Tag Archives: Health

Failing to prepare is preparing to fail…

Meal Prep Sunday

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We know that our diet is the single most important contributor to our ability to maintain a good physique. So even during the busiest of weeks, if we aren’t able to find time to exercise, ensuring we don’t binge or seek convenience food is critical.

Doing weekly meal prep is a great way to free up a lot of time during the week. I know it seems daunting and requires a lot of discipline, but it’s actually not as time-consuming as it might seem. I don’t know how many times I told myself I was going to do it… Even bought a crock pot cookbook to meal prep the easiest way possible but I fell off the wagon after one attempt.

I decided this year would be the year that I disciplined myself to prep food for the week, allowing myself the weekends for dining out with friends. I’ve been doing well thus far and sticking to my plan quite well. Pat on the shoulder for me. *PAT*

Sadly, one of the biggest motivating factors for me was the purchase of fabulous glass containers for the meal prep. If only everything in life came so easy.

So… pictured above is my meal prep from last Sunday. It took me a total of 1.5 hours to complete and resulted in snacks, lunch and dinner for the entire week. Here’s a quick breakdown of each meal.

BREAKFAST

  • Protein shake, or
  • Greek Yogurt, berries, almonds and almond butter, or
  • Organic Steel Cut Oats, berries, almonds and almond butter, or
  • Whole wheat sandwich thins, avocado, 2 scrambled or sunnyside eggs

MORNING SNACK

  • Grape Tomatoes and Cucumbers, or
  • Baby Carrots and Celery

LUNCH

  • Salad comprised of baby spinach, kale, green peppers, red peppers, strawberries and avocado
  • Protein of either 2 hard boiled eggs or tuna

AFTERNOON SNACK

  • Bounce Protein Ball (LOVE THESE! Especially the peanut butter one. It’s literally a ball of peanut butter. YUM!)

DINNER

  • Either backed Chicken breast or Backed Turkey Breast
  • Steamed broccoli
  • Corn
  • Quinoa

Some people find it boring to eat the same thing every day, and I admit I struggled with that too… But I infuse a lot of flavour with spices on the meat, trying a different combination for each piece resulting in a different flavour each night. Similarly, I cook my quinoa in chicken stalk and throw some spices in there for some flavour. And then I try a different sauce every night for additional variety.

Of course, knowing that I will treat myself over the weekend is also a nice motivator to stick to my plan.

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Farmer’s Market… Cheaper? or More Expensive?

Farmers Market in Skopje

Farmers Market in Skopje, Macedonia
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As a little girl growing up in Macedonia, one of my favourite memories has always been going to the local farmers market with my grandfather. It was always a lively place with friendly people who often gave me a free strawberry or piece of chocolate as my grandfather and I made our way up and down the isles. I can still smell the fresh bread.

In Toronto, we’re lucky to have a couple of farmers markets open year round, with many springing up in the summer months at shopping malls and city halls around the suburbs. As I have been focusing on improving my diet and eating organic, locally grown food, shopping at the farmer’s market has become part of my weekly ritual… Every Saturday, I grab my reusable grocery bags, my shopping list, pick up a Starbucks latte, and make my way to St. Lawrence Market in downtown Toronto.

Last weekend, for the first time, I was struck by how inexpensive my shopping trip was compared to what I had been spending at my local Loblaws Superstore. I got all the groceries pictured below for $58.18. Not only are all of them organic, they will last me for two weeks!

Farmers Market Groceries

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I decided to compare the prices with a few of the major grocery banners in Toronto, just to make sure my memory wasn’t off. I compared the total cost of purchasing all the items on my grocery list at St. Lawrence Market, Sobeys, Metro, Loblaws Superstore and Whole Foods.

Grocery List

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Here is what I found:

St. Lawrence Market        $58.18

Metro                                 $148.32

Sobeys                               $128.56

Loblaws Superstore         $136.89

Whole Foods                     $173.44

 

 

 

Based on this shopping list, I am saving over $1800 a year on groceries by doing my shopping at St. Lawrence Market! That’s a LOT of stilettos… And sweatpants… And maybe even a vacation…

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To cleanse…. or not to cleanse…

juicesIs it just me, or is there something about juice cleanses EVERYWHERE lately? The news, Facebook, Instagram… You name it!

I have to be honest, I’ve never really understood the benefits of these things. They seem short-term and a bit extreme for my liking. As one of my dear friends points out, chewing the food you’re eating is a large part of the satisfaction of the meal. I like it when my belly feels full, the food is tasty and I am satisfied for a few hours after. The only time I will “drink” a meal is a morning protein shake.

But I’ve been seeing information on detoxes and cleanses everywhere, so I thought, maybe I’m missing something… So of course, I did some research.

While there is a lot of contradictory information out there on whether to cleanse or not to cleanse, juice or not to juice, overall there are some benefits and some things to be careful about.

Benefits

It Actually DOES Cleanse! – Did you know that the average person holds 5 – 10lbs of toxic old matter in their intestines??? Feasting is the only way to get rid of it. Doing a juice cleanse gives your digestive system a break, allowing your body to use the excess energy to clean out old matter from your small intestine.

Rapid Nutritional Intake – Juice hardly requires any digestion. Nutrients get absorbed by your body incredibly quickly, leaving you feeling energized and rejuvenated.

Increased Vitamin and Mineral Intake – Let’s face it… We all struggle with getting the recommended daily intake of fruits and vegetables. A juice cleanse can help you to increase the amount of fruits and vegetables (and associated vitamins and minerals) you take in daily. You can pack a looooot of veggies in a juice glass!

Juicing Right

There are some potential risks with juice cleanses, so nutritionists say to keep an eye on a few things.

1)      Use Only Organic Fruits and Vegetables – There is an increased risk that you may consume unwanted chemicals if you’re juicing with non-organic, genetically modified produce.

2)      Watch Out for Chemical Pesticides – When you juice, any chemical pesticides will be ingested in much higher quantities. Most organic produce is treated with organic, natural pesticides, but not all. Make sure you double check.

3)      Don’t Exceed 3 Weeks – for best results, nutritionists recommend doing a juice only cleanse for no more than three weeks and then resuming a nutrition rich, clean and organic diet that incorporates fresh juices to amplify vitamin intake.

4)      Cleanses Are Best for Generally Fit People – While there are some weight benefits associated with doing one, if you’re overweight and considering a juice cleanse, speak to your doctor first. Most overweight adults have an unstable glycemic index making a juice cleanse a bit too extreme for their bodies.

What’s in your juice?

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Feeling stressed about the fact that you’re stressed?

Statue of Bouddha

I don’t know about you, but I’m always running a mile a minute. Stress is such a common aspect of my life, that I barely notice it anymore. And when I do, it’s more of a nuisance than the trigger for self-preservation that it should be. So I frequently ignore the warning signs and plow through life, determined not to let it get the better of me. But inevitably, it does… I hit a wall and quarantine myself for a few days to recuperate before repeating the cycle over again.

I was talking about this to a friend recently and through our conversation, it hit me… We cannot avoid stress; we cannot control or ignore it. But we can manage it effectively. The key is to pay special attention to our emotions or stress indicators, and treat them as a signal that something in our life is out of balance. Then determine what that is and address it in order to re-center.

Here are some stress management tips that may help you feel better and less stressed each and every day:

  • Accept that you cannot control everything and just let go – Easier said than done, I know… But breathe through it, imagine setting it sail on a paper boat in the ocean – whatever you need to do in order to relieve the anxiety and just let it go.
  • Maintain a positive attitude and outlook – It’s easy to get caught up in thoughts like “Nothing ever goes right”, “why does this always happen to me”, etc. Try to catch these thoughts in their tracks and reframe them with “I’m doing my best”, “How can I get some help” and just go into problem solving mode rooting yourself in the belief that a solution exists and you will find it.
  • Take a breather – if you’re starting to feel the stress bubbling up, stop what you’re doing and go for a walk. Take deep breaths and force yourself to smile. You will feel the stress dissipating immediately.
  • Set aside daily “Me Time” – I indulge in bubble baths just about daily. I find the warmth and candle light incredibly soothing and have come to view them as a reward for a job well done through the day. Find something you like doing and that gives you a sense of peace and relaxation and do it every day.
  • Get enough sleep! – Sleep is the single most powerful way to manage stress. If you are well rested, you accomplish more, maintain a positive attitude and persevere through difficult situations much more effectively.
  • Exercise regularly – Ok… I admit I’m bad at this one. I do better when I schedule workouts with friends or through organized sports. But since learning that about myself, I ensure I have a team sport at least once if not twice a week to make sure I get out there. And I always try unique exercise trends and try to make them into social affairs.
  • Eat healthy – I know… It’s hard to make nutritious meals all the time. I have used that excuse a million times… But if it only takes me 1 hour on a Sunday to prepare my lunches for the week and stick them in the fridge. And sometimes, I make some stews and crock pot recipes that I can freeze in single serve portions throughout the week. It is possible…
  • Get Social! – Nothing is more therapeutic during a stressful time, than spending time with loved ones that lift your spirits, can help you trouble shoot problems and just make you feel loved and supported amidst the craziness that life can be sometimes.

And if all else fails, pour yourself a glass of wine, snuggle up on the couch and escape reality for a while with a solid chick flick.

What are your stress management secrets?

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