5 Questions With: Larisa Yurkiw

Team Larisa

From Canadian World Cup alpine ski racer to motivator and public speaker, Larisa Yurkiw is a force to be reckoned with. The 28-year-old athlete from Ontario has accomplished a lot in her lifetime already, from partaking in the 2014 Sochi Olympics to also being on four World Cup podiums. She recently announced her retirement from professional skiing after her most successful competing. I had the chance to chat with her about her career thus far and what’s next for her.

What first got you interested in downhill skiing and when did you realize that this was something you could pursue more seriously?

I have two older brothers I chased around the ski hill from a young age.  The norm gets thrown out the window  so I was fairly fearless.  I did my first race was I was 4 and the passion grew with the intensity.
2016 has been a great competing year for you but you recently announced your retirement after 10 years in the competitive circuit. Why was this the right time for you to hang up your skis?

Health has the final say.  I had my 5th knee surgery in May and I felt it was a decision between racing 20 more international races or skiing with my kids one day.  I was becoming more successful and finished my career ranked 3rd in the world so I no longer had unfinished business.  It was that hunger that drove me for so long so I knew it was time to find the same drive in a different direction.
How has the transition from athlete to being an entrepreneur been going? What are some of your career goals moving forward?

I love this new life.  I have found a career that gives me a bit of an adrenaline rush still, motivational speaking, and I continue to find challenges for myself.  I took time off initially but realized quickly that I’m meant to have both a structure and a serious set of goals.
Can you talk to us about Team Larisa and if you will be continuing to pursue this in the future?

Team Larisa was the name of my team.  I was skiing for Canada independently but, by the end, the Team was made up of thousands of Canadians and Europeans, both skiers and non-skiers.  I will continue to promote bravery and share the power of vulnerability and resilience with the story of Team Larisa wherever I can.  It became so much more than ski racing for me so if I can use it as a vehicle to help young and old alike to just get a bit more comfortable with being uncomfortable, then Team Larisa has successfully lived on.
What is the best advice you’ve ever been given and how has it helped you as an athlete and in life today? 

Advice came from so many but most consistently, to keep on keeping on.  The setbacks were the most consistent event throughout my journey so learning to fight on and get creative with my resilience allowed me to ultimately be world class in my sport.  Without a constant fight and high self-belief, the very first obstacle would’ve bounced me in a completely different direction.  “They tried to bury us.  They didn’t know we were seeds.”  Mexican Proverb.

How to Return to Running


Because injuries while training or competing are quite common I wanted to get some tips from the super inspiring Coach Inge from the Nike+ Run Club in Toronto. She always has a super positive outlook on things and is a great motivator and excellent runner so I figured she would be a great person to get advice from on how to get back into running after being injured.

Coach Inge’s 3 things to remember:

  • Listen to your doctor. Listen to your chiropractor and follow what their recommendations.
  • Be patient after an injury. Since you haven’t been running, your mobility and those muscles have decreased. Cross-training is so important to do. If you can swim, swimming is great for cardio. That said, your body is pumping the blood horizontally whereas when you’re running the blood is pumping vertically. Swimmers and runners are both great endurance athletes but we need to make sure that the blood knows how to pump up so pool jogging is great because it’s lightweight.
  • Go back to basics. Come to sessions like Ready, Set, Go., where we’ll be watching your gait, because injuries can often cause muscle imbalances. Sessions like Ready, Set, Go, will allow us to watch you a little more carefully to make sure that you’re keeping everything equal on both sides.

Coach Inge’s goal setting post-injury:

  • Pick a race. Make sure that it’s at least 16 weeks away and get back to basics to build a base. The Nike+ Running app is great for getting you back into running. It has coaching levels that you can go through and pick where you are. Even if you don’t feel like a beginner it’s best to start back at the beginning so that it’s just not too much, too soon because you could risk getting injured again. Don’t increase distance more than 10-15% a week. Don’t compare yourself to others but focus on yourself because everyone has a different story. Use the community as fuel to rebuild.
  • Use the Nike+ Training app, look for some flexibility or mobility training workouts. Also, H.I.T. & Run workouts are great when you’re 100% better.
  • Be smart. Running is a lifelong thing, the races will always be there. So you can keep the same goals but just make sure that you ease back into it.

Thanks Coach Inge! I can’t wait to get cleared to hit the pavement again!

5 Things I’ll Miss Most About Toronto

Photo by Cabello by Carolina

7 years ago this month, I moved to Toronto. In less than 3 weeks, I packed up my life and left everything behind to go find myself. And find myself did I ever! It was the best decision I’ve ever made. The past 7 years have been undoubtedly the BEST years of my life. I’ve learned so much and accomplished so much, I’m truly proud of how far I’ve come.

Two months ago, I decided to leave my full-time network television job after 5 seasons in pursuit of the next life adventure. I’ve always dreamed of spending several months traveling but those who work full-time jobs will know that these kinds of adventures are almost impossible to get when you’re working for someone else. So I decided to pursue this website endeavour full-time and also a few other creative projects (some of which will be revealed to you soon, can’t wait!!) in order to fulfill this dream of going on a great travel adventure. With travel comes uncertainty, risk, the unknown, lack of funds, etc. So my husband and I have decided to give up our apartment, put everything into storage and see where these travels take us. Because you never know what the future is made of, I’ve decided to write a little post today on some of the things I love most about the amazing city of Toronto. I know I will be back but knowing I will be away for a little while, I figured this would be an appropriate farewell for the next couple of months. I am forever grateful to the city of Toronto for the past 7 years and am excited about future adventures in the city in 2017! In the meantime, here are the 5 things I’ll miss most while I’m away!


1) Parkdale – Ah Parkdale… I could write a novel about this neighbourhood. It’s with a lot of pride that I called Parkdale my home for the last four years. I LOVE Parkdale. It is a real example of a little tight-knit community in a big metropolitan city. You can stay just in Parkdale and find everything you need. Parkdale has character and personality. Parkdale is a little rough around the edges but it has charm. When I first moved, the area wasn’t so sought after but over the past couple of years, it has become one of the city’s hotbeds for new restaurants and bars, young entrepreneurs, artists and creatives that are pursuing their dreams in the big city. Through the years, I got to meet so many incredible people in the neighbourhood and lend a helping hand to those who are less fortunate. Parkdale residents look out for each other and help each other out. Some of the things I will miss most about the neighbourhood is The Abbott, the West End Food Coop, the Cadillac Lounge, Electric Mud BBQ, Grand Electric, Tempered Room, Public Butter, etc. No matter where I end up, Parkdale will always be a part of me. It made me fall even deeper in love with the city.

Photo by Tobias Wang

2) The amazing fitness community – For the past two years, I’ve had the opportunity to really become acquainted with the amazing people in the fitness community in Toronto. Through my website, I was able to work out at some of the raddest gyms, studios, with some of the nicest and most supportive crews. Whether it would be the Nike Running Club, Nike Training Club, Spokehaus, Misfitstudio, Big Hit Studio, Academy of Lions, Black Toe Running, Greco Toronto, etc. all of these amazing crews all share their passion and love for sport and being active. Through being surrounded by such inspiring people on a weekly basis, it has helped me become the healthiest and best version of myself. It has inspired me to starting running races, lead a healthier lifestyle and take care of myself, something I had never really taken the time to do prior joining all these groups. What’s also amazing is that no matter the activity you want to do, there’s always someone that will be up for a cycle session, a run, a training session, etc. The women in the fitness community here in Toronto are all incredibly supportive and push you to accomplish goals you’d never thought possible. People like Nike Master Trainer Eva Redpath, Nike Running Club Coach Inge, Adidas Running Club coach Rejean Chiasson, are just some of the inspiring people that I’ve had the opportunity to learn from. They have taught me more than I would have ever thought. All the pacers, volunteers, race organizers, gym leaders, instructors, etc. in Toronto have all had a positive impact on my health and am so grateful to them all!


3) The vegetarian food – Toronto is vegetarian and vegan heaven. When I first moved here I had high hopes, leaving a very meat-heavy city like Montreal, all I wanted to find was amazing vegan food and that I did! Some early favorites were Sadie’s Diner (RIP!), LIVE, Hogtown Vegan and Urban Herbivore. Now there’s also Doomie’s, Fresh, Kupfert & Kim, and the list goes on. Toronto knows their vegetarian and vegan food! Plus almost all restaurants in the city also offer delicious vegan or vegetarian options on their menus. I now definitely hold higher standards for vegan and vegetarian cuisine, thanks to Toronto’s topnotch restaurants. I definitely need to get my Toronto vegan fix before I leave on my adventures…


4) The waterfront – I love nature and if it wasn’t for beautiful Lake Ontario located right at the foot of the city, I’m not sure if I would have loved Toronto as much. Luckily, I had the opportunity to live right by the waterfront for the past couple of years and it has allowed me to find peace and solitude in times when things in the city got a little too crazy. The vastness of Lake Ontario, the beautiful parks on the waterfront, the islands, etc. are all aspects of Toronto that I love the most. Running on the waterfront several times a week became my meditation, my getaway and a huge stress relief.

Photo by Tobias Wang

5) Friends – When I moved to Toronto, I didn’t know anyone in the city. I moved on a whim, in less than 3 weeks, with a car packed with the few belongings that I owned. It’s one of the proudest moments of my life. A lot of people are afraid to just pick up and leave, to move away from familiarity, from friends and family. Though a little scary, I just couldn’t ignore the voice inside my head that told me I had to go. Though I was afraid that I would end up alone in this big new city, I was lucky to meet some of the most incredible people over the past 7 years here. Some people came and went but some of the friends I’ve made in the city have become family. Making friends seems easy as a kid or when you’re in school but when you become an adult, it’s always a little more challenging. Luckily, half of the people that reside in Toronto also come from somewhere else and therefore are open to making new friends. I’m so grateful to all those who have had such a positive impact on me in this city, who have inspired me and bettered me and no matter where I end up, I know we will always remain close. Thank you!



I recently purchased a brand new laptop for all of the editing and freelance work I’ve been doing as of late and with a new laptop comes the need to get a new cover to protect it. I immediately thought of CaseApp, a super user friendly website that allows you to create your very own custom computer skins and phone cases.

They have skins available for iPads, MacBooks, iPhones, Samsungs, etc. and also hard cases for a variety of smartphones. You can either choose from a pre-made selection of prints, marble, tiling, etc. that you can modify or build yours from scratch very easily.

I decided to both make a personalized iPhone case and laptop skin, using some of my recent travel photography. I love personalization because not only is it unique, it’s also a great conversation starter and can even be a form of inspiration. For my laptop case, I chose a photo of one of my favorite surf spots in Southern California and for my iPhone case I picked a sunset photo of Kauai that I took on my trip last month. Both are great reminders of the things and places that make me happy and that evoke tranquility.


If you also want to make your own custom CaseApp skin or case, make sure you use the code MELSAYS20 at check-out to obtain 20% off your purchase!

Maman à Table

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Since they opened up last summer, Maman has been creating some fun and unique dining experiences for Torontonians. Their latest offering is a staple in the French culture but has yet to be discovered by most Canadians. The “formule du midi” or “plat du jour” lunch is omnipresent in France and very sought after by workers in urban areas.


The concept is to offer a prix fixe 3-course meal including an appetizer, main course and also desert (usually a café gourmand) and for much cheaper than it would in the evening. The meal called Maman à Table is served either on their beautiful outdoor patio or wooden communal table inside the restaurant for $20 every Friday from 11:30 am until 2 pm.


As a starter, they offer either a choice of grilled tomato gazpacho or de-constructed avocado toast, both of which are vegetarian. For mains, you have the choice between a delicious croque maman, salade niçoise or their daily quiche with mixed greens, which are all delicious. And for desert, they offer a choice of coffee or tea with some of their yummy mini cakes, which include mini chouquettes and madeleines.  Wine and beer are also available for purchase during lunch time.

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The warm Maman atmosphere allows you to escape the busy Bay Street bustle and makes you want to extend your lunch hour just a little longer. Their French-inspired design and cuisine is homey yet sophisticated and continues to make people flock to the restaurant from all over the city. I wouldn’t be surprised to see a few more Maman openings around Toronto in the near future.


For more information on Maman à Table, their daily menu or bar & tapas offerings, go here.


Biolage R.A.W.

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I am all about green beauty so I love when renown brands lean towards launching more natural lines of products.

Biolage is the latest hair care brand to have decided to go towards the more wholesome and natural route. Their brand new line of products Biolage R.A.W. is not only good for you but also good for the environment. Their 70-100% natural-origin shampoos and conditioners provide the same professional results without harming your beautiful locks. These products are biodegradable and made from 100% recyclable packaging. R.A.W. is also free of any sulfates, silicones, parabens and artificial colorants.


Biolage R.A.W. offers 3 different types of products: Recover, Nourish and Uplift. Recover has as a purpose to restore shine to stressed hair using ingredients such as yucca, goji berry, coriander oil and kaolin clay. Nourish uses coconut oil, honey, quinoa husk and kaolin clay to transform dry hair into healthy-looking soft locks. Finally, Uplift uses black sesame, grapefruit, kiwi and kaolin clay to purify flat and fine hair. All three product lines offer a shampoo, conditioner and also a hair mask.


I was drawn to the Nourish line because of all the swimming I’ve been doing lately, the chlorine and salt water has really dried up my hair. Using the shampoo and conditioner allows my hair to not feel so coarse and also lot smoother than before. The shampoo is 71% natural and easy to lather whereas the conditioner, which is 95% natural can easily be combed through my hair. What I also like is the gentle and natural fragrances found in the product. Scents like ginger, eucalyptus, honey and nutmeg are nice because they are not too overpowering.



Finally, the brand’s website offers a comprehensive guide to all the ingredients found in the Biolage R.A.W. products. It gives the ingredients’ origins as well as their benefits and why they are being used.

To find out more about Biolage R.A.W. visit the Matrix website here.

This post was written in collaboration with the Matrix Canada but all opinions are my own.




So excited to share with you guys today my latest travel video. Destination: Kauai! There are so many incredible things to do on the Garden Island, this is just a little recap of some of our adventures last month. Hope it will inspire you to get out there and explore this beautiful world! More videos coming soon!



People in Toronto LOVE their spin studios. Spinning has become the latest trend to hit the 6ix. Though a little behind American cities like Los Angeles and New York, the spin craze has hit the city hard since the beginning of 2016. The latest and greatest studio to open up on the city is SPINCO, located at Yonge and Eglington.


Originally from Kelowna, the brand new Toronto studio is their second location and they are planning on opening up a third in November in Victoria, BC. As for what separates SPINCO from other spin studios, their founder Michelle August explains “SPINCO’S experience is one of a kind, from the moment you walk through our doors to the last sweat dripping pedal stroke. Magic happens in that room and we see it leak into our riders and into our community, once the momentum starts it’s impossible to stop,” she says, while adding, “Our instructors go through an extensive training over the course of a number of months. We want every rider to have the confidence in all of our instructors, to have the ability to take any class knowing they are going to get a killer workout, knowing there instructor is filled with fire and ready to push them through there 50mins of work… It’s basically a party on a bike.” 


SPINCO is all about building a community of riders and cycle enthusiast in the city and have already partnered up with a local favorite Peace Collective on a cool collaboration. “By joining forces we think we can make a major impact in some lives of underprivileged children. Aside from our clothing, our main focus as partners will be our ‘Spin-It-Forward’ classes, happening every Monday night at 6:30pm. Spin-It-Forward is a class by donation with 100% of the proceeds in support of the Peace Foundation. Peace Foundation supports the Boys and girls Clubs of Canada in providing weekly access to recreational sports to Canadian children,” explains Michelle.


In addition to great cycle classes, riders will also be able to fuel up pre and post-class with some healthy juices, smoothies and bowls made from local companies.

So next time you’re looking to get your cycle fix, try out the new SPINCO studio!

Want to know more? Check them out here.

Show You #GiveACare With Rethink


Breast Cancer is a cause that is dear to my heart. My mom is a breast cancer survivor and I have unfortunately seen too many people in my life lose their battle to breast cancer.

The amazing organization Rethink Breast Cancer is doing something special for Breast Cancer Awareness Month (BCAM) again this year. In addition to their famous Boobyball, they are partnering up with several notable companies across Toronto to raise awareness for the cause and also to raise funds that go towards helping and educating young people concerned and affected by breast cancer.



This year, Rethink Breast Cancer launched their very own Give-A-Care collection, a fun collection of branded apparel and chic accessories. For each item sold, 100% of the money will be donated to Rethink. In addition to this collection, they’ve partnered up with retailers such as Ardene, H&M, Peace Collective, Aerie, etc. who will be donating a portion of the sales of certain items (like the ones below!) to Rethink during the month of October.

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For more information on the Give-A-Care collection or Rethink Breast Cancer, go here.

5 Things to do in Kauai


1) Go surfing. This may seem obvious but surfing is Kauai is TOPNOTCH. Prior to visiting Kauai, I had never surfed in such clear and warm water. Mexico pales in comparison to Kauai. You can find all sorts of surf breaks around the entire island that will suit any level of surfer. Newbies will love Hanalei Bay and the local favorite Anini Beach or Keālia Beach (Andy Irons’ favorite surf spot) while more advanced surfers will love Poipu Beach and Tunnels. The summer is great if you’re looking for chill waves with not a lot of force. That said, the current can get quite strong around the island, so it’s always better to go in the water with a buddy or somewhere where there’s a lifeguard. Since I was new to the island, it also took me a little bit of time to get familiarized with the swell and different breaks. There are lots of sharp corals in the water so little boots or water shoes can be helpful.


2) Fly over the island with Blue Hawaiian. I’m not a huge fan of helicopters but flying over Kauai is a must if you can swing it. It is one the pricer excursions you can do while in Kauai but well worth the money. It’s really the best way to see the island inside and out, as a lot of the island is wild and only accessible via boat or helicopter. Not only is the scenery unreal but you will learn a tremendous amount about the island’s history, evolution, etc. The 80-minute tour left me speechless. We got the chance to fly over the breathtaking Waimea Canyon, Mana Waiapuna also known as the “Jurassic Park Falls’, got up close and personal with the Na Pali Coast and the Bali Hai Cliffs, which made me pinch myself a couple of times, what a sight! We also got a full tour of the different little towns and regions of the island. The Blue Hawaiian team were excellent tour guides and gave us a once-in-a-lifetime experience! Flying over the island just makes you appreciate nature that much more and makes you want to do anything in your power to conserve such beauty.




3) Get food at Java Kai. Located on the east side of Kauai, in the historic Kapaa town, this local hotspot is the perfect place for breakfast, lunch or a mid-day snack. All of their food is homemade from scratch. Their menu is filled with local specialties, healthy and vegetarian treats and colorful bites. There’s also a great community vibe at the shop making you want to come back again and again. I’m secretly hoping they’ll open up other locations in the US or Canada in the near future.




4) Go horseback riding at Silver Falls Ranch. One of the best ways to explore the garden island is by horse. The Silver Falls Ranch offers unique horseback riding excursions that allow you to explore the pristine scenery of the island. Led by informative and professional guides, these half-day excursions allow you to fully explore local nature, wildlife while also making a stop at a beautiful waterfall for a swim and a Hawaiian lunch. The groups are small and the horses are all exceptionally well trained. My horse “Ohia”, named after a beautiful local tree was such a joy to ride with. It’s a great way to venture off into areas of the island you wouldn’t otherwise have access to.



5) Visit the Koloa Rum Company. If you’re looking to do something a little out of the ordinary while in Kauai, head over to the Koloa Rum Company in Lihue. The rum company is located on the former Kilohana Plantation. In addition to being able to visit the plantation via train and by foot, you can also go for complimentary tastings that are offered every half-hour starting at 10 am daily. Koloa Rum produces single-batch Hawaiian rum with locally sourced ingredients at their distillery located near the town of Kalaheo. The rum is distilled twice using their vintage 1,210-gallon copper-pot still with a copper column and condenser. Their goal is to produce quality products while using sustainable practices and while also preserving the open agricultural space of the island. They first started producing rum in 2009 and have since won many international competitions and awards for the delicious rum they produce. From coffee to coconut, pineapple and sugar, the different flavoured rums are sure to please everyone.