Motivation

Lately I have been getting so many messages of people asking me where I get my motivation. “Hey Steph, just wondering how you stay motivated?” or “I always seem to fall off the bandwagon, how do you keep it up?”. Honestly, I think I’ve answered this question differently every time someone asked me because I don’t really know how to answer it. And is my little spiel about motivation really going to change your lifestyle and turn you into Mr. or Mrs. Motivation? I don’t think so. Everyone has different reasons for working out, or being into fitness. Some people want to lose 10lbs, some people want to gain muscle, some people want to run farther, some people want to do hold a handstand for half an hour. For me, initially yes, it was to lose weight. Then it turned into me wanting to gain muscle. But along the way I have fallen in love with so many types of fitness. Yes, I have physical goals such as wanting to build more muscle, but ultimately, the reason I am so motivated is because I love it. I love training. I love yoga. I love Pilates. I love lifting weights. I love sprinting. I love doing burpees. I love feeling stronger. I love feeling good. I am consistently active because I like it. If I didn’t like it, I wouldn’t do it. Simple.

So, instead of asking me how I stay motivated, why don’t you ask yourself? Why do you want to workout? Why aren’t you working out? What’s stopping you from working out? Why don’t you go get some pizza?

I don’t know the answer to the questions you need to ask yourself.

 

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Reasons I workout (that have nothing to do with appearance)

1. Flow

Flow is a mental state where you are fully immersed in the process of the activity you are doing. You are so focused and so “in the moment” that you do not think of anything else. You forget what you are doing later. You forget your problems. You forget the stress. You zone out. Completely. I have never experienced this until I started working out. I experience it during weight lifting, during cardio, during Pilates and during yoga. It is the ultimate workout for my brain, my mental health, and for my happiness.

2. It gets me out of bed

I am a morning person. I will always be a morning person. But working out gives me that extra “jump” out of bed. It’s a great way to start the day. It gives me energy, it opens my mind and allows me to concentrate better on everything else I’m doing that day. The more you sleep, the lazier you become. Oversleeping makes you more tired. Get up and go.

3. I sleep better

So, I just finished preaching about getting out of bed, and now I’m talking about getting in it. Since I have been more active, I have had better night sleeps. By the end of the day I feel accomplished and need my rest to do the same for the next day. I sleep like a baby and I love it.

“If you wake up tired, you’ve been chasing your dreams. If you go to bed tired, you’re making your dreams happen”

4. Because I like it and I want to

I never dread a workout. I want to do it. I like doing it. It makes me happy. I always say if I didn’t like it, I wouldn’t do it. A lot of people complain about not finding time to exercise. I ask them, do you want to do it? Because if you want to, you will. Don’t make it be something to dread, make it something that’s enjoyed. Health and fitness is not about doing something you don’t want to do, it’s about make yourself better mentally and physically. If  it’s really a huge burden to exercise, then save yourself the stress and don’t do it. (But really, suck it up and do it)

5. I talk about it with passion

I had lunch with a friend yesterday and she was asking me about my Pilates classes that I’m teaching and other plans I have in the health/fitness field. After I talked about it she said, “Steph, I’ve never seen you this excited and passionate about something.” This is how I know health and fitness has changed my life.

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My Favourite Foods

A lot of people ask me what I eat on a regular basis or what type of meal plan I follow. Well, I do not “diet” or restrict any food group. I eat whatever I want – in moderation. I do follow IIFYM (If It Fits Your Macros) closely, but not to the extreme. If you don’t know what IIFYM is, then I suggest you go to their site to educate yourself and see if it is something that you would consider. Basically, IIFYM pays closer attention the amount of macro-nutrients (carbs, fats and protein) that you need as a individual, instead of worrying about eating only “clean” or “healthy” foods. I find this is really good for people who are looking to make certain body composition changes such as building muscle, or losing weight. It really opens your eyes to how much you should be eating and from what types of foods, to accomplish your goals. With that being said, no, I do not strictly measure my food, or follow my macro-nutrient recommendation everyday because that is simply unrealistic.

Below of I have listed some of my favourite foods and why. These are foods I eat on a regular basis. No, eating these foods won’t make you “skinny”. I am not saying that you have to eat these foods to be “healthy”. I am simply listing foods that I love and why I like to eat them 🙂

My favourite foods and why.

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1. Bananas – I eat a banana every day. They are the perfect fruit because they are nutrient-dense. They provide me with a good source of energy, carbohydrates, and potassium  I like to eat them as either part of my breakfast, or as a post-workout snack (or sometimes both ;)) You NEED carbs to replace the glycogen you used during your workout.

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2. Peanut Butter –  I eat peanut butter everyday. Yes, peanut butter has a high amount of calories compared to its serving size, and it’s high in fat, but because of its density it keeps me full and satisfies my sweet-tooth. Peanut butter contains mono-saturated fat, which is linked to decreased likelihood of developing heart disease and type 2 diabetes. Also, it tastes good on everything and I eat it from the jar.

3. Sweet Potatoes –  I eat sweet potatoes regularly, and hardly ever eat white potatoes. There is nothing wrong with eating a balanced portion of white potatoes. White potatoes aren’t unhealthy and they don’t make you fat. I honestly just like the taste of sweet potatoes better. Both white and sweet potatoes are close in terms of calories and sweet-potatoes have slightly less carbohydrates than white potatoes. They are a good source of carbohydrates to have with your meals. Sweet potatoes also taste great with peanut butter on top. TRY IT!

4. Oatmeal – When I tell people I eat oatmeal regularly, they think that it’s so “bland” and “boring”. Yes, if I was to just eat oatmeal cooked with water, I would describe it as bland and boring. But, who eats oatmeal alone? No one. I like to cook mine with egg whites (there is nothing wrong with a whole egg, I just don’t like a whole egg in my oatmeal), add berries, cinnamon and obviously top it with peanut butter. I usually have this as breakfast or lunch (which ends up being my post-workout food). Oatmeal is a fantastic source of carbs and fibre, and when you pair it with protein and fat, you have a complete meal that is satisfying and does wonders for the body. Seriously delicious.

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5. Spinach – I’m not really sure if people enjoy eating spinach. Like does someone ever crave a huge bowl of spinach? I definitely don’t, but I eat it regularly. The nutritional facts of spinach actually amaze me. It’s like 7 calories for 1 cup of spinach. I wish peanut butter was 7 calories/cup. Anyways, spinach is loaded with Vitamin A, Vitamin C, magnesium, iron and fibre. It’s actually like the perfect food. Basically, I make salads with spinach instead of other greens. I try to have spinach with my supper on a regular basis because of it’s amazing nutritional content.

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6. Questbars – I just had to add this one in here. I have a previous post on why I love Questbars -> QUEST-A-LICIOUS. Basically, they are delicious. They taste like heaven and they are a great snack, you can eat them a million ways and make so many recipes. Instead of going for 10 Oreos, you can have a Cookies and Cream Questbar and know that it is giving you a phenomenal source of protein and carbohydrates for your individual goals. You can buy Questbars here. And check out previous posts for recipes! 🙂

 

If you want things to happen, you need to make things happen

…Also, it’s okay to not know what you want to happen.

I’ve been in the place where I knew what I wanted, where I thought I knew what I wanted, where I had no idea what I wanted and where I didn’t care what I wanted. This time last year I was facing the most difficult decision I had to make. I had just graduated from University with my psychology degree and planned to go to Teachers College the upcoming fall. My entire life I had always planned on being an elementary school teacher. It just was. I never questioned it. I never gave it a second thought… until the summer before I was going to actually go to Teachers College. I remember sitting in my kitchen thinking about being in placement in a classroom.. and thinking about hating it.  I remember being so upset because that was ALWAYS my plan. I didn’t have ANOTHER plan. If I didn’t go through with it, what was I going to do? I was so scared to tell my parents I didn’t want to be a teacher anymore. I felt like a failure. I was confused and lost.

I refused to do something that I would hate. I refused to work a 9-5 job that will result me looking at the clock the entire time. I refuse to be unhappy. This is why I followed my passion. I fell in love with health and fitness. I always knew this in the back of my mind, but I never thought I could do it, never thought I was good enough. I wasn’t the “type” of person. One day I had enough. I refused to hold myself back. I knew what I wanted, so I decided to do it. I decided to be aggressive and make things happen on my own. I have support of friends and family, but when it comes down to it, I make things happen for myself.  Here I am a year later…a Pilates TEACHER. Isn’t it crazy, I always planned on being a “teacher”, but never expected to be a fitness instructor. I am studying Dietetics. I live a life I love. I live a life I enjoy. Lately I keep thinking about how blessed I am to have gone through the experience of not knowing what I was going to do because it lead me to where I am today. I am so thankful for the opportunities I have and the people who inspire me to continue to learn and grow, to become better and stronger, to be a better teacher, to help inspire people to feel good about themselves.

It’s true, sometimes dreams come true you never knew you had (if you put in the work)

The point of this is, follow your dreams as cheesy as it sounds. Do what makes you happy. You’re going to struggle, you’re going to cry, you’re going to have amazing days, you’re going to have shitty days, you’re going to want to give up. But you’re going to do it. And one day it will all be worth it. Seriously, follow your damn dreams. Live your damn dream.

If your dreams don’t scare you, they aren’t big enough.

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I Eat Chocolate Everyday

I don’t ignore my sweet-tooth, I embrace it…..on a regular basis. I each chocolate probably every day. I’m not kidding. I tell people this, and they look at me like I’m crazy. How can I eat chocolate every day and still be “lean” or “fit” and not “fat”. Body composition is math. If you eat the amount of calories your body needs, then you won’t gain weight. If you eat less, you’ll lose weight, if you eat more, you’ll gain. Simple. Because chocolate is deemed as “unhealthy” people automatically assume that you cannot eat it without getting “fat” or feeling guilty. I understand where this mindset comes from. I honestly used to deprive myself of sweets and I went crazy. I would refrain from any kind of craving and then once I gave in, I would get a large DQ Blizzard and then feel bad. I thought I ruined my progress and would regret the choice all together.

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Since then, I have learned to embrace my sweet-tooth everyday. By doing this I no longer EVER crave that DQ Blizzard, or feel like I need to binge on 75 cookies (okay I’m exaggerating, but you get the point). I’m not saying that eating chocolate is the healthiest choice every day, but I am saying that one portion of chocolate is not going to kill you. I would rather eat my “treats” everyday than deprive myself and feel the need to indulge like crazy. With that being said, I’m NOT saying that having a DQ Blizzard (or any kind of treat), is bad in moderation. And I’m also not saying that I personally don’t ever go get ice cream (or whatever), because I do. But my point is, that if you eat balanced and in moderation, you should be able to go to a buffet and be able to resist the temptation to eat every single thing on display (then feel like crap after). It’s called eating intuitively.

I know myself, I know what I crave.  I let myself have these “treats” because I know that I fuel my body with mostly nutrient-dense foods throughout the day. I also make sure not to let myself go super hunger, because that increases the chance of devouring that bag of not-so good cookies, or that container of ice cream that my mom hides in the back of the fridge 😉

Health, fitness and happiness takes work, takes practice, takes research and experimentation. Everyone is different. We all find various approaches to what works for us, for our personal goals and for what makes us happy. Sometimes you need to take a step back and evaluate what you’re doing, decide to make a change and then test it out. What you put into your body directly affects how you feel from the inside out.

My Workout Routine

“What does your workout routine look like?” – another question people constantly ask me. If I could answer this question with one word, I would use variety. I don’t think I have ever done the same workout twice. I constantly change my workouts to keep my body guessing, to keep myself motivated and because I get bored really easily. Also, it’s important to change your workout because your body will get used to the same routines over and over.  I never ever dread doing a workout because I do things I enjoy and find fitness and exercises fun and empowering. To be honest, if I didn’t like training, I probably wouldn’t do it. My workouts consist of weight training, HIIT, Pilates and yoga.

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Weight Training

I typically do weight training every other day and I do this at the gym. I started off doing full body workouts to build up strength because I wasn’t strong enough to do a full workout that just focused on 1-2 muscle groups. Once I got stronger I started splitting my days into back + triceps, shoulders + biceps, and legs. (Or something of the sort). Currently I still do that, or sometimes I do a full body strength workout. I honestly just decide what I’m doing the day before, write it all out in advance so I go to the gym and know exactly what exercises and sets/reps I am doing. I don’t like wasting time and I like moving quickly from one exercise to the next. This keeps my heart rate up and my body moving. Also, when I first started strength training I had a trainer set up a program for me. She went through every exercise with me to ensure I knew how to perform them properly. I highly suggest this if you are a beginner because there is nothing worse than going to the gym and not knowing what you are doing. Use your resources and don’t be afraid to ask questions. That’s the only way you can improve.

HIIT

High intensity interval training. This is alternating periods of intense anaerobic exercises paired with less intense recovery periods. I love love love HIIT. This burns fat like crazy (more than steady-rate cardio) because it increases your RMR (resting metabolic rate), which means you burn more calories AFTER your workout. I honestly get a high from doing this. I incorporate high intense moves such as burpees, kettle bell swings, squat jumps, skipping, plank jacks, sprints, battle ropes and the list goes on. I would do these exercises for 1 minutes, and then recover with a less intense exercise, which is usually a core/ab focus. For example, weighted crunches, hip twist butt-ups, bicycle crunches, planks, side plank dips and again, the list goes on. I typically make up circuits with 2-3 exercises, perform them for 1-2 minutes each and do the circuit 3 times. I pair different circuits together to make up a 30-45 minutes workout and then I usually end my workout with 10-15 minutes focusing on just core. I have found amazing results with this technique. I personally hate steady-rate cardio. My only workouts used to be the treadmill and I hated it. I didn’t see results I wanted and it was the worst hour of my life (lol). HIIT keeps me engaged mentally the entire time, I focus entirely on the exercises and this is when I found the definition and strength I wanted in my core.

Pilates & Yoga

I started doing Pilates when I first began my fitness journey. It helped me gain so much strength, flexibility and control. I learned how the mind controls the body and I also learned the importance of controlling movements instead of rushing through them. I love Pilates workouts that move up and down on the mat, including standing exercises, plank exercises and of course, mat work. Pilates is no joke. It takes extreme stamina and body strength. I find it so empowering that you can use your own body weight to change and shape your body however you want. I am currently practicing to become a Certified Pilates Instructor, and I can guarantee that my classes will be a lot of “up and down” movements that will make you break a sweat, gain strength and get a killer core.

I only recently started doing Yoga and I have absolutely fell in love with it. I am currently doing Hot Power Flow yoga about 2 times a week. This is an extremely intense style of yoga because you are constantly moving non-stop, going through a series of power movements that use your entire body and also, you’re in a 40 degree room. I have never sweat so much in my entire life. It is literally the best feeling in the world. This type of yoga has allowed me to gain a crazy amount of lower body strength, helped me stretch and gain more flexibility and it’s 100% a mental exercise as well as a physical one. It’s the definition of empowering and I highly recommend trying it!

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My favourite post-workout snack is obviously a Quest Bar. If I’m at home I usually broil them because they are delicious broiled, but still just as good eaten as they are right out of the wrapper. You can buy them by clicking this link. You also get a free bar with your purchase 🙂 Check out recipe posts for ideas on how to add Quest Bars to make delicious recipes!

 

Quick Nutrition Tips

Happy Monday! 🙂 I love Monday, do you love Monday? New day. New week. New goals. New attitude. Happiness all around.

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I thought I’d share a few of my nutrition tips that have worked for me over my health/fitness journey! People always ask how to eat and it’s honestly so difficult to answer. I feel like sometimes people expect a secret answer, but in all honesty – eating healthy for me means eating balanced and a variety of foods. I eat foods I enjoy, that fuel and give me energy and make me happy. I’m not going to tell people what to eat and what not to eat because I believe all food can and should be enjoyed (in moderation)

1. Water for days!

Water water water. Drink it up. Flavor it with fresh fruits and vegetables. Lemons, limes, mint leaves, cucumbers, berries – the options are endless! Water is so good for you – it keeps you hydrated, it keeps you full, it flushes out your system. A lot of people are dehydrated and they don’t even know it. Also, people tend to mix up hunger with thirst. Keeping a bottle of water with you at all times is a great technique to make sure you are drinking lots throughout the day. Replace the sugary juices, sodas and highly carbonated caffeine drinks with water and not only will your digestive systems thank you, but so will your skin!

2. Say goodbye to microwave meals

When I was in university it was so easy to buy 2-minute microwaveable meals. Heck, they were advertised as “healthy”, low-calorie, cheap, quick and easy to make! Sounded great to me. But, when I actually took the time to look at the Nutrition Label and evaluate the ingredients, this option was not so good. These meals are small portions, so yeah they are maybe 200 calories – but they didn’t keep me full. Also, the sodium content was out-of-the-roof. Now, I cannot recall the last time I had a microwaveable meal. You can still prepare meals that are cheap, quick and easy without resorting to highly processed meals that basically taste like plastic.

3. Don’t be afraid to try new foods

Almonds, sweet potatoes, fish, oatmeal, yogurt, apples. Just to name a few of the foods that I only started eating in the last couple of years. Before, I would say no to sweet potatoes just because they were orange (LOL). I didn’t try certain foods for no reason. Since then, I realized there are some absolutely delicious foods out there that are healthy! Imagine that. Seriously, just try things. You might find a new favourite food! Also, this makes it easier to say goodbye to some of the not-so-good foods you eat on a regular basis. I used to eat ice cream after school every day. Now, I hardly crave ice cream because I can satisfy my sweet tooth using various healthier options (take a look at my recipes :))

4. Don’t deprive yourself

This is probably the worst thing you can do. Makes sense, if I eat breakfast and then don’t eat all day then I’ll lose weight. Wrong. You’ll get home and you’ll be so starving that you will eat your entire kitchen plus half of Africa. Seriously though, if you eat healthy snacks throughout the day then you won’t come home and binge (on probably junk food) at night. Bring snacks with you to work, to school, out shopping to ensure you always have something to eat when you get hungry. You’re less likely to indulge in something you really don’t need.

These are just a few tips/tricks that have worked for me. Making small changes will result into bigger changes in the future. I promise. I’m a living example.

Thoughts? What other issues do you guys find difficult to change?

🙂 ❤