Monday, June 30, 2014

Summer Time with Pure Leaf Iced Tea!

Hey loveys,

SUMMER IS FINALLY HERE! I’m so excited about it. I love love love summer, and anytime I get the chance to sit out on our condo’s patio and bask in the gloriousness that is the summer sun, I will take it! Because my schedule is so hectic, it makes it super difficult for me to find time to hang out with friends, who actually name normal working hours. I have a feeling this summer, my lounging time will be limited to weird times (as in mid-afternoon when everyone is working) but it’s not going to stop me!

My condo has an amazing patio and it’s totally the perfect summer oasis for me to hang out, sit in the sun, enjoy a beverage and work on my laptop. When my family does come to visit, we actually book the whole area so we can have a BBQ and hang out outside! It’s an awesome little getaway that I try and take advantage of as much as possible in the summer (the hot tub tends to get a little hot, but at night time it’s absolutely amazing).

My favourite snack to munch on in the summer is 100% fresh fruit and one of my favourite (non-alcoholic) beverages is iced tea! Whenever I’m out I love getting iced tea from coffee shops, but recently I was given a few bottles of the new Pure Leaf ™ Real Brewed Iced Tea. I was given 2 bottles of the Lemon flavour and 1 bottle of the Raspberry flavour. These are the perfect go-to iced teas for the summer because they come in awesome flavours to suit everyone’s likes! They come in Green Tea, Peach Tea, Lemon Tea, Raspberry Tea, Sweet Tea and Unsweetened Tea!

I wanted to whip up a snack that would compliment the flavours of iced tea I was given so I decided to make a healthy “Very Berry Fruit Salad”! Fruit in the summer is great because it helps keep you hydrated when you’re in the sun while providing much-needed nutrients that we sometimes forget about. My fruit salad includes:

·      Strawberries (a lot of antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties)
·      Blueberries (a large source of phytonutrients, Vitamin K and Manganese)
·      Blackberries (help to aid in digestion and cardiovascular health)
·      Raspberries (a large source of Vitamin C, antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties)

It’s the perfect compliment to the Pure Leaf iced tea and makes such a great healthy snack/menu for yourself or to serve to friends if you’re hosting an outdoor party this summer. It’s so hard to go wrong with fresh fruit at a party and you can always tailor it to your guests or to your own personal preferences. I like this version due to the fact that I chose the fruits with the highest nutritional value, so it’s really more bang for your buck! You can thank me later. J I included it in a BBQ that I had with some friends last night. The Very Berry Fruit Salad was a massive hit and the Pure Lead Iced Tea was the first beverage consumed!  It’s definitely the perfect summer bevvy!

Q: What’s your favourite healthy snack to serve at a BBQ?
Q: Have you tried Pure Leaf Iced Tea yet? What did you think?


Monday, June 23, 2014

{Product Review} Solo Gi Energy Bars

Hey loveys,

I was sent an awesome pack of Solo Gi Energy Bars in the mail last week. I have to admit that these bars were easily the best energy bars I have had in a long time. They didn't taste grainy, or chalky, or anything but utterly amazing.

I was given 5 incredible flavours to try:

- Chocolate Charger
- Peanut Power
- Lemon Lift
- Dark Chocolate Mandarin
- Coconut Pineapple

I honestly couldn't pick one of the 5 that was my favourite - they were all so delicious! They are also really healthy as well... (that statement is subjective, based on whatever is healthy for you - this is just my opinion!)

- They contain a full amino acid profile.
- They include inulin which aids in digestion and promotes digestive health
- Low Glycemic Index Carbohydrates (tested at the University of Toronto)
- No sugar alcohols or high fructose corn syrup
- No artificial sweeteners
- No trans fats
- Gluten Free (Certified by the Canadian Celiac Foundation)

I used them for a mid-day snack while I was at school. Each bar is under 200 calories, and they all have slowly absorbed carbs which means your blood sugar won't spike and crash causing more hunger. They're all gluten free and they're also Kosher friendly!

Overall I would highly recommend these bars as a snack food - not really as a meal replacement, but that's not exactly what they're meant for anyways. They were so so so good, I'll probably be buying some more myself! You can follow them on Twitter or visit them online by clicking here!


Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Garlic Sesame Steamed Spinach

Hey loveys,

It's probably been like over a year since I posted a recipe, so I thought now might be a great time. I've recently become a contributor to the Kitchen Daily Canada website, which means I need to start posting recipes and foodie stuff more often!

So alas, last night at dinner I made one of my favourite side dishes that I hadn't made in a while... Garlic Sesame Steamed Spinach.


Lol! I love love love steamed spinach, I eat it almost every single day. So I snapped some photos while I was making it to document the recipe so I could share it with you. It's beyond easy and it's delish and spinach is so flipping good for you, why wouldn't you want to make it? (Be warned, I'm an extremely amateur food photographer so I used my phone and edited the photos online. Ha.)

Garlic Sesame Steamed Spinach
3-4 cups of fresh baby spinach
1 tbsp EVOO
1 tsp sesame oil
Garlic Powder & Sea Salt to taste

1. I have a steamer that came with my pot set, so I filled a pot with water and put the spinach in the steamer above. As you can see, we also had steak for dinner. Nom!

2. Let the pot boil and the spinach cook via steam.

3. After the steam has cooked the spinach, put into a mixing bowl before adding ingredients. Be careful! It's going to be hot!

4. Add the ingredients and mix it up good!

5. I like to put my spinach as a protein topper. I had tenderloin steak and half an Italian sausage last night, but I've also had it with chicken and ground beef.

6. EAT! Nom nom nom.

Did you know spinach is actually easier for a person to digest when it's been cooked? Steaming spinach can actually help preserve the antioxidants in the leafy greens. Try and avoid sautéing or frying spinach in fat (butter or olive oil) as it alters the health benefits of the spinach and alters the way in which your body digests the food (aka the fats make it harder for your body to digest and absorb all the nutrients in the spinach).

Spinach is one of the most nutritious vegetables on the planet. About 1 cup of spinach provides far more than the daily requirement of Vitamin K and Vitamin A, almost all of the manganese and folate that the body requires in a day and about 40% of the magnesium that your body needs.

So go on - go eat your spinach and be merry! What is your favourite way to incorporate spinach into your everyday?

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

3 Things I've Learned Since Leaving My Job In The Fitness Industry

Hey loveys,

This post has been a while coming. If you've been following the blog for a while, you know I used to work in the fitness industry, and I worked in the fitness industry for almost 10 years. When you're actually working in the fitness industry, that usually means you either work IN a gym, or you work VERY close to a gym. That was my life since I started my first co-op at the local gym in my hometown at age 16.

When you're in the fitness industry, it's a bit.... how shall I say this.... different, I guess, than living in the "real world" (per se). When in the fitness industry, your surrounded by all of this positivity and greatness and constant excitement by people who are passionate about making the world a healthier place, while they spend their days in a facility dedicated to physical fitness, and where it is firmly believed that "I don't have time to workout" is a mere excuse that people who aren't SUPER in love with fitness make.

In my last job, I worked in an office in the bottom of a gym. During my lunch break I would run upstairs and workout for a good 50 minutes every day and just eat my lunch at my desk afterwards. I never really thought anything of it because it's what I had been doing my whole life. My job prior was in a gym, and prior to that was at the company's home office and the gym was directly across the street. Basically working out during the day was just a part of my life and I didn't know any differently.

In December of last year I left my job and the fitness industry in general (in a professional sense) and I've learned SO MUCH from being on the outside of fitness. First things first - I LITERALLY have very little time to workout during the week. If I didn't have a gym in my condo building, I would probably see the inside of a gym maybe once or twice a week over the weekend. When I have to wake up at 5:30am, be in class from 8am to 3pm and start work at 3:30pm and get home around 11pm, that literally leaves me no time to workout and that schedule is a typical Monday and Wednesday for me. If I'm feeling good I will wake up at 5am and get in a small workout before my day begins, but it's extremely hard. For me, this is not an excuse because you all know I love my workouts. It's just a reality and I feel like people who work IN a gym and not away from a gym may not understand the reality of that. Not that they should if they don't know any differently... I'm just sharing what I've learned, I'm not pointing fingers (so no hateful comments below, k? Thanks.).

Another thing I've learned is that it's extremely hard to keep yourself motivated when NO ONE around you cares about fitness or nutrition. I'm so serious right now.... There is literally no one I hang out with at school that care about working out, and actually, one girl thinks it's extremely unfeminine to be muscular. I verbally disagreed with her, but to each their own, right? I work with A LOT of really amazing people, however the restaurant industry isn't the healthiest... especially when there is freshly baked bread and freshly baked biscotti to nibble on throughout the night. I can easily tell I've put on weight since working in a food facility, but the food is SO GOOD I can't resist it. So that's an issue. Anyways, back on track... there are a couple of girls that are into working out, but I don't work directly with them nor do I work with them every time I work. Working in the fitness industry was amazing for staying motivated. People constantly set personal goals, or want to accomplish a certain goal as a team, there was always something to work towards physically which always kept motivation high.

Basically, all in all I've quickly learned that I am responsible for my own motivation. Seriously. This is a lot harder now than I ever thought it would be. Normally eating healthy and being active was just a regular thing... but now I'm in a world where eating chips and hot dogs and drinking wine every single day is a normal thing. I fell quickly into the trap of chips and wine and stuff and QUICKLY saw my body change so I QUICKLY ended that. Lol! But yes, I'm a big girl now and I have to learn that I don't need people to tell me to eat salad over fries or just just get my ass to the gym instead of watching season 2 of Orange Is The New Black (PS - anyone watching this?? LOVE. Who's your favourite character?), I shouldn't have that hot dog on the way home from work after not eating for 8 hours, I should get a wrap, or a salad instead. These are not hard decisions, I've just been making the LAZY decision.

Sigh. There's my rant for the day. To all of you people out there whom I ever told "not having time" was just an excuse, I understand now and I apologize. For all of you fitness people who are cringing at this post and screaming "IT IS AN EXCUSE!", well, sure.. I guess it is, I guess I could workout between 11pm and 12am or continue sleeping less than 6 hours so I can wake up to workout. Obviously I absolutely will do that sometimes (like I've been doing)... but when I don't (or when others don't), it's not because we are lazy (that's a lie, some of us will use that excuse solely to be lazy), it's literally because the world is such a demanding place this day and age, we literally don't have time.

On that note, I did get a good upper body workout in today and I did eat well today (omg I ate some roasted chick peas and I feel like my stomach is about to explooooooode) so I might just allow myself a glass of red wine tonight. :)

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Mid-Week Workout/Food Progress!

Hey loveys,

I just wanted to touch base with you and let you know how my week of:

1. 5am workouts are going and
2. My goal of food prepping and not buying/eating bad food

So I successfully woke up at 5am on Monday and Wednesday morning to fit in my workouts. On Monday I focused on legs (like I told you previously) and on Wednesday I focused on upper body! I don't know why, but whenever I do upper body, I don't feel like I'm getting in as good of a workout as I am when I do lower body. When I do legs I sweat like a piiiiiiiiig. But I wasn't sweating at all doing upper body so I ended the workout off with a set of Tabata sprints (20 seconds work, 10 seconds rest, 8 rounds) on the treadmill. My "work" speed was 7 and I just hopped off onto the sides of the treadmill for my 10 second breaks. By the end of that I was a little sweaty, and was also out of time so I ended my workout there.

On Tuesday I didn't wake up early to workout because I didn't have to work at night so I came home from class and was able to get outside and go for a run!! I got outside and the sky was clouding over with a very dark cloud. I knew I wanted to run a 5k so I decided to just give'er and run it as quickly as I could for fear that I was about to be in the middle of a massive down pour. It ended up being a decent run...
I finally got my sub-30 minute 5km back! Kind of... by the time I got back into my condo I had to walk around to try and cool down a bit but I still felt a bit light headed so I actually had to lay down and put my feet up for a little bit LOL. Brutal.. I really pushed it hard for that run but I'm happy with the outcome! And it didn't rain after all, when I had to go out after my run it was sunny and beautiful. Wah, missed the sunshine by about an hour. Oh well!

That's all in terms of workouts for now, so lets talk food.

This week I haven't bought my lunch one time. GO ME! On Monday I mashed up a whole bunch of leftovers and had that for lunch (I didn't take a photo because, to be honest, it was gross looking. Tasted delicious though). Same with Tuesday. On Tuesday after my run I went to the grocery store and picked up some lunch essentials... aka vegetables for salad. So on Wednesday I made a beeeeeeeautiful salad for lunch.. check it.

My salad consists of lettuce (obvs), cherry tomatoes, cucumbers, chicken, avocado, red onion and cashews! It was so so so so so so so so good. However, the downfall was that I was at work for 9 hours last night and didn't pack a dinner.... so I snacked on bread and biscotti and cured meats. I KNOW. There goes any gains I made from the salad. Wahhh, I was bloated and gross by the end of the night. Oh.. and on Tuesday I was super stressed at school about something and ate some candy. I also felt crappy after that too.... why do I do that??? Jeez.

Today is going to be better because I ate before I came to class and I have a shorter day at school, therefore my salad will come to work with me and I'll munch it slowly over the course of the night so I don't ever get super hungry. I brought an Asian pear and strawberries to munch on as well. SCORE!!

I've been drinking A LOT of coffee this week and not as much water. This is an issue... I can tell when I'm dehydrated and I hate it. However, coffee has been required to get me through this week. For example, yesterday I was up at 5am and didn't get to bed until 1am. Yes, that is correct... I was up for 20 hours yesterday. Needless to say I decided not to wake up early this morning to workout and opted for getting a solid 8 hours of amazing, amazing sleep. I'm not even mad about it.

Hopefully tonight I'm not up super late again tonight because I've started volunteering my Friday mornings to a charity called Rethink Breast Cancer for a few weeks so I have to be there for 9am. I would prefer to be rested, fingers crossed!

How are your workouts going this week? Tell me in the comments below!

Monday, June 2, 2014

My First Attempt At A Time Management Strategy

Hey loveys,

So as of late, I've had to really up my "time management skills" in life.


Hmm, well look at my planner from last week....

As you can see, most of my days are packed full of stuff I have to do. No where on there last week was there a line in my planner dedicated to working out... yes, that means last week I didn't workout.

Tisk, tisk....

I KNOW. It wasn't an ideal situation but something had to give, and unfortunately school and work cannot give. Basically my week goes like this:

Monday & Wednesday
Wake up at 5:40am
Out the door to school at 7am
Class starts at 8am
Class finishes at 3pm
Work starts at 4pm
Work finishes at 10pm
Home in bed by 11pm

Everything but working

Class at 12-3pm

All day homework

Work 4-1am

Relaxing and more homework

So basically somewhere in the first 3 days of the week I need to schedule workouts and food prep. This morning I tested out this thing where I get up early and go workout. 5:40 already seems fairly early and I was not excited to get up earlier than I had to... but I did it. Today I got up at 5am and went down to the gym in my building and did a pretty good leg workout for about 30-40 minutes. I have no expectations of myself to get in an hour long workout, and besides, my condo gym doesn't open until 5am anyways so I can't go at 4:30am anyways (thank the sweet lord).

This morning my alarm went off and I immediately popped out of bed like usual and I had set my workout clothes on the kitchen counter the night before so I didn't have to fumble around in the dark for them. I got changed and realized I had forgot my iPod in the car, so I wasn't going to have music, and I had to search around for my water bottle and pin my hair in the washroom and get a towel... needless to say I was like, half prepared for this 5am workout. Lesson learned.

I made it down to the condo gym and the good news is that it was dead. The odd news is that another guy came in, took a dumbbell from my side of the gym, brought it back after like 10 minutes and then left again. Weird, but whatever. I started my workout with 5 minutes on the elliptical... just me and the sound of the elliptical (which needed some grease) and the silence of nobody being in there. After 5 minutes I got off and headed over to the dumbbell area having no idea what I was even going to do. Luckily there is a stair case in that area of the gym, so I got in some plyo. My workout looked something like this:

10 dumbbell deadlifts
10 box (read, stair) jumps (3 stairs)
20 dumbbell squats
10 stair jumps
20 hip raises
10 stair jumps
10 split squats per leg
10 stair jumps
25 hip raises
10 stair jumps

I will admit that I haven't done weights in a while and I've been running more since it's been so nice outside, so my legs did fatigue pretty quickly, but I managed to push through as best as I could!

So needless to say if I want to keep up my fitness, I have to start engaging in more 5am workouts. It definitely wasn't the worst thing ever and I've noticed I've had a good amount of energy all day! So not a bad experience at all. I've also been analyzing my time better and I've realized that on nights when I'm social and indulge in some adult beverages, they don't tend to be the most productive. So in order to be super productive, I'm not going to be super social for the next couple of weeks. I have midterms coming up and projects due so I need to be on my A-game... you know?? Funny enough, last night I made myself a virgin cesar and it was equally as satisfying as an alcoholic one... so I guess that means 1-point for Sarah!

Now next up on my list is successfully planning and bringing enough meals to make it through my long days of the week (Mon, Tues, Wed).... I will let you all know how that goes once I'm successful more than 1 time.

Have you ever had to make sacrifices and shuffle your life around to make room for fitness?? Tell me about it!