Getting stronger + workouts from this week

Helloooooo. I hope you’re all having a great Friday so far!

It’s been a busy week with lots to report. Like, how I’ve been on a roll with my workouts and feeling great!

Getting in my daily exercise really boosts my mood – my family even noticed today: “you seem happier this week, Nicole”. Yep, that’s what exercise (and Brad Pitt) do to me.

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The main contribution to my extra cheery mood this week is….feeling more fit. I have to  give credit to Crossfit for that. Resistance training is absolutely effective for changing body composition and I’m convinced that I need it in my life – everyone does! My lower and upper body are noticeably stronger than they were a few months ago. What a great feeling!

How do I know I’m getting stronger?

  • I’m recovering faster from other types of workouts (ex. running, biking): my muscles aren’t as stiff or sore after running 5km+.
  • I can perform challenging exercises more easily/with less effort than before: pull-ups, push-ups, power cleans, front squats, and deadlifts have all improved.
  • I still hate burpees, but I’m faster at them
  • I can see more muscle definition in my arms and legs

May 11th-16th workouts:

Monday: 45 minutes elliptical intervals + weight circuit

Tuesday: 7km forest run (am)

Wednesday: Crossfit + 20 minutes of moderate cardio on elliptical

Thursday: 6km run (am) + taught spin class (pm)

Friday: spin class

Saturday: Crossfit (tomorrow morning)

Sunday: Rest

I also remembered to snap a picture of my yummy lunch from today:

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A brown rice tortilla with salmon, arugala, salsa and hummus…folded up like a taco🙂.

Keep the good vibes coming & have a great weekend!

N


The Crossfit Cringe

It’s practically the weekend (one hour to go), yippee!!! This week was a busy one and in this last hour of work I’m daydreaming of sitting on a patio with a giant, cold glass of pinot in my hand.

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Today was super productive, starting with a personal training session at 7am. After that, I ate my delicious blueberry chia-seed overnight oats. Overnight oats are in my top fave breakfasts on-the-go inventions. I didn’t snap a picture, but here’s the recipe:

Blueberry chia overnight oats:

~ best if made the night before ~

  • 1/2 cup greek yogurt
  • 1/2 cup frozen blueberries
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened almond milk
  • 1/3 cup oats
  • 1 tbs chia seeds
  • 1 tbs natural peanut butter (optional)

Mix all ingredients together and store in fridge overnight.

After breakfast, came Crossfit! I’m still loving pretty much everything about it. It’s a ton of fun and I’m pumped to go each time.

Today’s workout:

Warm-up: 2 rounds

– 15 calorie row

– 10 good mornings

– 15 hollow rocks

WOD:

3 attempts at 1RM (RM = rep max)

  • Deadlift
  • Strict press
  • Squat

I haven’t found my 1RM for these exercises before so I was excited. I ended up lifting 185lbs for deadlift, 125lbs for front squat and 70lbs for strict press. Now I have numbers to compare progress🙂. This workout was fun, but made me cringe a few times and got me thinking…

Here’s why –

1) I’m not 100% comfortable with the emphasis on extremely heavy weightlifting. Since working at a physiotherapy clinic, I’m much more aware of risk for injuries and how to prevent them – and maxing out isn’t encouraged.

2) Lifting as much weight as you possibly can is not a functional exercise that will help you in everyday life (unless you carry heavy things for a living), but it is fun. For people whose goals are in increase muscle mass and “bulk” up then challenging your muscles with heavy weights is the way to go (i.e. body builders).

3) Sometimes maxing out can do more harm to your body than good. A few women in the class were squatting 200 + lbs and holding their breath to complete the lift. This puts a ton of pressure on your insides – organs, pelvic floor ect.

Overall, I enjoyed today’s workout but learned that I prefer WODS where I can lift moderately, not extremely.

And now it’s the weekend!!!

Have a good one guys🙂

N


How to have a good day – according to me

It feels like just yesterday I wrote my last blog post. HAH, that was practically four whole months ago. Where has the time gone? Anyways, I’m back into blogging more consistently and I’m super excited about it!

Taking on two new jobs reallllly ties you down. I began to realize I needed a better balance in my life between work, and having time to do the things that I’m truly passionate about – that’s when I feel the most alive!

How do I work more balance into my life?

1) Each morning I wake-up and consciously think a positive thought: “today is going to be a great day” – there’s no reason why it wouldn’t be!

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2) I plan my day to make things as easy as possible on myself while sticking to a healthy routine. If something feels like a drag, I’m less likely to do it. Here are some of my tips: pre-make and pack meals the night before, have healthy snacks in the console of your car in for when you’re hangry or on-the-go, plan appointments on days when you’re less busy with other commitments, and plan workouts that are convenient and accessible so you can’t back out of them.

Today is a good example of me following my own advice.

This morning, I got up and made breakfast before heading out on a 5km trail run with my sister. The sun was shining and the forest was busy with friendly people doing their morning exercise. Our pace was moderate and took us about 33 minutes to complete. I was happy with this since being super sore from yesterday’s crossfit workout (lunges on lunges – ouch!). Once we got moving I forgot about the soreness in my legs and butt. We both felt great after and agreed it’s something we want to do more of together! Good workout + sister bonding time = happy morning.

Once we got home I began to make a dinner to take to work tonight – yay, meal prep time! I made Quinoa with green peppers, spices, chicken strips and marinara sauce.

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Now I’m off to work!

Have a great day🙂

N


Once Upon a Crossfit

Hi friends!

A little while ago, I hit a motivational wall. I started getting bored of the same old gym workouts. I was dying to try something new that would reignite a spark of energy inside of me.

The gym and I were like an old married couple. We’d spend time together most days of the week, but we weren’t really enjoying each other’s company anymore. I needed to acknowledge what was missing and find something to spice things up – a fitness affair, if you will. I needed to love fitness again.

I’ve always been self-motivated to do cardio and HIIT (high intensity interval training) workouts like running, swimming, spinning and other machines. But I slacked with my strength training and that really bothered me. Especially since I knew how beneficial resistance training is for people. My typical weight-training workout consisted of 30 minutes of traditional exercises with free weights and machines. After a while I started to feel as though I was going through the motions without really enjoying the workout.

So I thought, and googled, and thought some more. Then one Friday night, I stumbled across a Crossfit gym close to my work. I toyed with the idea of crossfit – but never pictured myself doing it. That was true until I read more about it and saw some inspiring crossfit athletes on youtube. My competitive edge started jumping out of my chest!

This video of Lauren Fisher made a lasting impression:

After seeing that, my initial thought about crossfit was: it’s intimidating, but damn that girl is an incredible athlete.

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I just had to give it a try. I attended my first class the very next morning. When I walked in, the class before mine was still finishing up. They were doing partner burpees, the music was blaring, and they were all cheering. It was unlike anything I’d ever seen at a gym before. It felt like a sport, with teammates and coaches – an atmosphere bursting with passion and support.

It’s been four weeks since that first day, and I’m writing this thinking about how excited I am for Monday’s workout! The first few weeks are about learning the proper techniques and skills before you “graduate” to attending actual crossfit classes. Next week I get to start regular classes – and I’m ecstatic!

That’s the story of how I reignited a dwindling spark, and sort of fell in love again.

To be continued🙂

XO

N


Kale Quinoa Salad

Happy Wednesday everyone!

Today I made a wicked quinoa salad, and I’d like to share the recipe with you. Quinoa is a great whole grain carbohydrate source that can be prepared in bulk and stored for the week. I love its versatility! You add a ton of veggies, spices, and legumes to jazz it up with flavour.

A cool fact about quinoa – it’s an ancient grain that was domesticated for consumption around 3,000 years yet so many people know it as a recent superfood. I did not know that until last week.

My local grocery store, Vince’s Market makes a tasty black-bean quinoa that I adore. So their dish inspired this recipe! Make it following three easy steps below.


Ingredients:

Yield: approximately 5 cups cooked

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  • 1 cup of dry qinuoa
  • 1 ½ cup water
  • 3 tablespoons of olive oil
  • 2 cups of kale, chopped
  • 1/3 cup of green onion, chopped
  • 1/2 orange pepper, chopped
  • 1 cup grape tomatoes, halved
  • 2 tsp cumin
  • 2 tsp black pepper
  • 1 tsp sea salt

Directions:

Step 1) Bring the water to a boil in a saucepan on medium heat. Add the quinoa to boiling water, and stir. Cover the quinoa for 12-15 minutes or until all of the water is absorbed. When quinoa is cooked, you should see a white ring around the grain. Remove from heat. Stir in 2 tablespoons of olive oil, cumin, black pepper, and salt.

Step 2) In a frying pan, heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil on medium heat. Add chopped kale, peppers, green onion, and tomatoes. Sauté the veggie mixture for about 8 minutes until kale is cooked down, and soft.

Step 3) Combine the sautéed vegetables to the quinoa and stir well until everything is incorporated. Store quinoa salad in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 7 days.


The salad turned out wonderfully, and I will definitely make this more often! The cumin and black pepper add a subtle spice, to the already flavourful salad. Meal prep like this is a time saver and a great help for sticking to healthy eating.

Any other quinoa recipe suggestions for me?

XO

N


Athlete Identity Crisis

I’ve been meaning to write about athlete psychology for a while, so I’m finally doing it!

Anything concerning psychology and athleticism interests me – particularly the association of one’s identity with the “athlete” title. There is a ton of research on athlete identity which I will dive into on future posts. Today we’re only scrapping the surface.

For the purpose of this post, the term athlete will be used to describe anyone who competes in a team or individual sport, not for recreation.

I am ___________.

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To me, identity is a multidimensional construct that we create to find meaning and to define ourselves. We use information from our life experiences, interactions and environments to define who we are. Elite athletes often strongly associate their sport with their identities. I definitely did. It seems silly not to. Athletes in a competitive sport make huge time commitments, they’re passionate about their sport, and they’re good at it. They should be proud, and feel accomplished. However, the mistake of placing too much self worth in their athlete title is made often.

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Take university varsity sports for example. These athletes have most likely competed for years leading up to university. They prepare for tryouts, make the team and life is good. Then the best thing happens. They inherit 30 automatic friends (teammates) who all love the same thing as them. They’re all “basketball players”, “runners” or “swimmers”.

The opportunity to belong to a team, and to compete at a high level is a fulfilling. Teammates form a unique and strong bond because they have all made scarifies for their sport.  Enduring hours of hard training together and seeing each other at the best and worst of times is what lasting relationships are built on.

Most of an athlete’s life outside of school is spent training, and spending time with teammates. There is not a lot of exposure to other meaningful experiences. By meaningful experiences, I mean life events that contribute to defining the self.

Trouble comes when athletes retire. It called the athlete identity crisis in scientific literature. The Journal of Sport Behavior states that most athletes experience a disruption to the self upon retirement. Athletes can prevent the crisis by redefining the self prior to retirement. This eases the transition from athlete to YOU.

Does this provoke any thought?

XO

N


Pumpkin Protein Muffins

Hello!

So a few days ago my friend Sam and I got together to walk our dogs, and make Pumpkin Protein Muffins.

I look forward to making these muffins every year! The ones Sam and I made did not turn out very well. I must have messed up the oat-flour to pumpkin ratio – too much pumpkin, and not enough oat flour. This was a huge bummer because I expected them to be just as wonderful as I remembered them. They were okay by my standards, but just not good enough.

Today, I wanted to give these another shot.

They fill the kitchen with an amazing spicy smell, the texture is muffin-y and they taste like they should!

muffins

I made them with a few changes in ingredients. It was fun to play around, and I knew these pumpkin beauties would be better than the last ones. I can honestly say they are GREAT! If you want to jazz them up, garnished them with a few pumpkin seeds on the tops like I did.

Ingredients:

Yield: 12

90 calories/serving

Dry ingredients:

  • 2 cups oat flour
  • 2 tsp Stevia powder (natural sweetener)
  • 1 ½ tsp cinnamon spice
  • ½ tsp pumpkin spice
  • ½ tsp nutmeg
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 1 tsp baking soda

Wet ingredients:

  • 1 ½ pure pumpkin
  • 4 medium egg whites
  • 1/3 cup 1% cottage cheese (fat free works too)
  • 1/3 cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk
  • 100 gram container of 1% vanilla Greek yogurt
  • 1 ½ tsp vanilla extract

Directions:

Gather the ingredients and then preheat the oven to 375°. Grease the muffin tin (I used a bit of cooking spray for greasing). You can use muffin papers if you like, but I find the pumpkin makes for really moist muffins, and the paper gets damp when they’re stored in the fridge.

Set out two bowls – one for wet ingredients and one for the dry ingredients. In one bowl, mix together the pumpkin, egg whites, cottage cheese, and yogurt. Once those ingredients are well combined, add in the vanilla extract. In a separate bowl, sift together the oat flour, spices, baking soda and salt until well combined.

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Finally, fold the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients until a batter is formed. The batter should be thick enough for a spoon to stand upright in it. Ta da!!

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Scoop the batter evenly into each muffin cup. I did this using a scooper that holds about 4 tablespoons of batter in a scoop.

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 Right before they go in the oven, top them with pumpkin seeds and extra cinnamon if you like!

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Bake for 20 minutes, let them cool and enjoy! These go really well with peanut butter, or pumpkin butter if you’re feelin’ it.

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Now I have muffins for the week!

🙂

Later!

xo

N


Benefits of Trail Running

Hi guys!

What a beautiful Tuesday we have here. I’m not “in the office” today, because Tuesdays are going to be my designated days to personal train clients.  I also managed to sqeeze-in a pretty sweet workout of my own. With the sun shining, and the air crisp – I decided to go for a trail run. It’s been a while since I’ve identified myself as a runner, since running is no longer my primary mode of activity. But, it still feels great to get them in!

I planned to run 3 miles – a modest distance, and I had my Garmin to track stats. My overall pace was around 10:25/ mile. Not too shabby for a hilly run.

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While I was running, I began thinking about the benefits of trail running and how it compares to road running. Three main advantages of trail running came to mind:

1) Joint stability: The obvious factor is that trail ground is much softer for landing on than pavement. So, the force exerted onto your joints will be less. Secondly, when you’re running on uneven ground, the small muscles surrounding your ankle and knee joints have to work harder to keep you stable. These are muscles that you wouldn’t typically use on level ground. Strengthening them is fantastic because it means a more stable joint, and a lower chance of injury. Unless you twist your ankle on the uneven ground. The lesson here is to BE CAREFUL, and your joints will reap the benefits.

2) For the most part, you’re isolated: It’s easier to focus solely on your running when there’s nobody else around. It’s normal to feel more self-aware when there are cars and people passing by you. When you’re alone, you don’t have to moderate your behaviour based on things happening around you. Relax, take a breath, and run.

*** carry a cell phone in your pocket for emergencies if you’re alone***

3) Research shows “Green Exercise” enhances mood: Exercising in nature has added mental health benefits! Harvard Medical School confirms this in an article they published saying: “Researchers at the Uni­ver­sity of Essex in Eng­land are advanc­ing the notion that exer­cis­ing in the pres­ence of nature has added ben­e­fit, par­tic­u­larly for men­tal health. Their inves­ti­ga­tions into “green exer­cise,” as they are call­ing it, dove­tails with research show­ing ben­e­fits from liv­ing in prox­im­ity to green, open spaces. In 2010 the Eng­lish sci­en­tists reported results from a meta-analysis of their own stud­ies that showed just five min­utes of green exer­cise resulted in improve­ments in self-esteem and mood.” For outdoor endurance athletes, this would make a whole lot of sense. Think about a mountain biker who has to train indoors during off-season, or a runner who runs outdoors most of the year. The thought of biking or running at a gym is often less appealing.

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There you have it!

After my 3-mile (converts to 4.8km) trail run, I headed to the pool for some laps… 2km to be exact. No two combinations of exercise makes me feel better than running + swimming. Both activities use completely opposite muscle groups, so it’s ideal for a total body challenge. I’ve incorporated swimming into my routine twice/week for the last month, and my stroke is finally starting to feel good again. I think I’ll post a “swimming for beginners” training plan later this week!

Once all of the fun was over, I had lunch. Today it was a newly-named Tasty Plate. I’ve made them before, but never knew what to call it. It’s pretty much a plate of healthy finger food that I make when I don’t feel like a salad or any other routine lunches.

My plate: salami, turkey pepperette, swiss cheese, carrots, cucumber, red-pepper hummus, and a nectarine on the side.

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Any trail runners out there with tips for me?

xo

N


Vegan Hot Chocolate

Today is one gloomy Sunday. You know – the kind of weather that brings on oversized sweaters, cuddling, endless Friend’s re-runs, and…vegan hot chocolate! So, Veganism seems to be a craze these days. Just to clarify, I am by NO means vegan – I love my animal products! I just enjoy almond milk, therefore making this recipe vegan. This hot chocolate is actually super easy to make, because there are only 4 ingredients! This recipe is tasty, and it’s made with ingredients that you typically have on-hand. Simple comfort in a cup.

recipe

(serves: 1)

Start by heating a mug of almond milk in the microwave for one minute. Then, stir-in cocoa, chocolate and sweetener. Heat the mixture in the microwave again until desired temperature has been reached. You can even add 1/8th tsp of peppermint extract for a mint-chocolate flavour. ENJOY!

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I LOVE FALL – the rich colours, spicy smells, holidays, everything.

While sipping, I browsed Pinterest for fall/thanksgiving decor ideas. You can find tons of re-creatable DIY crafts. Here are some of my favourites:

Drill pumpkins: what an innovative way to ‘carve’ pumpkins! They look great, and relatively easy to make. As long as you have a drill and different sized bits, these should be easy peasy. I’ve found a website with directions on how to make them here: http://www.craftynest.com/2008/10/pumpkins-carved-with-a-drill/.

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Pumpkin Place Cards:

Thanksgiving is happening rather early this year…can’t hurt to start thinking about table decor! These mini pumpkin place cards are pretty, and classy. This blog has a ton of mini-pumpkin decorating ideas if you like that sort of thing: http://blog.thenest.com/2013/10/10/15-diy-pumpkin-decorating-ideas-youll-love/#slideshow=2

place card

Gold-Themed Table:

Gold looks elegant, and is neutral enough to pair with whatever colours you want to add-in. It doesn’t just have to be for Thanksgiving either! Rock the gold-inspired table theme for fall & winter dinner parties. The only change I’d suggest for moving this theme into winter would be to switch out pumpkins for gold pears.

gold table

Outdoor Decor:

When I came across this, I thought it was the coolest idea. Instead of a snowman, make a pumpkin man! It could probably double as a scarecrow too. I’m thinking of making a mini-version of this guy with tiny pumpkins for an indoor decor piece. Kiddies would get a kick out of this project as well.

pumpkin man

Thank-you Pinterest for allowing me to appear more creative than I actually am.🙂

Questions of the day:

Have you ever made hot chocolate with almond milk?

Am I the only one who goes Pinterest crazy with holidays approaching? What do you pin the most?

xo

N


Booty Burner

Morning sunshines!

So…I don’t work on Fridays. How lucky am I?! Although I could have slept longer, I naturally woke up at 7:45ish this morning. All for the simple reason that I’m on a “bed early, up early” schedule. I’m loving it.

Shortly after getting up, my tummy was grumbling for breakfast. Lately I’ve been going for the combo below. It always seems appealing, and It’s a perfect combination of carbs, fat and protein to start the day!

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Here we have oatmeal + blueberries + peanut butter, a peach, 1 egg + egg white, and COFFEE with vanilla almond milk. I added a splash of almond milk to my oatmeal for extra creaminess. Overall, this is a favourite, fall breakfast combo for me.

I chowed down while making this Booty Burner for you guys. It’s a keeper!

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Last week I put this circuit together to do after my elliptical HIIT workouts. I was actually missing that “sore” feeling you get when you challenge your muscles! I wanted my legs, glutes and hamstrings to FEEL it, and this totally did the trick. I’m doing this three times/week and sticking with 2-rounds for two weeks. It’s coming up to the end of my second week doing the circuit, and I can tell my muscles have adapted. I’m feeling way less soreness post-workout. So, the plan is to amp things up by adding an extra round, and increasing weight for the next two weeks!

If you’re unsure about how to do any of the exercises, check out these awesome demonstrations:

Alternating Lunges –

Squat Press –

Donkey Kicks –

 

Hip Raises –

And now I’m off to spin class!

If you get a chance to try the Booty Burner, I’d love to know how it goes for you!

Have a great Friday🙂