What Motivates You?

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What motivates you to get out there, day after day, week after week, month and month and year after year? What motivates you to do what you love, to keep going during hardships and never give up on your dreams or goals? What motivates you to keep your head held high when everything around you seems to be bringing it down?

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For me, it’s my passion for life, my desire to be better, my want to surpass myself and my inner voice that just won’t quit. For the first time in a long time, I’ve been faced with a health issue that just won’t go away. I have always said in my life that all that really mattered to me at the end of the day, was my health. Because without my health, I can’t really accomplish much. You can have all the motivation and passion in the world, but if your body doesn’t follow, there’s sometimes not much you can do. My health has always been a huge motivator for me. Growing up, living with my mom who unfortunately faced numerous serious health issues, I always told myself that if I had my health that I would be invincible.

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Since I started running and training last year, I’ve had clean medical chart. No injuries, nothing to worry about, the coast was clear. I felt invincible but also reminded myself on a daily basis to be grateful knowing all that could change in an instant. And change it did, this summer. I went from working out twice a day to being told to stop everything, as I mentioned in my post earlier this week.

Instead of being down, and losing motivation to get better and to get back out there, this injury has motivated me EVEN MORE than ever to pursue my dreams and do all the things I love. It’s when you can’t do them that you realize just how much you love certain things, how important they are to you and just how positively they affect your life. Running and being active has done so much for me in the past year and a half, I can’t even begin to explain.

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Thinking of running again, motivates me every day during my injury to do all the things I can to get better. I’m dreaming of all the races that I can sign up for in 2017, all the places I want to run in, what I would wear, etc. This injury has made me so grateful for the fact that I can run and I know will give me even more purpose when I am finally able to run again.

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Until then, I’m practicing patience, mindfulness and keeping my head high, staying positive because I know that it’s only a matter of time before I wake up again and can finally lace up those shoes and go out there for a run. That will be one of the best days of my life, hands down!

Photos & hair by: Cabello by Carolina

What I’m wearing: Hyba Contrasting Legging (get it here), Hyba Performance Printed Tank (get it here), Hyba Striped Performance Tee (get it here).

This post was written in collaboration with Hyba but all opinions are my own.

Training after Injury

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Up until 2 months ago, I have always had an injury-free training and running career. Last time I got injured, I was in high school and I remember it really having a huge impact on the life choices that I made from that point onwards.

At the time, I was a semi-professional dancer, dancing 15+ hrs a week, teaching dancing, dancing at events, etc. I was planning on attending York University in Toronto to study Broadway singing/dancing and pursue that as a career but when I got injured, it made me re-evaluate my career altogether. I decided to abandon that dream and opt for plan b, which was to become a television host and keep dancing as a side job instead of my primary career.

Last year, when I started training heavily and racing, I saw a lot of people around me have to take time off due to injury. I felt a lot of empathy towards them but it’s not until you get injured yourself that you really understand the impact that an injury can have on your life.

At the end of July this summer, I got injured. Whether it was overtraining, improper form, new footwear or a combination of several things, no one can really know. The first doctor I went to see told me it was probably only a nerve issue so I could continue training. Little did I know, that this would actually make my condition worsen. So when I got back from my travels to Hawaii, with the recommendation of my trainer, Nike Master Trainer Eva Redpath, I went to seek a second opinion. Turns out, it wasn’t a nerve issue but most likely a protruding disc in my back.

Since the new diagnosis, I have stopped all physical activity, stopped running, biking, training and basically have had to be inactive. I’ve had to cancel a dozen events including several races, etc. September has been a very difficult month not only physically but also psychologically. When being active is your every day life, being told you can’t do anything for a long time and to stay put, is the worst feeling in the world.

Instead of being down on myself, I’ve been trying to see this as a learning opportunity to not only help myself get better but prevent further injury and put all the chances on my side so that this does not happen again in the future.

The always lovely Eva Redpath and I sat down for a chat the other day, to discuss training post-injury and what I can do once I get the clearance from my doctor to start being active again… And let me tell you, I’m awaiting that day like a kid awaits Christmas!

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Eva’s 5 steps for recovering from an injury: 

  • Listen to your body – When you feel discomfort during certain exercises, don’t ignore it. Slow down or stop your workout depending on what you’re feeling. Let your body rest, use ice and heat as needed and allow your body time to recover.
  • Consult a Professional – For any injury, big or small, it is crucial to see a doctor. Let them diagnose the injury and recovery plan. It is critical to listen to what they say and follow their road to recovery.
  • Rest and Recover – Take time to let your body repair itself. If your doctor says no physical activity, then listen to them. If you don’t need to stop completely, make sure you’re following their advice and not pushing yourself. Doing too much too quickly can cause you to be out longer.
  • Stay Active – Take advantage of alternative ways to train, depending on the injury, and look for ways to stay active during your recovery period. For example, walking and swimming are low-impact ways to keep active.
  • Eat Clean – It’s easy to get unmotivated when you’re injured, resulting in a broken diet and fitness routine. It is important to eat healthy foods for the nutritious value they bring the body.

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Eva’s tips on getting back into your workout routine after an injury:

Once your doctor has given you the okay, take it slow. It’s important to ease yourself back into your fitness routine so you can reintroduce your muscles to the movements. As you begin to build your strength back, you’ll start to feel when you can push yourself a little more. Also, it’s important to decrease reps and weight, allowing your body to work its way back up again. Bodyweight exercises are great for getting back into the swing of things. It’s important to pay closer attention to delicate areas of your body to prevent further injury. Depending on the type of injury, different workouts might work better than others. For instance, mobility workouts are great for certain recovery periods because they focus on maintaining flexibility and range of motion, as opposed to weighted workouts that can add stress to your injury.

Eva’s tips on where to find motivation when you are injured:

I find motivation from my fitness community, family and friends. They play a large role in the recovery process; keeping you thinking positively and eager to get back at it. I also look to the NTC app feed, it keeps me updated with the workouts my friends are crushing, along with helpful fitness tips from global Nike Master Trainers. Additionally, I like to check out my favourite fitness blogs and accounts for motivating content that will help keep me focused on returning from my injury better and stronger than ever before.

A big thank you to Eva for her always-inspiring chats!

Photos: Tyler – @tilore

Polar M600

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I love trying out new technology that make my workouts more informative and exciting.

I recently had the opportunity to try out the new Polar M600. This GPS Sports Watch is an Android Wear™ smartwatch that is perfect for those leading an active life. Its cool sleek design makes it the perfect watch for your workouts and also every day life. The watch is waterproof and combines both practicality and power.

Though I do not have an android phone, the Android Wear app is easy to download directly from the Apple store thus making the watch set up super simple. Through Google, it allows me to sync my phone up with my watch, so that I can get notifications directly to my watch.

I also downloaded the Polar Flow app, which allowed me to track my activities from my watch on my phone. The app enables me to track my workouts, set daily goals, etc.

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I tested out the Polar M600 on a few test workouts to see how it would fare compared to other watches I have tried in the past. The first feature that I immediately loved was the wrist-based heart rate monitor. In just a few seconds, the watch calculates your heart rate using your radial pulse and keeps feeding you that info throughout your workout. This is great information to have when training or running, as you can get accurate information about your level of exertion throughout.

The integrated GPS is also a huge plus. It allows you to accurately track your speed, distance and route, making it a big plus when running in new terrain and also to keep score of your speed improvements, etc.

Another watch feature that I particularly like is the activity tracker that computes steps, calories and sleep information. The watch’s activity guide gives you practical guidance and info that can help you reach your daily, weekly and monthly goals.

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I also loved the motivating feedback you get right after a training session with the Training Benefit feature. It is always uplifting to get real feedback immediately after finishing a workout that will tell you what you’ve improved on, the real benefits from the workout, etc.

The watch also offers Running Programs, which is perfect for anyone wanting to train for an upcoming race. The running programs offered range from 9-15 weeks with easy-to-follow instructions, supportive exercises, etc.

I couldn’t talk about this watch without mentioning battery life. The one inconvenient that usually comes with these watches is how long the battery lasts. Surprisingly, even while connected to the Android app, the battery can last for up to 2 days without needing a charge.

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Finally, the watch is perfect not only for working out but also as a fashion accessory for every day life.

For more information on the new Polar M600 smartwatch, go here.

Photos by: Offner & Cabello by Carolina

This post was written in collaboration with Polar but all opinions are my own.

 

PRANA

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I am all about wholesome living and when I find a brand of snacks that shares the same philosophy on healthy eating and living your best life, I am all about it.

If you haven’t heard of PRANA before, they’re one of my latest healthy snack discoveries. This family-owned Canadian company was born out of the love for food and the belief that food can fuel our appetite for life. I couldn’t agree more! I love fueling my body with food and ingredients that will help me become the best version of myself that I can be.

This 100% organic, gluten-free, GMO-free, preservative-free and vegan line of product is the perfect compliment to my active lifestyle. I can enjoy these snacks before and after workouts while feeling guilt-free!

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The PRANA coconut chips are a great post-workout snack and easy to drop into your workout bag in the morning. I also love their PRANA Proactivchia seeds. It is the fusion of two beneficial foods, a « 2 in 1 » solution where you get all the goodness of chia combined with 4 BILLION LIVE probiotics in just one portion. I make homemade chia seed pudding with them. This is one of the only things I can eat before I head out on an early morning training session or run because it isn’t too sweet and filling yet very nutritious. I sometimes even add some of their PRANA Kilimanjaro mix (which is comprised of dark chocolate chunks, almonds, walnuts and salty cashews mixed with sultana raisins and sweet cranberries) in my chia seed pudding to make it even more wholesome.

Not only are their snacks healthy and tasty, the company itself also works on making this planet a better place. They obtained the B Corporation certification in 2015, which is awarded to companies that meet rigorous standards of social and environmental performance, accountability and transparency. More companies should follow in their footsteps when creating a business.

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With all of these great products available, I’m excited to see what this family brand will come out with next!

For more info on PRANA, visit: https://www.prana.bio/en_ca/.

Photos by: Offner

This post was written in collaboration with PRANA but all opinions are my own.

2.0 Toronto

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Sharing with you today a great event that will be taking place in Toronto this weekend. Inspired by the popular TED TALKS, 2.0 Toronto is an afternoon of conferences of “holistic principles and practices though the vessel of movement with purpose.

This annual rendez-vous, which will be taking place on Sunday September 25th from 2-5pm at The Extension Room, will be a balanced, multi-disciplinary workout that was crafted by 2.0 Masters, as an effort to connect as a community-at-large, better known as a “tribe”. This year’s theme for the summit is “Authenticity”.

During the afternoon, the 2.0 Masters will not only be teaching their workout methods but discussing with participants about different subject matter that are related to the theme. Julian Ho, the summit’s founder has gathered some of Toronto’s best fitness instructors and wellness leaders to come be a part of this enriching afternoon. Guests include Jamie Snow x Body Flow, Ben Dussault x Primal Play, Quentin Vitko x Metcon and Chris Delos Reyes x Hip Hop Dance, just to name a few.

In addition to these classes, music will be provided by DJ Carmelinda Dimanno and refreshments/snacks will also be provided by The Goods, Flow Water and Nomz. Tickets are available at a cost of $65. For more info on 2.0 Toronto, go here.

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Hello Fall!

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Making the most of the time I have in Toronto before I leave for my next travel and life adventure. I’ve only got one month left so I intend on doing all of my favorite things in the city before I leave for a little while.

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Just a few days ago I was walking around in flip flops and shorts and in the last couple of days, fall showed up. I’m definitely not ready to say goodbye to summer just yet (didn’t it just fly by this year?) but I’m happy to be able to dress in some of my favorite warmer clothes again.

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Having a good pair of jeans is key for fall so you’ll be seeing me living in my new GUESS jeans all throughout the season. They’re perfect to run errands around the neighbourhood before I start packing for the big adventure.

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Photos by: @Offner

What I’m wearing: GUESS Shape-Up Seamless Jeggings (get them here).

RBC Race for the Kids

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When I was approached to become an ambassador for the upcoming RBC Race for the Kids taking place in Toronto on September 17th, I didn’t hesitate a minute to say yes. Their race has as a goal to raise awareness and funds for mental health and more specifically the Family Navigation Project at the Sunnybrook Hospital. The race has raised $5.1 million in only 3 years for the Family Navigation Project and has become the 3rd largest walk/run in the GTA. With close to 20 000 participants and sold-out editions in 2014, 2015 and also now 2016, this has become a very important event in the city.

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Mental health is a cause that hits close to home. When I was 21, I lost my best friend and boyfriend at the time to suicide. This was an incredibly hard time in my life. I know that projects like the Family Navigation Project could have potentially helped him during his time of distress. There is unfortunately still such a stigma associated with mental health and over the past couple of years, I have tried my hardest to talk as much as possible about my direct experience with it, offer any help I can and hopefully point people to direct lines of help.

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The Family Navigation Project has already helped more than 1000 families in the past 2 years. Did you know that as many as 2 million young Canadians struggle with mental health or addiction and yet only 1 in 5 receives the specialized treatment he or she needs? The reason being is that Canada’s mental-health system is difficult and confusion for families to navigate. So the goal of this project is to provide family with experts and navigators that can help families free of charge get the specific help they need. The project is entirely funded by private donations so partaking in this race directly impacts the services that can be provided to the community.

 

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This weekend, people from all over will be coming to downtown Toronto in support of this cause. You have the chance to run either 5k, 7k or 15k. I picked the 7k distance. I will be running in some great new gear by New Balance, the official race sponsor.

A lot of groups have signed up for the race because the race has no registration fee (which is awesome!). This is because everyone is encouraged to fundraise at least $100 for the event. So even if the race is now sold out you can still donate by going to the link provided below. With everyone’s help fundraising, the Family Navigation Project hopes to expand their services and reach beyond the GTA, to across the country.

For more information about the RBC Race for the Kids and how you can donate, go here. See you all on Saturday!

Photos by: @Offner

TURO

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I recently had the opportunity to try out a great new app called TURO. For those who are not familiar with TURO already, it’s a great car rental app that can be used when traveling. Think of Airbnb but for cars.

This easy to use app allows you to rent a unique and locally owned car in the destination of your choice (you can also list your own car in your city if you want!). TURO allows you to rent any car of your dreams, from that fast sports car to a pick up truck where you can throw your surfboard in or even a super small compact car that will be great for fuel economy. You have so many more options to choose from than any conventional car rental dealer. I had always dreamed of trying out a SCION so I went ahead and booked a classic SCION car for my recent trip to Southern California.

Once you have found the car of your dreams, the owner of the car will either confirm or decline your trip within 8 hours. Certain cars can also be booked instantly when the listings have the “Book Instantly” badge.

I received my confirmation almost immediately and was able to chat with the owner about arranging a pick up location. A lot of owners also offer delivery so you can have it brought to you directly. For this particular trip, I needed the car at the airport so the owner dropped off the car right by the arrivals terminal at the San Diego Interional Airport. The owner even offered a LYFT and UBER code so that I was able to get to the car with my suitcases for free.

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Once at the car, depending on the owner, you will either meet them to get the keys and show them your license, or in this case, I had sent my license in advance and was able to key in a code on a lockbox on the car to obtain the car keys. After a quick walk around the car and a few photos (it’s always a good idea to take photos of the car to protect yourself!), I was able to take off with it.

Another advantage with renting a car with TURO is that you can choose your protection package for physical damage and liability protection. Additionally, they provide a 24-hour emergency line that is available to all TURO customers and each car they provide must meet their rigorous eligibility standards for safety, condition and operations.

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All the registration and car info is in the car when you rent it so it is easily accessible. Returning the car at the end of the trip is also very easy. All I had to do was replace the gas I used and drop off the car at the same location I had picked it up. Some owners will also meet up with you so that you can hand off the keys directly to them. All of that is simply arranged via the app messaging system.

The SCION I rented was the perfect car for my trip to Palm Springs and also in the San Diego area. The car was big enough for me to put my surfboard in as well as carry our suitcases around. The car allowed me to discover new areas around Palm Springs such as the Salton Sea and Salvation Mountain. The SCION was in great condition and perfect for my travel needs.

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The app was fabulously simple to use, my account was easy to access throughout my trip. All the rental information was also added to my Apple Wallet so that I could access it even without an internet connection. With its convenience, the options that are available to you and for the price, I would highly recommend downloading the TURO app and renting a local car for your next trip.

Salvation Mountain

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I have seen a lot of photos of Salvation Mountain but didn’t know very much about this place until I went for a visit two weeks ago while in the Palm Springs area. It was a little bit of a journey to find the monument but it was well worth the trouble.

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Immediately when I got to the area I was bewildered by the beautiful bright colors of the place. Luckily, as we were walking around, the resident “Salvation Mountain Man”, a very nice man who lives right beside the beautiful artwork gave us tons of information about the monument itself.

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This visionary artwork was created from straw and gallons of lead-free paint by local resident Leonard Knight, who passed away in 2014. The murals and painted hill depicts Christian sayings and Bible verses and though I am not a religious person, I couldn’t help but be taken aback by the positive vibes that the area radiated. This section below especially rang true to me… Love IS Universal!

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Since the death of Leonard Knight, the “Salvation Mountain Man” has gotten the help of the local Slab City community and anyone who is willing to lend a hand and donations to keep the monument freshly painted and in good condition. Several times a year he even organizes special painting events and invites people to come out and lend a hand in exchange for a beautiful sunset, great conversations and good times. You can check him out on Instagram here.

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Photos by: @Offner

What I’m wearing: Reef Rover HI LX (get them here), Jesus Gets The Girl Aqua Dip Dye Unisex Beach Punk T-Shirt (get it here).

Salton Sea

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I LOVE exploring! After hearing so much about this place I finally headed to the Salton Sea last week for a little bit of exploring.

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We decided to drive around the entire body of water, stopping at different locations whenever we felt like it. The desolation is real at the Salton Sea. What used to be a resort area in the 50s is now almost completely abandoned. The smell of decay and strong salty stench is present everywhere you walk around. There are also an innumerable amount of dead fish and birds on the waterfront due to the water’s salinity.

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While we were driving around we saw a film crew shooting. The area is a renown location for movie, music video and television shoots.

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Over the years, many plans have been proposed to help rehabilitate the Salton Sea but not much progress has been made. It’s a truly beautiful place with so much potential, it’s sad to see that nothing is really being done to save this body of water. With its amazing desert location, I totally understand why it was a vacation spot 60+ years ago. A must-visit for sure!

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Photos by: @Offner

What I’m wearing: Reef Rover HI LX (get them here), TOMS Adeline White Black Sunglasses (get them here).