Tag Archives: weight loss

Being in Charge of Your Destiny & Half-Marathon Training

Hi loves!

I hope you have an excellent week so far!

It’s been a somewhat different week in our household. Justin FINALLY had surgery on his shoulder this Monday. *I’m not being sarcastic… wait… actually, I am.* It only took over three and a half years to have it done…

Before the surgery

Justin dislocated his shoulder during a canoe camping accident when his canoe fell off a waterfall right before our wedding. *Dear nature lovers, please, check a map in advance, so this doesn’t happen to you!* It had been popping out ever since. Unfortunately, it wasn’t an easy fix. Doctors had to put two screws to strengthen the joint. Justin was hoping to return to work in a week. But from what it looks like, he has to stay home for at least three weeks and wear a sling for the next month even at night. Obviously, it sucks, but I’m happy to have him home.

After the surgery

My hubby is handsome even after a general anesthesia! I’m one lucky girl.

On a side note, if you have any shoulder problems yourself, this guide might save you a lot of pain and trouble.

I’ve also being reflecting quite a bit lately. And then I came across the following quote from Maya Angelou.

Maya Angelou - If you don't like something, change it.

It really resonated with me. The quote reinforces the idea that we are responsible for our own happiness. I’m not unhappy by any means. But i think now that I’m a mother figure, I want so much more to be the best version of myself. For baby Sofia, for my hubby, for ME!  I don’t want some silly reservations to prevent me from springing into action, to make things happen for me and my family. Whatever I do, I have to make it really count.I’m full of energy and determination. I know, I’m on the right path. I’ll make it happen.

Speaking of springing into action… Yesterday I’ve officially started training for my first half-marathon!

She's a dreamer

Baby Sofia was my ‘co-pilot’, peacefully sleeping in a stroller *more on running with a stroller shortly*, while I pushed it against the wind. Otherwise, it was a very pleasant short 5 km run.

Even though the race is only in the end of September, I embarked on a 12-week training schedule. It includes 3 runs/week and 2 cross training sessions. This way I’ll be able to rebuild my base by July and then focus more on a speed work and getting faster. Or at least that’s the plan.

Here’s what my plan for this week looks like.

Monday – rest day
Tuesday – 3 miles
Wednesday – 30-40 minutes cross training
Thursday – 3 miles
Friday – 30-40 minutes cross training
Saturday – 4 miles
Sunday – rest day

*I had to slightly change it to accommodate for Justin’s surgery.*

What races are you training for this year?

PS. Don’t forget to follow me on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter!

xoxo
Olena

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Filed under Cardio, Cross-training, Half-Marathon Training

MamaDances: Newborn Dance Class Through A Mother’s Eyes

Good morning, darlings!

This post is so long overdue! Sofia and I did the Mother and Baby dance class from October to December last year. We started it just a couple of weeks later after a baby yoga class. *Read more about it here.* Needless to say, it was a blast!

Surprisingly, I had never heard about this kind of class before. And I am eternally grateful to a friend of mine who simply sent me a message to see if I would be interested to check it out. It didn’t take much convincing. I watched a video online and I was sold. This is the exact reason why I wanted to dedicate a post to this baby class. I wanted other moms to be aware of it. Not only it’s a great way for new moms and their babies to bond, but also have fun, relax, while socializing with others.

My instructor, Eryn Dace Trudell, was absolutely amazing. And even though I can’t call myself a great dancer, I felt right where I belong!

MamaDances 1Source

Sofia was only 10 weeks old when we started the class. She was really responsive to everything that was happening around her, especially at the beginning of the class when we snapped fingers and clapped to create our own ‘music’. In addition, she enjoyed being in my arms as we danced around and moved past other babies in a class. In the second part of the class, we put our babies in carriers. Sofia was asleep within the first few minutes, while I focused on learning new dancing styles and techniques.

I asked Eryn if she would do an interview with me because I wanted you, my dear readers, to get the most information out of it. And she kindly agreed.

MamaDances 8Source

Here it is, without a further ado.

First things first.

Go-to music: For classes I use: Snatam Kaur, Oka, John Hughes, Ali Farka
Favourite dance style: Contact Improvisation, Skinner Release Technique (of which I am a certified facilitator)
Dancing tip: Breathe and let go

Eryn, could you tell us more about yourself and your fitness background?

I have a BFA from The Juilliard School, and so my original training is in classical ballet and modern dance. Since studying these classical forms, I began exploring new dance and post-modern dance techniques. I love the somatic approaches such as Alexander Technique, Body Mind Centering , Feldenkrais and all their developments. I am a certified facilitator of Skinner Releasing Technique and a practitioner of Contact Improvisation.

MamaDances 2Source

How did you come up with the idea of a Mother and Baby dance class?

I had the privilege of witnessing a professional dancer trying to present at a choreographic workshop while her child tried to upstage her. It was the most beautifully authentic dance I ever saw. She eventually brought the child on stage with her to continue the presentation.

As necessity is the mother of invention, when I became a single mother in 2006, MamaDances was the solution to finding a way to support my little family by applying my skills and experience. Sensitive to competition I wanted to create work for myself that would offer a complementary revenue source and demographic to the profession of dance.

MamaDances 3Source

Could you walk my readers through your everyday class? What can people who attend it expect?

We begin with rhythm and socialization studies to loosen up the intimidation factor and get to know each other. Next we do a floor warm-up including lower back release and abdominal strengthening. On the first day we move with our babies in our arms within a study called “ Soft feet”. Technically, we are learning to let go of holding patterns in the knees and the feet to allow fluidity to come into the body through the contact and dialogue from the floor through the skeletal structure to the head. The principal being taught is the idea of letting go into the direction of movement. This creates availability and a state of readiness to respond with suppleness. This exercise seems very simple but there is a lot going on.

MamaDances 5Source

What impact does music and dance have on a child’s development?

I am not specialized in this area of knowledge. I have no academic background in child development. In fact I am only beginning to embark on this area of research now. I only know from experience that the babies enjoy it. My own children who have been exposed to a musical and movement environment are very tuned in musically. My oldest daughter now plays several instruments and my younger daughter has an amazing ability to replicate a tone and sing musical phrases.

MamaDances6Source

Sofia and I really enjoyed dancing with you! Can you tell us more about the philosophy behind dance classes for babies and moms? What sets you apart from other baby classes out there?

When I began MamaDances in 2007, there were very few activities for mothers and babies. I had heard about Salsa Babies, but there was only one class being offered in Montreal that I could see. Mom and Baby Yoga was just beginning. Cardio-Pousette [cardio with a stroller] was happening at Parc Lafontaine. Since, then many activities have been introduced to the market, particularly things like Music classes.

MamaDances merges many of the concepts you will find in other classes, such as music and rhythm awareness, and stimulation for the babies. Plus , stretching and strengthening like in yoga and pilates. And then the fitness comes in, when we realize we have been moving non-stop for 60-80 minutes without even noticing. The material is integrated in a way that the movement of the moms and the babies becomes a synergy of expression and connection.

MamaDances 7Source

Can moms with no previous dance experience still have fun in your class?

Yes. All the material is prepared to be equally beneficial for those with or without experience. That is one of the biggest challenges of creating material for a class. There is a huge range of ability and experience in a class.

Do you teach any other classes apart from Mother-Baby class?

I teach Contact Improvisation and Skinner Releasing Technique. I also have a Parent and Child Program which is a development of the Mom and Baby program.

What are your goals for this coming year?

I have a lot of inquiries about this method from people in other parts of the world. I am hoping to create an online teachers training program and to begin sharing and expanding MamaDances globally.

MamaDances 4
Source

Finally, any fun stories you’d be able to share with us? I am sure you had quite a few laughs with your members during the class.

The obvious is that we are putting one of the most aesthetic practices, dance, together with the most fundamental, maternity. The dance of eternity. I love it when a mother finds something that her baby really loves and the babies start laughing and so Mama starts laughing and then it’s all quite funny. We can’t take ourselves too seriously, yet here we are now responsible for another human being in the world. It’s a wonderful dichotomy.

Thank you very much for your time and an incredible, one of a kind, dancing experience with my daughter!

Mama Dances Class

If you are a new mom in Montreal area, definitely check out MamaDances website to register or to get additional information: www.mamadances.com. If not, see if you have similar classes where you live. You’ll have the time of your life with your little plus one!

*You can read more about my postpartum fitness journey here.*

Have you tried a dance class with your baby? What was your experience?

Have you followed my TwitterFacebook and Instagram page for most recent updates? You can also subscribe to receive emails to always keep in touch in the little window to the right.

xoxo
Olena

 

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Filed under Family, Fitness, Health

Social Fitness: ReboundFit

Good morning, loves!

I’m a big lover of at home and outdoor workouts. For some reason, gym machines never failed to intimidate me. The only things I would normally use were a treadmill, StairMaster and an elliptical. Even at that, I prefer to run outside to take in my surroundings and to feel a gentle *or not so gentle* breeze on my face. So, generally, a gym membership is a waste of money for me, especially that I’ve got my main fitness necessities, such as dumbbells, pull-up bar, jumping rope, etc. at home. There is, however, one thing that I do miss. What would it be, you’ll say. I miss group classes!

There is something magical about having to workout with other people. You get to meet other fitness junkies, be inspired and even be held accountable by them, not to forget having to de-stress and share quite a few uncontrollable laughs. All of that while getting a great sweat session on! Don’t you find there is something incredibly empowering about that?

TIU Girls at Reboundfit

Recently, I mentioned to you that I have discovered *or was rather discovered by* a Tone It Up community of girls here in Montreal. I was thrilled to have someone who could share my love for fitness. So when they organized a meet up, I was jumping from excitement! Little did I know, that I would be literally bouncing to get my sweat on at a ReboundFit class!

If you are not sure what ReboundFit class is all about, don’t worry, you are not alone! In fact, I loved the class so much that I decided to interview the owner of the studio, Narcisa. And she agreed! I feel that people need to be aware of awesome local fitness studios like this one!

ReboundFit - Narcisa

Before getting to serious business, a few fun questions to get to know you, Narcisa.

Guilty pleasure: French fries
Go-to snack: lately, tangerines
Favourite workout: ReboundFit, of course!
Fitness tip: Whatever you choose to do, find a way to make it fun! The more fun something is, the more likely you are to stick with it.

Now that we got this out of the way, could you, please, tell us more about yourself and your fitness background?

Well first and foremost Olena, I want to thank you for this lovely opportunity. I am very happy to be sitting here with you today to speak about this passion project of mine. Also, you were amazing on the trampoline, congrats on completing and surviving your very first ReboundFit workout! You are now officially a Rebound Babe (laughs)!

As for me, I have always been an active girl for as long as I can remember. And I even have the scars to prove it! I was a Track and Field athlete for 4 years back in New York, where I competed in local and state competitions as a sprinter and short distance runner. When I moved to Montreal I shifted my focus away from the competitive fitness world and focused on my studies. But that did not last for too long as deep down inside of me I felt a strong urge to bounce back into the world of health and fitness, pun intended! And that’s the thing with a passion right? It always finds its way back into our life no matter what. It is then our job to either make something of it or keep ignoring it. Well, long story short, I decided to make something of it and here we are today!

Trampolines at ReboundFit

How was ReboundFit born?

ReboundFit was literally conceived out of my apartment. I remember spending countless hours reading books and watching videos on anything health related. Why? Simply because I am passionate about the subject. I would leave work, stop by the book store, get a book on health or well-being, go home and enjoy the read. I derived an immense pleasure from educating myself on the subjects of health, fitness and well-being. Throughout all this ‘’research”, I kept stumbling upon rebounding and its amazing health benefits. I became intrigued. I wanted to experience these benefits for myself. I phoned all the gyms and health studios in Montreal but none offered this sport. I was baffled that despite the countless studies and research done on the subject of rebounding that the gyms had not caught on yet. Even NASA had done studies on this amazing sport and confirmed its amazing health benefits back in the 1980s. The business woman in me then had an idea! Using my background in fitness (by then I was already teaching fitness classes at the YMCA), along with my creative workout style, I carefully designed the ReboundFit workout! If I had to describe it in 3 words it would be FUN, EFFICIENT and SAFE. My focus was on getting the maximum benefit from exercise with the least possible risk of injury, while having a great time!

ReboundFit - punch

Your workouts are really intense! I can attest to that awesome shaky after workout feeling and sweat glow. I could feel every single muscle by the end of the class! Can you tell us more about the science behind ReboundFit workouts? What sets you apart from other fitness classes out there?

That is a great question Olena! ReboundFit is very unique in that it works every single cell in your body at the same time, which makes it the ultimate whole body workout! How does it do that? See, when you lift weights, the corresponding muscles get stronger by resisting the force that is applied to it. The more force your muscles resist, the stronger they will get. In the same way, as your body bounces up and down the trampoline, every single cell in your body is subjected to the increased gravitational pull experienced at the bottom of the bounce as your feet reach the mat. When you are walking, the gravitational pull on your body is constant. The moment you start moving in the vertical field (i.e. jumping) you increase the gravitational pull experienced by every single cell in your body at the bottom of every jump. The higher you jump, the more the gravitational force at the bottom of the bounce. Every single cell in your body adapts to this increased force by getting stronger.

And that is not all; at the top of every bounce, for a split second, you are weightless. All the cells of your body decompress and relax as a result of this weightlessness and at this very moment your body responds by releasing endorphins, the feel-good hormones. This is why a lot of people report feeling happier and less stressed immediately after a ReboundFit workout. It is a natural antidepressant!

So as I was saying, at the top of every bounce your cells experience zero gravitational pull and for that split second they are completely relaxed. By the time you reach the mat, the gravitational pull is increased due to the acceleration and your cells react by contracting, and releasing toxins out of the cell in the process. It is thus a great detox tool!

ReboundFit - cardio

And of course, let’s not forget about the lymphatic system, the garbage collector of the body. It is the system in your body that collects and gets rid of all your toxins. Unlike the circulatory system which has a pump to move the blood throughout the body, the lymphatic system does not have a pump and relies on muscle contraction to get the job done. The up and down movement during a ReboundFit workout causes a constant opening and closing of the lymphatic valves which allow for the most efficient circulation of the lymphatic fluid throughout the body. Toxins are thus eliminated out of your body at an accelerated pace.

You know, I could go on and on about the amazing health benefits of this workout, but people can just go on our website to read more on this. I just wanted to point out the main things that set us apart from other workouts which is manly the fact that it is a workout done in the vertical field.

before ReboundFit class

I really enjoyed kicking and punching that was involved! Also using weights and even resistance bands while on a trampoline?! Wow! I definitely didn’t see that coming. Where do you find inspiration for your moves?

Thank you! I get inspiration from dance, ballet, kickboxing, yoga, pilates and all the other workouts that I do. You can always find a little bit of your favorite workout in ReboundFit!

Obviously, there are many people out there who have various health issues such as bad ankles, runner knees. Could they still have fun in your class?

Absolutely! The workout can be adapted to almost any age and any physical condition. The one you did was an intermediate level. We also offer beginner classes and advanced classes. We have also just started a ReboundFit BootCamp style class which will make its full debut very soon!

ReboundFit - stretch

How about people with poor coordination? Why should everyone try a ReboundFit class at least once in their lives?

A ReboundFit workout will actually improve your coordination! It improves your brain’s responsiveness to the vestibular apparatus in your inner ear, which improves both balance and coordination

What are your goals for this coming year?

The ultimate goal is to get every single person ON THE REBOUND! (laughs)

Finally, any fun stories you’d be able to share with us? I am sure you have quite a few laughs with your members during the class.

Not sure I can discuss the type of fun the Rebound Babes have in class. Hehehe!

Thank you very much for your time and an awesome workout, Narcisa!

Thank YOU, Olena! It was a pleasure having you in the class and doing this interview with you!

ReboundFit in action

I would definitely recommend this class to everyone who lives in the Montreal area or comes here for a vacation! If you hurry, you’ll be able to take advantage of a free trial class by entering code freetrial when booking. It’s available only for a limited time, so if it’s something you are curious about – don’t hesitate or procrastinate, just go for it. To book your class and find all other necessary information head to http://www.reboundfit.com/schedule-booking/.

And if you live elsewhere, see if a class like this is available in your area. You’ll have the time of your life!

Have you ever tried a trampoline class? What did you think?

xoxo
Olena

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Filed under Cardio, Cross-training, Fitness, Social Fitness, Uncategorized, Weight Loss

Las Vegas: The Next Big Fitness Mecca?

What’s the first thing that comes to your mind when you hear “Las Vegas”? The bright lights that dot the Strip? Britney Spears at Planet Hollywood? The clink of coins in the slot machines?

Las Vegas

Image via Flickr

If you ask Josh Furlow, health and fitness should rank pretty high up on that list.

Furlow is the Senior VP of Operations of the Rock n’ Roll Marathon Series. Every time the series touches down in Las Vegas, it becomes the city’s biggest outdoor fitness event – the Rock n’ Roll Las Vegas Marathon. And in just a few short years, it and other events centered on fitness and health may well eclipse gaming as Las Vegas’ biggest allure.

The city’s gaming industry has reported big revenue losses for the sixth year running, according to CNN Money. The situation doesn’t look like that’s changing anytime soon, either, especially with online gaming companies gaining even more ground through lucrative jackpot games with a low barrier for entry.

With the gaming industry in the virtual dumps, large-scale events, conventions, trade shows, and expos have helped Las Vegas roar back from the economic downturn in recent years.

Not only is the Rock n’ Roll Las Vegas Marathon a big draw for health and fitness enthusiasts the world over, it has also helped stimulate the city’s economy. In 2014, for example, the Las Vegas Review-Journal reports that the event generated almost $85 million worth of direct spending.

The brains behind the marathon have also recognized a great opportunity to further capitalize on Las Vegas’ spot as the premiere convention destination in the United States. For the non-runners, they’ve also set up the Las Vegas Health and Fitness Expo. Both events will start on November 10th, 2016, with the marathon concluding on November 12th and the Expo closing its doors a day later.

Other health and fitness events have also recognized the opportunity for synergy. This year’s installment of Interbike, the biggest bicycle industry trade show in the US, for example, will start on September 21. On the same day, CrossVegas will kick off the year’s cyclocross World Cup season. One guess as to where both events are taking place.

With all of these events and more on Las Vegas’ calendar, the day may not be that far off when it becomes the next big health and fitness mecca in the US.

(Guest Editorial)

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Baby & Mommy Yoga

Good morning, beautiful people!

As promised, today I will tell you about Sofia’s baby yoga classes.

Those of you who have followed or have known me for a while are well aware of my love for yoga. What you may now know is how it all started.

My first encounter with yoga happened when I was still in elementary school. I remember my dad pulling out this book with pictures of strange looking people. *Not to discount this guy’s talent, it’s actually quite impressive what he’s doing here… but, c’mon, you  we all know what I’m talking about! Haha!* 

old fashioned yoga

Source

Anyhow, let’s move on. I remember being very intrigued, but at the same time being super confused. Breathing through the pain? Moving slowly? Breathing on counts? To add to my confusion, it went pretty much against my rhythmic gymnastics training and I didn’t see the point of standing in a pose where nothing was pulling. *I was flexible, remember?*

I never read that book *No colorful beautiful pictures, remember?*; nonetheless, I my fascination never faded away and I kept on leafing through the pages every now  and then. Fast forward to my early twenties, curiosity was still there. What was different is that now I wanted to learn. I’m turning 30 later this year *gasp* and I’m addicted to yoga. I love how practicing yoga makes me feel and don’t plan on quitting. Those stretches feel way too good! *It’s crazy how our bodies change, don’t you think?*

yoga

 

I actually wanted to attend prenatal yoga in addition to my prenatal aqua class. Unfortunately, both class were held at the same time, so I improvised.

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Sofia’s first yoga class happened when she was almost 2 months old. I was thrilled to have that experience with her, yet I had no idea as to what to expect.

Well… It was interesting! Definitely not what I expected, but there is nothing wrong with it! I guess going into it I was thinking yoga flows… deep stretches… What I forgot to account for is BABIES! *Duh?!* Also, generally baby classes are great for socializing; thus, majority of moms were beginners and we had to go at their speed. *Once again, there is nothing wrong with it. Just regular overambitious self! Haha!*

2nd baby yoga class

Babies LOVE Savasana

All jokes aside, there is a big deal I learnt at baby yoga classes!

Probably, the coolest part was learning various stretches for babies. Sofia still enjoys them!

First, we would warm up babies’ various muscle groups, just like we do for ourselves, starting with upper body.

Exercise #1

Lay baby on her back on the floor. Hold on to her wrist. Lift baby’s arms up and then bring them down. Repeat 5 times.

Exercise #2

Begin in the same position as before, but alternate sides: Right arm – up, left arm – down, switch sides. Repeat 5 times.

Exercise #3

Still on the floor, spread baby’s arm out to the sides, bring them on across her chest, and spread them out again. Repeat 5 times.

The next stage is a lower body warm up.

Exercise #1

With baby lying on her back, hold her feet or lower legs. Gently push one leg up toward her chest while extending the other. Switch sides. Repeat 3 times on each side.

Exercise #2

Now do the same, but with both legs simultaneously. First push both  knees to the stomach, then extend to the floor. Repeat 3 times.

Exercise #3

It’s time to do a bicycle! Guide your baby’s legs in a circular motion as if pedaling a bike. Do the movement 10 times, then reverse the direction.

Exercise #4

With the baby on her back, lift her legs perpendicular to the floor. Gently stretch them to the sides, like a mini split, then bring legs back in the Buddha pose while crossing legs one over another. Repeat 3 times while alternating the leg on top.

Exercise #5

While on the back, bring baby’s knees to the stomach. Move the legs in a clockwise circle, then reverse in a counterclockwise motion. Repeat 3 times in each direction.

At this point, the baby is warmed up for full body stretches.

*In this video Sofia is 4 months old. I was simply playing around with her while doing some of these stretches.*

Exercise #1

Lay baby on her back. Hold baby’s right wrist with your right hand and baby’s left foot with your left hand. Gently pull baby’s left foot to her right shoulder while bringing her right hand across to her left hip (baby’s leg should be above her arm). Repeat 3 times, then switch sides.

Exercise #2

With baby’s feet in your hands, gently bring them to your baby’s nose. Don’t force it. Repeat 3 times.

Exercise #3

Beginning with your baby on the floor on her back, grasp her forearms (if your baby still doesn’t hold her neck properly, you can hold your baby under her arms while still supporting your baby’s neck with your fingers). Gently bring your baby to a sitting position, then to standing. Then in reverse: back to a seated position and, finally,  on the back. Repeat 3 times.

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I may have forgotten a move or two, but you get the gist of it. Sofia absolutely loves these exercises. Believe me, you will be rewarded with multiple smiles while bonding with your baby at the same time!!!

You may also be curious as to how YOU can practice yoga with a baby by your side. No worries, mama! You can still do it!

First of all, the baby can be cooing right NEXT TO you.

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Your baby can be ON you.

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You can also hold your baby in your ARMS. Most importantly, make sure that you are stable in any given pose. If needed, stand by the wall or hold on to a chair for extra stability; but if you’re still in doubt, just put your baby down. It’s better to be safer than sorry.

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Don’t forget to make it a fun activity for both of you. Babies love interaction!

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Have you done yoga with your baby? How do you engage your baby?

xoxo
Olena

 

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My Addiction To 30-Day Challenges

Hey there!

It’s Friday! I know, I know, you may ask, “What difference does it make? Aren’t you on maternity leave, anyway?” *As a side note, in the province of Quebec, we are entitled up to 50 weeks off. Happy dance!* Yes, you are right, but I am super thrilled to have my hubby home for the weekend. It’s always great to hang out as a family. Plus, Sofia is super funny these days. For instance, I was over the phone with Justin yesterday and was mimicking his snoring the night before, when all of a sudden she started laughing at me. *These moments are so precious!*   

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Yesterday, I was hanging out with a friend and we started talking about exercising after having a baby. I was thrilled that finally I broke the 117 mark and I’m currently in 116-pound range. *That’s where Justin will sigh and shake his head lol!* No, I’m not obsessed with my weight. I’m not following any diets either because it’s more important for me to make sure that my baby gets enough milk and nutrients than it is to drop a pound or two. But it is nice to see that the short workouts I do on a daily basis make me fitter and leaner.

As you may know, when Sofia was about 8 weeks old, I joined a weekly yoga class with her. In October, we also joined a dance class. *I will do a separate blog post on a dance class shortly.*  However, even though I had lots of fun there, I was scared to add more activities because my C-section incision would swell up when I would even end up walking too much.

In the end of September, I came across 31 Days Away From a Banging Booty challenge, I was all for it.

Lorna-Jane-MNB-Squat-Challenge-Downloadable1

There’s something about having a schedule that makes it easy for me to commit. Moreover, I can focus on a specific body part. Squats was a simple choice because it didn’t engage my ab muscles (my main concern at that point of time) while keeping my core composed.

When November came around, I was ready to focus on my core! After a quick Google search, I came across the following 30-day challenge.

30 day challenge

Source

I’ve really enjoyed it because it gave me some sort of a gentle transition from not doing any ab exercises for over 9 months to actually feeling the change in my core strength.

See some of the previous challenges I participated in here:

At the same time, I find it’s important to mention that you have to do these kind of challenges in addition to your daily workouts. Otherwise, they are not as effective. Keeping your workouts balanced (cardio, strength & flexibility) is key to success.

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Putting up her first Christmas tree last night!

Now that December is just around the corner, I’d like to focus on my upper body strength. *I definitely have a head start constantly carrying around my ever-growing 15-pound baby. Haha!* I’m thinking a mix of push-ups, pull-ups and maybe adding some dumbbells to my workouts. Any suggestions?

Do you like incorporating 30-day challenges in your workout routine? Why?

xoxo
Olena

 

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Filed under 30-Day Workout Challenges, Cross-training, Fitness

Snacking Doesn’t Have To Be Boring! #SeasonEatings

Hi friends!

How have you been?!

There is sooo much happening in our household! Sofia is growing so fast and I’m full of conflicting emotions: I want to see her grow but at the same time I just want to stay in this moment.

It was a big month for us with Sofia’s baptism.

Sofia's Baptism

She also just turned 4 months old.

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Since I’m breastfeeding exclusively, it does take a lot of energy. It doesn’t come as a surprise that I find myself looking in the fridge for a snack more often then usual. However, just like during pregnancy, I want to make sure to opt for healthier options. First of all, everything I eat gets passed on to my baby girl. And with the holidays just around the corner, I want to look my absolute best! *Is it too much to ask for? Haha!*

These past couple of weeks I was experimenting with healthy snacks that not only satisfy my sweet pre-holiday cravings, but also provide me and my baby with nutrients.

Probably one of the best recipes I came across is these No Bake Peanut Butter Bites. They are super delicious and fast & easy to make.

no bake peanut butter bites

First, soak 1 cup of raisins in warm water for 10 minutes. Then, add 2/3 cups of oats, 2 tbs peanut butter, 1 tbs chia seeds and 1/4 cup chocolate chips. Blend together until well mixed. Make 1 inch balls and put in fridge to set for 15 minutes. *Try not to eat them all at once because it’s not snacking at that point, more like pigging out. Haha!*

Another scrumptious snack I made recently is these Chocolate & Peanut Butter Chickpea Cookie Bars. They definitely take a little longer to make, but they are definitely worth it.

Chocolate & PB Chickpea cookie bars.jpg

While preheating the oven to 350 F, rinse and dry 2 cups of chickpeas. In a blender, mix chickpeas, 3/4 cups of maple syrup, 2 tsp vanilla, 1 tsp baking powder and 1 tsp baking soda until smooth. Line a loaf pan with parchment paper and poor batter into it. Lightly press 1/4 cup of dark chocolate chips. Bake for at least 60 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Cool for 15 minutes and then transfer to a rack for another 30 minutes to set. Cut in bars or squares and enjoy!

If you don’t have time or desire to make anything, you can always resort to the following ideas:

  1. Fresh fruits: I personally love snacking on apple slices with peanut butter!
  2. Vegetables: how about a few slices of tomato sprinkled with feta cheese and olive oil or baby carrots & celery with tangy hummus?
  3. Nuts: toss together your favorite trail mix and pre-measure it in serving sized ziplocks.
    By the way, if you are not aware, Nuts.com  has entire page dedicated to various healthy snack ideas.
    nuts_holiday_v02.jpg
  4. Holiday flavored teas to satisfy sweet tooth: I’m addicted to David’s teas! Check out a set I bought for myself this week. I have tried mulled wine, hot chocolate and Alpine punch flavors and I’m in love!
    12 teas of christmas
  5. It’s not really a snack, but try fooling your stomach by lighting some candles at home. At the moment, I’m in love with Vanilla Snow Flake from Bath & Body works. *I bought it last year, so I’m not sure if they still have it to be honest with you.*

IMG_7206 edit.jpg

What are your favorite holiday snacks? Please, do share, it’s always fun to try something new!

xoxo
Olena

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Filed under Health, Holidays, Kitchen Adventures, Running, Weight Loss

Spartan Beast & Trifecta That Almost Didn’t Happen (Part 2)

I KNOWWWWW! How could I leave you hanging like that?! Well, I just did! *It was done with love lol!*

If you missed the first part, here it is: Spartan Beast & Trifecta That Almost Didn’t Happen (Part 1)

at the start line

That’s me at the start line. Worried, ecstatic and everything in between. Understandably so! The furthest distance I’d ever run before was 16.8 km and there were NO mountains! This being said, I had my water and gels, AND a friend to run with. Joe ran with me the previous two races too *read more on Spartan Sprint – here, and on Spartan Super – here*; however, we ran at our own pace. This time around, we decided to stick together: Running such a long race is more of a mental game than anything, and we knew that we would need to be there for each other emotionally.

I didn’t have much time to stretch, even though the start was pushed to 10.40 am, but at least I was able to calm down after a whirlwind of an adventure of us getting to the race. I was calm and composed. The plan was to go at a steady pace up hill and speed up on trails as well as while going downhill. I had 6 Gu’s with me, but I was shooting to take one every 5-6 kilometers or so.

The race started out with a gentle hill, but that didn’t last for too long. I considerably slowed my pace, and I was glad I did. The hill was getting really steep. At times, I even had to grab on to trees and their roots to climb huge rocks. It was FUN! Unfortunately, I started getting cramps in my glutes, so I would stop every now and then to massage them a bit.

butt cramps

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I am really grateful that my friend was really understanding. I knew, however, that once I got to the flat or downhill path I’d be able to fly, and that thought definitely kept me going. In addition, the weather  was overcast, so I didn’t have to worry about the heat.

This race was definitely the most challenging at 24 kilometers long. This time around there was much more mud on slopes, more heavy weight lifting, lots of crawling under the barbed wire be it on a flat surface, incline or in water.There was a fair share of people who were feeling sick, throwing up and unable to walk anymore, which was a good reminder that it’s good to have ambitious goals, but it’s important that they are manageable too. That being said, there was a lot of inspiration all over the place! People constantly making sure that everyone is okay, offering their help to those in need, a lot of cheering and smiles. However, I never imagined I would see anything like this.

comradery

I actually saw these guys while running down a very slippery and muddy hill. I was barely able to keep balance on my own when I noticed one of the guys bringing down the wheelchair and another carrying his friend on his back. I even teared up a bit for how great witnessing something like this was!

wheelchair under barbed wire

I forgot about any pain I was experiencing right that moment!

Some of the obstacles I enjoy the most are the rope climb…

climbing rope

Monkey barrel roll *I really have no clue how to call those! It was the first time I ever did it, and I LOVED the challenge!!!*…

barrel

*That’s me sweating there on the far right with a red Camelbak! Haha!*

Oh, and monkey bars, of course!

monkey bars

*As you can see it on my face, it’s a piece of cake haha!*

I would be lying if I said I was able to avoid all burpees!

I slipped on the traverse wall…

traverse wall

And I didn’t even attempt completing this challenge and went straight for burpees. *The finish line was about 100 meters away and I had sever lower back pain.*

the iron ring burpees

*Can you see through those rings how excited I was? NOT! Haha!*

As I mentioned before, there were a lot of obstacles that included lifting heavy objects. I was really surprised that most of the times girls had to lift the same weight as guys. Even though I completed all of them, I was really struggling, especially when the weight was distributed unevenly. Definitely something I have to work on!

The second half of the race was mostly run on trails which felt AH-mazing!!! There was also a lot of walking, crawling, swimming in water which was very refreshing and welcome.

And guess what? I actually have a decent jumping over the fire picture this time around!!! The fire was so high that I totally thought that it was gonna be one of those pictures again.

jumping over the fire

 *Aren’t you proud of me?! I, personally, can’t believe I was even able to jump so high after the longest race of my life so far, forget about the face and shape! LOL!*

Want to know another fun fact? I almost broke down crying when the girl was putting the medal around my neck. I was happy, I was overwhelmed, I was tired! To make things even better, my hubby decided to take his coat and turn away as I was running the final stretch, so it took me probably 15-20 minutes to find him. *Mind you, I could barely walk, and and my brain was fried and I couldn’t recall what he was wearing.* And he, poor thing, was still waiting for me at the slippery wall! *I actually was able to see him when I zoomed in on the picture above, looking away, waiting for me to arrive. Haha!*

Anyhow, once I found him, I was a happy trooper again!

at the finish line

Do I have any regrets? Of course! I am definitely saddened *and ecstatic at the same time* that the Spartan Trifecta is complete. Now I need to find another worthy and exciting challenge to complete and train for. Also… Ummm… I regret not taking a granola bar with me, my stomach was definitely unhappy from not eating anything but gels from 7 am till about 5 pm!!! Haha!

Have you ever been upset about completing your goal? What are your favorite obstacles? Any near missed big races?

xoxo
Olena

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Filed under Cardio, Fitness, Health, Motivation, Race Reviews, Running

Spartan Beast & Trifecta That Almost Didn’t Happen (Part 1)

Hi loves!

I’ve missed you! I am sure many of you would like to have an explanation as to why I haven’t posted in a while. I won’t go too much in detail, but let’s put it this way: It’s summer and sometimes I feel like I start seeing my blog as a job *which is not*, so I pull back a bit. I like to be excited about my posts and chose not to write instead of posting just to post. That being said, I love you all and you mean more to me than you’ll ever know!

Those who follow me on Instagram know that I’ve been keeping myself very busy lately. I have A LOT to talk about! However, today, I’d like to tell you all about my Spartan Beast *and Trifecta* that almost didn’t happen a week ago… I am sure you’re dying to hear all about it! And, yes, you read it right… IT ALMOST DIDN’T HAPPEN! And no, I am NOT being a drama queen here. *Pinky swear!*

no drama

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So let’s all go back to Saturday, July 26. My husband and I went over to my brother-in-law for a BBQ. All I was talking about was how nervous I was and if my hubby thinks I should have another piece of bread to load up on carbs. Needless to say, nobody wanted to hear anything about it. *That’s the bitter truth, people! Haha!*

stop-talking

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My heat was scheduled to start at 10 am on Sunday. It took us about 2.5 hours to get to the venue the previous time, so we decided to leave at 6 am. I woke up around 5.15 am to get dressed and walk Bella for as long as possible. *She had to stay in her crate all day long, and I felt horrible about it.* 

It was around 6.15 am when Justin decided to double check the address of the location. *Please, don’t ask! I guess I was too nervous to even think about it!* That’s when I had a mini heart attack… It WAS at a different location and, according to a GPS, it was about a 3-hour drive!!! What also was weird is that it gave us a different name of the town: Gracefield, QC instead of Lac-Sainte-Marie, Qc.

We headed out the doors and went to Tim Horton’s to pick up a bagel cream cheese as a pre-race snack. The trouble started when we got onto the highway: It started raining cats and dogs! At some point, Justin wasn’t able to control the car for how much water was on the road; nevertheless, I tried to keep my composure. It wasn’t long lived… All I can say is CONSTRUCTION all over Montreal. It seemed to appear out of nowhere. We drove there just a day ago. Nothing made sense. We were driving in circles for at least 30 minutes!!! By that time I was freaking out all the way.

this is too much

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Since it was early Sunday morning and the highways were empty, Justin was able to catch up a bit. We were going to be there just-just…

You think this was the worst?! Imagine my horror the moment we saw our friends driving in the opposite direction as we were about 5 minutes away from the location!!! There was a ‘slight’ error on the Spartan Race website. They put ‘rue’ (street) instead of ‘chemin’ (way) in the address. CAN YOU BELIEVE IT!!!! There are pretty much 2 identical addresses in 2 different towns within 20 minutes from each other with the same first three letters/digits of the postal code!!! And the GPS didn’t give us options!!!!

are you f-ing kidding me

At that point, we realized that there was no way we’d make it for the 10 o’clock heat, but we’d be okay for the last one departing at 10.30 am. I tried to keep my nerves under control… It’s definitely heart breaking to even consider that something you’ve been working hard for so long may not happen after all!

When we got to the correct address, there was no signs or a mountain. Thankfully, we saw some random people passing by who were able to guide us as to how to get to our destination. We got to the venue at 10.27 am. I was literally shaking. It was so bad that I had to ask a friend of mine to attach a chip to my shoe, I couldn’t pass a tie wrap through a hole. At least, I was there!!!! 24 kilometers later, I’d be a Trifecta Finisher! It was now all up to me to make it happen…

at the start line

TO BE CONTINUED…

xoxo
Olena

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Filed under Fitness, Health, Race Reviews, Running

Spur Of The Moment Decisions: Small Changes, Big Rewards

Who loves spur of the moment decisions? I DO! Actually, that’s how our weekend started…

On Friday, Justin and I were on our way home from work. I was quite distraught with the news of the Malaysian plane that was shot down in the Eastern Ukraine the day before, and my hubby was trying his absolute best to take my mind off it. Not even 5 minutes later, we received a message from on of our friends inviting us to go up north for the weekend to her parents’ chalet. We looked at each other and smiled. That was a big YES! Within the next two hours, we were packed and on our way.

sunset

It was a fantastic getaway! Not only we were able to spend some quality time with our friends, Bella had a blast too. As soon as I woke up on Saturday, I took her for a long walk. She had so much fun; it was pure joy to watch her running around and swimming in this lake.

at the lake

When we came back, I was super excited to do yoga on a patio with a friend of mine. Breathing fresh air makes a huge difference! Plus a workout buddy is ALWAYS good news!

yoga outside

After having late breakfast, our friends and us unanimously decided to go for a 12 km hike up Montagne Noire. Some of you may remember that I already went there at the beginning of May. However, there was still a lot of snow and we weren’t able to reach the top of the mountain because it was too dangerous for our dogs. This time around, snow was not an issue.

Montagne Noire

When we arrived to  the crash sight of Liberator Harry B-24 bomber plane, it was quite emotional. It is crazy to imagine that 20 military men lost their lives in such a beautiful and otherwise perfect place…

crash sight

We spent there some time to honor lives of all Canadian soldiers who fought for our freedom, and headed back home. Now we could really enjoy the walk because there where no more hills to climb. That being said, me being me, I found the biggest rock out there and climbed it to strike a yoga pose. ‘Hey! Why not?!’

yoga in the woods

We left the chalet on Sunday morning to attend a picnic, where Justin and I, once again, had a wonderful time with our family!

picnic

 

I’m sure that I don’t need to convince you that spur of the moment decisions can be awesome, right?! So how about applying this thinking to our daily workouts? I found the following 10 great suggestions in the most recent issue of Runner’s World of how small changes can bring about big rewards:

  1. Add one mile to long or tempo runs – endurance.
  2. Take one step up the race-distance ladder – motivation.
  3. Add one repeat – speed.
  4. Buy one new running item – inspiration.
  5. Add one strength-training exercise – injury prevention.
  6. Add one daily fruit or vegetable serving – nutrients.
  7. Add one dynamic stretch – range of motion.
  8. Add one nightly half hour of sleep – be healthier and happier and more prepared for your next run.
  9. Take a running vacation – excitement.
  10. Add one non-running cardio session – variety.

get stronger each day

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How was your weekend? What was your most recent spur of the moment decision you are proud of?

xoxo
Olena

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Filed under Fitness, Health, Travel