Posts in Category: Holidays
It’s amazing how much can happen in a year. How thoughts and patterns and routines can change when an elevated level of self-care, self-love, momentum and drive takes front seat. How dreams can change. How people can change. This past weekend was a biggie. For my both my husband and I in little ways, but mostly for my husband in some big, defining, empowering ways. Trevor and I have spoken about me sharing some of his story with you all today as we’re both firm advocates in Mental Health and Wellness. This doesn’t just encompass nutrition, fitness and personal development. Or career goals. A large part of both our stories, both past present and in what lies ahead in our future, has and always will include a strong focus on mental health. I’ve always been more vocal (publicly) about the mental health part, concerning myself.
Many of you know pieces and layers of my story, and if you don’t, if you’re new (welcome), you can click the link embedded here. We’re here to focus more on Trevor, my husband today. Because he said I could. Not only that, he felt good about it, in letting me share about his long-term battle with clinical depression. He hasn’t always been so open about this part of his life. This year has been a turning point for him, his confidence and in how he excels in the day-to-day, in so many incredible ways. And in following with the generous, thoughtful, surprising way his colleagues and employer recognized him at his holiday work party this weekend, I too, shall follow suit.
We entered into the weekend feeling rather frisky. Perhaps overscheduled with events and parties, we’re also blessed with great friends who kept our kids overnight so that we might partake in the hotel room that was included with Trev’s company party soiree. For those of you who don’t know, Trev has been a long-time web developer. He’s the senior dude at the firm he works for and when I say we were feeling frisky, it began with aspects a little more shallow than what they evolved into over the course of the night. We felt damn good dressed in our sexiest and finest. Deservedly so. We’ve worked hard in shedding some pounds together. Usually, I would have a lot of anxiety leading up to such an event and agonized over what to wear. Silly to some, perhaps – but it’s the truth. I wasn’t comfortable in my body and I felt like crap. My panic attacks in social settings were debilitating and painful. I never knew when one was going to happen. This past weekend was the first time (in a very long time), where none of that happened. Does it all revolve around my weight-loss? Nope. But it sure hasn’t contributed to me feeling MORE crappy.
You see, we’ve BOTH been working hard on our nutrition and fitness over this past year, not just me. But I’m the coach, so I share in my journey. I don’t talk about Trev’s much. But the man deserves some kudos! He’s lost over 40 pounds and the REAL cause for celebration is that he’s been off of his meds for going on a year and a half now. The major contributing factors to this combined transformation has been the tone that I’ve set in what we eat at home sure, but the brunt of the work has been all him. He wakes every day before dawn rises, blends his vegan chocolate shakeology, and hops on his bike to the train station. Every dang day, he rides to and from that station. Every dang day he blends up his superfoods. Not only that, he’s really cut down on his meat intake with the diagnoses of gout that he received last December. And beer … as opposed the nightly event that it was, it is now something he only treats himself to a couple times a month. (Beer – alcohol in general – and meat are the biggest triggers to a painful gout attack.)
He is far from strict with his diet. He likes his snack foods at work, (which became glaringly apparent as he was presented with a ‘quilt’ made out of the snyder snack things he crushes while coding. Yea, his colleagues collected them in secret). When I first became a Beachbody coach he was skeptical. About all of it. About it being an MLM company, the cost of shakeology (he used to be a meat and potatoes dude who would scoff at the word ‘superfood’ or ‘supplement’.) As a few months passed and he watched how I was transforming in all of these intricate ways, (weight-loss, increased confidence, rocking time management, diving into personal development, building community and helping others, building income and mentoring other women), his interest became more than piqued. He, like no other – knew how I struggled. He knew that what was happening for me was LEGIT. Soon enough, he was crushing his own daily shake upon the approval of our Naturopath who had prescribed him to a generic protein powder shake anyways when he had to go completely vegetarian, (back in the beginning of 2015 for a few months).
***AGAIN: I do not tout that shakeology is a meal-replacement or a miracle product. It’s simply a quick way to get dense hit of nutrition for those we see and reap the benefits of having as such in their lives. Increased energy, more time to think about food and snacks (TRUTH), hauling one’s ass out of bed, etc. Trevor is a prime example. Much like me, the man loves his food. But what’s changed for us in the past year is that we are eating much more regularly and healthfully. As in 6-7 times a day. So no, we aren’t only eating 3 big meals a day and replacing one of those with shakeology. He’s not big in the kitchen as I am, and mornings are rushed. His morning shake gives him the natural boost of energy and nourishment his body needs to get out the door. Whole foods are embraced and consumed but a mere couple of hours later.
You guys, in all of the (many) years that Trev and I have been together, never have I seen him with such drive and determination. Not just in how he manages his career, but in his own health. The common thread that ties all of this together is that which we’ve weaved in partnership. US. We’re doing it, we’re making these changes, we’re creating new habits and routines TOGETHER. We lift up and support one another and even I myself am surprised with where these changes have been taking us. Our relationship is stronger, of course. This is just a natural side-effect, yet perhaps the most important one.
Listen, we’re far from perfect, we still have our struggles. Depression still rears its ugly head for Trevor now and then, but nothing like it used to. We firmly believe that it’a combination of all of the changes and attention to personal self-care he/we have implemented into our lives that contribute to more joy trickling into our lives on the regular; rather than struggle, stress, and strife. I don’t have to go into great detail explaining that exercise is commonly used to combat depression, as are natural supplements, attention to nutrition and eating specific combinations of food to keep serotonin levels in check.
Oh, and not to make it a side-note or anything, but Trev received more than a ‘Snyder-Snack-Quilt’ on Saturday. He was presented with a generous bonus to compliment being chosen as, ‘Rockstar Employee of the Year.’ A first for the company, something inspired right from the very depth of creativity and unique badassery that is Trevor. Once upon a time ago, he was musician who toured extensively as the bassist for an amazing band, and held down his own web development business. A couple of years ago he decided to take the great offer he received from ITS Dispatch, (the company he currently works for), for financial reasons and because it was just too much juggling. And he missed his family. He was away a lot. Anyways, the company knew this, and thus, the ‘rockstar’ addition to the company’s employee of the year award. This is SUCH a huge change. When he was touring, he did contract work for a company that constantly devalued the importance of family and pushed him way too far over holidays, and had the nerve to consistently drop subtle (and not so), subtle hints about him cutting his hair and shaving his beard, such things that they considered ‘unprofessional looking.’ Uhm, he worked FROM HOME then. I digress. But I just thought it was important to put that out there, because yet again, there goes Mister Trevor Mills, squashing stereotypes about what a person with clinical depression can and can’t be successful at, and how a man should look in order to be considered professional and successful. BOOYAKA.
My whole point with that little tangent is that this company is so damn cool for recognizing Trev’s unique way of functioning, that they granted him permission him to bring in his bass to jam out on when wading through difficult code, and a PIANO to tinker on as well. I mean, C’MON. Something tells me I’m not the only one who thinks he’s incredibly inspiring. I thought you all might too.
What’s on the horizon for this crazy couple come 2016? We’re going to begin doing Beachbody’s newest program together, The Masters Hammer and Chisel (beginning in January!) to see how far we really can take this whole bonding through elevated self-care and personal development thang! You can totally join us if you want, but I can’t promise we’ll behave. (And if Hammer and Chisel isn’t quite your jam, I have a bunch of other workouts I can offer you or we can build you a custom hybrid schedule!) Click down there to get plugged in for January immediately, or email us: wellnesswarriorsteam@gmail
All photos courtesy Laura Rossi Photography!
Now, these tips would be well-suited for any busy, millennial woman who is trying to incorporate daily exercise and healthier eating habits into their day any time of year, but I thought they would be especially helpful over the holidays when everything we’ve committed to seems insurmountable and keeping up with our own self-care quickly falls off the list.
This is my first time, ever …. as a girl, a woman, a mom, a work-at-home coach … anything … that I’ve stuck to a regimen involving elevated self-care and reigned in nutrition for myself over the holidays. So if you and I have a few things in common (as you’ll quickly ascertain as you read through this list of tips), then you’re welcome.
1. All the BB girls say HEY-O!
Particularly when digging into a workout sequence involving plyometrics (which means HELLA jumping), you’re gonna wanna double up on the workout bras. I don’t care how good your brand totes its support strappin’ capabilities. Double up on that shit. Lest you don’t mind the boob-face-slaps. That full-on happens. There are days I tuck into this particular one, the PLYO extreme (included in the 21 Day Fix Extreme which I’m now tackling), that I forget to double up on the full-support workout bras. Crazy things happen and I just go with it because changing once you’re into it just ain’t gonna happen. At least not for me. Next Monday, I swear, I’ll remember.
2. Celebrate Your Milestones
Since we’re talking about burpees, it should be mentioned that there once was a time that I could not rock a single burpee without being extremely shaky and unable to get past a couple unless I wanted to do a face plant. It’s taken me NINE MONTHS (yep, that’s right) do be able to do 2 full reps (30 seconds each, or 1, 60-second rep) of burpees without modifying that action. I persevered by modifying the heck out of those burpees while I slowly built up my stamina and capability. No shame, only PRIDE. I say this to all of you who are afraid (like I was) to begin and stick to a solid/challenging workout program. Today? Burpee tuck jumps were my favourite move of the day! Not because I necessarily love them like I love a dry Grey Goose martini, but because it feels AMAZING to unlock this level of fitness badassery.
3. Use Dry Shampoo Like a BOSS
I get asked all the time if I wash my hair every day with all this sweating I do. NOPE, I do not. For a couple reasons. Ain’t no one got time for that, being front and centre. Secondly, my hair is thick, coarse and prone to being dry and frequent washing would not be my friend. So I embrace the many virtues of dry shampoo. It does exactly what it’s supposed to. It sucks up all that sweat and my trick to not having any residue is to take a few extra minutes to really work it through with a brush, massaging my scalp with the brush after spraying in. I spray my roots before hopping in the shower to let it do its absorbing thang, and then brush my hair, tossing my head upside down. I give it a good go with the blow dryer, concentrating at the roots and my hair comes out so fresh. So clean. Sort of. No shame here either.
4. Recovery Food is KEY
As many of you know, I’m an avid shakeology fan. It’s simple really. Where else can I get 70 superfoods and consume the equivalent to 6 bowls of greens no matter what other craziness I’m up to in a day? It’s a guaranteed way to ensure that my body is getting the fuel that it needs especially when I’m pushing it to extremes with my workouts.
5. Eat Smaller Portions, More Frequently
Over the course of a busy day – I used to skip breakfast more often than not and ended up starving by lunchtime. This resulted in poor lunch choices and depending on my stress or to-do list that day, it could go all downhill from there. I’m not a big weekly meal-planner, but I do keep my fridge and pantry stocked with simple foods that I can grab on the go or make quickly for lunch and snacks. Many of my clients who don’t work from home embrace the food prep action on Sundays so they are well-set up throughout the week. SO IMPORTANT.
6. Don’t Ignore Your Core
I had an ‘AHA’ moment a couple months into this whole life-changing business and that was how essential my core was/is to the whole process in a workout. Most people know that, but in case you haven’t gleaned … fitness guru I am not. I was not maximizing the benefits of my workouts until I engaged my core with EVERY. SINGLE. MOVE.
7. Personal Development Is Essential
DO IT. Not the cheesy stuff – the stuff that resonates with you. There are several authors/speakers/coaches whose particular style and experiences, prose and personal storytelling that speaks to me and I gravitate towards them. There really is something and someone out there for everyone – maybe this list will help! Thinking you have no time for that? Podcasts are all the rage and you can listen to them from anywhere. I like downloading or streaming them from my iPhone when driving in the car. Done, done and INSPIRED.
8. Just Do It
Today I had 50 minutes to press play, get my sweat on, shower and slap on some make-up. Instead of humming and hawing about how I didn’t have time, I just rocked it, did my dry shampoo thing, hopped in the shower, tossed on some clean clothes and boogied through on my 5-minute ‘natural’ make-up routine. And I don’t wear make-up every day, I’m just not that woman. But now and then – I like a little extra joozh.
Those of us in the Paleo world know about the controversy that is whether or not to include white potatoes into one’s diet. On the one hand, they are a delicious, nutrient dense whole food. A fabulous starchy tuber in fact! Unprocessed, versatile and satisfying. And yet, they sit quite high on the glycemic index and as someone who has chosen to try and stick to a Paleo diet because I’m pre-diabetic … then obviously I am going to avoid sugar spiking foods.
I’m especially NOT going to deny myself of delicious foods however, when it comes to any holiday spread I might be hosting this time of year. I double especially love surprising my doubting guests when it comes to Paleo food substitutions. Because they’re definitely not all a win. (Sad face apple pie.)
Unless you’ve been hiding under a rock with nary a Buzzfeed food video or heady list touting the many wondrous virtues of eating cauliflower (instead of carbs) crossing your path, then I’m sorry. This is one of those rare times you’ve been missing out on what the internet has to toss your way. Cauliflower is a splendiferous thing indeed. I’ve tried it out in bread, soup and to make faux ‘cauli-rice’ and pizza crust already. Perhaps you’ve already been served, or have tried mashed cauliflower as a mashed potato substitute. It’s pretty good (no, it doesn’t taste exactly the same so let’s just lay that inquisition to rest), but I’ve found that the addition of parsnips really adds the taste a texture needed to make it a damn good combo of a sub needed to mimic the cloudy peaks of buttery, creamy goodness that is mashed potatoes. Cauliflower is a part of the cabbage family, which means it’s a vegetable and we know that vegetables are a good thing, yes? Particularly rich in vitamin C and B vitamins, cauliflower also has a significant amount of vitamin K, manganese, phosphorous, and potassium! As if all of that weren’t enough, noshing on cauliflower also gives you a good dose of sulfur. And until I read Mark Sisson’s article on why eating sulfur-rich foods is a grand idea, I had no clue about why I should care about that either. It’s a damn good, eye-opening article about vegetables in general!
Pumped up with various B vitamins, vitamin C, and vitamin K, parsnips and turnips are a great source of trace minerals, including manganese, phosphorous, potassium, and zinc! While they may be moderately high in natural sugars, parsnips are also comprised of both soluble and insoluble fiber. (Which slows the body’s digestion of carbs and prevents a spike in blood sugar and makes food easier to digest!) When accompanied with the cauliflower, one really is bestowed with the great satisfaction of eating mashed potatoes without the dense insulin spike.
I’m straight up gonna tell you that using a blender will issue you a gluey mass. Which you might be going for if you wanted to make a vegan cheese sauce sub; say for mac and cheese. But that’s not the texture we’re going for here. I myself am a fan of the rustic hand-held mashing or using a food processor.
- 2 heads cauliflower
- 4 parsnips, peeled and chopped into chunks
- 1 small turnip, peeled and chopped into chunks
- 5-6 tbsp. grass-fed butter or ghee
- 1¼ tsp. pink sea salt
- Remove the cauliflower florets from their bases of stems and leaves. Wash and add to a water-filled pot, along with
yourwashed, peeled and chopped parsnips and turnip.
- Bring to a boil over medium-high heat and simmer until all is tender.
- (You can cook the veg in two separate pots if you don't have a big enough one.)
- Drain the cauliflower, turnips and parsnips into a colander and topple them all into a food processor (or back into the pot if you are hand-mashing.)
- Add the butter and whizz/mash until well creamed! If you like it rustic then by hand is the best way to go.
- Season with sea salt to taste, eat it, love it and gloat all about it.
“Dance,” we whispered. “Sing!” We exclaimed. And so they did…with little to no goading at all, really. Because they are children. Beautiful, musical, sprightly little beings who love nothing better than to put on a show. Except of course if it’s in front of a huge crowd under big bright lights. But they got there and loved it in the end. To see their beaming faces full of pride after felt dang good. Like Sunday morning cuddles and breakfast in bed.
Jen and I…and our littles, we are all lucky to be developing such friendships. Our youngest two, her boy Mikey and my girl Abby attend the same performing arts “academy” (daycare, ahem).
This place is serious. I mean, there’s full-on dance and music studio classrooms at their school, with a singer-songwriter on the payroll who makes the daily rounds. They do tap, ballet and all sorts of other adorable things. There’s a BARRE in the dance room, complete with official mirrored wall. So of course they performed their own rendition of ‘The Grinch’, with a random toss-in of ‘Let It Go’. Obviously.
As for my boy Wyndham, well…I was busy a tad busy helping coordinate a couple of holiday concert fundraisers at his school and we were lucky enough to host two nights of entertainment for the students, faculty, family and friends for all of the grades: K-8! All of the performers donated their time and the students all collaborated in each classroom to create Silent Art Auction pieces! We all continue to feel deep gratitude towards The Monkey Bunch, Evalyn Parry, Sarah Beatty, Mr. Mills (our favourite guys around here) and the Johnson Street Public School Student Council and faculty for helping to produce two such fantastic evenings of live music and art! Special thanks to The Good Lovelies as well for donating two CD bundles to auction off each respective night!
I’m a bit late in sharing the photos because, Christmas, so enjoy! (All photos of Abby and Mikey’s recital were taken by their immensely talented dad Doug Bedard, aka PLEX, aka Jen’s man, who also donated his musical talents for one of Wyndham’s school concerts. Thanks Doug!
What to say? We’ve been recovering / steeping in new health diagnoses and recovery. Jen will fill you all in on her news when she’s ready, as for us…well. Part of me doesn’t want to get into it because it’s gotten to the point of feeling over-the-top. Ludicrous even. I wrote a Facebook status a few nights ago that seemed to humour quite a few people with it’s dark embrace. For those of you who aren’t in the know I’m going to cheat and copy and paste that status here.
“Oh Christmas of 2014. December has been a month of saying goodbye to pneumonia and hello to the extraction of my wisdom teeth to be met by dry socket (don’t google that). Gout diagnosis (the husband). Unplanned holiday shopping ending in too much Frozen crap. Currently nursing (and by nursed I mean vodka at this point, because really I just need to laugh off these past 6 weeks off) cracked rib and a hairline arm fracture from wiping out on that bitch Ariel’s stupid mermaid tail on the stairs. And yet, I still have faith in my paleo cookie baking prowess and my house looks badass, in the way that a real tree, magazine worthy mantle action and overdone twinkle lights at every corner a la Martha Stewart wannabe styling can accomplish. This will be a holiday to remember that’s for sure. I hate to say it but it would appear as though Disney has been more than partially responsible for my demise. This should probably be a blog post since I haven’t updated that in a good month or so complete with perfect bokeh shots, but meh. I have carrots to peel and Baileys to switch to. Don’t judge my self-medication and yes, I’m popping pain pills at this point too! I dare say I’m going into 2015 with a streak of honesty if anything. *Hits post*”
I have a turkey to brine and presents to wrap, moving at a bout 1/2 the pace I usually do, so. Please enjoy a few snaps of that which my alter ego Martha Fishwater finds deep pleasure in executing: holiday styling.
If you haven’t heard about GoldieBlox, the Kickstarter toy company success story of 2013, then hello. Welcome parents of little girls who want their daughters to know they are so much more than a princess. I am impressed and altogether smitten with this company, its mission and vision, products and genuine desire to be a part of positive change in the landscape of how little girls think of themselves, what kind of role models they have and how they value themselves. The bonus? Metric, a fantastic Canadian band is the soundtrack. Awe yea.
Founder Debbie Sterling has brought the company a long way with a whole line of story, construction, movie-making and engineering sets for girls. (And clothes!) What’s the goal? Well, if it isn’t obvious already, GoldieBlox aims to disrupt the pink aisle and inspire the future generation of female engineers by giving these young inventors the tools they need to build and create amazing things.
Today I was presented with a brand new video created by the mad geniuses over at GoldieBlox, called: Big Sister is Watching, to promote their new Zipline Action Figure. Yea, a Zipline Action Figure. The video is feisty, excellently produced, short and to the point. It’s their way of raging against the BS machine and ending the reign of fashion dolls. Which, we all know is a mighty feat. Right here in my own home I am raising a Princess obsessed little girl. Suffice to say that I am stoked there is finally something else that I can introduce her to to. A new kind of ‘doll’ that helps to even out the onslaught of heels, lipstick and sparkle; with characters that are cool, interesting, smart, and relatable.
Perhaps right about now you’re planning the packing and getting ready to go and visit family for the holidays. Or maybe you’re already on the road. For many, visiting family during the holidays isn’t as easy as driving across town…
We do it though, to see the grandmas and grandpas, the aunties the uncles, the cousins and the friends. Whether we miss them or not! Because, apparently, it’s just the right thing to do. For the most part however, family politics and skeletons aside (we all have ’em, right?) we end up looking forward to spending time with our extended families from near and far.
At least I know we do! Come Christmas Day we’l all be piling into the car and making the trek to hop from one family to the next, city after city, with a few towns in between. You can bet there will be some carolling going on, even though I really dislike at least half of the usual repertoire.
As long as we keep things light, fun and merry, I’m all about it – singing at the top of my lungs right along with the kids, to their absolute amusement. Which is what it’s all about really, isn’t it? Who am I to pass on my hang-ups about religion and Christmas carols to my kids? Not I. I’m too busy lying to them about Santa.
If you’ve got some major road-tripping in the forecast this holiday season with little ones in tow, you may want to brush up on your carols and perhaps engage in a practice session on two. I promise they’ll like it. I’ve yet to meet a child who doesn’t enjoy a good loud round of, ‘Jingle Bells’, or, ‘Rudolph The Red Nosed Reindeer.’
One of my most favourite things to make! For a quite a while I made and sold dreamcatcher baby mobiles and over the years I’ve become slightly obsessed. Dreamcatchers of all shapes and sizes, using various natural, repurposed and purchased materials. This tutorial specifically shows dreamcatchers as holiday ornaments and gifts for friends. However, the process is universal for a number of different dreamcatcher styles, whatever the theme or occasion.
For larger hoops, I use young red willow branches (easy to bend), or older, drier branches soaked in a tub of hot water to become pliable. For the smaller ornamental style dreamcatchers, I use brass hoops that you can purchase at any craft store. I’ve even seen them in some dollar stores.
One of my favourite presents to give friends and family are handmade ornaments that I made myself, peeps who are really into holiday trim and decorating just love that action! This year I started making a bunch of different smaller styles to gift as unique sets and medium dreamcatchers for rearview mirrors on the dash of cars or with bells on the tassels to hand on doors! I’m also making a couple of larger ones for certain individuals on my list to hang in their homes or over their beds.
I started making them back in November and one I got into a groove they’re easy to make in the evenings while watching Netflix and winding down after a long day. I like to have a lightweight food serving tray, or tea tray (I have a few cheap ones from Ikea for couch crafting), to keep all of my materials organized. I even made a (cheesy?) DIY video of the weaving process. You know you want to see that, right? If in the very least to make fun of me, no? Be kind, it’s my first DIY vid. Dreamcatchers have and always be a well received gift, I hope you enjoy making and giving them as much as I do…
I live close to what I like to call the Christmas Crack Store. Blasphemous, perhaps, yet totally true. I paid that special place a visit last week and came home with boughs upon clusters upon strands of assorted evergreens and got busy with one of my favourite annual traditions to do this time of year. Making wreaths. You see, the holiday season does something mighty fine to my insides. I get all in a tither about making and crafting and creating things that I know the people whom I love, will love.
I also really dig buying gifts for my kids, family and friends. Little things. Some big things (mostly for the kids and my mister). I try to reign it in and every year I’m getting better at being more organized with my making, (equalling less buying) so that I can really get into the process. Less last-minute stressed out Betty, more enjoyment.
I’m definitely not a fan of the mass-consumerism that throbs and booms and pulsates around the holidays. It hurts my heard and heart to know that there are many families who go into a small amount of debt every year around this time to buy SO. MUCH. STUFF. Or those that feel inadequate because they can’t cover their living room floors with presents. Gifts with hefty price-tags in shocking amounts. All the brands, all the tech gear.
Not for me, no thanks.
What I can get into is gifting a friend with a handmade wreath say, (for example, ahem), for Winter Solstice. Or a basket of edible goodies that I canned over the summer and fall with handmade ornaments and some small boughten gifts, or thrifted treasures and coveted vinyl. Homemade cookies. Gifts that I put a lot of thought into and didn’t go crashing into some store days before the grand rip and tear, just to buy something. I don’t do last minute shopping, never have. I buy year round, the little that I do buy and I keep a list going to know remind myself of what I’ve got going on and to keep within the budget.
It’s the most magical time of the year. That super special time for those of us with toddlers wherein we embrace the big, jolly, hairy white lie that is Santa Clause, (don’t even talk to me about how wrong that is. Just stop it with that) and knuckle down for some serious vacation time, merriment and family gatherings.
Which all usually revolves around lots of travel. At least for us. In a car. For hours.