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

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The great 2015

Well, we are back full force everyone, and more than just that it’s a new year! A fresh start – or more like a continuation of the changes I have made over my many years on this earth – a whopping 25, if you didn’t know.

There is so much that 2015 has to hold. Not only are Cody and I getting hitched come June, but our group of friends is GROWING!!! That’s right – we have two amazing couples in our circle of friends that are expecting beautiful bundles of joy! This, if anything, is the most amazing thing to look forward to. Yes, I am excited to marry the man of my dreams, my best friend, but if anything says “You are growing up” it’s when baby showers are in your future.

Normally resolutions are made and then broken. I honestly believe this. Resolutions at the start of the year are pointless when you don’t know what the year holds for you! How can you say that you are going to set a goal if you can’t foresee the future and know that those goals are obtainable? So, this year I have decided not to make any, but rather enjoy everything this year is going to bring. There are so many events that are going to unfold that making a list of what not to do and what needs to be done by the end of the year is just adding to an ever-growing to-do list that I already loathe. I want 2015 to be a year of happiness, love, friendship and family.

It is a widely known fact that the number 1 resolution every year, over and over and over again, is to become healthier and to exercise more. Just drive past any gym on January 2nd and see the numerous cars that were once not present but now are abundant. These cars will slowly diminish. People’s lives are simply too busy,

I sound pretty cynical and negative; however, every year this has been my goal and the only reason that I have stuck to it is because I slowly over the last two years have exercised more and it has become easier for me to the point where it has become a lifestyle choice, rather than a resolution to be healthier at the end of the year. I want to be healthier at the end of every day!

I was pretty interested in what other bloggers thought and what resolutions they were making. I found a lot, and some of their points of view made me think twice. Let’s Talk New Year’s Resolutions is keeping things positive, and instead of seeing resolutions that were not kept as failures, she simply adds onto it and tries for next year. Just like this, most blogs are following the same suit – positive resolutions for the new year. Starting off on the right foot!

Whether you are making resolutions or not, I wish you all the best in 2015 – health, happiness, family and friendship.

~ Jacqui

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

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

Overtime: A survival guide

These past couple of weeks have been nutso at work with the launch of our upgraded system! I was so very lucky to be a part of the team in the launch, but with this came overtime… hours spent with the team rather than cuddled up with my pups and Cody. It was so nutso that I have hardly made dinner and the laundry and the dishes are mounting…  However I made it through the wilderness, oh ya I made it throughhhhhhhhhhhOHHHH… And how, do you ask, did I make it through?

1. CAFFEINE

Coffee

I used to avoid caffeine because after all it stunts growth, and with how deficient I am in that department, I couldn’t chance shrinking! But then I became a grownup, one that gets up in the morning, packs a “proper lunch” and skips off to work with my second cup of joe in my hand. That’s right. I said second. This is a marathon, not a sprint people! When you have 12 maybe dare I say 14 hours ahead of you staring a computer screen, wanting to rip your hair, her hair and everyone’s hair out because you are so confused and tired, caffeine is your BEST FRIEND! It’s a warm cup of WAKE UP, and also is a good distraction to that very loud grumble coming from your stomach…which leads me to my next point!

2. Food for fuel

Hangry

Our team and our whole office consists of mostly women, and when women get hungry…we get hangry, which by definition is the emotion of anger coming from the lack-o-food in one’s belly. When you are hungry and working until the wee hours of the morning, there is no diet, or logical reasoning behind your cravings – just give in! You want bananas, string cheese, and Skittles, you get the damn things! Because if you miss something that one of your co-workers requested, you best believe that you are going to hear about it for the rest of the night.

3. Laughter

Laughter

No matter what it is that is tickling your fancy, laugh! If it makes you laugh till you cry, and it’s not even that funny, laugh. Laugh at a mispronounced name, or the way that your boss is slurping up her grapefruit while trying to be serious about the project you are working on. You are going to go CRAZY if you take everything seriously! Laugh – trust me…it makes it all better.

4. Caffeine

Caffeine

Yes, I am repeating myself, but it needs to be repeated. This is the mid-afternoon, 3-p.m.-we-gotta-make-it-till-1-a.m. coffee. Whether it’s iced coffee, black coffee, triple-triple, medium roast, non-fat, all the fat whole milk with whip, WHAT EVER IT IS… just keep the caffeine coming…I mean it. Caffeine makes the world a better place…I may need to get help…

5. Mirror avoidance

Mirror

When you go to the bathroom mid-afternoon (this is inevitable after 1 and 4; it’s just science), keep your head down. The mirror will only remind you of how many hours of sleep you missed out on last night…and the night before that, and the night before that, and what day of the week is it? Seriously – when you look in the mirror it’s not going to be pretty, all the mirror is going to do is show you the mustard stain that is on your shirt…even though you didn’t have anything with mustard today…and you may be wearing the same outfit as yesterday. But hey! You brushed your teeth this morning… so, go get yourself a cookie! And more coffee…

6. Goal setting

Goals

Whether it is those super cute shoes you saw in the window, a boob job, or your wedding… make you the reason that the overtime is worth it. And constantly remind yourself why you look the way and feel the way you do. That there is a point to this madness!  Just like when you are sweating your balls off while working out, you are doing it for something!

7. Clock avoidance

Time

Just like mirrors, clocks are also something to avoid! It will remind you that you are normally in bed at this hour, or your kiddies are just finishing up bedtime routine, or that you forgot to feed your cat, thus increasing the likelihood of them wanting to eat you when you go home at night and fall asleep before forgetting to feed them, while you are standing up pretending to brush your teeth. Trust me…just as long as there is a rough estimate, and you can look up from the basement windows of your office, and realize that you have no life right now…then refer to numbers 1-6 and keep pushing through!

8. Support

Teamwork

Whether it looks like a fellow co-worker, who HATES human contact, giving you a hug because you look like you are going to cry, which in turn makes you cry, make sure you have support. I could not have gotten through the insanity of this project without the INSANE women who I was working with. I saw their mugs a hell of a lot more than I did my own (see #5). But they made me go to bed when I was having a mental break down from lack-o-sleep. We listened to each other snap, crackle and pop throughout the entire project. There was also support from home, where Cody would send me sweet and encouraging messages to remind me of how far we came… and that quitting now would be pointless.

We did it ladies…we got through that hell…and we will get through the next bout of insane work hours as well. If I can do it…you can do it…but I am not responsible for the caffeine jitters that are to ensue.

~ Jacqui

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