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5 valuable lessons I’ve learned since becoming a mom…

I’ve been trying to finish this blog post for weeks.  I keep writing, deleting, re writing, forgetting to write, procrastinating writing, changing what I wanted to write, questioning whether anyone would care to read about what I am about to write…the list goes on.  Long story short, I am finally posting my latest blog and sharing with you some positive things I have learned in the last year.  First for those of you who are moms, wow, making a human is truly an incredible gift.  From the moment I found out I was pregnant, to when we saw our baby and heard his heart beat on the first ultrasound, to feeling him move around inside of my belly for the first time, then when I first went into labour, the first contractions, the moment I was able to start pushing and then BOOM MAX ARRIVED!  I get emotional as I write this as it has been the most amazing experience and it really has flown by.  On April 8 2017, Sam and I’s lives changed forever.  And today I will be sharing with you a few of the lessons he has taught me so far…and yes, it’s only been one year!

Image may contain: 3 people, people smiling

  1. He makes everyone who meets him smile.  Whether it’s a stranger at the grocery store or at a restaurant or on the street as we go for a walk, a friend, relative, aunt, uncle, grandparent, etc there hasn’t been a single person who Max hasn’t made smile.  I thought that Sam and I were the only ones who thought Max was so cute and precious but apparently he (and most babies, let’s be honest!) has this super power to bring a bit of sunshine and add a smile to someone’s day.   This warms my heart.  Thanks to Max for showing me that babies bring joy to so many people’s lives, not just your parents 😉 Image may contain: 1 person, smiling, playing a sport and basketball court
  2. My love for my baby never runs out.  Babies require constant love and attention, especially in the first year I have learned haha.  I have never once gotten tired (even when sleep deprived in the first few months or coming home after a busy day of work) of giving Max constant hugs, kisses, diaper changes, bottles, food, rocks, cuddles, singing to him, bathing him, the list goes on.  Never ever did I realize that I could love someone so much.  The way he smiles and runs to me when I come home from work to the way he cuddles in my arms as I put him to sleep never gets old. Yes I love my husband til death to us part but this love is different. Moms (and pet owners), you know what I mean 😉  SO thank you Max for showing me what unconditional love feels like. Image may contain: 3 people, people smiling, people sitting
  3. Time slows down.  Life becomes simpler.  You start to recognize what really matters and what is worth letting go of.  Those who know me know I used to be doing a million things in a week, social activities, getting together with friends, working out, training clients all day, every day, constantly posting on social media, etc etc.  Since meeting Sam and having Max, my life has slowwwwwwwed down, a lot.  And to be honest, I LOVE IT.  I feel less (almost no) guilt when I don’t make time to workout, enjoy doing nothing and truly enjoy my day to day life. I work less, workout less, post on social media less (except for my instagram stories oops), and in general I do less.  Partially it is because being a mom requires so much of my time that when I am not training clients I am with my baby.  And I am totally OK with that.  Seriously, mom and Max time is my fave.  Even better when Sam is with us too 😉  I am more present than I have ever been.  Thank you Max for helping me to slow down and enjoy every minute that we get to spend together.
  4. My mom is an amazing person, a super mom and the best glam-ma.  There is no book, internet forum, or app on your phone that will give you better advice or greater help than your own mom (or mom in law!)  I haven’t read a single book on how to raise a baby (other than a book called Sleep Sense-highly recommend), followed an app, or read through any mom forums on the internet.  Tips to new moms…1. Trust your instincts, you know more than you think you know and 2. ASK YOUR MOM FOR HELP!  (And to those of you who have lost your mom or your mom is far away, please know that you have your mother’s love and strength within you and even though she isn’t with you physically she is with you everyday and is so proud of  the wonderful mom you have become. I hope you have someone in your life who can be your ‘mom mentor’ even if your mom is not with you.)  Now I know some of you may think I am crazy in saying this but what they say is true, we know our child best so why question that?  And I repeat…our mom’s are our best resource.  They raised us and we have turned out alright, am I right? Thank you Max for allowing me to appreciate my mom (and dad!) more and more each and every day xo Image may contain: 2 people, people smiling, people sitting
  5. I have the best partner in the world, Sam.  I KINDA knew this before having Max but seriously the way Sam is with our baby is phenomenal.  Sometimes I feel as if he cares for Max more than I do.  He is calm, caring, supportive, loving, affectionate, happy, playful, and most of all he is committed to being the best dad he can be to Max.  It has been amazing watching Sam transform into ‘super’ dad.  He actually gets to spend more time with Max than I do as he is home with Max during the day and heads out to work in the afternoon.  If Max grows up to be anything like his father, this world will be a better place and I will be one very happy and proud mom.  Seriously though, Sam is doing an incredible job being a dad and partner and seeing how much he loves and cares for Max makes me love and appreciate him even more.  He talks about having another baby all the time, what mom doesn’t swoon when they hear their partner talk about that? So thank you Max for making me appreciate how blessed I am to have your father in my life.  Image may contain: 3 people, people smiling, people standing, hat and child

Now I have learned a LONG list of things about parenthood and what it takes to be a working mom but I thought 5 was a good number to start with 😉  Perhaps I’ll share more tips in another blog post!?

I’m curious though, do any of my mom friends want to share anything they have learned since becoming a mom? Go ahead, share with us in the comments….

 

Les

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4 Reasons People Give Up On Their Fitness Goals…

Sticking with the theme of New Year’s Resolutions I thought I would write another post about why people give up on their fitness goals and provide some solutions for each.

Reason #1- Life’s Hectic

Between work, family and personal time, it’s easy to run out of hours in the day. Using lack of time or a busy schedule as an excuse is just that, an excuse. We determine how we use our time, so if your mindset is that there’s no time for exercise, well, of course there won’t be.

The Solution:

Image result for get rid of excuses now

GET RID OF ALL POTENTIAL EXCUSES RIGHT NOW. Think back to how you spent the last week or month. How often were you doing something you didn’t want to do? How much of your time was spent on activities that you think are more important than fitness, such as spending time with family or catching up with an old friend?

Writing down or taking note of where all the hours in your day go (you’ll be amazed at how many hours you spend watching Netflix or scrolling through social media) is an excellent way to highlight convenient fitness opportunities.

For example, let’s say you get an hour each day to eat lunch. Cut that down to 20 or 30 minutes and get your heart rate going for the other half. The rest of your schedule will remain unchanged and you’ll get a midday adrenaline boost to go back to work with.

If you want to get your exercise out of the way before you leave the house or late at night, consider purchasing some home fitness equipment. Even a simple fitness DVD or find a HIIT class you can follow along with on YouTube (Fitness Blender is awesome) — should do the trick.

Reason #2- No Accountability or Consequences to Quitting

Oh you missed all your workouts this week? OH WELL!  I’ll start again next week.  Another week goes by. Still haven’t worked out.  OH WELL, I’ll try again next week.  You get the point.  If you’re not accountable to anyone other than yourself and there are no consequences if you miss your workout, then you’re less likely to get the job done.

The Solution

Image result for hire a trainer

If you find that you let yourself off the hook too easily, maybe it’s time to hire a personal trainer. Or you can sign up for that fitness class you’ve been thinking about trying for weeks. You’ll be more inclined to keep attending classes once you’ve met your instructor and other classmates.

Likewise, when you pay for a personal trainer, you won’t want to waste the money you’ve invested (sometimes money is the best motivator) but more importantly they’ll hold you accountable and keep you on track with your goals as you meet with them weekly and do reassessments monthly.

Reason #3-Unrealistic Expectations / Starting Too Big Too Quickly

If your big fitness pledge is to hit the gym five times a week when you’ve had little to no prior experience working out, you’re most likely going to fail.

The Solution

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Start small and work your way up. Instead of committing to five gym visits a week, start with two visits. On those first few visits, don’t stay that long.

The immediate goal is to leave while you’re still craving more. You can use this as motivation fuel for your next visit, and continue building the habit to the point where you can’t wait to get your next workout in.

4-Unenjoyable Workouts

All too often people complain about how they can’t stand going to the gym or they get so bored  on the treadmill, and with good reason, when you go to the gym without a plan, going to the gym and doing cardio can be quite boring. But if you never take the time to ask yourself what you enjoy doing for exercise, you can’t really blame your lack of motivation on the type of workout you’re doing.

The Solution

Image result for make your workout fun

Listen to yourself and what you want. The treadmill (for a lot of people) does suck, so maybe find an outdoor track, or play high-cardio sports like basketball.

There is more that one way to work out. Running, swimming, biking, weightlifting, aerobics, dancing, yoga, and even walking can have great effects over a period of time.

Find what you enjoy, and plan your workouts to reflect that.

There’s no exact way to stay fit, it’s all about understanding your excuses and preconceived barriers to fitness, and stopping them in their tracks. Of course, if it were easy, everyone would be the fittest versions of themselves, but the key to staying committed to your fitness goals is finding a way to get yourself moving consistently (find your sweet spot) and what motivates you to continue improving your physical fitness.

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Les 🙂

 

In 2018 I will…

How many of you have been writing down your resolutions or saying out loud ‘In 2018 I will…’  What are some of your goals/intentions/resolutions for this year?

The beginning of a new year is always an exciting time.  Most people are full of excitement and are motivated for a ‘fresh start’ on January 1st.  Most New Year’s resolutions are health based with people vowing to take better care of their bodies in the coming year. AWESOME! GREAT!  But don’t become like 90% of people who fail at keeping their resolutions after 4-6 weeks, if you need help sticking to your goals, get help! Hire a personal trainer, find a workout buddy, hire a financial planner, sign up for a meal delivery service,  whatever you need to do to reach your goals-do it now!

I don’t know about you but this past year has flown by, perhaps it’s because I became a mom in April?  Regardless it has been an another amazing year.  While I have a couple of fitness and business goals for myself, my main focus for this year is to continue to cultivate an attitude of gratitude and appreciate the wonderful life that I have.  Many people are amazed at how well I am ‘handling motherhood’ or they can’t believe how rested I am as a first time mom or they comment on how ‘chill’ our baby is.  I must admit I am shocked too at how well I’ve adjusted to having a new baby and this new life of being a mom.  For example, I have been sleeping lots (yes my baby has been sleeping through the night since he was 2 months old), I went back to work 2 months post partum, I left the house with our baby A LOT, I kept a social life (girls night once a week, monthly dinner club with my girlfriends, plus my husband and I attended 6 weddings from June-November), I cooked and ate healthy most of the time, I worked out (not as often as I used to but I am committed to doing 3 workouts a week now) and have had many date nights with my husband.  Seems impossible right?

Like they say it takes a village to raise a child and I have my amazing mom, super helpful dad and incredible husband to thank for their help whenever I needed it (I’m getting better at asking for help) I also think the reason I’m thriving aka rocking mom life (I sound a bit cocky) is because I truly live in the moment, trust the process and enjoy each day as it comes.  Sooo cliche but so true!  I do my best not to stress about the little things and the things I can’t control, and I focus on seeing the positive in every situation and find myself saying ‘this too shall pass’ a lot.  And the number one reason why I believe I have truly enjoyed every minute of 2017 is because I have constantly been thinking about all the things I am grateful for this past year!

Here are a few I will share with you;

  • having a healthy pregnancy and delivery
  • giving birth to a healthy baby boy (who happens to be an amazing sleeper!)
  • getting lots of sleep (especially when I was expecting many sleepless nights)
  • having the support of my doula throughout my pregnancy, during birth (so valuable, especially since I had a 36 hour labour!) and post partum
  • having a wonderfully supportive husband (Sam) whom I love more now that ever before since he became my son’s father
  • having my parents sell their house (crazy right?!) and move to Ottawa to help Sam and I with Maxwell (we both returned to work soon after he was born)
  • owning my own business so that I have flexibility with my schedule and can spend a few evenings a week at home with my baby
  • my health and ability to move my body/exercise
  • my family and friends (seriously though, what would I do without you all?)
  • my clients (who are extremely understanding and respectful of my reduced hours/new schedule)
  • spending quality time with my son, husband, family and friends…
  • my home and living in the beautiful city of Ottawa

The list goes on!

My point here is, how many of you take the time to write down a few things you are grateful for?  Ever tried keeping a gratitude journal? Or maybe just take a few minutes each day to reflect on everything you are grateful for?

Did you know that developing an attitude of gratitude is one of the simplest ways to improve your satisfaction with life? Research reveals gratitude can have these 7 benefits…

  • opens the door to more relationships,
  • improves physical health,
  • improves psychological health,
  • enhances empathy and reduces aggression
  • improves sleep
  • improves self esteem
  • increases mental strength

I think gratitude is one of the most overlooked tools that we have access to everyday!  So this year try to take a few moments to focus on all that you have, rather than complain about all the things that you don’t have or wish you had.

So who will join me in 2018?  What are you grateful for?

Les 🙂

10 Ways to Have an Awesome Pregnancy

YES! It IS possible! I have enjoyed every week of my pregnancy and some might say it’s luck but I say it’s because I made the most of it.  Here’s a list of 10 way I managed to stay positive and feeling great over the last 40 weeks…..

  1. Exercise!! Sure there are many reasons not to and if you aren’t someone who exercises regularly it makes doing workouts during pregnancy a bit more challenging BUT I put the excuses aside and did what I could.  On days I didn’t feel like working out, I didn’t, and went for a walk instead.  In the first trimester I remember being super tired so my workouts were less intense and shorter, and I did A LOT of walking.  But it always felt good just to move.  My second trimester I had much more energy but still kept my workouts short, doing 3 strength training workouts a week with lots of walking.  Third trimester my workouts thinned out a bit as I was experiencing quite a bit of pelvic pain but I never felt guilty putting the weights on hold as I knew my body needed the break.  After all I wanted to save my energy for my clients and for our growing baby.  No matter what type of exercise you choose to do, there are many benefits to exercising throughout your pregnancy-you’ll sleep better, have fewer aches and pains, boosted mood, healthy weight gain, and hopefully an easier and faster labour (I’ll let you know how that goes soon I hope!)
  2. Proper nutrition. I didn’t change much about my eating habits.  Other than having a few more sandwiches than usual and I had some weekly treats.  No ice cream binges or fast food dinners.  I found I ate out more than usual but did my best to make healthy choices.  The only time I had any food aversions was for a few weeks in my first trimester (chicken was disgusting) but other than that have been keeping up eating three balanced meals a day plus snacks when hungry.   I noticed my hunger increased in my second trimester and has decreased since I got closer to the end (my stomach is being squished by baby!)  If you continue to eat well during your pregnancy you’ll benefit from increased energy, less to no cravings, have extra healthy nutrition for baby and a healthy weight gain for momma.
  3. Lots of sleep- I’ve been making sleep a priority even before I got pregnant and what a difference it has made.  I always made sure to get a nap in everyday (sometimes 2 during the 1st trimester, perks of my job/making my own schedule) and aimed for 7-8 hours of sleep a night.  I was definitely lucky to have had ZERO trouble sleeping all throughout my pregnancy but I am grateful as I think that is one of the main reasons why I have been feeling so good the whole time.
  4. Hired a doula! My husband and I mutually agreed to hire a doula very early on in my pregnancy as I had heard nothing but positive things from friends of mine who had a doula.  We met with the National Capital Doulas and felt comfortable and confident in their abilities that we decided to chose them.  Amie has been amazing and what we have appreciated the most is that they came to our home to teach us our childbirth education and pre natal classes which is SO convenient as my husband and I have schedules that do not allow us to attend evening or weekend classes.  We found the classes very informative and they hooked us up with some detailed reference material and lots of free goodies.  We were also able to email them at any time with questions we had and they responded right away.  The big day is fast approaching which is when our doula will be our birth coach and then she will come to visit one time post baby to make sure all is well, very excited to have her with us to help us get through one of the most exciting yet intense moments of our lives.
  5. Yoga. Not only is yoga a proven stress-reducer, its breathing and relaxation techniques should help me manage pain if used during labour. I tried my best to go to a prenatal yoga class at Rama Lotus once a week, plus did some of my own stretches at home on a regular basis.
  6. Visited a pelvic floor physio.  Best. Decision. Ever.  I learned about pelvic floor health when I attended a workshop that Kerri Mantel was running and when she told her story it inspired me to get checked out.  Andrea Plitz who works at Back in Balance in Wesboro was highly recommended and I now know why.  I learned so much about the importance of my pelvic floor and also learned that mine was tight.  Everyone kept asking if I was doing my kegels when in fact Andrea told me to do the opposite.  I was to focus on breathing techniques to help relax my pelvic floor (reverse kegels) and it has made a huge difference and will hopefully contribute to an easier labour and delivery.  She also helped reduce my pubic bone pain which was a huge relief.
  7. Regular chiro appointments.  My amazing chiropractor Dr. Lindsay Clement was a life saver.  I visited her once every few weeks and more often as I got closer to my due date as my body was changing like crazy, I was having pelvic pain and needed some extra TLC to make me feel better.  I was able to train my clients and felt great until the week before my due date because of her on going treatments.  She is an excellent chiropractor who treats all populations but has done extra training working with pregnant women (she has special pillows so you can lie on your belly, such a treat when you’re pregnant!), post natal clients and even babies.  She works at Gloucester Center Chiropractic Clinic
  8. Monthly massage treatments.  Who doesn’t love a massage? My two fave massage therapists treated me throughout my pregnancy (yes they have special pillows too to make room for your pregnant belly).  Kim Plewes (Vitality Massage on Maclaren St near Elgin St) and Janet Penny (Focus Massage Therapy on Gladstone near Bay St) if you are ever looking for a registered massage therapist, these ladies are my go to’s.
  9. A positive mindset.  This is something that comes naturally to me so I truly enjoyed every minute! I know it seems crazy but for most of my pregnancy I didn’t even feel like I was pregnant. I think this was because I was SO excited and felt 100% ready for the baby to come.  I also think about all the women out there who are struggling to get pregnant or have been told they can’t get pregnant, have had miscarriages or even a high risk pregnancy and this really helped me to see that becoming pregnant and having a healthy pregnancy is a BLESSING, not a burden. Also, if you’re someone who focuses on the negatives, for instance, your changing body, how your life is going to change, the sleep deprivation that comes with a new born, worried about whether you’ll be a good mom, freaking out about the birth, etc etc then it makes for a long and painful pregnancy.  I focused on the miracle that was growing inside of me and was mentally preparing for how exciting and different my life was going to be.  I swear that having a doula helped me feel super prepared and understanding what was happening at each stage of the pregnancy and birth and even what happens when you bring the baby home reduced any fears or anxieties I had.
  10. Modified my work load.  Pre pregnant Les had a very hard time saying NO to training people who wanted to train at any time of the day. I also often over committed myself socially and barely had any time for myself.  Pregnant Les (especially at the end of my pregnancy) made sure I wasn’t over working myself (trained less clients/day), really reduced my workouts, got ample rest (8 hours at night plus a nap most days), and made time for lots of ME time but also time to visit friends and family.  I even finished working the week before I was due and ended up being a week late, BUT those last two weeks of doing NOTHING were so valuable and totally helped as I felt super rested going into the home stretch.

Wow what a list!  Looking back, I definitely made myself a priority (maybe too much!) and spent a lot of time (and money) on self care but I don’t regret any of it as I was fully rested and felt physically, emotionally and mentally prepared for my baby when he arrived.  Pregnancy doesn’t have to be as painful and dreadful as some women may tell you it is, although everyone has a different experience.  At the end of the 10 months (and one 1 week my case!) we are all blessed with a beautiful baby who provides so much joy into our lives, so it is totally worth it if you ask any mom (and dad) out there.

Are there any moms out there who would like to share their tips that might help other women who are currently pregnant or might be one day?

Les 🙂

 

 

8 Ways to Love Yourself this Valentine’s Day (and everyday!)

big-heart

Valentine’s Day is a difficult holiday for many people. The single people feel left out, people in relationships worry about what to buy their significant other or what they can get them for free, and couples stress over finding just the right way to say “I love you” to each other. Good news!  I have come up with a few ways to help you ditch the stress and stop feeling sorry for yourself this Valentine’s Day: Practice loving yourself (I am serious) instead! Here are 8 ways to do that…

 

1- Create an in-home spa day for yourself

Did you know that it’s actually possible to give yourself a massage? Other great in-home spa ideas include taking a relaxing bath with sea salt and essential oils, and giving yourself an all natural facial.

2- Practice meditation and yoga

There is no better way to say “I love you” than investing time in listening to yourself, getting to know who you really are, and learning what truly brings you happiness. Yoga and meditation both offer us a way to do these things.

3- Take yourself on a date

If you’re open to spending a little money this Valentine’s Day, here’s what I recommend: Think of what your perfect date this would be — where you would go, what you would do, what you would eat, etc., and then do it yourself! The beauty of taking yourself on a date is that you get to do EXACTLY what you enjoy. Bet you’ve never thought about doing this now did you?

4- Re-evaluate your relationships

Toxic relationships can suck out all of our energy and really bring us down. A great gift to yourself on this relationship-focused holiday might be to evaluate which relationships are serving you, and which are not. Then, make a plan to nourish and develop the ones that are healthy, and cut down on time spent on relationships that are unhealthy. (this is a super important one that we should be doing regularly)

5- Cook a fabulous meal for yourself

Cooking for one, when that “one” is yourself, is something that many people struggle to find the motivation to do. When we think about making a meal for ourselves, we often think, “Why put so much time and energy into cooking when it’s only for me?” And this is a problem. When we think of ourselves as “only me,” we are diminishing our self-worth. Here’s the thing: You are worth it! This Valentine’s Day, practice loving yourself by cooking a very healthy and delicious meal, and then enjoying every bite!

6- Treat yourself to dark chocolate and wine for dessert

Dark chocolate and wine are the perfect Valentine’s Day dessert. They’re both delicious, luxurious, and even offer health benefits ! Just make sure the chocolate contains 70 percent cocoa or higher, and keep it to no more than two glasses of wine ;).

7- Practice using positive affirmations or positive self talk.

Positive affirmations are a great way to reduce negative self-talk and increase self-confidence.It might seem silly to some of you to do this but the more you do it, the better and more positive you’ll feel.  Give it a try.  Here are my own personal positive affirmations.

You are beautiful. You are smart. You are strong. You are loved. You are enough. You are AWESOME!
8- Make a list of things you love about yourself

If you can only do one of these things on Valentine’s Day, make it this. Write down at least 10 things you love about yourself. They can be personality traits, physical features, things you have accomplished — anything! Continue to refer to this list even after Valentine’s Day. You can read it once a day or whenever you experience moments of criticism and self-doubt.

Although so much emphasis on loving yourself may seem selfish, or strange to some, the reality is that we have very little energy and love to give to others if we don’t put ourselves first sometimes. Let’s start today.

Happy Valentine’s Day! I hope today is one of MANY days that you choose to love yourself.

love-yourself

Les 🙂

 

 

 

Comfort Meals I’ve Fallen in Love With…

With the colder weather coming and being pregnant with a baby in the oven, all I want to do with my free time is cook and try all kinds of new recipes.  I thought I would share a couple of my new favourites that are easy to make, healthy and taste delicious!

  1. Hearty Chicken and Rice Soup

Hearty Chicken and Rice Soup

http://allrecipes.com/recipe/231291/hearty-chicken-and-rice-soup/

Ingredients:
10 cups chicken broth (I used low sodium)
1 onion, chopped
1 cup sliced celery
1 cup sliced carrots
1/4 cup sliced parsley
12/ tsp black pepper
1/2 tsp dried thyme leaves
1 bay leaf
3/4 lb of chicken, cut into cubes
2 cups cooked rice
2 tbsp lime juice

Prep 20 min, Cook 25 min, Ready in 45 min

Directions:
Combine chicken broth, onion, celery, carrots, parsley, pepper, thyme and bay leaf in a Dutch oven (or large pot), bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low; simmer until the onion and celery begin to soften, 10-15 minutes. Stir chicken into the simmering broth; cook until the chicken is no longer pink in the middle, 5-10 minutes. Remove and discard the bay leaf. Stir rice and lime juice into broth; cook and stir just until rice is hot and grains seperate, about 1 minute.

2. Beef Stew

Jennifer's Burgundy Beef Stew

http://allrecipes.com/recipe/230331/jennifers-burgundy-beef-stew/?internalSource=hub%20recipe&referringContentType=search%20results&clickId=cardslot%202

Ingredients:
1 slice bacon
1 tbsp olive oil
1/4 cup all purpose flour
1 1/12 lbs or beef chunks
2 cups low sodium beef stock
1 cup dry red/burgundy wine
4 carrots, cut into chunks
1 lb potatoes, cut into chunks
1/2 lb mushrooms, sliced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 onion, cut into chunks
1 tsp dried marjoram
3/4 tsp ground thyme
1/2 tsp salt
1 pinch ground black pepper

Prep 20 min, Cook 1 hr 40 min, Ready in 2 hrs

Directions:

  1. Cook bacon in a large skillet over medium-high heat until evenly browned, about 10 minutes. Remove bacon to a paper towel, retaining drippings in skillet. Pour olive oil into reserved bacon drippings.
  2. Pour flour into a large sealable plastic bag, add the beef, seal and shake to coat meat with flour. Cook and stir beef in the bacon drippings mixture until browned on all sides, 7-10 minutes.
  3. Crumble the bacon and add to the skillet. Pour beef stock and wine over the beef mixture; bring to a boil, reduce heat to medium-low and simmer until beef is tender, about 1 hour.
  4. Stir carrots, potatoes, mushrooms, garlic, onion, marjoram, thyme and salt and pepper into the beef mixture; continue cooking at a simmer until the vegetable are tender, 20-30 minutes.

3 Slow Cooker Balsamic Chicken

Slow Cooker Balsamic Chicken - Let the crockpot do all of the work in the easiest dish of all time. Simply throw everything in with 5 min prep. That's it!

http://damndelicious.net/2015/08/14/slow-cooker-balsamic-chicken/

Ingredients:
1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
1/2 cup chicken broth
1/4 cup brown sugar, packed
3 cloves garlic, minced
4 bone in, skin on chicken breasts
1 tsp dried basil
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1/4 tsp dried thyme
1/4 tsp dried rosemary
1/4 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
kosher salt and ground black pepper to taste
2 tbsp chopped fresh parsley leaves

Directions:
1. In a small bowl, whisk together balsamic vinegar, chicken broth, brown sugar and garlic; set aside.
2. Season chicken breasts with basil, oregano, thyme, rosemary, red pepper flakes, salt and pepper to taste.
3. Place chicken breasts into 6 qt crockpot.  Stir in balsamic vinegar mixture. Cover and cook on low heat for 7-8 hours or high heat for 3-4 hours, reaching an internal temperate of 165F.
4. Serve immediately, garnished with parsley if desired *

*I usually serve this with grilled veggies or a big salad. My husband likes to have rice with his…

I always love cooking in bulk so that I have a few meals ready my husband and I for the week.  Give these a try and let me know what you think.  I am always looking for new recipes so please share some of your (easy to make) favourites.

Happy cooking!

 

Les 🙂

Genevieve-Client Success Story

Focused. Driven. Dedicated. Hard working. Energetic. Motivated. Passionate. Determined. Goal driven.

These are just a few of the words I would use to describe my client Genevieve.  I am thrilled to share her story with you today…

Thanks to Google search for connecting Gen and I. I remember receiving this email from her on May 25 2016…

Good morning Les, I came across your webpage through the Prime Personal Training website and I had to email you. I have been on a weight loss journey for a 1 year and 4 months now. It’s been up and down.  In January 2015 I weighed in at 166 and managed to get down to 150 by the end of February 2015. I was following a strict low-carb diet and was doing a minimum of 30 minutes of cardio 5x a week. Unfotunately, by the end of the summer my weight went up to 172 – I was not eating properly nor going to the gym. By October 2015 I decided to loose it again with the ultimate goal of reaching 150. I managed to get to 160 by December and I hit a plateau. From January to March 2016 my weight went back up to 166. From April 1st to May 4th I was able to get down to 157. I went to Jamaica from May 4th to May 14th. When I got back I was 166 again. As of this morning I am 160.6. My diet is quit strict throughout the week, however on weekend it is often less than perfect due to all the events we attend etc. My diet consist of the following: 2 boiled eggs in the morning with 11 almonds, green salad with veggies for lunch with 11 almonds, and chicken or beef for dinner with veggies and a carb (1 cup of rice, or quinoa). As per exercise, I do not have a gym so I usually power walk with my dog, use the elliptical in my apartment building, and do a workout video / program at home. I am 23 years old and I am currently a masters of social work student at Carleton. I really want to do this and reach my 140/135 pound goal by September because I am attending an important wedding and I want to look my absolute best. I’ve been trying so hard but it seems like I will not be able to do it on my own. However, being a student I do have a limited budget. I can probably only do $50-100/ week max. I know it is not a lot but I really hope that you will consider me as a client. I really really want to do this and reach my goal. Looking forward to your reply. Best, Genevieve Roberge

As you can tell she had a history of yo-yo dieting and was a bit obsessed with the scale/numbers.  When I read her email I knew she would make a great client as she seemed very determined to reach her goal but was ready and willing to seek help.  I also noticed that does a lot of cardio- and not a lot of weights-this meant her body would respond very well to strength training and a change in her exercise routine.

From the first day we met I loved her enthusiasm for life and how determined she was to reach her goals. We started out training 3 days a week, 30 minute sessions.  She NEVER missed a workout and did cardio 2 days a week on her own (high intensity intervals, no more than 20 minute sessions).  I also encouraged her to eat more carbs but cycling them depending on her activity level that day and also upping her protein and vegetable portions. In her first month she lost 7bs and 2% body fat and 10 inches. We were thrilled! Everything she was doing was working and she was feeling fantastic.  Then the month of July her progress slowed down a bit, and she began to get discouraged and I was confused at first as to why the stall in progress.  Then after she described her day to me in a bit more details I said WHOA GEN, YOU NEED TO SLOW DOWN! So I encouraged her to do less working out and more working in (more yoga, focus on getting more sleep, more restorative activities) to calm herself down and give her a chance to relax.  And guess what, it worked! Her weight and body far and inches continued to drop after that and she had a renewed sense of self and her motivation was back! I encouraged her to change her mindset and to focus on her habits (the things she can control) instead of obsessing over the scale and her weight (something that she can’t change) and it’s amazing what happens when you take the pressure off yourself and just enjoy the process.  She switched from working out just for the purpose of  losing weight and eating clean just to lose inches and instead she know works out because she knows she will feel better afterwards and eat healthy because it makes her feel good to eat healthy food and she loves the way she feels after a good night’s sleep.

In total since we started she has lost 20+lbs and 5% body fat and almost 25 inches.  She has a renewed sense of self and has a deeper understanding of what a proper workout routine consists of (less is more!) and the importance of following a consistent and healthy nutrition plan. She said no to quick fixes, special pills, extreme dieting and excessive exercise. She was patient and listened to her trainer and look what happened…..

gen-before-and-after-side-view

Incredible right?!

I can’t express how grateful I am to have had the opportunity to work with Gen and help her improve her quality of life. The best part is seeing how much more comfortable she is in her own skin and her smile is bigger than ever before!   While I am sad to see her leave in a couple months I have all the confidence in the world that the things she has learned while training with me are going to stick with her for the rest of her life. Over the past 5 months we have worked together I have seen her transform into a stronger, leaner, and more confident woman.  She has learned to enjoy working out and looks forward to trying different recipes and making healthy meals. While it is a lot of work she will be the first to tell you that it is worth it!

Another wonderful moment that I got to witness recently was when her boyfriend proposed to her at the most beautiful spot in Gatineau Park, Pink Lake.  I was so overcome with emotion when I saw her reaction as I know how happy Mic makes her and she was over the moon happy when he got down on one knee (she was also totally surprised!)  Her boyfriend (now fiance) has been so supportive through her ups and downs and they love each other unconditionally so it was so amazing to be there for that very special moment! She still can’t believe she is going to be getting married next year! I am so happy for Gen and Mic to spend the rest of their lives together, happily ever after.

Now here is Gen’s story from her perspective…

Weight is something that many people struggle with – myself included. Time and time again I would try to lose weight, but I would always be unsuccessful. I would look for quick fixes and try all the different diet plans I could find, but they never worked. Then I would decide that I would exercise really hard, and a week later I would give up. It was a vicious cycle of wanting to lose weight but never committing 100%, nor having the patience to let the process happen.

I finally reached my breaking point when the scale showed me that I weighed the most I had ever been. I am 23 years old and I knew this was not the life I wanted to continue to live. I finally decided that if I was going to lose weight I had to commit 100% – for real this time. The first (and best) decision I made was to hire a personal trainer – Les. I met with her on June 1st 2016 for an initial meeting. I told her how I had been struggling with my weight and how badly I wanted to change my lifestyle. I also told her how committed I was to losing weight, getting stronger and reaching my goals. I wanted to show her that I was going to be a client that gave it everything she had and produced amazing results. Physically and mentally I was determined to do everything that it took to get where I wanted to be. We drafted a workout schedule and I committed to do doing cardio on the days that we did not train together. I also began to walk at least 10,000 steps everyday. We also discussed my nutrition and came up with a nutrition plan that worked with my lifestyle. I also incorporated a multivitamin and fish oil in my morning routine and made it a priority to drink at least 2L of water a day. The combination of dedication, motivation, hard work, a good workout routine, a solid nutrition plan, and Les’s support are what led to my successes.

However, it wasn’t always easy. In fact, at times it was really hard especially when it came to nutrition. As a society we are constantly surrounded by temptations – at school, at work, with family and friends, and events and celebrations. But proving to yourself that you have the ability to say “no” and fighting against the temptations is extremely empowering. It is that dedication and the internal power that will lead to successful weight loss.
Additionally, there were also time where I struggled tremendously mentally. Those arbitrary numbers on the scale began consuming my every thought. At one point during this process, the numbers did not change for 5 weeks despite working out and eating clean. It was really devastating and difficult because I had reached a plateau at a number that I could never break through before. Yet, here I was doing everything that I could and the number was not changing. I truly believed that could never get past it and I would be stuck at this weight forever. When Les noticed how badly it was affecting me she told me to skip our workout session and to go do yoga at any studio in the city. She realized that at that point I needed to find an outlet to de-stress and find my focus on the goal that matters most – being healthy. Not only was she there to support me as a personal trainer, but she also acknowledged my mental health – which speaks volumes about the type of person she is. Surprisingly, when I let go of all the pressures that I was putting on myself, the numbers dropped – a lot! Ultimately, when you have Les on your side, motivating and supporting you – you can do anything.

Hiring Les as a trainer was the best decision that I could have made for myself. With her support, dedication, and coaching I have been able to change my lifestyle in the best possible way. I now love to be active, I love to run (which I hated before), and I love to try new recipes and cook healthier options that make my family and I feel good. I highly recommend everyone to hire Les as a personal trainer. She will be there with you every step of the way. Take the time to invest in yourself and accomplish the goals you’ve always wanted too. Give it your 100% both physically and mentally. Stick to your workouts and nutrition plan and changes will happen! You can do this.

gen-before-and-after

Congratulations again Gen on your transformation! Your success story is an inspiration to all and I look forward to hearing about many more successes in your future.

If you want to follow her fitness journey and get a closer look into her daily life you can follow her on instagram @genevievenr

 

Les 🙂

What I learned from my injury and taking a break from running…

My biggest fear in life is not being able to exercise…so I guess you could say I am most of afraid of getting injured…  A few weeks ago I was experiencing pain in my hip/glute while running. I made appointments with my chiro and physio right away and they both told me that I needed to rest and take a break from running for 1-2 weeks.  I was very upset. Especially since I was 6 weeks out from my half marathon race.

In the past this would have sent me into a horrible state, I would’ve eaten my emotions, thought that my life was over and been in a really bad mood, every single day.  BUT this time I was sad for a day and then I accepted that my body needed a rest and time to heal.  No emotional eating, no feeling bad for myself and no irrational thoughts.  In fact I even thought that it wouldn’t be the end of the world if I can’t run the Half Marathon race I have been training for since November.  Then I started thinking “why am I reacting so differently than I used to?” And this is what I came up with…

  1. In the past I was so obsessed with losing weight/my physique and my obsession with food and exercise controlled my life.  I did not have a healthy work/life balance.  When the scale tipped way to one side (injury due to over training that meant I couldn’t train etc) I wouldn’t know what to do with myself.  But NOW I have an amazing husband, a rewarding career and business (I’ve always had that but I feel I am better at managing my time=less stressed/tired), I have incredible family and friends whom I look forward to seeing on a regular basis and most importantly I am happy and healthy-mentally, physically and emotionally.
  2. When I exercise less I am less hungry.  So this helps prevent me from going crazy with food and encourages me to focus on eating lean protein and veggies.  This really helps me to feel less crappy while I am not exercising.
  3. It helps me put things in perspective.  I had a goal of running a 1:45 half marathon.  This meant more running. increasing my speed etc and by doing that, my body was starting to tell me, “take it easy or you will be sorry later” and it led to me getting injured.   This injury has really calmed me down and instead of being so competitive with myself and trying to run this race with a crazy time goal it has encouraged me to shift my focus.  I need to remember this- I run because it makes me feel good, it is like a moving meditation for me.  The moment it doesn’t feel good  and I start hating it I need to take a step back, slow down and run for the enjoyment, not for the competition. I’m not an elite runner, I don’t get paid for it so why try and train like one?
  4. I have been missing my regular massage treatments and not doing enough yoga.  And what happens when you skip those? You get super tight and your risk for injury is high.  So this has forced me to chill and it’s amazing how good I feel not exercising lol.  Even though I have been focusing on getting more sleep doing proper warmups, mobility work, strength training AND stretching after my workouts and runs, it wasn’t enough.
  5. I love running but I have accepted that a half marathon is not the best distance/race for me.  As much as I love the challenge, the training and the day of the race I think I will stick to doing 5 and 10km races.  Who knows, maybe I’ll love doing the triathlon? Regardless I am 185 lbs, have a strong lower body, probably not ideal running form, and not the BEST body type for running long distance and that’s ok! I’ve done so many races over the last 8 years that I can say I’ve been there, done that and help others train for their first half or full marathon.

Long story short, taking the last week and a half off from exercise has been a great mental exercise.  I’ve had more time for myself (and my husband and friends and family), I’ve had a chance to rest my body, my mind and my soul.  Do I miss it? YES! Am I looking forward to running again? YES! Will I take it easy and slowly build my runs up again? YES!  Will I run the half marathon at the end of May? Not sure yet but I will listen to my body (and my health professionals) and decide closer to the date.  Will I do my best to prevent this injury or other injuries from happening again? YES! That’s what I appreciate about injuries, you learn so much about yourself and come back even stronger and smarter when you have recovered.

Have you ever been injured and freaked out that you wouldn’t be able to exercise for a few weeks and think you’ll gain a ton of weight? That’s totally normal.  But take a deep breath and tell yourself you’ll be ok. But, if I can take time off so can you, as long as you learn from your mistakes and realize that being able to move for the rest of your life is more important than having crazy goals that require crazy training that could potentially injury you for an extended period of time. Take care of yourself, and your body will thank you for it!  Remember the exercise will get you fit but too much of anything is a bad thing.  Also keep in mind that you exercise won’t help you to lose weight but eating right consistently will.  The more you exercise the hungrier you become.  So move often but smart and eat foods (and the amount) that make you feel good, not gross.

I am a huge fan of being able to exercise and train my clients until the day I die so if I want to be able to do that I must exercise, eat healthy, sleep, take more time for myself and stay injury free.  Here’s to another 100 years of healthy living….

 

 

Les 🙂

 

My thoughts while running….

The best (and worst) part about training for a half  marathon is the importance of a weekly long run.  I tend to do my long runs on Sundays.  As much as I would LOVE to join the many run clubs around Ottawa for their 8:30 am Sunday runs it doesn’t work with my schedule 😦

All that being said I normally look forward to doing my long run on every Sunday and lately I have been doing mt run at the end of the day.  This isn’t ideal and to be honest the afternoon is not when I have the most energy and usually it is when i least want to go for a run but it has been when I have the time to do it.  BUT somehow I manage to get my gear on, tie up my shoes, and head out the door.  This afternoon was ESPECIALLY difficult to get going as the weather sucked….it was cold and super windy..not my favourite weather for running and I wanted to do was chill on the couch with my husband.  But I went!

Today I ran without music (which I prefer most times) and I also decided to bring my fuel belt with me (filled with water) and ran straight to the Running Room on Slater St to pick up some gels/beans to fuel my run just before they closed.

Now, the moment I stepped outside and ran down my street I was hit hard by the cold and strong wind.  My face was freezing, my ears were stinging and my motivation was dropping fast.  I literally kept telling myself “ok so just run to the Running Room get your gels and run home…you can do this run tomorrow..today is not the best day to do it…I wish I would’ve worn a warmer hat….”  I felt slow and not in the mood At ALL to run…but after chatting with the woman who sold me my energy beans I got a little extra boost.  She said “you can do it!” and suggested I try running along the canal as it was less windy.

I headed down Bank Street and ran all the way to the Bank Street Bridge by Lansdowne and then hopped on the pathway next to the canal and passed infront of some big beautiful homes…I was looking at my watch and it said I had ran only 3 km…’oh great’ I said to myself ‘only 13 to go and I still feel like my legs are moving in slow motion’.

i ran all the way to the Bronson Street Bridge then headed up the stairs and walked across the bridge to hop on the east side of the canal and was heading towards Hog’s Back.  There was a section of the canal when I literally felt like I was going to be blown over sideways and this is when I was asking myself ‘why did I choose to run today?? This is the worst day ever and I am the only person out here. I must be crazy.’  But after a few minutes of crazy side winds blowing me over, the wind stopped all of a sudden and it was smooth sailing to the next bridge (I think it was Riverside Drive?) and I started thinking ‘wow I feel like I could run forever, I am so glad I kept running and didn’t let the wind get the best of me!’ I looked down at my watch and it said 45 minutes, ‘perfect I am halfway!’  I started running along Riverside Drive along the bike path and started reminiscing about my days of training at LC Fitness just up the hill on Bank Street, then saw a few groundhogs darting into their holes and thought ‘I wonder if there is an entire world of tunnels and groundhog homes underground?’  I also ran past quite a few geese (which I’m a tad scared of for some reason) and ducks.  The run along this river is beautiful and I totally soaked up every ounce of nature as I passed by. Once I passed Bank Street the path felt like it just kept going, I came up to the 60 minute mark and my legs felt lighter and I felt like I was running with ease.  My pace picked up and I felt like I could keep running forever.  I kept telling myself ‘man I really love to run, I love this route, i have to do this path again’.  I was running a route I had never run before and I was literally the only person on the path, I wasn’t worried but as the time kept passing I kept thinking ‘I hope this path ends up close to my home?’  I had a feeling it did but I wasn’t 100% sure and I also had no idea how much farther I had to go but I planned a 90 minute run and was 70  minutes in, only 20 minutes to go.  I caught myself smiling to myself and saying ‘I am so happy I decided to keep running, this has got to be the best run I have had in a long time’.  And eventually I came to a  path I recognized, the path that leads me home, so I finished my run through Strathacona Park and as I soon as I reached the huge hill up Range Road I stopped running and looked down at my watch….90 minutes and 16 km! I did it and it felt like the time flew by!  I was filled with a huge sense of accomplishment and pure joy.  It was hard to believe that 90 minutes ago I had such a hard time getting myself going and how I had to keep talking myself into continuing to run and not giving up.

So if you’ve made it to the end of this long winded post, thank you for reading. To all you runners out there I encourage you to go for your next run solo, without music, enjoy the sounds of nature, enjoy being with your thoughts and enjoy the journey.  And during the first 5-10 minutes when your body is resisting you and your mind is saying ‘what the heck are you running for’, IGNORE IT and tell yourself you’re just getting started.  Once you’re warmed up you’ll (hopefully) get the feeling I get when I feel as if I could run forever and get lost in just how amazing it feels to sweat while I run. I feel so blessed to be able to run so this motivates me to keep running while I can!

Les 🙂

 

The secret to lowering stress, improving your mood and decreasing cravings…

…is to go for a leisurely walk!

Other than running, lifting weights and yoga, walking is my favourite activity.  Now that the weather is getting warmer, you have no excuse! So who is up for a walking challenge?  Why not? Oh you think it’s a waste of time and doesn’t count as exercise? Well you’re right, it doesn’t count as a workout, because it is supposed a leisurely walk through the park or around the block.  If you still think that you don’t have time for that, well you are someone who probably needs it the most!  Walking does not count as exercise but it should be viewed as a necessity and here is why…

Walking helps reduce your stress levels, sheds hunger and cravings and negative self talk.  Leisurely walking has also been shown to reduce the stress hormone cortisol.  Cortisol is released when the body is under stress (physical or mental), and is meant to help us escape any life threatening situation. For example, we are being chased by a bear, we see the bear, stress hormones are released into the bloodstream, so we can fight or flight-the-hell-out-of-there. Once we escape the bear, we calm down and stress hormones return to normal.

Luckily, we aren’t having to run from bears or other large scary animals everyday, but stress from work and school, a bad interview, and endless to-do lists keep our cortisol levels high moment after moment, day after day.  This is not good.

When cortisol levels stay too high, for too long, it causes us to lose muscle, store fat, and develop serious junk food cravings.

Taking a nice relaxing walk through Gatineau Park (or your neighbourhood) is just what we need to bring our stress hormones back to normal. This is the power of walking. It relaxes and lowers our stress hormone levels.

Walking daily, especially though nature, impacts your health on a hormonal level. It improves your mood, decreases your stress, lowers hunger, increases energy, improves sleep, and can help release fat from the fat cells.

This, in turn, has a huge impact on your life. When you’re less hungry and have fewer cravings for pizza, it can lead to a leaner physique. When your mood is improved, so is you personal life. And when you sleep better, stress less, and have more energy you’re more productive at work and have more energy to exercise!

So after reading this have you been convinced to make walking a priority?  Let’s do a 30 day challenge: can you make time for walking everyday for the next month? Try it, and see what happens. Even if you only end up walking every other day, you’ll be sure to see improvements in your life.

Who is joining me?

Les 🙂