I implore you

I am a bit of a fitness/overall health nut…most days.

I too, like everyone else, am human and have days where the rules or guidelines I happily adhere to normally, go out the window. Whether it is work, my social circle, my fur babies, my man, my real(ish) babies or my super busy family, I am a pretty on the go person. Sometimes this means slipping up due to lack of carved out time to prepare what’s required.

I really do have a hard time sitting still though, so as a coping mechanism, it is my own damn fault that I am so busy. I try to have something planned for my day the night before – even if that is a ‘me day’ where I barely do anything with anyone else and soak up my own time with a hike or some other adventure.

Everyone knows deep down that staying active and eating nutrition-filled foods, in well balanced portions, is one of the hardest yet most rewarding ways of staying healthy. And when you start doing it consistently it becomes second nature and your body actually rejects the crappy, processed stuff and sitting still for too long and you suffer side effects like headaches and tummy troubles when you do indulge.

If you’ve ever been turned-on about something, I hope you understand that I speak from a place of passion and genuine love for this lifestyle I’ve pursued. I just want others to realize what I have come to understand about the body’s natural capabilities – no matter how limited that still may be for me in comparison to what is truly possible. Like I said, I suffer off days and harder days and days where the fastest thing is the first thing I eat because I am stressed, or have gone too long without eating, or have an insatiable craving that I just need to itch…the point is I am human too and far, far, far from perfect. So, so far.

I have a few favourite motivators for why I work out and am conscious about what I ingest – maybe they’ll kick your butt into gear, or maybe they’ll remind you why you get up and do what you do every day to stay healthy and motivated to workout/stay active. Either way, the intent is to inspire just one person to make a small change for the better and I will be the happiest girl in the entire world if that is accomplished.

1. It kinda kicks butt to be able to kick butt: I really do get a giddy high when I accomplish something regarding my health. It could be getting a handle on wheel, crow or a headstand in yoga, or running the side hills of McLennan Park in Kitchener at a faster pace each time.

Had writers block while writing this blog...so this happened for a change in perspective

Had writers block while writing this blog…so this happened for a change in perspective

Running a half-marathon or hiking steeper hills without struggle. Or, it could be the realization that I can mentally control certain parts of my brain when pushing myself through a challenging kilometer or workout set – this ability filters into everyday situations too. I feel more confident in my body’s physical abilities now more than I ever have in my life – and I can’t even imagine how that will feel when I’m 40, 50 and beyond. I love the look on Michael’s face when I clamp my legs around him on the couch a-la-monkey cling and he winces because I’m strong. Or when he trusts me to load our canoe with him because he knows I won’t drop it awkwardly resulting in injury of person or the vehicle. It really kicks butt to be a fit-chick.

2. Having a shit-ton of energy also kicks butt: Really – being up for anything because I have the energy is a huge plus for me. Needing to explore and create and exert energy physically is part of keeping me sane. Normally this might be hard on top of working 50-60 hours per week while balancing every other responsibility. Lucky for me, the circle of exertion and creation of energy is an amazing natural phenomena. PLUS, energy keeps you HAPPY and that’s good for every one, especially Michael – just ask Elle Woods.

Seriously though, if I am free and not ill and you ask me to go for a run, workout, grab a yoga class, hit up a concert after a long day of work, meet you for a beer, catch sunrise on a Saturday morning, play cards, grab dinner/lunch/breakfast/any food, any time, I am usually down.

That leads me to my next point:

3. FOOD: The majority of people really don’t know how FOOD is supposed to taste. I mean veggies – both raw and cooked, fruit, nuts, legumes, lean meat and seafood (if it’s your flavour – there is a huge movement that part of me wants to explore of vegan-ism…but I’ll save that post for another day), real fresh, filtered spring-fed water. Real, from the earth food. We live in a society that desires convenience over effort and with that comes the easy out – the microwave this, the packaged/prepared that, the greasy processed burger…you get the point. Yum, right? No. Not even close to what your food could and is supposed to taste like. On top of the DELICIOUSNESS of the whole foods, add in the perks of moving your buns and you get my most favourite reason for working out EVER – eating. I love food. Like a lot. Like there are only a handful of things that I enjoy more than eating – none of which are SFW enough to mention here. I eat to nourish my body so I enjoy the simplicity that it’s become, however this also means that I get hungry a lot and get to eat A LOT to fuel me and that’s pretty kick-ass.

4. Gettin’ down: I won’t elaborate as I know some of our readers blush easy (not to mention my mom is an avid reader…hi mom), but the increase in stamina, interest and desire when it comes to intimate things – working out and eating right do incredible things for your sex life! The added confidence when you feel good about your body and have the energy…need I say more? Seriously, try it out and thank me later.

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For me it’s all three, but this is funny

5. Life in your years, years in your life: The two go hand-in-hand perfectly when you are in control of your nutrition and exercise regime. If you add in an all around lifestyle geared to being health-conscious, the chances you’ll have a better life and longer one, increase tremendously. I truly believe with the right lifestyle, nutrition, meditation/prayer life and diet, an insane amount of the diseases that we are plagued with can be cured. Our lifestyles and diets are killing us – it’s a fact, not just my opinion. Google ‘Lifestyle Disease’ and see the numerous medical publications regarding the study. The more educated you become, the easier the choices become too.

I would not say I am afraid of not being healthy, but I definitely do not take my abilities or my health for granted – I know first hand those things can change at the blink of an eye, and if you don’t take advantage while you can I feel like you might be wasting a bit of your life. It is a definite motivating factor for me and probably an all around driver for the lifestyle changes I am slowly making.

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What are your main motivators for keeping active and eating right? I’m always looking for motivation and my inspiration comes from you too.

I’d like to leave you with this: if you’re considering working on you, stumbling through or are well on your way, I implore you – keep working on you. I promise you won’t regret it.

~ Toni

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Working to a better me

I am not the biggest fitness guru in the world, not even in this sisterhood, but I do have a few things that I love doing as I work my way to a better me.

1. Hot Yoga:
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I have Toni to blame for this one. I didn’t think I would like it at all. I thought I would hate the heat, and just hate the fact that my body can’t do all the yoga poses. However, the first night I attempted this I felt so calm and at peace with my body and myself afterward I knew it was love. I love my body for all its largeness, but know it can be better. And now I can listen to my body better than I have in the past.

2. Crunches:
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I have a love for them. I can do 96 of them in a row, which I am pretty damn proud of myself for. For this I have to thank my old burlesque teacher, Miss Sassy Ray. She is wonderful, and showed me that no matter what size you are, you can dance, crunch, and wiggle with the best of them.

3. Eating Better:
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Less fast food, less junk overall, and just trying to put more veggies where there is too much starch. This one is hard because I live with so many people, with varying likes and dislikes, but I have found ways to sneak in the healthy stuff.

I am not the best at being healthy or treating my body well, but I am on a road leading to a better me, and working on a better happiness for who I am, what I look like, and my size.
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~ Andreah

February check-in

Ah, February. My sweetheart month.

It’s my favourite for the obvious reasons, as it is my birthday month, but also because it’s a good check-in month for any goals or resolutions that you may have set for your 2015.

From a health and fitness perspective, it’s far enough into the year to see a pattern or a trend beginning, and  still fresh enough to know where you’ve strayed or started to fall back into old habits. If you let it go much longer, you may not get back on track and then find yourself staring down another New Year, starting over, again.

I find it a good time to take look at your habits – an honest, hard look of course – and see where you need improvement or change that just isn’t happening in order to reach your goals.

No matter what you find – whether you’re more off-track than you thought, or you’re kicking 2015’s ass – I’ve got a few tried, tested and true pointers for keeping yourself on track and helping you to make permanent lifestyle choices that will benefit you long-term.

1. It doesn’t have to be all or nothing, right away: Think of this like a marriage, but instead of a partner, the lifelong commitment is to yourself. Think of it as a choice you make every day, until it’s just second nature to life more healthfully, making a small change until it is habit and then making another small change until it’s habit, and so on. Building towards a goal or just improving your standard of living overall is more sustainable this way, and you’re more likely to be a success story than if you tackle everything (diet, exercise, quitting smoking, etc), all at once. The trick is to improve without overwhelming yourself.

2. Do what works for you, but MOVE: It really doesn’t matter what you choose for your method of physical activity, whether that be lifting weights at the gym, sweating it out in Moksha Yoga, running a half-marathon, going for a walk, or grabbing some girlfriends and heading out for a hike – just MOVE. As a society we lack movement from sitting all day in a chair at a desk, craning your neck while hunched over your smartphone, or laying on the couch watching television. We sit and slouch and lay far beyond what our bodies were ever meant to. Do you live in town, but drive to the store? Figure out a way to walk more, cutting out on drive time.  Hiding inside because it’s cold? Bundle up and get outside! Winter is so enjoyable when properly dressed! Move.

Mike and I went on a challenging 6 hour hike for this sight... Totally worth it.

Mike and I went on a challenging 6-hour hike for this sight. Totally worth it.

3. Patience: Big changes will take time. It really is true what they say, “The bigger the struggle, the better the blessing.” You’ll be really surprised by what you can accomplish when you put your mind to it, give yourself grace and credit for your effort, dig in and do the work. Remind yourself that the bad habits you’re trying to improve upon didn’t only take a day to become bad habits and that it will take time to get it right. You will wake up one day and wonder why you didn’t start sooner, or why you were so scared being so unhappy with your situation. It’s incredibly rewarding to look back and see how far you’ve come in such little time, with so much more ahead of you now.

4. Educate yourself: Not only about which form of movement is right for you, but also what you’re fueling and recharging your body with. For this, you’re going to have to get a little uncomfortable and learn how food is made, processed and what you’re injesting. Some of your favourite foods are poisoning you, slowly but surely. Refined white sugar is in the majority of processed foods and is directly linked with obesity and a multitude of other health issues and diseases – my reading more about this has Mike holding his breath knowing our eating habits are going to start changing…again. The more you know, the more you will subconsciously start making better decisions when it comes down to your plate.

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5. Find your people: I cannot stress this one enough – get a buddy, or if you’re lucky like me, a whole group of like-minded people that ‘get it’, are determined for themselves and provide good team support and encouragement. If you have strength in numbers, it will be easier to feel accountable and inspired to reach your goals. Personally this helps to trigger my commitment to myself too, knowing I’ve got some kickass people cheering me on in my corner.

Some of my people on a sunrise hike

Some of my people on a sunrise hike

What about you? What are your favourite tips for staying on track in these pesky winter months? Wherever you are in your health and fitness journey, I wish you continued determination, drive and success for all of your 2015 goals.

~ Toni

25 before 25 – A look back

Well ladies and gentlemen readers – I turned 25 on September 21st…. and man was it fantastic! Not only did I celebrate one of my soul sister’s nuptials to one of the most amazing and kind-hearted man I know, but I also spent the day with my family – with tacos! Yes…tacos and Dr. Pepper…I love Dr. Pepper.

So 25 means that it is time to reflect on the resolutions or tasks that I gave myself before I hit the big 2-5. To be completely frank, I had forgot about the list I made – oops! So let’s go through this…

Walk more to explore than as a means of transportation was the first on the list and surprisingly I did this! Bacon, Hendrix and myself have a morning routine, which 3 out of 5 days in a week I keep!

I noted that  I should grow a gardenAHAHAHAHAH! As I am reading this, I can’t help but look at the date this was written – March – and I think that it was right after this that I signed on to a major project at work and said goodbye to any spring or summer I had. I turned in my “green thumb,” which I never had in the first place, for a laptop and overtime. That “garden” never had a chance. I didn’t even weed my garden. This year, I went with the “natural” look…or the “don’t visit this house because crazy people live here” look, you can take your pick.  Yes, I live in that house! The one where mothers shield their children and rush them along the sidewalk as they whisper to quicken their step. Seriously, it’s that bad!

Well, this one was clearly obvious that I would have to do it, and I did – I planned our wedding (note how I said ‘our,’ Ken!). Let me check off the list what we have accomplished, because I am pretty proud. We have our  *insert drum roll*:

  • caterer
  • venue
  • photographer
  • florist
  • DJ
  • invitations are being put together
  • guest list is made

Yeah, that’s right! WOOOOOO! Go me!

I wanted to cook outside of my comfort zone. I bought a new cookbook a couple of weeks ago while I was still in my 24th year (therefore it still counts), and I have made some amazing meals. Cody can attest to that – just ask him!

The next resolution was to not sweat the small stuff. I failed at this one. I am not being hard on myself, I am being truthful. There is no way that in a couple of short months I curbed my impatience. I am still trying and I did try. I am going to put this in the “win” category, though, because I am feeling spicy and because it is a daily battle for me not to bottle someone due to general stupidity which is proven by my not being arrested!

Enjoy the summer was number six and, well, in true Canadian fashion we didn’t really have a hot summer weather-wise, but it was a fantastic summer. Cody and I got away for a weekend, I spent days outside sun bathing, I went to the beach, I drank, and I ate. It was fantastic!

Number seven was to go canoeing this summer. Well, I didn’t go canoeing but I did go kayaking while away with Cody’s family  and it was absolutely fantastic! This also is a big check mark for number sixteen which stated to spend more time with Cody’s family – so once again WIN category!  I also listed To hike with my sisters.  I went hiking quite often, and early in the morning with not only my sisters but our extended sisterhood ladies and then some!

Be more involved with my nieces and nephew was number 8 and better late then never I spent the whole day with them yesterday…or more like the morning with all three monsters, the afternoon with the drool man and the evening with Princess Sophie (who is now refusing to be called a princess because she is no longer one…when did that happen?!?!?!) and then bedtime with all three terrorists again!

 

Drool monster extrodinare!

Drool monster extraordinaire!

 

Timbit monster!

Timbit monster! Definitely not a princess any more!  

 

Sassy slug sister!

Sassy slug sister!

Number ten and eleven were to sleep more and work less. I am happy to report I am still putting in lots of overtime, however I am sleeping properly.

As I read on, I realize that I copped out on this list of resolutions! Sorry guys! Number 12 was to walk the dogs more, which was kind of a repeat of number 1 where I vowed to walk more to explore Ayr.

Cody has been out of the house more, like I listed in number 13, but not in my doing. He has taken this whole “Hunter’s Life” to heart and I find myself more and more lonesome at the house. I am not complaining – I love that he is active and out and about. In fact, it gives me more time to gather myself after work so I can be 100% for him. However, now that I say that, babies are on the horizon (no I am not pregnant yet) which means this may be the last hunting season that I will get to do that.

Number fourteen and fifteen go hand in hand – to dance until the morning sun comes up and to drink more wine! Happy to report that this summer was full of wine and dancing (it’s the best form of exercise if you ask me!).

For those of you keeping track number 16, Cody and I spend more time with his family, was brought up in number 7; however, while were are on the topic of all things family, my mom is still working her ass off, so the extra amount of me and her time has not been as successful as I would have liked, as stated in number 23. This is not just her fault, I am just as guilty as well. Life gets busy, but that will hopefully change once she has that CGA In her hand. As well, my Dad has a crazy schedule of driving all over Ontario and Canada, so I have not been able to see him as much as I had liked to as per number 18. I did see him on a past weekend for my birthday lunch and it was absolutely fantastic!

Cody and I have not had the chance to expand on his family tree like I listed in number 19.

Back to going in order – have I confused you yet?

My house is still a mess, so number 20 to do more laundry and cleaning has not been taken care of as well as it should have, unless we have family coming over. This also means that number 20 to get organized has soooo not even been tackled. Seriously, my desk at home is a mess, my desk at work is a mess, my house is a mess…I need a life nanny! Anyone willing to be my life nanny for free?

I am proud to announce the birth of my best friend’s baby, which as number 21 on my list. Emma Grace was born on September 18th. She is so beautiful with a full head of hair and gorgeous eyes! Ashley and Marty are over the moon, and I am so jealous of their beautiful family! Makes me want one of my own even more!!!

My heart was instantly won over - Emma Grace <3

My heart was instantly won over – Emma Grace ❤

Number 23 was a disaster as soon as I wrote it out on this list – there was no way I could stop talking as much as I do, but I think I am still a good listener?…Sorry co-workers and desk mates!

I did not reach my fitness goal, but, in a way, I did reach it. I am more comfortable in my skin because of working out, however I am no where near my goal. I like food way too much…and TV…and being lazy…my own fault.

The final goal I set was to find a silver lining in every day. This is never ending. I will always look for the positive to avoid becoming a pessimistic person.

Well, as confusing that may have been for some of our readers I hope you followed along and are still following along. I have a feeling that 25 will be an amazing year, maybe even the best one yet!

~ Jacqui

Fitting in fitness

With my life in the fast-lane and no slow down in sight, I have had to rejig a few things in order to fight my way back to balance.

One of the areas I promised myself and my sanity that I would work on was attempting to fit in my workouts more often then I had been. After a few (mostly failed) attempts at fitting in my usual full hour long workouts, I soon realized that this very real struggle was not as easy to overcome as writing a post pointing out a lack of my balance-providing routine. I soon began to think of creative ways in which I could fit in enough effort to get the momentum going and help build back up my dedication to fitness.

While I am clearly struggling to hit my stride, a few of my favourite tricks to offset not being able to dedicate a complete hour or two a day to my workouts and working overtime to keep me sane have been:

1. Mini-challenges:  In order to make sure I at least maintain my current level of fitness, I give myself little mini-challenges that run for week or month long periods.  As I will openly admit to anyone who asks, my favourite muscle grouping to work out and work on has to be my glutes and quads. Not only do leg/butt exercises burn the most calories, they also allow me to personally feel the most powerful. As an avid runner, knowing my legs are strong enough to help prevent injury is important to me – especially as I already have one knee that requires extra care. And let’s not forget to mention that a squat booty is the best booty!

Truth.

Truth.

My favourite mini challenge is giving myself a set number of squats to perform every time I go to the washroom (after I have gone pee of course), with 25 usually being the the amount I aim for. This type of challenge allows me to break down my goal of staying healthy during chaos into manageable, digestible pieces that I know are realistic to achieve during a hectic day. The best part is that mini-challenges can be applied in many different ways – elevated pushups off the counter every time you enter the kitchen or even calf raises while pumping gas for example.

Try this one - mark it in your daily calendar to increase chances of success

Try this one – mark it in your daily calendar to increase chances of success

2. Keep a must make date with yourself: Saturday mornings are mine. Knowing that I have a standing date with myself a minimum of once a week, helps me to keep the stress of not being active enough during the week, at bay. Whether I am lucky enough to spend a gorgeous morning hiking at sunrise with some of my favourite ladies, fitting in a solid run on one of my favourite trails, or adding in sprints while on my walk with the fur-babies (their favourite), the first item on the agenda for my Saturday has to be something active.

Be the BOSS.

Be the BOSS.

As long as I do everything in my power to make that date weekly, I don’t beat myself up if it ends up being the only activity I am able to fit in during the week. It also gives me something to look forward to, a light at the end of the tunnel, the pick-me up to give me some energy.

3. Ask for help: The one fitness lesson that has taken the longest for me to accept, asking for help/support from the people around you can often be the lifesavers you require, right when you require them.

Still a struggle some days

Still a struggle some days

Personally, I have asked for some of the women I work out with to push me a little, get me to commit some more me-time by planning workout dates in advance. They’ve already got me feeling more motivated and determined then I have in quite some time. Seriously, nothing can replace the support your sisters in fitness (in my case by blood as well) provide when you’re struggling or stumbling in your journey.

4. Self-talk: Controlling my internal talk-track can be a struggle on a good day, let alone a day – or pile of them – that seem to have more things added to the to-do list then checked off, but it is so very necessary. However, becoming my own worst enemy mentally will do me no good and only add to my stress level. Some days it is hard to, but I am more calm if I am able to control my thoughts, keeping them as positive as possible and provide myself gentle reminders as to why I started my fitness journey in the first place. When I’m really struggling, I simply activate tip number 3 and reach out to someone I know has the power to be my cheerleader when I need it most.

I really cannot wait to get back into a routine that allows me time to continue on this lifelong journey I am so desperately missing and so determined to maintain. Until then, I’m counting my current reality as part of the dance and doing my best to follow my own advice.

~ Toni

Music and butts

I believe music to be an amazing powerful all encompassing being that connects us all.

I know that’s a lot to ask from something as simple as music, but it’s true. It is powerful and it is important.

Lately there is a lot of music coming out about positive body images, and in particular, butts.

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I have a large posterior. I know it, hell if you met me you would know it. I do not at all mind that I have a large butt, and I am kinda happy about some of the songs coming out about the love of large bottoms. Such as “Wiggle” by Jason Derulo.

There is one that makes me do a dance and sing along. It is called “All About That Bass” by Meghan Trainor.

She starts off talking about how her mom always said that it’s okay not to be a size two, and that you should be proud of who you are. It reminds me of our mom and how she thinks we are all beautiful no matter if we just got up, or are sick and slightly green.

I am working on getting more fit and healthy (slowly but surely). I don’t get to do it with my sisters, but I like working out alone, so it isn’t too bad. A big part of getting to where I want is loving my body every step of the way, from when I was my largest size and weight, to when I was at my smallest size and weight. I learn every day to still love my body. Songs about body love are a good positive pat on the back to the world from artists who don’t look like models, because let’s be honest – not everyone can look like that.

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I have not always liked my butt, or my waist, or my hips, but I am learning to love them. Especially as I start to shed them.

~ Andreah

Five favourite fitness truths

In recent years, I have worked hard on getting healthy.

What began as a mission for our upcoming wedding, quickly became a lifestyle – one that I happily committed to. Along my journey I have found a few tid-bits of wisdom that stuck with me and helped me overcome some seriously bad habits in my routine.

While I am no expert, here are my five favourite fitness truths that made the most impact on my progress:

1. Making small changes can make the biggest impact: When I attempted to make too many drastic changes at once, I found I was setting myself up for failure. It was so much easier to slowly work my way up to a goal by gradually tweaking my workouts, eating habits and even my mentality. It’s like training for a marathon.

Small steps, sure steps.

Small steps, sure steps.

I went from a 2 milk, 1 sugar coffee at Tim’s to a 2 milk, sometimes black. I switched our whole wheat bread and white rice out for whole grains. I cut back on my intake of cheese (believe me, it was a problem). I added 1 more lap around the track or a sprint lap during my training runs or I pushed myself for one more rep of my workout. I went from walk/running 5 km, to running all 5, then 8 and sometimes even 10 when my knee allows. I started eating breakfast. I’m not suggesting your goals will be the same. I am suggesting, however, that you make the smallest changes, make them a habit and then switch up another element of your routine. Which leads me to my next point..

2. Your fitness is 100% mental: I once read the quote, “your body won’t go where your mind won’t let it”. Brilliantly true, beyond true. Your mind is an extremely powerful tool and can be used for both destructive and constructive purpose. If you tell yourself you can’t do or accomplish something, you are absolutely correct. If you tell yourself you can do it, that you don’t have a choice, you are going to reach your goals.

Your mind is so very powerful

Your mind is so very powerful.

On top of pushing yourself and getting your self-talk-track right – to be your cheerleader and convince your legs they’re not tired, tell your lungs to keep control of your breathing, that your body is capable – your fitness path needs a WHOLE LOT of positivity and patience. If your brain isn’t being nice to you because you’re not seeing results or watching the number on the scale drop fast enough, tell it to shut the hell up. Go with how you feel, how your clothes are fitting. Take note of the energy increase you have and the pep in your step because of the shot of endorphins coursing through your body – and then celebrate those important victories. You have to want it and you have to make sure your brain is with you.

3. Eat: Do not be afraid of food! Be afraid of the wrong food – the processed, chemical-filled, GMO food – be very, very afraid. Do not be afraid of eating a hearty meal of the right foods – whole foods. I’m not suggesting you attempt “eating clean”,  but I am suggesting that you attempt to learn how to eat to nourish your body. For starters, make sure your cart is full of foods from the outside aisles when completing the weekly shopping trip. Buy more perishables than not. Just this small change can change the course of your health. Add in moderate weekly exercise and you’re adding years to your life and subtracting inches from your waistline.

Scary and true.

Scary and true.

Hand-in-hand with that, do not deprive yourself, but do monitor and have some control over the amount of giving into delicious urges. If you crave chocolate, attempt to satisfy your craving with fruit or dark chocolate. If it’s just a craving that won’t go away, even with provisions, give in – but a little. Have a small amount of milk chocolate, or portion control your chips if you’re a salt fiend, like me, when a few pretzels won’t cut it. Allow yourself to be human, forgive yourself, and do better the next day.

4. Get your water in: This is my demon. I struggle daily to get my required water intake in. It doesn’t help that my bladder is the size of an upside-down bottle cap, or that I am a complete coffee addict, but aside from that I totally know the rules, yet just can’t seem to follow them.

ALL THE TIME

ALL THE TIME

Like I know that for every cup of coffee, your replacement water intake is 2 glasses. I know I should have water all damn day long. I know that when I wake up, the first thing I should do is drink a glass of water. I know, I know, I know. I’m looking into the cost of an IV, but in the meantime, I’m going to keep working on it. Maybe I should appoint a water reminding delegate… Hmm…yup! Now accepting applications.

5. Do what works for you: Personally, I hate the gym. It’s only because I find the atmosphere and equipment intimidating. I wish I could love the gym. Maybe one day.

Instead I love HIIT style workouts with my sisters and girlfriends. Instead I prefer a challenging hike at the crack of dawn. Instead I run – for the body buzz, and the feeling of freedom and the way it makes my heart fly – mostly I run because I can and why not? I do squat challenges like completing 25 after every visit to the loo. I do hot yoga. I do whatever feels right and makes me want to move and challenge myself. And most importantly, I do what I know works for me.

It’s 100% personal and you’ll know when you find what works for you.

~ Toni

It’s contagious

At this point in our blogger/reader relationship, you should know that I enjoy living a healthier lifestyle.

From the whole and healthy food that I use to nourish my body, to the addiction I have to movement, to the thrill I feel when I tackle and triumph over a new challenge – I love it and crave it.

Pinning exercise

For a while, my fitness journey was shared mostly with my good friend and previous trainer, Julie. While a new career path has changed our relationship slightly, I will forever attribute the beginning of this love affair to her pushing me to be better than myself.

I can tell you honestly that the change I love the most is not in the pounds shed, the firmness found, or the satisfaction of needing an entirely new wardrobe because nothing fit anymore. The change I love the most is how proud I am at what my body is capable of – the natural amount of energy I have,  how fast I can go, how long I can go, how much weight I can carry, that people are surprised at my strength based on my size – it’s all a thrill to me.

Running late

Up until about 10 months ago, this shift in lifestyle had been purely selfish and the thing I was doing for me. I never imagined that I was affecting or influencing the women around me. Slowly but surely, I was joined regularly by my girlfriend Chantelle whenever I would head out for a run, bike ride or workout. Her determination was impressive and her desire to be better for herself was inspiring. It pushed me harder, made me work more and reach new goals of my own. I was so excited that she saw what she wanted to accomplish for herself.

And then one day, my older sister Julia asked what I was still doing to stay fit. When I told her, she wanted in! We did things as a threesome when our schedules worked and in pairs or solo when it didn’t. It was awesome! There is nothing like finding a group of women with the same goals and desires as you. It made me feel normal, accepted and so proud.

And then my mini-me Jacqui asked if I wanted to workout with her one day, and then go for a run with her another. It made my heart fly. We quickly became a foursome of sisters-in-fitness. While hectic schedules, rotating turns to have the end-of-the season cold, or rough and sleepless nights don’t always and rarely allow us to all be together, the extra accountability was just what we needed.

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And then our adopted sister Kim heard about how much Julia was loving it and decided one evening to join us. She was hooked! We pushed each other, read and researched, gave suggestions when we needed some help to overcome an obstacle or plateau – it’s been incredible to watch. Seeing each one of these women find what works for them – Chantelle’s new found love of hot yoga, Julia, Kim and Jacqui’s love of running and finding their stride, our mutual love/hate relationship with HIIT and burpees –  it must be how parents and teachers feel when lessons are not only learned, but applied and new milestones are reached by their wee ones.

Burpees

Julia’s lovable friend Sara, whom I have known since my pre-teen years, has just recently been inducted into the TLT (an acronym I refuse to spell out for its sheer embarrassment – thanks ladies!) group of incredibly supportive women. While I wouldn’t consider what we do a class or bootcamp, and I am no body builder or personal trainer, I am incredibly proud of the example I set because of the fire that was found in me by my trainer.

~ Toni

P.S. Julie is now in the real estate market and loving her new career. If you’re in the market for sale or purchase of a new home or investment property, contact Julie Belanger at realtorjuliebelanger@gmail.com.

Sisterhood Spotlight: Greatist.com

When it comes to finding support for leading a healthy lifestyle, it’s hard to find a reliable source that isn’t pushing their own agenda or selling their own brand of get-fit-quick propaganda. While information is accessible everywhere from Google to Pinterest, I’ve come to know and love one particular fitness blog that seems to satisfy all areas of a healthy me – mind, body and soul.

Greatist.com is a blog that covers all areas of living a healthy lifestyle. It’s not focused on being skinny, losing weight, pills, quick fixes or fads. Greatist.com strictly focuses on over all health be it mental, physical or spiritual.

Greatest.com home page, May 23, 2014

Greatest.com home page, May 23, 2014

This specific blog is suited for anyone who is looking to live and maintain a healthy, active lifestyle. Every post is vetted to make sure the facts are based on a legitimate scientific study, that they are fun and easy to read, and that the information you are receiving is real. If you are interested in yoga, crossfit, running, healthy recipes, tips on how to manage stress, depression, a bad stroke of luck, tools to train your brain and help you ace that test, or even a daily workout, greatest.com is the site for you.

Personally, I opted in for the daily email – it’s a daily digest of posts containing an array  of topics and I find it a great reminder to get up and do something physically active, everyday (yes, even though today’s daily email was about drinking…).

The daily email - May 23, 2014

The daily email – May 23, 2014

I recommend greatest.com to anyone looking for tips, tricks and support on their journey of improving their overall health – you won’t be disappointed!

Happy, happy Friday from the Sisterhood!

~Toni

25 Before 25

When I turned 20, I had plans for myself – that by the age of 25 I would be married with at least one baby! To some this may be absolutely insane, but for me it is all I have ever wanted in life. I did not dream of becoming something more than a mother and a wife; the job portion was back burner. I went to high school and then after I went to college, but during the entire time when people were planning their careers, I was falling in love. I could not tell you why I wanted this for myself, and it’s funny how plans never go as planned.

Instead of babies and a marriage, Cody and I have bought our house, welcomed two of my nieces and my nephew into this world, and said goodbye to a niece/nephew. I have congratulated Toni on her engagement, I said goodbye to Dee when she embarked on her journey. Our family grew in numbers, grew in love and grew closer together, closer than I ever imagined our family would be.

This year I will be turning 25, and I have decided lovely readers, friends, family and blog browsers, to make a list. A list of 25 things to do before 25! Sorry to disappoint, but it is not the bungee-jumping list.

The list

1. Walk more to explore than as a means of transportation. A good friend once told me that walking made him look at our sleepy little town in a different way! So that’s what I plan to do, with my pups by my side.

2. Grow a garden. Please take note I did not add “vegetable” into that line. If you ask Cody, he will roll his eyes at this one because I have attempted this before…and horribly failed. But I think I went too big too soon. This time smaller scale for a bigger impact!

3. PLAN MY WEDDING. I’m a horrible procrastinator.

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4. Try to cook with a new food. I love to cook, but find myself never straying far from my comfort zone.

5. Try not to sweat the small stuff, and it’s all small stuff. 

6. (Jeeeeze I have to make 25 of these!) Enjoy this summer!

7. Go canoeing this summer.

8. Hike with my sisters. (They don’t know yet that they are involved HA)

9. Be more involved with my nieces and nephews. I am insanely jealous of the time Toni is spending with them. And although it is for a particular reason, I can not help but have the green monster sneak up on my shoulder when she talks about her time with them.

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10. Sleep more. This one is really simple. And it’s just because I want to!

11. Work harder, but work less.

12. Walk my dogs more… Regardless of the season.

13. Try to get Cody out of the house more.

14. Dance till the morning sun comes up.

15. Drink more wine! I’m Portuguese. This is supposed to be in my blood.

16. Spend more time with Cody ‘s family. His grandma is such an amazing and strong lady! You can see so much of her in Cody’s dad and his siblings.

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17. Try to keep up with the house cleaning/laundry. As I am writing this there is a mountain of laundry to fold…I am a bad housewife.

18. Spend more time with my Dad, apart from the family occasions – more just-because time.

19. Learn more about mine and Cody’s family trees. The way-back years. We started to do this with Ancestory.com, and WOW. The things we have discovered (for a future post to come).

20. Get organized. This originally was written as more organized but let’s be honest…just organized would be great.

21. Welcome the Stuehler Baby into the world. (Love you Ashley.)

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22. Listen. I am a talker, and I find myself wanting to start talking over people during conversations. So I want to listen more and talk less (I am already setting myself up for disaster!).

23. Have more momma and me moments. At this point she is working her a$$ off for her CGA, but there will be times between courses that this can happen.

24. Reach my fitness goal!

25. BE HAPPY! Find the silver lining in every day.

So there is my list – some of them are cheaters, but I am feeling pretty confident that I can get this list done, and if not then there are always New Year’s resolutions!

~ Jacqui