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MONTHLY FAVOURITES

May Favourites

The fact that I’m only getting this blog post up now pretty much sums up all of May for me. It has been one crazy busy month. Actually, it’s really been one crazy busy year! These days I pretty much feel like I’m just keeping my head above water but that’s what you get for starting your own business. I also believe that if I didn’t feel like I was drowning, failing and riding a roller coaster all at once than I’m probably doing something wrong because this is what everyone told (read warned) me about being an entrepreneur. So this month’s ‘Faves’ post is all about the products and hacks that are keeping me alive and well during this insane time in my life. 

Don’t forget to scroll all the way to the bottom for your chance to win one of my fave products!

Favourite skincare product:

Tata Harper Hydrating Floral Essense

I had the luxury of trying out and then getting to take home this spray only last week but have used it multiple times a day, every day since then. This miracle mist both moisturizes and hydrates the skin as it contains similar ingredients found in Tata’s well-known serums. I love that it can be applied on a fresh face or over makeup. Personally I’ve been using it later in the afternoon when I feel tired and in need of a little pick me up. I can definitely see this mist becoming my new favourite travel partner as well. 

Favourite healthy snack:

Chocolate Quinoa Coconut Nagi Bar

Although there are so many raw and vegan products on the market, it is actually rare to find a protein bar that fits within that criteria but still contains a good amount of protein and does not contain 20g of sugar. I was definitely surprised when I saw Nagi bars had 12 grams of protein and only 9 grams of sugar. I was even more surprised to find out how good they taste – especially the chocolate quinoa coconut flavour. I also really like the texture. It’s more chewy similar to a Lara bar and does not have any artificial aftertaste to it.  I also love that they are made in Canada and the founder Justyna is Polish (I’m half Polish) so these bars and I were pretty much meant to be.  

Favourite wellness hack:

Detox Water

I should really call this “spa” water because let’s be honest, you can’t actually detoxify your body by drinking naturally flavoured water however it does have a nice ring to it and there are so many benefits as well. Right now I am really into filling up a massive mason jar of water and throwing in half a lemon, one third of a large cucumber and a handful of fresh mint. Each ingredient has it’s own glorious benefits. While you make think of lemons as being acidic, they are actually one of the most alkaline-forming foods which helps to balance the acidity in our bodies.  Then we have cucumbers that are filled with tons of vitamins and minerals which are amazing for our skin and lastly mint is so good for our digestion. I make my jar at night and store it in the fridge so the water is really flavourful in the morning. I will then drink it first thing, before my coffee so I know I’m off to a great start.

Favourite new workout gear:

Joe Fresh Floral Active Popover 

June gloom has been real here in Toronto thanks to Mother Nature. It’s so easy to let the grey skies get the best of you but one trick that has been working for me is adding a pop of colour to my wardrobe. Whether it’s a neon colour sports bra, a bright sneaker or a fun pattern jacket like this purple floral piece from Joe Fresh, adding some brightness to my regular all black attire has certainly been mood boosting. I’m pretty much always in black leggings and either white or black running shoes so I love that this jacket goes with my normally neutral wardrobe. It’s pretty much impossible to be in a bad mood when you’re decked out in florals. (Photo from joefresh.com)

Favourite workout recovery product:

SKINORD muscle warming + cooling cream

While I don’t think you can replace a proper warm up and a good stretch pre and post workout, sometimes you need an extra boost in the recovery department, especially on those leg days. Lately I’ve been using Skinord’s muscle warming cream before my workout and cooling cream after, on the days where I know I am going really hard in the gym. I’m one of the people who really suffer from DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness). You know that day 2 feeling where you have to hold on to both sides of the toilet seat to sit down and get back up? That always happens to me.

Skinord uses only natural ingredients such as essential oils and vitamins to replicate the processes that occur in the body during warm ups and cool downs. For example the wintergreen oil in the warming cream helps increase blood flow and the peppermint in the cooling cream aids in soothing the muscles.

Best part is their products are produced right here in Toronto! And even better? Skinord is giving one of you lucky readers your very own set of pre and post workout creams. All you have to do is leave a comment letting me know the exercise that makes you the most sore! For me it’s always lunges. Winner will be announced on Friday via Instagram – good luck!

April Favourites

I always love when the first day of a brand new month falls on a Monday. There is something about seeing that number 1 on the calendar next to a Monday that inspires me to take a moment, think about my goals, check in to where I am and make a plan to get to where I want to be. Adapting to my new, self-employed job is still taking some time. I am feeling pretty disorganized and a little overwhelmed with keeping tabs on all the different things I have going on right now. So my intention for this month definitely subscribes to the season – spring cleaning and organization. I need to de-clutter, take better care of myself and my business, and stay on top of all the exciting stuff I have going on.

This past month was filled with lots of events, some exciting collaborations and more opportunities to try new products. Since April was Earth Month, I thought I would dedicate this month’s post to all my favourite products that I was given an opportunity to test out, which are not only good for our health but good for the earth! Check em out below.

Favourite Natural Shampoo, Conditioner + Mask:

Maui Moisture Heal & Hydrate + Shea Butter Collection

As a spinning teacher, my hair is drenched in sweat almost every day. So basically my only options are dry shampoo or washing my hair every night. I used to lean towards the dry shampoo side but since I’ve tried Maui Moisture I started washing my hair a lot more and there are a few reasons for that. The first time I used the shampoo and conditioner, I let my hair dry naturally and loved the way it ended up looking. The less I have to do with my hair post-washing, the better since I am always strapped for time. And if I am forced to wash it more often, I can at least feel good about using products with ingredients that are actually good for you. The products are formulated with shea butter, coconut oil, and macadamia oil, which are so nourishing for my over-dried hair due to all the sweat. Plus every single Maui Moisture product has NO parabens, NO silicones, NO sulfate surfactants, NO synthetic dyes, NO mineral oils and NO gluten. This means they aren’t only good for our hair but they are making a less-harmful impact on the environment when those soapy remnants go down the drains in our showers. Win for us, win for the earth!

Favourite Natural Remedy:

Saje Wellness Peppermint Halo Headache Remedy 

Spring is here and while warmer days are certainly ahead, so are rainy days. This spring in Toronto has been particularly rainy which means one thing for me – more headaches. I’ve always been super sensitive to rainy weather. My head just kills when it rains. I try and stay away from taking any over the counter painkillers so when I found out about Saje’s Pepermint Halo I knew I had to give it a try. Pepermint Halo is an essential oil that you can roll on to your temples, back of your neck and behind your ears (or any other trigger points you want) that releases a strong, cooling sensation. It’s made with peppermint, lavender, eucalyptus, cajeput, vetiver and rosemary essential oils. It smells amazing and works extremely fast. 

Favourite Natural Grab n Go Drink:

Flow Water 

I know what you’re thinking…isn’t this just water and shouldn’t you be using a reusable water bottle? Well yes and yes. But hear me out. Flow Water, isn’t just water. It’s actually locally sourced from a family-run artesian in Ontario that is replenished by rain and filtered naturally. Most spring waters use minimal treatments for bacteria yet Flow keeps it all pure with their unique renewal system, making it nutrient-rich and delicious. So it tastes good, and is good for us, but what about the earth? Shouldn’t we be using our own water bottles? I used to be so good at bringing my own water bottle with me to work and consistently filling it up. (It may or may not have been due to boredom). Now that I’m in a job where I’m constantly on the go, I have become pretty bad at hydrating, especially for someone who sweats for a living! Since having a case of Flow in my fridge, I’ve definitely gotten better at keeping up with my water due to the ease and convenience of the boxes plus the aesthetically appealing packaging that has me inclined to reach for a box every time I open the fridge. It’s also this packaging that makes Flow unique, and, surprisingly, eco-friendly.  You can read all about Flow’s production and packaging here since it is pretty technical but the gist is that their production process plus packaging stays true to their overall mission which is providing a clean and sustainable product while at the same time, limiting their carbon footprint. I you want to try Flow, you can find it at most groceries stores, some fitness studios or you can even order it online and have it delivered to your door – in an eco-friendly BMWi3 of course!

Favourite Natural Salad Dressing:

Raw Foodz Glorious Greek

I’m normally all for making my own salad dressings since it is a really easy way to cut calories, keep your meal clean and be aware of exactly what is going into your food. However, there is something to be said for finding a product that gives you clean and simple ingredients but where you don’t have to do all the work yourself. I had the opportunity to try a bunch of Raw Foodz salad dressings which are all: vegan, organic, raw, nut-free, soy-free, gluten-free and preservative-free. So what are they made with? Well, real ingredients. Things like avocado oil, apple cider vinegar, mustards and herbs that give it all the flavour without the additives. The greek has been my favourite so far but other flavours such as Purely Poppy and Japanese Joy are inspiring me to branch out and try some new salad recipes.

Favourite Natural Blogger:

Shut The Kale Up

I know you already know who she is, but Jeannette Ogdon of the Insta-famous @shutthekaleup is pretty much the queen of natural living. At the beginning of this year she decided to go as natural as possible in all realms of living: food, beauty, house cleaning products, hygiene, etc. While I don’t have the intention of doing that myself, I totally admire her dedication and determination to keep it as clean as possible. And she definitely keeps it real. It seems like she will pretty much try anything and give you her honest opinion. She will always admit when something she is using isn’t natural and I mean, she’s human, we can’t be perfect and keep everything clean, it’s just not possible. I like to try her recommendations for things like skin care products and natural deodorants but I don’t see myself going as far as oil pulling. But never say never – I did say I would never put yogurt on toast once upon a time after Jeannette did it and, well it turns out, greek yogurt is actually damn delish on bread. 

March Favourites

As I sit here writing this post, it is pitch black outside and snowing. Granted, it is 5:30 am but snow?! You would never think that tomorrow is April. Despite the weather, March was a busy and fun-filled month. I got to travel to New York twice, once to meet my new baby cousin and the other with Samsung Canada – an incredible opportunity that I can’t wait to share more about in another post. As I am getting busier with the blog and personal training/health coach clients, I am constantly trying to find my work flow and create a schedule that is efficient and effective. So far what I’ve learned is that I may not be as good at working from home as I thought. And  I also learned that I am so messy – sorry DC. The more I work from home, the more of a disaster I create in our condo. And then the more I clean up and procrastinate. Not a good cycle. I think it might be time to start working from coffee shops. Anyways, enough of this rant, let’s get to the March favourites.

As always, the disclaimer: the pantry staple was the only gifted item (however I had been using the cacao powder for years before they sent me some) and nothing in this post is paid. All thoughts my own!

Favourite Pantry Staple:

Organic Traditions Cacao Powder

If you don’t already have this at home, cacao powder is a pantry item that needs to become a staple in your home. This is cacao…not cocoa. Cacao is raw and the purest form of chocolate derived from the cacao fruit tree. It is extremely high in antioxidants and therefore considered a superfood. Cocoa, on the other hand is produced by heating cacao which destroys a lot of the health benefits of the plant. Cacao has a rich, chocolatey flavour that is perfect for desserts or smoothies but is extremely low in sugar (less than 1 gram per tablespoon). I have been using the Organic Traditions brand for years. I put a tablespoon into my smoothie or make vegan ice cream by simply blending a frozen banana with the powder. 

Favourite Cookbook:

It’s All Good by Gwyneth Paltrow

This was the first cookbook I bought when I just started getting into healthy eating. I remember my best friend and I went to Whole Foods with a massive list and bought all the ingredients listed in the back of the book. Sticker shock set aside, most of those foreign (to me) ingredients have actually become staples at home. Brown rice vinegar, miso paste, gluten-free tamari and apple cider vinegar, to name a few, make a cameo in so many of my recipes now. I’ve been much more into simple, big-batch cooking lately so my cookbooks don’t get a lot of love, however, I pulled It’s All Good out the other day as I was in need of a good tomato sauce recipe and remembered how much I loved hers. Other favourites include her chicken burgers, ginger sesame carrots and of course, the roasted cauliflower and chickpea recipe. So so yummy!

Favourite Natural Skincare Product:

Martina Gebhardt Salvia Cream

I’ve been pretty open about my skin struggles over the past few months and have tried so many products to help it. Lately I have been using this night cream and so far I absolutely love it. This Salvia Cream is all natural, organic and made for acne, overactive and blemished skin. It’s really thick so I like to put it on at night but my skin doesn’t feel over moisturized or oily in the morning which I really like. I tried a small sample of it for a couple days and ended up going back to buy the whole bottle. If all natural products are your thing, I definitely recommend it.

Favourite Workout Gear:

Athleta High Rise Powerful Gleam Tight

I recently picked up a pair of these tights in the forest green colour while at the Athleta store in New York. I wish we had it in Toronto – their stuff is so amazing! I have worn them a bunch, including teaching spinning in them, which is the ultimate sweat test and they passed with flying colours! Speaking of colour, I love the green. It was a nice change to add a little colour to my closet full of black workout pants. However, I love the pants so much I think I am going to also order them in black. DC will probably get mad when he sees this but hey – my workout clothes are my work clothes now so I think I can justify it, right?

Favourite Self-care Tip:

Using an Alarm Clock

I don’t know about you but I used to sleep with 5 different electronics plugged into a power bar right beside my bed. The chords were always tangled up and in my way as I charged my phone, kindle, Saje Nebulizer and headphones each night. I never really gave all this bedside technology any thought until I recently started waking up in the middle of the night and scrolling through my phone until I got tired again. Funny thing is, the more I checked in on Instagram or Facebook, the more awake I became. So not only was I scrolling through the middle of the night, but I realized I was scrolling first thing in the morning when I opened my eyes and then again before bed, wasting precious sleeping minutes. It’s just such an overwhelming way to start or end your day. I don’t want to get into it too much as I would like to write a post in more detail on this. So long story short, I unplugged everything except my nebulizer (which I can’t sleep without) from beside my bed and now my phone stays in the kitchen over night. I ordered a tiny white alarm clock that is battery operated and I’m kicking it old school with my wakeups. I can’t even tell you how much it has helped me, especially starting my day without rolling over and grabbing my phone. I strongly suggest you guys try it out. 

Favourite Instagram Account:

I Heart Macros 

I didn’t all of a sudden decide I want to start counting macros and then go looking for some accounts to follow. In fact, I came across Quincey’s account and was immediately drawn to her glowing personality, client transformation photos and of course, I have to mention her killer bod! It was actually after reading one of her posts on how counting macros helped her emotional relationship with food that I decided I would give it a go myself. I love watching her stories as she meal preps, gives advice and takes us through a day in the life with her husband and kids. Her website is also amazing and offers macro coaching programs, meal guides and workouts!

So there you have it – my March faves! Let me know in the comments below if there are any other types of products you want to here about. And as always, thanks for reading!