How I Became a Morning Person

I used to hate mornings! Getting out of bed was a chore in itself some days. I remember trying to ‘get a run in’ before class and by 10 am my mind was just done. I’d be sluggish throughout the day and since I’m not a coffee drinker, I never relied on caffeine for a pick-me-up, but I’d resort to fast, cheap foods to numb me or alcohol (not in moderation) practically every evening. My morning’s sucked. And so the rest of my day suffered. I’ve come to believe that the way you start your day can have a huge impact on how you spend your next 23 hours.

When I started changing a few things, a few habits and behaviors, I began to notice that my morning’s got a little brighter, a little less painful and as a result my positive mood and actions carried on into other aspects of my life during the day. And no -  I did not start drinking coffee! ;) Check below for why coffee is not a healthy addiction. I started incorporating these 5 things into my life and suddenly instead of just rolling out of bed each morning, I noticed there really was some shine to my rise that continued throughout the day. 

  1. Stretch - Usually our first instinct when we wake up is to stretch out a little bit. Don’t you? For some people it’s the mega-yawn accompanied by full, wide arm and leg extensions (with or without sound and/or hair ruffling) and for other’s it’s a quiet squeeze of core, chest and back muscles before rolling out of bed. It feels good and gets blood flowing. I decided to focus on making stretching a part of my wake-up routine. I began by practicing a minimum of 10 sun-salutations every morning and it not only improved my flexibility, but it gave me this serene, calm awareness as I continued my morning. (For those who don’t know what a sun-salutation is check the beginner’s video by Kino, here to learn how to do this properly.) Maybe just start out with 5 every morning for a week and see how you feel - I guarantee you’ll feel a difference! 
  2. Drink More Water - This sounds like a no-brainer, I know. But I cannot stress enough the significance of water for weight-loss, health and just general happiness. Nearly 75% of North Americans are chronically dehydrated and that’s a serious issue. Water is our life force; it’s essential to all aspects of our digestion and absorption of nutrients. It deters hunger cravings, and makes our hair, skin and nails look healthier and juicier! To start the day off on the right foot, I began drinking a minimum of 1L of water (preferably lemon-water or a herbal infusion of some sort) within the first 15 minutes of rising. It’s not as much as you think, and I’ve seen frat boys who can chug-a-lug way quicker than that! ;)  Now let’s talk toilets for a second: take a peek at your wee a couple times a day, if you’re hydrated, it should be clear or very close-to. When you first start increasing your water intake, you will probably have to visit the bathroom a little more frequently, depending on your body and level of toxicity, activity level etc etc. Get used to it, a frequent flusher is a healthy flusher! 
  3. Move That Body - Turn on some beats, pick-up some weights, do a few push-ups, walk, run, whatever! Just get the blood flowing! You’ll be nice and warmed up after those sun-salutations and if you’ve got a passion for dance or a goal to hit in the gym, there’s no better time than the AM to focus on what’s important. For me, it’s different nearly every day. This morning I took my dog for a 20 minute jog, yesterday I tried learning how to bellydance via youtube and the day before that I threw around some dumbbells. It doesn’t have to get boring and stagnant, pick something you enjoy or have always thought you should try. There are countless workout vids online and if you liked the sun-salutes, try a morning yoga class or a full at-home practice!
  4. Eat Fruit For Breakfast - If I’ve said it once, I’ll say it again: fruit is the best food you could possibly eat to start your day. Smoothies and/or juices are fantastic ways to get more nutrients and more calories into your belly. I aim for a minimum of 700 calories from fruit for breakfast to feel satisfied and energized. Some days it’s just a bowl full of 7-12 pieces of fruit, and other days it’s a mega-smoothie or a funky green juice! Fruits and veggies digest so clean and quickly in our bodies,  immediately fueling the cells in our brain and body with glucose. If you want to kick-start your day with clean, healthy food that will GIVE you energy and not take it away, then start eating fruit for breakfast and notice how quickly your whole day improves! 
  5. Maintain a Positive Mind - This can be as simple as writing an affirmation on your bathroom mirror and repeating it to yourself, or making a quick list of the things you are grateful for each morning. Do you ever notice how stubbing your toe or losing your keys in the wee hours of daylight can totally change your attitude for the rest of the day? Don’t sweat the small stuff. Take each moment as it comes and let it go. Maybe take 2 minutes to check yourself out in a mirror and take note of all the things you love about yourself. What can you look forward to? What awesome creation can you come up with today? 

If you try to incorporate these 5 tips into your morning routine I personally guarantee that you will notice a difference, probably lots of little differences, even in the first week! If you’re just sick and tired of being tired all day long, a morning-makeover is just what you need! Give it a shot, worst case scenario is you lose a little weight and learn how to touch your toes! ;)  Let me know how it works for you and what your morning habits are! 

Why You Should Give Up Coffee

"Think about how widely accepted it has become that people need coffee to wake up. You should not need anything to wake up. If you can’t wake up without it, it’s because you are either addicted to caffeine, sleep deprived, or a generally unhealthy slob… But it’s not heroin and you’ll learn to live without it!" - Rory Freedman

It seems like everyone I know is addicted to their coffee. Their Tim Horton’s double double or the Starbucks syrup concoction of the season, there are so many options in today’s fast food world. I’m here to give you a few reasons why you should give it up, for GOOD! 

Caffeine increases stress hormones and causes indigestion and digestive discomfort. Not to mention heartburn, dehydration, decreased insulin sensitivity and elevated urinary excretion of important minerals such as calcium, magnesium and potassium. Does that sound like a healthy way to begin your day? Pissing out nutrients and giving yourself a stomach ache? I don’t think so! If there are other natural ways to be bright-eyes and bushy-tailed in the mornings and throughout the day, then the negative side effects and health problems caused by coffee really outweigh the claims of "but it tastes good" and "I’m addicted". Need more reasons to give up the ‘jo? How ‘bout peptic ulcers, diarrhea, constipation, fatigue, headaches, anxiety and depression? And you’re PAYING for it! Ditch the caffeine for water, juice or herbal tea and watch how quickly your mood lifts and body brightens! If you’re worried about withdrawal, don’t sweat it, after the first 3-7 days you’ll be through the worst of it and you’ll never have to have a caffeine headache again! ;) 

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Had some post-workout green juice right after I hopped outa the shower. I was craving greens so I threw in a little bit of everything; kale, chard, parsley, spinach, celery, cucumber, some pineapple, lil ginger & carrots. Random, I know! It actually turned out alright, though maybe less cucumber next time. Feels good to get back to my workouts! 

Had some post-workout green juice right after I hopped outa the shower. I was craving greens so I threw in a little bit of everything; kale, chard, parsley, spinach, celery, cucumber, some pineapple, lil ginger & carrots. Random, I know! It actually turned out alright, though maybe less cucumber next time. Feels good to get back to my workouts! 

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I’m back from my trip, busy working my way back into the swing of things, working on a full post for you guys but just HAD to share some pics from my adventure through Morocco and Spain. Great food, wonderful people and LOTS to share about my stay in the Sahara and La Tomatina; the world’s biggest food fight!! 

Definitely had an amazing trip and can’t wait to share more with you guys! <3 

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The Adventure Countdown Begins

So, I have a little sort of announcement to make that I can’t believe took me this long to fill you guys in on! I’m leaving for Spain in 5 days! :D My boyfriend (Cam) and I have been planning a little vacay for a while; he has family in Madrid, we both love to travel and since he is quite the experienced globe-trotter (he’s been to 36 countries - heyo!) he planned us a little hop over to Morocco to spend a couple days in the desert, yeah the Sahara Desert, maybe you’ve heard of it? It’s only the largest hot desert in the WORLD! I’m so excited! 

One part of the trip that I am particularly excited about is a little venture to a town called Bunol in Valencia for ‘La Tomatina’ - the world’s biggest food fight! Some 50,000 people come crowding into town one day to throw tomatoes at each other! LOTS of tomatoes! We even went out and bought goggles for the event - to maintain throwing accuracy while not getting tomato juice in our eyes. ;) 

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I’m packing right now and only really guessing as to what I’ll be needing. I’m focusing on light, loose and comfy clothing, a few dresses and skirts, lots of tanks with long-sleeve shawl and wrap-arounds. Cam recently convinced me to buy a pair of Keens so these will be the shoes I wear everywhere (except like out to dinner, I’m bringing a comfy pair of dress sandals for restaurants and such). They’re heavier than my Minimus runners but so far I like them a lot and I’m looking forward to seeing they hold out on the road! 

I’m so excited to taste the local fruit and check out the markets in Madrid! I can only imagine what kind of amazing flavours I’ll get to savor when I’m there! I PROMISE to take lots of photos and stay as up to date with you guys as possible while I’m gone with WIFI whereever I can find it. I’m bringing my ipod so I can stay in touch on instagram, facebook and twitter and my digital SLR camera that I haven’t used in YEARS so hopefully I’ll have some decent photos to share with you guys as well!

So, if you don’t hear much from me between August 10th - 30th you’ll know why! ;) Have you been to Spain before? Any tips or advice for while I’m there? 

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Green Lemon-Aid Juice

Who doesn’t love lemonade? This recipe for my zesty-fresh Green Lemon-Aid Juice is so simple and so yummy I know you’re gonna LOVE it too! It’s packed full of alkalizing nutrients and good for what ails ya! You really get a big bang for your buck with this one - because the ingredients are soo powerfully zesty, you need to water it down a little to your prefered taste. The amounts listed in this recipe yield about 500 mL of raw juice and I watered it down to make up 2 L. Now I like my lemon-aid to be pretty sour, so you may want to add more or less water to yours depending on how you like it! :) 

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Ingredients: 

Toss the following into your juicer and get ready for a BANG of flavor! You can smell it can’t you? Go on and taste the raw stuff, I dare ya - be warned -  it’s mighty powerful! ;) 

  • 2 lemons
  • 4 limes
  • handful of basil
  • 1 cucumber

Optional Ingredients: 

For a little more of an earthy kick you can add these guys in. Also you can toss in any variety of herbs for a visual and flavorful effect! 

  • nub of ginger
  • 1 granny smith apple
  • a handful of mint leaves

Try it out and let me know what you think of this recipe, or experiment with your own lemony-combos and share! It’s always a delicious suprise when playing around with with zesty flavors! ESPECIALLY on a nice hot, summer day! :) Cheers to a healthy and happy August! 

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Orange/Mango & Basil Smoothie

The one thing I love about smoothies and juices is that there are literally infinite combinations of fruits and veggies that taste soo amazing! I mean sure, some veggie concoctions might result in something that slightly resembles a green mud but the flavor and nutrient levels are through the roof! ;) Luckily, fruit smoothies usually tend to look great as well as taste phenomenal! 

This morning I watched a couple of Kristina's youtube videos for ideas and after watching her 'Amazing Orange Spinach Basil Smoothie' recipe vid, I was inspired to make a variation of my own. Check it out! 

Ingredients: 

  • 6 oranges, juiced 
  • 3 mangoes in chunks
  • 1 cucumber, juiced
  • 1 lemon, juiced
  • 1 handful of fresh basil, thai basil
  • sprig of mint & parsley

Toss it all in a blender and you’ve got a refreshingly sweet meal! I loved how the herbs added a little more pazzaz and charm to the fruit blend! And adding cucumber was just right to give the mangoes a bit of a more creamy, earthy texture. 

I threw a few extra herbs in my jar before pouring this bad boy in! Definitely a new fav combo you guys! Try it out or similar combinations and let me know what you think! :)  

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Lärabar ALT - Alternative Protein Bar

I’ve never met a protein bar that I liked. Before I knew how to read labels and dissect health claims, I gave all the usual suspects at my gym a taste-test, in all the usual flavors; ‘vaguely vanilla’, ‘I can’t believe it’s not chocolate’ & ‘imitation caramel’ etc. But none of them lived up to their flavorful claims or seemed to offer any benefit or physical effect other than a bloated belly. After learning about the negative effects of whey protein, which many major bar brands use, I gave up on protein bars, thinking there wasn’t any vegan-friendly options out there.

So, when I was contacted and asked if I’d be interested in trying out Lärabar's new alternative protein bar, I was skeptical but intrigued. Was it vegan? Totally. Non-GMO? You-betcha! So, I gave them a shot, why not? 

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The first thing I want to tell you about these bars is that they are 100% vegan, gluten-free and each flavor uses only a handful of ingredients including; dates, almonds, peanuts, brown rice flour, sunflower oil etc. and pea protein. 

LÄRABAR products are made by a simple process in which fruit, nuts, and spices are ground and mixed together. They are not baked or cooked. We use simple ingredients, as close to their natural state as possible.  Practitioners of the Raw Diet should be aware that to ensure the safety of our products some of our nut ingredients are steamed or roasted and our few juice concentrates are pasteurized. 

http://www.larabar.com/about/special-diets

So not technically a raw product, but minimally processed and with basic natural ingredients. A great on-the-go alternative if you’re caught away from fresh fruits or veggies. 

I first grabbed one after a mid-day workout that was supposed to happen in the early-morning. I was rushed and out the door before I realized I didn’t pack a snack for the afternoon. I grabbed one of the ‘Peanut Butter Cookie’ flavors from my back seat and suddenly it was like I was 7 years old again in my mother’s kitchen baking cookies and getting to lick the spoon! Crumbley but not too sweet with just the right amount of peanutty flavor! SO good! I tried the other three flavors over the next couple weeks and while I have to say they all have their particular merits, the ‘Lemon Pound Cake’ is my favorite! A decadent indulgence for this citrus lover! ;) 

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I did a little further reading and found out that the wrappers of the ALT bars are recyclable and made with 31% bio-based material and all displays/boxes are made of 100% recycled paperboard and made using 100% wind energy. Another step in a green direction that you can feel good about supporting! 

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If you’re interested in trying out a couple flavors or want more information about Lärabar and their products, check out their website here: http://www.larabar.com/ 

And for a coupon to save 1$ when you buy 2 bars click here

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Raw Zucchini Pasta Salad

I made this really delicious raw pasta dish over the weekend! My boyfriend and I took a somewhat impromptu vacay up to the lake again on Thursday and it just so happened that my phone decided to die that day as well - so I have literally been disconnected from the world for a few days. My apologies for the late email replies/fb messages over the next few days, but nature called my name and I just had to answer. I got a little creative in the wilderness and came up with this bad boy of a meal one afternoon.

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Don’t you just LOVE the bright pink/transparent bowl? That’s what you get when at the family cottage; old used plates and cutlery that nobody really wants anymore, for obvious reasons. Pretty groovy, eh? ;) 

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The ‘recipe’ was very basic, just using up the ingredients we had, but it still turned out so colorful and flavorful! We were both impressed by how hearty and satisfying it was. Not to mention nutritious! 

Ingredients: 

  • 2 zucchini’s, spiralized
  • onion, diced
  • red and yellow bell peppers, sliced
  • handful of cherry tomatoes
  • 2 tomatoes, chopped
  • handful of basil
  • sprig of fresh mint & dill
  • mixed greens, thinly chopped
  • 2 green onions, diced

Throw it all in a big ugly bowl and you’ve got yourself a meal! ;) Even for the person in your life who HATES salads, this one will satisfy their crunch and flavor needs and sneak in a load of vitamins and minerals! Alternatively, you can toss on some organic tomato sauce, store bought or (preferably) homemade, and make this pasta-salad a mega-meal! Either way, just grab a fork and enjoy! :) 

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