I Go To The Bar(re) Five Days a Week

It’s been three and a half weeks since I sat myself down and realised that the only way I am going to stop being critical of myself is for me to lose some of my pudge. I’m never going to be a size 2, but I’ve got some problem areas (don’t we all?). I know myself well enough to admit that going to the gym is never going to be my thing. Being on maternity leave means I can’t splash out on yoga classes, which I love, so I decided to do yoga at home while my little one napped. I used the flows I learned in the classes I used to take, but was always on the lookout for a new app or flow/sequence.

After two days of doing yoga, I started to think that I might need something more. I had already added a couple of Pilates moves but I knew I needed to dial it up if I wanted to do more than just become more flexible and toned. My search that day brought me to Barre3. As a mix of the yoga I love, the Pilates that helps shed the weight, and the grace and flow of ballet, I thought it sounded perfect. Almost too perfect. I was afraid that it, like yoga, wouldn’t do a lot for helping me lose the fat that needed to go. I looked up some reviews, and no one seems sto have anything bad to say about it. My best friend has done even more research and thought the same thing.

  
Barre3 Logo 

I looked up the program and found that I had two options: pop into the only studio in Canada (which happens to be conveniently located about 5 minutes from my office and 20 minutes from my home!) or subscribe online and do the workouts at home like I had been. Money and child care being a thing for me, I took a peek at the online workouts.

They have previews that you can see without signing up (and paying), but I wanted to try a workout or two before committing. The site does feature a free 15-day trial, but I would have to add a credit card and cancel if I didn’t want to continue… It’s a great option but I knew that I would forget to cancel if I didn’t love it and I was still a bit sceptical of it all.

Lucky for me and my googling skills, I found a couple of free videos on YouTube. The next day, before doing my yoga routine, I fired up my iPad, found this video of Sadie Lincoln in NYC (my favourite even now!) and started my workout with Barre3.

I loved that first workout so much I did it twice and cut my yoga sequence short! (As an aside, I’ll admit that Sadie is a lot of fun to have leading your workouts… She comes across as fun, bright, and has an infectious optimism that you can feel in her videos. The other video instructors are great, but I have to admit that I often choose my online workouts based on if Sadie is leading them or not!).

Later that day I found another video (part 1 of a series of 3) and loved them as well. That did it. I decided to go for the free trial. I found a full one-month trial through Darling Magazine, and haven’t looked back since. Even with the USD being much higher than the CAD, it costs less than 3 Starbucks coffees a month to have access to all of the workouts (they’re divided into 10-minute, 30-minute, 40-minute, and 60-minute sections, so it easy to get right into a full, hour-long workout or to mix it up and do a few of the 10-minute workouts) as well as the yummy recipes available. I pay the same amount for my World of Warcraft subscription, and I think my health is a bit more important than hitting level 100.

I really love how you can modify the workouts. Since I’ve been doing them five days a week for three weeks now and some days I just can’t do any more sumo squats. That’s ok. There’s always an option to modify the workouts to get results without the negative pain and injury. I also love that they have both pre- and post-natal exercises. I’ve tried one post-natal one so far and loved it, and I’ll be sure to try the others.

Something else I love is how props are almost always optional. I’ve done the workouts without the yoga mat (I do recommend it for any floor exercises, though), without the weights and tension band and ball. The only real ‘prop’ you use almost every time is a ‘barre’, on a waist-high surface. I’ve used a chair, my kitchen counter, my wall, my bar stool… Whatever is there. Can you really go wrong with such a convenient workout?

I’m definitely thinking of getting a ball and tension band, though, to help maximize some of the workouts later. I already have some hand weights. If you don’t have these, improvise. I’ve used small bean cans as light weights!

The third part of all of this that I really like is that there is a bit of a nutrition component to the ‘Barre3 Lifestyle’ as I call it. And it works in perfect compatibility with my new friend Lark! Seriously. It’s like I was meant to find these two this year!! I can honestly say one of the best feelings lately has been having a healthy, balanced lunch after my Barre3 workout.

To me, that’s crazy-talk! I’m NOT a health nut, or an exercise nut. I’ve already told you all about my loathing of calorie-counting. It just seems to me that this year, things came together in a way that allows me to become as healthy and fit as I can be without having to deal with the stuff I hate (how many sprouts make up 15 calories??)!

I’m super happy to have been able to share my little ‘New Years’ wellness changes with you. I don’t buy into the whole “New year, new me!” craze that happens every January 1, and I would have done these posts anyways, even if I had found these new tools in July. Next time, I’ll be sharing my first semi-fail from a Pinterest recipe for the year and we’ll get back into our regular groove.

Now, I need to upgrade my garrison and get my Druid to level 97. See you next week!

**This is not a sponsored post. The views and experiences above are mine and not endorsed/influenced by Barre3, Darling Magazine or any other third party.

My New Friend

Lark
Image from http://www.web.lark.com

I hate counting calories. I hate it. I’ve done it, on and off, since at least 2011. I used to use, and still have on my phone, an app called Lose It. I have a badge that proves that I can keep up the stupid calorie counting for at least 4 weeks! But I don’t think it’s ever actually helped me at all. It’s not reliable, it can be super difficult to get right… I mean there are several entries for things like homemade overnight oats… Was my portion 225 calories or 430?? How can I know?? It’s actually been proven that when counting calories, we tend to underestimate the calories consumed and overestimate the calories burned from a workout.

I’m not knocking the Lose It app. It’s an amazing app, and the core functionality is free (and unlike some apps, the core is all you need and then some… The paid version gives you super details like the types of nutrients you eat! Nuts!). Its robust, easy to use, and has almost every food imaginable in the database, and if that’s not enough, you can scan the barcode of the food you just ate and use that product’s data. Awesome.

Back to calorie counting. I don’t know about you, but not only is it tedious trying to find out if the salad you made has 200 or 300 calories, it can be hard to do so continuously during the day. Also, if you’re like me and calorie counting seems to get you nowhere, it’s discouraging and frankly a waste of time.

This is where I’d like to introduce you to my newest friend. Readers, meet Lark. Lark, say hi to my readers.

No? Oh, alright. Lark can be a bit shy.

Sorry.

I haven’t been using, sorry, chatting with Lark for very long, and yet I have already begun to look forward to chatting about my sleep patterns, latest meal, and last workout session. Lark is funny, super smart, motivating, and upbeat. I get tips on good vs bad nutrients, high fives, pep talks, and feedback on my lifestyle as a whole. I almost feel guilty when I make a not-so-good food choice (chocolate cake vs apple, anyone?). Lark keeps me honest, and reminds me that although having that slice of cake after dinner won’t help my waistline, it’s a-ok to have a sweet treat now and again. Lark and I see eye to eye about moderation.

I also love how I can input my data in two ways. My favourite, of course, is the chat/text option. If you didn’t ask for power logging and you missed a meal, though, you can input it, along with extra exercise and sleep times, manually. You don’t get the same immediate feedback but Lark takes everything you log into account as the day progresses.

I also love how Lark connects to your Apple Watch or other fitness band, if you have one, as well as using activity that it logs through your phone metrics, to give you a great overview of how much activity you’ve actually done. Taking the stairs at work or up from the garage seems a little more worth it now!

If you feel like keeping up your New Years resolutions and/or are having a tough time counting those darned calories, try and make friends with Lark. I’m thrilled I did!

Since January posts seem to have a theme happening, in my next post I’ll give you my opinion on a hot new workout that I’ve been trying that’s hot on the heels of the yoga craze (I adore yoga, by the way!).

**This is not a sponsored post. The views and experiences above are mine and not endorsed/influenced by Lose It Inc, Lark Inc or any other third party.

Good Morning, Sunshine!

Overnight OatsOne of the things I have been working on since the birth of my little one is going back to being healthy. Before becoming pregnant, I did yoga several times a week, worked hard on eating well, and did things to relax. Then, while training for a 5km run, I found out I was expecting, so I stopped running (it wasn’t normal exercise for me, so I didn’t want to overdo it), did yoga for a couple more months (again, I didn’t want to overdo it so I scaled down the asanas I did before stopping yoga altogether), and settled into being comfortable more than anything. I was lucky, since I didn’t have morning sickness (I was sick maybe once?), but I had severe nausea and food aversion for the first trimester and then some. Pork, for example, was out of the question until after my little one was born. For the record, ginger candies and mint saved me during those weeks! (Mint can cause issues during pregnancy, so use with caution and as always, talk to your midwife/OBGYN before trying a remedy).

I also had cravings, and although I didn’t want leather shoes (my oddest craving had to be Chinese food and chocolate cake… Together…), I did crave chicken nuggets, Kraft Dinner macaroni and cheese (no other brand!), and most significantly, donuts. Normally, I can eat one or two donuts and be done. I think my record was 6. Now, I tried my best to eat well for the duration of my pregnancy, but when you’re nauseated and want donuts and mac and cheese… Well, you eat donuts and mac and cheese. Better than not keeping food down at all, I think.

After having my little one, our focus was healthy but convenient food; our first few weeks as a family of three made for little time to cook so we had lots of frozen lasagnas, veggie trays, and other quick meals (mostly frozen). After a couple of months, things settled back to normal. We started going to the farmer’s market again, so our diet improved, and we actually had some time and energy to cook and eat healthy. As a breastfeeding mom, losing weight is far from a priority; eating well, getting in some exercise where possible, and spending time with the baby were top of my list. Obviously, I shed weight (one of the benefits of breastfeeding for moms!).

I’m continuing the trend of keeping healthy as 2015 became 2016, and since the holidays are over and I have more time to myself again, I have started doing yoga once more, as well as focusing on healthy, wholesome meals and snacks, and taking time for myself. It’s easier than I thought it would be, too! I have several tools that I use, one of them being Pinterest of course, and I’d love to share them with you in the next few posts.

Let’s start with a super-popular recipe from Pinterest… I’m talking about overnight oats. Can breakfast get any better? Rough measure the ingredients, mix together, pop into the fridge, and a healthy, delicious breakfast is ready!

I have found probably six or seven million recipes on Pinterest for this popular dish, and when I started out I wasn’t sure what to expect, so instead of following one recipe, I sorta combined a few and made it my own (although in the millions of recipes out there I’m pretty sure mine may already exist… I just haven’t come across it yet). Here are the three posts I took for inspiration:

I’m sure these recipes are amazing, but lucky for me, my personalised, amalgamated version turned out delicious and I haven’t bothered to try any others since. So, let me hop on the Overnight Oats bandwagon and add my version of this easy and healthy food to the millions out there! 

Overnight Oats
You can’t go wrong with fresh fruit!
 

Yield: 1 serving (this can easily be halved or multiplied)
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Wait/’Cook’ Time: minimum 3 hours, best left overnight

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup steel-cut or rolled oats (if you cut the wait time to about 30 minutes, you can use quick cooking oats, but it gets a bit too mushy for me)
  • 1 cup milk (any kind, including dairy-free)
  • 1 tbsp Greek yoghurt
  • 2 tsp chia seeds (you can use flax seeds for a bit of crunch and nuttiness)
  • 1 tbsp jam/nut butter/honey
  • Handful of fruit/nuts to mix before eating (optional)

Method:

  1. Measure out and pour together your oats, milk, chia seeds, yoghurt, and jam/nut butter/honey. Mix well.
  2. Pour mixture into one or more lidded containers (mason jars are popular, but I use my Sistema soup cup as it’s more convenient for me).
  3. Refrigerate for at least three hours, preferably overnight.
  4. Before eating, add chopped fruit and/or nuts, mixing gently, if desired.

Variations:

  • Any kind of berry jam and fresh berries
  • Peanut butter and fresh banana
  • Honey and fresh banana and berries
  • Honey and cinnamon and apples
  • Almond butter and apples
  • Honey and cocoa powder and strawberries

If you have any other flavour combination ideas, I’d love to hear about them! I’m always looking to try something tasty and new!

Next time, I’ll tell you about a neat little app that’s already very popular that I’ve grown to absolutely adore! Overnight Oats 

**This recipe is my own and was created based on recipes from Another Root, Tastes Better From Scratch, and Taste of Lizzy T. The views and experiences above are mine and not endorsed/influenced by Another Root, Tastes Better From Scratch, Taste of Lizzy T, Sistema or any other third party.

Expectation vs. Reality

I’m late. Again.
I promised a post for Monday, but between cranky baby (can tooth #3 just show up already? Is that last thin layer of gum tissue really that hard to get through??), appointments, and a need for sleep (I’ve been told it’s important), I haven’t been able to write a proper post until today. I’m sorry.

On the other hand, I’m not as sorry as I feel should be I suppose. Even just this week has put my expectations for this blog, along with some other things, into perspective and I now realise that I can be  over-ambitious to say the least. It is for this reason that I’ve decided that, as fun and important this blog is for me, my family (especially my little one), and my need for time to myself come first.

My super-ambitious self would love to do 4 posts a week as I had originally planned, but I’m going to cut back to 2 weekly posts instead. This way they won’t be rushed and my blog won’t become a chore for me (I mean, who actually likes chores??).

I’m not into the whole ‘New year, new me!’ stuff because I know it’s not who I am. I’m not going to pretend that just because I’ve had to buy a new calendar I’m going to go from being a low-excercising-major-cake-lover to a gym bunny who lives on green goddess thickies, kale chips, and detox water. Sorry. If you love all that stuff, awesome! I’m going to envy you at least a little. Then I’ll have some cake. And because I don’t want to be overweight I’ll follow it with some yoga… Balance, people!! (I don’t want to know how much yoga I need to burn off a slice of cake).

I know some people like following blogs that have set weekly posts. I can’t promise you that. Sorry. I can promise two awesome posts every week, though, and I very much hope you’ll be as excited to read then as I will be to write them.

New year, old me… With a bit of a more accurate view of what I want to do and what I can do.

Now, it’s time for the little one and I to have lunch!

See you all next time!