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HEALTH & WELLNESS

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Next Level Wonderful Pistachios Crusted Salmon

Elaborate and sophisticated meals is not what I am known for at our house. I leave all the culinary heavy lifting to the Mister. Not quite sure why but the longer the list of ingredients I see in a recipe, the more intimidated I get. Probably because the more ingredients usually means more (preparation) time and more clean up at the end. Neither of which excite me. We made a pack at home to eat dinner together every night and in the kitchen not sitting on the couch in front the TV. I know it sounds a bit corny but I think it’s been integral to the success and strength of our relationship. With our work week hours being later than most, this sometimes becomes a challenge resulting to turning to quick fix dishes that can be on the table in 30 minutes or less.

Salmon is definitely a hit around here because it’s a super easy way to incorporate healthy Omega 3’s into our diets but let’s be real here, when you’re eating fish 1-2 times a week, you need to start getting a bit creative with your recipes. With salmon being so soft and fleshy I thought creating a pistachio crust using Wonderful Pistachios with a touch of honey and mustard would be a perfect juxtaposition of both taste and texture. Occurring to me while woofing down a handful of the brand’s addictive “Sweet & Salty” flavoured nuts. Sure there’s a few other nuts I could have chosen, so why Wonderful Pistachios? Besides tasting amazing, they are a source of vitamin B6, potassium, magnesium, phosphorous and fibre, adding extra nutritional value to this ridiculously delicious protein option. Making this is pretty much fool proof for those of you who also get intimidated with Julia Childs-like recipes (trust me!) and literally goes well with almost anything.

PISTACHIO CRUSTED SALMON


Prep Time: 5 minutes     Cook Tim:e 20 minutes     Total Time: 25 minutes     Servings: 2


INGREDIENTS:

  • 2 salmon fillets (approx. 6 oz each, skin on)
  • half cup of crushed unsalted Wonderful Pistachios
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/2 lemon juiced
  • 1 tbsp course grain mustard (or Dijon)
  • 1 tbsp honey
  • 2 tbsp Panko bread crumbs
  • 1 tbsp olive or canola oil

INSTRUCTIONS:

  1. Preheat oven to 375F
  2. Rinse salmon and pat dry with a paper towel. Arrange fillets on foil (or parchment paper) lined baking sheet, skin side down. Sprinkle salt and pepper to taste
  3. In a small bowl, combine lemon juice, lemon zest, mustard and honey. Spoon mixture and spread evenly over top of each piece of fillet
  4. Coarsely chop pistachios in a food processor, coffee grinner or by hand and combine with Panko bread crumbs and oil. Spread pistachio mixture pressing lightly to adhere
  5. Bake until salmon is cooked through to your liking and nuts are golden for approximately 15-20 minutes. Let salmon rest for 5 minutes outside of the oven before serving. Pair with a side of your choice; salad, quuinoa or grilled veggies and enjoy!

This post is sponsored by Wonderful Pistachios®, but all thoughts and opinions are my own!

Snacking Just Got Fresher with Harvest Bakes

Guys, snacking just got a little easier and a whole lot healthier this month thanks to Country Harvest who has just launched the best thing since sliced bread (sorry, I couldn’t resist myself!) I have absolutely no shame in admitting that I am a serial snacker – big time! I eat small meals with several snacks throughout the day to keep me going but just like everyone else, having healthy snacks when I’m on-the-go all the time can be a bit of a challenge.  And let’s be honest, we ALL have good intentions when it comes to our food choices however we are all prone to fall off due to the options, or lack thereof, around us when we are not at home.

Over the past few weeks we (ok, mainly me) have been eating our way through Harvest Bakes snacks prior to it’s arrival in stores to see what all the hype was about. So what exactly are Harvest Bakes snacks? I know for thing thing, they are insanely delicious but to pigeon hole them into just one thing would be unfair. Yes, they are shaped in the form of a square like bread slices but they couldn’t be farther from. A flat bread if you will but will the density and texture of a baked good that is packed full of whole grains, protein, fibre and iron. And covering all the bases and making sure all palette preferences are accounted for, there are three delicious varieties to appease all; Wild Blueberry with Flax Seeds and Rolled Oats, Apple & Cinnamon with Raisons – my current favourite and Super Seedy & Quinoa with Sunflower, Flax, Pumpkin and Chia Seeds…I know that’s quite a mouthful isn’t it? All tasty. Super healthy and the perfect snack to pack, toast or spread your go-to topping on. I have yet to try toasting them, much preferring to smear natural peanut butter over top with sliced bananas sometimes even sprinkling with a dash of chopped pistachios – YUM right?!

Photos by Jilly Botting

Harvest Bakes are now available in the bakery aisle in your local grocery store. To learn more and to discover more nutritional information head to CountryHarvest.com

Joe Fresh #MakeYourMove Collection Week 2

ICYMI, last week I excitedly announced the launch of the curated activewear looks I did with everyone’s favourite accessible retailer Joe Fresh. Full of versatile separates that allow you to mix and match, the collection creates an endless wardrobe of clothes for your workouts at an such an affordable price it will legit blow your mind. Week #1’s was all about classic layering pieces and essentials for spring’s transitional weather that can easily take you to any of your favourite studio classes and workouts (in case you missed it, click here). This week it’s all about adding pop’s of colour, to help us get out of our winter ruts and finding the perfect tight and sports bra for support for our go-to workouts.

As seen on JoeFresh.com 

Tights were the topic of discussion in so many of my snapchat and instagram stories last year, resulting in tons of woman weighing in on what the “perfect tight” is for them. I have been famously known to dislike crops, advocating for the full length because of my long legs however I have become fond of the also flattering 7/8th and I am happy to say that all the full length tights in this collection are tall girl approved. They are also high waisted, like the Melange leggings pictured above,  giving adequate coverage when your bending forward during workouts or yoga poses. But let’s be real, the root of most women’s issues with activewear is finding the right sports bra that provides the right amount of support while still looking flattering. The push-up sports bra (shown above) and the pull-on active bra are my favourites – both under $20.

Photography by Jess Baumung for JoeFresh.com

Reflective Active Jacket $39  –  Push-Up Sports Bra $19  –  Scoop Neck Active Tank $16  –  Stripe Active Tee $29  –  High Waist Melange Active Legging $29  –  Mesh Insert Active Legging $29

Check back here every Monday over the next month as I will be sharing a new look each week built around my fave pieces from the new collection, which will do doubt be yours as well. For more of my #MakeYourMove curated looks and to view the entire Joe Fresh activewear collection head to JoeFresh.com/MakeYourMove.

Train Hard, Snack Smart with Wonderful Pistachios

The two most important factors that play a role in your overall fitness are 1) how you train/workout and 2) how you eat and snack. Everyday I see an alarming amount of people on social media posting their workouts and sharing their runs but no real progress. Most often than not, the reason behind this is poor diet or them not doing the amount of training they claim to be doing on social media. For me, it’s always been simple. I like to stick to functional workouts based on basic training fundamentals, keep my body guessing by frequently mixing up my works and ALWAYS snack smart. And I love the idea of athlete inspired workouts. Why? Because I know they are effective and how could it not be cool to train like some of the best athletes in the world?

For the next year, I’m teaming up with the Wonderful Pistachios brand and will be sharing different ways for you to enjoy them on-to-the go and how they can be incorporated into your favourite dishes at home. Both nutrient dense and delicious, pistachios have long been my nut of choice, mainly because of their monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats, fibre, protein and antioxidant content. I know for some there is a concern regarding the calorie count with pistachios but the good news is, researchers say sticking to in-shell pistachios can significantly slow down consumption because the empty shells offer a visual cue of how much you’ve eaten. Actually, preliminary behavioural studies have proven that in-shell snackers ate 41% fewer calories than those who snacked on shelled nuts, which is commonly known as the “Pistachio Principle“.

Thanks to the Wonderful Pistachios team, an exclusive group of us were lucky enough to participate in an intimate workout based on Toronto Maple Leaf’s Left Winger, James van Riemsdyk’s off-ice training at SWAT Health – a high performance training studio for elite and professional athletes. The workout, led by SWAT Founder and former football player Kyle Ardill, was no joke. We kicked it off with some dynamic movements and stretches to get are bodies warm and loosened up, followed by speed and agility work. All elite athletes train hard during their season, which are reflected in their physiques, however hockey players are notorious for the strength of their lower bodies. Specifically, quads and glutes. That means, we were getting ourselves into a 40 minute session focusing on the targeted muscles that allow hockey players to be quick and strong on the ice like; skater lunges, weighted side and reverse lunges, one legged dead lifts, a series of glute activations with resistance bands and a killer core workout circuit. If that wasn’t enough, Kyle had me end the session with some sled work (with him on it of course!) with the weight totalling over 300 lbs.

What many people often forget, what you eat post workout can be just as important as the workout itself. Usually we find it difficult enough to squeeze in a workout throughout the day, let alone take time to prepare a meal post workout, but nobody can ever be too busy for a smoothie. They are quick to prep, tasty AF and when you pack them with the right ingredients, they can actually be rather filling, helping you stay full until your next meal. On hand that morning was Registered Dietician and Abbey’s Kitchen founder Abbey Sharp, who helped create our post workout treat, a Pistachio & Tahini Protein Smoothie that you can easily make at home by using the following:

  • 1/3 cup Wonderful Pistachios, unsalted and shelled
  • 1 cup 2% Plain Greek Yogurt
  • 4 ripe figs, stems removed and quartered
  • 2 dates, pitted and diced
  • 2 tsp, tahini
  • 1 cup 1% milk (or you can substitute for Almond milk if you’re lactose intolerant or prefer the taste

Photography by Charlie Lindsay @DonCharleone

OPTIONAL GARNISH:

  • 1/3 cup Wonderful Pistachios, unsalted and shelled
  • 1 cup 2% Plain Greet Yogurt
  • 4 ripe figs, stems removed and quartered

INSTRUCTIONS:

In a blender, pulse the pistachios until they reach a ground up consistency. Add in the yogurt, figs, dates, tahini and milk. Puree until smooth. To serve, pour into two glasses. Top with sliced fig, crushed pistachios and pomegranate arils.

Stay tuned fin 2017 for more of my snack and meal ideas with Wonderful Pistachios #GetSnackin

7 Ways to Avoid The Festive 15 This Holiday Season

It has arrived. The time of year that I like to refer to as the “Danger Zone“.  Sure, we’ve attended a handful of pre-holiday parties and most of us have done a great job in pacing ourselves when it comes to our food and cocktail intake. Until now. The weeks leading up to Christmas and New Years is when most people are likely to succumb to their weaknesses and over indulge. And how can we not…? If you’re lucky, during the holidays you are spending more time at home if you have taken a few days off, however that can mean unlimited access to the kitchen. Family and friends you go all year without seeing, invite you over and how could this not be a cause for celebration, right? Pair that with the temperature dropping far below zero, hectic holiday schedules, cocktail parties, dinner parties and missed workouts – it’s virtually impossible to escape the dreaded Festive 15. Ok, so calling it the “Festive 15” may be slightly dramatic because who really gains 15 lbs in the span of two weeks BUT by the time the New Year rolls around, it can sure feel like you have.

After feeling like complete and utter crap come January 2nd due to self induced food comas, a couple years ago I vowed to never start off the New Year feeling like I have to put in work to get back to my pre holiday weight. So, consider this my prezzie to you all, here’s 7 full proof ways to avoid weight gain during the holidays:


START YOUR DAY WITH PROTEIN

The way you start your day, is the way you live your life. Eating a protein-rich brekkie combined with some complex carbs, is like a match made in heaven.  Not like you need another reason to devour some Avocado Toast with Poached Eggs, otherwise known as the most popular meal posted on Instagram! This approach will help you feel full longer, prevent you from unhealthy snacking and give you the energy to tackle the day. You’ll also have enough energy to exercise and have the confidence to say “No” to unnecessary sweets.

A SHORT WORKOUT IS BETTER THAN NO WORKOUT!

Let’s not fool ourselves, most find fitting in daily workouts a challenge, so when the holiday season rolls around it seems virtually impossible to get to the gym. The only way to avoid skipping workouts when your schedule is tight is to make them both convenient and accessible.  For those days you can’t make it to the gym or your favourite class, make sure to have a backup plan to workout at home using your own body weight and minimal equipment. Exercise videos and apps, like my faves on AppleTV, are amazing options too. Invest in a medicine ball, resistance bands, skipping rope and/or a kettle bell that can you give you an effective total body workout right in the comfort of your living room.

AVOID BANKING CALORIES

I remember my younger days when I somehow convinced myself that if I cut back on my calories throughout the day, I could indulge at an event later that night. DUMBEST IDEA EVER! This theory, fuelled only by ignorance, just leads to pigging out. Why? You’re effing starving! It’s easy to get out of control when you’re faced with so many delicious options at a party. Always, and I mean always, eat a little something prior to leaving the house. First and foremost, if you’re a picky eater or have food restrictions, you won’t die of starvation for example if the hostess forgets that you’re a vegan or gluten intolerant. More importantly, it will take some of the hunger edge off but still leave you with some room to eat only what you need and nothing more once you arrive.

A mini plate of protein and veggies are my go-to; a salad with chicken or a piece of salmon with veggies. In my personal opinion, this is single-handedly the most underrated tip to avoid a weight gain, bloating, indigestion and binge eating during the holiday season.

CUT BACK ON BUBBLY BEVERAGES – OF ALL KINDS

Yep, I bet you never believed me – the lover of all champagnes and Prosecco, would be saying this however sadly it’s true. Bubbles are not our friends and is the biggest culprit of belly bloat. Even soda and sparkling mineral water like my current obsession Bottle Green, can be an issue. The carbon dioxide trapped in the bubbles of fizzy drinks causes a build up of air, which can often lead to gas.

AVOID MORNING-AFTER FOOD

Are you hosting family and friends at your place this year? Allow yourself to enjoy the meal you prepared or the items your visitors brings as part of a potluck but be sure to send your guests home with food filled tupperware. You may feel as though the tasty leftovers should be your compensation for being such a gracious host, but believe me, it’s the leftovers that will do you in!

BREW SOME HERBAL TEAS

Photo by Jess Baumung

This one should come as absolutely no surprise but research shows that herbal teas like peppermint and ginger, in addition to chamomile,  can help calm stomach muscles and reduce gas. No teabags in sight in your pantry? Boiling a knob of raw ginger in a pot of water or a cup of hot water with lemon can also do the trick.

DON’T SWEAR OFF DESSERTS

Remember that time when Mariah Carey was doing the “morsel diet” a decade ago where she would literally eat only three bites of any food she wanted, before discarding it to limit her intake of calories? Definitely not a healthy or recommended approach for weight management, but this method is quite effective and the perfect plan of attack for the dessert table during the holidays for people like me, who have a wicked sweet tooth. You’ll get that amazing first taste, a satisfying middle one and then the lingering third bite – that should have you satisfied.

Miscarriage: The Exclusive Club Women Don’t Want to Belong To

There’s a private club that exists and none of it’s members want to be a part of it. A “Secret Society”, if you will, that virtually nobody speaks of. Unlike most exclusive clubs where you receive a membership with pride, acceptance into this particular one causes feelings of shame, fear, sadness and anger. “Miscarriage” is the name of the club and I just happen to be it’s newest member. Today, a startling 1 in 3 pregnancies are not viable, meaning thirty-three percent of women looking to become pregnancy will suffer at least one miscarriage. What’s even more scary, the chance of losing a baby only increases with each miscarriage you have.

The Truth About Miscarriage

I’ve received flack in the past for not sharing more about my personal life. I guess sharing motivating and positive posts on social media make people think that I am not 100% authentic – which is ridiculous. I have been very open about my health condition and the challenges that arise from my kidney disease and chronic pain, but prefer to be able to keep some details on my partner, family and home life private. I have felt a wave of emotion since my miscarriage; a rotation of disbelief, sadness and anger, but the one thing that was constant was the feeling of loneliness and isolation. Feeling like I had nobody to talk or relate to. I still feel a bit that way and it’s been almost four weeks but I have noticed that the more I speak about it, the more I discover how many other women I had in my close circles that had gone through one or several miscarriages. I have literally spent the last two weeks picking my mouth off  the ground, I kid you not, from the amount of women who have revealed stories to me. So I have concluded that women who miscarry feel isolated because we are conditioned to not open up and talk about the topic. Like many women’s issues, we are expected to be silent. But if we did feel comfortable opening up, the chances of us meeting and engaging with other women going through the same thing would be significantly higher. I know this sort of post is a departure from the type of content I normally share however, I felt compelled to talk about it, in hopes to let other women who are going through the same thing know that they are allowed to mourn, they are allowed to be sad, they are allowed to feel anger and they shouldn’t feel guilty.

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So here’s the deal…despite my plans for my three year goals which you have probably read earlier this year on my blog, my boyfriend and I decided this summer it was time to start trying to expand our little family. After spending so much time with our nephew Leilan, I think we fell in love with the idea of having our own and that adorable little chocolate chunk made us expedite our baby plans. Before I knew it, there was this sudden urge for me to become Mom. I think some of you were on to me after watching some of my snaps and Instagram stories – saying how maternal I looked with whenever I was around the baby. In August we tried and let me just say, we were shocked to discover I got pregnant so quickly –  on the first try no less. I am in my thirties and without getting too specific with a number – I would say closer to forty than I am to thirty. So naturally, with my age and kidney condition, we thought we may have a difficult time conceiving. Clearly not the case! When your pregnancy is planned, your mindset after learning you’re with child is extremely different than when it is unexpected. Planning for the baby started right away for the both of us. So here I was in late summer, pregnant with a much wanted baby desperately trying to hide the nausea, the gigantic size of my boobs, the changes to my body, which is hard when you normally work out in a sports bra and short tights, and the OVERWHELMING fatigue from clients, when all I wanted to do was scream from the rooftops that we were having a baby. This summer had by far been the busiest I’ve ever been since I started building my brand and as much as I should have probably slowed down, it was so difficult to turn down all the amazing opportunities coming my way.

The Truth About Miscarriage

We all know the rule of staying silent about a pregnancy during the first trimester but for some reason, I actually never believed that miscarriage would happen to me. Silly and ignorant of me to assume that, trust me I know. This was before I knew the startling high rate of miscarriages. I am healthy…take good care of myself. Eat well, exercise and I had no problems conceiving so I honestly thought that I would have a happy, normal pregnancy. Well, if Beyonce, who is basically a unicorn, can miscarry a child – it can happen to anyone.

Throughout the pregnancy I never felt any real major concerns to make me feel like something was wrong. At the time to my knowledge, all of my symptoms were textbook. I still felt pregnant. My hormones were still crazy making me feel like I wanted to rip my boyfriend’s head off like a praying mantis over the smallest things. More importantly, I had no spotting or bleeding. I did however notice some cramping starting around week six or seven but just attributed it to gas, because I had a lot of it, and from what I read, gas was a very normal side effect. Pregnancy has some uncomfortable symptoms and I kept mum about the gnawing pain not wanting to be one of those crazy first time mother’s calling my doctor with a different concern every single day. Once your 35, you’re considered high risk and with my kidney ailment, my family physician was on heightened alert. Highly suggesting I choose a traditional pregnancy path and birthing my plan for safety in lieu of having a home birth with the assistance of a midwife that we so badly wanted. Also, he suggested that I have an early ultrasound, just to ensure everything was ok in the early stages. I was a bag of emotions prior to the eight week ultrasound but mainly excited to hear the heartbeat our little creation for the first time with Rejean. After what seemed like 15 minutes of internal imaging from a technician with a very distressed look on her face, I knew right away something was terribly wrong. “Ms Exeter, are you sure you’re 8 weeks pregnant? Have you had any bleeding or concern that you may have had a miscarriage? Because I am not seeing a heartbeat“. If you’ve had an ultrasound for anything in your life, not just for a pregnancy, you know the technician is not allowed to say anything during your visit. Their job is to take the imaging and send it off to your doctor. Why she was divulging this information to me while I was still lying on the table still puzzles me to this day. My immediate panic made the technician back pedal quickly and tell me that it is not uncommon for a heartbeat to not be visible this early. It could also be because of the position of the fetus. But the red flag was not only the missing heartbeat but also that the size of the fetus in the dating ultrasound, which did not match how far along my doctor and I believed I was in my pregnancy. Results were sent to Dr. Fischer, who could have told me right then and there my pregnancy did not have a chance and discuss my next steps. I was given the “option” to re-test my HcG levels to check my hormone count but it came across as more of a suggestion and not mandatory. We were heading to Chicago a couple days later so I decided to just leave it until we returned. I wanted to enjoy some time away from my partner stress free. I also was in a bit of denial, trying to somehow convince myself that if my doctor felt there was an actual cause for serious concern, he would have said so right away, so all should be good. A follow up internal ultrasound was booked two weeks later and during that appointment it was confirmed there was still no heartbeat at 11 weeks. The fetus had in fact been dead inside of me for 6 weeks. Receiving this news felt like a building had literally came crashing down on me and I was tramped underneath piles of rubble with my lungs gasping for an ounce of air. I could not breathe. It was my worst nightmare coming true and a million and one questions began popping into my head. “Why meWhat is wrong with me? Am I too old? What did I do that could have caused this to happen? Why me? What is Rejean going to say? Is he not going to want to try again? And what about the people we told? How am I going to tell them this news? If the fetus had been dead all this time, why hadn’t it already expelled from my body?” I felt ashamed, terrified, stressed the fuck out and just so very sad.

After speaking with a midwife and my naturopath, I now know that I should have be told right after the first ultrasound that the pregnancy wasn’t viable and given options on next steps. I should have been instructed to have my HcG tested immediately and without question, a follow-up ultrasound should have been performed a couple days later, not a couple weeks. I was referred to St. Joseph’s hospital right after the it was determined it was a silent miscarriage to have a D&C procedure to remove the fetus and clear out any waste from the uterus. However after nine hours of blood work, internal pelvic exams and waiting, I was sent home without having it done due to lack of bed availability at the hospital which is ludicrous. I was instructed that I could either wait for nature to take it’s course or get a prescription for Misoprostol, a pill to help induce the passing of the fetus, and tylenol 3 for the pain. I decided to ask for the script from the doctor – I didn’t want something that wasn’t alive in me a second longer after knowing it was sitting there for six weeks. Well, after a long day in doctor’s offices and the hospital, by the time I was discharged at 1:30am, the bleeding and cramping has started to begin on it’s own. It was too much stress on my system the so my body finally started to do what it needed to do. Nobody really prepared me for what was going to happen next. Not even the OBGYN student assigned to me, who was doing her residency rounds that night. Before leaving the hospital we were not given adequate information to prepare for what was to come, which was 12 hours of severe cramping or contraction-like pain one would expect during labour, having to see the remains of my pregnancy leave my body and having to pass the placenta that had developed during the pregnancy a day later. Trust me, there are just some things you can’t unsee. I, like most women who had never had a miscarriage, thought it would be similar to a bowel movement – some stomach pains and a trip to the washroom and it was over…leaving you to deal with the emotions afterwards. Not even close – or at least for me in my situation. Drug free, it was very painful, extremely traumatic and afterwards feeling your pregnancy symptoms slowly disappear as your hormone levels start to drop, acts as a cold reminder that your body no longer houses another life.

So what happens next? Well, to be honest it’s a very strange and troubling thing. Although most women feel heartbroken, guilty, shameful and have endless internal questions, we for some reason feel as though we must put on a brave face and keep it moving. Go back to work like nothing ever happened, coo over a friend’s new baby or attend a baby shower with a smile when we’re devastated and still in mourning or hide our tears whenever we feel a wash of emotion come over us. Because while losing a friend or a relative activates an immediate support network of sympathy and understanding, losing a baby brings a very lonely silence. With the rise of miscarriages today, it is not uncommon for someone to know at least one person who has gone through it, however that person has probably spared their friend, sibling, colleague, etc all the gory details and ugly truth as to what they actually experienced, leaving people who have never been through it to say things like, “Oh wow, sorry to hear that. It’s just so common now…so many women have them.” – marginalizing the situation as if you have just contracted a common flu or cold. If I had a dollar for every time I heard this response, I would be retired and rich living on a private island in the Grenadines. Others will elaborate and mention that they know people what have miscarried and went on to have healthy pregnancies, which I will admit, is much more comforting than the former response. There are some, thank God, who have been so kind and showed so much empathy, filling our home with flowers and our hearts with love. For those who have called, texted or come by – I am so very appreciative!  As the calls decrease, the flowers die and the visitors stop coming, shit starts to get real. It had become extremely difficult for me to see a pregnant woman or a woman with a young baby. Believe me, I have come undone at the seams more times than I want to admit in public. What was probably the worst part was going from sharing the excitement of pregnancy with a few of my friends who were also expecting, to then having to watch them continue through their pregnancy while I was battling these emotions. It FUCKING sucks. It’s like a constant reminder of where I should have been if I was still pregnant and as a friend, I am so happy for them but still so very sad for myself. Not an ideal situation and it’s been hard for some of them to have empathy and understand that.

Just like many  other women who have just gone through a miscarriage, I wanted to find a way to make my feelings of sadness and lost disappear as soon as possible. So my first thought was to get pregnant right away. Sounds absolutely nuts doesn’t it? Well, it would to me if someone else told me that. My advice to someone else would be to chill, rest, take some time to digest, etc but nope, I had my mind set on a baby and decided that I needed to get pregnant ASAP. There are thousands of online discussion boards where women are expressing they are frantically trying to find ways to conceive again quickly. They say that you become more fertile 60 days after miscarrying or having a baby, so many women quickly get back into baby making mode on a quest for what is called a “Rainbow Baby” to fill a void. I was not thinking rationally but after speaking to my partner and Naturopath, I have come to my senses and have decided to press pause and take a much needed break. And a vacation and time off work wouldn’t be a bad idea either. Getting pregnant doesn’t seem to be an issue for us, I just need carry my next pregnancy to term and the best way for me to do that is to wait for my pregnancy hormone level to go back to zero, allow my uterine wall to build back up and improve my Kidney Chi via weekly acupuncture sessions to improve my chances of a healthy, full term pregnancy the next time around.

As you can imagine, I have replayed my entire pregnancy over and over in my head. Searching for clues, trying to figure out what went wrong, what I did or what I could have done differently and the answer to that is – nothing! The body is highly sophisticated and intelligent, knows when there is going to be an abnormality or issue with the baby, which results in the pregnancy not progressing. I am learning to accept this and understand that nature’s interception in my pregnancy did more good than harm. More importantly, a miscarriage does not mean I won’t go on to have a happy, healthy pregnancy in the future. To help my recovery over the last week, I have been talking to a lot of women, especially those who have one or more children. Some I know personally and even women I just met. I think so many of us make the assumption that women who have a child probably had no issues with their pregnancy journey. When it turns out, so many I’ve spoken to have suffered multiple miscarriages secretly or had fertility issues that they hid because they were either embarrassed or felt that they didn’t have anyone who could relate to them. It seems as though that with time and a healthy pregnancy, these women are able to now talk about their experience with a tiny bit of detachment and I long for the day when I can do that too. In the meantime, I am finding solace in the small network I have built from being open and honest and if any of you reading this post is going through a miscarriage, do not suffer in silence. Once you start opening up you will discover a support system around you, you never imagined existed. It’s as if women don’t want to say anything until you say something first. Trust me, you will be very surprised. If you’ve made to the end of this beastly long post, thank you for taking the time to read this. As much as I hope this may be helpful for someone else, writing (or typing) these words have been extremely cathartic for me and has helped me in my recovery. xoxo

Fuel For Your Busy Day – Genuine Health’s Vegan Greens+ O

It is almost impossible to get your recommended daily intake of greens and through the food we eat alone, so I will always be an advocate of nutrient rich supplements like Genuine Health’s greens+ formula. For over two decades, greens+ has been Canada’s go-to green food supplement and if you’ve used it before, that fact won’t be surprising at all to you. Over the last year, it has become a vital part of my routine, giving me the energy I need to power through my crazy days and avoid that mid-afternoon slump. The laundry list of benefits from this superfood formula is what gets people hooked and after seeing a difference in just after a week in my energy levels, mood, cognitive health, and performance in the gym, there was no turning back for me.

Genuine Health Vegan Greens+ O

Genuine Health Vegan Greens+ OPhotography by Jess Baumung

One of the things I really admire about Genuine Health is that they are never satisfied at just creating great products. You know that old adage, “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it!”? Well – this doesn’t apply to this brand and their products.  As a team, they are always looking for ways to make their products better, more accessible, and with more benefits. Genuine Health’s most lucrative category, greens+, has continued to expand offering new and improved variants more tailored to people’s specific needs. The newest product that has been introduced into the line is Vegan greens+ O, designed to help those who like me, have food allergies and ingredient sensitives which can sometimes make taking supplements challenging.

So how could Genuine Health possibly make it’s award winning greens+ any better? First, they have included only organic ingredients – hence the “O” in the name and is also 100% vegan. They have also somehow managed to remove the allergens from their unique herbal blend and replaced them with more effective and innovative ingredients like organic spirulina, broccoli sprouts, chia seeds and sunflower lecithin, so now everyone can enjoy improved health, energy and vitality.

Genuine Health Vegan greens+ O

Check out GenuineHealth.com to learn more about Vegan greens+ O, which now comes in Acai Mango, Vanilla and Unflavoured, where to buy details, in addition to the rest of their amazing product line.

Activia Women #InSync Series and Commercial

This year has been very emotional for me. The word “emotional” usually has a negative connotation to it, but in this particular instance, its all positive. A few months ago I was approached by Danone to be apart of an amazing campaign with Activia Yogurt. The very first thing that stood out about this potential partnership was that it did not appear to be a blatant product push. In fact, when I read the campaign overview I was surprised to see that the project was not product focused at all, but rather a chance for 9 Canadian women to be able to tell the country their story on how they live a balanced life.

Could this really be possible? Can a company actually want to focus on my personal story and journey, rather than promoting their existing products or a recent product launch? Well…turns out, yes they most certainly did and the timing couldn’t have been any more perfect. After the struggles I’ve had to endure, there has been many times where I wanted to give up and didn’t understand why I kept getting faced with so much adversity. However, 2016 has been my best year yet and I have finally started to reap the rewards of all the hard work I put into getting healthy and building a personal brand.

Activia Women InSync Series

I’ve fought my illness for a very long time, only becoming more successful with managing it’s ugly symptoms in recent years by learning to live in sync. Meaning, putting a system in place and developing a new lifestyle for myself that contained the right amount of exercise, activity, diet and meditation. Furthermore, also learning to create boundaries between my work and personal life. So goodbye to working until midnight and never having a day off.  Creating a more harmonious balance in my life not only helped facilitate my recovery, but it also allowed me to spend more time with my family, friends and to nurture the first serious relationship I had been involved in for what seemed like ages. Don’t get me wrong, this was no easy feat. This turn of events began almost five years ago and at this time, my full time job was to just get healthy. My weekdays were filled with medical appointments, meetings with my dietician, naturopath, acupuncturist, reiki specialist, chiropractor and RMT, oh and let me not forget my psychologist and the numerous Cognitive Behavioural Therapy classes I had to attend to help me deal mentally with everything going on. My illness isolated me and caused me to become anti-social, ultimately was the end of my engagement (which truth be told was a relationship that was flawed and toxic from the start) not to mention the tangible losses such as; my loss of income from not being able to work, my vehicle, and having to move back in with my parents as an adult. Trust me, it was a lot of loss all at once and looking back now, it’s not at all surprising why I was also suffering from depression and anxiety.

People always ask me how I found the strength to turn things around. To be honest, a lot from that time was a blur and I cannot really remember every single detail. I am athlete and competitive by nature so I think I just wasn’t going to go out without a fight. I knew truly deep down that up until that point, I had not done everything I could to rehabilitate myself, besides drowning my body in pharmaceutical meds prescribed by specialists and laying in bed watching my life pass me by – which was clearly not working. I mean, I didn’t think things could possibly get any worse, so I decided to attempt the alternative route with eastern medicine. This change of direction, in addition to my ridiculously supportive family, eliminating stress, changing my diet and consistent exercise was critical in getting me to where I am today.

As part of this multi-faceted campaign with Activia, I shot an individual commercial going a bit deeper into my personal story, which was shot earlier this summer in Montreal. When you live something day to day, it’s difficult to see how far you’ve come but being a part of this project has allowed me to reflect on everything that has happened and see my exponential growth. I cried uncontrollably the first three times I watched this video.  Almost not recognizing the person in it because just five years ago I was a young women on bed rest suffering from a debilitating illness not knowing what the future holds. My life has changed dramatically and through balance I’ve created, I feel strong, I am happy, I am creative, I feel limitless and I am finally in sync.

activia-chatelaine_100eos5d_2167

There’s so much more to come in this campaign and I can barely contain my excitement, so stay tuned. In the meantime, click here to learn more about the other 8 women and their stories, search the hashtag #InSync on social media or follow Activia Canada on Instagram and Youtube.

Manulife Vitality: Life Insurance That Rewards Your Healthy Lifestyle

What do you live for?” is a question I was recently asked at work while discussing an upcoming project and a million thoughts and answers rushed into my head at once. Family, love, unity, peace, and health were just a few of the words that immediately came to mind. Sure, I do a pretty good job at taking good care of myself by eating well, working out and staying active, but I have not been thinking about my future in regards to my family/loved ones after I pass. I have always found it difficult to think about death and what happens following but now that I have started thinking about starting a family at some point, the topic can no longer be avoided.

As we grow older, get married, build families and even start businesses, you come to realize that life insurance is a fundamental part of a sound financial plan. For some reason our generation doesn’t normally think about life insurance for ourselves until we are forced to and truth be told, up until a few weeks ago, I did not have a life insurance policy of my own. Turns out, life insurance is more affordable than you may think, so there’s no excuse why more can’t entertain obtaining coverage before any these milestones.

Trust me, I know the idea of life insurance can be daunting or better yet, confusing and it’s hard to know what you really need or want. So here are four reasons why you should be considering it:

  1. To add financial security. Trust me, once you decide to have children, you will want to know your kids (and partner) will be taken care of when your gone.
  2. To protect your family and loved ones if they depend on your financial support for their livelihood. In this instance, it will replace your income when you pass.
  3. To leave an inheritance.  Even if you don’t have any other assets you can create an inheritance for your loved ones by purchasing a life instance policy and name beneficiaries.
  4. To bring peace of mind. No amount of money could ever replace a person. Period. There aren’t many things in life that are guaranteed, but having life insurance can help provide protection for the uncertainties

Photo by Darren Goldstein/DSG Photo.

That being said, I recently discovered Manulife Vitality – a life insurance program that actually rewards people for leading a healthy, balanced lifestyle. For those of you who make a conscious effort to stay active, workout and eat clean, these dividends plus the affordable program options just may encourage some of you to begin thinking about life insurance as well, sooner rather than later. This past Tuesday, I got a chance to help kick off the launch of the Vitality program in Toronto’s Yonge-Dundas Square, alongside dear family friend, Mike “Pinball” Clemons, Vice Chair of the Toronto Argonauts. The theme/question of the day was, “What do you live for?” and visitors at the event got to share their answers with the Former Argo QB and two time coach. The Manulife branded pop-up had fun, fitness focused activations and visitors were able to get free bike tune-ups, discover TRX exercises with the help of Goodlife Fitness staff, jump into the boxing ring with Pinball to test out Canada’s first ever “Workout Computer”, receive prizes/giveaways and learn more about why Manulife Vitality may be a suitable option for life insurance.

So how does it work exactly? After purchasing a product with Manulife Vitality, you are then required to fill out the Vitality Health quiz online to see how your health measures up against your age. Through this process, you’ll be given your Vitality Age, which could actually be higher or lower than your real age and serves as an indication for your overall health. Part of what makes the program unique is customization – and seriously who doesn’t love products or services created just for them? One of the best parts about Vitality is that once the system has gathered all your lifestyle and health data; a customized, goal oriented program is created to encourage and inspire people to make healthier choices by using convenient and easy-to-use tools. Manulife has have even partnered up with Garmin to include a free wearable tracking device to make tracking healthy activities a breeze. And not to worry all you Apple Watch and Fitbit lovers out there – you can connect these devices to the Vitality system as well!

Manulife Vitality

As you may assumed by now, Vitality program status is simply based on the number of Vitality points you earn each year which results in a tiered system; Bronze, Silver, Gold and Platinum. This status is used to determine a member’s eligibility for rewards and to calculate their annual cost of insurance. By being active, getting regular health screenings and even reading online health related materials, earns more Vitality Points when you track them using the easy online tools provided to members or the Manulife Vitality mobile app. Intrigued yet? If you’re interested in learning more information on the Vitality program or would like to sign-up for your own customized life insurance, head to manulifevitality.ca

This post is sponsored by Manulife, but all thoughts and opinions are my own!

Get Inspired to #BeTheMotion with Apple Watch & the 2016 Olympic Games

The 2016 Olympic Games in Rio are in full swing and it’s almost impossible not to be inspired by the talented athletes on the quest for gold for their respective countries. Although we may not be training for our own appearance at the 2020 Olympics, we can most definitely  train to be our own best athlete.

Degree Be The MotionThe Limited Edition Canadian Olympic Apple Watch Band

If you’ve been watching the games closely you may have noticed some of Canada’s favourite Olympic hopefuls like; Melissa Bishop, Andre De Grasse, Brianne Eaton, Emilie Fournel, and Nathalie Achonwa wearing Apple’s new Limited Edition “International Collection” watch. Not only is the new “International Collection” watch band a great way to show your support for your country during the games, the Apple Watch is a phenomenal tool to help you get fit or stay fit, no matter what your focus is.

Degree Be The MotionPhotos by Jess Baumung Photography

The reason why my Apple Watch is such a big part of my life is because it has all the elements of a superior SportsWatch while also possessing the capabilities of an all-day activity tracker. I use it to track my sleep, my meals, my runs, cross training workouts and much more. There’s no shortage of amazing apps available on this watch, but I have rounded up 4 that will help motivate you in hopes to make you become a better athlete:

Spring Running Music:

Running with music may not be for everyone. Some, like me, prefer to hear their own breathe and footsteps, but if the BPM of Beyonce’s latest album Lemonade is the motivation you need to pound the pavement, then download Spring from the App Store immediately. This amazing app let’s you to leave your phone behind and still access your music. Apple Watch doesn’t allow you to plug in headphones but you can still use it with a wireless headset like my go-to Rose Gold Beats By Dre Solo2 to help you log your miles. Download Spring right now here.

Hudl Technique:

Looking to perfect that golf swing? Want to improve your running technique to get faster in the 5k or on the track? Learning a new sport for the first time? Hudl Technique is a unique app I’ve discovered for iPhone and Apple Watch that allows you to record your technique and review in slow motion playback so you can get a closer look at your form so you can learn how to improve it. Need additional feedback? You can share your technique vids with Hudl users worldwide to get form suggestions and feedback. Download the Hudl Technique App here.

Map My Run:

There are several running apps available on the Apple Watch including it’s native running (and fitness) tracker, but Map My Run has a dedicated and significant community to encourage a running lifestyle. This app lets you log more than 600 different types of workouts, record GPS activities, sync and share activity on Apple Health and MyFitnessPal plus socially share workouts with friends. Download MapMyRun here.

Human:

Not everyday do we feel motivated to wake up and crush workouts right away. Human not only tracks your activities throughout the day but it also pushes you to move at least 30 minutes a day by sending you reminders straight to your wrist. The app also automatically picks up your bike rides, walks, runs and other activities that go on for a minute or more and logs them to the app. Download the Human Activity Tracker here.

Fourteen countries are represented in the highly covetable watch bands (below are some of my personal faves) and they are available for purchase right now for $49 USD. If you’re an Apple fan and in Brazil this summer, you better get your hands on one as they are only sold at one Apple store in the world and it’s in Barra da Tijuca in Rio. Here’s a glimpse of a few bands within the collection.

Apple Watch International Collection

Search for more inspiring fitness tips from myself and other my other #DegreePartners by using the hashtag #BeTheMotion on Instagram and Twitter!

 

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