Friday, December 14, 2012

The search for a coach begins

I've decided I need help with this competition. I have been doing research but haven't been able to find much useful information online. Therefore I am on the market for a coach. I just want to have someone tell me where I should be focusing on for my training, show me how to walk/pose on stage and help me with outfits/jewelry selection. The problem is I don't want to go broke because of this.

I've thought about hiring someone locally to make my suit for me out of material that I pick out but I have no idea how much that would cost. I've also thought about what colours, accessories, etc would work best for me. I think I want to stay true to who I am and be a little bit different on stage. I'm not much of a glam kind of girl so all of the sparkles, sequins, jewels, and stuff don't really suit me. I'm thinking instead of big blingy bracelets I might wear mala beads. And instead of wearing big, sparkly earrings I might wear some kind of feather earring. Or put feathers in my hair. Maybe a tie dye suit would really pop on stage? These are all things I want to talk to a coach about.

So if anyone knows someone that has competed before in the Halifax area please let me know as I'd love to ask them to be my coach.

On a training note I started doing German volume training (GVT) the other day. It's the basic build that a lot of body builders use of 10 sets of 10 reps. From the research I've done so far it seems to be the best way to put on muscle mass in a short period of time. I feel like I need to work a bit more on my glute muscles and on my upper body muscles. So I'll be doing this training regimen for the next few weeks and then with the guidance of a coach hopefully go into my burn/cut phase after Christmas. Starting to definitely feel the time crunch.....

Sunday, December 9, 2012

It's been a while...

As the title states, it's been a while since my last post. So much has happened since August so here's a quick recap:
  1. Got laid off from my corporate office job.
  2. Enjoyed the last two weeks of summer not having to work.
  3. Got hired as a personal trainer at a local gym.
  4. Decided to compete in a bikini model competition in 2013.
Kind of crazy hey?

The new job is amazing. I have been learning SO much about personal training and training in general in just 3 months and can't wait to continue my learning. I will admit that getting clients has been difficult but people just keep telling me to persevere and it'll come with time. Here's hoping :)

What I really wanted to focus on talking about over the next few months is the bikini competition and prepping for it. I have been trying to do research on the specifics of competing, what type of training is recommended, dieting, model walks, suits, etc but I haven't been able to find one source that goes into detail about all of these things. Therefore I figure I might as well journal about this process so that other people can learn from my experience. There will be some aspects that will be different than most other competitors like the fact that I'm vegan. Although I have found some interesting information on body building as a vegan on If you haven't been there, you should definitely check it out.

Anyway, don't want to jump too far ahead of myself in the first post. I would love to make this a daily thing but we'll see if that actually happens. Life gets in the way sometimes but I promise to do my best :)

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

The What-If Game

I want to start this post by giving a huge shout out to Crunchy Betty! Please go take a look at her blog as it is full of awesome fabulous fantasticness. She posted today about a new game she is playing and she wants all of us/you to try it. It's called the What-If game. It's pretty easy to play and the best part is that as long as you play, you are a winner. Sounds awesome right? That's because it is.

Here are the deets:

The Objective: To learn whether, through no-biggie experiments, you can change the way you look at life, achieve a goal, or kick a bad habit – without feeling like any of it is a Very Big Deal.

There are only a few rules:
  1. What Ifs are all experiments, and nothing about the outcome is a Very Big Deal. It’s just fun to play.
  2. It doesn’t matter what other people think about the experiments you run by saying What If.
  3. If you don’t like the outcomes after a few trials, you can adjust the experiments or just move on.
  4. As long as you’re unattached to any specific outcome, and as long as you play it truthfully and without manipulation in mind, it is a success, even if it fails, because you’ve learned something new about how you navigate your life.
 So right now, right this very second, I want you to think about something in your life you would like to change. Something that causes you problems. Maybe you have a bad habit, a goal you want to achieve or a way of thinking you would like to change. Now think about the What-If's for your situation. Some of the ones that are floating around my head are "What If I woke up earlier than I needed to be awake every day", "What If I wrote in my journal more often", "What If I took a more active role in my relationship with my parents". These are just a few of mine. I should probably add "What If I didn't take on so many projects/goals at once" as it seems relevant in this situation (hahaha).

Ok, so now you have your what you want to change, and your action to make that change happen. All you need to now is start to experiment with your What If one day at a time. Maybe tomorrow you force yourself out of bed an hour earlier than usual. Or maybe instead of yelling at your kids because they are getting on your nerves you close your eyes, take a few breaths and calm down. Whatever it is, try it out today, right now if you can.

The key to making this game work is that you focus on the experiment without investing in the results. If you are unattached to a particular outcome then you won't be disappointed. Remember that this is about making the change and then noticing how that change affects your life. Try not to expect a particular result. If you aren't hoping for outcome A then you won't be disappointed if you get outcome B.

And don't give up on the first try either. If you get a result at first that doesn't settle well with you afterwards then try it again a few times. Really give the experiment time to cultivate a consistent result and then decide whether or not you want to keep the change in your life.

My first What-If is definitely focused on trying to get my butt out of bed earlier. I always feel amazing when I force myself out of bed and can have a relaxing morning before going to work. I just hate the whole act of getting out of bed. We'll see if I can get myself to do it every week day for the rest of the month and how it changes my life. I'll make sure to keep ya'll updated.

What are the What-Ifs you want to experiment with?

Friday, August 10, 2012

Pinterest Finds: Health and Fitness

So I passed my written exam for my personal training course! Yaaaaaaay. Therefore I figured this week would be as good a week as any to show you all some of my health and fitness related Pinterest finds.

1. 25 Ways to Run Faster (original source) - Planning on incorporating a lot of these techniques in my training regimen. Although I hate hills I'm hoping they will make my running a lot better.

2. Jump Off Jiggle (original source) - I have recently fallen in love with jumping. On my upward motion in my squats I'll normally jump my feet together and back out then move into the squat. I also love doing squat jumps on my stairs. It's such a good way to burn fat and build muscle!

3. Reasons to be Fit (original source) - This happens to me all the time. Never ceases to amaze me how many muscles we have but don't realize we have until they get sore.

4. Kettlebells for Beginners (original source) - I don't know about you but kettlebells look like I love exercises that keep things interesting and this is definitely one of those exercises. This article gives you tips on how to start using kettlebells.

5. Top 15 Reasons to Run (original source) - I love running when it doesn't cause injuries but there are some really good reasons to start running.

6. Crossfit (original source) - Maybe I'm masochistic but I think crossfit looks like so much fun plus you get an amazing workout. I love the idea of really challenging yourself and using your body weight for most of your resistance training.

7. Common Knee Pains (original source) - This is super informative. Use it to analyse where the pain is and what it could be diagnosed as. Of course you should always consult your doctor if you're feeling a pain but this could satisfy your curiosity if you are curious like me. Make sure to open up the link to read what it says!

If you'd like you keep updated with my pins make sure to follow me or a board of mine that interests you! Happy Friday and I hope everyone has a great weekend :)

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Race Recap: Not Since Moses

A few weekends ago Matt and I went on a camping trip to Five Islands. I knew it was going to be beautiful but this beautiful. I had no idea.

Dancer's pose on the ocean floor at low tide.

View of the camp ground and Five Islands from the office building.

Matt and I at the end of the camping property. There's actually a drop off right behind us.

We originally went because we were participating in the Not Since Moses race. Even though we did still run in the race, I think the camping was the real highlight of the weekend. I haven't been camping in years so I wasn't sure what to expect but it was amazing. We had perfect weather the entire weekend including the drive up. On the way we found an awesome cluster of yard sales and antique stores where I bought a lot of wicked items for my new apartment. One of them I plan on refinishing and posting a DIY for it on here soon. We forgot to take a photo of the shops but we'll do that next year since I think this is going to become a yearly tradition for us.

Our little camp site with this amazing view behind it.

Even though we were late (because of the shopping) we still got to the camp ground with plenty of time to set up our tent, make some dinner and enjoy the evening sun before bed.

Playing Skip-Bo while eating dinner.
One of the many benefits of car camping is that we could pretty much make any food we wanted. So for dinner we had a tofu/veggie stirfry on rice with peanut and coconut curry sauce. It was delish!

Tofu and veggie stirfry with wine :)

Enjoying the view after dinner.

Our muddy feet after a bit of exploring.

I know I know, marshmallows aren't vegan. But you gotta make exceptions sometimes.

Hanging out by the fire.

Right before bed.

We woke up the next morning with a bit of a hangover and Matt had a migraine. I was expecting him to stay in the tent while I went to race but he was a trooper and went with me anyways.

Before the start of the race.

The Not Since Moses race is very unique as it isn't run in a normal race environment, for this race you are literally running on the ocean floor. Five Islands is on the Bay of Fundy and at this particular spot the water goes out so far at low tide that there is actually room to run 5km on the ocean floor. We hadn't done any training for running in mud but it wasn't as hard as I expected. Since Matt was having some chest pains we just took it easy and alternated between walking and running when he was up for it. Because of that our finishing times weren't as expected (48:45 for the both of us, Matt coming in 439th, me coming in 440th) but his health is more important than our finishing times. And we still had a lot of fun! We're definitely planning on coming back next year and training for the distance so that we get some good times.

Start line.

Everyone gathering around at go time.

At the half way turn around point.

The aftermath. We just threw out our shoes.

And there you have it. I can't wait to come back next year. Maybe I won't drink the night before so my head is in better shape for the race. Hope to get a better time next year too!      

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

CIBC Run For The Cure

This year I am again participating in the CIBC Run For The Cure. Yay! I've run in this event at least 4 or 5 times over the last 10 years and every single time I enjoy it. It is always the highlight of my racing/running because of the spirit that goes into it. And this year I'm expecting it to be even better if only for the simple reason that I am actually running for someone.

As many of you already know the Run For The Cure is to raise awareness of and funding for breast cancer research. Personally, no one in my immediate circle has been affected by breast cancer. That being said I have been touched by cancer. Last November my Nan died from colon cancer. It was a challenging time filled with lots of tears and sleepless nights. I believe she was taken from this world so that new life could be brought into it but I still wish that it had not happened and that no one would ever have to go through that kind of pain and loss. Alas, it happens every day. So this is why I am participating in the run. I figure getting one step closer to finding a cure for cancer, all cancers, is a step in the right direction.

If you would like to help me raise money and awareness for this amazing cause please go to my donation page and donate whatever you can. Whether that's $.50 or $50, it all counts.

Friday, August 3, 2012

Pinterest Finds: Superfoods, Sun Tea and Nothing to Wear

By the time Friday comes along my brain usually wants to go for a run and then crash on the couch to veg for the evening with a big bag o' chips (hence my nick name "girl who eats whole bags of chips"). I'm normally completely burnt out. So to keep things light I have decided to start a new series called Pinterest Finds. For those of you that don't know, Pinterest is an online pin board. You can categorize your "pins" to keep them organized and you can also follow other people's boards and they can follow you.

I absolutely love this site. I'm always finding things online that I want to remember but hate having a ton of bookmarks. Pinterest allows me to keep track of all my random online finds in a way that makes sense to me.

So without further adieu, here are some of my Pinterest Finds this week.

1. Superfoods (original source) - Most of these I eat on a weekly basis, some daily. How many of these do you eat regularly? Avocado is my fav :)

2. Audrey Hepburn (original source) - I couldn't agree more. I get so much joy out of helping other people. It makes me feel alive and like I've been put on this Earth for a reason.

3. Nothing to wear (original source) - This is me every morning.

4. Balloons (original source) - This is such an awesome idea. I really want to try this when I have the space and take some self portraits!

5. Roasted zucchini (original source) - ....drooling... Oh how I miss cheese. Going to try making these with a vegan cheeze sauce though.

6. Wooden spoons (original source) - Just started my wooden spoon collection. In my new apartment I want my utensils to be made out of metal or wood, no plastic. This will be a great way to spice up my collection.

7. Sun tea (original source) - I wonder what this tastes like and if it will give me super powers or not.

8. Beach (original source) - Having sand between my toes is one of my favorite feelings in the entire world. pure.bliss.

Make sure to check out my Pinterest boards and follow any of the ones that interest you :)

Happy Friday!

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Reason #2 For Becoming Vegetarian + Cupcake Recipe

"You are what you eat". I can't even count the amount of times I heard this as a kid. Growing up on bologna & cheese sandwiches and bologna & cheese omelets I never really thought about this saying. I mean, obviously I don't look like bologna & cheese so it can't be true right? But maybe there's something to this idiom.

My diet, just like almost everything else in my life, has gone through phases. Once I started to do yoga regularly I became more in touch with my body. I felt connected to it in a way I've never experienced before. So when my diet fluctuated from eating healthy to not eating healthy it was very obvious to me how it affected me. Junk food made me feel sluggish, slightly sick to my stomach and overall dreary. The more I started to increase my water intake and decrease my junk food intake the more fluid and strong my body started to feel.

In this post I talked about the main reason I became vegetarian. I'll be honest, it wasn't that hard of a switch for me since I didn't eat a ton of meat anyways. But once I cut meat out from my diet completely my body had an overwhelmingly positive reaction. I immediately had more energy. My body felt a lot stronger and more efficient. Overall, I just felt more healthy. And that's because eating meat isn't healthy for you. There are a ton of anti-meat and pro-meat articles all over the internet. I am not interested in getting into that debate here. I just wanted to share with you some of the health related facts I have found about not eating meat.

  • "Dr. William Castelli, director of the Framingham Heart Study, says a low-fat plant-based diet would lower an individual's risk of heart attack by 85%." (The Kind Diet 2009, p.16)
  • "Meat eating is also believed to exacerbate gout, contribute to rheumatoid arthritis, and to be a major factor in the formation of kidney stones." (The Kind Diet 2009, p.17)
  • "A USDA report published in 2000 estimated that a staggering 89% of US beef ground into patties contained traces of deadly E.Coli." (The Kind Diet 2009, p.18)
  • "Factory-farmed chicken is so unclean that Gerald Huester, former USDA microbiologist, says, 'the final product is no different than if you stuck it in the toilet and ate it'." (The Kind Diet 2009, p.19)
This is only the tip of the iceberg. Information is pretty easy to find online though so if this interests you I would suggest starting at The Kind Life site, Colin. T. Campbell's site and PETA's site.

Source: Chapters
Reason #2 for becoming vegetarian: better for my health. Even though I had been told many times that eating red meat was bad for you, it wasn't until I became vegetarian that I realized just how bad all meats are for your body. Combined with the environmental impacts eating meat has on our planet, my argument to be and stay a vegetarian became a lot stronger.

Again, I would like to stress that becoming vegetarian or vegan is a very personal decision. Although I know everyone can do it, I know it's not for everyone. Just remember that you can improve your health by eating less meat in general. Try a new vegetarian/vegan recipe weekly, bi-weekly or monthly. The less meat you eat the healthier you will be.

Now on to the yummy stuff! To go hand in hand with the chocolate frosting recipe from this post I figured I would pair it with the chocolate cup cake recipe from Kim Barnouin's Skinny Bitch: Ultimate Everyday Cookbook.

Ingredients (makes 12 cupcakes):

2 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt (I never add salt to my recipes)
1/2 cup almond milk
1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
1/2 cup Earth Balance (butter), at room temp.
1 cup evaporated cane sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup orange juice (this added the most amazing flavour0
1 teaspoon grated orange peel (I was in a rush and didn't use this)


Preheat the oven to  350 degrees F (180C). Line a 12-cup muffin pan with crimped paper liners.
In a large bowl, sift together the flour and the cocoa powder. Add the baking powder, baking soda and salt. In a separate small bowl mix together the milk and apple cider vinegar and let sit until lightly curdled.
In a separate large bowl, beat together the Earth Balance and the sugar with an electric mixer until fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add the vanilla and beat an additional 30 seconds. Pour the flour and milk mixtures into the sugar mixture and stir until well combined. Add the orange juice and orange peel and stir together but do not overmix. Pour the batter into the prepared muffin pan, filling each liner about two-thirds full. Bake about 15 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cupcakes comes out clean. Remove from the oven and set on a wire rack to cool completely. When cooled, top with your favorite frosting.

Enjoy :) And don't forget to lick the bowl clean!

Monday, July 16, 2012

I Care What You Think

I had a long conversation recently with someone important in my life about health and fitness. At one point in the conversation they said to me "I don't care what you think of me." This statement has been somersaulting in my head ever sense because I care what they think of me. I care about what a lot of people think of me. Not everyone but certainly the people I hold dearest and respect the most.

Our society has drilled it into our heads that in order to be confident, we have to not care about what other people think of us. I think this is wrong. When we don't care about what other people think of us we can royally fuck up or do nothing or be lazy and use the excuse of "well I don't care what you think of me" to hide behind our actions/inactions.

(Photo Source: Wikipedia)
Real confidence is about believing in yourself and trusting your gut instincts. And I would like to argue that we can do that and still care about what people think of us. We don't have to do what everyone else wants us to do, or act how they want us to act. But we should care enough about the people in our lives that we care about their opinions and take them to heart. If someone in my life goes out of their way to point out that I might be doing something wrong or acting inappropriately, etc, don't I at least owe it to them to take into consideration what they are telling me? In the end it is my decision as to whether or not I continue to act a certain way or do a certain thing, but I at least owe it to that person to take what they are saying to heart and contemplate what they are trying to tell me. I owe that to them because they cared enough about me to bring it to my attention.

Caring about what others think of us is not an all or nothing game. Of course we shouldn't pay attention to bullies or people we don't respect. But to our family members, friends, partners, I believe we should let go of our pride and pay attention to what they are telling us. It might surprise you how much these people actually know about you, care about you, and can help you along your way if you care enough to let them.

Monday, June 25, 2012

First Road "Race" of 2012 Recap

At the beginning of spring this year Matt convinced me to take up biking this summer. Ok, it wasn't that hard to convince me. I was in good physical shape because of my consistent yoga practice over the last year but I had really been neglecting any cardiovascular activity. So when he mentioned biking I was all "Yeah, why not?". Since I didn't have a bike my dad decided to let me use his (Thanks Dad!!). We got it tuned up at Sportwheels and had new clip-less pedals installed. Having never used clip-less pedals before I was really nervous about trying them out. But Matt kept reassuring me that I would get the hang of it in no time so I had a bit of faith.

My first few rides with the clip-less pedals were pretty nerve wracking. Being physically attached to your bike and having to think about moving your shoe to the side before getting off the bike can be a little stressful. I will admit that I did fall down. More than once. Surprisingly though it was never when I was actually biking, always when I had stopped, unclipped one foot, put that foot on the ground but accidentally transferred body weight into the foot that was still clipped in. And then TIMBER, I fell over. The first time I could not stop laughing once I was on the ground and had done a body check to make sure I was ok. Matt said my face was priceless, complete shock. Where is candid cameras when you need them?

Back to the story... I had to upgrade my biking seat to something with more cushion and then we started hitting the trails a lot more. Sooner than I would have ever expected, we were biking 10km and 15km distances. My body was reacting well to the biking and it was proving to be a lot of fun (except for the sore bum). So we decided to sign up for a race. Well a "race" I should say. We registered for the Valley Lifecycle 50km bike ride. It wasn't really a race, more of a "let's promote health and fitness and all ride our bikes" kind of event.

We had started training for it about a month before the big day by doing shorter rides during the week (20-35km) and longer rides on the weekend (40-50km). Then last week we found out that the 50km ride was actually 62km. I will admit I felt pretty defeated at first. I've never been a cyclist and wasn't sure if I could do that distance as we had only trained for 50km. On top of that I had sore hamstrings from working out too hard earlier in the week and Matt was sore from getting back into badminton Friday night. We got up on Sunday and contemplated not going. Although I really wanted to race (especially since I had told so many people about it) I didn't want to injure myself since I was still sore and I didn't want Matt to injure himself since he was still sore as well. We decided to do a test ride around the neighbourhood and after a couple of laps we decided, what the hell, we're up and feeling ok so we might as well do it.

The experience was awesome. I was surprised with how many people were there and it was really cool to ride through Kentville's main roads and have it completely closed off for bikers. It took Matt and I about 5-10km to get into the groove of the ride but after that I found it almost easy. The scenery was so gorgeous that Matt and I want to drive the route next time we're in the area so we can take some photos. After about 1/3rd into the ride we became spaced out enough from other riders that we were pretty much alone for the rest. I prefer this way more than biking with a bunch of other people because we could be silly and make jokes and chat without people listening in. Most of the bikers tended to be pretty serious too so we probably would have only annoyed them.

We ended up finishing in just under 3 hours (I think, it wasn't timed so I don't have an exact time) which I am overly pleased with. I was guestimating it would take 3.5-3.75hr for us to finish. We only had a few problems on the route. My chain fell off twice and the second time I fell off my bike when I went to stop to put it back on. Thankfully I didn't hurt anything. The last 1/4 of the race was really hard on Matt's muscles since they were so sore to begin with. He has been so supportive of me when we were on some hard rides during training so I was really glad we stuck together for the whole ride and I could be supportive of him. I'm so used to going on bike rides with him now that I think it would be really weird, if not hard for me to ride alone.

All in all it was a super successful day. We went and stuffed our faces at Joe's Food Emporium in Wolfville after the race. The food was much needed as we probably burned between 2000 and 2500cal during the ride.

Started with some cocktails - I had a pina colada and Matt had a long island iced tea.

Appetizer was zatar fingers which is a Lebanese version of garlic fingers
This was delicious! It's called vegetarian m'nazalee and I HAVE to find out how to make it.

Now we're seriously considering doing either a metric century (100km) or a 75km race. Maybe if I have time for the training with my sprint triathlon training :)

Friday, June 22, 2012

Come Alive

Terrified. That moment's hesitation right before you grab hold of your dream and run with it. Shortness of breath. The fear of failing, or maybe, the fear of succeeding. That's what I'm feeling right now. If you know me or have read a good amount of my blog posts you'll know that I love having a goal. Something to work towards. I have so many lists in my journals it is actually kind of embarrassing. So is the amount of projects/goals I have started to work towards and have quit. Around 5 years ago I decided to stop attending university. Since then I have worked full time in good jobs but never jobs that fed my soul. I think this lack of feeding my soul has made me become indecisive about my career. Instead of pursuing something that means a lot to me, I've been doing whatever has "fallen" into my lap. What is comfortable and secure.

At the beginning of the year my dear friend Andrea and I went to have our tarot cards read. It was quiet the experience. I even have it all recorded on my phone for me to reflect back on (which I recommend for anyone that has their tarot cards read). Pierre told me a few things that really stuck out to me. He said that currently my career is in a position of non-choice. I have found my way into a job, a good job, but not the job for me. He said that the job I am in is not challenging me enough and is not feeding my creativity. From the cards I selected (I forget which ones) he said that I need to spend the near future researching areas that really inspire me and call out to me. Find a field that interests me on both a personal and professional level and then go back to school or train in that field to gain the knowledge I need to be successful. He ended that part of the reading with, "You are going to be miserable if you don't use your brain and challenge your intelligence."

That has been stuck to the back of my head for months now and I think I have finally found what I want to do. No, I have definitely found what I want to do. In my own life I have been so focused on being healthy, eating well and working out. After a lot of reflection I have realized that when I talk to people about my diet or fitness decisions I completely light up. I get so excited that someone has shown a bit of interest in my diet/fitness which I believe in turn reflects their interest in their own diet/fitness. No matter who the person is I always try to help them with recipe suggestions or types of yoga classes or work out routines, etc. So when the light bulb finally turned on a few weeks ago it didn't surprise me that this is the field that I really want to get into. I want to immerse myself in the field of health and fitness and not only use the knowledge to help myself but to teach others how to be healthy and fit as well.

For the first time in my life I feel like this is really it. This isn't some idea that is going to burn out in a few months or years. Tonight I take my first step down this road with my first night of personal trainer specialist classes. I have some really fun and creative ideas for where this career could potentially lead me and I can't wait to share the journey with you all (hello? does anyone read this?).

"Don't ask yourself what the world needs. Ask yourself what makes you come alive and then go do that. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive" - Howard Thurman

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Inspiration: Alex Beadon + Self Portrait Project

Over the past few weeks I have been finding inspiration in all areas of my life. Everything from books, to nutrition, to photography blogs. One in particular that I have been loving lately is the ever amazing Alex Beadon. Alex is a portrait photographer based out of England. There are a few reasons I love her blog so much but I think the main reason is that even though she is a photographer and it is her photography blog, she posts a lot about her life and where she finds her inspiration. So many photographers out there only post their photos on their blog and barely delve into any other areas of their life. And I guess that is ok if that is all they want to share. They will attract their own type of clientele. But I'm drawn to blogs like Alex's because of how open and honest she is about her dreams, her process and herself in general. Last year she completed a 30 days of self portraits project and I want to attempt something similar. Although I'm not sure I'll be able to do it every day for 30 days I do want to try doing at least two a week. We'll see :)

Here are some of my favorites from her project:

Day 2: Lost in black (Copyright 2011 Alex Beadon Photography blog - source)

Day 5: Offstage (Copyright 2011 Alex Beadon Photography blog - source)

Day 24: Mirror Image (Copyright 2011 Alex Beadon Photography blog - source)
Day 26: Feeling Relaxful (Copyright 2011 Alex Beadon Photography blog - source)
Aren't they just amazing?! She really is a talented photographer. Self portraits are extremely difficult, I speak from experience.The first photo in my self portrait project will be soon. Wish me luck :)

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Never Give Up

"Never underestimate what you can do when you believe in yourself." - Arthur

For the longest time I have believed that everyone can do yoga but yoga is not for everyone. And although I still kind of believe that, I have changed my definition of the "type" of people that can do yoga. I firmly believe that people that have the desire to make healthy changes in their life, can do yoga. After watching the above video (which has made me cry multiple times), the fact that anyone, no matter your age, athletic ability, weight, strength, etc, can do yoga has really been driven home for me. Arthur is living proof of this. If a man that had two knee braces, a back brace, two canes and 140lbs of extra weight can transform his life with yoga, anyone can do it. You just need the drive and the will power to keep at it, even when it's tough. Yoga will transform your body, your mind, your life.

Something else the video brought up for me was how "mainstream" yoga has become now. There are so many elitist yogis out there that think "my yoga is the best yoga" or that yoga becoming mainstream/popular has degraded the authenticity, history or spiritual aspect of yoga. I have to disagree with them. There is no right or wrong when it comes to yoga. As long as you're being safe and not hurting yourself then it doesn't matter what style you practice.. I believe yoga is flexible in this manner.

Which is why I want to show support to DDP Yoga. Yes, Diamond Dallas Page the wrestler now has his own yoga video. And I think it's GREAT. It has expanded the demographic of people that yoga can touch and for this I am greatly thankful that Dallas decided to create his own yoga video.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

10 Things I'm Afraid To Tell You

Most of my favorite bloggers are people that are (or seem to be) 100% honest and genuine on the web. I love how transparent they are about their fears, their failures, their successes, etc. Almost every time I read a post by one of these people I think to myself, "Why can't I be more like that?". So, in an attempt to be true to myself and to let whoever reads this know a bit more about myself, I'm going to list 10 things that I'm afraid to tell you. I got this idea from the amazing Becca at Life as an Artistpreneur. Even though I'm sure she doesn't know who I am, I love her writing, her creativity and her photography skillz (yes, skillz with a z because they're that awesome).

1. I try to appear confident in every aspect of my life but secretly there is a scared, little girl inside me. I am constantly afraid of failure. Or of not being good enough.

2. Even though the majority of the people in my life are older than me and I'm comfortable around them, I always get uncomfortable and fear judgement when I run into people I went to school with.

3. Sometimes I wish I could quit my job, sell all of my belongings and run away to a cabin in the woods to do yoga, read, and grow all my own food.

4. I tend to easily forget things like birthdays, anniversaries, etc. I have a calendar and a day planner but since I rarely open either I always end up forgetting until the last minute.

5. I am jealous of all those people that don't have a "regular" job. Those creatives that make their own schedule, that do what they love.

6. Sometimes I talk smack. It is my way of venting. If I vent it to (the select few) people in my life then I won't be inappropriately mean to people face to face.

7. I think I have commitment problems. Not in my romantic life but in pretty much everything else. I have wanted a "big" tattoo for years now but cannot settle on something I want and actually get it. I want a creative job but what that job is tends to change from month to month.

8. I often wonder what holds myself back. Whether it is fear of failure or fear of success.

9. I have a self diagnosed minor case of OCD. To the point where I will not step on a crack (break your mother's back).... ever.

10. I have been trying to redesign/brand my blog for.... 4 years. I even bought my own domain but never put anything on it that is satisfactory to my liking.

After re-reading this it could appear as pretty dramatic/depressing. This is not the intent of this post. I always find it hard to actually write posts for fear of saying the wrong thing and offending someone or being judged.. This, I am hoping, will be a small form of therapy for me. Because all of the things I'm scared to say are right there, above this paragraph. And I'm sick of trying to be anything but myself.

So, here's to being the real us. I'd love to hear your thoughts or even read your own lists.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Reason #1 For Becoming Vegetarian + Chocolate Frosting Recipe

I am the last person I would have ever expected to become vegan. My whole life ham and bacon have been two of my favorite foods. People have laughed at me before in the past when I have talked about giving up meat because I love pork so much. It has been an interesting journey to get to this point and I wanted to talk a bit about my reasons for making such an extreme change in my diet.

Source: Chapters
The changes started for me back in March 2011. Most of my life I have tried to find ways to save the earth. I have always tried to be eco-friendly but it wasn't until 2010/2011 that I really started to research about the state of our environment and what kind of impact my lifestyle was having on it. There are lots and lots of books, websites and articles out there about this but it was The Kind Diet by Alicia Silverstone that really hit home for me. Below are some scary facts about the impact our meat industry has on the environment:

  • "It takes 441 gallons of water to produce 1 pound of beef... By comparison, it takes only 33 gallons of water to grow a pound of carrots. One 16-ounce steak uses the amount of water you need for 6 months of showers!" (The Kind Diet 2009, p.25)
  • "It takes more than 11 times the energy to create animal protein than grain protein. When you take into account the fuel used for planting, watering, and harvesting of the grain a cow eats, its transportation, the energy used by factory farms, transportation of the cows to slaughter, and then the distribution of the meat to you... the average American eats 97 pounds of beef a year, our national burger-lust requires the energy equivalent of a mere 29 billion gallons of gas!" (The Kind Diet 2009, p.26)
  • "The average American car produces 3 kilograms of carbon per day. The clearing and burning of enough Costa Rican rain forest to produce one hamburger creates 75 kilograms of carbon." (The Kind Diet 2009, p.27)
  • "In fact, cattle grazing is the number one factor in the destruction of the rain forest, and we're losing 2.4 acres of it per second. That's 144 acres per minute. Seventy-five million acres per year! Rain forest used to cover 14 percent of the earth, but now it covers only 6 percent. You see, every hamburger requires a plot of land the size of a small kitchen to be cleared." (The Kind Diet 2009, p.27)

Those are just some of the disturbing facts I learned from Alicia's book. I highly recommend it as a good source for information on being eco-friendly when it comes to eating and also for the recipes.

Reason #1 for becoming vegetarian: better for the environment. After learning all of this information I couldn't continue to eat meat knowing how much damage it was doing to our planet. I will admit that deciding to become vegetarian or vegan is a very personal decision and it can be extreme for some people. I will never try to push this lifestyle on anyone but I would like people to take a step back and think about how much meat they eat. Even just consuming less meat than normal will help lessen the strain that the meat industry puts on our planet. I saw this amazing idea online somewhere of starting "Veggie Mondays". Every Monday try to eat anything but meat all day. It's only one day to commit to and it can be a great way to incorporate some creativity and culture into your cooking and your diet.

Another way we can lighten the stress on our planet is to choose better meats. Go to local farms or farmers market. Buy meats from farmers that do not overuse antibiotics and allow their cattle to eat grass instead of corn. Not only are you supporting people in your own community but you are buying food that has traveled less than 100km to get to you instead of 1000's of kms. You're also supporting ethical food production instead of giving your money to factory farming.

One of the biggest challenges I have found since making the jump to vegetarian and then vegan has been finding good recipes. I recently tried a recipe from The Kind Diet and am in love with it. Here is Alicia's chocolate frosting (The Kind Diet 2009, p.190):

-1/2 cup (4 ounces) Earth Balance Butter
-1/2 cup agave nectar
-2 teaspoons vanilla extract
-1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
-1/2 cup soy milk powder

To make the Fudge Frosting, use a mixer to cream the butter together with the agave nectar in a mixing bowl until very smooth. Add the vanilla extract and about half the cocoa powder, mix on low speed to combine, then add the remaining cocoa powder. Add in the soy milk powder, and beat at medium-high speed until fluffy. If it is runny, refrigerate the frosting until it sets up a little.

I used this frosting on cupcakes that I made from Kim Barnouin's Skinny Bitch: Ultimate Everyday Cookbook. Keep tuned tomorrow for the cup cake recipe and "Reason #2 for becoming vegetarian".

Monday, February 13, 2012

Meditation, Love and Boy Movies

A few weeks ago I went to the open house at the Shambhala here in Halifax. They do a guided meditation for 45 minutes, tea and treats for 15 minutes and then an hour long lecture/discussion every Wednesday. The guest speaker started the talk with "I recently fell in love so I figured that would be a good topic to discuss tonight." Inside I cringed. Love has been such a source of negativity recently in my life. Thankfully though, she wanted to talk about love for everyone/everything, not romantic love.

She touched on some Buddhist principles but it was a contemplation activity she had us participate in that stuck out the most too me. We all had to sit like we were going to meditate, with our eyes clothes but instead of meditating she prompted us to think of specific people in our lives. The first was to send love to someone we care about deeply. The second was to send love to someone in our life that really needs love and support. And the third was to send love to anyone else. It could be a friend, family member, neighbour, coworker or even someone you don't particularly like.

I have done this type of exercise before. Normally at the end of a yoga practice I will dedicate my practice to someone in my life and send love to them. By doing this every time I get on my mat I have been able to infuse love into my life no matter what happens to be going on. One of my favorite quotes (don't remember where I heard it) is "Put out into the world what you want the most". By me sending out love to people every single day I guarantee that there is always love in my life.

This is something I think everyone should do. I always get a warm feeling in my chest when I focus on sending love to someone in my life. I even do this with people that I don't get a long with or don't particularly care for. By sending love to these people I find you start to have more compassion for them. Instead of criticizing them or building stories about them in your head you start to understand them more and cultivate positive energy in the relationship you have with them. There is one person in particular that I have been sending a lot of love to over the past few months. Her and I used to be good friends until a year and a half ago when we had a falling out. Words were said, feelings were hurt, trust was betrayed. The usual story. And even though I tried to repair the friendship, it has stayed shattered in tiny pieces since then. I have accepted that we will never be friends again but I still hope for the best for her and regularly send love and positivity her way. It has been one of the best learning experiences I have ever had and I highly recommend trying to send love to someone you have had a falling out with.

Source: Deviantart
Which kind of brings me to the topic of today's post: Valentine's Day. The "awesome" holiday for anyone in love and the "not so awesome" holiday for anyone not in love. This will be the first time I've been single for Valentine's day in I don't even know how long. We're talking at least 5 years here. When I first realized that I got a bit anxious. No one wants to be alone on Valentine's Day. I'll agree that it is a commercial holiday designed to make people spend money in the break between Christmas and St. Patty's Day. I know that you shouldn't need a holiday as an excuse to be romantic with a partner; that should be done any day of the year. But when coworkers started to put up heart decorations around the office it seemed like a constant reminder of how very single I am right now.

So to turn Valentine's Day on it's head I'm going to spend it with my soul mates and send love to the non-romantic relationships I have in my life. I'm going for dinner and then to a "boy movie" with two of my closest girlfriends. These girls have been the foundation in my life for the past few years. Through good times and bad these women have always been there for me. That is what a soul mate is I think. Someone that, no matter what, will always have a tissue for you when you need to cry or a bottle of wine when you need to be distracted. No matter what romance comes and goes in our lives, we will forever be each others soul mates. To these two women, I love you with my whole heart. You are both strong, smart and fierce and I'm excited to be able to spend my Valentine's Day with you two.

This Valentine's Day take a moment or two to sit, breath and send love to someone or everyone in your life, not just your romantic partner.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Staying Sad

February is always the point in winter where I start to get sick of the cold. I get sick of the snow, of scraping my car in the morning. I get sick of having to wear big winter jackets and of going through so much windshield washer fluid. If there is snow on the ground it is usually filthy by this point. It has lost it's pristine, sparkling glow that has always been able to mesmerize me with its beauty. A fresh, clean snow fall is one of the very few things I actually enjoy about winter.

Source: Deviantart
February is when I start to dream of summer. Or heck, I'd even take spring at this point. The days start to get longer and the snow starts to melt. You start to notice the sounds of birds chirping in the morning and the bright green of the tulips fighting against the snow to get some sunlight. It's the season that represents new beginnings. We get the urge to make changes in our lives; to re-invent ourselves. Normally by the time February rolls around people are starting to get restless. We want spring to happen. We want to be warm again and to look forward to the transition from winter to summer.

This year it is different for me though. I have always been the type of person to want to improve. I've never truly been happy with just being in the moment. I have always felt the need to want something more, to be something more, and to get over being sad or depressed as fast as possible. I mean, c'mon, who actually wants to be sad or depressed? Who wants to be stuck in the same old habits or be down in the dumps all the time? I think most people do everything they can to avoid feeling anything uncomfortable. I know I did for the last 24 years of my life.

But this February I have decided to change that. Instead of yearning for the warmth of the sun and the changes that spring time always brings, I want to be completely present right now. No more avoiding the uncomfortable moments. No more pretending to be happy when I'm not. I think everyone can learn a lot from just letting themselves be sad/lonely/depressed/etc. The more we try to ignore it or push past it the more it will build up inside of us. We should revel in the beauty of being sad/lonely/depressed/etc just like we revel in the beauty of being happy/joyful/content/etc. It is so cliché to say but we would never experience the highs without the lows. We would never know warmth or happiness unless we had experienced cold or sadness. But not only do we need to experience lows in order to experience the highs, I think we need to experience the lows to know that we can survive them.

Almost everyone I know lives in some kind of fear. Fear of failure, fear of being hurt, fear of letting people down. Fill in the blank for the fear in your own life. So we hold ourselves back. We would rather never take a chance at something we really, really want because we might fail. We might have to go through an uncomfortable experience. But what if we have already made it to the other side of an uncomfortable experience? What if we survived being sad/lonely/depressed/etc? I truly believe that if we stopped pretending to be happy all the time and let ourselves experience the "bad" emotions we would no longer live a life of fear. We would have no need to hold ourselves back from what we really want because we would know that yes, even if I fail and become lonely/sad/depressed, I know that I can live through it and be happy again.

It has taken me a long time to finally be ok with feeling the bad. To really give myself over to being lonely/sad/depressed. I know that it won't last forever and that I'll be better for having gone through it. So spring can take it's time IMO. I want to live in the now, in the coldness of winter with my sorrow, so that when spring time comes, I'll actually be ready for the changes it will bring.