Go Off Road with Mountain Equipment Co-Op + MEC Outdoor Nation

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MEC Nation_1

As a street athlete and runner, I’m always looking for ways to challenge myself. That’s part of the beauty of running. No matter what level you’re at, you can always find ways to push yourself without being an Olympian or competing at an international level. Whether pursuing races of longer distances or working on increasing your overall pace per kilometre, the sport always presents a way for you to improve .This summer one of my goals has been to get off road and join the trail running movement.  Inspired by the influx of amazing photos I’ve seen on social media as of late, I jumped into my very first trail run about a month ago and got injured. Like most, I naturally underestimated how different it is from road running. However, after having more than a handful of trail runs under my belt, I have started to understand it’s appeal and added benefits.

First and foremost, the varying terrain combined with numerous obstacles create more muscle engagement than running on the street and specifically stabilizes muscles in the foot and the ankle. Whereas, road running’s one directional movement leaves stabilized muscles underworked. Trail surfaces are also typically softer than concrete or pavement, therefore there is far less impact to your legs allowing you to avoid injury due to overuse and impact. And one of my favourite benefits, it’s pretty much hill training in disguise. No matter what trail you run, there is a good chance that there will be some inclines. They may not be long, like a paved road might be, but they will typically vary in steepness, which will constantly challenge your legs and lungs.

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The burning question for most runners when they decide to try out trail running is whether or not the focus should be on perceived effort and overall course time, rather than pace time when doing a training run or race. According to Tim Lytle, from MEC (Mountain Equipment Co-Op in Toronto, overall course time and perceived effort should most definitely be the focus over pace time when hitting the trails, as they typically have more technical elements and ups and downs. I had a chance to chat with Lytle for a few moments and pick his brain on running essentials and safety tips for those new to trail running such as myself. According to Tim, “Footwear is the most important thing. I’d encourage a new trail runner to try on a variety of shoes and get to know what brands and models work for them. They also need to ask themselves where they will be wearing their shoes. The tread on the soles of trail running shoes can be very different from shoe to shoe. Some have an aggressive tread that would make running on pavement awkward, while others can be used on both road and trail. In the city you’re generally running on mixed surfaces so an aggressive tread won’t work.  As for clothing, go as simple as possible. I may carry a few gel packs so I like shorts with a zip-up pocket. If you want to get into longer runs like our MEC Ambassador, ultra marathoner and trail runner Luis Villgrain, you’d probably want a running vest or hydration water pack. In the summer, I like to wear a top that’s light and breathable like the MEC T1 ShortSleeved Crew and during colder seasons I’ll throw on a shell. The fabric on the MEC T1 breathes and is amazing at wicking away moisture from the body, a perfect combo.

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Tim also shared three useful tips for new trail runners to incorporate for safety and injury prevention; 1) Ensure you have the right footwear for the terrain you’re running and don’t hesitate to walk sections of the trail that are more technical 2) Pay attention to weather and be prepared because even yesterday’s weather can impact the trail today, so pay attention and 3) f you’re worried about running alone in more remote locations, ask a friend to join you. Otherwise pick times of the day when the trail is busy in case you run into any challenges.

IMG_2902Photography by Nathalia Allen www.amillionminds.ca

Where should trail enthusiasts head for the best runs? I have really been enjoying discovering some trails out east in Durham Region, typically Seaton Trails and Evergreen Brickworks area has provided some #BeenTrail run vibes as well. What’s Tim’s take on the best trails to hit up? “I really enjoy running the Lower Don River Trail starting from where Taylor Creek intersects with the Don River and ending at Flemingdon Park. The east Don Valley towards Flemington Park isn’t busy and is closer to a wild trail setting compared to a lot of the manicured paths you’ll find in the city. I also run the Beltline Trail that begins near Evergreen Brick Works. I’ll be taking a group of runners from MEC Outdoor Nation through this trail on Saturday and look forward to seeing all the work that’s been done on the trail this year, it’s looking great.”

SoSasha x MEC Trail Running Giveaway

MEC Trail Running Giveaway

Whether it’s your first trail run or you’re a trail running veteran, your experience is all the more better with dialled-in equipment. On my runs I like to wear clothes that look great but are also functional. Apparel with light, breathable fabric that also wicks away sweat from the skin, is key to staying dry on long runs. I love MEC’s Vitality Sleeves Tank and Agility 2 Shorts. The top is ultra light with flat seams for maximum comfortability with the ability to add a layer if you need and the shorts has storage – a back zippered pocket, plus two small drop-in pockets at the waist. Morning runs wouldn’t be complete without a supportive bra and long sleeve base layer that you can throw on to keep you warm. MEC’s Mission Possible Long Sleeve is brilliant. It has clever thumb holes to ensure your sleeves don’t ride up, reflective piping on the front and back for visibility and pockets located on the left bicep to hold keys and other personal items. Last but not least and probably the most important is trail shoes. The Nike Zoom Wildhorse GTX Trail Runners have a seam sealed GORE-TEX upper to keep water out but has a synthetic mesh that still allows your feet to breathe, reflective elements making them visible in low light, and specially designed rugged outer soles with Nike’s signature waffle tread for traction on varying surfaces.

Thanks to the amazing team at MEC, I am giving away this entire look to one lucky follower. Entering is simple. You must be following both me and MEC on Twitter and tweet the following, “@SashaExeter I want to take my trail running to the next level with @MEC! #SoSashaxMEC” for a chance to win. For an extra entry, you can leave a comment on this running lay down on my Instagram sharing your favourite trail to run. Contest begins Monday June 29th and ends Wednesday July 1st at midnight EST. The winner will be announced on Thursday at noon via Twitter. *Contest is open to Canadian residents only. Good luck!

MEC Outdoor Nation

On June 27th and 28th, MEC Outdoor Nation takes over Toronto. turning Evergreen Bricks into the coolest overnight adult campout where camp goers get to take in live music, outdoor activities, trail runs and campfires. The weekend’s festivities will all be about celebrating a shared love for being outside, while dreaming up projects that can help other young people experience the outdoors in brand new ways. MEC, Canada’s fave outdoor collaborator is making this all happen with Outdoor Nation, which is fully funded through their commitment 1% for the planet. What can you expect? Paddle boarding, live music, yoga, hands on workshops, and awesome speakers, its a weekend outdoor lovers won’t want to miss. For more information on MEC’s Outdoor Nation in Toronto click here. Stay up to date on MEC Outdoor Nation updates by following them on Twitter and Instagram.

Posted on by Sasha in CONTESTS, FITNESS, HEALTH & WELLNESS Leave a comment

Summer Ready Feet with Dr. Scholl’s Express Pedi Foot Smoother

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Medi Express

It should really come as no surprise that keeping my feet callus and blister free has been a challenge. The years of playing tennis, wearing heels and running have finally caught up to me. Plus, the older I get, I’ve noticed the tougher my skin has gotten, making it difficult to keep the bottom of my feet and heels soft.

A year ago I made a conscious decision to be more proactive about my foot care. I mean, these are the only feet I will ever have so the fact that I’m just getting it together in that department is tragic.  I had committed to monthly pedicures at one of Toronto’s most prestigious  spas once a month with a polish change in between when necessary. This worked well in the beginning, however as I increased my running mileage and began training for races, I found the results less effective. Two days after the Nike Women’s 15k race, Dr Scholl’s Micro Pedi Foot Smoother miraculously showed up at my door and the timing couldn’t have been better. My feet were looking rough. I was a skeptic at first, refusing to believe that a small, hand-held device would yield the results I would get at a nail salon. However, after some quick Google research, I discovered that cutting calluses actually causes skin to grow back thicker and faster (gasp!). The Pedi Express seamlessly remedies flakey skin and calluses painlessly by smoothing them away with it’s genius micro grain roller.

Medi Express

When I read the contents of the press release that accompanied the box and saw pedicure tips from Toronto’s reigning nail aficionado and owner of Tips Nail Bar Leanne Colley, I became confident that this had to be the real deal. Her advice for best results, which I clearly took as gospel:

  • For deep cracks in your heels, use Express Pedi for a few minutes each day. Once most of the dryness is gone, use 2-3 times a week to maintain smooth skin.
  • Applying a little bit of pressure when using Express Pedi will make for the softest skin and increase battery life.
  • Before applying polish to your nails, clean off residue using a lint-free pad and acetone to avoid pesky fibres cotton balls tend to leave behind. Don’t forget to apply a base coat and paint away!

Express PediPhotography by Nathalia Allen – amillionminds.ca

Here’s the skinny: I have used the Express Pedi every single day for almost a week and I am already seeing a dramatic difference to the skin on my heels, balls of my feet and the outer corners of my big toe, where majority of the hardened skin has developed. It’s definitely not time to scale back to two times a week yet, but I will be tracking my improvement until the end of the month. The July issue of InStyle Magazine has a few useful tips on how to make a pedicure last which I also plan to implement into my “at-home foot care” routine. The Express Medi’s compact size will make it super easy for me to bring along when I travel and the fact that it came equipped with batteries is definitely a bonus. Dr Scholl’s Express Pedi Foot Smoother ranges between $40-45 CDN and is now available at Loblaws, Walmart, Rexall, London Drugs and Home Hardware store locations nationwide. For more information on the world’s leading foot care brand and it’s products head to DrScholls.ca

Posted on by Sasha in BEAUTY Leave a comment

Sea to Sky 2015 Chevrolet Colorado Experience

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Chevrolet-Colorado-Squamish2015-15

When I started SoSasha.com, I had absolutely no idea where it would take me. My job has given me the opportunity to embark on amazing journeys but this month’s Sea to Sky Chevrolet Colorado adventure was one of the most extraordinary experiences that I will never forget. If someone told me a year ago I would be hiking over 600 meters of The Stawamus Chief; the world’s second tallest freestanding granite monolith, paddle boarding on the tranquil waters of Brohm Lake, mountain biking down a mind blowing single-track in the mountains and driving a pick-up truck in Squamish, I would have never believed it. Never to say no to a challenge, I quickly accepted an invitation to head to Squamish, British Columbia, dubbed the “Outdoor Recreation Capital of Canada” to get out of my automotive comfort zone and push my physical boundaries.

Sea to Sky Chevy ColoradoSea to Sky Summit bridge

A  runner and wanna-be cyclist I may be, but a hiker and mountain biker I am most certainly not. Our very first excursion was to take on intermediate mountain biking with the team from Sea to Sky Adventure Company. Squamish is well known for their bike trails all over the world. Not your average recreational ride, we were treated to a hairy raising, technical route that featured leg-searing climbs, steep defends complete with narrow bridges, rocks, roots and spectacular views.

Sea to Sky Chevrolet Colorado

Sea to Sky Chevrolet Colorado

Sea to Sky Chevrolet Colorado

Sea to Sky Chevy Colorado

Sea to Sky Chevorlet Colorado

For someone who is relatively fit and not afraid of heights, a hike seems reasonable enough, however a three hour hike up the steep elevating grain of the Chief to it’s first peak was enough to prove that I was not as physically fit as I thought. We battled it out gingerly climbing up slick rock surfaces and some inclines were so steep that we were forced to use iron ladders and rope to assist in our ascend. Similar to running a race, the final 20 minutes of the trek were the hardest but we were promised by our amazing guide Aaron that the views would be all worth it in the end. And sure enough, he was right. It was alarmingly breathtaking. We were unable to find words for the first few moments at the top. The irony in this excursion, we had thought the climb up was tough, but it was in fact far more challenging heading back down to terre firma.

Shannon FallsPicturesque Shannon Falls – the first scenic top on route to the top of the Stawamus Chief

Sea to Sky Chevrolet Colorado

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From the mountains high up in the sky, we brought it back down to ground level and hit up beautiful Brohm Lake for SUP. An acronym I was unfamiliar with until this trip, SUP stands for “Stand Up Paddle Boarding” and in case you’re wondering, is almost as challenging as regular surfing. It’s an amazing full body workout that also requires exceptional balance. We glided along these calm waters for what seemed like hours. Secluded from the entire world, it was the most at peace I had been for as long as I could remember. Plus our amazing guide Alistair from our bike tour rejoined us for the last stop on our whirlwind outdoor adventure.

Sea to Sky Chevorlet Colorado

This trip could have only been made possible with one vehicle and that’s the all-new 2015 Chevrolet Colorado. This mid-size pick up took my photographer Nathalia and I through the city streets of Vancouver, a winding 1.5 hour scenic drive up the Sea to Sky highway and seamlessly to each location for our “choose your own adventure” activation. After spending some considerable time in the Colorado, I discovered there are a few things I can no longer live without; 1) turn by turn navigation and 2) 4G LTE high speed wifi connectivity – both powered by On-Star. These sweet little luxuries, which will soon become necessities, had a powerful enough connection through the mountains for all our devices. We were able to stream our fave playlists on Soundcloud, surf the web, check email, edit images and post real time video content on snapchat. With the Colorado’s roomy interior cabin (providing 3 inches more rear leg room over’s it competition) and lower profile, by the time we arrived in Squamish we had completely forgot we were driving in a truck and not a sedan.

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So here’s the skinny, the Colorado took on city driving like a champ but the real question is, could it handle all the demands of our intense outdoor  itinerary? The truck’s innovative GearOn™ storage system is what set’s this mid-size pickup apart from the rest. It features two-tier loading with reconfigurable cross rails and a unique bed divider that helped organize and secure all of our belongings underneath the Thule system, which also made it surprisingly simple to store our bikes and SUP boards. I am far more open to trying to new activities than experimenting with different vehicle types. I like what I like and I know what I know, but after this trip, my preconceived notions about driving a pickup truck have vanished for good. Apparently I am not the only one, the Chevy Colorado’s largest target market of buyers are currently women!

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Sea to Sky Chevrolet Colorado

Chevrolet-Colorado-Squamish2015-01Photography by Nathalia Allen and General Motors Canada

Thank you General Motors team and Chevrolet brand for this experience of a lifetime and also Adventure Drive/Odyssey International, Sea to Sky Gondola, Sea to Sky Adventure Company and our amazing tour guides. Click here for more information on pricing, accessory + GearOn™ options and tech specs for the 2015 Chevrolet Colorado. To view additional photos of this spectacular trip, search the hashtag #ChevyColorado on Twitter and Instagram.

Posted on by Sasha in AUTOMOTIVE, FITNESS, LIFESTYLE Leave a comment

Nike Women Toronto 15K Race Weekend Activities

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Nike Women 15k

Ladies, we’re officially in the home stretch with less than two weeks before the Nike Women Race Series hits Toronto for the very first time. From Thursday June 11th to Sunday June 14th, you can pretty much expect a total Swoosh takeover in the city, with a line-up of activities that will not only inspire you but celebrate women in sport.

Nike Women 15kPhotography by Jess Baumung and Nathalia Allen (respectively)

Toronto’s Harbourfront Centre will be the home of the Nike Women Village and will offer different Nike+ services for runners, a retail space where you can preview and shop the upcoming Fall running collection before the rest of the world, special guest appearances from athletes and coaches, plus 33 NTC workouts lead by the amazing Eva Redpath and other Nike Master Trainers in the Crystal Coliseum – a 30,000 sqft custom built studio situated on a floating barge on Lake Ontario – like NBD right!

TO15_Expo_Map-ZoomIn

Registration will be open to the public for all race day programming on June 6th. You can find more details on Nike.com/Toronto and the Nike+ City Pass (available for download for iPhone, Blackberry and Android) which will be your race weekend concierge on the go giving you access to all the amazing programming, registration for classes ad navigating your way around the Nike women Village, otherwise known as Mecca. See you at the finish line!

Posted on by Sasha in EVENTS, FITNESS Leave a comment

West Coastin’ in Canada Goose’s HyBridge Lite Jacket

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Canada Goose HyBridge Lite Jacket

Although insanely beautiful, Vancouver is one of the trickiest destinations to pack for when traveling to it. Being a west coastal seaport city that’s close to the pacific ocean and mountains means that you can easily go through three climate changes in one day, especially if you’re into outdoor living and adventures.

Canada Goose HyBridge Jacket

Canada Goose HyBridge Lite Jacket_4

I recently went back to rediscover the city I briefly called home once upon a time and my Canada Goose HyBridge Lite jacket quickly became my favourite accessory on the trip. From scouting photo shoot locations, hiking Grouse Mountain, bike rides in Stanley Park, to long walks on the city’s Seawall, the HyBridge helped me tackle every activity that each came with a different weather element. When I no longer had use for my jacket when the day’s temperature was at it’s highest, the HyBridge brilliantly folds itself into the exterior left hand pocket, making it easy to store in a handbag or backpack.

Canada Goose HyBridge Lite JacketPhotography by Nathalia Allen Amillionminds.ca – Jacket c/o Canada Goose

Nobody can design outerwear for our Canadian landscape quite like Canada Goose. This jacket was carefully constructed for conditions that demand high performance, while still providing the necessary protection from the elements. Taking design cues from the original HyBridge, the Lite version is lighter and more fitted, allowing for a more flattering silhouette. With flexible fabric along the sides and weighing virtually nothing (less than half a pound), it’s the ideal piece for layering, active adventures and for fast packing. Not to mention, awarded “Editors Choice for Best Back Country Jacket” by Outside Magazine.

Click here for more information on the Canada Goose HyBridge Lite jacket. To view the entire women’s collection, head to Canada-Goose.com or follow the brand for style and adventure inspiration on Instagram and Twitter.

Posted on by Sasha in FASHION, LIFESTYLE, TRAVEL, WHAT I'M WEARING Leave a comment

Upgrade Your Workout In 20 Minutes With Equinox’s MetconBlitz Workout

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Equinox MetconBlitz

For many people, having a crazy busy schedule is often times the reason that they are not getting in regular workouts. The misconception is that you need an hour or two each workout to reap the benefits of exercise. This could not be further from the truth. Through my partnership with Equinox here in Toronto, I have done workouts with their highly trained staff in sessions ranging from anywhere between 30 minutes and 1.5 hours and believe it or not, I have worked just as hard, or sometimes harder in a shorter session than I have in a longer one.

In my personal opinion, the best kind of workout is the one that’s quick, engages your whole body, requires little to no equipment and makes you use your own body weight.  I often times see people in the gym spending hours lifting the heaviest weights but yet they cannot sustain their own body weight when challenged to do chin-ups, push-ups nor have any cardiovascular endurance. Equinox Toronto instructor Julian Ho, teaches eight signature Equinox classes at both Toronto locations which include some of my favourites; METCON3, Shockwave and 3SUM and is also an avid athlete who rock climbs and competes in ultra marathons. This guy gets it. He’s super busy and understands the need to obtain the best results from a workout when you’re strapped for time.

Julian Ho

Ho designed a 20 minute MetconBlitz workout that can be done anywhere and can be modified for different fitness levels allowing you to not only sculpt but also get the benefits of a conditioning session. I had a fun challenge putting myself through the workout outdoors this week. It’s effective because you speed up your strengthening with giant sets, meaning three or more exercises that target the same body part performed in a row. “giant sets can magnify the intensity by increasing the duration your muscles spend under high tension,” says Ho. “That quickens the onset of muscle failure, so you get more results in less time. The tempo varies, which forces your metabolic system to keep adapting without burning out.” claims Julian.

Perform each exercise for 1 minute in this specific order without resting in between. If you’re looking for the modified version…simply do each move for 45 seconds and recover for 15 seconds between each exercise. According to Ho, for best results, do this routine two to four times a week.

MetconBlitz Moves

1. Prisoner Squat/Rear Lunge Combo: Stand with feet slightly wider than your shoulders and place your hands behind your head; squat. Rise up, take a big step back with right foot, and lunge. Step forward to starting position and squat again. Rise up and then lunge back with left leg. Return to starting position and repeat. Continue at a medium tempo, alternating legs with each lunge.

2. Power Lunge (shown below): Stand with feet a stride’s length apart, left in front of right, and bend knees into a lunge. Jump as you switch legs, landing in a lunge with right foot forward and left foot back. Continue as fast as possible, switching legs each time you jump.

Equinox MetconBlitz

Equinox MetconBlitz

Equinox MetconBlitz

3. Deep Olympic Squat: Stand with feet slightly wider than shoulders and raise arms overhead (as if you were holding a bar). Take 5 seconds to lower into a deep squat, then rise up and repeat.

4. Renegade Arm Extension (shown below): Get in a plank position with hands under shoulders. Raise right arm to shoulder height in front of you with palm facing left. Lower right hand to starting position and repeat with left arm. Continue at a medium tempo, alternating arms. For more of a challenge, lift the alternating leg with arm simultaneously.

Equinox MetconBlitz

5. Clapping Push-Up (shown below): Get in plank position (lower knees to the floor if necessary). Bend elbows, lowering chest toward floor; push up explosively and clap your hands together before returning to starting position. Repeat as fast as possible.

Equinox MetconBlitz

6. Negative Push-Up: Get in plank postiion (lower knees to floor if necessary). slowly bend elbows, taking 5 seconds to bring your chest toward the floor. Push up to starting position and repeat.

7. Lateral Skater (shown below): Stand with feet together, then jump to the left, landing on left foot as you tap right foot on the floor slightly behind you. Push off left foot as you jump to the right. Continue at a medium pace bouncing from side to side in a skating motion.

Equinox MetconBlitz

8. High Knees and Hot Feet: Stand with your feet hip-width apart and arms extended at sides. Hop up as you drive right knee toward your chest and bend left elbow (as if you were running). Immediately repeat on opposite side, raising left knee as you bend right elbow and extend left arm. Continue at a fast pace, alternating sides, for 30 seconds. Then stand with feet shoulder-width apart, bend knees and elbows, and quickly run in place (in a semi-squat position). Continue at a fast pace for 30 seconds.

9. Mount Everest Climber (shown below): Get in a plank position with hands under shoulders. Jump right foot forward, brining right knee toward your chest. Switch positions, extending right leg behind you as you bend left knee and bring left foot forward. Continue, alternating legs.

Equinox MetconBlitzPhotography by Nathalia Allen (amillionminds.ca) and all apparel courtesy of Nike Canada

10. The Mission Impossible (X Plank and Skydiver): Get in plank position with your feet wide apart, then walk your hands out to the sides and slightly forward so your body forms an X. Hold on for 10 seconds. Next, lie face down with arms extended over your head, palms facing the floor, and legs extended behind you. Raise your arms and legs as high as you can, then bring your arms out to your sides and behind you as you turn your palms toward the ceiling. Return to the starting position and repeat, keeping your arms and legs raised the entire time. Continue for 10 seconds. Repeat the sequence (X plank for 10 seconds and skydiver for 10 seconds) twice more.

For more information on Equinox, locations, class descriptions/schedules and how to join the best gym in the world head to Equinox.com.

Posted on by Sasha in FITNESS Leave a comment

My Juicing Guide For Runners With Cedar Juice

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Juicing For Runners with Cedar Juice

There are so many opinions these days on the topic of juicing but I will always stand behind it because of all the benefits I’ve enjoyed while doing it over the last few years. It is the perfect way to detox and reset your body while bringing your digestive system back into balance. Each quarter I do a 3-5 day juice cleanse, that is inline with the change of the seasons and throughout this period, I usually defer from physical activity with the exception of perhaps restorative yoga and deep stretching sessions. In preparation for the Nike Women’s 15k race in June, I have been doing some research on juice cleansing and fresh pressed juices for runners, to see if there is any major benefits or areas of concern for those who are training for a race. While juicing has amazing benefits and is a great way to reset your system, runners need to choose a program that can be safely executed during their training. There seems to be only a few studies that have looked at the effects of cleanses on athletes and much of this research comes from studying Muslim athletes during Ramadan…when they are expected to fast from sunrise to sundown. These findings suggest that runners can train safely during this time, but may need to reduce the length and intensity of workouts.

Cedar-Juice

I recently tested this out a few weeks ago with the assistance of Cedar Juice. I have happily cleansed with the brand before and has been the most enjoyable and effective program I have used to date. You can check out my previous juicing experience with them here). I was in the midst of a fibromyalgia flareup at the beginning of the month and desperately needed to remove inflammatory foods from my diet and clean my system. However, I was a bit anxious to be honest as I was not awarded the luxury of not running during the cleanse due to my training program for the 15k. I discovered a three day juice cleanse doesn’t really interrupt training (especially if you do it over a weekend and take advantage of Sunday being a rest day) because it’s so short. These cleanses encourage a higher intake of nutrients from fruits and veggies, which can boost the immune system and have an overall positive effect on both the mind and the body. If done properly, meaning intaking an adequate amount of water to help flush out the excess of toxins faster, you should actually experience a boost of energy by the end of day two. I started my three day cleanse on a Saturday consuming only hot water and lemon followed by Cedar’s “Kale Me Good” juice an hour and a half before my long run. I played it safe that morning, listened to my body and significantly reduced by long run down to 9 km.  On the Sunday I rested the entire day and made sure to significantly increase my water and green tea intake.  On the Monday, I had a raw salad filled with good fats like avocados and did a light 6km run in the evening. I really felt that I needed that one meal that day to give me the energy for my team run.

Cedar Juice

If you’re interested in trying out a juice cleanse this season and still would like to run or train, I highly suggest you first consult with a physician or nutritionist plus consider adding one raw meal a day to your plan. Especially on the days you plan to exercise. You do not need to to avoid hitting the pavement, but you do need to listen to your body and perhaps run fewer km’s during this time. If you’re in the midst of training for a specific race and are within a month of race day, I would not recommend a “juice only” cleanse as it tends to slow down your times, you can try incorporating 1-2 raw meals a day to supplement the juicing program. However adding fresh pressed juices to your regular diet while training for a race can also be extremely beneficial. Many runners swear by “beet doping” in other words consuming beet based juices before race day or long runs. A series of small but mostly well designed studies have associated beet juice consumption with improved exercise performance because it allows your muscles to perform the same amount of work while using less oxygen – somehow making your body’s energy production more efficient. Cedar Juice’s “Skip To The Beet” concoction also contains carrot, apple, lemon and ginger to give this juice a bit of a kick. When I am not juice cleansing, I still love this blend before my Saturday long runs. Kale based juice is also considered to be an excellent addition for a runner. Kale is one of the most detoxifying foods on the planet. It also helps fight inflammation due to it’s high content of omega-3 fatty acids, which can be a huge benefit while training and for those who suffer from chronic pain issues like myself, rheumatoid arthritis or other autoimmune disorders. More importantly, constant pounding while running apparently affects your body’s red blood cells, according to Nutritionist Joy McCarthy of Joyous Health. Kale based juice is high in iron. Without iron, your body cannot produce red blood cells and these are responsible for transporting food you eat but also the oxygen you breathe. The last to round off my juice for runners trifecta is the brand’s refreshing “Pineapple Head” juice which contains pineapples, pear and mint. Pineapples, both in food and juice form, contain enzymes that help digest protein and also offer anti-inflammatory benefits. Rich in Bromelain (the natural digestive enzyme & natural anti-inflammatory agent), vitamin C, B vitamins and potassium, making it a perfect compliment to your existing training diet.

For more information on Cedar Juice’s cleanses and delivery options, head to CedarJuice.com. Interested in trying out a Cedar Juice cleanse or implementing some of the juices into your existing diet during your training? I have teamed up with Canada’s “Best Cold Pressed Juice” company to offer my readers a 15% discount at the time of purchase by using the code “SoSashaSpring”. Make sure to follow Cedar Juice on Twitter and Instagram to stay up to date on other special discounts, news and offers.

Posted on by Sasha in FITNESS, FOOD, HEALTH & WELLNESS Leave a comment

Beauty Review | Simple Skincare On The Go

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photo-73

I am officially into the swing of outdoor running season and the temperatures here in the city are finally starting to rise, which means a lot more sweating and clogged pores. Over the last couple months I have been busy with tons of photo shoots, fitness activations, run groups and such so it is extremely important for me to take good care of my skin to avoid unwanted breakouts. My skin is sensitive and prone to acne if I don’t keep my pores clean. I can admit that I have been guilty a few times of leaving makeup on prior to a run and paid the cost for the makeup and sweat seeping into my pores the next day.

I have gotten smart and armed myself with the right skincare arsenal that I now keep on hand in my bag when I am heading to the gym or to run club. These simple (no pun intended) things have helped not only keep unnecessary pimples and zits at bay but have also help to improve my skin. If you’re like me and are into all-natural products that still do the work of other cleansers/makeup removers, you will love Simple Skincare’s Cleansing Micellar Water. It contains the perfect blend of multi-vitamins and super gentle cleansers to help clean the skin while simultaneously removing makeup. With no parabens, artificial colours, scents, perfumes or chemicals that could be harsh on skin. Whether I have makeup on or not, I like to use Simple’s Cleaning Facial Wipes first to remove excess oil, dirt and makeup, then my go-to exfoliating face wash followed by the Micellar Water.

Cleansing Micellar Water

How To Use

  1. Apply a liberal amount of the Cleansing Micellar Water to a cotton ball or pad
  2. Gently rub the cotton ball/pad all over your face
  3. Softly wipe over closed eyes and make sure to not get any of the product in your eyes

There is no rinsing necessary which makes this the perfect cleansing product when you’re on the go. In addition to using these products topically on my skin, I also like to make sure that I am drinking plenty of water as well. In order to help me get my average daily intake, I like to infuse it  with either cucumbers or lemons. The latter is good as a detoxifier, which are also great for the skin. For more information on the Cleansing Micellar Water and to view the entire Simple Skincare product line, head to SimpleSkincare.ca

Posted on by Sasha in BEAUTY Leave a comment

So Sasha x Schwinn Summer Bike Experience

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Ride With Schwinn

After a long and torturous winter season I have decided that I am never going to take summer in Toronto for granted ever again. Now that I have running ingrained  into my life, I’ve been thinking that there is no better time than now to take on a new challenge. Just in time for Bike Month here in Canada, the team at Schwinn have given me an amazing opportunity to not only take advantage of my beautiful city’s best months, but also give me an alternative to stay in shape outdoors as their first Canadian Brand Ambassador.

Summer With Schwinn

There are several outdoors sports and activities to partake in, so you may be wondering why cycling interests me. After doing some research and chatting with some cyclists/bike enthusiasts, I had deducted the following; cycling is going to help increase my cardiovascular fitness, muscle strength and flexibility. This acts as great supplementary training for the Nike Women’s 15k race this June. Riding will no doubt build my quads, glutes and calves, but working the handle bars will also give my upper body a workout and further sculpt my arms. Last but not least, I can burn close to the same amount of calories cycling, while putting significantly less stress on my legs, ankles and spine. Armed with this newly acquired knowledge, choosing a bike for myself was actually quite easy. Looking for a new set of wheels for yourself? The brand does have a wide variety of bikes to choose from; ranging from road, mountain, hybrid, urban and cruiser bikes.  My team at Schwinn Canada partnered with Canadian Tire to provide me with the best bike for new road cyclists, the Volare 1300 Road Bike. Perfect for fitness riders such as myself or hard core city commuters, the Volare is the perfect bike option giving me maximum control and agility.

Summer With Schwinn

Summer With Schwinn

Last week I ventured to Canadian Tire’s Toronto flagship location at Leslie and Lakeshore Rd East to get the full run down on the Volare by the store’s in-house bike specialist. The retail giant’s enthusiastic and dedicated cycling specialists do an excellent job of providing bike suggestions based on your individual needs, in the event you find making a decision challenging.

Summer With Schwinn

Summer With Schwinn

Summer With SchwinnPhotography by Nathalia Allen of amillionminds.ca

I have some exciting adventures planned this summer with Schwinn starting this month to help celebrate #BikeMonth and will continue until the end of the summer. It’s going to be one crazy ride (no pun intended) and I hope to bring some of you along with me – so stay tuned! You can tag along on my journey via both Instagram and Twitter  and by following the hashtags #LetsRide #SoSashaxSchwinn. For more information on Schwinn and their portfolio of bikes head to SchwinnBikes.com

Posted on by Sasha in FITNESS Leave a comment

STAYCATION | “Running Is Shangri-La Toronto” Experience

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Running Is Shangri-La Experience

When it comes to luxury hotel accommodations in my home city of Toronto, the Shangri-La is on top of my list. Over the course of the last year, the property has been a place where my friends and I eat, play and stay. When I learned a few weeks back the hotel was going to be introducing a new wellness package for guests focused on running and yoga, I had to get a sneak peek. I wasn’t the only one who wanted in on the action either. My Nike Women #WeRunSF teammates, Justine Iaboni of Jetset Justine and Kenton Magazine and Karen Kwan of Health and Swellness, also were along for the ride so it served as a mini reunion. Last Monday I checked into the “Shang” (as we affectionately call it) for a three day, two night stay in their exquisite Garden Room suite.

Running Is Shangri-La Experience

Running Is Shangri-La Experience

Running Is Shangri-La Experience

Unlike the rest of the of the other suites in the hotel, this 820sqft luxury living quarters comes with beautiful wood chevron floors, 2 full washrooms lineD with cararra marble, a dramatic canopy bed, luxurious Aqua di Parma amenities (only found in the Garden and Owner’s Suites), and 200 square feet of outdoor terrace space. For even the most well heeled travellers, the Garden Suite definitely ticks all of the boxes.

Running Is Shangri-La Experience

Running Is Shangri-La Experience

Running Is Shangri-La Experience

What I Wore: Inspire Tight II Full-On Luxtreme Running Tights // Swiftly Tech Racerback Tank // Ultimate Padded Run Sock // Adidas Boost Running Shoes (Running apparel c/o of Lululemon and Shoes c/o Black Toe Running)

Before creating SoSasha.com, my previous career working in the corporate world resulted in an obscene amount of travel – sometimes hitting as many as three different time zones each week. One thing I noticed during this time was 1) hotels usually did not provide an inspiring atmosphere to make anyone want to workout. The gyms are usually the size of their smallest guest room, dark and contain very minimal equipment 2) staff very rarely are educated to provide recommendations to guests for outdoor workouts and 3) there are seldom any healthy food choices. In essence, if you spend most of your life on the road and in hotels, it can be challenging to keep up with a healthy lifestyle. Until now that is! The Shangri-La Toronto’s new “Running is Shangri-La” package has set the bar for wellness stays in the hospitality industry. As of May 1st, 2015 guests at the Shangri-La can enjoy this new option that provides scenic running routes personally tested and amended by Ben Kaplan, Editor-In-Chief of iRun magazine, running columnist for the National Post and author of Feet, Don’t Fail Me Now. Not only is the release of endorphins great for business travellers, the carefully curated routes for beginner, novice and advanced runners is also the perfect way for out of town guests to see and learn the city. Our staycation crew joined the Shangri-La team, Ben Kaplan and Black Toe Running for an early morning 3K trot, which took us through the historic St. Lawrence Market, the financial district with impressive views of the city’s icon – the CN Tower. Looking for a bit more of a sweat? Other routes and distances look like the following:

  • University Avenue up to the Queen’s Park loop, Ontario’s Provincial Legislature buildings and the UofT campus – 4k
  • Trinity Bellwoods Park and Queen West which was ranked one of the coolest neighbourhoods in the world by Vogue in September 2014 – 5k
  • The Toronto waterfront with an uninterrupted run along Lake Ontario – up to 20k

 

Running Is Shangri-La Experience

The wellness options don’t just stop there. Have you ever wanted to get in a workout or a stretch in hotel gym super early or late at night and feared being alone for safety reasons? As a female traveler I have definitely had those concerns before. The Shangri-La Group of hotels has brilliantly teamed up with sport apparel and lifestyle brand Lululemon to create an in-room guided yoga video so guests can enjoy a calming flow within the privacy of their own room. I tested out said video and used it as a light stretch before our group run. The 20 minute instructional video is led by Lululemon Yoga Ambassador and Toronto native Amber Joilat and can be accessed in any of the Shangri-La Hotel Toronto’s 202 guest room TV’s and iPads. For added convenience, each guest room comes with a Lululemon branded yoga mat. The hotel’s fitness facility is also still a great place for a sweat session. It my personal opinion, it closely rivals any of the top gyms in the world and offers spin, yoga and kettle bell classes. If that’s not enough, there is also an infrared sauna and stunning pool that was named one of the world’s most beautiful pools by Conde Nast Traveler in 2013. The sun drenched pool deck was the perfect spot for me to take my new Lululemon bikini for a spin (or shall I say lap). I have fallen totally in love with the brand’s surf inspired and reversible collection – below I’m wearing the brand’s  Surf to Sand Tie Top and Surf to Sand Bikini Bottom.

Running Is Shangri-La Experience

Running Is Shangri-La Experience

Running Is Shangri-La Experience

Shangri La Garden Suite Room Service Sasha Exeter 03

Running Is Shangri-La Experience

Shangri La Garden Suite Room Service Sasha Exeter 02

My visit was very active and action packed so I made sure I stayed nourished by noshing on the hotel’s ample wellness options that are available both at Bosk, the signature restaurant, and in-room dining service. Both have a healthy lifestyle section. If you followed along on my staycation journey on snapchat, you would have seen me conveniently ordering our lunch on an iPad which we enjoyed on my private garden terrace. And no wellness package would be complete without some relaxation and recovery. The Miraj Hammam Spa by Caudalie is definitely a treat. As part of this amazing package, guests will rejuvenate with the spa’s signature Hammam and Gommage treatment (you can take a look at my review here), which is the ultimate detoxification treatment. Thanks to the awesome Caudalie team, I was also received the Crushed Cabernet treatment – the most popular scrub from the Vinotherapie Spa and was recommended as an ideal “starter” before indulging in other treatments. Over the course of 45 minutes, I was scrubbed down with a concoction of grape-seed, honey, brown sugar and essential oils of the Contouring Concentrate. After a rinse and steam in my treatment room’s private shower, I was lathered head to toe in the nourishing body lotion combined with Caudalie’s Contouring Concentrate that left my skin so ridiculously smooth and hydrated, I still felt the affects days after.

Running Is Shangri-La ExperiencePhotography by Nathalia Allen – amillionminds.ca, Alexander Liang of Kenton Magazine & my Instagram account

Needless to say, it was very difficult when it was time to check out of the Shangri-La and go back to real life. I will miss soaking in the oversized tub post runs, the overly accommodating staff, delectable food and fabulous amenities, but I departed with a distinct feeling that I will be back to repeat this experience again in the near future. Special thank you to the Shangri-La Toronto, the Miraj Hamman Spa by Caudalie, Lululemon and Black Toe Running. Rates for this package begin at $535 CDN per night (*rate does not include the Garden Suite). Click here for more details on the “Running Is Shangri-La” package. For information on on the Shangri-La Group and their properties, head to Shangri-La.com.

Posted on by Sasha in FITNESS, LIFESTYLE, TRAVEL Leave a comment
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