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Custom Mommy + Me Bathers

Summer is in full swing now so with plenty of pool days, long weekends and summer travel ahead, I thought I would finally share the scoop on the custom swimwear Maxie and I had designed a few months back. I’ve been seeing a ton of sponsored posts on IG promoting matchy matchy suits and we could have easily ordered some cookie cutter pieces online, but y’all know how much I love supporting local small businesses. We turned to Toronto based brand Unika Swim to customize the perfect one and two pieces for us and you can too using my promo code “Sasha20” which will get you 20% off  your order.

Mommy + Me Matching Swimwear

Unika prides themselves on making inclusive swimwear for all shapes and sizes, so technically you could pop into their Yorkville showroom to purchase or order online, but the custom swimwear is a fit that is specifically made just for your body with options to create the one-piece, two-piece or tankini of your dreams. This is perfect for the ladies who have itty bitty boobies or for those who are on the larger cup size who usually find it extremely difficult to find the suits they love in their size. Unika’s bra sizes range from AAA to a J cup which is unheard of and with 200+ styles to choose from, there’s no way you aren’t going to find something that you’re going to feel confident and amazing in.

HOW IT WORKS

I went through Unika Swim’s booking system to schedule our initial appointment which you can find here. The both of us had our measurements taken and trust me, it was effing hilarious watching Maxwell get hers done and seeing her try on a few of the baby styles to get an idea of how they fit her.

I knew for sure we needed a two piece and with my athletic build, I wanted something both sporty and sexy. Frankly, Maxie honestly looks cute in everything so her needs clearly did not come first here LOL! I ended up choosing a top similar to the Marza cut in yellow and the Unika girls convinced me to ditch low rise bottoms for the more sexier high cut based off the design for the Zafina bottoms.

Mommy + Me Swimwear

But here’s the best part, I felt the back was a bit too revealing so we were able to customize the design to give me a bit more coverage. For Maxie’s bottoms because she’s still wearing a swim diaper we decided that high cut waist with full coverage in the bum worked best. We added a ruffled frill on either side and it came out adorbs. We also got on high cut one-pieces too in the sickest orange colour that works so well on both of our skin tones. They were the perfect punch of colour on our last getaway to Miami Beach.

PRICING

This is the question I have been asked the most in DM’s. The pricing actually is quite fair.

OFF THE RACK: All pieces are sold separately and are interchangeable (BONUS). Tops and bottoms range from $80+

CUSTOM: Average custom suit is around $190+ depending on the fabric, style and cut you choose. Custom pieces start at $106 a piece and the average suit is anywhere from $220-250

REPLICATING A SUIT:  To replicate any of the Unika original designs to your exact measurements with some modifications (if necessary) here’s what the pricing looks like:

One piece $80.00
Bikini bottoms $40.00
Bikini top $40.00
Tankini suit $95.00

MOMMY + ME MATCHING SUITS (SPECIFIC DETAILS FOR INFANT/TODDLER SIZING)

You can customize kiddie suits for both girls and boys under the age of 10. Simply email the amazing team at info@unikaswim.ca to get started and they will make the process seamless. The current sizes for kids range from 3 months to 10 years and the available pieces to choose from are boys trunks, rash guards, two piece, tankinis, and one piece suits.
Photos by Bettina Bogar

TURNAROUND TIME

You can find more details on the turnaround time on UnikaSwim.ca but generally it takes about 10-12 days. I last minute with just about everything I do and waited until almost the 11th hour to get these made for our trip. The team was able to rush our order and can do it upon request at an extra charge.
PROMO CODE IS AVAILABLE FOR ALL REGULARLY PRICED SUITS FOR THE REST OF THE YEAR. MAKE SURE TO CITE “SASHA20” IN STORE AND ONLINE AT TIME OF PURCHASE.

My Look For The 2019 Canadian Arts and Fashion Awards

It’s been exactly a week since Toronto gathered to celebrate the creme de la creme of Canadian fashion at the 2019 CAFA’s and I am still not over this dress yet. I don’t think I will ever be!  This is one of the rare nights out of the entire year where everyone puts a little extra “sumthin” into their look and does their damn best to wear and support the amazing fashion talent coming out of this country.

2019 Canadian Arts and Fashion Awards - Sasha Exeter

2019 Canadian Arts and Fashion Awards - Sasha Exeter
With Canadian fashion designer and STITCHED contestant Christopher Paunil

Lots of commentary on Instagram stories about what I should wear when I posted stories from Christopher Paunil’s designer, the Toronto based design talent who created this beautiful fit and flare gown. If you’ve ever looked for a wedding dress from a Canadian designer you 100% have come across his work. If you’re fashion obsessed, his name isn’t new to you either or perhaps you may recognize him from STITCHED, the fashion focused competition show that aired last year on Slice. Christopher’s bread and butter if you will is bridal and he absolutely kills the game, but his evening wear is actually my fave. I’ve had a long time love affair with the designer and have worn him many times, but this dress just seemed extra special. Every single piece of clothing I have ever worn that he has designed, has fit like a glove and always makes the decision on what to wear so difficult. There were four looks in the running for CAFA this year and it all came down to the the sexy “Ezra” gold sateen jumpsuit and the stunning “Emmy” fit and flare gown in the end. Both are part of the designer’s current collection and the latter is available by order for $2,250.00.

2019 Canadian Arts and Fashion Awards - Sasha Exeter
left to right: Stylists Talia Brown-Thall, Liv Judd, and Zeina Esmail
2019 Canadian Arts and Fashion Awards - Sasha Exeter
With Nadia Pizzimenti and Talia Brown-Thall
2019 Canadian Arts and Fashion Awards - Sasha Exeter
a quick selfie taken at the Joe Fresh table before the awards commenced

So, this was the second time I shared my outfit options from a designer’s studio on my IG stories and you know what…I actually LOVE you guys weighing in and sharing your perspective on what you feel is the best choice. I am thinking this may need to now become a thing because this time around, it totally helped me make my final decision. Although, so many of you did rally behind the jumpsuit, but not to worry, I am actually going to buy it . To be honest, the houndstooth fabric just looked so stunning when I tried it on and the drama of the large bow and train at the back just took shit to the next level. Because of that, I wanted to keep my make-up relatively simple and opted for a subdued smokey eye and a punch of colour on my lips.

2019 Canadian Arts and Fashion Awards - Sasha Exeter

Photography by Chris Cheung and George Pimentel

I cannot take credit for the make-up. I don’t have the skill set to beat my own face like this. My beauty look was courtesy of the amazing team at Charlotte Tilbury. The goal was to create a flawless look, but one where my skin still looked real and not airbrushed like that IG make-up look that is becoming so popular. . My MUA that day, Sidonie, mixed a bit of the Hollywood Flawless Filter as a complexion booster in deep bronze with the Magic Foundation. Guys, Charlotte Tilbury has been slaying palettes lately. I have several eye palettes I die for, but I have yet to purchase any of the cheek palettes. We use Lovegasm on my face last week and it will for sure be my next Charlotte beauty purchase. Even the packaging of it is absolutely stunning.

For the lips, I ditched my original idea of going with Charlotte Tilbury’s “Stoned Rose“, a more neutral colour and decided to go big and bold with a beautiful orangey-red matte lippy called “Tell Laura”. I topped of the look with some custom lashes from Teka Neufville. They are the most beautiful and durable strip lashes I think I’ve ever worn. Super light on the lash line and can last up to 40 wears.

Special thank you to the amazing Christopher Paunil and Sidonie who is part of the amazing team at Charlotte Tilbury Holt Renfrew in Yorkville.

The Ultimate Sweat Getaway – The Carillon Miami Wellness Resort

For the last few years my goal has been to find a warm and sunny place to seek refuge during the winter months. The ultimate wellness vacation, if you will, where workouts, spa treatments and meditation are literally the only thing on the agenda. I finally found it guys and turns out, I didn’t have to look very far. Located in the north end of Miami in the family friendly hood of Surfside, The Carillion Miami Wellness Resort is legit the perfect spot for the fitness obsessed. Not a newbie to the Miami scene, the property actually was built back in the early 1950s, but went through a major rebrand, plus an expansion. The hotel now consists of three separate towers of accommodations, a huge state-of-the-art fitness facility with featuring Technogym cardio and strength training equipment, multiple movement studios, restaurants, a juice & coffee bar and 750 feet of private beachfront.

It’s a luxury to stay in accommodations that make you feel just as comfortable as you do at home. We had one of the two bedroom suites (that range from 920-1,140 sqft) with partial beach views to call home during our stay. It had a separate living room with a pull out sofa, a fully equipped kitchen and spacious bathrooms.

SHOP MY JOE FRESH NIGHTIE (NOW 20% OFF) ON JOEFRESH.COM/CA

It’s unique; world-class wellness center is what sets this hotel apart from the rest in Miami. There are 20+ fitness classes a day for guests to choose from that caters to all fitness levels. Several digital program boards can be found throughout the property that lists the daily class schedule. Classes generally start at 7am, usually with sunrise meditation, which is absolutely beautiful when you get to see if during a class from the Ocean Studio, and end daily around dinnertime. There’s a mix of everything from yoga, cycling, boxing, kettle bell training, Pilates, strength training, Tabata, Barre, dance classes, TRX, roll & release and even treadmill running classes. Seriously, the list just goes on and on.

It was the perfect time to put some of the new Joe Fresh activewear collection to test.  I have been living religiously in their essential strappy sports bra for months, but a brand new design has been released just in time for summer. It has a deep v neckline with a cute and subtle mesh detail. The best design detail however I feel honestly lives in the back of this bra. Multi straps criss cross around the shoulder blades down to the band. Not only cute, but also functional. With my breast size cup being anywhere between a B & C cup, it actually provides me with enough support to wear across all the activities that I do. I liked pairing the light purple colour of the strappy mesh sports bra with these the new purple printed cropped leggings. If you adore this print and love activewear sets instead of separates, the strappy mesh sports bra comes in this print as well.

I wanted so badly to give you guys an inside peek at the group classes but we had to respect the privacy of the other guests and residents – yup, there are people that live at The Carillon year round and I am JEALOUS of their year round access. I did two boxing classes during my stay and it was the real deal.

Took a few boxing classes with this no nonsense coach during my stay and it was the best workout I have had in ages.

I used muscles I didn’t even think I had and could barely raise my arms for the remainder of the trip, let alone pick up Maxie. The instructor was badass and it was far from a fluffy class. We mixed up bag work and worked individually with him and the hand pads. I learned SO much about proper technique and developed a great foundation to build off of.

SHOP MY JOE FRESH STRAPPY SPORTS BRA AND HIGH WAISTED LEGGINGS ON JOEFRESH.COM/CA

Guys, these are the best fitting leggings I’ve ever worn. I’ve worn so many different style of tights over the years from different brands, but this high waisted legging with reflective feature may forever be my favourite. Ok, yes they don’t have the beautiful patterns that some of the other Joe Fresh tights have that are seasonal and this is probably done on purpose. It’s a style that carries over from season to season and is a collection staple. I first got them in green and decided before the trip that I couldn’t leave without another pair, and bought these. What makes them so great? They are the most supportive leggings without being restrictive somehow. They are a perfect length for ladies with long legs like moi and the waist band is high and actually stays put through during any and all exercises, even squats, downward dogs and lunges.

Shop my Ultra Soft Crop Leggings on JoeFresh.com/CA. Tank out soon but currently available in other colours here.

My comfort level is in strength and functional training, so I also managed to get in some solo workouts outside of the group classes, but I wanted to take the opportunity while I was there to work on my weaknesses. Yoga and meditation. Yup folks, it was time to progress a bit from the hand holding of guided meditation and headstands to being able to sit alone with my thoughts for an extended period of time and transition finally to balancing solely on my forearms. IT IS SO DAMN TOUGH. I did manage to get up after a couple of attempts and held it for what felt like forever (in real time about 20 seconds) and I was on a high for the rest of the day. Chilling in the Ocean Studio at sunrise or alone on the beach at 6am set was the perfect way to stat the day and was the perfect spot for solo meditation. Watching the sunrise in Miami is just magical. Almost as good as the sunsets.

I posted one of my solo workouts on Instagram during my time at The Carillon Miami Wellness Resort in their epic gym and I think I got just as many comments about the tights as I did about the exercises. You can view the killer upper body workout that I shared here. The peach and purple pattern on these printed crop leggings reminds me of a painting. I’ve paired them with my plum stappy sports bra, but I started my workout with the new tank top that comes in a gorge orange sherbet colour, that I knotted in the middle. The best thing about these tanks, besides being a flattering razor back and moisture wicking, is that they are only $16, or 2 for $24. I swear by them and have them in every colour they come in.

Still needs some work and foot placement is off but finally transitioning from a regular headstand to this.

Well, if the fitness facility hasn’t won you over, then I think the food and the wellness programming is going to blow your mind. Full spa amenities, obvi, with massage, face, body and Ayurvedic experiences. And hello, the property also has a thermal experience, which is the heart of their spa offering.

It’s actually one of the country’s most expansive hydrotherapy circuits. Similar to Body Blitz here in Toronto, the thermal spa has a series of hot and cold areas to help warm, cleanse and relax guests prior to treatments or after workouts. I am not kidding you, it’s open all day…closes as late as 8pm and it’s complimentary for guests of the hotel. I had to ask a few times just to make sure I was hearing correctly.

The Carillon Miami Wellness Resort also has a nutritionist on staff that you can speak to during your stay with to help design a tailor meal plan just for you or a 28-day kick start weight loss program. They even have a Grocery Guru program where you can get educated on how to grocery shop intelligently and even medical nutrition therapy is offered. If you’re all sorted on the nutrition front, you will be happy to know that the property has so many healthy food options on it’s in-suite dining menu and lobby resto, The Strand Bar & Grill. The seasonal and ingredient driven menu highlight’s southern Florida’s organic community and has tons of options for guests who are calorie conscious. We loved the breakfast so much there. Our favourite thing on the menu post workout in the morning was the insane, mile high Avocado toast.

Most impressive – the wellness lectures that are also made available to guests free of charge. They occur almost every single day and are held midday in the hotel’s wine lounge. For guests who are anti-aging obsessed, there several therapies such as; Cryotherapy, Salt Float Zero Gravity Therapy, Infrared Sauna and other methods to reverse the aging process. These non-traditional spa services each can provide pain relief, detoxification, relaxation, anti-aging results and promotes healing. These non-traditional service offerings can be a la carte or can be paired with additional spa services to enhance results.

Scoop Maxie’s pink polka dotted swimsuit for only $14 here

Now the million dollar question that I know some of you fit mamas are wondering, “Is the resort family friendly?” – it 100% is. There were definitely families around and it was still surprisingly, very quiet. The property is quite spread out, so even though they were at capacity during our visit, you would have never known. There were tons of beach chairs available every single day (no additional surcharge to lounge under a shaded chair between workouts) and always room poolside to chill and eat lunch between taking dips.

Our suite had a huge bathtub. It was amazing to soak in at night after the workouts and it made it easy to give Maxie her baths. The food options for kiddies were beyond delicious. Adults traveling without a family could enjoy their stay without babies and kids milling about, as there are sections of the resort and pools that are adults only. For families with older children, the hotel has options for kids to join in on the fitness fun. I saw a little girl around the age of 5 taking daily private ballet classes. I mean, how luxury is that?! There are also group family fitness classes on the north tower lawn a couple days a week where everyone in the family can get in a sweat together. Maxie is still a bit too young for that, so my mom and I made her feel included and created our own mini workouts with her. I almost cannot handle how cute these matching outfits are. Maxie’s bodysuit is from the Joe Fresh toddler activewear collection.

The bond between my mother and child is just incredible. Also, love how my mother has embraced knotted her tanks. SHOP OUR LOOKS: Printed Active Legging // Toddler Active Bodysuit // Mesh Back Tank

I think one of the best things about Miami is that the gastro scene is on point and there are delicious and healthy food options just about anywhere you go. We rented an SUV while we were there and returning back to Sacred Space Miami to eat at Plant Miami was a non-negotiable. If you’re planning an upcoming visit to Miami, pay a visit to this lifestyle complex that houses a gallery, plant-based restaurant, a curated wellness and lifestyle store, workshops, and Flow yoga and meditation studio.

The Sacred Space Miami

The Sacred Space Miami

The Sacred Space Miami

The Sacred Space Miami

The Sacred Space Miami

SHOP MY LOOK: STRIPED BIKINI BRA // OVERLAP BEACH SHORT, STRAW PANAMA HAT

Have you ever com to the end of a trip looking forward to going home and getting back to your routine? That’s usually me, except this time, this experience was such a vibe, I could have easily stayed a full week. Maybe even a month LOL. With Miami being only a stone’s throw away, I doubt this will be my last visit to The Carillon Miami Wellness Resort. Having experienced it for a few days, I could create an elevated experience to fully optimize the program and amenities.

You can shop my favourite active pieces right now from my very own “Make Moves with Sasha Exeter” product page and find the rest of our looks online by heading to JoeFresh.com/ca and from now until December 31st, 2019, you can enjoy 25% off regular priced items when you use my promo code “Sasha25”. Click here for full promo details.

This post is sponsored by Joe Fresh and The Carillon Miami Wellness Resort, however all views and opinions are my own and not of the brands I have collaborated with.

A Night At The Opera(nation)

Well folks, I don’t normally post about events on my site but there was so much love for the dress I wore to last week’s Canadian Opera Company’s Operanation that I’ve decided to post some photos and details on my look here. As soon as I heard that this year’s Operanation party was going to have a whimsical fairytale theme, I’m not going to lie, I got pretty stoked. The concept of formal has seemed to have disappeared over the last few years, which makes me really sad. Somehow denim has made it’s way into events where the invitation clearly cites “formal” and I think it’s time we bring some glam back to the Toronto scene.

COC Operanation - Narces Yasmin Gown
Wearing the “Yasmin” by Narces. Shoes by Rene Caovilla from David’s Shoes. Shot by David A. Pike

In the past, I have been very predictable and safe with my evening wear options. Black, black anything form fitting, oh and did I say black? I promised myself this year I would wear more colour and so far…so good. I love supporting Canadian designers because we have so much amazing talent in this country. I got to wear a dream of a dress designed by the beautiful Nikki Yassemi, the creative mind behind Narces, a Toronto based womenswear line that specializes in bridal, evening and special occasion ready-to-wear.

COC Operanation - Narces Yasmin Gown

COC Operanation - Narces Yasmin Gown

The bestest friend a gal can have and the perfect fairy godmother to Maxwell. Talia Brown has really helped me evolve my personal style during our four year friendship. Talia is in Self Portrait from Fitzroy Boutique.

There were several options, making it nearly impossible to choose, but narrowed them down to about five with the help of my best friend and stylist, Talia Brown. She knows me and my body better than anyone in the world. Yes, even better than Réjean…so outfit decisions for big events are rarely made without her. I was also lucky enough to get instantaneous feedback from so many of you guys when I posted our front runners on IG stories. THANK YOU FOR THAT! It made my decision that much easier and it was also surprising to hear that you all loved the pink belted “Felixa” ball gown with pockets. That one was a no brainer for a fairytale theme, but after much deliberation and the coaxing of Nikki, we went with the Yasmin gown. You can find on her website Narces.com and is available as pre-order dress only. Her stance on it,

“Everyone can do a ball gown, but why don’t you put your own twist on the theme and make it a bit sexy? This is a sexy fairytale!”

And you know what, she was right. This piece of magic is made of the most beautiful colour tulle with a slit that hit at just the right place. The belt detail is intended to be worn at the front, but at the very last minute I decided to switch it up and wear the bow in the back to enhance the train.

Here are some of my favourite photo moments from the evening

COC 2019 Operanation
L to R: Andrew Lovesey, Me, Nikki Yassemi of Narces, Talia Brown-Thall, Nelson Thall
COC 2019 Operanation
The most entertaining plus one ever – Andrew Lovesey

Speaking of amazing dresses and evening soirées…I am in the midst of planning for next week’s CAFA Awards and the gown hunting has officially commenced. You can catch all the dress options and behind the scenes on my stories.

A very special thank you to the talented David Pike who captured the most stunning photos of Talia and I before the event and to Chris Cheung, who somehow was stealth enough to really cool candid moments in the rain, as we entered The Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts.

Receive 25% off All Joe Fresh Activewear and More This Year

Y’all asked. We’ve answered!

Seriously, you guys rock. There has been such an overwhelming response to my activewear campaign with Joe Fresh and the pieces itself, I am blown away. The support you all have given me and the brand has been next level and trust me when I saw it has not gone unnoticed. So to thank you, we’re giving you 25% off your online purchases when you use the code “Sasha25“.

This ain’t no one time offer either. This is good for the rest of 2019 and that is actually the best news because the rest of the collections dropping this year just get better and better. Here’s a look at some of my favourite looks from the first summer collection…part two will hit stores and online in June.

Ohhhhh and guess what, I have my own little section on www.joefresh.com/ca that houses all my favourite pieces from the active collection each season. So much easier to quickly find the pieces you see me wearing in the gym.

  • From the homepage, hover over the “Active” tab
  • Select “Sasha Exeter”
  • Click on the “Shop Now” tab

Photography by Bettina Bogar for JoeFresh.com

Here are the terms to the promo you need to be aware of. The “Sasha25” promo code is valid online only  at www.joefresh.com/ca. Save 25% off regular priced items only. It is only available to Canadian residents only at this time….but hoping that may change in the future. To redeem online, enter the promotional code in your shopping bag. The offer excludes Baby Gift Boxes and clearance items. Cannot be combined with any other coupons or promotional offers, is not redeemable for cash and cannot be applied to previous purchases. Offer valid from May 6, 2019 at 12:01AM EST to December 31, 2019 at 4AM EST.  Joe Fresh reserves the right to cancel any order due to unauthorized, altered, or ineligible use of discount and to modify or cancel these promotions.

This post is sponsored by Joe Fresh, however all views and opinions are my own and not of the brands I have collaborated with.

Gut Health Series Part Two: 7 Detoxifying Yoga Poses to Boost Digestion

Have you ever been two days into your dream vacation or work trip and your GI tract suddenly turns against you? Trust me when I say it’s not bad timing…it’s travel that is to blame. Why? Well, stomach issues tend to happen when we are out of our routine, which unfortunately means that trip you’ve been planning all year, will likely be a target for an intestinal temper tantrum.

With gut health on everyone’s minds these days, most of you know the importance of eating foods with naturally occurring pre and probiotics, taking supplements and delish drinkable concoctions, but did you know that yoga can actually improve digestive issues day to day and actually help keep GI issues at bay during your travels? This practice of movement and breathing helps relax the gut and  is deeply detoxifying – a key factor for improving digestion. Gentle poses and twisting postures can help increase the oxygen to the tummy, aid with bloating, enhance digestion and encourage your liver and kidneys to flush out toxins.

7 Detoxifying Yoga Poses to Boost Digestion - So Sasha

7 Detoxifying Yoga Poses to Boost Digestion - So Sasha

What I’m Wearing: Strappy Sports Bra in Dark Mauve // Mesh Legging in Purple & Grey courtesy of Joe Fresh

Part one of my gut health series (linked here if you missed it) shares a lot about my own personal experience with tummy troubles, how I developed severe GI issues and most importantly how I overcame them (it’s a must read if you feel like you may be suffering from the same thing), but I’m still learning new things every single day to help me improve my health. On a recent trip to Florida to attend the annual Gut Health Summit with Activia Danone, I actually got to experience first hand the benefits of starting the day with an awakening yoga flow. Some quality time spent with Camilla Lee, a Vancouver based yoga expert and Activia’s personal yoga instructor on the trip, I discovered some simple yet effective poses during our sunrise yoga sessions that can be done alone or before your favourite flow to combat digestive issues.

From a seated position, make your way to tabletop. Your hands should be underneath your shoulders and knees underneath your hips. Inhale as you draw your belly button to the floor. Look up to the ceiling, and exhale.

Then draw your belly button to spine, tuck in your tailbone, and chin to throat. Repeat 5-10 times. Breathing deeply in these poses will massage your organs as you alternately

From downward facing dog pose, step your right foot between your hands. Inhale and raise your arms above your head. Add a gentle backbend. Exhale and bring your hands down to heart centre and bring the left elbow over the right knee for a gentle twist. Hold here for several breaths. Then exhale and release, step your feet together, and come into a forward fold. Come back to Downward Dog and switch sides. This pose places gentle pressure on your liver and kidneys, encouraging detoxification.

Setu Bandha Sarvangasana (Bridge Pose)

Come to your back and bend your knees, bringing them above your feet. Make sure you can graze your heels with your fingertips. On an inhalation, push through your feet to raise your hips. To add a shoulder opener, clasp your hands and press your forearms into the mat. This pose puts gentle pressure on the kidneys and adrenals to give the body a natural burst of energy and function at its highest potential. Now that you have cleansed and cleared space in the body, mind, and heart, open up to what you want to cultivate there. This is a great pose for post-detox intention setting. Hold for several deep breaths, then exhale to release your hands and lower your hips.

Supine Twist

Extend your legs out in front of you and then hug your right knee into your chest. With your right hand on your right knee, roll your hips and knee to the right, resting your knee on the ground if possible. Hold here for several deep breaths before switching sides. Reclined twists put gentle pressure on intestinal flow to maximize elimination.

My Active 48 Hour Getaway in Whistler, B.C.

Traveling almost five hours by plane and two hours by car for only two short days, not to mention the jet lag, sounds a bit crazy but a destination as dope as Whistler can definitely make you do some out of the ordinary things. I took off with a bunch of friends a couple of weeks ago for a quick getaway to kind of go off the grid and do all of the outdoorsy things. Honestly, I hadn’t had that much fun in a long ass time.

We stayed at the Four Seasons Resort Whistler, which as you can imagine was a treat in itself, and fully took advantage of literally every activity offered on-site. The amazing thing about traveling with like-minded friends is everyone in the group was down to take advantage of the short time we had there, so we did all of the things imaginable during this time of the year – ski, snowboarded, hiked, worked out, and even ran some trails.

The only way to beat the jet lag – 6am gym workouts with my girls @BlueBirdKisses and @Melsays

But here’s the fun part. Everyone on the trip are all Apple Watch users. Some new and most like me, have had the various versions since the first generation watch debuted. So, as you can imagine, the weekend turned pretty competitive with everyone clamouring to close their activity rings first. Apple Watch has come a long way over the past few years with several updates to both the hardware and software. The one thing I really love about the Series 4 is that no matter what workout or activity I do, the native workout app that is built into the watch can accurately track it thanks to the insane amount of workout options that are now readily available. From badminton, volleyball, functional training to even mind and body movement, the watch captures any and everything. For those two days, we were basically hitting our goals half way into the day.

I’ve used my watch pretty much every day since getting my very first one over 3 years ago and you know what, I’m still discovering features that can enhance how I use it in my daily life and for training. I picked up a few new things during these few days, but I think that was destined to happen when your amongst a group of people that also rely on their watch day to day. The biggest thing for me was how to properly categorize all the different types of movement I do within one session at the gym. My workouts are always start with some cardio (Peloton ride) or dynamic warm-up, HIIT or strength training and usually conclude with stretching or intervals on the assault bike. Instead of choosing only one option on the Activity App when I start my workout, I can actually now account for each individually by swiping right on my watch face while the workout is in progress and selecting the new (or + button) to begin a new workout, so I am getting credit accurately for each style of movement. I will have to take you guys through it live in action on my IG stories one of these days.

We were extremely lucky to be able to ski and snowboard on the best slopes in the country during this time of the year. It was low season so no lines at the chair lifts and not much action on the mountain. I actually don’t ski or snowboard, but promised myself that this year I would do more things that challenge and scare me. So, I was suited and booted in rental gear (I now deeply regret not purchasing a sick outfit of my own before we left Toronto)  and did a couple hours of lessons from two insanely amazing instructors. Far from an expert and left learning how to ride both the heel and toe side…the foundation of snowboarding and enough to get me pumped to pick it up again next winter.

I would have never imagined how much of a workout an hour of beginner snowboarding would be, but thanks to this dope third party app we all used called Snoww, think Strava for skiers and snowboarders where you can follow friends and compare/track your stats, I was able to track everything from the amount of time I spent on the hills, distance, max speed, vertical and the number of runs completed. Let me be clear though, my vertical, distance and max speeds were a joke and not worth mentioning but it was still really cool to be able to have all that data and have the met. I am just happy I was able to stay on my feet and survived without broken bones. What was really cool about the app, was that I was able to track my friends in real time to see where they were at. With everyone being at various levels, we were split up into different groups and I could see exactly where the girls in my crew were at any given time.  I was able to iMessage them to meet up without even having to take my phone out of my pocket. Brilliant, because my worst nightmare is dropping my phone on a chair lift. The watch’s communication capabilities with messaging, calling and notifications, legit makes it the perfect device for hitting the slopes hands-free.

There was no better way to decompress after our time on the slopes than with a calming yoga flow inside of Audain Art Museum. I am sure you remember seeing it on my IG stories. It was stunning space that was sun drenched thanks to the huge windows and had beautiful lines that left you no choice but to admire every square inch of the place. Yoga was one of the new workouts that has recently been added into the Workout App with Watch OS 5. Looking back at my metrics, I burned less than I would normally during a yoga class but this flow was restorative in nature and exactly what we needed after all the travel and hill time. At the end of our session, we did some guided meditation and used the Breathe App to help with breathing. I love this app so much that I have it as a complication on my watch face. I use it several times a day. With reminders pushed to my watch throughout the day, I end up taking a few moments to do some deep breathing and it significantly lowers my stress level. Below you can take a look at my metrics from that day. You’ll see that I more than doubled my move goal, exercised for 258 minutes, which I am pretty sure that’s the most I’ve ever done in one day and crushed my stand goal:

My favourite part of our Whistler adventure was the trail run on the last day. It’s so much different than road running and my god there is no better place to do it. It’s known for some of the best single track trails for mountain biking and we ended up on one of them halfway through our route. It makes me want to move back out west to consider this my backyard. We had Ray Zahab, ultra distance runner, Canadian adventurer, and Explorer in Residence of the Royal Canadian Geographic Society lead our trail run. But before heading out that morning, we spent an hour or so hearing tales of his unsupported expeditions to some of the planets hottest and coldest places plus his experience running 14,000+ km across the world’s deserts. Ray is also an obsessed Apple Watch user and uses it for his training, fitness tracking and even navigation on his expeditions which has allowed him to speak at numerous Apple Distinguished Educator events internationally.

Photos shot by Mirae Campbell and on my iPhone XS

We learned some tips on how to run optimally to avoid impact and injury on the trails and to focus our gaze a foot in front of us while running instead of directly down at our feet, which I assume most would to in fear of tripping or falling. I’ve just looked back at the metrics that was collected in the Activity App on my phone from my watch and my pace was so much slower than what it normally is but the elevation gain was about 133m and going uphill and downhill in dirt, snow, and ice is bound to slow you down. The air was so fresh and the surroundings was so lush, it was really a beautiful experience and makes me want to seek out trails to run outside the city at home. It really was the perfect way to end this trip.

I could actually go on forever about this watch and the funny thing is, even though I’ve gone through every watch series from one to four, I am still learning new things about it that help make my life and training better. I get messages from so many of you saying you’re on the fence about getting an Apple Watch and I think once you truly understand the depth the device has, it’s really a no brainer. I’ll be sharing some of the new tips and tricks I’ve discovered on my IG soon that have been game changers for me and useful in my day-to-day life and with training.

The 15th Annual Operanation is Back With a Fairytale Themed Gala

Spring is here (yay!) and we finally have the weather to confirm this, which means one thing – event season is among us. There are only a handful of events that take place in the city that can incite a bit of FOMO if I have to miss out on it and the Canadian Opera Company’s annual Operanation event ranks high on the list. It is the first big event in the new year where people are actually excited to dress up and go out because the snow and cold weather is behind us.

This year on May 16th the COC will host their 15th annual Operanation event inside the Four Seasons Performing Arts Centre. With this year’s theme being inspired by the fairytale stories of next year’s opera stage, the evening is no doubt going to be a whimsical night full of surprises, adventure and voices of the company’s opera stars.

I can’t wait and I plan on taking the theme seriously when it comes to what I am wearing. I am thrilled to be given the chance to wear something magical from one of my favourite Canadian designer’s, Nikki Yassemi of Narces. I plan on bringing you guys along for the ride via my stories during my visit to her studio for my upcoming fittings and plan on letting you all in on the fun by helping me choose a look for the big night.

Photography by Ryan Emberley

If you’ve been lucky enough to attend Operanation before ,you already know it’s THE party of the season and tickets sell crazy FAST.  The COC was kind enough to give my followers access to tickets for this spectacular evening at a reduced rate HERE or you can access ticket sales via the link in my IG bio and use the code “SASHA” to grab yours. I can’t wait to see some of y’all there!

Gut Health Series Part One – How I Developed Leaky Gut

I have been wanting to write about this topic for a long ass time. I have touched on leaky gut syndrome from time to time on a surface level over the years, but have never really been able to do a deep dive into just how bad my gut issues were and the FULL impact it had on my overall health. There are two main reasons why I haven’t opened up fully until now. 1) I was fucking embarrassed to be honest, at how bad it had gotten and 2) If it was connected to a sponsored post, I would usually be asked to remove or tone down some of my symptom explanations because some brands felt they were too raw and descriptive *shoulder shrug*. So alas here we are, years later, with a healthier gut, but still a work in progress. Sooooo what exactly is leaky gut? Leaky gut, or “intestinal permeability” is a condition where the lining of the small intestine becomes damaged, causing any undigested food particles, toxic waste products, and bacteria to literally leak into the gut lining and flood the blood stream. Yup, it really is as gross as it sounds guys! The body then treats these as foreign substances entering the blood. This can cause an autoimmune response in the body including sudden inflammatory and allergic reactions such as migraines, irritable bowel/digestion issues, eczema, chronic fatigue, several food allergies, rheumatoid arthritis and more.

But let’s start at the beginning shall we. Here’s the thing about the gut, the microflora that lives in there is highly specific to each individual and typically stays in harmonious balance. That being said, there can be periods of time within someone’s life where that balance is disturbed by things like environmental factors, chronic stress, drug treatment or toxin overload (worst offenders being antibiotics, asprin, NSAIDS, excessive drug and alcohol consumption ), and the biggest culprit; a poor diet. With my lifestyle back then, I was ticking off most of the boxes with a corporate career that required extensive travel around the country, barely any sleep, entertaining clients late at night and partying hard with friends on the weekend. It took a toll and over the course of a couple years of this lifestyle it eventually caught up to me. And let’s remember, my body was already at a deficit, having been diagnosed with a very rare kidney disease while I was attending Howard University in Washington, DC eight years earlier. In the beginning, these symptoms were subtle and were ignored for almost two years. At the time, they could have easily been mistaken for other things. The vaginal infections, strong sugar and refined carb cravings, and the acne that appeared on my face the day after consuming foods that contained those things. The bloating and gas that took over my stomach immediately after eating. Mood swings and insane irritability. Seasonal allergies that just randomly popped up one day out of nowhere along with itchy ears – SO WEIRD. An increase in migraines and a nagging stiff neck. They were all the early textbook signs of candida overgrowth that eventually resulted in in leaky gut syndrome. How?

Well, even though I found the symptoms to be worsening, I continued to ignore them and be in denial. Truthfully, had I known then what I know now, it would never have gotten as bad as it did. I started to get concerned though when I noticed some real issues with my vagina. UGH. I swear to God, chronic vagina issues are every woman’s nightmare. I had never suffered from yeast infections or UTI’s growing up during my teenage years, but they started to appear out of nowhere. Over-the-counter meds took care of the first four or five infections that popped up and I also found in the early stages if my period came during a yeast infection, once the bleeding stopped, the itchiness and discharge disappeared along with it. I was given strong meds and antibiotics to try and tackle the yeast infections, but my body ended up becoming resistant to them and the infections just worsened. Anyone who has had their share of yeast infections know that antibiotics just wipe out all the good gut bacteria we need and can cause rebound infections. My vagina eventually was permanently left swollen to the point that the vulva was permanently spread apart. The candida/yeast overgrowth was so bad, I could barely walk. Then rectal irritations also became a thing. I remember the itching and burning being unbearable, I would just cry uncontrollably for hours at a time in despair. Frustrating because I didn’t know the root cause nor could I find a cure. I kept most of the gory symptoms to myself because they were so embarrassing. It is awful knowing there is something terribly wrong with your body and zero clue as to what’s going on. The physical symptoms eventually created psychological ones. I developed bad anxiety. My heart would literally race at night thinking of all the things that could be wrong with me that the doctors hadn’t yet discovered. I was convinced my time left on this earth was going to be short and it was clear that if this continued, my relationship with my fiancé would fall apart, there would be no wedding and no babies in my future. So, helloooo depression. It was like a domino effect of symptoms and I was falling deeper and deeper into a hole.

Those years are still a bit of a blur, so I couldn’t tell you exactly when, but shit just f*cking hit the fan. The chronic symptoms I had developed got even worse. I would get super sick on date nights before the meal was even over with insane bloating and fatigue that would set in before the cheque would arrive. When things were at it’s worse; migraines, vaginal irritation, and skin rashes would appear immediately after eating or drinking alcohol. I was so fatigued there was no amount of sleep that would make me feel rested. I could barely move. Soon, the migraines that would last for days, went on for weeks at a time. My neck pain legit was diagnosed as myofacial pain syndrome and there was zero mobility, making it difficult to even drive. You’re probably wondering why a physician had not diagnosed what the hell was going on. At the end of day, most general practicing physicians know very little about leaky gut syndrome and candida overgrowth. In fact, they know very little about a lot of things, but that’s a whole other story. They also are not in the game of “Let’s find the root cause of your issues” because let’s face it, they are taught to tackle illness with writing prescriptions for pharma meds. My G.P. had tested me for Lupus several times, celiac disease, MRI’s, HIV, anemia, thyroid disorders, mononucleosis, Lyme disease, nerve damage tests for the joint and nerve issues.  You name it, we tested it and it all came back inconclusive. Finding no answers from the tests was actually worse than being told they discovered something seriously wrong because at least if we found out what it was, we could do something about it. With no concrete answers, I was then being told I was becoming a bit of a hypochondriac and things along the lines of, “You know Sasha, you just need to get more sleep and reduce your stress levels. Or perhaps a career change.” I finally started to keep a diary. I withdrew myself from all my social circles and spoke to nobody. My diary allowed me to vent, dream and document shit. This is when I discovered that a lot of my symptoms were tied to what I was eating. That’s when I knew there was something bigger going on.

By this point, my kidney ailment and fibromyalgia had me basically bedridden, so there was not much for me to do but read and research on my laptop. This is how I first self-diagnosed my candida overgrowth and leaky gut issues. From what I had learned, I armed myself with the knowledge I needed to rehabilitate myself and find alternative practitioners that were down to help me get my life back in a safe and effective way. It took my body a long time to get to that state, so it took almost two years to properly recover, but I am happy to say that those dark days are far behind me. I still have to keep a watchful eye on my diet and stress levels and there are several things I do daily to help keep a healthy balance of gut flora. I promise to share more about this later on in the series, but based on all your DM’s and comments when I was in Miami with Activia for the Gut Health 2019 summit, there seems to be a lot of interest in the topic and I wanted to give some more background as to why I am so passionate about it. I also wanted to share my my truth in hopes that it may help some of you. Have you been struggling with similar symptoms that have gone undiagnosed?

HERE ARE 10 SIGNS YOU MAY HAVE LEAKY GUT SYNDROME

  1. Chronic diarrhea, constipation, gas or bloating
  2. Nutritional deficiencies
  3. Poor immune system
  4. Headaches, brain fog, memory loss
  5. Excessive fatigue
  6. Skin rashes and problems such as acne, eczema or rosacea
  7. Cravings for sugar or carbs
  8. Arthritis or joint pain
  9. Depression, anxiety, ADD, ADHD
  10. Autoimmune diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, celiac disease or Crohn’s

My first suggestion would be to start a daily food journal or diary and keep track of everything you intake for at least two weeks. Make notes on your body’s reaction after consumption – physical pain, irritations, fatigue or mood changes.  Seek out assistance for a qualified N.D. (Naturopathic Doctor) and bring along your journal to your initial assessment appointment. A good N.D. will suggest a series of tests that will help confirm a diagnosis and point you in the right treatment direction. The tests are super helpful because they will help identify specific sensitivities and will reveal the types of toxins or deficiencies that are contributing to your symptoms. Here’s a list of ones you should suggest they perform:

  • Zonulin or Lactulose Tests
  • IgG Food Intolerance Test
  • Stools Tests
  • Organic Acid Vitamin and Mineral Deficiencies Tests
  • Lactulose Mannitol Test

The answer to the question you’re probably asking yourself right now, “But how long does it take to recover from leaky gut?” Well, it differs from person to person and typically depends on the severity. Most sufferers of candida overgrowth and early signs of leaky gut can be healed in 1-2 months with a serious plan, but a case as bad as mine took nearly 12 months to fully heal. There’s a process, that I like to refer to as the 4 R’s that can help heal a leaky gut…

  1. REMOVE foods and factors that damage the gut.
  2. REPLACE these with healing foods as you follow an anti-inflammatory leaky gut diet.
  3. REPAIR the gut with specific leaky gut supplements like butyric acid.
  4. REBALANCE your microbiome with probiotics (beneficial bacteria). This is key because bacteria in your gut are a major component of the intestinal barrier. They help promote resistance to the colonization of harmful or pathogenic bacteria species by competing for nutrients. Gut microbiota also regulate the digestion and absorption of nutrients and help supply epithelial cells with energy.

In part two of my Gut Health Truth series, I will dish on the foods you should eat and the specific ones you should stay away from if you’re dealing with leaky gut issues. Even if you’re not, following this specific food protocol can be very helpful to anyone that is suffering from undiagnosed chronic pain, inflammation, sleep disorders, and skin issues so stay tuned!

NEW BROWS, WHO DIS? PART DEUX

*THIS IS A FOLLOW-UP TO LAST YEAR’S POST ON MY MICROBLADED BROWS!*

It’s been a whole year plus a few months living life with microbladed brows and you know what? That life is damn good. I wrote a post last February on my experience getting microbladed (if you’re new to my blog you can check out last year’s post here) for the very first time by Nicole Guerrieri, also known as @BrowsxBianca on Instagram. I went back to the infamous brow goddess last week for a touch up…just to make sure the glow up was still on 100. I found her in a cute new space, just seconds from her old spot, and armed with new tricks up her sleeve to help create the most beautiful brows ever for her clients.

Here’s a little peek inside Nicole’s new spot at 260 Carlaw Ave. It’s a lofty vibe with high ceilings and original wood flooring. She also plays old Motown music during brow sessions!

WHAT’S CHANGED

There is still three passes of microblading like there was before, but wait for it…no numbing of the skin before the first pass. Nicole knows how much I hate pain, so she neglected to tell me this before my appointment, but did tell me to take some Advil just before coming in. It’s odd because I’ve have had a natural child birth with Maxwell so I probably shouldn’t find this so intolerable, but I do until I get the numbing gel and then it’s smooth sailing. If you’re wondering what it feels like, imagine a cat dragging it’s sharp nails across your delicate skin. Ask Nicole, and she will tell you most of her clients find the pain a 4 out 10 but to me it’s like a 7.5 or even higher.

Apparently, microblading is far more effective on skin that is hard so a pre-numbing cream is no longer used before the first pass of blading. Having the cream sit on your skin for 30 min softens the skin too much and therefore does not allowing for the ‘strokes’ to heal as sharp as they would without the soft skin. Before the second pass she will apply a gel that will numb the shit out of your brow area and it’s glorious. It works instantaneously, helping to make the process much faster than before. Also…we, and by we I mean Nicole, has introduced the shading technique into her offering.

BROW SHADING

So yes, there is blading and shading and both are different, plus yield different results. According to Nicole, most clients actually need the combination of both. Why? Simply because microblading alone isn’t enough. This is especially the case if you have sparse brows, baldness in some areas, no tails, etc. If you have dense hair at the front of your brow and no tails, microblading cannot give you the density to blend the front with the tail and that’s what the shading does. And if you’re wondering if the shading technique will make your brows look less natural…it is actually the opposite. They will look MORE natural with both. Trust me! If you already have a full brow but still find yourself having to do a little penciling in, you can totally considering just doing the shading alone.

Last week’s fresh brow glow up

PRE-BLADING AND SHAPING

I think the question I have received the most is, “How will I know she won’t fuck up my brows?” It’s funny how blunt some of y’all are. To be honest, this questions generally comes from WOC because with darker skin, there is always a fear that a new technology, machine, etc could damage our skin in some irrevocable way. But ladies, you need not worry as I was happy to be the guinea pig for y’all.

The shape made for each person is going to be completely unique because it’s based on geometry and Nicole uses the nature curve of your brow to determine the shape. The line work is based on each client’s natural hair flow and density. What you can expect first is still the mapping process, where she shapes with a thin wax pencil. This stencil process will ensure everything is measured to perfection. Also new is the measurement app Nicole has started using to triple check symmetry and from there she makes the necessary adjustments before starting the microblading process.

Pigment colour is not a guessing game either. Nicole chooses the pigment best suited for your brows and complexion. A colour swatch of the pigment is not the same colour as a healed brow, therefore she doesn’t really bother showing clients a swatch, although we do discuss the lightness/ darkness of colour choice together. She does this with everyone because really wants you to be happy with the end result.

AFTERCARE:

If you workout daily or generally are a sweaty person, you’re not going to like this part, but please remember it’s all for a good cause. Absolutely no sweating or water on brows for 7 days. Trust me, sounds a lot easier than it actually is. I know you’re wondering how this has been possible for me and to be completely transparent, I have actually worked out every day since I had mine done – but no runs because my face actually sweats when I run. If it’s just cross training and lifting, I sweat only on the lower back and chest so I am able to get away with it. I could workout in full glam makeup and go to an event immediately after if I wanted to because my face somehow stays dry. That being said, I don’t suggest this to anyone else and after forking over the coins to get them done, you won’t want to run the risk of anything happening to your fresh brows.
So how do you wash your face then? You have to just work around the brows with a cloth and take your shower with head tilted back to wash your hair. Or skip hair washing all together if you can. Nicole will provide a very detailed aftercare kit with all the information you need to properly care for your brows and ensure the best healed results.
PRO TIP: You can expect a lot of changes during the healing period and should not judge the result until at least 2 weeks after your appointment. Your brows will be dark, flakey, too light, etc. but just trust the process!  90% of Nicole’s clients come back wanting darker and thicker brows.

PRICING

What’s the cost? Well, if you ask anyone that has gotten their brows properly microbladed they will tell you it’s priceless so don’t worry about how much it is, but I know that answer is not going to fly with most of you. Although, that really is the truth. All jokes aside though, the blading will run you $575 and the shading $650. Also, there’s a touch up 4-6 weeks after your initial session included in the initial cost, to make any adjustments necessary.

HOW TO KNOW IF YOU’RE AN IDEAL CANDIDATE FOR MICROBLADING

Well, unfortunately not everyone is a candidate for microblading BUT there are other options for you. If you have oily skin, large pores, thick/ textured skin or mild rosacea, you would be a candidate for a ‘powder brow’ instead. This technique is something I just heard of last week and is actually what Nicole does on her own brows. Yes this is the brow that looks filled in with makeup, but its not the harsh shapes you’re thinking of aka “Instagram Brows”.  It’s soft and powdery (hence the name). Microblading on skin types like these will not allow you to achieve the natural looking feathered hair strokes. Rather, what you will end up with is a blurred brow and you’ll no doubt be disappointed. Powder brows can be as soft or dramatic as you like.
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