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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.

My 30 day League Challenge Series: Healing Through Food

Healing Through Food and The League App

Our society has a tendency to underestimate the role and value food plays in our lives. The majority that do think they value it, they do so in the wrong way. Technically, food is just fuel for living. That’s it. Nothing else.  However, for so many of us it’s become so much more; for pleasure, for comfort, to socialize, as a reward, when we’re bored, as gifts, when we’re lonely…and the list just goes on and on. Over the years I’ve experimented with food. I went from eating a high carb diet while being an elite athlete, to becoming a vegetarian and then slowly transitioning to a strict vegan diet. Why vegan? For no other reason than I watched the documentary Food Inc and it scared the crap out of me. I was also living in Vancouver and it seemed as though everyone there was a “Granola Grinder” so it just seemed right at the time, LOL. But then I entered a fast pace career working for the largest Tobacco company in the country (ironic I know). With an unlimited expense account, tons of traveling, while wining and dining clients, my health started to go sideways. It is not surprising that my kidney issues resurrected during this time and fibromyalgia followed close behind.

Nathalie Niddim

If you’ve read part one of my 30 League Challenge (if not you can read it here) you have a good understanding at the health struggle I had for the last few years. I owe a large part of my recovery to food. Or shall I clarify, the right food. After several weeks of research, I was astounded to discover how much food influenced my conditions, especially fibromyalgia related pain. After taking copious amounts of prescription medication for an extended period of time, my gut lining and intestinal walls had become putrefied. These little holes in the lining allowed for food participles to sneak into my blood stream, causing my body to go into defence mode. The result was a nasty mix of chronic joint and muscle pain, food sensitivities, skin irritations, yeast infections, crippling migraines and insomnia. In recent months I have started to see some of these symptoms creep back up so I am determined to halt them in their tracks with the assistance of my League PRO and Holistic Nutritionist Nathalie Niddam.

ELXR Juice Lab

The process of connecting with Niddam through League was ridiculously easy. I was able to check her availability, set up our initial appointment through the app and within minutes she had emailed me what felt like a million documents, all necessary though, to fill out so she could get an idea of my medical history. This woman impressed me. She did a ton of reading and gathered up as much info as she could and was able to provide me with an insanely intense program for me to tackle to get back to where I need to be, while still getting the right about of calories to allow me to train and prepare for my next race. The custom program she created was broken up into three parts. 1) a custom 3 day juice cleanse with ELXR Juice Lab, 2) an anti-inflammatory/anti-candida diet and 3) a gut healing diet.

ELXR Juice LabELXR Juice Lab’s “Deep Breath” water is a midday lifesaver. It contains coconut water, fulvic acid and chorella. It boosts red blood cells and acts as a reboot – giving you life and energy to tackle the rest of the day. Photo from Instagram @sashaexeter

I was thrilled to find out that a juice cleanse was part of the program. After two years of testing out every juice company in Toronto, I have finally decided to partner long term with one and I have chosen ELXR. People have differing options on juice cleanses and they may not be for everyone but they have proven to be a lifesaver for me. When I am suffering from a pain flare-up, I can always count on a couple days of juicing to immediately bring down the pain level. It helps give my digestive organs a rest, improves my sleep, skin and so on. With more juices per day I have ever seen in any juice cleanse package before (8 juices and 2 boosters), I did not get hungry or have one craving. To be honest, I was quite full and had to force myself to drink the last two before bed. This is actually a good thing. I have cleansed with other brands before and literally felt that I wanted to chew my arm off from being so hungry. After day one,  I was bouncing off the wall with energy. With the perfect combination of cold pressed, non-HPP juices, seed mylks, and booster shots, I actually could gave gone another two days. ELXR’s mantra is, “Let food be thy medicine and let medicine by thy food” and their carefully formulated concoctions are created to act as the following remedies:

ELXR Juice Lab Remedies

ELXR Juice Lab Remedies

I am currently in the second phase of Niddam’s plan, the anti-inflammatory/candida detox for a total of six weeks – which is no doubt the most difficult one. You don’t necessarily need to be a chronic pain sufferer, have arthritis or a candida issue to do this. This regimen is a phenomenal detox program for anyone trying to do a deep cleanse of their system. However, I will admit it can be a bit challenging for someone to do voluntarily. Believe me if I could, I would be scarfing down a big stack of pancakes and sipping on a flat white while I write this post. All the foods most people generally love have been eliminated, so I am bidding farewell to fruit (with the exception of berries), dairy, legumes, all sugar and processed foods, fermented products (salad dressing, condiments – basically anything that may contain vinegar), alcohol, most nuts and caffeine…welp! The list of foods I can’t eat is much longer than what I can eat. For right now I am noshing on lots of dark leafy veggies, berries, eggs, foods high in good fats like avocados, organic chicken, fish and homemade soups made with alkalizing bone broth. I have just begun to start experimenting with some clean diet recipes that Nathalie graciously sent over in a 35 page deck and I will be sharing some of my faves over the next several weeks. Below is an easy, go-to brekkie recipe of that I love to prepare. It’s so yummy and full of good fats and protein:

Poached Egg with Avocado and Sweet Roasted Potatoes

Sample Breakfast

What You’ll Need

1 Tsp of vinegar *this is just to help keep poached eggs from separating when you boil them. Trust me, it’s a life saver!

1/3 – 1/2 avocado, thinly sliced

1 small to medium sweet potato, cut into chunks

EVOO (Extra Virgin Olive Oil) for drizzling

Pinch of paprika, garlic powder and red chilli flakes

Sea salt and pepper to taste. *Nathalie suggests pink or grey sea salts. Natural mineral salts are nourishing and help balance electrolytes

Cilantro

Preparation

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees

2. Fill a medium saucepan halfway with water and bring to a simmer. Add in vinegar. Crack eggs one at a time into a bowl. I like to use the outer ring of a mason jar cover to help keep the eggs in place while boiling. Place the rings into the water and gently pour one cracked egg into each. To be honest, this trick will allow you to perfect poached eggs every single time. Let boil for 3-4 minutes until whites are set. Remove carefully with a slotted spoon.

3. Toss sweet potato with olive oil, spices, salt and pepper. Transfer to a baking sheet and roast for 20-25 minutes until soft and crispy.

4. Plate eggs, avocado slices and sweet potatoes. Garnish the avow with cilantro if you wish, spritz of lime and a sprinkle of sea salt.

I am going to chill with this anti-inflammatory diet for another 4.5 weeks before going into phase three; “the gut healing diet”. When this program is over, I plan to integrate a Ketogenic diet based on the advice and direction from my nutritionist. What was initially supposed to be a 30 day challenge has quickly turned into a 90 day one. For those who are interested, I will continue to post my progress, share info on the third step of the food program, recipes I feel you may enjoy and feature my favourite concoctions from ELXR.

For more information on League, to sign up for free and to begin to build your own league of experts click here. Details on ELXR Juice Labs original, organic formulas and to create your own custom juice cleanse, head to ELXRJuiceLab.com. Thanks to my friends at ELXR, by entering the discount code “So Sasha”, you will receive 15% off your orders.

Endless Music at Your Fingertips with Spotify Canada

Spotify Canada

Music is a huge part of of everyone’s lives. I am pretty certain that 18 hours of my day is spent listening to music, so it’s no wonder I quickly become bored of my playlists on iTunes. After plenty of rumours and much anticipation, the announcement of Spotify launching in Canada last week was music to my ears (pun intended). For quite some time I have had to listen to my American friends gloat about the vast variety of music they had access to via Spotify and over the last seven days I have been thoroughly enjoying the convenience of having millions of songs at my fingertips. Everything from current hits, fave classics and new discoveries…there is literally something to suit every mood.

Spotify Canada

With so much time commuting in my car and logging km’s on my training runs for the Nike Women’s Half Marathon, Spotify has become my new best friend on the road and I have also been enjoying listening to endless selections of tunes while working from my computer. When you train as much as I do, it’s important to have music that compliments your workout. Spotify has a genre specifically just for this, where they have brilliantly categorized playlists for everything from cardio, HIIT, dance workouts, yoga, crossfit mixes, marathon training and various run mixes based on tempo/pace/BPM’s. My friends at Nike have teamed up with Spotify to create an official Run Nike Women account which houses tons of training playlists and the ultimate playlist for race day, which you can be found here if you have already signed up for your account.

Although I am a huge music fan and well versed on many genres, it’s always cool to stumble on new artists and this is a great way to discover new music. The program/app’s discover page helps you out by suggesting new music based on what you’re currently listening to…and this is just the tip of the iceberg. You can also get social and share music on Facebook, Twitter, Spotify and your blog and get entertained for hours with Spotify radio. You can get all of this and more for free but if that’s still not enough, you can always upgrade to a premium account for only $9.99 per month which allows you to download music so you can listen offline in high quality audio with no ad interruptions and no commitment.

Spotify Canada

For more information on Spotify and to download it for free on both your computer and other fave devices click here  and  here.

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