Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Salad Bar Workout - Breaking up your Workouts

(remember to "follow" this blog in order to be entered into the 100 Subs Giveaway I'm holding!)

I'm in a bit of a weird space right now. My workouts seem to be on the fly, whenever or whatever I feel like. Today I woke up and decided to go for a walk. It was great, weather was perfect, ran into an old friend and chatted for a bit, and then continued on my merry way. It certainly wasn't heart racing, or sweat drenching - but it was moving my body.

One of the most freeing, and liberating things that I have come across in a long time is that my workouts do not have to be one long continuous session. From my research on the interweb (reliable right?), it seems to me that so long as you move your body for about 30 mins a day, it doesn't matter for how long each session is.

Let's keep the mantra "I can do anything for 15 minutes" in mind while you read the remainder of this post.

If you're initial goal is to workout for 30 minutes a day, but can't seem to stick to it - and therefore find yourself in an inevitable shame spiral let's try something new!  Break up that workout into 3x 10 minute "workouts"...or maybe 2x 15 minutes...or 20 minutes and 10 minutes...whatever you feel most comfortable with. What's so liberating about this is that it can change everyday. Maybe today I want to do 3x 10 minute workouts - but tomorrow I'm really feeling like a long walk + a 10 minute strength. It's flexible and can be tailored to you.

Here are some examples, and some resources to check out:

A break down of 3:

Session 1 - A Tone it Up Strength Workout
Session 2 - A mind blowing speed workout on the treadmill
Session 3- Some Zumba... seriously you should video tape me while trying to do this..JOKES!

A break down of 2:

Session 1 - 15 Mins of a Jillian Michael's DVD (I'm not a huge fan of hers, but her 30 Day Shred and No More Trouble Zones certainly work me out - She uses circuit training, so a combo of cardio + strength)
Session 2 - 15 mins of Yoga

A break down of 2:

Session 1: 20 minute run
Session 2: TIU Strength Workout

Obviously these are just examples, but what I lurve about breaking up your workout is that you can kind of do a "salad" bar of  sorts with your workout. You can pick any three activities you love, and so long as you are pushing yourself, and making yourself uncomfortable you will see change. I think I should be adamant in saying, this is not an opportunity for you to slack on your workouts -but rather it gives you an opportunity to really push yourself to do a high impact, effective workout in a short amount of time. When you are fresh with a workout, you are better able to maintain proper form and reduce the likeliness of injury.

Here are some great activities that easily break down:

Strength Routines (like the ones found on TIU)
Zumba Routines (can find some great ones on You Tube, or get a zumba workout video)
Running, Cycling, Swimming - basic cardio workouts
Dancing Around
Trying out new vids - like Ballet Workouts, Tracy Anderson Method
etc. You get it... and you can do it!

Each day, track your workouts down in a journal. Make note of what you did, for how long, and how you felt both during and after. Aim to make 2 out of 3 workouts a day rate a 5-8 on the Perceived Exertion (or PE) scale - where most workouts will fall on the 5-6 line (more info on RPE here). 

Remember - you can do ANYTHING for 15 minutes!


Monday, August 29, 2011

The Art and Necessity of Reflection + Subscriber Give Away!

(For Subscriber Give Away Please see Bottom of Post!)

If some of you have moseyed on over to my "12 Week Challenge Page" you will have noticed that my for week 3, I have gained (blerg!) 3 lbs. Any time you notice a substantial weight gain (and I would consider 3 lbs to be substantial) I think it is time for reflection.

Reflection allows you to process and look back on previous events and choices, and allow you to not only recognize where you may have faltered, but also to come up with proactive solutions to rectify the issue.

So here is my reflection on a 3 lbs weight gain:

1. I was on vacation --> now that I am home, back in my kitchen, I can get back on track with my eating, and my workouts
2. TMI alert - but it is that time of the month. Like most women, I certainly experience weight gain (which is usually water weight caused from excess bloating). That being said, I also find myself to be a bottomless pit when I am on my period. I can continue to shovel food into my mouth and simply ignore that signal that says: "Please stop now...please" (that signal is far to polite for my raging aunt flow to even acknowledge).
3. No consistent workout schedule - that needs to change! Now!

While there is no one way to reflect, here are some suggestions that I use in the classroom:

  • If you are a linear thinker (like myself), make a numbered list. You may find that one point leads to the next - seeing a list form, you can start to make connections.  
  • If you are a bit more of a free thinker consider reflecting in a journal. If you are consistent, you will be able to see patterns emerge of habits, routines, feelings, etc. 
    • Journals don't have to be in a book (however, there are some really pretty and fancy-schmancy ones out there), you can open up a word document on your computer, try an online journal service (like this one here), or write a blog for all to see!
  • Set up a chart like this one here - it's bare bones, and brings reflection down to the basics. Don't concern yourself with how juvenile this looks - it can be the most effective way to get down to the root problem and learn from it.
  • A combination of these options is always an option too. I personally am going to buy a new note book (not an excuse to go shopping...not at all), to use as a way to write down my "reflection" lists.
While going through teacher's college, we had to reflect upon our experiences ALL THE TIME. It got to the point that if I heard the word "reflection" one more time, I was going to throw up chunks...of apples.  That being said, it was certainly a powerful tool that started to unlock a lot of feelings, emotions and beliefs that I had never accessed before.  What's more emotionally charged that coping with body image, losing and gaining weight.

Once you have figured out what method for reflecting is best for you get going! There is no time line that you need to be fixed to.  It can take practice - I realized that no matter how much I wanted to be the idyllic girl, who sat beneath the oak tree pouring her emotions onto pages and pages, it just didn't stick...and that bark was hard on my back.

Joking aside, there are no real rules to reflecting - mine always come out analytical. However, once reflecting is done, it is necessary to become proactive about it. Taking my list as an example:

#1 and #2 I can't really change (as much as I would like too...#2 I'm looking squarely at you). #3 is where I can be proactive and take charge. I have lost my desire to workout. When was I most successful? When I had come up with a calendar of what all my workouts should be with specific times and activities. This is what I need to work towards. So a workout calendar it is! Hopefully this will get me back on track!

Reflection is an ongoing practice. There will always be something in your life to reflect upon. For my part, I'm going to start a "Reflections" page up there at the top! It will post links to the reflections I do on this blog! (and believe me, there will be many!)

Will you try reflecting? What are your favourite methods of reflection?

Subscriber Give Away

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1. Must Subscribe to the Blog
2. Must live in Canada or U.S.

It's that easy!

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Healthy Lifestyle Reading

My partner and I arrived back home from vacation yesterday afternoon. Before we officially made it home, we stopped off at Whole Foods to pick up some dinner. The perfect way to refresh yourself after a week of relaxing (from both work and a diet) is to get some prepared healthy meals.

We picked up veggie kebabs, an "omelet" veggie mix (it had mushrooms, peppers, and spinach - perfect salad!), some organic Kale, and a teensy bit of salad bar food (a chick pea salad for protein and some roasted beets. Unfortunately, they used lots of red pepper flakes, and it was a bit too hot for my liking).

We also purposely made a point to give ourselves one whole day off before getting back to work. Have you ever heard of the saying "I need a vacation from my vacation"? That certainly was the case. I think I have vacay fog. I am going to spend the day prepping for the week ahead - researching better ways to stay on track, organizing a workout schedule, and reading some literature on healthy well being that I picked up while on vacation.

I spent a boat load on these special interest magazines, but I had never seen them before on a traditional news stand so I hoped they were worth the moola:


Well Being Journal - I did a double major of Biological Science and English Literature - so naturally, I gravitated towards this journal - which is actually surprising seeing as how much I loathed journals and having to sift through them to find the one sentence needed to support my argument. This publication isn't too much about "diet and exercise" and more about new research being conducted on how food/nutrition impacts life and lifestyle. It's a good balance between science and hippy-dippy. It's not bright and shiny - with very few photos, and even less colour - but it's a journal not a flashy magazine. What I like a lot is that you can get a PDF version of the magazine for $4 (a savings of $2) online. I think I will consider this option because not every article is pertinent to me, and by opting for paperless, I can print off what is imperative to my health as a young, active, vegetarian woman. Plus, paperless is always a great, eco-friendly option.

Vegetarian Times - I was so excited when I saw this magazine! I am always so dismayed when I see healthy, cooking magazines and the only vegetarian options are the vegetable "side dishes". Not only does this put the Vegetarian cook at the forefront, it offers lots of healthy suggestions on how to maintain and be fulfilled on a vegetarian diet. Just so we all know being vegetarian equate health. Technically potato chips are vegetarian (i wish they weren't, because then I would have a reason not to indulge).  This magazine is a great mix between healthy recipes, fitness tips, and general interest articles on how to have the healthy lifestyle you want.
 Natural Health Magazine 
(please note - not current issue cover)
Natural Health - With a slogan like "feel good ~ look good ~ do good", it's easy to see why I grabbed this magazine. More so than other healthy, well being magazines - this one encompasses the whole, healthy being. Tips and articles range from: the anti-cancer diet, a detox column from Crazy, Sexy, Diet's Kris Carr, how to Reboot, Refresh, Recharge for fall and an article for why Yoga just isn't enough (just a small glance at the magazine - a lot more inside this puppy!)

I rarely indulge in getting a magazine. They are pricey when you consider they fact that they are pretty much disposable. These three magazines that I listed above cost even more than your traditional news stand mag - at about $7 a pop - they can certainly be budget busting when you consider there is a publication almost every month. I justified it last week, because I knew I would want some reading material as I sat out on the dock and it was a way to keep my head in the game - even if my body wasn't listening.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Vacation on a Diet

I think it's kismet.

I decided to start a 12 week challenge to end my weight loss a week before I leave for vacation. Tomorrow we're leaving for a week away of fun...and I am sure there will be many challenges thrown my way.

Here's my tips and plans for staying healthy and on track while on vacation:

1. Plan ahead.

Here's what we're packing:

  • insulated lunch bags - perfect for packing a lunch while on excursions. Both a cost saver and a way to avoid any "quick" lunches at fast food places. 
  • A cooler full of healthy snacks. Our vacation will be spending a few days at a Lake house, then going to Ottawa, then back to the Lake house. The initial drive will be about 4-5 hours (or 6-7, if you have my amazing sense of direction and luck with traffic).  Larabars, almonds, baby carrots + plenty of water! It minimizes the need to make a "food" pit stop - which is what we often do.
  • A cook book (more on that later!)
  • Meal Plan - we learned this lesson the hard way! On our very first trip to NYC, we didn't do any planning and we were broke!  We basically ate out at McDonald's for every meal - cheap, convenient and in New York City there are 3 on each block. It was great on our knockoff Prada so great on our stomachs. We experienced MAJAH stomach aches and digestive issues. Never again! Meal planning is a great way to stay on track.
2. Get a Suite!

We're fortunate enough to have very generous and loving relatives that are allowing us to stay in their gorgeous downtown condo while their away on an Alaskan Cruise! This means that we will have a fully stocked kitchen at our disposal. Not only is it more cost effective to cook your own meals, but you can easily stay on track by making healthy, wholesome meals. This will be the easiest way for me to stay on TIU Plan!

That being said, not every vacation we go on is going to be at a relatives place (note to self - see if you can adopt some relatives in the Bahamas) - so what's a TIU Girl to do? Get a hotel suite!

The word suite may sound luxurious and therefore expensive - but in reality they only cost a bit more per night than your average hotel room. If you account for how much $$ you'll not be spending by eating in suite you may actually be saving money!  This is where a cook book comes in handy!

Most suites come stocked with the bare necessities - cutlery, utensils, a couple pots/pans, plates/cups. The one we stayed out was so awesome it even came with glass Tupperware!

(Here's a pic of me prepping a four course meal for my lovie!)

4. Research fitness plans prior to the Vacation
  • Vacationing often means time off from the exercise schedule. Not an option when I have a strict 3 month deadline! It's important to research what exercise options will be available to you while away. 
  • A pair of running shoes doesn't take up that much room - I'm lucky enough that not only does Ottawa have some great trails for exercising, but the condo we're staying at has a gym room. I'll be bringing some workout outfits, free weights, and a mat. 
  • If you are staying in a hotel room without a gym, load up your laptop with some exercise vids or print out the TIU workouts. It really doesn't take up that much space to get in a good workout. If you are flying somewhere - or don't have enough room to pack weights, purchasing a couple bottles of water, or cans of soup can improvise as inexpensive free weights. 
  • I'm certainly going to indulge in eating out at least once during the week - but I'm going to make it worth it! Where we're staying there are some great restaurants that focus on local, vegetarian fare. We'll def. be hitting those places up!

There are always going to be hiccups along the way in your journey to ending the weight loss battle. Just keep in mind that as planned out as you may, things may not go according to plan. But being organized and prepared, you can minimize the effects of those hiccups.

I would love to hear what your tips are for staying healthy and on track while on vacation!

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Hot Date at Whole Foods: What's in My Bag?

Last night, my boyfriend and I were a bit bored. What's a girl to do? Go to her favourite grocery store of course! Isn't Whole Foods basically the definition of Hot Date?

Anytime I'm feeling in a bit of a rut with my eating, I love hitting up Whole Foods, a Farmers' Market or an independent Organic Grocery Store (Shout out to my favourite Peanut Mill!).  Seeing the new, sometime weird foods that are offered at these places is a great place for inspiration.

So! What's in my Bag?

Isn't this the cutest bag ever!? Every time I head over to Whole Foods, I always buy one of their reusable bags. They are always prettily designed. This one is the small version - but next time I will def. be picking up the large size of this There's a fricking cat with a chef's hat on the side!

Not Pictured:

Organic Kale! If you are on the TIU Diet Plan, that you know the obvious benefits of Kale. It is a serious contender in one of the healthiest foods.  I am always willing to spend a few extra dollars for some organic produce. Leafy greens in particular.  Some of my favourite ways to enjoy Kale are baked (as Kale Chips), massaged kale salad (breaks it down a bit, to make the leaves a bit softer), and steamed/sauteed.

Currently, one of my favourite super food dishes is: 1/4 cup onions, chopped, 2 cups kale chopped, 1/2 cup Black beans, 1 tbsp Nutritional Yeast. Instructions: sautee onions for 3-5 mins, then add in kale. Continue cooking for 2 mins before adding in beans and sprinkling with NOOCH. Heat through and serve it up! So yummy!

Greek Yogurt:

 I think there is enough said about Greek Yogurt already. It's deceptively thick - making you think you were eating something full of fat - but using 0% skim milk, this plain greek yogurt boasts 0g of fat and a whopping 20 g of protein per serving! Amazing! Keep in mind that while fat is an important component in any diet - it is important to know where your fat sources are coming from. Usually animal-product fat sources are saturated fats (with the exception of fish). Also, try and stick to just plain yogurt. Those flavoured ones (even vanilla!) are full of extra sugar. One of my favourite ways enjoying plain greek yogurt is to add lots of cinnamon and a little bit of agave. Strangely enough it tastes like my grandmother's rice pudding.

 In the bag there was: fresh ground almond butter --> one of my favourite things to do ever at WF is to use their nut butter machines! So much fun! Also, priced per 100g it is cheaper than any regularly priced jar varieties they have.

Eden Organics Black Beans - the only black beans I can eat are Eden's Organics. Well worth the extra $. I think it is because they don't add salt, but instead a seaweed. How cool is that?

Vegan, Organic Veggie Boullion Cubes - It is really important that you read labels! I was shocked to see in one of the brands of veggie boullion powder there was hydrogenated oils, HFCS, and frozen, powdered egg whites (eeww!). When you buy organic veggie boullion, you're getting just that - veggies!

Mighty Maple Peanut Butter - this was certainly a treat. It was on sale, and contained no refined sugars, no trans fats, and was Maple! I think it's because I'm Canadian, I'm a sucker for anything maple!  My bf picked up their white chocolate dream --> swoon

Grocery shopping can seem like a chore often, but when you pick up ingredients that excite you to cook better for yourself and loved ones, it can actually turn out to be quite fun. Don't forget - it's ok to indulge in treats, just make them unique and nutritious!

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Steps to Acheivement - SMART Goal Setting


A bit about myself - I am an occasional teacher for a school board in Ontario (a fancy, technical term for saying "substitute teacher"). In Ontario permanent contract teaching jobs are coveted positions. Just to get on the supply list, I had to spend an extra year after school volunteering. I decided to focus my time with kids that were identified with learning disabilities. Not to over-generalize, but common problems with students that have learning and behavioural problems is that they lack focus, initiative, and ability to see things through.

Kind of sounds a bit like me and my weight loss struggle....

One of the tools that the teacher implemented was "SMART" Goal setting. A method in which you set goals that are achievable and realistic. One of the classic examples she gives is if you are currently failing math with a 39% and it's mid semester - it wouldn't be realistic to set a goal saying that you hope to earn an 85% in that course by the end of term. The only thing you achieve when setting unrealistic goals is the sense of defeat.

In my last post, I discussed how goal setting and rewards are a great way to get you to your ultimate goal. I didn't really discuss the way in which you should set your goals. In reality, goal setting should be as calculated and planned out as are your weekly meal and workout plans.

So here's how it works:

SMART is an acornym that stands for:

S = Specific
M = Measurable
A = Attainable
R = Realistic
T = Timely

Specific: A specific goal has a much greater chance of being accomplished than a general goal. To set a specific goal you must answer the six “W” questions.

Measurable:  Establish concrete criteria for measuring progress toward the attainment of each goal you set.

Attainable:  When you identify goals that are most important to you, you begin to figure out ways you can make them come true. You develop the attitudes, abilities, skills, and financial capacity to reach them. You begin seeing previously overlooked opportunities to bring yourself closer to the achievement of your goals.

Realistic: To be realistic, a goal must represent an objective toward which you are both willing and able to work. A goal can be both high and realistic; you are the only one who can decide just how high your goal should be. But be sure that every goal represents substantial progress.

Timely:  A goal should be grounded within a time frame. With no time frame tied to it there’s no sense of urgency to complete it.

The one thing I want to clarify is that for myself personally, my personally goal is to not just lose weight, but to attain a healthy, balanced lifestyle. This is more important to me than my dress size. That being said, I know the way in which I lose weight is through healthy, balanced methods - the two will go hand in hand. In no way do I ever advocate for unhealthy steps and measures to meet your weight loss goals!

So! Let's get to it! Here is my SMART Goal:

I want to lose 20 lbs by November 14th, 2011 by eating right and exercising:

And here is how it breaks down:

Specific: Exercise and meal plan over the next 3 months
Measurable: Exercise 4x a week, 30 Min Cardio + 2 Strength Workouts (not necessarily all at once); Lose 20 lbs in 3 Months
Attainable: 20 lbs will bring me down to my goal weight of 135 lbs - certainly an attainable and healthy weight for someone of my frame to be.
Realistic: This certainly will be challenging, but I need something to motivate myself to get to the point where I want to be.
Timely: Wanting to lose the weight in 3 months is not only realistic, but it gives me a time line that I can see. There would be no point in me saying I want to lose weight someday - because it won't happen!

OK! There we have it! My SMART goal for losing weight in 3 months. Please post what your SMART goal is in the comments below! I would love to see them!

(SMART goal information source:

Here are some more websites on SMART goal setting:

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Gold Stars for Everyone: Rewarding Your Accomplishments

In my effort to lose 20 lbs in 3 months, I have decided that the only appropriate thing to do is to shower myself with rewards. Lots and lots of rewards.

It is important that you give credit where credit it is due. I think for all of us that have struggled with our weight, and continue to do so - we know how ecstatic just a single pound loss can be! We also know the sense of crushing defeat when we see the scale betray us, as it displays a number higher than we had hoped for.

Somewhere along the line, when the weight loss becomes slower, and you are finding yourself in a rut - you need to take action to motivate yourself. Certainly the promise of treats and goodies (all non-food of course!) will be the motivation I need to make this happen!

When creating your own reward system keep in mind of the following:

  1. Not all accomplishments need to be related to the scale. Did you complete all of your booty calls that week? Did you run faster than you had ever run before? Keep track and appreciate all accomplishments. 
  2. Don't reward with food! If one of my rewards was a huge slab of chocolate cake...i think i would be in big trouble. One of the biggest mistakes I think we all make is considering food anything but what it actually is - a fuel source. Food isn't meant to comfort us, or to reward us for our good it's basic level it is meant to supply us with the fuel needed to get ourselves from A to B. I like having fun with my food - experimenting with new recipes, trying out different cultures cuisine... but these are ways in which i keep the excitement of healthy eating going.
  3. Break up your one big goal into smaller goals. Yes, my overall goal is to lose 20 lbs - but that's a long time coming. I can easily lose sight of that goal when I am having a rough day...or week. Instead, I am going to have 5 lbs weight loss rewards. Something that is challenging but realistic. The whole point of this reward system is to keep you motivated to STAY ON TRACK. Just having one BIG goal may make you lose focus early into your challenge. 
  4. Pick rewards that are special for you. My rewards are special to me - they may not excite you or inspire you to keep motivated. Think of what excites you, and what you consider "special" and use those as your own personal reward system. They don't have to have to be an actual object or have a monetary value- things such as going for a hike, taking a cooking class, or trying a new activity are all ways to motivate and reward yourself while still keeping in mind your fitness goals.
  5. Realize that once you have accomplished your weight loss - you're still not done! You need to now maintain that weight loss and healthy lifestyle. Setting maintenance goals is just one more way that you will not only be able to lose it - but keep it off!
 My Goals and Rewards
  1. 5 lbs lost - Beautiful Bouquet of Flowers
  2. 10 lbs lost - Take a vegan/raw cooking class
  3. 15 lbs lost - buy a pair of TOMs
  4. 20 lbs Lost - Going on a shopping Spree! (better start saving up for this one now!)
Other Goals and Rewards

  1. Run 1 mile in under 10 mins - get myself a new ipod (mine is almost 4 years old - and I want a smaller one)
  2. Run for 30 mins straight - Get myself a new pair of running shoes 
  3. Run 5k in under 30 mins - Get an entire workout outfit at LuluLemon!
 Next post I will talk about how to realistically approach and reach your goals through "SMART" planning!

Monday, August 15, 2011

12 Week Challenge; Let's End This!


I’m done. I’m done waiting to be that size that I want to be. I’m done saying “I’ll start over Monday”. I’m done being unhappy with my current life, waiting for my perfect one to just magically happen. I’m just done.

I never was a believer in putting an “end date” on my weight loss. It was supposed to be a process and journey to gaining a healthier, happier, fitter me. Well that’s all well and good when I’m actually sticking to the plan - but right now I need to give myself a swift kick in the behind.

I’ve got 21 lbs left to lose. I want to lose these 21 lbs in 3 months. It’s a pretty high order when you consider over the last year and a half I’ve lost 24 lbs. I can’t just half ass this (like I have certainly done in the past) - I actually need to kick it into gear.

Naturally, because I’m a Type A brain with a Type B level of motivation, I want to plan plan plan! Funnily enough, what’s motivating me the most is because I start up my new job in the fall, and will need a new wardrobe. I don’t want to spend money on clothes that I hope won’t fit me in the future. Time to FINISH THIS!

Step 1: Meal Plan.
- Find recipes that are not only easy - but that I enjoy. The challenge for me will be to actually stick to the plan when life gets hectic.

Step 2: Work it Out!
I’ve got to up my cardio and strength workouts. I need to not only be more consistent, but I need to start pushing myself to go harder, faster and achieve more. I think it’s time to reinstate the booty call! Use that for my cardio, and then in the afternoon do strength workouts.

Step 3: Goals and Rewards.
Ok. So if weight loss isn’t motivation enough, than I’m pretty sure the promise of rewards will be enough for me. I think 5 lbs weight loss increments is decent… 1 lb weight loss rewards would be even more acceptable!

Step 4: Participation!
Let’s face it, we all seem to be more willing and able to commit to weight loss when we interact and discuss it. Twitter is great… The TIU community is also another place to discuss and interact with people going through the same thing!

So. What’s to come from me?

1. Meal Plans
2. Workout Calendars
3. List of Rewards : )
4. Vision Board
5. Updates/Journals/Information on Losing IT!

Please stay tuned, follow me on my twitter (kaleigh86) and visit me on my tone it up profile page. Any thoughts, comments, tips or suggestions are GREATLY appreciated!

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Have you tried: Medjool Dates!

Medjool Dates! These are my favourite Pre and MID workout Fuel. They are the queen of all dates! Big, plump, and sweet - they are the natural "energy" food. Use them in your own Larabar recipes, add them to smoothies - or just enjoy on their own, they make a great snack!