This year, I really took it upon myself to become a healthier and better me. While doing some research on healthy eating, I recently discovered a cool local website called That Clean Life. Abigail Keeso is the co-founder of the site that aims to help people create meal plans, find new recipe ideas, make grocery lists, etc. Her goal is to help people achieve a healthier lifestyle. I was curious to know more about what inspired her to start this site so I’m happy she was able to answer my questions below. Hope you’ll enjoy my 5 Questions With Abigail Keeso:
1) What inspired you to create That Clean Life?
When I was in my late teens, I fell into a downward spiral of self-hate and severe body image issues. I spent years trying fad diets and compulsively exercising but never feeling better inside or out. After some serious health issues, I vowed to take control and truly love myself once and for all. I discovered the concept of eating clean, which really resonated with me. I taught myself to cook with fresh ingredients in ways that were absolutely delicious, stopped depriving myself and learned to listen to my body. The weight started to fall off effortlessly but other things started to change in my life too. I was more positive, creative and inspired. I was a better person to myself and to everyone around me.
Looking back, I could have saved myself a lot of time, money and heartache by just fueling my body with real food instead of looking for a quick fix. That’s why we’ve created That Clean Life – a platform that allows users to feel inspired by healthy recipes, have fun planning their meals and eliminate the guesswork from eating healthy.
2) What is your goal with this platform?
Our goal is to make eating healthy simple and fun so our members can look and feel their best today and for the rest of their lives.
3) How can a “clean” diet impact someone’s life?
A clean diet can literally impact every aspect of your life from your physical appearance, to your self-esteem and your mental health. Whether you are dealing with breakouts, depression, weight gain or chronic fatigue – nine times out of 10, it comes back to diet.
4) What are your thoughts on the current food industry?
It’s a bummer, but the reality is that the food that surrounds us is still heavily processed and contributing to massive health issues. The trouble with processed food is that it is stripped of its nutrients and pumped full of additives that our body has no idea what to do with. The worst part is that the food giants are making these processed foods highly addictive so we end up on a merry-go-round of constant junk food cravings (as they continue making more money).
With this being said, we’re seeing more and more people asking questions, connecting the dots and realizing the profound effect of food on our overall health. Our hope is that the more people we can get to reach for fruits and vegetables instead of Doritos and Coca-Cola, the more we can nurture a healthier food landscape and healthier policies. Can you imagine if we continued to do this overtime while encouraging more-and-more people to do the same? The processed food giants wouldn’t be able to survive. We’d be left with a food system composed of real food and world full of healthier, happier people.
5) What are some of your favorite summer foods?
Watermelon, strawberries and peaches have so much flavour in the summer. And nothing says summer nights like grilled asparagus or a caprese salad made with fresh, juicy, summer tomatoes!
I don’t usually set myself seasonal goals but I’ve decided that I was going to do so for the summer.
My goal this summer: be close to the water, as often as possible.
The one thing I want to do most in the summer is be outdoors. I don’t have the luxury of living somewhere where it’s nice 365 days a year, so when it finally gets warm and sunny out, all I want to do is be outdoors and preferably somewhere by the ocean or close to a body of water. It’s impossible for me to be focused and concentrate indoors when it’s so nice out!
Because Toronto is located right on Lake Ontario, I try to go for runs on the Martin Goodman Trail several times a week and bike close to the waterfront. Any time I can go swimming in a lake, wakeboard or SUP, you’ll find me on the water. I’m also very excited to be spending a full month in California this summer, so that I can fill up on Vitamin D and get my fair share of ocean time. Can’t wait to just walk to the beach in my favorite Sanuk flip flops (pictured below!), wearing my bathing suit, carrying a picnic and a surfboard. I can’t wait to smell the salt air, feel the ocean breeze, watch the waves and then go for a surf or swim!
I recently watched Anthony Bourdain‘s special Parts Unknown episode on Budapest and was immediately intrigued by this destination. If you’ve also wondered about Central Europe and more particularly Hungary, this may be a destination for you.
I spoke to Desmond Ryan, Vice President In-Flight Services and Commissary for Air Transat at the launch of the inaugural Toronto-Budapest flight last week. He shared his top 3 reasons why you should add Budapest to your travel bucket list:
1) “If you’re a foodie, you’re going to fall in love with the city. From pastries to coffee and wine. Be prepared to eat very hearty meals. They’re very hospitable. Eating in a Hungarian restaurant is the equivalent of eating in ten Italian weddings. Food is everything.”
2) “If you like classical music, you’re going to one of the capitals of classical music.”
3) “If you like architecture and love the arts, you’re going to be dazzled. A week in Budapest and you still won’t have enough time to see everything, and that’s only talking about the city of Budapest, not even the rest of Hungary.”
Air Transat now offers direct weekly flights from Toronto to Budapest. Want more info? Go here.
I love summer for many reasons and one of the things I love most is being outdoors and being active. There’s so much to do around in Toronto in the summertime. Whether it’d be going for a bike ride, playing basketball, swimming, running, doing yoga, SUP, kayaking, etc., there’s so many ways you can be active.
I recently had to chance to go on a little Bench shopping spree to get some new activewear pieces for the summer. I found the lightest and comfiest waterproof jacket as well as super light leggings and a rad colorful bra. All three items are perfect for this summer’s outdoor activities!
What are some of your favorite things to do outdoors in the summer? #24HourLife #LoveMyHood
As a kid, I always dreamed of going to the Olympic Games. How special must it be to represent your country and compete against the top athletes in the world? Spencer O’Brien made her Olympic debut last year in Sochi, Russia where she represented Canada in the slopestyle discipline and placed 12th overall. Watching her compete at both the Olympics and also the Winter X Games, I’ve always been impressed by her calm and laid back attitude. She always seemed like such a positive and cool competitor. Last weekend, I had the privilege of meeting and working out with Spencer during the Nike Women 15k race weekend in Toronto. I must say, she is just as amazing in person! Spencer will be heading to the Southern Hemisphere to resume training later this summer. Her next goal: learning a 1080, 3 full rotations! Couldn’t be more stoked that she took a few minutes to chat with me last weekend. Hope you’ll enjoy my 5 Questions With Spencer O’Brien:
1) What first got you into snowboarding?
I’m from Vancouver Island originally so we grew up in a town that’s close to Mount Washington, which is the only resort on the island. We just started skiing as a family, so it was something to do with my family on the weekends. I eventually had the choice to continue skiing or start snowboarding, so I followed in my sister’s footsteps and took up snowboarding.
2) How much have you seen the sport evolve and grow since you started snowboarding? How much has the sport changed for women?
It’s been so incredible. There’s been so much evolution in women in sports in general in the last ten or fifteen years but to have been in such a young sport like snowboarding with such different dynamics than a traditional sport, it’s been incredible to see that progression. It’s an entirely different world from when I started and to see the women coming up now who are just pushing it so hard, it’s really incredible. It keeps me so interested in my sport because there’s always something new to try or something new to progress towards. I know wherever I take the sport, it’s going to get taken so much further by the women after me. That’s a really exciting thing.
3) There are so many incredible Canadian female snowboarders and skiers competing in slopestyle and halfpipe, how does that push you as an athlete?
It’s so cool, especially in these action sports where there aren’t as many women participating yet, you really find liaisons in other sports. So I’m really close to a lot of the female skiers and I find so much inspiration in what they’re doing. They’re maybe not doing the exact same sport as me but their goals are the same. They want to progress the sport and want to take it as far as they can. It’s definitely nice being a Canadian athlete and having so many women to look up to.
4) You went to your first Olympics in Sochi last year. You’re currently training to hopefully head back to the Olympics in South Korea in 2018. What do you want to do differently this time around?
The Sochi games were definitely trying for me, it didn’t go my way. It was such a unique experience. You do so much prep for it, trying to prepare for your first games but there’s really nothing like it. I learned so much from that experience and I feel a lot stronger for it. I’m really looking forward to just relaxing a little bit more in Korea and making it my own. I think just not looking to everyone else’s expectations as much and just doing it on my own terms. I’m really excited at a second shot at the games so hopefully I’m going to be representing Canada there.
5) Through snowboarding, you’ve had the chance to travel the world, what are some of the most memorable places you’ve visited thus far?
Japan was incredible, I loved snowboarding in Japan. The people and the culture there are so wonderful. I’m a really big fan of Europe. The Swiss Alps are some of my favorite places to ride. But also at home in Canada, I love Whistler. I’m such a BC girl, it’s always closest to my heart.
It took me a while to get around to writing this recap because it took a while for all the emotions from this past week to sink in. Race week was one heck of a week for me! Not only was I incredibly busy with all sorts of events and fun things, but race week also made me feel all sorts of emotions ranging from excitement to anticipation, nervousness, joy, fear, etc. I was particularly nervous because it was my first 15k race experience and after the 10 weeks of intensive training I had just accomplished, I didn’t want to let anyone down. I was fortunate enough to be given all the tools and support necessary from the amazing team at Nike (info on nutrition, hydration, stretching, coaching, etc.) so I really wanted to make everyone proud.
Race weekend really got underway on Thursday. We were lucky to get a media preview of the amazing facilities that Nike Women had put together at Harbourfront Centre. It was incredible to not only see all the latest Nike gear but also meet all the incredible Nike Master Trainers from across North America. We even got to do a special workout with them prior to all the NTC classes starting on the Crystal Coliseum, a floating barge in lake Ontario. That was super fun!
On Friday, I took an incredibly fun yoga class in the afternoon with Joselynne Boschen, a Nike Master Trainer from Los Angeles and also got to check into the luxurious Trump Hotel for the weekend. I took it upon myself to make the most of it by spending their dreamy pool, hot tub and their gorgeous room!
Saturday started off with an early morning NTC class with my two partners in crime; Meghan and Chloe. We followed that up with a very inspiring special media shake-out run led by NYC run club coach – Coach Bennett and triathletePaula Findlay. We also got the yummiest post-run brunch at the Trump Hotel, where we had the privilege of meeting some of the Nike athletes that were in town for the weekend, including Ironman triathlete and Paralympian Sarah Reinersten, Olympic snowboarder Spencer O’Brien and also one of the top female surfers in the world – Lakey Peterson. I couldn’t have been more stoked to meet her, having been following her surfing career for the past couple of years. I had to take a pic and throw shakas with her! I finished off my day Saturday with the women in sports panel, a panel featuring some of the amazing athletes that were present during the weekend. It’s so neat to hear women that excel in sports talk about the career and their journey.
I was so incredibly nervous when I woke up on Sunday but seeing the crew of ladies I had been training with undoubtedly helped calm some nerves. We didn’t get the sunniest race but we did get some cool weather, which was definitely appreciated. All in all, the actual race itself was such an amazing experience. One of my race highlights: running on the airport tarmac and seeing the city of Toronto behind me. What a thrill!
How I’m feeling:
Physically, I felt pretty good all week and on race day. After all this training, I was happy that my body didn’t give up on me the day of the race. I am giving my body a little bit of a break this week but the break won’t last too long because I have already signed up for another race. My fiancé and I will be doing the Spartan Race on July 18th, which is exactly 1 month away! Mentally and emotionally, I can honestly say that this training journey and the race itself, is something I will always remember. It’s had a profound impact on me and I’m already thinking of what’s next…
What I learned:
There’s no greater feeling than the feeling you get when you cross the finish line. As cliché as it sounds, it’s so true! The last two kilometers of the race on Sunday were the hardest. I pushed myself on the last few minutes of the race to have an even better time at the finish line but I started feeling a little shortness of breath as I was running towards the end. However, seeing all those people cheering as I turned the corner towards the finish line filled me up with joy. I think my face in the photo below says it all. I was elated when I crossed that finish line. My eyes even started swelling up, I became completely overcome with all sorts of emotion. I felt proud, excited, accomplished and most of all happy!
The finish line is only the beginning. After training intensively for 10 weeks, I’ve realized that crossing that finish line on Sunday was only the beginning. The beginning of what? I’m not entirely sure yet. The thing I am sure of is that it’s the beginning of a healthier me, the beginning of a more confident me. I doubted myself a lot on this training journey but crossing the that finish line on Sunday proved to me that I am capable of a lot more than I once imagined. Will there be more runs in the future? Most definitely!
Thanks to each and every one of you who took the time to read my training recaps every week. Thanks to all of those who encouraged me along the way (special thanks to Offner!) Thank you for being on this journey with me. I hope your training journey was just as rewarding and positive as mine! Last but not least, a big thank you to the entire Nike Toronto and High Road team that made this journey extra special and memorable. I couldn’t have done it without your support!
Thrilled to have on the blog today an Olympic Athlete and also all-around inspiring woman. The timing couldn’t be more perfect with the Pan Am games about to hit Toronto and today’s 15k race in Toronto. Phylicia George is a track and field athlete from Markham, Ontario. She made her Olympic debut in 2012 in London and finished in sixth place in the 100m hurdles. I’ve been following her training journey these past couple of months via social media so I couldn’t be more thrilled that she took some time from her busy schedule to answer the questions below. Hope you’ll be just as inspired by her as I am. Enjoy my 5 Questions With Phylicia George:
1) What first got you interested in track and field? What is it about this discipline that you like so much?
My earliest memories of running was racing my dad in the parking lot. I loved racing kids on the playground and putting everything I had in me to be the first at the finish line. So I guess you could say I’ve always had this innate competitive nature. One of my first introductions to the sport of track and field was watching the 1996 Olympics. I instantly fell in love with the intense competition and the raw emotions that I saw. I love the fact that track and field is an individual sport. It’s very much a personal journey about pushing yourself past your limits. When you line up at the start line, It is literally you vs. 7 other people; your best vs my best, which is an amazing feeling. It’s a sport that continually encourages you to grown as an athlete and as a person. It’s a very difficult sport to train for and takes a lot of sacrifice, however that dedication makes achievement all the more enjoyable.
2) You always have some very empowering and inspiring posts on your blog for athletes and also for women in general, who inspired you along the way?
I’m inspired by so many people. Anyone who overcomes the odds, strong women that defy societal standards, positive people working to make real change in the world, and the list goes on. More specifically my mother was a huge inspiration to me. She was a very strong woman with great values, who always encouraged me to be great. As well, my father is the ultimate humanitarian. I grew up seeing him helping people and going out of his way to make others lives better. I try to fashion my life and my impact after both my parents. They both inspired me to not only be a better person but to also be good other people.
3) You made your Olympic Games debut in 2012 in London and will be going to the 2016 Rio Olympics, what does a typical training week look like for you?
Training is pretty intense. I usually train 5 days a week. Sometimes I’ll have training blocks where I train 6 days a week. On average 3 days a week will be high intensity and 2 days a week will be recovery days. Different parts of the year we have different things we focus on. For example at the beginning of the year, it’s all about conditioning and getting in shape, so it’s a lot of long runs, high volume, lower intensity. As we get closer to competition, we decrease volume and increase intensity. Throughout a training week I also make sure to have great emphasis on my recovery and sleep, which is a huge to make sure I’m getting the gains I want from my training.
4) What 3 tips would you give to people who are currently training for their 1st ever race or who are just getting into running?
1) Don’t try to do too much too soon. That is the fast track to injury. Its easy to get really excited about training and take on more than your body can handle. Its important to have a plan to stick to which will help you increase smartly
2) It’s a process. Things won’t always be amazing. You’re body won’t always feel great. There will be ups and downs but during the downs its so important to trust in the process. The path to success is never straight. 1 step back and 2 steps forward, is still moving in the right direction
3) Set Goals. I’ve always found having something to work towards helps with my training. I usually set big goals at the beginning of the year and then small ones throughout the year. It really helps to keep you focused and it can be the extra motivation you need to help you get through those tough workout
5) What is your next career goal?
My main goals right now is winning an international medal. I’m aiming to be on the podium at World Championships this summer and then next year at the Rio Olympics. I’m also looking to break the Canadian record in the 100m Hurdles.
Sharing with you today the last hairstyle inspiration for Sunday’s race. Can’t believe the big day is finally here! Hope you’ve enjoyed these hairstyle ideas, they were a lot of fun to shoot. A big thank you to Aylin and Pam for making the shoot possible and to the Nike team. Please tag and share your hairstyles if you decide to try one for race day – #15khairspiration!
So excited to be representing Toronto in this weekend’s race. So proud of all the women in the city and those coming from around the world who chose to run the 15k. See you all at the finish line!!
Notes from the hairstylist: “I can’t believe how quickly time flies! Thank you Mel for sharing these looks and for allowing me to share my thoughts and inspiration, it’s been a really fun week sharing with everyone my different go to looks. I saved one of my favorite hairstyles for last, the fishtail braid!
Fishtail braid has a very unique look and it is the most easiest of all braids to learn. You can wear the fishtail braid so many different ways, with Mel’s hair I decided to put it up in a ponytail and then added the braid. It’s great this way for when you are running, on a sunny day just add your hat and your hair will still look cute while you run.
Race day is Sunday! I am looking forward to seeing what hairstyles you have come up with! Tag us in your pictures and make sure to use the #15kHairspiration! Good luck to every runner! Finish strong my friends. And see you at the finish line! xo”
I’m particularly fond of how this look turned out! I love the mix of braids and a ponytail together. I’m definitely considering having this look on race day, which is coming up in just under 3 days. Are you ready?!
Notes from the hairstylist: “At some point or another we all like to get a fresh look, and decide to get bangs. I am growing out my bangs at the moment so another of my go to looks is braiding it to the side, and then throwing my hair up into a bun, or ponytail.
This look is so easy to recreate and use with ANY length of hair. If you are in the process of wanting to grow your bangs out but they are getting in the way, I really think this is a good look to use.”
Today’s look is perfect for after Sunday’s race. Stretching after the 15k will be super important! After all the training and all the effort you’ll have put in over the weekend, your body will thank you for a good stretch!
Notes from the hairstylist: “A lot of my friends ask me to teach them how to braid their own hair, it’s not easy braiding your own hair, it takes a lot of practice.
Some of us might want a different look, that’s really easy to do. So the ‘Braided’ Twist is one of my favorites to teach. It’s a good start to learning how to braid.
It works really well if you have bangs and don’t like them on your forehead while you run or workout. Or if you’re growing your bangs out this works really well to keep them out of the way.
1. Section the your hair so you have a side part, closer to the front of your head.
2. Twist, twist, twist, until your bangs are out of the way, and secure with a bobby pin.
3. You can leave your hair down or tie it all up and create a lower bun.”