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For years I have had a vision of hosting a retreat for women that serves to give them the opportunity to take some time for themselves, move their bodies with intention, eat some nutritious food, and set intentional goals.

The vision has been so clear for so long, and I can't tell you how many times I have chickened out for fear of no one being interested, or of saying or doing the wrong thing. I had been waiting for the "right" or "perfect" time, for someone to give me permission to do what I know in my gut is going to make an impact. I want to share with you what's at the root of of this retreat - the "why". Here goes.

1. I have felt the chaos, pressure and overwhelm of everyday life and the need to take a real break

There have been times in my life where I wish time would stand still for just a few moments so I could catch my breath, or even take a breath. The pace of life has often left me weary, shrunken, and disheartened. It’s when I realize I am living in prison walls of my own construction, trying to abide by the social rules of the world, that I can find some levity and remember that I have choice. I get to decide what works for me. I get to demolish those walls (even if it is one brick at a time). I am determined to not have my life look like anyone else’s or to get caught up in comparison chasing someone else’s ideals. I have found it challenging to find clarity while also keeping up with my daily responsibilities. This is an opportunity for you to lean on your support network and trust that things won’t fall apart if you take a couple days for yourself.

This retreat is not about running away, but rather finding space to move toward the things that really matter to you. Give yourself a break.

2. I have experienced the power of rest

When did rest get all tied up with laziness? Or is that just me collapsing the two on each other? I doubt it. So many of the women I know want to do all the things, and rightfully so, because they are capable. However, I have also witnessed that we aren’t very good a resting. Like, really resting. When was the last time you slept in? Or did something with the express purpose of winding down? I ask because I have a tough time with truly disconnecting myself. I’ll go to lay down for a nap and end up spending twenty minutes scrolling through my Instagram feed (not resting). I have had a massage and spent the entire time feeling guilty and/or thinking about all the things I have to do the rest of the day (not resting). I have sat down to read a book and picked one called “Side Hustle” only to wind up frantically taking notes and feeling like I’m not doing enough with my life (not resting).

When I have allowed myself to truly rest, I have felt my body loosen up, my mind unhook, and a general sense of calm settle in. It’s magic. Take rest.

3. I have seen how cathartic speaking and writing our truth can be

We have all kinds of thoughts rattling around in our brains and we have a lot that goes unsaid. I have felt the choke hold of not saying something I should have. I have also experienced getting it out and felt the release and space it opened up. You know how a weed won’t die unless you pull the entire root out? Same goes for the mind. So we work it out together.

4. I know the power of movement

I have never felt more alive and self-expressed than when I move my body. This has evolved from being a competitive athlete to now moving my body in ways that make it feel good. Getting blood moving through, flexing your muscles and organs, all helps to move things out of the body and mind that you may have been holding on to. Not to mention the high of endorphins coursing through your veins. We’ll move together.

5. I know how time in nature can provide perspective          

You know that feeling of fresh air in your lungs, space to explore, no distractions. Nature has a way of grounding and humbling like no other. We’ll get out into nature, explore some beautiful scenery, and perhaps gain some new creativity and perspective.

6. I have experienced the potency of women coming together

In this busy world we live in, it’s easier than ever to believe we are separate. We see edited versions and highlight reels and can easily assume we must be the only person who doesn’t “have it all together”. When we take time to connect in person, outside of the context of daily life, we often experience that we are more alike than we are different, and how interdependent we are. Groups of women in particular possess a certain magic.

Above all else, I designed this retreat to help you elevate your experience of life. You have everything you need to curate the life of your choosing. Together, we'll make space for you…

To PAUSE, and take time to appreciate this precious life.

To CONNECT with each other, nature, and yourself.

To RESET your intentions and create some new goals.

I can't wait to share this experience with you.

xo Syd

Click here for more info on the MAVEN Mountain Retreat in Banff, AB on April 5-7, 2019.

One of the most made recipe's from my favourite cookbook, It's All Good. And it really is all good. These [vegan & gluten free] muffins are a great fall treat to enjoy with a warm cup of tea or as a snack post-workout. Betcha can't eat just one!

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Turkey, wine, pies, football and couch naps, that's what fall long weekends are made of. Canadian Thanksgiving is almost here and I wanted to provide you with some tools to help you maintain your healthy habits through the long weekend.

You may already be employing my 4 Strategies to Handle The Long Weekend Like a Boss - all of those are still recommended. For some specifics on this weekend, read on.

Look ahead. How many brunches, dinners, parties etc. do you have planned this weekend? Knowing what you're in for is the first step. Get your mind right about when and where your meals are taking place so you can work with it. If you're having turkey dinners on Sunday and Monday this weekend, consider making a lighter lunch and dinner at home on Friday night and Saturday. If you're traveling and will be eating out a lot, use the ol' Google machine and look up some places that have the kinds of foods you like and that fit with your usual healthy eating, and suggest these places for your lunches/dinners out.

Chip in. Can you offer to bring a healthy version of a traditional dish to the festivities? You'll feel good about contributing and not showing up empty-handed, and you'll know what's in at least some of your food.

Location, location, location. If I stand anywhere near a buffet of appetizers and treats, it is guaranteed I will take down way too much food before we even get to our actual meal. Remove yourself from temptation, and pick a spot farther than arms-reach to park yourself to socialize before sitting down for dinner.

Choose wisely. Guess what? Turkey and all the fixins aren't necessarily bad for you. It's the amount you eat that gets people feeling sluggish and regretful once they awake from their tryptophan and sugar induced coma. Quality over quantity my friends! Try taking a little bit of everything OR lots of the healthier options available, but take only what you need to feel full. This is not rocket science, you eat every day, you'll figure it out.

Pace yourself. One thing's for sure, you're eating this weekend. So take your time to enjoy every last bite of what you have put on your plate. Eating slowly is good for you. Put your fork down between bites, and actually have a conversation with a friend or family member without talking with your mouth full. Take a sip of wine between bites. Give thanks for the fact that you can actually take this time sit down and eat a meal with your people. Soak it all in. It's a holiday weekend, so let yourself relax and enjoy it. 

Happy Thanksgiving y'all!

xo Syd 

I realize the words "slow down" coming from someone in the health and fitness world is a tad cliché. Hear me out. Many of you (as in, the vast majority) may be caught up in the hustle and bustle of every day life: work, kids, taking care of your home, sports and other activities, you name it. Your life plate is full.

Let's talk about your actual plate, when you sit down to eat. I believe that eating well and eating to fuel yourself for all your life endeavours is important. I also believe that it's one of the more difficult things to do, and building habits around food are some of the toughest because you NEED food. You will likely eat every day, at least 3-5 times, which makes for way more opportunity to misstep. The good news is that same opportunity is also a chance to build a new healthy habit (yay!). One of the foundational habits in Precision Nutrition Coaching is EAT SLOWLY. Yep, that's it, eat slowly. It's so simple that anyone can do it, and you can always come back to it.

Why should I eat slowly?

Notice here there is no mention of what to eat slowly, just eat whatever you would normally eat, at a slower pace. Eating slowly will have you actually tasting your food, which leads to higher satiety (satisfaction), and enjoyment of your meal. Which leads me to the next reason to eat slowly: relaxation. Mindfully slowing down to eat will help you relax and will aid in the digestion of whatever you are eating because your stress levels will be reduced, and your body and guts love a manageable stress level. Lastly, slowing down to eat typically results in noticing when you are actually full and when your food needs have been met. If you are eating more slowly and are more relaxed, you will be able to listen more closely to your body and be less likely to overeat.

How do I eat more slowly?

Each time you eat today, take a few extra minutes to just pause.

Put the fork or spoon or whatever is in your hand down between each bite. Breathe.

Swallow your food completely before picking up your utensils and going in for another bite.

When you take a bite, notice and enjoy the taste and texture of your food.

Put down those utensils again, take another breath or a sip of water.

Relax.

Wait a few more moments before picking up your utensils again.

Repeat.

Slow eating tips:

Use a timer: This may sound like overkill, but it's worth a try! Eat at your normal pace and time yourself. Note how long a typical meal takes for you to eat. At your next meal, follow the above slow-eating steps and try to add a minute or more to your meal time. Even if you only take an extra minute or two, that is progress!

Eliminate distractions: Eating while working at your computer or watching TV or youtube videos is a great way to eat quickly and unconsciously. By eliminating distractions, you are better setting yourself up to slow down and taste and enjoy your food.

Drink water: Pour yourself a glass of water before you sit down to eat. Try to take a sip of water between every bite. This is a sure way to slow your meal down.

Have a good week and slow your roll, son.

xo Syd