Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Halloween Survival

I canNOT believe Halloween is almost here! Is it seriously nearing the end of October? Didn't summer just begin?

I have had some discussions lately with my Bootcampers about Halloween so I thought I would share on here things I do to survive this holiday, as an (almost) Holistic Nutritionist.

First off, let me begin this by saying that my children are NOT deprived! Yes my kids know what chocolate tastes like. They have had chips and caramels and lollipops. With the exception of a few junk foods (like pop and twinkies!), they know what candy tastes like (and yes I have seriously had this questions). For them, it's just not the norm. It's something they have on occasion, such as when they go to the movies, birthday parties or events where candy is given out. If they are exposed to crap foods (can I call it that? It's my thing, you know what I'm referring to) either through myself or others, I will definitely limit the amount they consume. For example, they went trick or treating a couple weekends ago (yes already!) at our local zoo and actually collected quite a bit of candy. I allow them 1 piece per day, if they ask for it. I try not to do this in a way that becomes negative for them. I explain to them what sugar does to the body using terms they can understand:

- lets the germs attack their body so they could get sick (immune suppressing)
- will make them want more and more candy (addictive due to dopamine release in brain)
- they will have trouble controlling their actions and emotions (hyperactivity due to rush of blood sugar)
- may cause cavities if they eat too much
- their body might have a hard time pushing all the bad things out of their body, which can make them feeling really sick (taxes the liver)
- can end up making them really tired, making it hard to learn at school (spikes and drops in blood sugar and impaired cognitive functioning)
- can make them cranky (the drop in blood sugar)

A couple notes on this:
1. I don't throw this information at them all at once. How annoying would that be? Instead, I weave these bits of information through our daily life when opportunities arise for me to do so

2. I try not to speak of sugar as being "bad." Labeling foods as good or bad can later create feelings of guilt when consuming such foods, which may lead to disordered thinking and eating later on. I try to go with "everything in moderation." So I tell my kids it's ok to eat candy as long as it's small amounts so their bodies can still be strong and healthy

3. I am always aware of my own habits. How off-putting would it be to preach something while not following your own standards? My kids never see me eat candy with a boundary of them not being allowed. If they see me eating a lollipop, it's during a time they are allowed to do so too

A couple years ago we went through a really difficult time with my daughter who had been tested as intolerant to fructose. It isn't like an peanut allergy when all you need to do is avoid peanut and peanut products (I am not trying to downplay the severity of such an allergy and the measures parents must take in order to keep their children safe. My point is that with fructose, there isn't a clear line of what is acceptable and not).

Dairy may or may not be ok
Fruits may or may not be ok
Wheat may or may not be ok

And in every scenerio there is also quantity and frequency to consider. Maybe she can have wheat but only every third day, and only half a cup at a time. It is such a painstaking process to figure out your child's own needs and requirements. And symptoms are cumulative. Maybe eggs one day are okay but after eating them for 4 days in a row there is a reaction. It was awful to say the least. Like reading a novel in a foreign language, needing to translate every single word as you go. Between the food logs, screaming child in agony with stomach pain, crying because I cut out yet another food group, disappointment over missing birthday parties so she wouldn't be exposed to foods that would cause her to sucked

But there was an upside. My daughter learned very quickly the relationship between food and health. With some observations and conversations with me, she knew that wheat gave her stomach aches. Dairy gave her diarrhea. And sugar caused both. While not always so clear cut, she came to a place of understanding and acceptance that amazed me. So now, when we talk about sugar and the effects it has on the body, my two oldest really get it on a level that's hard for other kids to understand, unless they have had to deal with (either first or second hand) the consequences of eating something not good for their own body.

On that long winded note, for Halloween I just cannot justify contributing to the ill health of children around me. With obesity at an all time high, an epidemic of ADD/ADHD in our I just can't hand out candy and crap to our children. It goes against everything I stand for. And no, I am not depriving anyone of anything. We have this misguided perception that food and junk foods are treats and are special for our children and should be valued. No. My children are valued in other ways and treated by things like outings, stories, movies...experiences.

So for Halloween I hand out other things:
- play doh (Costco has HUGE packages of them)
- stickers
- straws
- stamps
- pencils
- erasers
- glow sticks
- bouncy balls
- toothbrushes
- mini bottles of water
- crayons
- bubbles
- clementines (try drawing a jack-o-lantern face on them)

So many options! And kids react so positively when they see something other than chocolate, chips or candy like every other house.

Yes I let my kids go trick or treating. I used to love it as a kid, and I would never deprive them of an experience. When they get home, they dump their candy on the floor and usually sort it all out. They can keep whatever they want, though I may limit the number, and the rest they put back in the bag. At night they put the bag outside their bedroom door and the Candy Fairy will come take the bag and leave them a toy, or something else that appeals to them (a book, jewelry, etc). I created my own poem this year to add a spin on things. Rather than imagining a fairy eating all their hard earned candy, the fairy is going to do something productive (and healthy!) with all those treats. I'll attach it if you'd like to use it as well. Or you can search it online for other varieties of poems.

With the extra candy, my husband typically brings it to his office where it disappears in minutes. I'm tempted to just throw it in the garbage though. Anyway....let's be honest, who would end up eating all that candy anyway? (yes I'm looking at YOU!)

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Balancing Mommyhood & Your Sanity

Mommyhood is no joke. It's a role that teaches you how to manage 45 things at once. Sometimes with a smile on your face. It's a role that inevitably means at some point in your life you will be covered in someone else's bodily fluids. Perhaps for an extended period of time. Sometimes multiple times a day. It's a role that leaves you feeling raw, sometimes depleted, frazzled and frumpy. Putting on makeup for me means slathering my face oils on as fast as I can while getting toothbrushes ready for my kids. I live in yoga clothes, and am barely recognizable when I put "real" clothes on. It's been years of this. It's a job that often leaves women feeling unappreciated - little people demand all your attention and care yet somehow you repeatedly seem to fall short of their expectations. Despite pouring your heart into each of them, you cannot extend yourself to the length they desire, and they voice that failure to you when they are caught up in their whirlwind of emotions. Yes, the appreciation is there, they may just be too young to fully understand and communicate it. So you choose to focus on giving, giving, giving...because you know you are helping shape their worlds and ideas of what happiness, fun, passion, unconditional support and love are. You know the payoff to your efforts may not be seen or felt until years from now, but you keep on going anyway. It's your job.
It's hard. Every single day of being on your game, putting on a happy face, oozing energy and embracing changes and loving fully and authentically. It's hard.

Throw in a constantly messy house, an overflowing laundry room, and healthy dinners to somehow cook with a fridge full of rotting leftovers. Lunches need to be made, breakfasts prepared, clothes to pick out for school, homework to complete, diapers to change, garbage to collect, small mountains of crumbs to vacuum (seemingly after every single meal). Not to mention fitting in workouts, reading, studying, quality family time, quiet alone time, hobbies, work, organizing closets and drawers that contain thousands of missing items somewhere in their depths. I'm telling you, by the time my kids are in bed, I am just DONE! So how the heck is this all possible to manage? Better yet, how can it be managed without feeling like you're struggling to stay afloat? While I'm no expert, I have learned some tricks along the way to make it feel that my life is balanced. At least 60% of the time. On a good day.

1. Let go
This is a BIG one for me - a typical Type A personality. I'm driven to do it all, and usually all on my own. Such a flaw of mine that has served me well on many levels yet also comes as a curse. There are things/people/expectations/responsibilities that need to be let go of. Clear the plate so to speak. Delegate what you need to, especially those tasks that are time consuming which aren't allowing you to maximize time with your kids. Let go of believing you can, or SHOULD do it ALL! Hire a housekeeper, even once a month. Hire a Nanny or babysitter to watch your kids while you're home to allow you uninterrupted time to take care of household tasks. Can't afford it? Barter with someone. What can you offer for them to clean your house or babysit your children? Start a group with your friends and every week one of you can babysit all the kids to give everyone else a break. The following week switch, and you can have a break. And don't feel guilty about it! These things will allow you to focus on your children in a meaningful, authentic way without your mind wandering to everything you are needing to accomplish

2. Clean the Kitchen
Making sure the kitchen is clean at the end of the night will save you time and grief during the morning rush. I don't know about you, but when I wake up and wander into a messy kitchen, my whole morning begins on a sour note. One thing I have been doing lately that saves me some sanity is filling the sink up with hot water and soap in the morning and throwing in all the breakfast dishes or leftover dishes from the previous night until I have time to wash them or put them in the dishwasher. This serves two purposes:
First my kitchen has the appearance of being tidy, which prevents feelings of overwhelm and consequently, stress
Secondly, my dishes will be quick to later wash, or ready to load right into the dishwasher without having to rinse every single one, saving me time in the end

3. Crockpot it up
I have been loving my crockpot lately! Such a time saver when you aren't spending time creating elaborate meals. An easy way to figure out what to do with it is to find something you already have in your fridge or pantry and browse through Pinterest by searching that ingredient. For example, if you have zucchini that you want to get rid of, type in "zucchini and crockpot" into the Pinterest search bar to find recipes. Add the word "quick" if you're really strapped for time. I shared on Facebook a week or so ago a recipe I randomly came up with after seeing a butternut squash in my pantry that needed to be cooked. Sometimes I put off cooking squash because I absolutely hate cutting those darn things. So much effort is involved! So I put the entire squash in my crockpot for 4 hours on high, took it out and peeled the skin off (which basically fell off) and removed the seeds. I threw the rest in my Vitamix and added in some full fat coconut milk, cinnamon, garlic and vegetable broth, blended for a couple minutes and voila! Quick and easy soup. So pull out that crockpot (or go buy one!), dust it off and get ready to fall in love

4. 10 minute cleanup
At the end of the day, when the kids are in bed, set a timer for 10 minutes and tidy up. 10 minutes isn't a daunting amount of time when you'd rather kick your feet up and call it a day, but it's enough to make a good dent in an ever-accumulating pile of stuff. You'll appreciate it in the morning

5. Recruit your Spouse
If you feel you are drowning in responsibilities 98% of your day, it may be time to reach out to your spouse or significant other. Decide which tasks he or she can take on for you, or help with. I expressed my overwhelm with my husband months ago. Specifically in regards to the state of our house. Since then he will unload and load the dishwasher every night and tidy up the kitchen. It's not a huge task for him but it makes a big difference to me. Having the load lightened even a little bit can do wonders for your stress levels. Communicate. Delegate. Celebrate. This is my new mantra for survival around here.

6. Brain Dump
I recently participated in an online program and this was one of the tasks we needed to complete. It's one that I enjoyed a great deal. A good time to do this is before bed, so you don't have scattered thoughts and ideas keeping you up at night. Take a piece of paper and set your timer for 15-20 minutes. Write down everything you need to do. If you need an additional 5 minutes, continue on. Fill that page (and gasp at how full it is!)

7. Prioritize
Expanding on the brain dump idea, at night before you go to bed, spend some time deciding what needs to be done the next day. I will get into this in more detail in another blog post but for now, star the 3 most important things from your brain dump that need to be done. The next day focus on accomplishing those three things first. If you have time, continue on through your list, but if you aren't able to tackle anything else you can still feel accomplished that you completed those most important things

I hope those tips are helpful. Comment below with any tips you have of your own, I would love to hear them. I have been asked a lot lately about balancing various aspects of life and I will happily share ideas and tools I have been using to manage my 3 children and an at-home business. It doesn't have to be impossible or daunting, it just takes some implemented strategies and systems that are known to be effective. And a little bit of effort of course

xxoo Rachel

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Self Care for Moms

Every single time I leave the house with my three children (and I mean EVERY time), a stranger inevitably will remark how busy I must be. To which I smile and affirm their assumption. The second thing I hear on a very regular basis is something along the lines of "what do you do with all your free time?" (said in a sarcastic tone), or "you musn't have any time for yourself!" I generally offer a pleasant smile and remark "I make time" without really delving into the details (since the disbelief on their face speaks volumes)

I am always surprised when I have new clients coming to me and confessing the time with me is the first thing they have done for themselves in months. Years even. I guess I shouldn't be surprised. I have been there. I have experienced the day-to-day chaos of little ones constantly demanding your attention, shoveling food down my throat because I have to tend to everyone else first. I have spent days in my pajamas. I have plopped myself on the couch for hours after putting my kids to bed, not an ounce of energy to be found to do anything but exist.

After I had my first child in 2009, my world was completely rocked, to which I think many first time Moms can relate. Suddenly my time wasn't my time anymore, it was someone else's. It didn't matter when I was hungry or tired, someone else's needs took priority and it was a tough adjustment, especially those first 6 weeks. When I had my second child in 2011, I became a seasoned veteran, and I instinctively knew I needed to care for myself FIRST if I wanted to stay sane and hold on to my identity in any way. When he was two weeks old I began weight lifting 5 or 6 days a week. I explored new interests, made new friends and was determined to not get lost in the role of Motherhood.

Now here I am with 3 children and I feel as though I finally have a pretty good handle on what it means to balance myself with ME and my children, and everyone else I choose to share myself with. You know when you are on a flight and the attendants go through safety procedures? They always tell you to put your own mask on first before anyone else's. The reasoning for this is that you cannot care for another human being unless you are tapping into your own oxygen. Without it, you would die and so would the person or people you are responsible for

Such is the metaphor for life, though perhaps not quite so dramatic. If you aren't equipping yourself with "oxygen" (in the form of love, passion, exploration, creativity, meaningful relationships), you are not equipped to guide another in a way that is meaningful or complete. So in the chaos of everything that is life, how does one begin self-care?

1. Carve out the time
If things don't get scheduled, they just don't get done. So write it out in your Mom calendar if you need to, for all to see. Schedule it in your life to show the value you hold in self-care. Is it before the rest of the house wakes up? In the middle of the day? Later at night? Or even better, a mix of all three? You don't need hours here. It could be a 20 minute bath. No excuses, everyone can find 20 minutes.

2. Communicate the importance
My husband can feel it coming when I haven't taken enough time to care for myself. I start to feel agitated at anything and everything and hold an unpleasant look on my face. He will then casually state that he can deal with the kids and I should get of the house. If your husband or partner, or friends and family members aren't in tune with your moods quite as well as he is (yet), make sure you communicate to them the importance of caring for yourself. Some people may not get it. Some people live their lives believing that indulging in pleasurable things is selfish time wasted. I can assure you these are the people who later go on to deal with high blood pressure and heart disease, or will eventually require the help of meds to get through their days. Your job is to demonstrate your unwavering support for yourself. How everyone around you responds is not your concern or responsibility.

3. Find things you love
Spending time with yourself can easily become last priority when you're a Mom. There are so many other things that could be done instead. So if you're going to be away from the kids and home and corresponding responsibilities, you need to make sure that the space you fill that time with is something that fills you and brings you joy. Otherwise, let's be honest, it won't be worth the hassle. Here are some ideas:

- walk in nature
- epsom salt baths
- reading a good book
- laughing with good friends who raise you up
- fitness
- yoga
- meditation
- cooking
- trying a new class (cooking, sewing, fitness, scrapbooking)
- writing
- painting
- creating things with your hands
- giving yourself a mani/pedi
- enjoying a tea at Starbucks all by yourself

My typical day of self-care looks something like this:
5:00-6:00 I work out alone in my home gym, listening to a playlist that matches my mood or to a podcast if I don't need the extra motivation)

1:00-2:00 I may spend 30 minutes or 60 minutes during my son's naptime doing something for me. Sometimes it's a hot epsom salt bath while reading a book, sometimes it's sipping an herbal tea while reading interesting articles, sometimes it's listening to podcasts while prepping dinner. There's always some element of love in this hour

8:00-10:00 I have a couple hours of quiet after the kids go to bed. Oftentimes I spend time working, other times I'll just take the last half hour to read in bed. Sometimes I connect with others by sending little love notes out to them. I love nights for setting goals and intentions for upcoming days and weeks

I also go to a yoga class at least once a week. It's something that fills me up and allows me to be in a room full of like minded people. Every Wednesday my in laws spend the day with my youngest and the day is mine. While I devote the day to work, I spend the first couple hours working at Starbucks with a Jade Citrus Mint tea in hand, a small pleasure that allows me the ability to get work done while treating myself to something I enjoy.

How are some ways you care for you? Leave your ideas for us Moms who could use some pampering

Sunday, September 6, 2015

Higher Vibes (New Program!)

I have been working relentlessly for months on a program that was clearly necessary for so many of my clients, friends, family members and acquaintances. I am approached daily by people who need guidance on starting a journey toward health, more specifically what to eat and what to avoid. People want to feel better, have more energy, ditch the food cravings and just stop being a SLAVE to food and eating. Knowing the things I know (I have a background in Holistic Nutrition and Nutritional Therapy), I believed I could create a program to answer all these concerns. So I hit the books and starting creating. Many months later I am so thrilled to bring you "Higher Vibes," a 7, 8 or 9 day program consisting of nutrient dense meals, juices and smoothies using only REAL, unprocessed whole foods that all have a specific purpose in your body. Eating 5 times a day, you will learn to regulate your metabolism through eating regularly while learning the difference between hunger and boredom or emotional eating. You will gain a better understanding of the relationship you have with food. Over the 7, 8 or 9 day cleanse you will allow your body to rest and repair while clearing out the built up toxins, allowing you to experience a new level of health.

This program does NOT include animal products of any sort, sugar or any other sweetener (including honey and maple syrup), caffeine, dairy, additives or boxed, prepared foods of any kind. Choose from a pre-planned schedule or create your own meal plan using the recipes included. The great thing about this program is the ability to customize it as much as you'd like!

It is ideal to have a juicer and a blender. If you don't have access to a juicer, you can settle for a blender and fine mesh sieve or cheesecloth to obtain only the juice. You will have at least 1 juice a day so it will be used often

How do you know if you should do this program?
- You need more energy
- You have some weight to lose
- You are bloated and/or gassy on a regular basis
- You have a general feeling of ill health
- You have digestive upsets
- You want to start living a healthier lifestyle

When you purchase this program, you automatically receive an email confirmation with the 100 page e-book attached. There are over 50 delicious recipes alongside information pertaining to the cleanse, with some extras for those (like me!) who want to know more. I delve into ph balance, inflammation and free radicals - what causes them and what we can do to combat them. I discuss other ways to cleanse the body and mind, which are optional (some strongly recommended!) during the cleanse. I include what to expect during the program, common Q & As, and even insightful information as to some underlying reasons behind specific cravings.

Participants join me for a live 45 minute webinar scheduled the Friday before the guided cleanse is to begin. Here I review some of the most important information, briefly go through the e-book and answer any lingering questions. Everyone begins the cleanse on Monday and can post in our private Facebook group with questions, or use it as a source of support.

Once the cleanse is over, I provide information for how to continue on with a healthy lifestyle and how to ease back into your "regular" life without completely negating the positive results you have achieved.

The guided cleanse runs 4 times a year, with the changing of the seasons. Once you purchase the program once, you have lifetime access to our group, access to any updates I have made to the e-book and to participate with us in the future at no extra cost.

Head on over here to sign up - the next one begins Monday September 28!

Thursday, July 23, 2015

The Finish Line

For the past 11 weeks or so I have been training a group of women who set a goal of participating in the Spartan Super - an 8+ mile race with 21+ obstacles. It involves climbing ropes, lifting heavy objects uphill, climbing up multiple black diamond hills, pulling your body through mud and a number of other obstacles that require both physical and mental strength

We spent 11 weeks training in a local park doing things I was cursed for, such as partner hill runs

While they hated some of the training, I knew there was a reason behind the madness. When they were really struggling, they would glare at me, calling me out for the smile spread across my face. I'm notorious for becoming giddy when my clients are on the verge of quitting. Or cursing. I have even been called sadistic before! It's hard for me to explain why I am overcome with glee in these situations, but let me attempt to explain

So Sunday July 19, the 11 of us geared up for the 3 hour drive to the Spartan location (only 10 of us competed because unfortunately 1 of the girls got injured a couple weeks prior). So what happens with 2 carloads of nervous women? 3 pee breaks along the way! Lots of laughs too of course. We finally got to our location where we packed our check-in bag, duct taped a few hydration packs (hint: if you're going to purchase one, just spend some extra money and buy a Camelbak), fueled up and off we went to check in. We tried standing in the shade as the sun was scorching hot (the announcer later said it was 43 degrees out!) Our heat was beginning to line up about 45 minutes of arriving so we joined along, trying to dance out the nerves (or was that just me?!)After a quick pep talk from the Spartan guy, off we went...straight up a black diamond!

We inevitably ended up branching off from one another, though I told the girls I didn't want anyone alone, so we stayed in groups of 2-5 the entire race. The first third of the race consisted of all black diamond climbing...and descending but that happened far too quickly to remember! At one point we were discussing how we must be halfway through when a girl at the water station announced we were 4.5K in....and at it for an hour and a half already! I think all of us felt defeated at that point, but the hills had been slow. Even from the first hill people were pulling over to the side to either heave, rest their fired up quads or cry as half my group apparently witnessed.

One of the first obstacles was the rope climb. Luckily we had practiced at circus school, but at 30 feet high with slippery hands, it was TOUGH

(there I am at the top trying not to look down or panic). One of my girls climbed that rope like nobody's business, she killed it

The final two thirds of the race required some mental grit. By then our bodies were exhausted from the hills and we were all feeling the effects of full on sun and high humidity. The long walk through ankle and knee deep thick mud through the forest became a welcome relief. We carried, pushed and pulled heavy objects up, down and around hills

We crawled through incredibly smelly mud (full of worms I might add) under barbed wire

(and I won't name names but there are a couple girls in my group who avoid getting dirty at all costs - they killed it!)

Several curse words later (not by my group but apparently one of my groups was seriously cursing my name), we finally approached the end. We just had to crawl in some more mud, attempt a crazy contraption with ropes, bars and rings (no deal, 30 burpees awaited every failed obstacle), climb a wall and scale it over, and the final obstacle: a (small) fire jump

My partner Leasanne and I finished in 3:30. We grabbed our shirts, claimed our medals and headed on to the shower area to clean off as much as we could. We hobbled back over to the finish line to cheer on the next group of 3 who finished about 20 minutes later. The final 5 came in as we were yelling for them.

I knew I wanted to finish the race first, or close to first. It was important to me to witness all my girls cross that line, and this is part of the "why" behind my uncontrollable smiling during tough workouts.

I have been there. I have struggled through workouts while I cried, too tired to move my body but needing to in order to reach a goal I had set. My muscles too have ached to a point I would crawl the stairs. I have pushed myself so hard cardiovascular wise that my breath felt like it was days away from catching up to me (okay so I don't typically recommend workouts like this but this was when I trained for my bikini competition back in 2012)

As I stood there waiting for everyone to come through, the pride I had for each of them overtook me and the tears came. Those moments they cursed me in class led them to this. The times they wanted to give up, this was their reward. The late nights and early mornings they committed to a workout brought them this moment. And as they finally crossed that finish line, the sense of pride shone on their faces and it was such a beautiful and amazing moment to witness. It isn't often we allow a heavy flow of pride or self love flood ourselves, but moments such as this, it's inevitable and warranted. Being a small part in someone's journey to this moment is such a blessing to me.

So the times I can be found smirking in my gym while the girls are pouring in sweat with aching muscles feeling annoyed with me? I know this secret. Just like in life, we cannot grow unless we are willing to be uncomfortable. Those times they are hovering on the edge of anger and despair....they are changing, and growing. They can't see it but I can. I talk them into a few more reps, or convince them they have more burpees left in them. They resist and I gently push because I KNOW that we all are capable of more than we believe, and I push enough to allow them a glimpse into that knowledge. It's a glorious sight, for them to climb over that hurdle and redefine their impossible.

My girls spent a good 11 weeks outside their comfort zone and their progress showed - the rope climbs, the monkey bar successes, the choosing men's weights rather than women's at the race, carrying 50 pounds around like it was, so, so unbelievably amazing, and I am so beyond lucky to be a part of their transformation.

Cheers to my girls, and all the women who set lofty goals for themselves regardless of the doubt. Work your ass off and you can do anything. You all inspire me more than you'll ever know

xo Rachel

Monday, June 29, 2015

To Honour

June 25 marks an important day for me. Well I don't like to call it important because that denotes an air of positivity and that date certainly isn't a positive one for me. But all the same, June 25 is a day I pause, reflect and honour. It was 11 years ago (2004) on that day that my Mom suddenly passed away from a cancer she had only been diagnosed with 2 weeks prior. I won't ever forget where I was standing, the look on my Grandparent's faces as they approached me to give me the news that had, only hours prior, rocked their world too as my Mom was their daughter, their only child as they had already lost a son. I remember the immediate thought when my Grandma barely managed to choke out "she's gone." I remember the buckling of my knees, the sobbing, the yelling, the weight of the news bearing down so heavily on me I wasn't able to get off the ground. Such horrific memories for me, and the power of June 25 will always possess the ability to break me, at least for that day.

In previous years I have held a fundraising event around that date to honour my Mom. 20-30 women would come and donate money while I provided food, prizes and vendors. Always such a wonderful night, yet somehow in recent years started to feel a bit too impersonal to me. A natural introvert, I desired more of a quiet honouring this year.

My Mom loved to write me letters and cards, leaving me words of wisdom that I am now so very grateful for. A couple times a year I will pull some out to read them over, bringing me right back to her spirit, feeling her very close to me. Then I have to put them away until the reality of her absence takes over my heart again. She had all kinds of advice for me, but underneath the mountains of words she left behind, a common theme has always stood out.

My Mom was always drawn to feathers and every time she saw one she believed it was a hello from her brother, whom she was the greatest of friends with before he suddenly passed away. She was also drawn to angels, and told me numerous times that it was time for me (and/or her) to fly. By fly she meant:

feeling and acknowledging fear without allowing it to hinder life
dreaming BIG and going after that dream
letting go of those who no longer lift me/her higher
not living according to other's expectations
being still enough to hear the whisperings of the spirit and always, always following that guidance
living beyond doubts, fears, expectations

So June 25 this year, in keeping with my desire to honour her quietly, I headed on out and did something very un-Rachel-like and got this done:

The beautiful part of this tatoo is the word "fly." I had a book my Mom gave me with a short note inside. I had the tattoo artist blow up her handwritten word "fly" and include it in the tattoo. Now whenever I look down I can be reminded of the very important advice she gave me and will always see her handwriting, ensuring I never forget to live beyond fear.

I hope her advice inspires you as well. Now go do something that scares you, you will not grow as long as you are comfortable

xo Rachel

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

6 Herbal Teas for Health

I find in the winter months the majority of my daily fluid intake comes from tea. I tend to always be cold, especially when I wake up in the early morning as our furnace kicks in the same time I get up. I always begin my day with a tea of some sort. Being a future Holistic Nutritionist, my approach to food has evolved immensely this past year. More often I choose foods based on therapeutic effect on my body, which is an ever-changing need. Sometimes I may need energy so I include Matcha in my smoothie. Other times I feel weak and fatigued so I include Blackstrap Molasses into my smoothies (great for iron!). If you are going to be drinking tea, you might as well ensure your body is benefiting somehow from them. I created this graphic for you - 6 herbal teas that I find myself recommending over and over to clients. Drink up and heal your body!

Friday, February 6, 2015

Homemade Teething Biscuits

So my little man is 6 and a half months old now and in the past 3 weeks has learned to crawl, sit from being on his belly, pull himself to a stand and cut his first two teeth. Needless to say things have not been boring around here! We have been dabbling in foods the past few weeks as well, which is always fun. I adore watching my babies experience new things, it reminds me of how beautiful simplicity really is. So with his gums driving him crazy, I thought how nice it would be to have teething cookies. With my daughter (who is 5 and a half), I went out and bought the boxed cookies. They were convenient and it's what all my Mommy friends gave their kids. Well, once you know better you do better right? When I look at the label now, I cringe. Here are the ingredients for the banana ones I used to buy:

Ingredients: Japonica Rice, Sugar, Sea Salt, Natural Banana Flavour, Gelatin, Turmeric.

Ingredients are listed in order of greatest quantity to least, so the first is the main ingredient with lesser amounts of the others. There are 6 ingredients in these cookies. Look at #2. Sugar. I cannot imagine giving "A" sugar, feeding his perfect little body something so addicting, something that changes behaviours and thinking, and something so unnecessary. Five years of studying and learning has taught me a lot and the choices I used to make are cringe-worthy (like Goldfish crackers...I can't believe I used to rely on that crap for "snacks")

So the other day I was in the kitchen wanting to give him something. So I researched and created and voila! Less than half an hour later I had fresh teething biscuits for my little man, with ingredients I had control over. Here's what he thought:

(I made one heart shaped one which I decided not to give him, as the bottom was a little too pointy)

1 ripe organic banana
1T pure filtered water
2T organic applesauce
2 1/4 cups organic oat flour (you can just grind up oats in a food processor or high speed blender as I did)

1. Preheat oven to 350
2. Mash banana. Add in water and applesauce, mix together thoroughly. Add in oats and mix until well combined
3. Roll dough out and cut into smooth shapes
4. Transfer onto baking sheet and bake for 20-25 minutes, until they start turning golden brown

They come out quite hard, but will break off, so as with any foods given to your baby, keep a close eye on him/her. The cookie gets gooey, but it's tasty (yes I tried one!) and really soothes my little man's gums. I had trialed all the ingredients separately (with at least 3 days between), which I would suggest doing to ensure your little one can tolerate each on its own before combining

Healthy eating doesn't have to be a huge inconvenience. I made these cookies in no time at all and have them stored in a glass container, which I feel should be good for a week or so. Making healthy choices for yourself and your family doesn't need to be all or nothing, just a few small changes make a big difference and open the door for the bigger changes

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Busy Mom Tips for Fitness

Let's be honest. Working out as a Mom is HARD. It's not like we possess the ability to get up and go whenever we please. A few weeks ago my in laws had my 2 older kids for much of the day and overnight, and had my youngest for about 5 hours. It was....strange. The house was quiet and I had FREEDOM! If I wanted to shower I could just go shower. If I wanted to workout I could just get up and go. Such an odd concept for me. My oldest is 5, it's been a long time since I have been able to make decisions that aren't based on other people's schedule. Suffice to say, maintaining a consistent workout schedule is a challenge. There are kids to bathe, dress, feed, play with, messes to deal with, meals to cook, lunches to make. And at the end of the day, once the kids are in bed, is there really any energy to expend on a workout? I have 3 kids, aged 5, 3, and 5 months. I get that it's hard. I get there are other things you'd rather be doing. So here are some tips that I've used to help me ensure fitness is still a part of my life, without interfering with time with my kids:

1. Schedule it
Treat your fitness regime as you would a meeting with your doctor or chiropractor and schedule it! Mark it into a calendar, make sure you have plans for childcare if need be, and prepare the day accordingly. Scheduling your workouts sends a message to yourself and those around you that your health is important and won't be overlooked.

2. Choose your success time
Do you have the most energy first thing in the morning, or would you rather workout at night once the house is quiet? For me, my time is first thing in the morning before anyone is awake. I wake up feeling good and know my workouts are the best at that time. My energy is great and I find that emotionally, I am much better at handling overwhelm and chaos when I have started the day with a solid workout. If I scheduled every workout at night, I would fail. Every now and then I can muster up the energy to lift, but I know that in order to achieve my goals, the majority of my workouts need to be in the morning, when I function best. Experiment for a bit and find the time that works best in your life

3. Keep it short
I don't know about you, but I have found that since I have become a Mom, everything is high speed. I do everything as fast as I can because I have lots to fit in. If I knew I had 90 minutes of working out to do, it wouldn't happen so much. One of the questions I get often is how long my workouts are. And I usually come back with, "it depends." If I am just doing weights, I can get a really good workout in 30-40 minutes. Sometimes my cardio is 45 minutes, sometimes my cardio is 10 minutes, it depends on the intensity. I learned the word "superset" very early into my fitness journey. A superset is completing one exercise after another, without rest. I superset most of my exercises now. It's quicker and has the added bonus of being effective at building and strengthening muscle. I learned HIIT cardio, or Tabata, which are interval types of cardio, really amazing at conditioning the cardio system, and guessed it....short. You don't need to log hours in the gym to see gains, you just have to make sure that what you are doing has purpose

4. Realistic Expectations
Don't set yourself up for failure. Although I do believe in setting big goals, I also believe in feeling out new changes before diving in, especially when you have a family and other priorities. Don't commit to 6 days of 2 hour workouts. Maybe start out with 3 days of 40 minute sessions and go from there. You don't want to feel defeated or overwhelmed right off that bat, those feelings aren't likely going to lead you to success

5. Use a workable model
By workable model I mean one that is flexible. I fill out a monthly calendar with my workouts but am always open to changing it. If my kids are sick and I didn't sleep much the night before, I might skip that day's workout and switch around my rest days. If I am feeling run down I might forgo that workout altogether and not bother trying to make it up. With kids come many unpredictable variables. While scheduling is always a bonus to a balanced life, it also needs to be workable to allow for those unexpected things that are bound to come up

6. Do something you enjoy
One of my very highest values is time with my children. I LOVE that I am able to be with them every day, available to get them to and from school, to be home with them when they're sick, available for all their appointments, able to cook their meals and do fun things with them. Since becoming a Mom I have found myself limiting activities and people that don't make me happy. I choose to fill my world with joy and passion. If you are going to be away from your family to workout, you need to make sure it's enjoyable. Otherwise you are going to resent that time, which could otherwise be seen as valuable time to recharge and pamper yourself. Choose activities that fill up your cup rather than empty it. You will come out of that workout feeling energized, strong, fulfilled and balanced, ready to be fully available and engaged for your children. Do you enjoy cycling? Running? Lifting weights? Sign up for a new fitness class at your local gym. Register for a mud race to try something new. Invite a friend to play tennis. Be creative and get moving.

7. Enjoy the journey
I see this far too often. People want a quick fix. If I were selling a pill that could give you energy, tighten your abs and burn fat, I'd be rolling in money. But I'm not. I am selling lifestyle changes, and with that, comes resistance. People keep their eye on the result and completely fail to appreciate the journey and the small victories along the way. Keeping your focus on the final outcome doesn't allow you the space to value the changes you are making or the progress that is occurring and can be frustrating and defeating, leading to giving up. While it is important to always have your main goal at the forefront of your mind, you shouldn't place more value on that than the journey. So enjoy it, celebrate it and be open to all you are learning along the way

I hope that helps. This image helps me deal with day-to-day life - reminding myself that balance is always a work in progress, and there are times your focus must shift, putting everything else out of balance. Taking care of yourself makes this process much more manageable and enjoyable so please don't forget about you!

Saturday, January 10, 2015

NEW Year Resolutions

We are 10 days in to 2015, how are you doing with your resolutions? Or maybe you're officially taking a stand against the idea of setting goals once a year? I know some people who balk at the idea of such a mainstream task - setting an unrealistic goal, failing at said goal and cruising through the next 11 months until it's time for another goal. When I used to work out at a gym, I would always dread January. The gym would be packed solid with newbies set out to accomplish their goal of losing weight or getting fit. I'd begrudgingly work my way through the place, using whatever machine was open, knowing all too well that in 6 weeks at least half the newbies would be gone. In 12 weeks, 90% would have disappeared. I just had to be patient and wait out their dwindling sense of determination.

I was talking to my Dad this week and casually asked him what his resolution was, if he had any. He responded with "oh you know, it's the same thing every year, to lose weight." I sat silently, my logic wrestling with my emotions. How sad is it, I thought, that someone could spend years of their life wanting the same thing, never really achieving it? I wondered the same of all you - do you seem to have the same resolution year after year, or month after month? If you do, what has prevented you from achieving it?

I am a firm believer that if you want something badly enough, you CAN achieve it. It just takes some work and and consistency. And perhaps a few useful tools as well. I was recently flipping through an older book of mine (The Body Sculpting Bible for Women by James Villepigue & Hugo Rivera) and came across a formula I had highlighted back when I started my fitness journey:

S = D x (T + N + R)

S is the success that you achieve in your program.
D is your determination to succeed
T is your training
N is your nutritional program
R is for rest

Write that down somewhere and really meditate upon it. Which part(s) of the formula have you been missing? Are you determined enough to follow through with your plan (because I assume you have already mapped out the steps necessary to achieve your goal)? Is your training intermittent or occurring only when it's convenient? Is your nutrition on track? Are your resting to allow your body the opportunity to strengthen and heal? If you have been feeling like a dog chasing it's own tail when it comes to results in your health, it's time to evaluate where you stand.

Break your big goal into specific mini ones and ACT. Quit spending so much time planning, and start acting. If you find yourself straying from the goal yet again, perhaps it's time to evaluate your goal itself - is it something you really want or is it a standard you feel stems from society's expectations? And if it is something you really want, are you placing other things ahead of it in your priority schedule? Maybe you don't want this so badly after all. If that's the case, you need to shift your focus. Quit focusing on setting this goal that, in the end, isn't important to you after all. You certainly don't want your self esteem to become tied up in the constant failure.

Maybe you need an accountability partner, or someone to help you create your plan. I find fitness and nutrition to be two of the most overwhelming facets of life. There are so many opinions and thoughts and beliefs when it comes to both that in the end, when faced with 500 options, people throw in the towel, finding more peace within their comfort level. If that's the case, hire someone to help guide you, someone who knows their stuff and can lay out a concrete, workable plan to guide you along your journey. Money invested in health is money very well spent.

Comment below and let me know your resolutions. Let me know what your roadblocks are, or have been. Let 2015 be your year!

Cheers to your health xxoo

Monday, January 5, 2015

Meal Planning Tool

Today I am sharing with you the GREATEST tool I have found when it comes to meal planning, makes my life so much easier! I have created a video briefly showing you the basics. The information for signing up are below the video. Let me know if you sign up, I'll be happy to share my recipes with you

Simple Meal Planning - Plan to Eat