Tools I Used to Lose Weight

I know I’ve mentioned before on the blog that I’ve been losing weight. Today I thought I’d share some of the things that have been helpful for me.

My health care team

My doctor and dietitian have been invaluable in helping me change my diet and make healthier choices. Having people that I can trust to give me accurate advice that is personalized for my body and lifestyle has been so helpful. It’s definitely worth it to find people that you can trust – there’s so much misinformation out that on social media.

Food scale

A few months ago I bought a food scale and it’s been so helpful in keeping myself accountable with it comes to portion sizes. It makes tracking my food so much easier now that I know exactly how much I’m eating. Even things like protein powder can vary quite a bit – even if I’m using the scoop that came with the protein powder, it can be 3 or 4 grams different.

I use this one (affiliate link) from Amazon and have been really happy with it. It has a tare function so I can weigh food in containers like bowls and not have to do any math to distinguish the weight of the food from the bowl. It’s those little things that make it easy to use so that I’m more likely to use it.

Knowing your why

I think I’ve all experienced a time in our lives when we’ve run out of willpower – whether that was with making healthy eating decisions, working out, or even studying at school. We may have good intentions, but it’s hard to actually do it sometimes.

Something that I’ve found healthy is having a clear idea of my why. If I know that my motivation is to be as healthy as I can be, then I’m much more likely to stay on track instead of eat an entire pint of ice cream. The same goes with any kind of change that you may be making – meditating before bed, being more physically active, or reading more. If you know why you want to make that change and why it’s important to you, you’re more likely to do it.

My Fitness Pal

I’ve written about My Fitness Pal before on the blog (you can read those posts here and here), but I wanted to make sure that I included it in this post too.

I’m one of those people who likes objective measures to know if I’m staying on track. I’m all about the numbers and being able to measure my progress, which makes My Fitness Pal perfect for me. My Fitness Pal allows me to personalize my goals and each day I can see how well I’m doing when I track food with it. It has a huge database of foods so I’ve been able to find just about everything I’ve needed in it. And if I haven’t, there’s been something similar that I’ve subbed in instead to at least get an idea of something close to what I ate.

While it definitely did take some time to get back into the habit of tracking what I was eating, it’s honestly pretty easy once I’m back at it for a few days. It only takes a few extra minutes each day but it helps so much in making sure that I’m eating the right things every day.

Enjoy life

There have been times so far and I know that there will continue to be in the future when I’ll want to enjoy events and celebrations that involve food and not worry about tracking every single bite or staying on track 100% of the time.

Date nights, birthday parties, vacations, and celebrations with family and friends are all times that I know that I won’t be making the choices that I usually would, but that’s okay. I would much rather enjoy those times with the people that mean the most to me and not stress about my food.

I know that 80% I’m making the healthiest decisions that I can for myself, so that I can enjoy that 20% when I’m just enjoying life. Knowing that I don’t have to be perfect all the times takes a lot of pressure off as well. It doesn’t seem as limiting.

Fitbit Charge 2

I had to include my Fitbit Charge 2. I’ve had it for two and a half years now and still really love it and use it on a daily basis. It tracks everything from my steps, workouts, heart rate, and sleep. It’s been great at keeping me accountable when it comes to how active I am each day.

The Fitbit app on my phone also syncs with My Fitness Pal so it’s great to have both of those two things working together.

What’s something that you use or have used in the past to help you lose weight? I’d love to hear about it in the comments below.

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Gym Workout

Today I’m sharing a full body gym workout.

Good morning! It’s already Wednesday which means that the week is nearly half over. Before I share the workout that I put together for today, I wanted to share what I did at the gym yesterday.

I had an early appointment so even though I got to the gym earlier than normal, I still had to cut it a bit short. The gym wasn’t very busy yesterday which is always a nice surprise.

Elliptical with a workout completed on the screen.

After completing 25 minute of steady state cardio on the elliptical, I did a quick 5 minute cool down on the track before heading home to shower and then head back out to my appointment.

Today’s gym workout is a full body one that will be sure to leave you sweaty and tired. You’ll do 12 reps x 5 sets of each exercise before moving to the next one on the list. Between each set you’ll want to rest for 90 seconds. I know it might be tempting to shorten the rests or skip them all together, but they’re really important, so make sure that you do them.

For what weight to use, use dumbbells that challenge you but still allow for correct form to the very last rep. If your form begins to break down then go for a lighter weight. Injuries are the last thing that you want so form should always be your top priority.

Below the graphic I’ve listed descriptions of each exercise just in case you’re unfamiliar with any of them.

Overhead press

Stand with your feet hip width apart with a dumbbell in each hand. With your upper arms in a 90 degree angle to your torso and your hands directly above your elbows, lift your hands straight up so that your arms are straight above your head. Slowly lower your hands back down to the starting position. 

Dumbbell squat

With feet hip width apart and dumbbells in your hands at your sides, use the glutes to lower your hips back and down while bending at the knees and ankles. Once you’ve reached the lowest position you can without leaning forward too much or letting the knees collapse in, return to a standing position, again using your glutes to propel yourself.

Dumbbell chest press

With a pair of dumbbells, lay back on a bench with your feet on the floor and your hips, shoulders, and back of your head pressing into the bench. Lift the dumbbells straight up so there’s only a micro bend at the elbow. Slowly lower the dumbbells towards your chest before pushing them back up again. The dumbbells should come down to your chest, not your shoulders.

Dumbbell deadlift

With a dumbbell in each hand. Stand with your feet shoulder width apart. Slowly bend forward at the hips, letting your arms hang down and keeping your back straight. Using your glutes, lift your torso back up to the starting standing position. 

Machine rows

Sit at a cable row machine with your feet centered on the foot platform and sitting on the bench so that you have a slight bend in your knees. Lean forward to grasp the handles of the cable and lean back to a standard sitting position. Start with your arms extended, and slowly bring them towards your abdomen, using your back muscles. Once your elbows have reached 90 degrees, extend your arms back out.

Leg press

Sit down in the leg press machine. Place your feet hip width’s apart so that your knees are over top of your toes. Release the safety and push your feet away from your body using your glutes and quads. Once your legs are fully extended, slowly bring your feet back towards yourself, once again using your leg muscles to stay in control of the speed. Repeat. At the end of the set rest the platform on the safety again. 

Chest flyes

With a dumbbell in each hand, lie on a bench or the floor with your elbows slightly bent. Move the dumbbells in a semi circular motion above you until they meet directly above your chest. Return to the starting position by moving the dumbbells with control so that your arms are extended again. 

What’s your favorite piece of equipment to use at the gym?

Elbow Falls Hike

Today I’m sharing a recap of the hike I did to Elbow Falls near Bragg Creek in southern Alberta.

A couple weeks ago I was craving some time out in the mountains or a hike. I starting looking at different spots I could go and finally decided on heading towards Bragg Creek into the foothills. Canmore and Banff are typically pretty busy during the high seasons so it can be pretty hard to find parking. I figured I’d avoid the parking headache and go to Bragg Creek instead.

There’s actually quite a few hiking options from there, but I ended up deciding on Elbow Falls. It was described as short, easy, and that’s exactly what I was in the mood for.

On the hour long drive to the parking lot for Elbow Falls it started to rain. It was an overcast and cooler day to begin with. Thankfully that was a good thing though because apparently it’s a pretty popular spot and it can get pretty busy. I’m sure the fact that it’s such an easy hike with such beautiful scenery is why it’s so popular. I would gladly deal with some rain to almost have the entire place to myself.

There were lots of stairs and railings. The path was pretty obvious and you wouldn’t be able to go off course unless you intentionally wanted to. Even with the wet ground from the rain it was super easy to navigate.

I forgot how loud water and be, especially when waterfalls are involved. While it’s definitely not the biggest or most impressive waterfall, it sure is pretty. And the fact that you can get such a pretty view within minutes of parking your car is pretty great too.

It’s a looped path so on the way back we got another higher view of Elbow Falls. I can’t believe that I hadn’t been there before. If you’re looking for a really easy, quick spot for a hike, Elbow Falls is definitely the one for you.

After checking out the waterfall we walked back out onto the flood plain and checked out the river that fed the waterfall. The water was really clear and still super cold!

It was so nice to be able to spend some time in nature and get out of the city. I’m very lucky to be able to live so close to the mountains. I need to do a better job at taking advantage of that and doing quick trips like this.

There were a ton of wildflowers blooming while we were there. I’m sure if I went back in a few weeks there were be different flowers blooming. The purple ones below are asters.

I’m sure these berries would look pretty delicious to bears. I’m sure they’ll start eating more to prepare for hibernation this winter.

The red flowers below are red paintbrush and only grow at higher altitudes, though pink ones will grow lower down. There’s also yarrow and bluebells in there too.

I found that All Trails was helpful when figuring out where I wanted to go. They have descriptions of the hikes, length, elevation gained, and even photos of the hike so you have an idea of what to expect. In addition to the website they also have an app which I’ve found helpful.

Do you have any good hiking spots where you live?

Weekend Highlights: Workouts + a Movie

I hope you all had a great weekend. I tried to be mindful of taking it easy this weekend, and I think I was successful! Being someone who always feels like I have to be doing something, it can be tough sometimes to give myself permission to relax instead of crossing things off of my to do list.

Friday night was pretty quiet. I was feeling lazy when it came to making dinner so I ordered some Vietnamese food. I got it from my favorite little Vietnamese restaurant. I really love Vietnamese so I don’t know why I don’t eat it more often.

I went with pork and a couple pork spring rolls on my pho. I don’t know what it is about this combination of food but it’s always so good! I spent the most of the night sitting on the couch watching Netflix. I’m currently watching the first season of Homeland and the first season of Designated Survivor.

Before turning out the light on Friday I started reading Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine (affiliate link) by Gail Honeyman. I’m not very far into it yet and but I’m enjoying it. It reminds me a bit of Bridget Jones’ Diary.

Saturday morning I headed to my gym to get in a Group Power class. It’s essentially a Body Pump class. It was a great workout as usual and the instructor really pushed us.

For some reason the bicep track was the toughest for me. I don’t know what it was, but I couldn’t finish the last set of barbell curls. I had to sit the last 2 out. Needless to say I worked hard!

After I got home and changed I headed out to meet up with my boyfriend. He got his English Bulldog puppy a new toy, so he was having a lot of fun playing with it. We took Winston for his afternoon walk before heading out to get lunch. It was nearly 3 by the time we sat down at the restaurant so I was hungry!

I absolutely love the salads at Vagabond’s, but I knew that a salad wouldn’t be enough to hold me over until dinner time. I decided on the reuben with a salad on the side instead.

Despite how hungry I was feeling when I sat down, I decided to skip the bread with the second half of the sandwich. Don’t worry though, I ate all the delicious pastrami and sauerkraut!

My Sunday morning workout was another Group Power class at my gym. The instructors cycle through who teaches the Sunday morning classes, and I was happy to see that my favorite instructor was teaching.

She subbed in bonus tracks for the usual bicep and lunges ones. I wasn’t a huge fan of the bicep one (maybe because I was still a bit sore from the day before), but I really liked that the bonus lunge track included curtsy lunges. I haven’t done those in awhile.

For dinner on Sunday my dad, brother, and I got together for barbecued hamburgers. It was quite the meal with lots of food – hamburgers, pasta salad, chips, watermelon, and baklava for dessert. The baklava was kind of random but it was delicious!

Later on that night my brother and I went to see Scary Stories to Read in the Dark. Does anyone else who was a kid in the 80’s and 90’s remember reading that book? I think I had all three of the books and had quite the collection of books about scary stories when I was a kid.

The movie was better than I was expecting it to be, which was a nice surprise. I loved that they included a few of the stories from the books in the movie. It’s definitely worth a watch if you loved those books as a kid too.

This week is shaping up to be a great one. I’m getting together with a friend this morning that I haven’t seen in years to catch up. It’s going to be so much fun to spend some time with her. I also have plans to check out a space to teach some yoga classes in. I’m crossing my fingers that it checks all the boxes!

What are you currently reading? What’s the last movie you saw in the theatre?

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Friday Favorites: A New Planner and a Historical Fiction Book

Happy Friday! I’m very grateful that another weekend is just about here. It’s been a busy and hectic week, but in such a good way. I might be tired and worn out but I’m doing something that I’m really passionate about so it’s not bad at all. I am hoping that I’ll be able to catch up on some sleep this weekend though.

As far as the weekend is concerned I don’t have much planned other than a couple Group Fitness classes (they’re the Y’s version of Body Pump). It’s going to feel pretty great to have some down time over the next few days. I hope you all have some fun things on the agenda for Saturday and Sunday.

Since it’s Friday I’ll be sharing some of my favorite things from the past week. Read on to find out what I’ve been loving.

A new planner

Anyone who I’ve been to school with or have worked with knows that I love my planner. Basically if I don’t write something down, it won’t get done or I won’t show up to it because I’ll forget. For some reason I have a hard time remembering dates and times. I’m that person at the doctor’s office who always has to ask for the appointment reminder cards.

I’ve been on the look for the perfect planner. I had been using a daily one, but not that I use both Google Calendar for appointments and events, and Asana for to do lists, I thought that I could go with a planner that had weekly spreads instead.

I ended up finding The Happy Planner and instantly liking it. I’d heard about them online before and people loved them, and now that I’ve been using mind for a few weeks I have to admit that I’m really liking it too.

This one runs from July 2019 to December 2020 so I’ll be using it for the next year and a half. With having so much work stuff to do now that I run my own business it’s nice to have somewhere where I can jot things down and have it all in one place.

New business cards

Speaking of my business, I ordered some new business cards this week! They’ve been awhile in the making. Back in June I had a photo shoot to get some photos to use on the blog and to use for marketing my yoga business. I got the photos back from the photographer in July and then it took me a few more weeks to finally design my business cards.

I’m really happy with how they turned out. They’re double sided so I was able to fit in all the info I wanted to get on there without it looking too crowded.

I was really impressed with the service I got from the printer. They were quick to answer my questions and I had them in my hands less than 24 hours after I ordered them.

American Duchess

I just started reading American Duchess by Karen Harper (affiliate link) a few days ago, but I’m already really enjoying it. I’m a huge fan of historical fiction, so as soon as I read the description I put the ebook on hold at my library. It became available this week so I dove right in.

Here’s the synopsis from Amazon:

On a cold November day in 1895, a carriage approaches St Thomas Episcopal Church on New York City’s Fifth Avenue. Massive crowds surge forward, awaiting their glimpse of heiress Consuelo Vanderbilt. Just 18, the beautiful bride has not only arrived late, but in tears, yet her marriage to the aloof Duke of Marlborough proceeds. Bullied into the wedding by her indomitable mother, Alva, Consuelo loves another. But a deal was made, trading some of the vast Vanderbilt wealth for a title and prestige, and Consuelo, bred to obey, realizes she must make the best of things.

At Blenheim Palace, Consuelo is confronted with an overwhelming list of duties, including producing an “heir and a spare,” but her relationship with the duke quickly disintegrates. Consuelo finds an inner strength, charming everyone from debutantes to diplomats including Winston Churchill, as she fights for women’s suffrage. And when she takes a scandalous leap, can she hope to attain love at last?

Do you use a planner? Do you read historical fiction too?

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