Roadtrip anyone? I’ve been dying to get back into a van like this and head out for a long roadtrip. Last time I did such a thing, it was 2006. I left Montreal for three months on tour across North America. It was one of the best experiences of my life. Waking up in a different city every day, meeting new people, never knowing where you’d end up or what would happen, it was such an incredible journey. It allowed me to grow immensely and get to know myself and the people I was with a whole lot better. To me, it’s the ultimate freedom. I dream of crossing North America again, or going to Europe or even doing the Australian Gold Coast, while stopping at some of the best surf spots. Dreamy! Where would you go if you could get into a camper van today?
I recently went back to one of my favorite cities – Manhattan! The food culture in NYC is just exquisite so I took it upon myself to check out a bunch of new restaurants while I was in town. Here are 5 places you need to check out on your next trip to NYC!
1) The Butcher’s Daughter – This healthy juice bar and cafe is the best spot for brunch/lunch or just an afternoon snack. This super hype cafe is always packed so don’t be surprised if you have to wait in line just to get a crammed seat in the place. That said, it’ll be well worth your wait. They make everything fresh in-house and offer a delicious selection of juices, soups, salads, sandwiches and more. I went for the avocado toast, which was to-die for! All of their juices are also incredibly well balanced and everything on the menu looked very tasty. The service is super quick so if you’re starving by the time you get a table, at least they’ll get your food served fast. They also have a super cute small patio out front, which is perfect for people watching!
2) Tartinery – Located in Nolita (they also have two other locations in the city), this little taste of French heaven is the perfect place for dinner. They have the real deal French onion soup, tartines (basically an open faced toast with your choice of delicious toppings – see menu below for examples) and also the legit French recipe for the classic Tarte Tatin, making you feel like you’re in a Parisian or Lyonnais bistro if you just close your eyes for a few seconds. Don’t be surprised if you hear people speaking French while you’re in this joint, it’s a go-to spot amongst French ex-pats.
3) Narcissa – Located in the East Village and in The Standard Hotel, this restaurant is the home of André Balazs and Michelin-starred chef John Fraser. This farm to table approach features only seasonal, local and organic produce. They cook California style and everything is clean and light yet without ever compromising flavour. It’s higher price point is completely justifiable as all the dishes we had were succulent! My favorite items on the menu: the original carrot fries and the homemade potato gnocchi.
4) Little Cupcake Bakeshop – Hands down the yummiest place for cupcakes in the city. Everything they make features only fresh and sustainable ingredients, predominantly sourced from local farms in the area. Additionally, all their baking is done in small batches on-site. They don’t add any shortening or preservatives in their cakes and the milk products they use come from grass fed cows, so you can eat these guilt-free! The peanut butter & jelly cupcake and also larger cake immediately caught my eye. It was exceptionally moist, flavorful and delightful! I dream of going back to the bake shop, just to get another one of their cupcakes!!
5) The Breslin – I’m a big fan of the Ace Hotel. I’ve been to the Ace Hotel’s restaurant in LA before and had the most delicious meal so I had been meaning to try The Breslin after hanging out in their hotel for a couple of days. Their brunch menu is simple but contains some brunch staples with a Breslin twist. I had a freshly made green juice accompanied by a frittata. It seems like their burger is also a very popular item to order on the menu. Their breakfast items are also delicious, their scones and granola are must-haves! Looking forward to going back to taste more items off their menu. (apologies for the less than stellar photo, it’s almost impossible to photograph in this dimly lit restaurant!)
The week started off with a sunny and warm run with the #betterforit ladies on Monday morning. Still struggling with running early in the morning but with such an amazing group of ladies, it makes the run a whole lot easier. We were also lucky to have a visit from Dr. Bubbs after our run, who gave us very helpful stretching and nutrition tips! Tuesday and Thursday I took a running break and did a complimentary full body NTC workout. I also ran with the NRC group on Wednesday night and clocked my fastest km yet. So encouraging to run with a group of people!! After 6 days of workouts in a row, I took a much needed rest day on Friday. To be honest it felt kind of weird to not do any physical activity on Friday. Yesterday, I ran my second furthest run ever, I ran 11.4 km at an average pace of 5:25min/km, which is the fastest pace I’ve ever run for such a distance. It was a hard run but it’s so rewarding to see that slowly but surely, I’m improving! And today, I finished off my week with a short but quick run before the weather turns to rain tomorrow. It’s neat to be documenting what I’ve been doing each day. I put the Nike Women’s 15k calendar on the fridge to keep tabs on my progress and workout. If you don’t have the calendar, you can always just make your own to keep track of your workouts.
How I’m feeling:
Most of my runs felt good this week except for some tightness and pain under my foot and ankle on Saturday. I’ve been really careful and trying to put into practice the exercises I learned on Monday from Dr. Bubbs. I share them below
What I learned:
-0.68 x your body weight (lbs) is the number of grams of protein you should eat per day when training. Last week I talked about craving protein after long runs and it looks as though I’m probably not getting enough protein. On Monday, Dr. Bubbs came in to talk to us about nutrition and one of his recommendations was making sure we’re getting enough protein. Being a vegetarian, my protein sources differ from those who eat meat but there are still lot’s of protein sources that I can eat. I can eat eggs, yogourt, cheese, chick peas, edamame, tempeh, seitan, whey isolate, etc.
-Use a golf ball or tennis ball to avoid getting plantar fasciitis. Dr. Bubbs recommended we roll a ball under our feet before running to avoid tightness and feeling pain in our feet while running. I often experience pain under my foot, so I’m hoping that using this tennis ball that I got (you can hit your local dollar store to find a cheap golf or tennis ball) will do the trick!
– Stretching after a run is so important! I’ve often forgotten to stretch after running but I’m realizing as the weeks go by, the importance of stretching post-run. Even if it’s just for a couple of minutes, it will make a huge difference in how you feel and your recovery process. Below are some stretches we learned this week that can be useful post-run.
How was your training week? Learn anything new? How are you feeling?
I’ve come to the realization that I have a thing for boardsports. Combine a boardsport with being in the ocean, and it’s pretty much guaranteed to be my favorite thing! First it was surfing, then it was handboarding and now it’s wakesurfing. Because I unfortunately don’t get to surf everywhere I travel to, I’ve on the lookout for other boardsports that I can do while traveling. Though it will never replace surfing, they can also be quite exciting to partake it!
My latest discovery: Wakesurfing!
I first tried wakesurfing in Las Vegas last summer (check it out here) and was immediately hooked. Though I enjoyed wakeboarding there was something a lot more relaxing and freeing about wakesurfing. Maybe it’s because your feet aren’t attached to the board, or because it’s a lot closer to actual surfing or maybe because it allows you to place yourself in so many ways behind the boat… Who knows! One thing’s for sure, wakesurfing seemed a lot easier to learn if you’ve wakeboarded or surfed before. I got up on my first try and was able to ride for quite some time before bailing.
Like in any boardsport, there’s always a small period of adaptation when using a different board. When I first wakesurfed in Lake Mead in the summer, the board was long and wide whereas two weeks ago in Miami, the board was a lot smaller and narrower, which made my feet and weight placement on the board a little different. That said, after a few runs it was easy to get the hang of again.
Bailing while wakesurfing is a lot less painful because you can just jump off the board and fall into the water, whereas bailing with a board attached to your feet much like while snowboarding or wakeboarding can be a lot more painful.
Wakesurfing schools are pretty easy to find whether it be in lakes, bays or the ocean. My boyfriend and I were lucky to have two amazing guys guide us through our first wakesurfing experiences this year:Vegas Water Sports crew and also the Miami Watersports Paradise crew. Both Las Vegas and Miami are perfect destinations for wakesurfing. The water is always warm, the area never gets too crowded with boats and the scenery is just breathtaking (see below!). A 2-hour session with either one of these crews will cost you approximately $400 US, which can sound a bit pricey but you can go as a small group, so it ends up being a lot cheaper if you go with 4 to 6 people.
After returning from Miami last week, I found out that there are also some wakesurfing crews in Ontario, so I’m excited to try wakesurfing a little closer to home this summer. I undeniably have a newfound passion for this rad sport!
My week started slow as I was out of the country and on vacation for a few days. Though I didn’t do much running in Miami, I did do a lot of swimming and also wake surfed, which was a really good workout in itself. Because of my travels, I unfortunately missed my first run with the #betterforit ladies training group last Monday morning. The weather in Toronto this past week has been less than inspirational for running, with it being so cold and rainy. It did get better as of Friday, so I kicked my runs into high gear by going for a speed run on Friday evening, running 7k and accomplishing my fastest ever 5k under 26mins! Not going to lie, the special doorstep delivery I got from NRC on Friday night was a good weekend motivation! I also ran another 5k on Saturday and 11k on this beautiful Sunday in SHORTS!! Wohoo!
How I’m feeling:
I don’t know if it was the change in weather between Miami and Toronto or just the fact that most of the week was cold and damp, I felt like I was battling some sort cold or virus. I’ve been doing everything in my power – getting sleep, getting my vitamins, drinking lot’s of fluids and eating healthy, to make sure that I don’t get sick. Otherwise, I don’t have any noticeable aches and pains this week.
What I learned:
-Good socks are a necessity! I’ve been testing out these cool new socks from Stable 26, that were designed specifically for running. They help with stability and comfort in your shoes while also enhancing function in the lower leg, including knees and ankles. One thing I’ve noticed, is that they don’t give me blisters. Most of the socks I’ve been wearing when I run, tend to rub on my toes and the palm of my feet, giving me blisters if I run for a while, but these ones don’t. I also definitely feel very comfortable in them and feel like the little silicone pads they’ve added keep my feet from slipping around in my shoes. Now I just need to get a few more pairs for training!
-Incorporating juices and getting lot’s of hydration is really important. I tend to not drink very much before I run, especially if I’m going for a shorter distance and especially if I run not too long after I wake up in the morning. I realized though that I should probably drink a bit during and a lot after my run. This week, I got a doorstep delivery from CEDAR Juice, and after learning what I did from Ashley through my 5 Questions With interview (read it here, if you haven’t already!), I’m realizing that I should make sure to drink a lot more, and strategically, in order to give me body all the proper nutrients before, during and after the run. It will help with endurance, recuperation and energy overall.
-My body craves lot’s of protein after runs. For the first time ever last week, before I left for Miami, my boyfriend challenged me to run 15k with him. It was both our first time ever running that distance and I have to say it wasn’t that easy. What I also realized is that after a long run, my body craves SO MUCH protein. I’m not a huge fan of eggs, but it seems to be one of the only things my body wants after a longer run. My go-to post-run meal has been the Nonna’s Frittata at the Drake Hotel, it’s the yummiest and always makes me feel so good!
Looking for some extra motivation for your upcoming training week? The super talented DJ FeelGoodSmalls, is releasing a series of motivational mixes for runners and gym go’ers leading up to the Nike Women 15k race in June. Her first instalment entitled The Start-Up, has just been released. Read about her inspiration behind the mix and get a free download here. Her 45-minute mix is also available to stream on Soundcloud here. Stay tuned for 4 other mixes coming soon!
I LOVE fresh pressed juices. Hands down one of the best purchases I made last year was getting my own juicer. I try to make at least one fresh juice a day but when I don’t have time to make them myself, I love grabbing a CEDAR Juice.
Since I’ve started training intensively for my two upcoming races – the 10k in May and the Nike Women 15k in June, I noticed that adding these juices to my daily food regimen, have been a great energy boost. In case you haven’t heard of them yet, CEDAR Juice, is a rad local fresh pressed juicery based in Toronto that has been making delicious organic juices for the past couple of months. They’re known for their doorstep delivery cleanses but they also offer maintenance packages and custom juice packages for those wanting to incorporate juices into their daily diet. If you live in the city, you’ve probably seen their juices pop up more and more at different shops and events. I really wanted to know more about the benefits of drinking these juices particularly when training so I was thrilled that Ashley Cuff, the co-founder of CEDAR Juice agreed to answer a few questions about their juices. Hope you’ll learn as much as I did from reading this 5 Questions With interview!
1) What was the goal behind starting CEDAR Juice?
Everyone is working hard, living busy lives, but wanting to be healthy. It’s just hard to do when you are constantly on the run. We wanted to create a healthy juice, which tastes amazing that people can incorporate into their daily life and make being healthy just a little more easy and simple. There is a lot out there which claims to be healthy, but is really just filled with sugar. At CEDAR the only ingredients are listed on the label, so you know exactly what you are getting – all 3-4 lbs of fruit & vegetables in each bottle.
2) How did you go about creating these juices?
The juices which are apart of our cleanse were developed to replicate our normal eating throughout an average day. We give you our Kale Made Good at breakfast & lunch when you are looking for a hit of energy & nutrients. As the day progresses and you are looking for something heartier we have Skip to the Beet (our beet, carrot, apple, lemon, ginger) and lastly Cracked It (cashew, hemp, vanilla and coconut nectar), which has the health fats, glucose and protein you need for a restful sleep. The juices are chosen to have a balance of green juices, fruitier juices and lastly a cashew nut milk to end the day. We try to really balance the efficacy of the juice from a cleansing perspective with flavour.
3) What separates CEDAR Juice from other cold pressed juices?
There are some great cold pressed juice companies across Canada, but we hope that ours tastes better…nutritious & tasty! Our juices are 100% organic & cold pressed. We use local ingredients when we can (tough in the winter), and are made in the west end of Toronto in the Junction.
One of our big goals is to excel at simplifying the cleanse experience. By having our bottles numbered, making it easy to order, shipping to your door at a reasonable price (quickly) and providing a lot of resources and support for our juicers during their cleanse, we think we achieve this. We get a lot of positive feedback on our customer service and this is keeping us motivated to keep moving in this direction – make it simple, stupid.
4) Can you explain some of the benefits you can get from drinking these cold pressed juices?
A cold pressed juice has 2-3x the nutrients of a typical juice. With minimal heat & oxidation of the fruits and vegetables during the making of the juice all of the nutrients, minerals and enzymes stay intact. That really is the simple science behind cold pressed. Our most nutritious juice is our Kale Made Good. This is because the 3-4 lbs of greens which is in just one of our bottles, such as kale and swiss chard are alkalizing, loaded with minerals such as calcium and magnesium, plus they contain a lot of vitamin C.
5) How you would recommend incorporating these juices into one’s training regimen and diet?
Any one of our juices can be a great addition to your diet if you are training for a run, or other sport event. However there are 3 juices in particular that I think should get a particular shout out! Skip to the Beet (beet, carrot, apple, lemon & ginger) is a great endurance enhancer & is the perfect juice to have 2-3 hours before a workout. Cracked It (cashews, hemp seed, vanilla & coconut nectar) has got the right amount of protein and carbohydrates, is easy to digest, and is therefore your perfect post workout juice. Lastly is our Kale Made Good – our green juice is filled with the nutrients and alkalizing effect your body is craving.
**Ashley and CEDAR Juice are offering a 10% discount to those interested in their doorstep delivery cleanses and also maintenance packages. They offer free shipping to anyone in the Toronto area but can ship elsewhere across the country. Get all the shipping details on their site. If you’d like to place an order with them, please use the code: melsays10% to receive a 10% discount! If you’re looking for a great package of juices to drink while training, I recommend getting the “Fitness Freak” pack but you can also make your own customized pack by emailing: firstname.lastname@example.org. Want to pick up a CEDAR juice at a local retailer in Toronto? Click here for more info.
1) KMS California Free Shape – a product that I’ve been using to protect my hair before using the flatiron and also something I can spray on afterwards that keeps the hair in place without making it sticky or stiff. I’m looking for a more natural alternative, so if you have any recommendations, please do not hesitate to send my way!
2) Navitas Naturals Goji Berries – Currently obsessed with this superfruit. I eat them as a snack, with yogourt, in salads, etc. These berries are filled with Vitamin A, C and Iron. They’re also organic and all natural!
3) NISIM F.A.S.T Shampoo & Conditioner – Love this shampoo and conditioner set because it doesn’t contain any sulfates, parabens and DEA. With recent studies showing that DEA is a cancer-causing chemical, I’ve thrown out all of my old products and making sure my home is as clean, healthy and carcinogen-free as possible.
4)eos limited edition lip balm Smooth Spring Pack – I always have one of these guys in every bag or purse I bring with me. There’s nothing I hate more than having chapped lips. I love these because not only are they super cute and colorful, they’re also paraben and petrolatum free plus they’re USDA-certified organic, so you don’t have to worry about putting junk on your lips.
One of my goals for 2015 included signing up for my first ever race. Not only did I sign up for my first ever 10k race in May but I also recently signed for my first ever 15k race with Nike Women happening in Toronto on June 14th.
To some, running 15k might seem like a small feat, but for someone like me who’s never actually run that distance in my entire life, this race is a BIG deal. I’m one of those people that never really considered myself a runner but in the past couple of months, I’ve stopped using that as an excuse and have made running of one my main focuses in becoming a healthier, stronger and better me! Because this will be my first time ever running such a distance and also training for a big race, I thought it would be a neat idea to blog about my 10-week journey leading up to the big day. I know that a lot of the women I’ve spoken to, will also be running this distance for the very first time. I’m hoping that through chronicling this journey that we can help each other and give each other tips and motivation to not only get stronger and better leading up to the race but also motivate each other on race day to not only cross the finish line but also run our best!
Each Sunday, I’ll be writing a short recap of my training week. I want to share with you how I’m feeling, what I learned as well as the ups and downs of my journey because I think we can all learn from each other during this process. Whether you’re doing the Nike Women’s 15k race, another race or just training for yourself, I’m hoping that these blogs will help you along the way. I will also try to include some #5QuestionsWith interviews with people that can potentially help & inspire us along the way.
I’ve decided to take on this challenge as a personal challenge first and foremost. I really believe that you can push the human body and mind to do so many incredible things. It’s also taking me back to my years of competitive swimming, skipping and karate as a kid and teenager. I can still recall waking up the morning of a competition, feeling super nervous, not being able to eat and being anxious up until the event started and then feeling so relieved and happy after the event. I feel that I will feel the exact same thing on the morning on June 14th.
Please feel free to comment and share your experience along the way. Here’s to an awesome 10-week journey towards the Nike Women’s 15k. Let’s do this!
April is a good month! There are several reasons why: Spring is here, the days are longer, it’s warmer out, I can finally put away my winter jacket and I can start riding my bike again! This month also marks the beginning of my journey towards the Nike Women’s 15k race in June. Watch for my special blog post tomorrow about what I’ll be doing leading up to my 1st ever 15k race. I’m so excited!! What are some of your favorite things about April?