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Tech Talk: Everything You Need To Know About Apple GymKit

If you own an Apple watch and cardio is a big part of your gym workouts, sit down and get ready to have your mind blown.  And if you’re not already an Apple Watcher user, chances are you will be after you’re finished reading this. Along with the Watch0S 4 updates recently, whether you are set up with the most up-to-date watch or still rocking the Series2, you can now make it work directly with your favourite gym cardio equipment.

Thanks to a new fitness-focused feature and NFC (the technology used for tap payments like ApplePay), you can now share tons of information between your watch and compatible gym equipment that’s actually accurate. So, no more frustration when you’re finished your workout with the discrepancy over mileage or calories burned or freaking out half way through a treadmill run when you discover you forgot to start the activity app on your watch – HELLO, ME ALL THE TIME! Now, every single intricate detail to your workout will be synced with your your watch and because it already has all of your basic info such as height, weight, sex, etc – it can give you a more accurate read of what you did during your workout. This info is then stored on your watch and goes towards your activity rings. Forgetting to start your watch at the beginning of a workout will never be an issue again. You can just tap the watch at any point mid or post workout and the data will sync up. So if you’re competitive about closing your rings everyday this is the best thing ever because you will still get full credit for your sweat sesh in the workout app.

So Sasha - Apple GymKit

If you’re not sold yet here’s why Gym Kit is so damn brilliant. Using the Apple Watch independently of your cardio equipment of choice, you’re pretty much only going to get one accurate reading and that’s for heart rate. It’s virtually impossible to accurately track distance and elevation and like, who properly calibrates the equipment before they start a workout anyways? Nobody.

I got invited to Equinox Yorkville a few weeks ago to test out my Apple Watch Series 3 with their new Life Fitness equipment they just recently upgraded to so they could facilitate GymKit and guys, it is a definite game changer. Also, super bummed because for years I was a member at the brand’s two Toronto locations and the minute I gave it up, they bring in this state of the art equipment *cue the tears*. After stepping on the equipment, I tapped my watch and started the workout from the treadmill auxiliary panel. This automatically activated the workout app and away I went running through a simulated trail route I had picked somewhere in Ireland. The data between the two devices were completely identical and even if I stopped to take a break just to see what would happen, the workout immediately paused on my watch too.

So Sasha - Apple GymKit

The data I was able to collect from my treadmill working was actually shocking to say the least. I was able to see distance, time, accurate calories, average pace, elevation gain, in addition to both average and recovery heart rate. It is pretty much impossible to obtain that much data from any other indoor workout.

Ok, so I understand you may not all be runners and some of you would rather walk off the side of the cliff than do a treadmill workout but the Apple Watch also works brilliantly with the stairclimber and indoor bike. You will have the ability to accurately capture the number of stairs climbed, which was not possible before with the watch and if you’re a cycling enthusiast, then you will be happy to know that it will retrieve the same data as a treadmill workout with the watch but it will also capture RPM and power wattage from the bike. If you’re an avid rider you know those are difficult for even outdoor cyclists to capture.

GymKit Compatible Equipment

This was everyone’s number one question to the Apple Canada team during our briefing session. What brands are going to be compatible with GymKit technology? The top three industry players are obviously on board; Life Fitness, Matrix Fitness, and of course TechnoGym. But there’s also Schwinn, Stair Master, Star Trac, Cybex, SCIFIT, and Nautilus with skin in the game too. Even though all the major players are on board, it doesn’t necessarily mean that your watch is going to connect at every piece of cardio equipment at the gym. Well, not yet anyway! It’s currently limited to treadmills, bikes (minus spinning bikes), ellipticals, and stair masters.

Photos by George Pimental and Nathalia Allen

Where Can You Find GymKit Equipment in Toronto?

Equinox Yorkville is the first club in Canada to support the newly launched technology with Life Fitness equipment, but a roll-out to other clubs is planned for the near future says Apple Canada. GymKit has already been introduced into fitness clubs in the United States, London, Japan and Hong Kong.

The Latest Wellness App That Will Keep You Motivated in 2018!

I think most of us have good intentions when it comes to sticking to our health and fitness goals. That being said, we’re all human so it is not uncommon to get sidetracked along the way. And let’s be honest, staying motivated during the cold winter months can really be a difficult task. I’m personally finding it extremely difficult getting back into shape post baby, not to mention humbling. There’s been countless times I’ve wanted to bail on my early morning workouts so I have been relying heavily on wearable technology and apps to help me stay accountable because this has NOT been a walk in the park.
Carrot Rewards App + So Sasha

Carrot Rewards

You guys have heard me shamelessly express my love for loyalty programs over the years. I decorated Maxie’s entire nursery with items from retailers on Aeroplan’s eStore just so I could earn extra miles to go towards our first family vacay.  Well, a few weeks ago I discovered on a brilliant app called Carrot Rewards available on both Apple and Android. I’ve been using it every day since as a way to help encourage me to make healthier choices and better all-round lifestyle choices, while earning points and miles towards my favourite loyalty programs. Intrigued? Thought you’d would be. Here’s how it works…

Carrot Rewards App - So Sasha

The app is designed to help educate and reward Canadians for making better, healthier choices for themselves, for their families and for the planet. By being active and doing quizzes to learn about healthy living and wellness, Carrot users earn points from their favourite loyalty programs including Aeroplan® Miles, More Rewards® Points, SCENE®Points, Petro- Points, and Drop points and I’m told there are more loyalty reward partners to be added over the next few months.

Honestly, the app’s subtle way of getting users to increase and track their daily steps, become more physically active and make better food choices makes it one of my top fitness trends of 2018. I’ve been personally earning extra Aeroplan miles by opting to take the stairs instead of the elevator and choosing to walk to do some of my errands instead of driving around the city. The app was named Canadian App of the Year in Mobile Syrup’s 2017 Reader’s Choice Awards, and I can see why. With the app’s compatibility with my Apple watch, the steps from my workouts and runs are also accounted for and there are so many chances to earn bonus rewards when I scroll through the app by sharing my own meal prep recipes, taking quizzes on nutrition or inviting friends to join Carrot Rewards.

The “Tip of the Day” also serves as a gentle reminder for things most people may overlook

Many  Canadians fall short on Vitamin D in the winter. Turn to your diet to up your levels. Try salmon, mushrooms, eggs and fortified products like milk, soy and tofu.”

Carrot Rewards App - So Sasha

Carrot Rewards App - So Sasha
Photos by Jess Baumung

For more information, visit Carrot Rewards on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram and follow along via #CarrotRewards, #WellnessRewarded and #WalkLearnEarn. Download the app for free on your Apple or Smartphone.

Carrot Rewards - So Sasha

 This post has been sponsored by Carrot Rewards, however all views and opinions are my own!

Tech Talk: What You Need to Know About Apple TV 4G

I did a TV detox for almost a year. Not intentionally, but with Netflix, Shomi, Crave and other online streaming options allowing us to watch our fave programs on our laptops, what was once one of the most used things in my household ended up sitting on a console collecting considerable amount of dust. Well, a lot has changed around here since getting Apple TV. Since it’s launch in 2010, it’s design had really not evolved and it was still using an interface dating back to the iPod days, quite possibly the reason why the device has consistently been eclipsed by it’s prodigy siblings, the iPad and iPhone. If you’re one of those people who prefer to wait for a later generation of a product so a brand has time to get all the kinks out, then now would be the time to try out the best version to date of Apple TV.

The latest version has powerful hardware, a significantly redesigned remote and an operating system worthy of an Apple product in 2016. Plus, there’s a legit app store now, which turns the device into a killer platform for entertainment, workouts and gaming right in the comfort of your own living room.

Apple TV Fitness Apps

The ultra sleek new Siri remote not only looks attractive when placed on your coffee table or TV console, but it’s also super functional. Say goodbye to endless button pushing kids. With the smooth touch surface, selecting and navigating is made so much easier with swipe capabilities. In addition to the menu and play/pause buttons, which the remote had before, there is now a home button and volume controls. Plus, since it’s wireless you don’t even have to point it directly at the Apple TV console. Worried about having to add yet another remote to your collection? We’ve trained the intelligent Siri remote to adapt to work as our television remote control.

Apple TV Fitness AppsHere’s what you will receive with you Apple TV purchase. *Note HDMI cable is sold separately

Once you’ve set up your Apple TV, which can be done simply on the corresponding app on your iPhone, the well laid out home screen makes it easy to search iTunes for movies, shows and music, and search/download from the app store etc. There aren’t any third-party apps installed by default, which is kind of a good thing in my personal opinion. This means, only the apps you love and use frequently are displayed on the home screen. The only downfall so far to be honest, is not having access to some of the new and amazing third-party apps that have been developed for 2016 that are not available in Canada *welp*. I frothed at the mouth thinking of all the potential binge watching I could do on HBO, Showtime and HULU and the workouts on Beach Body On Demand but nope – no dice for us Canadian residents. However, there are still a handful of apps making Apple TV a worthwhile purchase even if you reside south of the border…and let’s start with some that will get/keep you in shape:

Apple TV fitness apps

Fitness Focused Apps

Think you have no time to get to the gym after work? Can’t get out of bed extra early to make it to that yoga class? Or better yet, need some inspiration for some active mobility stretches before you run? I’ve combed the app store and online to find fitness apps that ticked all the boxes; high quality videos of varying lengths and forms of exercise, affordable prices, an app perhaps with an iOS version that sends me push notifications to nudge me when I haven’t worked out. Even a corresponding Apple Watch app component that will tap into the watch’s sensors to track my heart rate and cals burned. This may be too much of an ask, but I remained hopeful. After spending some considerable time trolling and testing, I’ve realized there is a HUGE potential for health and fitness apps on this platform and has even got me thinking of someday creating my own third-party app. With the updated version of Apple TV, tvOS has made it much easier for third-party apps to be created, so I suspect we will see a lot more comprehensive fitness apps popping up in the near future. Although there are some great options out there, I still think the fitness focused apps haven’t reached their full potential yet. Here’s a few of the contenders that were able to meet some of my tough criteria…

Zova:

Apple TV Fitness AppsPhotography by JessBaumung.com

One of the first tvOS fitness apps created, Zova also comes highly recommended by the peeps at Apple. It offers a ton of free video content, which is awesome, and is even equipped with Apple Watch integration so you’re able to see your heart rate on the TV screen while you workout. However, you have to pay $10+ a month to unlock the premium version. Still cheap in comparison to most others though, but I would have liked to see at least one option in the app store that was available free to users. Furthermore, majority of the videos are much shorter than I would have liked to see – 15 mins or less and no instruction. There’s just a model demonstrating each move sans voiceover. On the plus side, Zova is great for those who want to be led through a quick ab workout, short flow sequence to start the day or pre run stretch routine.

Daily Burn:

Apple TV Fitness Apps

Daily Burn has been featured in Vanity Fair, the New York Times, Shape, Good Morning America and the Today Show because of the success of it’s subscribers and now I know why. With over 500 workouts in 20+ amazing programs from strength training, HIIT, weight training, yoga, dance and more – there is something for everyone. Plus, there is a new 30 minute Daily Burn 365 workout every single day at 9am EST that replays on demand for 24 hours, specifically designed for beginners. When you download the app on Apple TV, your eligible for a 30 day free trial – something that most apps should allow you to do so you can ensure you are getting what you’re promised prior to purchasing. Once your free month is up, the premium membership will run you $36.99/mth. Workouts average anywhere between 30-40 minutes making them great on their own but also works well when you add in a run or other cardio workout but the app does not sync with the Apple Watch to monitor calories burned and heart rate.

Grokker:

Apple TV fitness apps

This yoga focused app also provides users with nutritional plans and cooking videos for those who are looking for some food inspo. Grokker’s program ranges from one week to six weeks in length and the series are designed to save you time with over 70 goal oriented series to choose from. My suggestions, “Get Tight in 28“, “x5 Intensity“, “Daily Muscle Relief” and the “21 Day Relax Mindfulness Meditation“. Love that you can schedule workouts in the in-app calendar as a reminder of which series you should be doing next. Users can also easily track progress such as total minutes of exercise and calories burned to stay motivated. If you have an Apple Watch, you will be able to track your heart rate and active energy during both fitness and yoga workouts while also contributing to your Activity Rings. Free to download and use, but just like the rest of the more sophisticated fitness apps out there, you have to pay for the good stuff. A premium subscription enables you to download an unlimited number of premium videos per month and will cost you $14.99 or $119.99 monthly or annually respectively.

Cody:

Apple TV Fitness Apps

Cody is the priciest out of the bunch because you actually pay per plan, not by month – so if you’re looking for an affordable fitness app, this isn’t it! The cost depends mainly on which plan you pick but on average will cost you somewhere between $40-50 and there is no free trial option. Some may argue that it is in fact good value for money because the videos are super high quality plus Cody offers offline downloads so you can do your workouts on your iOS device while traveling. If you’re the type that likes a variety and prefers to switch things up each day, you may not love that the app forces you to stick within a program, however on the plus side, this is the best way to achieve results.

Honourable Mentions

I would be straight up lying if I told you this was my only use of my Apple TV at home. Let’s be honest here, there are a plethora of entertainment, news, music, food and television streaming apps to make you forget all about cable television. On heavy rotation at our place right now – Netflix, TED Talks, Shomi, CityTV, People Entertainment Weekly Network, The Scene, Kitchen Stories, Made to Measure (for all my fave fashion documentaries and movies), and RedBull TV.

Apple TV is available at Apple stores, Best Buy locations and online at Apple.com starting at $199.

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!

 

SSFit: Spotify Summer Sixteen Training Playlist

You’ve heard me say time and time again that the right outfit can motivate you to workout, but a dope playlist is never to be underestimated. If you’re in the gym solo, it can be difficult AF to stay focused, give 100% and push yourself until the end of your planned workout. I hear so many times from people that they head to the gym with plans of doing an hour long workout and end up bailing 30 minutes later. No judgements here…I get it. It’s probably how I feel when I go to the nail or hair salon. I immediately start thinking of all the things I “could” be doing instead of being there for much longer than I really want to be.

SSFit Summer Sixteen Training Playlist

If it’s not possible to have a workout buddy or accountability partner in the gym, I would say you better get some good tunes to keep your butt committed to your planned workouts. There’s a few tracks I have had on heavy rotation lately and based on all your requests on Twitter, I have compiled them into a 45 minute Spotify playlist titled, “SSFit: Summer Sixteen Training Playlist” (there’s a sneak peek above) for you that will seamlessly take you through your warm-up, workout, cool-down and even a slow tempo’d track for you to stretch to.

And your playlist is only as good as the headphones you use to listen to it, amirite? I’ve gone back to wireless headphones and currently addicted to my new Beats by Dre Solo 2 Wireless On-Ear Headphones in rose gold. The intelligent design buffers outside noise with earcup padding and has a wide range of sound to allow listeners to enjoy music the way artists intend us to. They pair easily with my iPhone6 and I can move freely up to 9 meters away from my connected device. I really hate interrupting workouts with calls, but if I need to jump on one quickly with my agent, I can do so with the hands free mic. If you’re familiar with wireless headphones you’re probably wondering about the battery life right? The Solo 2 headphones were made for people on the go and can stay unplugged all day thanks to the 12 hour rechargeable battery. Available for sale now on Apple.ca for $329.95.

Photo by Jess Baumung.com for LouLou Magazine

Want details on my training look? Head to louloumagazine.com/sashaexeter for the details and the rest of my #366DaysOfLooks.

Keys to Better Sleep, Better Mood & Improved Productivity

That is one long and loaded blog post title, isn’t it? Well after months of reading, research and trials at home, I can confidently attest that sleep is directly correlated to mood, productivity, sex drive and tons of other aspects to our health and wellness. What was the catalyst behind this post? I was tired (literally) of waking up in the morning exhausted, in a bad mood and feeling like a complete zombie come 3pm. It wasn’t only me feeling this way either. My boyfriend was complaining of the same thing and the more I talked about my inability to get a good night’s rest, I discovered so many people around me have the same issue. When it comes to sleep, turns out it’s not just quantity that matters – it’s quality and what we do during the day hugely impacts how we rest at night. Our bedtime habits, sleep schedule and day-to-day routine. Because it’s something we know our body needs to survive, we often make the wrong assumption that it should come easily and that couldn’t be farther from the truth. If that were the case, 60% of Canadians wouldn’t feel tired all the time due to insomnia, sleep apnea, stress, pain related issues, restless legs, narcolepsy or 80-some other conditions that disturb our shut eye.

Sleep Better

Apple Watch Sleep++

Before embarking on my quest for improved sleep, I decided to monitor my rest at night to see when and if I was getting any quality zzz’s with the Sleep++ app on my Apple Watch and iPhone. I’ve discovered so many amazing and useful apps for my watch and this one definitely ranks high on my list of faves.  It let’s me measure the duration and quality of my sleep and as my sleep study progressed, it allowed me to gauge how effective the changes I’ve been making to my routine to benefit my sleep. Having issues getting zzz’s at night? The road won’t be easy, but I can promise you incorporating some of the tips below into your routine, you can significantly improve your quality of sleep and life.

 1. Support Your Body’s Natural Rhythms

Ok, so we’re going to start with the basics here. Do you remember as a child having a strict bedtime every night? I most certainly do and used to hate my parents for it. But it turns out there is a reason behind our parents doing this and we should have been thanking them to be honest. They knew sticking to a consistent sleep-wake schedule helps set your body’s internal clock and optimize the quality of your sleep. So how do we do this as an adult? Set a realistic bedtime that works with your lifestyle. I suggest choosing a time when you normally feel tired and do your best to stick with it. For me, that’s around 10pm. Also, if you’re getting adequate sleep, you will be able to wake up naturally without an alarm. Some other tips for getting in sync with your body’s natural cycle:

  • Fight after meal drowsiness (or what we love to refer to as “itis”)
  • Be smart about napping. I know it’s hard sometimes but if you suffer from insomnia, you may want to stay away from them altogether.
  • Avoid sleeping in on weekends. Having the same bed and wake times will enable you to wake up everyday feeling refreshed.

2. Reserve Your Bed For SLEEP and SEX only

Ugh…praying my father doesn’t happen to check out this post. I will die of embarrassment.  Over the years I have noticed something interesting. Sleep and sex are very closely related. When I speak to people that mention that they are not having much sex with their partner, they almost always admit that either they or their better half is sleep deprived. Makes sense to me because when I’m exhausted, sex is legit the last thing on my mind. Conversely when I start to think back to my better nights of sleep, surprisingly they have come after sexy time with my man. Its a bit like the chicken and the egg theory or the horse before the cart. You need to sleep and be well rested for more sex but sex can also be the thing to help you rest better at night. To help you get more sleep and subsequently more sex, use the bed for only these things. So many people live in small urban spaces (aka condos) meaning it’s super easy for your bed to become your office, restaurant or private theatre for Netflix marathons. If you associate your bed with any of these things, it will be significantly harder to fall asleep at night. Reserving it for only sleep and sex means that when it’s time to head to bed, your body will know exactly what to do.

Keys to Better Sleep

 

3. Control Your Exposure to Light & Avoid Bright Screens Within 2 Hours of Your Bedtime 

Pretty sure you’ve head this before, but it’s one of the toughest things to nail down. So here’s the deal, melatonin is a naturally occurring hormone controlled by light exposure that helps regulate our sleep cycle. When it’s dark outside, our brains produce more melatonin, which makes you sleepy. On the other hand, when it’s light we produce less making us more alert. In a perfect world we would all become sleepy when it gets dark outside but long days trapped in office with little light, too much exposure to energy efficient LED lights, working late or the night shift are just some examples that can shift our circadian rhythm and production of melatonin. Other ways to control light exposure to ensure a good night’s sleep:

  • When it’s time to sleep, make sure the room is dark. Truth is, the darker it is, the better you’ll sleep. I swear by black out shades to block light from windows. Not having them isn’t the end of the world though. For about $15 you can purchase a sleep mask, which pretty much does the same thing.
  • Keep the lights down if you get up during the night. If you feel like you absolutely need some light to navigate to the washroom safely, try installing a dim nightlight in the hallway or use the flashlight option on your iPhone or smartphone.

Limiting (bright) screen time before bed is usually one of the first tips you will find if you Google “ways to improve sleep”. Most studies suggest any and all screen time can affect your quality of sleep. This is a huge generalization in my personal opinion and should be taken with a grain of salt. Originally when I started this study, I obtained from watching Netflix for the first two months, but then my boyfriend and I realized that for me, it’s the complete opposite. I actually can’t make it through an episode of Scandal without falling asleep. However, if I get started on watching YouTube videos or Instagram that’s a whole other story. I could burn away hours watching, which will definitely affect my sleep so I stay off my phone after 10:30pm. If we happen to watch something on Netflix, the screen brightness on our laptop is turned down.

4. Get Regular Exercise

Keys to Better Sleep

Are you making time in your busy schedule to exercise? If not, this could actually be negatively affecting your ability to sleep soundly at night. Research shows that those who exercise  regularly, not only sleep better but feel less sleepy throughout the day. But keep in mind, this not not a quick fix solution to your sleep woes. It could take a few months for you to see a difference. Be patient. Focus on having consistency in your exercise routine and sleep will be sure to follow.

Exercise elevates your body temperature, stimulates hormones like cortisol and speeds up your metabolism, which are all amazing and great in the morning and afternoon, but may be counter productive if you wait until too late in the day (or night for that matter!). For this to work they way it’s intended to, try to finish your sweat sesh at least 3 hours or more before your scheduled bedtime. Sometimes it can take up to 6 hours for the body to fully cool down to a temperature conducive for sleep.

5. Be Smart About The Foods and Drinks You Consume 

Keys to Better Sleep

You know you take your sleep seriously when you nix your caffeine intake altogether. That surprises most people when I meet up with them at a cafe…”wait, like don’t all bloggers drink coffee and fancy lattes that they take pictures of for Instagram?!” is the response I usually get. All jokes aside, I swamped my regular cuppa joe for matcha and I’ve found it considerably easier to settle down later into the evening. Caffeine can cause sleep issues 10-12 hours after consumption. Yup, you can pick your mouth up off the floor now. After speaking to a few friends, turns out eliminating caffeine is just not doable for a lot of people. Well, if you happen to fall under this category, try steering clear of anything caffeinated after lunchtime. Additional tips:

  • We all know how important H20 is for our diet, but try not to drink too much close to bedtime. Interrupting your sleep with a trip to the washroom is an easy way to off-set your sleep cycle at night.
  • Avoid alcohol before bed. A nightcap may sound like a good idea to help you relax just before bed, but in actuality it 100% disrupts your sleep cycle while you’re out. Just trust me, I have had to learn the hard way.
  • Stay away from big meals late at night. It may be too much for the stomach to digest and can leave you away for hours due to heartburn and indigestion.
  • Not all foods before bed are bad though.  I swear to you, tryptophan is pure magic, so foods like turkey, soy beans and pumpkin seeds can help calm the brain of some which can help induce sleep. Just think about how sleepy you get after a turkey dinner during Thanksgiving. Cherries are one of the few natural sources of melatonin – a hormone our body produces for sleep…more on this later.  Like guacamole? Then you’re in luck. Foods high in magnesium like avocados may be just what you need for a one way ticket to dreamland. Whole grains (crackers, breads, etc) in moderation paired with protein rich foods like eggs, turkey or low-fat dairy can be the perfect combination for a pre-sleep snack.

Rituals and Relaxation Techniques

Saje Wellness Sleep WellPhotos by Nathalia Allen (www.amillionminds.com)

We have done a lot in attempt to figure this whole sleep thing out. Rejean and I are far from perfect and we screw up from time to time. We certainly feel the affects of missing our self prescribed bedtime or having vino too close to zzz time. One thing we know for sure though, it’s never just one thing that puts you into an optimal slumber, but rather an amalgamation of many things. Our pre-bed routine went from a quick 10-15 minutes to a solid 1-2 hour wind down and I know it sounds long, tedious even but it really is worth it. Drinking tea, stretching, taking what seems like a million supplements including magnesium (if you’re sleep issues are really bad you should definitely also add 5-HTP , Melatonin or GABA), listening to the calming sounds of falling rain or waves on a beach via the Calm app on our iPhone and liberally lathering on Saje Wellness “Sleep Well” formula that contains an herb called Valerian that used to help reduce the amount of time it takes to nod off is starting to become second nature.

Tech Talk: Food Accountability with Apple Watch & Lark App

Food Accountability with Lark

Ok, so here’s the ugly truth people. Exercise alone won’t give you the body you want. Sure you’ll feel better. Have more energy. Sleep better and even move better. I know it’s not what you want to hear and you were probably hoping I would say, “I workout everyday so I can eat what I want!” Could you imagine if that were true?  I would eat chocolate cake for breakfast every single day. But unfortunately that’s not how it works kids. You simply can’t out train a bad diet.

Food Accountability with Lark

Food Accountability with Lark

Since the beginning of the year, you’ve probably noticed I’ve been religiously wearing an Apple Watch strapped to my wrist; to run, at the gym, out and about, to sleep (for those of you who follow me on snapchat) and even with evening wear to events.  This has all been in an effort to find out whether wearable technology can really enhance my life like brands claim it can. This results so far may surprise you. I will be sharing some of my findings over the coming weeks but after reading several tweets on my timeline about food accountability, I felt compelled to jump the gun and share this little secret. I confess…I have an issue with food. I love everything that’s bad for me. Carbs, sugar, anything with gluten and the occasional cocktails – all of which cause me issues due to my health condition. It’s super easy to sneak in a cupcake (or 2) when nobody’s around. It’s almost as if it doesn’t count because only you knew it happened. Well, when I deviate from my prescribed and highly suggested foods, I feel the affects physically. Having to record everything that goes into my mouth holds me accountable. I recently discovered this genius tool while researching apps for my Apple Watch called Lark. I have used the app for six out of the last eight weeks and noticed a considerable difference in what I consumed when I was not recording my meals and snacks through it.

Eating healthy would be much easier if we had a personalized nutritionist telling us what we should eat, what we shouldn’t and suggest healthier choices to our favourite foods, wouldn’t it? Well, imagine if your best friend was a certified nutritionist and she checked in on you several times during the day to give you feedback on what you’ve eaten, your activity level and workouts. That’s Lark in a nutshell.

Food Accountability with Lark

Compatible for both Apple Watch and iPhone devices, Lark uses a mix of artificial intelligence and human experts to help people stay in line with their goals, get fit and lose weight. The app helps you track all the elements that goes into a healthy lifestyle and also has a texting interface that stimulates communicating one-on-one with a personal health coach. Personally, I often get sidetracked with my hectic schedules and in the past it wasn’t uncommon for me to accidentally skip a meal or not get enough water intake but frequent texts from Miss Lark forces me to be more mindful. It was ranked in Apple’s Top 10 apps in 2015 and it’s clear why. Here’s how it works:

The lesson is quite simple, recording your meals and activity makes you accountable and forces you to make better choices during the day when it comes creating healthy habits. Instead of falling victim to shitty takeout during a busy workday, I instead noshed on this amazing Ahi Tuna Poke Bowl created by our resident foodie expert Kristen Vander Hoeven with SOTO Sake; a premium, gluten free Japanese sake and my meal feel into the “green” category otherwise known as the “healthy” zone. Meals that are borderline fall in the “orange” or safe category, followed by the “red” category which probably needs no explanation. In case you missed this ridiculously healthy recipe on the bloggie, you can find it here. And not to worry, Kristen promises prepping a meal with raw fish at home isn’t as scary as you think.
Ahi Tuna Poke Quinoa Bowl
Stay tuned for more on how my Apple Watch is helping me keep a well balanced lifestyle. In the meantime, you can learn more about Lark and download this amazing app for free here.
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