and they’ve been working out pretty well. Will these strategies last forever? Probably not. But when the time comes, I’ll be ready to adapt and change as needed. What about you?

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