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Beautiful

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Lately I’ve been so tired. “Selling” a healthy lifestyle of good nutrition, self love, balance, and healthy movement can be exhausting when you’re up against a world of shakes, pills, body shaming, quick fixes, and the obsession with shrinking, shrinking, shrinking.

I keep finding that the more I figure out my own crap (we’ve all got our own), the more I find that my beliefs don’t jive with the messages that the majority of the world but even the health community is preaching. That is super disappointing, and on some days, makes me want to throw up my hands and quit. Maybe I should just keep quiet, let the world keep telling women that being skinny will make them happy and valued, and just keep my thoughts to myself.

Those thoughts had been in the back of my mind for awhile and I’d been pulling back from my work. I had a gift card to spend at a certain store (starts with A, ends with ritzia, but you didn’t hear it from me) and had an interesting little conversation with one of the employees who was helping me in the dressing room. We were talking about the pants I was trying, and she said with very obvious disdain, “It’s not like YOU will be wearing a crop top.”

Wait, what? Hold up. I was so taken aback that I just gave a nervous laugh and said something like “yeah, of course not”, and then basically dove into my dressing room to hide. I texted my Sister (because what else do you do when someone makes you feel like crap – you text your Person for help), was momentarily comforted by her reaction, and went home.

Over the next couple of weeks, the scene replayed in my mind. Did I misunderstand her? Unfortunately no, I don’t think so. I noticed stupid little thoughts creeping into my mind, thoughts that I’ve worked for years to erase. You don’t deserve to eat that much food. You need to have a six pack . You’ll never get a six pack if you eat carbs. People are going to talk if you gain weight. You can’t wear cute clothes unless you are really, really tiny. No one will listen to you unless you are really tiny. Am I pretty enough? Small enough? Can I still be pretty if I’m not tiny? Shrink, shrink, shrink. Hide, hide, hide.

(Sidenote: even after years of therapy and hard work, stuff happens, people say stupid things, and you can end up taking a few steps backward before you leap forward. The journey doesn’t really end.)

I kept (and keep) doing the work on my self, though, to fight those thoughts. I replaced them with truth statements, over and over and over again. And then, I looked back at the situation differently, and thanked God for the reminder and inspiration to keep going with what I do. To keep using my itty bitty blog and Instagram and sessions with clients to swim against the current and preach true health, in every area of life. To never shut up about the fact that skinny ≠ beautiful ≠ valuable. That beauty and value comes in every single shape and size. 

“Because despite every lie we hear from every seller of things on Earth; it is not a woman’s job to get smaller and smaller and take up less and less space until she disappears so the world can be more comfortable.”
-Glennon Melton

I wish I could sit that girl down and explain to her that my value has nothing to do with how I look in a crop top, and neither does hers. I’d love to ask her – where did you learn that it’s okay to talk to another woman like that? To make a judgement call, based on a woman’s size? Does she know that every time she makes a comment like that to another woman, she perpetuates the lies that we’ve been fed our whole lives by TV and magazines? I’d love to tell her that I couldn’t care less what size or shape she is, and that there’s a movement out there fighting against the mainstream media, trying to spread the message that women (and men) are more than just their physical bodies. Somehow that message hasn’t reached her yet, or if it has, it fell on deaf ears, already brainwashed by mainstream media.

I’m not going to go back and find that girl and talk with her about it, but I AM going to use the situation as an inspiration to keep plugging away and keep swimming upstream in the health community. My dream is for my daughter to soar through her teenage and young adult years thinking (knowing!) that she is beautiful by default, without condition. Can you imagine that? Can you imagine the freedom and opportunity she would experience if she didn’t have to sift through all the messed up things we’ve been taught about beauty and size? What if the voice in her head told her that yes, good nutrition is important, but that it’s not absolutely everything? That there’s more? What if it told her that sure, “strong is the new skinny”, but that being strong does not define her? That it doesn’t determine her to be a good person? How much more mind space and energy would she have to put towards good, meaningful, lasting things, if she JUST KNEW these truths, instead of having to rewrite her script and unlearn everything the world has taught her. I know, I dream big? But I want that so badly for her.

So, I’m gonna keep talking about it. Over and over and over again.

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Cherry Chicken Lettuce Wraps

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Finally sucking it up and learning how to make homemade dairy-free mayo has opened a whole new world of food for me. I now love making a big batch of the plain mayo, and then experimenting with it in all kinds of recipes, adding different flavours, etc.

Yesterday I threw this Cherry Chicken Salad together and made enough for a couple days of quick, cold lunches. Delicious and refreshing!

Ingredients:

-3 chicken breasts, cooked and cubed (I usually just bake mine with salt and pepper)

-3/4 cup dairy free mayo

-1.5 tablespoons of dill

-squeeze of lemon

-1 cup cherries, pitted and halved

-1/2 cup diced celery

-1/2 cup diced cucumber

-1 apple, diced

-1/2 cup walnuts, chopped (optional)

-lettuce for wrapping

Directions:

  1. Mix it all together and serve in lettuce wraps, or between two pieces of toasted gluten free bread. Yum!

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Eat well, move your body, and have a great week!

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Dear Unsupportive Partner (and What She Really Wants for Mother’s Day)

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I’m hearing a common theme from my clients and friends.

“Oh, I could never serve this kind of meal to my husband. He won’t eat it.”

“I can’t exercise because my husband won’t take care of the kids.”

“I can’t join a gym because it would take too much time away from my husband.”

“I can’t change the way I eat because it would be too much work to cook a separate meal for my husband.”

In fact, an unsupportive partner has been one of the biggest hurdles with the majority of my clients, and friends, and friends of friends.

I’ve been sitting on this post for awhile because I am always scared to offend or cause trouble, but this trend is becoming overwhelming in my work and I feel passionately that this is a HUGE problem. So here goes…

Dear Unsupportive Partner,

I am pretty sure this will come as a shock to you. I’m almost positive that you have no idea that your words or actions may seem unsupportive, and I don’t hold it against you. Sometimes we don’t realize the power of our words and actions. So I’m going to spell this out for you.

Your wife wants to change her life. She’s come to the point where she’s realized that she can no longer pour from an empty cup. That she needs to put on her oxygen mask first before putting yours on you, or your children’s on them. She knows now that if she continues the way she has been going – surviving on little to no sleep, eating your children’s leftover grilled cheese, and spending every waking moment in the service of your family, she is going to burn out and have nothing left.

For a time, her priorities are going to have to shift. She may need to put herself first. (GASP!) It is completely healthy and necessary for her to take time for herself, and she needs your support and help. I’m pretty sure that you’re willing to give this to her, right? Because here’s the thing. You know that saying, ‘happy wife, happy life”? It’s true, but not in the selfish way it sounds.

If she is given the space and the support to be her best self and enjoy a healthy way of life, she is going to be so much more enjoyable to be around. She will be happy to see you and the kids when she returns from the gym (or a walk, or a coffee by herself, or whatever she needs to improve her health). The way she eats, when she doesn’t have to worry about you complaining, will make her body thrive. She will feel strong, confident, and sexy. And I’m pretty sure you can guess how you will benefit if your wife is feeling strong, confident and sexy.

Here are some ways you can support your wife or partner in this life change:

  1. If you’re lucky enough to have your wife cook dinner for you, eat whatever she cooks. I don’t care if its weird. I don’t care if you don’t like vegetables. Eat it. Eat it because it’s hard enough for her to change her way of eating, cooking, and enjoying food, and the last thing she needs is for you to complain, sigh dramatically, and make this change in her life any more difficult than it already is. ESPECIALLY if you have children watching. (If you seriously cannot stomach the healthy food your wife cooks for you, smile, kiss her, praise her for her hard work, and make your own damn dinner.)
  2. Give her the gift of time away, guilt free. If you’ve never handled the kid’s bedtime alone before, ask her to teach you so she can miss it sometimes. Find a babysitter for her to use when you can’t be there. Make it as easy as possible for her to get out for walks, runs, hikes, or whatever she needs to work towards a healthier lifestyle. I promise you she already feels (unnecessarily) guilty for leaving you and the children, so making this easier for her will really help show her that you will all survive just fine without her for an hour.
  3. I’ve heard many women say that they just can’t fit a gym membership into their budget. If a gym membership is going to help support your wife, please do whatever you can to make this fit into your family budget. Less Starbucks for both of you. Sit down together, look at the finances, and try your best to make it a priority and make it work. (I do understand that sometimes a gym membership is just not manageable, and I fully understand that situation and in that case, ignore me.)
  4. Be involved in her change. Encourage her healthy movement, but do it gently. If she’s feeling tired and lazy, suggest a nice, brisk walk for the both of you. I’ve had some of the best conversations of my life walking side by side with someone. Suggest fun, new activities that both of you could do together. (Rock climbing, hiking, swimming, kayaking, partner yoga, etc.) Help her notice and celebrate her non-scale victories.
  5. Take notice and praise her for her hard work and dedication. Do not praise her for weight loss. Do you see the difference? Since meeting my husband about 10 years ago, I’ve swung from a size 0 to a size 10 and all over in between, and NOT ONCE has he ever commented on my size, and that has been a gift that I will never forget. Of course you can tell her the different parts of her body that you love (in fact, stop reading this and go tell her how much you love her thighs right now), but avoid things like “Wow, you look so great now”, insinuating that she didn’t look great before. Stick with noticing and commenting on things you may have noticed like how strong she’s becoming, how happy she seems after exercise, how proud you are of her for tackling a difficult life change, how impressed you are with her new cooking skills. Be her encourager.

You don’t want to be on the outside of this time in your partner’s life. I promise you. Rather than watching your wife struggle to change her life from the outside, throwing in some complaining about the new food and a few deep sighs, get right in there and plant yourself beside her through it all. When she is successful, she will look at you the way I look at my husband, overflowing with thankfulness. She’ll view you as a partner in her lifestyle change, rather than a stumbling block. This in itself will end up being a gift for you as well.

So this Mother’s Day, let your unconditional love and your unwavering support be your gift to her. I promise you won’t regret it.

Eat well, move your body, and have a great week,

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Disclaimer: 1) Not ALL of my clients and friends feel this way.  2) I’m writing to husbands/boyfriends only because so far, in my practice, this has been the case. I’m 100% sure this situation is reversed in some partnerships, so this is in no way a man bashing session. 3) NONE of these are direct quotes from any certain client. That would be a huge breach of trust. These are conversations I’ve had with so many women, in my work, in my friendships, with strangers, etc.

 

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Quick (Car) Lunches

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If you follow me on Instagram you’ll notice that I post photos of my “car lunches” often. On Monday, Wednesday and Friday, I drop my daughter off at preschool at noon, then head to the gym, put my son in the daycare they offer, workout, pick him up, drive back to preschool for pickup and quickly eat my post workout lunch in the car while we wait for my daughter. Not ideal. Not even close. I firmly believe in sitting down to eat and enjoying it slowly. But I’d rather eat food in the car then not at all, right? And from what I’ve learned from Stupid Easy Paleo, that post workout meal needs to be eaten pretty quickly after exercise. (To be clear, I eat a bit before I leave to drop my daughter off as well. This post workout meal is in addition to a light lunch beforehand.)

Based on the simplest version of the formula I’ve learned from Stupid Easy Paleo and Whole9, my post workout lunches consist of protein + carbs. Make sure you read the whole post on post workout fuel here.

Pictured above is a sample meal that I mix up depending on what produce is on sale each week. In the photo is a grass fed steak from our 1/4 cow share, butternut squash (kept cubed and frozen in the freezer for quick frying), yellow pepper, kiwi, pear and pumpkin seeds on organic mixed greens. Protein (steak) + carbs (butternut squash). The rest (fruit and greens) just fills out my meal and adds extra nutrients.

Other combinations that I enjoy post workout:

Chicken breast, sweet potato, strawberries, bell peppers, mixed greens.

Steak, grape tomatoes, butternut squash, kiwi, pumpkin seeds, mixed greens.

Chicken breast, red cabbage, sweet potato, spinach, peppers.

Salmon, cauliflower rice, peppers, jalapeño, red peppers, mango, spinach, micro greens, coconut milk.

Chorizo sausage, sweet potatoes, cabbage, onion, apple.

Soft boiled eggs, sweet potatoes and brussels sprouts.

Spaghetti squash with marinara sauce, veggies and Italian sausage.

Tips:

  1. I defrost the meat I am planning on using the night before in a ziplock bag in the fridge. For the steak, I usually marinade it in the bag with lime juice, salt, pepper, garlic and chili powder. For the chicken, I do combos of balsamic vinegar, garlic, salt and pepper, or just plain salt and pepper. For the salmon, lemon juice and chili powder.
  2. When prepping your meat, always double or triple the amount for lunches that week. No one has time to prep and cook one single steak or chicken breast at a time, ha!
  3. I keep it simple. IF I use dressing (rarely because I’m lazy!), it’s a simple olive oil and balsamic vinegar. If I’m feeling adventurous or have extra time to spare, I’ll mix up some Sunshine Sauce from Mel Joulwan’s blog, The Clothes Make the Girl.
  4. Invest in a thermos or some sort of container to keep your food hot. I LOVE coming out of the gym and getting to enjoy hot food like spaghetti squash. I’ve found it even works well for soft boiled eggs, which really surprised me.
  5. Use frozen, cubed butternut squash and sweet potato/yams. I promise that in this case it is worth the money and your time. I save so much time not having to peel and chop them!

I know what you’re probably thinking…why don’t I just drink a protein shake instead? It’s so much quicker and easier. There’s a lot of reasons, and I’m not judging those who do use shakes (but seriously, lets talk about it over coffee another day), but at this point in my life, the extra few minutes it takes for me to throw together these lunches is so worth it to me. I make sure that my schedule leaves time for this because it is important to me. I DO realize that someday my life may change, and I may feel like I don’t have the extra minutes to do this, but for now, I’m making it work. Also, this food tastes amazing after the gym. They’re full of flavour. I get to actually CHEW them, which is exciting to me. My children look at what I’m eating and ask all sorts of questions about it. This is a lifestyle of preparing and cooking healthy food that is sustainable for the rest of my life. There are zero sweeteners in these meals. (All Whole30 approved, in case you were wondering!) Basically, I feel great when I fuel my body this way.

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Chicken and strawberry salad with Sunshine Sauce

 

Leave a comment with some of your favourite combos – I’d love to try them out!

Eat well, move your body, and have a great week!

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Paleo Granola

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I’ve been randomly craving granola and yogurt lately. A couple of weeks ago I splurged (nutritionally) on the Love Crunch brand of granola…what a treat! For my taste buds, not my body. Ever since then I’ve been wanting to create my own version, minus the sweeteners and oatmeal and plus some more nuts and seeds.

I’m not usually one for trying to get protein out of nuts and seeds, as I find my body absorbs and uses animal protein much better. But I figured it can’t hurt, right? And, it’s quick and tastes great.

Here’s what I came up with for my first try. Of course you could easily swap out all different kinds of nuts, seeds, and dried fruit, this is just what I happened to have. I think cashews would be great in this, but Charley ate the whole container we got from Costco so I didn’t have any left! Notice that there are chia seeds in this mix. They will gel when mixed with liquid (like almond milk or coconut yogurt) so leave them out if that freaks you out. Also, I really wanted to make this with NO sweeteners of any kind, so you’ll notice it doesn’t clump together like regular granola would, because of the absence of maple syrup or honey. Just deal with it, friends.

Ingredients:

-1 cup almonds, chopped

-1 cup pecans, chopped

-1 cup walnuts, chopped

-1/2 cup pumpkin seeds

-1/2 cup shredded, unsweetened coconut

-3/4 cup dried cranberries

-1/2 cup mixed chia/hemp/buckwheat (I used this brand)

-2-3 tsp orange zest (about one small orange)

-2 tsp cinnamon

-1 tsp nutmeg

-1/2 cup melted coconut oil

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 300 degrees fahrenheit.
  2. Combine all ingredients in a large bowl. Mix evenly.
  3. Spread on lined baking sheets and bake for 20-30 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes. Keep a close eye on it and make sure it doesn’t burn!
  4. When it’s toasty and browning and smelling amazing, remove it from the oven and let it cool. Once it’s cooled down, store in an air tight container in the fridge.
  5. Enjoy by the handful (my style) or with berries and homemade almond milk. I attempted some coconut milk chia pudding to go with it (as seen in photo below) but I used a new brand of coconut milk and it was kinda gross. There’s always next time!image1

Eat well, move your body, and have a great week!

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Whole30 Favourites – Week 4

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Whole30 is complete! As usual, I’m already looking ahead and planning to do another one. It’s funny how that works. You start to feel so good that you can’t wait to do it again.

This round, I learned that white potatoes make me feel exhausted immediately after I eat them. I had become suspicious of this over the past couple of months, so I tested it out over the first week and it’s definitely a problem. So I stuck with sweet potatoes and yams for the rest of the month and had no issues there.

Here are a few of my favourites from this past week.

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Top left: BBQ Chicken Skewers! These were so delicious. I combined a few different Whole30 bbq sauces to make my own sauce: 3oz tomato paste, 1tbsp orange juice, 2 tablespoons melted coconut oil, 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar, 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder, 1 teaspoon yellow mustard, 1 teaspoon paprika, 1/2 teaspoon chipotle powder, 1/4 tsp allspice, 1 teaspoon salt. I cut 2 chicken breasts into 1 inch cubes and marinated them in the bbq sauce for about 45 minutes. I chopped bell peppers and pineapple into 1 inch chunks, added grape tomatoes, and tossed them in coconut oil and South African Smoke seasoning from Trader Joes. Then I put everything on skewers and baked them in the oven (in better weather I would of course use the outdoor bbq) at 425 degrees for about 25 minutes. I had them plain last night, but will be eating the leftovers on salad later today.

Top right: This was a car lunch again. The night before I marinated a grass fed beef inside round steak in lime juice, garlic, salt, pepper and cumin. In the morning I quickly pan fried it and added it to mixed greens, grape tomatoes, strawberries, avocado, and yams.

Bottom left: Car lunch again. Stop judging me! My current schedule has me eating lunch in the car 3x a week, but it’s better than no lunch at all. This was a really simple leftover breakfast of chorizo sausage, yams and apple. I always find this hearty meal so comforting.

Bottom right: Pork side ribs from our 1/2 hog in our freezer. I put them in the crockpot, covered them in this Whole30 bbq sauce, and let them cook all day on low. They were awesome! We had them with my favourite yam dish again and salad. I was pumped to find a great Whole30 bbq sauce! I’ll be using this one again for sure.

I hope my recipe sharing has been helpful for you, and I hope it has helped you realize that Whole30 doesn’t have to be fancy or complicated. I also hope my recipe links have pointed you in the direction of other awesome food bloggers. There are so many great resources out there!

Eat well, move your body, and have a great week!

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Whole30 Week 3 – Favourites

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Hard to believe I’m on day 21! Here are some of my favourites from this week.

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Top left: Car lunch again – leftover baked chicken (rubbed with Turkey Rub seasoning from Epicure), butternut squash, pear, raspberries, walnuts, and pumpkin seeds. It was a perfect post workout meal!

Top middle: Soft boiled eggs, avocado, and some leftover Slow Cooker Puerto Pibil by Stupid Easy Paleo. 

Top right: Car lunch – chicken baked in paprika, garlic, oregano and salt with pan fried sweet potatoes, butternut squash and peppers with paprika, chipotle powder, garlic and salt. So good and so filling post workout.

Bottom left: Absolutely delicious Slow Cooker Puerto Pibil by Stupid Easy Paleo, with a simple salad and my new favourite: Spicy Lime Sweet Potato Mash by Popular Paleo. I want to eat these mashed yams every day! The Puerto Pibil made so many leftovers, which now makes it one of my favourite meals.

Bottom middle: One of my favourite salmon recipes by Melissa Joulwan, which I realized after is not available on her blog, sorry! Go buy her cookbooks Well Fed 1 and 2. We had it with yam fries, broccoli and cauliflower.

Bottom right: This is my go to, lazy, last minute dinner. Ground beef with taco seasoning (really just unmeasured amounts of paprika, cumin, chili powder, garlic and salt) with peppers, avocado, tomatoes and other random veggies on mixed greens. It’s sorta like a taco salad.

One week left! Wish me luck.

Eat well, move your body, and have a great week!

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