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As we enter April and welcome Spring, the longer days, better weather, and the energy of new beginnings has me feeling lighter and more motivated than the first part of this year. March passed quickly for me, and I believe it's partially because I was on auto-pilot for a large part of it.

Now that we have began to spread the news of my second pregnancy, and my work projects seem to be ramping up, I can feel the stagnant energy moving out and making way for creativity and execution. I'm looking forward to the next few months!

As I look back on last month, I am reminding myself what these commitments are about. What other larger-picture thing are they rooted in? What goals are they helping me work towards? Above all else: how are these commitments making me feel? Let's dig in to it.

  • One weight training session per week - This commitment is an important one, and perhaps the one I have struggled with the most. My training routine had fallen off in late 2018, and my goal for 2019 was to get back to 3 days per week in the gym, and a couple days of other activities in the week. And I'm still working my way back up to 3 and that is okay. More than anything, this commitment was about carving out time for myself, and trying to claim back some of my identity from before I had a baby. In March, I did train at least once per week, and it's important to note that I took more intentional time for self-care and for slowing down to check-in with myself. 
  • Get outside with the fam on Saturdays - I had wanted to commit to getting outside on Saturdays to ensure that we got some fresh air and did some activities throughout the winter. Now that it's nicer out, this is just something we do on Saturdays as a family, which I love!
  • 1 video per week - I really wanted to start sharing more openly and candidly and have experienced a lot of resonance with watching/listening to certain people I follow through videos. I'm still practicing, and trusting that eventually there will be some good moments of wisdom to share with you.
  • Bring lunch to work Tues-Thurs - The intention of this commitment was twofold: 1) to cook more of the healthy meals I enjoy in my beautiful new kitchen 2) to eat more consciously throughout the week (ie. less snacking on whatever is at or near my office). I've had better weeks than others, and overall, the commitment itself has led to better food choices overall.

For now, these commitments are helping guide my daily decisions in positive ways, so I'll stick with them. And I hold them lightly knowing they may need to shift and evolve throughout the year. Life, especially pregnancy, and work can be unpredictable, so I want to be solid enough in my values to weather storms, and also have room to go with the flow.

I hope you have an incredible month of April, I'm spending my first weekend of the month in beautiful Banff for the first MAVEN Retreat and I'm so excited!

Onward,

xo Syd

    Where did that shoulder month of November go?! I didn't have much on the calendar last month and it was really nice to enjoy the mountains, our city, and our home.

    I'm not sure if it was being off of social media (for the most part) in November that had it feel much more mellow, but it was a relaxing time either way. I wrote a lot more this month - 10 blogs in 10 days, in fact - and it really helped quiet my mind and drop into myself this month.

    These monthly check-ins were mostly intended to keep me honest and accountable to my commitments, and I realize now they have also been so key in recognizing how much one can grow from month to month. And it's really incredible what growth you can squeeze into a year. Here's how it's going with my 2018 commitments!

    No new clothing purchased in 2018 - Sticking so hard to this one and all those bags of clothes I had in my house last month are now officially gone to consignment! 

    Live debt-free - November might be the most challenging month for spending with all the hoopla around Black Friday sales and holiday gift shopping. I am proud to say I resisted getting sucked into over-spending. A great strategy we have used for curbing excessive gift buying is doing a secret Santa exchange with our families. One gift, with a spending limit that is comfortable for everyone, makes it easy to stay within a budget and I find it makes the one gift you get far more intentional and special.

    Plan ahead for family time - Not only are we headed to Montreal for the holidays, we also have another long weekend on the books for December to hang out as a family before the full schedules of the holidays ramp up. #winning

    Do one crossword and read for 10 minutes every night - Whoa did reading fall off last month! I planned to read Brene Brown's new book and ordered it online, and the Canada Post strike totally pushed that deadline back! I just got the book in my hands this week and I'm excited to get into it this month.

    We are in the last month of 2018 and it's become a yearly practice of mine to do both a holiday bucket list and an annual personal restrospective. I already have my list started for experiences I want to have this holiday break! These monthly check-ins also help to look back on the year and note my accomplishments and the challenges and will help set the stage for the following year. I'm looking forward to re-reading them when I sit down to write my 2018 retrospective!

    I wish you an incredible last month of the year!

    xo Syd

    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 

    As a Precision Nutrition Level 1 Coach, I know a thing or two about healthy nutrition habits, nutrient timing, and eating for performance.

    I have been trying out some new recipes and came across this delicious smoothie that works as a great post workout snack. The avocado makes this smoothie nice and creamy while also providing a dose of healthy fats for hormone production. Coconut water brings great flavour and a dose of electrolytes. The anti-oxidants in cacao and raw honey help repair damaged cells and add simple sugars for nutrient transport respectively. The addition of protein serves up amino acids for building and repairing muscle tissue. All in all, this drink is ideal post workout and happens to taste damn good. Give it a shot and let me know what you think.

    • 1 ripe avocado, peeled and pitted
    • 1 cup unsweetened almond milk
    • 1 cup coconut water
    • 1 tablespoon raw cacao powder
    • 1 tablespoon ground hempseeeds
    • 1 tablespoon raw honey
    • 1 scoop chocolate protein powder (optional)

    Throw all ingredients in a blender until completely smooth and enjoy immediately.

    If you're looking for some other great recipes and some nutritional guidance, pick up our Smart Fuel 5 Day Meal Plan!

    -Coach Sydney

    Excuses. You know those things you say when you are trying to get out of something, or justify your choices? The ones you use as leverage to not do some of the things you say you want to do, and you silently, internally, break promises you have made to yourself. I have heard them all, and I have probably said them all.

    A coach take these limitations (perceived or real) and helps remove them as a barrier to your goals. A coach listens to what you want and works with you to create a plan to move you toward those things. A coach can thus be the most hated and loved person in your life. They likely call you on your shit, because they have heard what you want, and they believe in your ability to go get it. So they commit to doing whatever it takes, even when you may have given up, or gone off course. They may hear your excuses, may even validate your stance, yet they come back to what you want and stand for that on your behalf. In short: coach has your back.

    Here are some of the most common excuses I hear on the daily (for health and fitness, and for life) and some reality checks from a coach (me) on how to work with them.

    "I don't have enough time." / "I'm too busy." (same, same)

    I see your lack of time and raise you with awareness. There is the trendy saying that you are given the same exact precious 24 hours a day as Angelina Jolie, Oprah and Beyoncé - which I agree with. It's not so much the amount of time you have, it's how you spend it. For a week, keep track of how you spend your time (like you might with a food journal). Be honest about how you spent it. How much time did you spend working? How many times did you check your Instagram account? How much time was spent watching Netflix? Don't go being all judgey with yourself about it, just state the facts. Then you can give it some real thought. If spending a night in with your partner cuddling on the couch is important to you, keep on keeping on.

    I was once at a leadership retreat and one of my colleagues said, "If you're not busy working on your goals, what are you busy doing?" Mind. Blown. I was offered this shift in perspective and took it as an opportunity to really look, like really, at how I was spending my time. If you can honestly say that you spend most of your day working on something that matters to you, moves you toward your goals, fills you with purpose, then you may not have time for some other, less important things. However, most people I have met who are using their time toward their goals, rarely use this excuse, if ever. Here's how a conversation with these peeps sounds: "How are things going?"A: "It's been crazy lately, I have tons of projects and running around to do, it's going really great." 

    Even if you feel "busy", try using different language with yourself and with others. Bring that awareness to your attitude about time and you may start to see that you have an abundance of time to spend on the good stuff.

    "I don't have enough money."/ "I can't afford it."

    Wowee this one is a sensitive one for many (myself included). I will use the same approach as with time, but with a twist. Let's assume you do have some money, ie. you have some kind of employment/income. As with your time, it may not be so much about how much of it you have, but rather a matter of how you spend it. The twist is that you can often make more money, but you can't make more time (unless you're re-allocating existing time, but you get the gist). If you're not willing to do more to make more money, how could you budget to be spending it in ways that better serve you? 

    As with drawing awareness to how you spend your time, a valuable exercise may be to look at all the places you are spending your hard earned bucks. Print out those bank statements, write out all your expenses and see what you get. You may find you can cut a couple things out to build a budget for other goals (ahem, like training). For more financial tips, one of my all-time favourites is Leslie-Anne Scorgie's Well Heeled.

    There are also a ton of affordable and/or free options for health and fitness out there. Like my 12 Week Online Training Program, which costs less than six bucks per workout! Whether you train with MAVEN or not, there are ways around the money excuse when it comes to health and fitness.

    "I'm so far gone, it's going to be so hard, I might die."

    This excuse makes me perhaps the most crazy, but it is also the most understandable. If you never start, then you will never know how it feels to miss something, to fail, to have to pick yourself back up again. I get it. I want everything to be perfect and sunshine and rainbows and be 100% compliant and on track at all times. But this is real life and that is unrealistic. Even 1% is better than 0%. For example: If you planned on doing three workouts in a week, and you did one, that one still counts! You DID it. Rome was not built in a day, people. Small actions, taken one step at a time can produce an incredible result.

    Start where you are. Use what you have. Do what you can.

    "I'll do it on my own, when the time is right."

    How's that working out for you? Even as a coach, I have coaches that I work with to help me toward my goals. Even with all the knowledge and tools at my disposal, I need support and accountability, just like you.

    "The timing isn't right."

    Maybe you have a crazier season for work, or a lot of commitments, but if something is important to you, you'll work it into the madness. The people around you will understand if you have to miss something, show up a bit late or leave a bit early, and will even step in if you need their help because they know you are working towards your goals (and if they aren't, see what I have to say about naysayers here). There is such thing as the perfect time and that time is now.

    "I have an injury, I'm waiting for it to heal before I start anything."

    A good coach can work around injuries. Unless you're completely immobile, there are always things you can be doing that are good for your body, and likely good for your mental fortitude and confidence. Did you catch any of the recent Paralympic games? 'Nuff said. If you hurt your arm, don't make your legs pay for it by neglecting them. They were created to squat, so let 'em. 

    There will always be excuses to be made, and excuses erode your personal integrity. Personal integrity being the relationship you have with yourself about keeping your word. Don't wait to do something toward what you want. Build your life around the things you want, and relentlessly pursue these things. Use your gift of willpower when needed. Become aware of where you are making excuses and consider their legitimacy. 

    If you're ready to start now, registration is open for my next 12 Week Online Training Program which starts Monday, September 5th. Check out the FAQ here if you need more info.

    Building a grocery list is a simple act that can go a long way in keeping yourself on track and is the best nutrition habit around. Set yourself up to have the best quality foods stocked so you can eat well all week. Here's how you can build a healthy grocery list.


    A typical week of meals may look like this:

    *indicates meals eaten out and are not factored in to your grocery list needs.

    A typical week of training may look like this:

    An ideal meal schedule of adequate macronutrient intake for this example would look like this:

    P: Protein    V: Vegetables    F: Fats    C: Carbohydrates
    *Remember: you don't need Carbohydrates and Fats at every meal, just those before or after exercise.

    In looking at your meal needs for the week, you can now begin to build out your list, which may look like this:

    NOTE: Snacks are to be consumed if you are hungry between meals. You don't have to have 2 snacks a day. Snack time will consist of proteins and vegetables, so pick up a few other of your favourite vegetables and cook up extra proteins so you have leftovers to snack on. In general, I also recommend making enough protein and veggies for dinner that you have enough leftover for lunch the next day to save yourself time in the morning. The above example is for 2 people, if you are a family, adjust for the number of mouths you are feeding.

     

    Finally, here are 5 simple steps to a successful grocery shop:

    1. Shop with a list
    2. Shop along the perimeter (the produce and meat all live here) - do not enter the junk food aisle, roll right on by
    3. If you do head down aisles, enter and exit the same side you came in to avoid grabbing unnecessary items
    4. Most sale items on the end of the aisle are not good for you - ignore them!
    5. Never completely fill your cart (unless you are shopping for a big family)
    6. Get in and outta there in 45 minutes or less (totally do-able if you follow the above steps!)

    Enjoy the grocery shopping!

    xo Syd

    You may have caught wind of the growing trend of consuming bone broth as part of a healthy lifestyle. We are lucky that our friends at The Gut Lab - a hometown (Calgary, AB) outfit of health-minded ladies bringing you all kinds of benefits via their delicious bone broths - offered to put together some great information on the upsides of bone broth! Check it out:

    Hey! This is The Gut Lab - we're the new kids in town. We make healing, nourishing Bone Broth using locally sourced, certified organic bones, organic veg and a whole lotta l-o-v-e. We gently simmer our bones for 24 hours to draw out all the goodness we possibly can - to help YOU be as nourished as you possibly can!

    “Isn't this what my Grandmother used to make?" you ask. Yes, it is! 

    This liquid gold has been made since the days of old (we're talking really old), but it wasn't until recently that we started to look at the healing benefits of this ancient elixir. 

    So, what exactly is it good for and why do we want to drink it? Welcome everyone, to Bone Broth 101.

    We love bone broth for many reasons. It's the perfect friend to aid in recovery post surgery, to refuel post workout, to help Mom heal postpartum, and of course to add to your daily routine for preventative health. Today class, we want to share with you our Top 5 benefits. 

    1. It’s super rich in collagen, which is made available to us when bones are simmered for long periods of time. Collagen is required for optimal health essentially everywhere in our body…from skin and hair to internal organs, ligaments, and joints - from the time we're in our mothers womb until we're old and grey. 

    2. It helps heal and prevent leaky gut by healing the mucosal lining of our small intestine. This can help immensely with common digestive issues, immune support, as well as auto-immune disorders, such as Celiac's disease, psoriasis, rheumatoid arthritis, and Crohn's.

    3. It contains the amino acids needed to create and even rebuild worn out cartilage, which we know is essential for healthy, happy, ready-for-adventure joints. 

    4. It is also full of glutamine and other amino acids which helps to support and detoxify our liver. Important for humans and animals alike, our liver works hard for us processing and filtering the toxins we are bombarded with on a daily basis - a little broth is a great way to say "thank you liver!".

    5. Lastly, for all of you athletes out there - whether you're a novice or a seasoned veteran, it is the perfect way to refuel your body post workout. It helps stimulate muscle building and repair and provides your body with many vitamins and minerals (hello, calcium and magnesium). It's your basic magic potion.

    Our friends at MAVEN & The Commune are passionate about great health, and we know you are too - so thank you for hearing us out today. We’re super excited to be part of your community, and truly look forward to sharing this beautiful, nourishing goodness with all of you in the time to come. 

    Class dismissed!

    Love,

    The Gut Lab

    You can find more info on The Gut Lab at the following links:

    E: hello@thegutlab.ca

    IG: @loveyourguts

    FB: The Gut Lab

    Stockists + Markets: Coming Soon!

     

    If you're a resident of a province that celebrates Victoria Day, May Long weekend is fast approaching! Long weekends are a great opportunity to extend your rest and recovery and get in some fun social time with friends and family.

    They are also a time when your health and fitness habits may take a back seat to cold beers and sun bathing (both of which I am all for!). As we enter the summer months and all the long weekend celebrations begin, I wanted to provide you with some strategies for getting ahead of the potential long weekend debauchery.

    1. Plan your workouts a little differently this week and next. If you're headed out of town or have plans that may throw a wrench in your usual workout routine, move them around in your schedule for this week and next week now! Like right now, I'll wait.

    Still waiting...

    Done? Good. You're one step closer to keeping things in check.

    2. Hydrate your face off. Water, water, water errday this week. Grab your trusty water bottle and bring that baby with you everywhere. Fill'er up regularly and try to get at least 8 cups of water in daily. If you can keep this up through the long weekend, you'll be in much better shape come Tuesday.

    3. Plan movement into your long weekend. If you're in the mountains or out in the wilderness, there's so much room for activities! Plan for a hike or a mountain bike ride and get verbal commitment from your party posse. If you're in the city but not keeping your regular routine, plan a long walk with friends through your 'hood or hit up a local fitness class just for fun. The cold bevy's won't go anywhere while you're gone and will be awaiting you for quality patio time once you're back. Book it now so you're committed to going!

    4. Food for thought. Consider what food you're buying to take to the cabin or wherever your long weekend journey's take you. Just because you're taking a little vacay, doesn't mean you need to throw away all your hard work! Pick up healthy snacks (like veggies and hummus or fresh fruits), and thank me later.

    Happy long weekend y'all!